Rhett sprang to her feet.
Where was she? Where was this?
She found herself in an unfamiliar place.
With large spacious rooms, beautiful furniture, murals along the wallpaper and white fluffy duvets.
It was just as Ben’s lackeys, who had personally gone to deliver women to Barrodon’s estate every year, described it to be.
Her mind went blank.
‘I thought I was saved.
Was that a dream?’
Had she been hallucinating the whole thing because she had hit her head and passed out in the crate? She couldn’t find answers on her own.
That unfamiliar voice, his warm touches and the way he assured her that she was safe.
Had I been hallucinating?
Startled by mere knocks, Rhett fell out of the bed and rolled around on the floor.
Who was outside that door? Who was it? Could it be… Barrodon?
Her thoughts continued to drift into pessimism.
It was only natural.
Nothing good had ever happened to Rhett since the moment she was born.
If she assumed that it was going to be bad, she wouldn’t be too far off considering the life she had.
‘Just as I thought, it had just been a dream.’
She was not someone anyone would want to save.
Rhett’s big eyes filled with tears.
She had to hide.
She had to find somewhere to hide…
An ear-splitting sound pierced her eardrums.
Shards of glass scattered in front of Rhett who wasn’t sure if she had accidentally bumped into a table while she was running away.
“Oh? I’m inviting myself in!”
The loud noise hastened the entrance of the uninvited visitor.
With her bare hands, Rhett picked up one of the pieces of glass in front of her.
The glass shard dug into the palm of her hand.
But she did not register the pain.
Surviving was more important to her.
A man with blue hair entered.
No, or was it a woman? She could not be sure.
Their hair was short and accessorised with feathers.
They held a basket in one of their hands.
…Was there anyone in Barrodon’s estate that had hair with that colour?
In surprise, the blue-haired stranger came one step closer.
“Why are you holding such a dangerous thing! Y-you’re bleeding!”
“Don’t come any closer!”
Rhett gripped the glass shard tighter.
Even in her eyes, her hands were shaking so much that she didn’t look as threatening as she wanted to be.
“Don’t you dare come any closer.”
Tears began filling Rhett’s vision again as it blurred but mustering strength into her eyes, she remained wary of anyone who entered the room
“I’m not going anywhere.”
The blue-haired stranger pulled the basket up their wrist before raising both their arms.
“Please calm down, yes?”
The stranger took a few careful steps backwards so that they wouldn’t startle her and make her run away.
“U-hm, where are we? … Are we in Baron Barrodon’s estate?”
With their arms still raised, the stranger tilted their head.
“Well, pardon me.
But this is my first time in the capital so I’m not sure who you’re referring to.”
Could it be true? She was still suspicious of the stranger but they didn’t seem to be lying.
As if wanting to show that they were harmless, the blue-haired stranger flashed a bright smile.
“We are in the Winfried Duchy.
The Winfried Duchy.
I’m sure it’s pretty well-known.”
Rhett let the name roll around her tongue.
It was definitely a name she had heard before.
Where had she heard it from?
“Look over there.”
The blue-haired stranger pointed towards a certain spot.
And there she found a large flag flying with a symbol inscribed within.
“Do you see the blue bird there? That symbol is one you can only use if you are part of the Winfried Duchy.”
Finally, Rhett captured the blue bird in her gaze.
The bird was so enormous, she wondered why she had not noticed it thus far.
Rhett stared at the bird.
Though she was not certain as she had only seen it from afar, the carriages from Baron Barrodon had a strange pig-like entity inscribed on them.
But it wasn’t a bird.
‘So, I did it.’
This really wasn’t Baron Barrodon’s estate.
So, the fact that she had been saved before she collapsed was not a dream after all.
As soon as she realised it, Rhett’s body lost all her strength.
The piece of glass she had been holding in her hand clattered on the ground.
Rhett slumped onto the floor.
“Can I come closer?”
The blue-haired stranger asked carefully but Rhett merely sat there blankly.
She was sorry for acting like this in front of the stranger but she did not even have the energy to nod.
Thinking that Rhett had calmed down, the person carefully approached her before kicking the bloodstained glass shard under the bed.
Rhett slowly closed her eyes before opening them again upon hearing their greeting and bowed her head.
The blue-haired stranger then caught her when Rhett almost fell over.
“Well, let us move to the sofa first.”
Rhett managed to muster a nod.
She got up but mostly leaned against the stranger.
She barely managed to reach the sofa before she finally caught her breath.
Perhaps it was because of the relief she felt from surviving, her eyes kept closing and she kept feeling the itch to scratch them.
“Uh, you shouldn’t be doing that!”
After looking for something in the basket that they brought, the stranger quickly stopped Rhett.
“Your wound will open up.”
Wound? It was only then did Rhett realise what she looked like.
There was a big wound on the palm of her hand.
There was so much blood dripping down her arm, all over her body and also smeared on her face as she just touched it.
She noticed that she had traces of burn marks as well.
“Let me first wipe the blood off you and change your bandages.
To be honest with you, I initially came here to change them anyway.”
Rhett scanned her body again.
It was then she noticed something new on her body.
Like the bandages wrapped around her limbs and numerous white patches stuck to any part of her skin not wrapped in cloth.
“Fortunately, your wound doesn’t look deep.
Not deep enough for stitches.”
She found it interesting how her entire body was covered in bandages.
As she was lost in her thoughts, the blue-haired stranger examined her palm.
Huh? Rhett looked at her hand.
After the salve had been carefully applied on her wound, the bandage had been tightly wrapped around her hand.
…Were they a doctor?
Rhett tilted her head to the side.
There were doctors in the slums too.
Though he was a quack who would steal old drugs and sell them several times over.
“Excuse me, miss.
Pardon me as I’ll need to change the dressing on your back as well.”
This person was going to do it themself?
Not only were her limbs covered in bandages but so was her abdomen.
That meant she had to take off her top.
Rhett shifted to the edge of the sofa and ran.
“Why are you running away? Ah!”
The stranger pointed at themself with their thumb.
“I’m a woman.”
“If you don’t believe me, should I take off my top?”
At the thought of her taking off her tunic at any given moment now, Rhett immediately shook her head with all her might.
“Well, you might not have known since my hair is so short.”
She smoothed her short blue hair before smiling coolly.
“I’m a knight, you see.
I often fought on battlefields but my hair kept getting caught in things so I just cut it off! Wouldn’t it be better to have my hair sliced off than my neck?”
Rhett found herself nodding subconsciously at the terrifying words the stranger was suddenly uttering.
“I tried to trim the edges but maybe it was because I had sliced it haphazardly with my blade? I couldn’t fix it at all.
That’s why I just shaved it off!”
A lot of hair had grown out since then! The knight smiled cheerfully before raising her thumb again.
“Wearing my helmet is more comfortable now since I don’t have any hair but when I stand under the sun, it feels like my head is being cooked.”
Rhett felt exhausted for a different reason than before.
Blinking, Rhett nodded eagerly.
The knight looked at Rhett before bursting into laughter.
“Haha, miss, you look like a bunny!”
She had been calling her that for a while now.
Feeling as though she should leave now, Rhett asked the knight who had applied salve to her wound and changed her bandages.
“Excuse me, I don’t why I’m here but… may I ask why you’re calling me that?”
“Well, uhm, I’m not someone who deserves to be called a ‘miss’ by someone as outstanding as you, miss knight.”
“I was just about to explain that to you but his grace will be arriving soon.”
The words lingered in her mind as Rhett rolled them around her tongue.
“I think it’d be better if you heard it from him yourself.”
Rhett nodded as she listened to the knight.
Staring at Rhett, the knight added something else.
“Do you perhaps remember anything? I cannot be certain but his grace has a way of lingering on people’s minds.
Why, he was the one who carried you all the way here.”
The man who carried her? Was he, maybe, the man who took her out of the crate?
“That black hair…”
“That’s right! His grace is a man with black hair.
And red eyes! Do you remember?”
Rhett quickly shook her head.
She could not recall what colour his eyes were from memory.
All she could remember was his black hair and the way she desperately clung onto him.
Still, finding out that her memories matched that of reality, she felt more relaxed.
However, the walls she had put up due to the unfamiliarity of the place she was in had yet to be torn down.
She still had some unanswered questions.
Why was she here and why did the knight keep calling her ‘miss’?
‘I am suddenly curious why he promised to protect me.’
And she did not know whether she could believe him.
‘I don’t think he’s a bad man but…’
It was just not something she could completely believe.
Even in the slums, there were also evil faces that wore the masks of a Samaritan.
Anyone who placed their faith in those people would lose all their possessions and find themselves starving on the streets while there were also some who would disappear from the face of the earth without a word.
After she moved and changed clothes as the knight told her to, Rhett realised that she had unknowingly become quite clean.
Rhett fidgeted with the clothes she had never worn before–clothes made of such soft fabric.
Everything felt unfamiliar.
“Well then, what would you like to do, miss? You may go visit his grace now.
Or if you’re tired, you may rest for a while longer.”
Rhett shook her head.
“I’d like to go visit him now.”
“Alright! Shall we go then, miss?”
Rhett followed the knight idly to the door before mustering the courage to speak.
“Uhm, by the way.
If you could call me something other than ‘miss’…”
The knight who had been holding the door open nodded as though she thought that it was a good idea.
“Shall we introduce ourselves to each other? It’s not like we will only be seeing each other for a day or two! We’ll need to know each other’s names.”
As she spoke, the knight reached out her hand.
“I am Delphia.
The oldest of Viscount Baraten’s children.”
That word made Rhett choke on her words.
Her name was Rhett.
Because she was thought to be a rat.
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