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I found myself in the comforting waters.
It was warm, a place where soothing sounds constantly echoed.
But despite that—
Suddenly the warm and soft place began to contract, and I was expelled from there without understanding why.
“Ah, ah, ah…”
It was a pitiable sound.
It was just like the cry of a newborn baby.
In a place flooded with light, my voice echoed; a voice that was mine yet not mine. I was grabbed by the neck and torso by someone, and placed on something soft.
“Congratulations. It’s a lovely girl.”
The unknown individual holding me said that. I was enveloped in warm palms, and I felt as if the soothing sounds were being transmitted through the skin they touched.
“Her eyes are already open. Can you see her, Natal?”
The one holding me was an unfamiliar woman. A man with a deep voice nearby affectionately called her name.
“The eyes of a baby are not yet developed to that extent.”
Something fell from the woman’s face and landed on my body. The lukewarm entity strangely did not feel uncomfortable. However, as the woman mentioned, everything appeared vague to my immature eyes.
Apparently, I was now a baby.
—Had I reincarnated?
With that thought, the current situation made sense.
“But she is intently looking at you, Natal.”
Even though I tried to focus my eyes, it was hard to control my eyelids. Trying to squint resulted in completely closing my eyes. I was unable to grasp how to use my body proficiently.
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However, I could tell that the face of the woman named Natal, who was holding me in her warm and gentle hands, was incredibly kind.
—I was born from this woman.
As I came to understand this, I felt like I slightly grasped the reason behind the kindness emanating from her. She was the existence known as a “mother,” something Gras=Demelia had never known in his lifetime.
“Hold her too.”
Natal—Let’s refer to her as mother for convenience. From her tender arms, my body was transferred to the strong arms of a man. He must be my father.
However, why did I feel somewhat unreliable despite his firm and sturdy arms? Could it be he was trembling?
Afraid to be accidentally dropped, I looked up at the man’s face and our eyes met. In my blurry vision, he seemed to be looking at me with deep emotion.
“To think she’s alive and well despite being so small… But how should I handle her…”
“You’ll get used to it in time. You’re her father, after all.”
It seems it was indeed good to consider him as my father. I was returned to my mother’s arms, momentarily freed from anxiety.
“Handle it well, but guide me strictly to prevent any mistakes.”
I wanted to say “By all means, please do,” but instead of a voice, what escaped was a sigh resembling a yawn.
“Hehehe. Am I, a soldier’s instructor? It’s an honor.”
“Hahaha, yes. Let’s approach parenting with that mindset.”
The father brought his face closer, peering and gazing at me. I thought something like a water droplet fell on my cheek, followed by the sound of sniffling.
Could it be, was this man crying? Despite trying to scrutinize, I could not see well, failing to make out clearly.
Giving up on squinting, I decided to quietly observe my surroundings. Although the unclear visual information provided little, it seemed to be this couple’s home. That led me to assume that the first person who held me was either a midwife or a nurse. Speaking of which, I hadn’t seen her figure. Near the fireplace, I heard sounds indicating the preparation of water.
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“…Hey, Rudra. What about the name ‘Leaf’? Her young grass-colored eyes resemble the leaves of the Dragon Tree.”
The Dragon Tree referred to a sacred tree dedicated to the god in the Black Dragon religion, the state religion of the Arcadia Empire.
“It’s a good name. She will receive the blessings of the Black Dragon God and grow healthily.”
The father agreed with the mother’s suggestion. From their conversation, it was clear they fervently believed in the Black Dragon religion. It suggested that this place might be the Arcadia Empire.
It appeared the talk with the goddess in the place known as the space of reincarnation was not a dream.
I had died and was bestowed with a new life, born here as this couple’s daughter.
“Now, the bath for the newborn is ready. Let’s get you cleaned up.”
The midwife from earlier took hold of me, moving towards the side of the fireplace. When water touched my foot, I remembered the comfortable place enveloped in water.
I probably couldn’t return to that place anymore.
I vaguely thought about that. There were other things to ponder on, yet perhaps due to my infantile body, I felt unbearably sleepy.
As I was being bathed, I gradually fell into a comfortable sleep.