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≪20≫ – Dining Table

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Author: Kisasaki Suzume Original Source: Syosetu
Translator: Mui English Source: Re:Library
Editor(s): Deximus-Maximus

As Lucella and Kafal were escorted back to the inn with a royal palace carriage, they were greeted with a fragrant smell of fats and herbs.

“Hey, good work out there. I decided to put my all into today’s cooking, so I hope it helps to restore your energy.”

Behind Viola in an apron and glasses, the dining table was filled with extravagant and gorgeous cuisine.

River fish wrapped in herbs and baked in steam. Another iteration of the same fish, adorned with a glistening caramel-hued glaze and expertly grilled to achieve a tantalizing crispness.

Baked chicken, expertly stuffed with cheese. A scarlet-hued stew, infused with tantalizing spices, captivating the senses. A dish featuring paté, baked by meticulously grinding and then grilling select organ meats. A salad composed of leafy greens and bacon cubes. A pie made with seasonal fruits…

“…I’m first shocked before being delighted. Did you make all this on your own, Viola?”
“Leader and Wein helped me with it.”
“We only really just helped!”
“She’s really a pro at this.”

Meanwhile, Tim was sprawled on the sofa, engrossed in reading the newspaper, while Wein was meticulously doing maintenance on his thief-related tools.

“Well, I had nothing to do today.”

She was unbelievably enthusiastic to do so much just out of boredom.

Kafal and Lucella had learned some cooking basics from her, but this made them realize that she had lowered the level of the menu at that time to a beginner level.

Lucella, who had a strong frugal mindset, couldn’t help but wonder about the cost of the ingredients. It was not a special occasion or a celebration, yet they were casually investing such a significant amount of money. The financial sense of first-class adventurers was truly astonishing. Although, it should be noted that Lucella herself now possessed a fortune equivalent to a national budget, just from the fur and bones of the Variants…

“Let’s dig in already before it gets cold. You returned later than planned. Did something happen?”
“The negotiations itself ended without problems. But we had a little tea party after that, and then they asked us to wait…”

Lucella took out a small treasure chest from the luggage which could fit on both hands. It was a storage magic item linked to a subspace.

Storage magic and storage magic items were often used for transporting a large amount of luggage, but in this case, the goal seemed to be to put your luggage in the subspace to protect it.

“What is this?”
“It’s apparently the king’s present for Lady Monica. He asked me to take it.”
“Oh my.”

After the tea party, she was made to wait a little to prepare the item, and then was told to just take it home. Errands from big shots were common quests for the adventurers. But well, in this case, it seemed like it was just a pretext so Lucella could meet with Monica upon delivery.

“He told me he wants me to become friends with her.”
“That sounds nice! I see, Adventurers are often described as people outside of social standings, but they are still limited in various things, in reality. But with the other party being a dragon, no one can say anything.”

Viola nodded in self-satisfaction.

“Hey, Lucella. Don’t you think even something as simple as being able to share a meal with close friends and family is happiness in itself?”

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Viola let out a sigh, her gaze distant as she looked at the spread of dishes on the table. Lucella was taken aback by the sudden question, but she couldn’t help but agree. She had always desired the presence of friends and family, just like anyone else. She understood the joy of sharing a meal together.

The abundance of dishes clearly emanated an atmosphere of being meant to be shared among everyone. If one were to eat all of this alone… it would be luxurious but empty. Besides, it would be impossible to finish it all.

“Yes… indeed. I completely agree.”
“Eating alone is comfortable and good, though. But what I’m trying to say is… it brings you happiness when you have people you can eat with. When you do it all the time you start taking it for granted, but it’s not like that at all. Let’s savor this kind of happiness once in a while.”

Viola said earnestly. Her words felt strangely heavy.

High-class living quarters of the royal capital….

Amidst the array of nobles’ mansions designated for the stay of the royal capital and the grand estates of wealthy merchants, there stood a particular residence. It had long forgotten its elegant name, “Willow Mansion,” and the townspeople cynically referred to it as the “Mansion Prison.”

Originally owned by the Foster Ducal Family, the ancestral home of Queen Loreina, it was now under a shared management arrangement with the royal palace, which leased the property.

Only one person, Monica, resided there.

But would it really be called living there? Every aspect of her schedule was controlled by the palace, and she couldn’t even go out freely. It was akin to being under house arrest.

There were only servants who took care of them there, and no visitors ever came. For the Foster Ducal Family, Monica was seen as evidence of betraying their loyalty to the royal family.

She was an indelible stain, and contact with her own mother was forbidden.

Maintaining the lineage of Regalia users as marital partners for the royal family was an important task for the high nobility. Fortunately or unfortunately, the Foster Ducal Family was not in such dire straits regarding bloodline management that they had to rely on Monica.

From the perspective of the royal palace… In other words, speaking purely from the viewpoint of steering the country’s affairs, as long as Monica didn’t go around creating children in strange places and scattering the Regalia bloodline, she was an inconsequential figure. The palace’s underlying sentiment was likely that the Foster Ducal Family should take responsibility for handling her matters internally. However, there were several vassals who vocally expressed their discontent, deeming such measures insufficient.

This issue was not unrelated to the turmoil surrounding the selection of the bride for the then-Crown Prince Lazarus.

Despite the establishment of a gentleman’s agreement and the formation of a conference for the selection of a bride, the Foster Ducal Family pursued parallel negotiations with the palace, leveraging discussions on domestic cultivation taxes for imported green tea as a bargaining chip. Through these strategic maneuvers, they managed to outmaneuver other noble families who had their own candidates and successfully pushed Loreina into becoming the legal wife.

It is worth noting that the ultimate decision in this matter rested with the then-king, who happened to be Lazarus’ father. To conceal the true nature of events, the decision was portrayed as an outcome reached during the aforementioned conference. Lazarus himself remained unaware of the hidden circumstances until it was too late to intervene.

In reality, Loreina possessed the necessary qualifications in terms of her family background and aptitude for the Regalia. Even if fair competition had taken place, she would have had a strong chance of securing the position of legal wife.

However, the fact that this outcome was guaranteed through such manipulative means understandably caused resentment among those who had been outmaneuvered.

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For noble families like them, Loreina’s alleged infidelity became a perfect weapon for attack.

At the time of Monica’s birth, King Lazarus and Queen Loreina already had Francesca, their eldest daughter. However, doubts were cast upon Francesca’s bloodline, as some suspected she might have been fathered by a man other than King Lazarus. Nevertheless, those who publicly attacked Francesca did not genuinely question her parentage; rather, they exploited it as an excuse to find fault. Both Lazarus and the ducal family vehemently defended her.

As a result, Francesca, despite being stripped of her title as a princess, was allowed to be released under the supervision and responsibility of the Foster Ducal Family.

However, the situation differed for Monica, the younger sister.

As Monica was not a child of King Lazarus and had been partially abandoned by her maternal family, the ducal family, she became subjected to a disciplinary measure under the guise of “managing the bloodline of the Regalia.” This measure involved strict restrictions on her activities and constant surveillance to prevent any contact with the opposite sex during her “eligible years,” a vague and wide-ranging criterion.

Unfavorably, Monica could be viewed as a sacrificial pawn meant to appease the anger of disgruntled nobles and conveniently resolve the situation. She remained on display in the capital as a stain on the reputation of the Foster Ducal Family.

Lazarus vehemently opposed this treatment. Regardless of her biological lineage, he couldn’t allow the palace to subject an innocent newborn baby to vindictive measures. From the perspectives of national dignity and basic human decency, such treatment was simply unacceptable.

Unfortunately, it was during this time that the friendly country of Gufare in the northeast and Maltgartz beyond Mount Kuguse plunged into war. Setulev was a small kingdom, and in the face of major powers clashing, even a slight misstep in governance could spell swift demise.

Pressured by the discontent of the disgruntled nobles and with the international situation growing increasingly precarious, the young king was faced with a difficult decision. However, jeopardizing the stability of the country for the sake of a single infant could potentially put the lives of countless people at risk…

Ultimately, that was the decision reached by the young king.

“That’s enough. Good work.”

As those words resounded in the room, Monica abruptly dropped her fork onto the table. The luxurious feast before her was spread across a dining table that could easily accommodate ten or more individuals. It was an extravagant display of food, far beyond what she could consume on her own.

There were three varieties of bread and two types of soup. A meunière dish featuring river fish adorned with a delectable bean paste sauce, roasted pheasant, and a cake generously frosted with whipped cream were among the array of dishes. Curiously, a basket of store-bought biscuits sat on the table as well.

Monica hardly touched most of the food before standing up from her seat. The chef nearby kept their head lowered, clenching their fist in frustration and disappointment.

“…My Lady, I have confidence that today’s meal turned out well. Just… what did you find dislikable?! Please, tell me! If it does not fit your palate, I will adjust accordingly!”
“I simply grew bored of eating. I’m not sure what to tell you about my impressions of its taste.”

Monica took a single biscuit from the basket and left the dining hall with it in her mouth. These biscuits were prefaced according to her tastes. Even if they weren’t particularly delicious, she sometimes felt like nibbling on them when she didn’t feel like eating proper meals.

She could hear a fist being smacked on the dining table.

“Goddammit…! I should just quit this damn job…!!”

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The chef assigned to the residence kitchen was strictly told to get Monica to eat properly. But making her eat properly was more difficult than passing a dragon through the eye of a needle.

Monica wasn’t very motivated to live. Even if she was hungry and you put her favorite food before her, that still didn’t guarantee that she would eat it.

Any reasonable tactic, such as preparing multiple options in the hope that she would eat at least one or offering a masterpiece that would surely entice her, was completely shattered.

“You sure like saying that over and over. Yet you lack the courage to quit.”

Monica headed to the living room while munching on the biscuit. Its cheap flavor spread in her mouth, but she couldn’t care less about the taste.

—I suppose I’m the same. I keep thinking how I want to die yet I lack the courage to do so. If I was so against being pointlessly kept alive, I would be able to die whenever…

Within the confines of the Mansion Prison, Monica resided alongside the attending staff, creating an environment devoid of any other inhabitants. As a result, the corridors echoed with an unsettling silence. The spaciousness of the mansion served no purpose for Monica. It only made her feel empty if anything. It was a blank space with no one in it.

The servants were hired by the palace just for the formality’s sake, and were periodically replaced. She didn’t even have time to deepen friendships. That was in fact the reason why the replacements happened so frequently. It was so they wouldn’t conspire with Monica and accommodate her. One time, her mother, Loreina, had tried to secretly deliver a letter to her, but once that was discovered, the regulations grew even stricter.

Monica was all alone.

Her only means of distraction was the occasional long journey where she was permitted to leave the mansion. However, even then, she was not allowed to step down from the carriage, and she was accompanied by a swarm of observers disguised as guards.

That fact seemed a little laughable to her, considering those guards ultimately failed to fulfill their role.

Ah, yes. There was an incident like that. A windhole was blown open in her stagnated, bottled world. Though it was plugged back all too quickly.

“If you think back on why you were scared of dying… you should be able to find out what it is that you need to do.”

The world of the strange girl that saved her sent ripples in Monica’s heart.

—It’s not anything that grandiose…

When she reached her home, she just rushed and dove onto her bed. Through the frame-like window, she always witnessed the bustling streets, filled with people brimming with hope and happy families. With these scenes before her eyes, she began to nurture the expectation that one day she too would attain such a radiant life. Thus, she clung to that hope, unwilling to let go of her existence. It was a simple but powerful sentiment that kept her going.

It was something as simple as that.


(This chapter is provided to you by Re:Library)

(Please visit Re:Library to show the translators your appreciation!)

She heard something knocking on the window and got up from the bed. This was the second floor. The only thing outside of the window was one large tree.

“What was that? Did the tree’s branch grow all the way here? I should call a worker and have it cut……”

She neared the window to check the situation, but ended up seeing something she couldn’t believe.

“U-Uh… good evening.”

A fiery girl was holding onto the projected window frame and dangling down from there.


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