trigger warning: mentions of suicide. this is a recurring theme, so i won’t leave another warning in the future.
Lady Elva’s little daughter, Lianne, followed after her mother, then she looked up at Carynne’s face. The girl’s eyes widened.
Children were easy. They liked pretty things and their thoughts could easily be revealed through this. Tom was a kid who had already become too quiet and less interesting.
At the thought, Carynne grinned. Lady Lianne smiled as well.
The fief lord kissed the back of Countess Elva’s hand and gave a simple greeting.
“It’s so delightful that you’ve come all the way here, Lady Elva.”
“The festival is quite spectacular. Lianne found it fun, too, so I enjoyed myself as well.”
“I’m glad that you did.”
At this point, the owner of this land was the Hare family, not Verdic. The countess turned slowly and came closer to Carynne, who was next to her father.
“…You look like your mother.”
Carynne heard this all the time, but it’s like she was hearing it anew this time. She greeted the countess back with a slightly melancholy smile.
“I am very delighted to meet you, Lady Elva.”
The countess must have met Catherine once before. How much did she know? Carynne realized that she had been too emotional back then when she had killed Deere, and she felt a bit regrettable. Right now, she hoped that Lady Elva could be of help to her instead of Missus Deere.
“She was so lovely, too. Come to my salon later if you’ll be making your debut at the capital.”
Thus far, Carynne had regressed to the past back many times, but she had never been interested in her dead mother. Was Nancy responsible for that, too? It would remain a mystery for this iteration. Carynne would just ask Nancy in the next life.
Carynne sat down and brought out her fan, watching Isella fume in anger as Madam Elva had not even listened to Isella’s greeting. Captivated by Carynne’s breathtaking beauty, Madam Elva’s little daughter was chattering about while holding onto her mother’s hand.
Isella and Verdic were both absolutely incensed. That reaction of theirs was more precious than gold.
Carynne truly appreciated her mother. She gave her life, this face, and death as well, so it’s safe to say that her mother had given her almost everything.
After observing those two, Carynne turned around and found her father next to her.
“Then, isn’t it time for me to hear your reason?”
As he sat down at the chair next to Carynne, the fief lord looked over at the countess and Raymond as they were having a conversation.
“Yes. Is it because you’re curious about how much your life will change?”
“I told you already before.”
“…Explain it more kindly this time.”
Carynne was surprised to hear his response, which sounded like a child’s whining.
The fact that she had been repeating her life and that the world was a mere novel—for someone to believe these two things, that person was bound to be childish. Like a daughter whining to her father.
Of course, the person doing it now didn’t look cute at all.
“It’d be nice to experience a new life. One that isn’t under your protection, Father.”
“What I wish for you is happiness.”
“Um… Father, I don’t have a penchant for ‘that thing’. I want to see different variables, different truths, a different ending. Be it death, or even life.”
The fief lord’s expression turned extremely agitated.
“I know it sounds like a foolish, lofty dream, but… It’s like that, Father.”
Carynne beckoned a passing servant, who then handed two champagne glasses.
“I’m thirsty. You, Father?”
Golden liquid trickled into the glasses. As the servant walked away, Carynne dropped her voice to a whisper, much quieter than the music flowing around them.
“Father, you said you believe in Mother.”
“And you said that Mother was freed from this spell thanks to your love.”
Even Carynne herself felt nervous about how frivolous the word sounded, but the fief lord nodded grimly back.
“But Father, I mean. To be honest with you, it’s all very… I feel skeptical about all this. For a temporary emotion like that to make my life… for one hundred years…”
Carynne couldn’t help but down the alcohol in her glass. She was getting more emotional in this life.
“It’s so abstract and vague, Father.”
“How can love be vague? What will save you is absolute faith and true love.”
“Father, you’re not me. If you’ve got a hole in your head for all of one hundred years, too—if you’ve been killed by all sorts of things, too, then I’m sure it would be difficult for you to say that.”
“It’s hard. One hundred years, Father. There’s a limit to the people just one person could meet. Tell me, is there someone who could date, build a relationship and even get married in less than a year? I’ve ended up with Sir Raymond a couple of times, and if he’s not my supposed match, then what am I supposed to do now?”
“Find true love.”
“What if my true love is beyond the White Mountain Range, dying from a stray bullet? If not that, what if my true love is a street bum who’s out on the pavement, sick and dying? I’m not even really sure if I’ve read the novel.”
Who was the man destined for her? If the cause here was a lack of love, then who else should she meet? But the men who she had met before were far inferior to Raymond.
“Is the intensity of love the problem? Those people I met before, did they not love me the way you loved Mother? …I’m curious, really.”
She wondered, why was it that Mother’s love was Father. And how much did Father love Mother?
The fief lord watched Carynne’s fingers as they tightened over the champagne glass, her knuckles going white. Then, he opened his lips again.
“Then the only way I can help you is…”
Carynne looked up to face the fief lord as he spoke. She was expressionless.
“Please show me proof of your love,” she said.
“If you truly believe, if you truly love, then you would not be afraid of death. Once I die again, you’ll come back to life, Father. And even if you really do die, you shouldn’t be scared of anything. After all, you’ll be able to see her.”
“Of course, the extent of it… It’s for the sake of confirmation. If you refuse to do this, then there’s nothing I can do.”
“With all the servants in the manor along with Dullan, I won’t be able to force you if you waver.”
She looked into the fief lord’s gray eyes, and in those eyes was the reflection of his daughter’s face, the exact mirror image of his wife.
“But whatever you choose, I’ll be able to confirm it. The extent of your love, Father.”
Carynne lifted the empty glass. Some distance away, a servant came forward and refilled the glass. The lord also raised his own glass. At that corner of the hall, the father and daughter raised their glasses for a toast.
“Ah, I knew it. Everything tastes so much better without the drugs. Dullan, that terrible jerk.”
“Don’t be so hard on him. It was all for your sake.”
“But what he did was too much. There must have been a couple times that I died from overdose. And I don’t like it because I’ve had a taste of gourmet food elsewhere.”
“Which place do you like the most?”
“Outside the novel… What, wrong answer?”
He looked troubled.
“Why don’t you choose one from here?”
“Sir Raymond’s head chef is magnificent. He’s called Mister Cray, and he’s bald, you know. Oh, but he hasn’t been hired yet, he’ll come in after three months.”
“Is that so.”
As she continued to chatter, Carynne noticed that the fief lord was staring blankly at the silverware on the table.
“Um, this is a trivial warning, but… It’s difficult to use a knife like that. I’ve tried it before.”
“That—I wasn’t thinking of using this.”
The fief lord averted his gaze, perhaps a little embarrassed.
“It can be a little scary at first. I wasn’t used to it either and I failed several times. Never try to slit your wrists. You’re going to have to cut into your wrist until you’re halfway through to make it work, and when you’re really about to die, it just feels so cold… until you die.”
Carynne turned her head. She couldn’t hold back the peal of laughter bubbling up inside her.
The fief lord just raised his glass again. He didn’t know whether he should smile or not.
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