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≪32≫ – Isolation

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

“I’m saying this because of the circumstances, but isn’t that the maid’s job?”
“…You’re the worst!”

Efrain Kraubel was a married man.

…Or perhaps it was more correct to say that he ‘used to be’ a married man, but on paper, he was still married.

Though they must have endured much, Efrain’s life with his wife Belinda crumbled after just over nine months, and afterward, Efrain returned to a life similar to before marriage.

“You’re always like this! You don’t even tell me your preferred fabric pattern!”
“What are you bringing up now! Besides, that was about the tablecloth in your room! Why should I decide?”
“I wanted you to decide!”

The Maltgartz Empire had a program called the “Honorable Marriage” program.

In somewhat blunt terms, it was a state-sponsored matchmaking system. Its main aim was to integrate officials from commoner backgrounds into the heart of the upper class, the backbone of the nation. This was to create a stronger empire for the generations to come. To enlarge the very heart itself.

Efrain became a subject of this program, and he accepted the decision of the empire which was both the mother and father to him.

“Even when you were ill the other day, you disappeared right away.”
“What are you talking about!? I… had work to do. I couldn’t afford to spend time lying in bed.”
“I offered to stay with you!”
“Think rationally! With divine magic healing, I could have returned to the front lines immediately! Besides, I might have infected you.”
“You’re cruel! Too cruel!”

Belinda was not of noble birth but could be considered the daughter of a respected merchant family.

Efrain couldn’t help but think she must have been raised with lessons on proper manners and etiquette. However, he felt many issues with her mentality. He believed that, rather than focusing on beauty or refinement, her character should have been the first priority.

She seemed to enjoy depending on others. Indeed, he thought, those born with a silver spoon in their mouths must be like this.

“In the end, you don’t need someone like me!”
“Yeah, you don’t need me either! We can stand on our own, and be independent! That’s why we can be a team as a married couple! And create great power!”
“I’ve had enough! I don’t care anymore!”

Eventually, Efrain began to secretly despise Belinda. At the same time, he felt neglected by her. He didn’t know what she wanted, nor did he feel the need to ask. To Efrain, she was simply a burden and couldn’t be a supportive partner.

Furthermore, the thought of having children was no longer even conceivable. It didn’t seem like happiness, neither for Efrain nor Belinda, nor, of course, for the empire.

“…Oh, right! I should hurry with the investigation report on the Mithril mining rights dispute. I should finish it by the end of this week…”

For Belinda, Efrain was a boring man. For Efrain, Belinda was an immature and selfish woman. And their relationship was over.

The rushing torrent growled, surged, swirled, and the sound of the waves shook the soul. In the midst of losing the distinction between dream and reality, memory and hallucination, Efrain kept walking.

Not knowing the state of his own body, devoid of sensation. But driven by a compulsive consciousness that he must continue, Efrain kept moving forward.

In these past few days, Efrain had been remembering Belinda, whom he had long forgotten as someone no longer relevant to his life.

…Seeing Lucella and Kafal, Efrain recalled that woman. It was a strange thought. Belinda and those two were entirely different in every aspect. The trigger for this recollection was also strange and trivial.

Watching Kafal help Lucella change clothes. Like caring for a child when it wasn’t necessary. Despite their pointless actions, both of them seemed happy, and that was like a shock that turned his world upside down.

It was a world Efrain didn’t know. He couldn’t understand it. Yet, for some reason, he thought that if it were Belinda, she might have understood their feelings. At that moment, Efrain was haunted by the premonition that he had made irreparable mistakes in his life.

He had fought to obtain something, but a ship that set sail with a broken compass would only end up as driftwood in the sea.

“Ah… Ahh… It hurts… It’s cold…”

Even though Efrain’s body should no longer feel pain or cold, those words slipped out from the depths of his consciousness. Something akin to the heavy, cold weight of a snow-covered roof was pressing down on him.

Even the respite of death was no longer granted to Efrain. Even if he’s broken and shattered, he will continue to be crushed. So he crawled forward. He kept running away.

“Help… me…” In a rare moment in his lifetime, Efrain uttered a plea for help. But his words were torn apart and disappeared into the storm. Who would hear his cry for help? Efrain no longer knew. He didn’t even know whose name to call out. The great people who once watched over him were gone. It was all a falsehood.

But, there was something ahead. Something was waiting for him. Even though every step was agonizing. Instead of being led by hope, Efrain was pushed forward by despair.

Eastward, eastward he went.


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