On the day I left the Spania Territory, where I had stayed for six years, I remembered a brief incident in the dark forest.
‘To be reminded of their lost child.
Do I look like her?’
The Little Bear said this, as if aware of my question.
“You look a lot like my sister when she was young.
I didn’t see it at first, but after you washed up in the lake in the dark forest, I was surprised that your face was so similar to ours.”
I instantly remembered the surprised look on Little Bear’s face.
“My sister changed a lot after she grew to her 20-year-old form on her birthday last year.
Her face changed quite a bit.
My father didn’t seem to be bothered, so I also didn’t think my mother would suddenly be reminded.”
I thought of the pain on Big Bear’s face when he saw me after my shower.
I knew that, but I couldn’t tell Little Bear.
“Don’t worry too much.
It’ll be fine soon.”
I didn’t think so.
I didn’t know anything about parent-child relationships.
However, in my past life, I had witnessed first-hand just how much pain parents had to go through when they lost their children.
‘They said it was a gut-wrenching pain, right?’
Furthermore, that pain is said to last forever.
To have an existence close to you that reminds you of that suffering is no different from torture.
‘I shouldn’t be next to them.’
I didn’t want to bring more pain to Lisa, who was already suffering terribly.
‘If I go somewhere else… Will it finally be okay?’
Big Bear and Little Bear can’t kick me out of the territory because I’m a child, but maybe I can go to a village outside of Leocardia instead.
‘It doesn’t matter as long as I can eat well…’
But, I didn’t want to be away from the two bears.
I wanted to feel this friendly warmth more often in the future.
‘I have to leave in three years… but it seems I’ve grown attached.’
I let out a bitter sigh.
The Little Bear held the reins in his left hand and moved his right hand to stroke my head.
As if saying, “Don’t worry, nothing bad will happen.”
“Let’s eat some candy.”
The Little Bear took a candy out of his subspace and handed it to me.
It was Little Bear’s favorite yellow lemon candy.
“Juliano, you eat first.”
The Little Bear bowed his head towards me and opened his mouth.
He looked at me with his eyes wide, and I placed the candy inside his mouth.
The Little Bear smiled brightly.
‘This look… It’s quite nice.”
The strange feeling of heartbreaking sadness subsided a little.
I also grabbed the lemon-flavored candy and put one in my mouth.
As my mind calmed down, I began to notice the surroundings little by little.
The carriage was running on the road north of the third post.
The roads were well laid out and were wide enough for four large wagons to pass by at the same time.
On the edges of the road, luminous stones that glowed at night were embedded at a certain distance.
Thanks to this, it was possible to see the road clearly even though the sun was almost set.
‘It’s very well executed.’
There were several roads in cities and villages that we had stopped by so far, but none were so thought out to this extent.
I looked up at the road in admiration.
A high, thick outer wall standing in the distance slowly appeared as we continued to move forward.
‘It’s so big.
No, it’s wide.’
Both ends couldn’t be seen.
Inside that outer wall was the land blessed by the Lord.
And at the end, is the Chaos Mountains.
“I can’t see the Duchy.”
“The territory is large.
We need to go inside first.”
Well, it’s good as long as I can find a job…”
So I could survive even after leaving the Duchy.
Even if I didn’t need to, it’s still good to have money.
“I’m going to need living expenses.
I think I’d do better if I did something related to magic, after all, although I’m small, I’m good at magic and fighting.
I think getting a job along those lines sounds good.”
The Little Bear kept his mouth shut for a moment before finally saying, “A five-year-old child doesn’t need to work.”
I thought I should tell him the truth.
But I swallowed it down at the thought of him teasing me for being small.
“But adults make people even younger than me work.”
“It’s because that adult is a bad person.
Or the conditions there are very bad.
Our territory is rich and you can officially work when you turn 13.
But you have to go to school before that.
Oh, you’re old enough to go to kindergarten.”
“Kindergarten? What’s that?”
“Do you know what school is?”
It’s a place where kids get together and learn knowledge from teachers.”
The Little Bear smiled with satisfaction.
“Our Dia is so smart.
Kindergarten is basically school but for children from three to seven years old.”
“Then should I go to kindergarten?”
“Then how about the money?”
“It’s free for young children, guests, and those who are sponsored.
They give you free uniforms, gym clothes and if I’m right, even snacks.
They don’t teach you in detail as they do in regular school but they also teach you various things.
But our Dia already knows all the letters and numbers, so it should be easy for you.”
“You know a lot about kindergartens.”
“I went to one too.”
“Oh? Really? Even though you’re the Young Master?”
My mother told me to go to school with my sister because we needed to know the reality of the situation around us.”
It was surprising that the children of the Duke, the noblest of aristocrats, learned together with the commoners.
“I only went to kindergarten and school in the morning and learned from specialized tutors in the afternoon.
But it was fun.
Like my mother said, it was a good experience.
Dia, you’ll go there too.”
That’s the third outer wall.”
The entrance to all territories was bound to be strictly monitored and controlled after sunset.
The large main gate of the outer wall as well as several small gates on the side were all closed.
One of the dozens of soldiers lined up on the wall shouted at the carriage.
All the soldiers had strong shields and sharp swords in their hands.
The Little Bear spoke loudly, using Light Magic to illuminate his face well.
“It’s Juliano Leocardia.”
The soldiers who had been sharply on guard until now welcomed the Little Bear with bright smiles.
‘Little Bear is so popular.
Although they were so mean, they suddenly became so nice.’
I smiled and looked at the Little Bear.
The soldiers then said.
“Young Master, that child…?”
“A baby with a bear hat!”
I shouted at once.
“I’m not a baby! I’m a full-grown child!”
Half of the soldiers burst into laughter and the other half struggled to hold back their laughter.
“Why are you laughing!”
I huffed and argued.
The Little Bear patted my head as if asking me to hold it in, but he was also holding back his laughter.
“Come on in, Young Master!”
The small gate on the right opened.
The Little Bear drove the carriage towards it and waved at the soldiers again.
I thought I should follow along, so I waved as well.
“Get home safely, Young Master!”
“Kid, have a good night!”
“Bye bye kid~!”
The soldiers greeted and laughed loudly.
‘Why are they laughing?’
I grumbled inward and lowered my hand.
“It’ll take a long time with the carriage, so let’s fly from here.”
After coming out through the thick outer wall, the Little Bear went to a nearby stable and handed over the carriage to the staff.
“Send it back to Duke’s Estate tomorrow morning.”
The Little Bear hugged me and flew up with Flight Magic.
The fief land from a high place was much more impressive than when it was seen at a distance.
‘It’s usually dark at night, but somehow it’s not dark at all.’
It was thanks to the street lamps imbued with Light Magic.
It was so expensive that there were only a few in the Spania Territory where I lived.
All the roads in sight were spacious, neat, and clean.
It was also clear that all the buildings were built of solid materials like stone, not wood.
What was more impressive was the fact there were many more floors above the second floor.
“Wow! It looks so great!”
The Little Bear pointed to one side with a proud face.
“That’s the Duke’s Castle.”
Like the fortress of the third guard post, a cylindrical black building appeared.
‘It’s so biiiiig!!!’
There were clearly well over 10 floors and the thickness of its walls was enormous.
However, unlike the fortress, there was nothing sharp on the walls and there were many large windows.
It didn’t feel inferior to an iron wall.
It was a huge fortress that could never be pierced.
It was a huge and terrifying shield.
The Duke’s Castle stood on the front line like a shield defending the territory behind him.
There were the Chaos Mountains ahead.
‘I can’t see a thing.’
In front of the Duke’s Castle, it was only a black world.
A terrifying silence filled with darkness.
It must be because there were so many incredibly strong monsters.
‘It’s good to train.’
It was exactly as I thought.
As the warrior who had killed the Demon Lord, there were monsters who I found difficult to deal with, but there were no monsters who were scary.
There was only one thing I was afraid of.
And it was a human being, not a monster.
When I thought of him, my back once again burned up in pain.
‘…Let’s stop thinking about it.’
Suddenly, the Little Bear stopped in the air.
“My sister’s magic feels stronger than usual.
This is a sign that I need to come to her room.
“Why are you groaning?”
“I feel like Dia will be taken away.”
“First of all, let’s go.”
The Little Bear continued to move forward.
We entered the sixth floor of the Castle through the window.
Perhaps because the castle was safe, there were no soldiers in the hallway, only a wandering maid.
On the outside, she was an extremely ordinary-looking woman in her 20s but internally, she harbored a sharp and strong power.
The woman smiled brightly and walked up to us.
“Welcome back, Young Master!”
“I’m glad you’re back in good health.
What about the Count?”
“My father will come back together with my mother soon.
Do you mind preparing a meal in advance? I’d like a dish of honey pork, please.”
“Yes, but this baby..?”
“Hello! I’m Dia!”
Lady Lavigne and I greeted each other with a clear smile.
“I’m a commoner so please don’t use formal language with me.”
“No formal words?”
“No, Hi- Hi- No.
Phew, it’s hard.”
Lavigne burst into laughter.
I frowned and the Little Bear coughed.
“Lavigne, Dia will be upset.”
No, I’m sorry Dia.
You’re so smart!”
Lavigne’s eyes glistened as she looked at me.
“How old are you?”
Little Bear answered for me.
“Wow! A five-year-old is so eloquent and smart! That’s amazing!”
“Dia is a genius!”
‘I’m not five though.
I’m seven years old.’
Even if I was teased after they knew the truth, I thought that I should tell them the truth now.
As I was about to open my mouth, the Little Bear patted my head and said to Lavigne.
“She’s going to be staying in the castle starting today.
Lavigne, please take care of her.
Prepare the guest room.
I’ll go take her to say hello to my sister first since she’s calling.
Lavigne, make sure to help her get ready for bed and take a bath.”
I’ll see you in a little while.”
As Lavigne waved to greet me, I also waved reflexively.
The Little Bear held me in his arms and walked down the hallway, before knocking in front of a room at the end.
I expected a voice to say ‘Come in,’ but the door popped open instead.
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