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Chapter Four: Gloomy Prospects (01)
After they ate a late lunch, Vio carried Flora, who had begun to doze off, to the guest room and let out a sigh of relief, slowly closing the doors. As he lifted his head, wondering if he should return to his room, he saw the maid Anna and the Knight Karia standing docilely.
"Please forgive me!"
Anna bowed. A woman with red hair and indigo eyes, she was in her early thirties. She was a veteran maid by Flora's side from the time when Vio was in Nada.
"I am prepared to accept any punishment for my blunder."
The duo's drooping heads were pale.
Vio gave a wry smile and let out a small sigh. As he did so, their shoulders shook slightly.
Am I that scary?
He scratched his chin.
If it was the villain Vio from 'The Princess Dances with the Night', he'd certainly be scary. On top of being mistreated by both his father and Elder brother, he was even betrayed by his trusted Knight; thus he turned distrustful of humans and he became someone who would treat the people around him mercilessly.
However, though the current Vio hated knights, he hadn't yet developed a distrust for humans. As he was unable to go outside, he was grateful to the servants who supported this lifestyle of his. He would have died if he was left alone.
Therefore, after that winter's incident, he had never conducted himself in a high-handed manner. Nor had he put someone to death even before the incident.
"Why should I be the one to punish you? Your master is Flora."
"B-But, if it were Master or Young Master, It wouldn't be strange even if they chopped off our heads."
Anna's voice trembled. Vio once again gave a sigh.
"You are already facing punishment."
Their voices overlapped.
"Even now, you’re making a face as if you are about to die. When it's evident even from a glance that the both of you are repenting, there isn't any need for me to mete out punishments. You do know what you're supposed to do henceforth, don't you?"
Vio looked first at Anna and then at Karia. Anna nodded with resolute eyes.
"I won't let my sight wander off Lady Flora. When I leave her side, I shall ensure that there is someone else in my stead beside her."
"I shall do the same. Especially when outside, I shall never leave her side."
Karia, too, declared.
Vio nodded vigorously.
"That child is full of energy, so I think it'll be troublesome, but I'll request so of you. Also, don't take the troubles to report the story to father and Eldest Brother and create a stir. Inform the others of this, too.
"As you wish."
When the two of them had replied, Vio clapped his hands together as if to dispel the heavy atmosphere in the room.
"Then we shall end this conversation here. But there is another person —Gina, was it? I'll let her be by Flora side, so the two of you can have some rest. Your faces truly look awful. Flora would be worried if she saw you now. That's right, please ask Lil to prepare something warm for you."
Seeing Karia refuse, Vio abruptly raised his hand to a stop.
"It's an order. Slowly drink a cup. If you return without drinking a sip, I'll get angry. Now, go."
They looked at each other with perplexed faces, gave a bow resigning themselves and left for downstairs.
When the two left, Vio let out a breath of relief.
Afterwards, I have to tell Flora, too, to protect the two of them from Father and Elder Brother.
Muttering in his mind, Vio, too, alighted the stairs leading to the front hall.
There he saw Jill conversing with the supervisor Rock.
"Rock? What's wrong? Is there any problem in town?"
"Ah, Lord Violant."
Rock looked at him and gave him a hat-tip.
"I, uh, came as a representative……"
At his hemming and hawing reply, Vio c.o.c.ked his head. Jill spoke as he laughed in mirth.
"The people of the town have called upon us. Shall we entertain them with a conversation?"
"The people of the town? But forgive me, I cannot step outside the mansion."
At Vio's reply, Rock got fl.u.s.tered and replied in a flurried manner.
"U-Um, we are aware of your lords.h.i.+p's illness. It would be sufficient to show yourself at the door……But I apologise for requesting the impossible!"
"Calm down, it isn't as if I scolded you……"
Rock was a capable man, but he would always get slightly panicked when he was faced with an opponent of high status. Because he had become nervous like always, Vio soothed him.
Legion rushed to the spot with a grave face. As his footsteps made no sound, his sudden voice surprised everyone.
"The people of the town seem to have gathered outside."
"Should I drive them away?"
"No, it is fine. They wouldn't have remained outside if they had any intention to harm."
When Vio stopped Legion, who had a livid expression, Rock flapped both his hands.
"Such a thing, we have absolutely no intentions of hurting you! It's just that, we were worried about your younger sister and everyone came to check up on her condition."
"Even though I told them she was doing fine, they didn't listen to me and wouldn't rest till they saw her face."
Jill added. Vio glanced at Legion.
"So it seems."
Legion's expression returned to his usual relaxed one.
Vio a.s.sumed there'd be five people outside at most and indicated to Jill to open the doors. When he did so, contrary to his expectations, in front of the doors was a huge crowd of townspeople. Everyone raised a shrill voice on seeing Vio.
Vio was startled out of his wits, but when he calmed down with a deep breath, he called out from inside the front porch.
"Thank you for taking the troubles to check upon the condition of my younger sister. Forgive me, but my sister just now went to sleep at last. Please remain quiet."
When Vio placed a finger on his lips, the townspeople covered their mouths with their hands in a panicked manner. Their looks were comical and interesting but he was really thankful and relieved that they asked truthfully.
When Vio lowered the tone of his voice, he remembered his brother's figure while talking to the citizens and tried to speak to them in as dignified a tone as possible.
"I apologise for the late introduction, I am Violant Lesserhain. As the one who governs Leca and Amade, I'm glad that I can see your faces. Thank you for working wholeheartedly for the sake of my younger sister. I'm truly grateful."
When he gave a slight smile, in the end, they nodded wordlessly. For some reason, the elderly men and women burst into tears and Vio was taken aback.
He unconsciously beckoned Rock and asked in a whisper,
"Rock, forgive me, but why are those people crying? I have no memories of having said something sarcastic?"
"Ahh, please ignore them. They're moved to tears. They have always said they wanted to meet the mayor who brought fortune to the town through the Leca flowers."
"H-Huh, is that so?"
He felt that he didn't quite understand it, but he set it aside, glad that their feelings weren't hurt.
When he turned to face the townspeople a second time, he spoke in his calmest possible tone.
"I apologize for making you come all the way here. She really is fine, so everyone, please return home. I am truly thankful for today."
When Vio waved his hand to say goodbye, everyone returned the wave and after bowing their heads, left for the town.
When their silhouettes faded into the distance, Vio ordered Jill to close the doors.
And thus, when he turned upon his heel, he saw Rock bowing deeply.
"I am truly grateful for your lords.h.i.+p having listened to our selfishness."
"No, I am the same, I'm glad you lent a hand. Because I cannot go outside, I was discourteous even. I apologise."
"No no, such a thing! We are all well aware of it, no one would dare think of such a presumptuous thing!"
As Rock frantically corrected himself, he paid his respects multiple times and left the mansion.
"Young Master, you did remarkably well. I am glad that I can inform the Lady of the house of this good news!"
"Jill!? You're exaggerating, it was just a simple greeting."
Jill seemed to have burst into tears of joy for some reason and Vio held out his handkerchief in a flabbergasted manner.
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