「I am Matzo Jedit Noel Valentine, captain of the Royal Guard. I assume the Duchess isn’t injured?!」
He asked anxiously…Mary was crying, after all.
Bradd was sprawled out in a maid costume.
And I’m the new-born baby clinging to my mother’s breast.
…with the Duke’s manor burning and crumbling behind us.
It’s no ordinary knight that would stop to make sure everyone standing outside was safe first before checking on the strange scene behind us.
He especially wanted to check on Mary, as she had tears in her eyes.
It also made sense to check on Bradd.
He was the type to make sure that children and women were safe, even if it cost the world.
The 108 times I lived, he had punished anyone that had injured women or children, whether they were ally or enemy, royal or peasant. People were surprised that that fist of justice could be squeezed into such armor.
It’s indescribably how many women in war were saved from its horrors by him.
I knew him very well…because he worked very close beside me when I was queen.
He had a rough childhood, but with a loving nanny, he had shed tears for her for being so selfless with her love for him and made him a better and kinder person than many others as a noble. He disappeared during war, but the welfare policies he had proposed for the weak were new and interesting.
Sir Valentine…a man who never overlooked the tears of women.
A warrior that mixed his brutal traits with a noble and high presence.
He was always surrounded by children, regardless of status, as if they intuitively understood him.
He was a giant…but loved almost like a giant Great Dane.
During those 108 times, he always did all he could to protect me.
And in order that I could escape…in the end…
Ah, thinking about it makes my chest hot and ache with pain.
So I took a deep breath and released all the pressure of those emotions as best as I could and then exhaled through the nose.
He is a reliable man.
Now he looks all hot and stuffy though…
「I am the Duchess…though, I am dressed like this…」
She seems a bit embarrassed to announce herself.
She pulls her jacket/skirt down to hide her exposed thighs… the costumes of the Melvilles really are totally too much.
That animal stole with the head on her back, and its combination of exposure and beastliness would be looked at disapprovingly by anyone. I’d like to complain to her ancestors.
「Oh! The battle dress of the Melvilles! Excuse me!」
Matzo quickly jumped from the horse and bowed to my mother.
All of the knights behind him did the same in unison.
「I hear that the only women that are allowed to wear this imitation of the female war goddess are the highest level of masters of the bow. This proves that you truly are the duchess.」
I guess that costume is useful.
Thank you Melville family ancestors.
The knights made no attempt to hide their respect as they gazed at my mother.
Especially all those knights that were archers.
「The great daughter of the Melvilles…」
「The real Madam Cornelia…」
「Such dignity and beauty…like a moon-lit white lily.」
「I saw her at the coronation ceremony…」
And so they all talked in quiet voices, but you could sense their excitement.
My mother was a bit aghast at the men and their praise for her.
「All of you are rude to the Duchess. Excuse them all. Many of the men are quite fond of the bow and arrow. Seeing the return of the magical bow and hunter…well, it’s very special to them. Twelve years ago, seeing your divine skill at the coronation ceremony…it made many of their hearts flutter. It is out of reverence that they forgot their tongue…forgive them.」
Matzo said in an apologetical smile.
I guess mom was some hot idol in her earlier life.
Maybe they should have told that demon dog trainer.
According to his explanation, at the coronation of the king the unparalleled skill of the Melvilles was revealed and the “bow nerds” in service as knights all couldn’t stop talking about it. Because Hydrangea has a bow in its royal coat of arms, there was little prejudice against them on the battlefield. Other countries revered spears and swords for their knights, but in Hydrangea there were many knights that preferred bows.
「Oh…I didn’t think many people remembered that long ago…I was so young…and quite unskilled…」
I see…so mom, when she was young, killed all the guys by showing off on a sunny day with her bow and arrows.
Mother tried to hide her blushing face, but the men were busy elbowing each other and mumbling things about her beauty.
Wow, if this was a dance ball, mom’s card would have been FULL!
But then Captain Matzo glared at the men, and they simultaneously shrunk and became silent.
I finally understood why she was bullied by the “red bloods.”
She was applauded too much for her skill at the coronation.
At the time, no, even now, her skill far outclassed how young and beautiful she looked.
There were quite a few men that were entranced by her brilliant bow technique and her beautiful face.
You could see it in how these men stared at her in awe, rather than with lust.
And it’s obvious that back then, the women surrounding the men entranced by her didn’t take to the men’s interest.
Then there was the face that SHE was the one that married the “Crimson Duke,” which now made the dislike become anger.
Mother probably didn’t know anything about it, but those who shimmer need to cast a long, scary shadow as well.
If you’re pure, young, and beautiful…unless you’re a queen, they’re going to crush you.
Or, at the best, ostracize you.
After all, those noble women put everything into rating themselves against each other whenever the others are watching…that’s what gives them standing…so they always try to join whatever higher group they can create while beating the others down.
It’s a world of chutes and ladders.
The brighter and more dazzling you look now, the darker and scarier the fate for outshining the others.
Thus, mother was assaulted by all the negative envy she had generated.
And, unlike the “blue bloods,” the “red bloods” had no care of acting like a human as a noble.
They recognized the other blue bloods as their serfs, if anything.
These red bloods also mistake their ability to end lives and destroy the domains that they rule in.
Complete idiots that have no sensitivity to human pain and shrink whenever the pain is directed to them.
It would be okay if they could be ignored, but my mother had a presence they couldn’t destroy.
The lurid flame of jealousy burned also in her in-laws, the Vygods, and they used their hate to ignite the same dark flame in the others.
There was no way the red bloods would coordinate with the unpopular Vygods unless they were convinced that it would benefit their communal envy and hate.
So there was another marionette that was pulling the strings…other than the Vygods.
Perhaps a woman that worked the social circles of the Reb Bloods while considering the Crimson Duke as her father.
She might be married or single.
What would anyone like about that grumpy sickly father anyway.
He was the Crimson Duke, but a useless Duke.
Well, with the troupe of actors narrowed down, seems that the mental distress my mother will suffer might be repelled…those nobles better not fight an evil queen that’s been through 108 lives.
Even without an aristocratic name book, I still know every single noble name and location in my mind.