Halo, is a disputed area on the border that surrounds a large plain.
It was more than a decade ago, trouble broke out here.
Halo was a territory taken as a dowry by a princess married to a foreign monarch in the reign of the Emperor, but when the princess divorced about 10 years ago, a problem arose over the territory.
Naturally, the imperial side wanted to return the territory the princess had taken, while the other side argued that they could not return what they had already received.
I don’t know if the territory was barren, but it was even a place where the great Limarin River passed for a long time, and there were wide plains suitable for farming.
It was well worth it for the two countries to fight over this land.
And once the conflict broke out, it quickly grew into an issue at stake for the nation’s pride.
So, to regain the land and raise the honor of the empire, the Emperor selected the best nobles and knights in the empire and appointed them as commander-in-chief.
It was Duke Maynard, who was living comfortably with his soon-to-be-disbanded wife.
The commander-in-chief was a person who could not leave the battlefield privately until his position was lifted, and thanks to this, Duke Maynard had to be tied to the battlefield, even after losing his wife and daughter at once.
Because the position of commander-in-chief was lifted from the moment the war ended.
And that soon means Duke Maynard is returning to the capital.
‘On the coming Sabbath, Duke Maynard’s eh… Welcome celebration, banquet eh… It’s scheduled.’
This was unexpected information.
The coming Sabbath is in 4 days.
In other words, Lillian didn’t have much time.
And for Swan, it was really a story that he left her reunion with her father in front of her.
No wonder the director was so furious.
I wonder if Swan knew about this.
I wish I didn’t know.
Thinking so, Lillian tore up the newspaper containing Duke Maynard’s article.
Suddenly, the inside of my arm went numb.
This is because Lillian had cut herself to create scars identical to Swan’s.
There were two main things to do to impersonate Maynard’s daughter, Swan.
The first is to have the same physical characteristics as Swan.
Lillian had seen parents come looking for a lost child.
— The lost child has a thin band-like scar on his wrist.
That’s my child!
―This necklace! I’m sure! I made it!
While saying that, I could still see the tear-stained face of a woman hugging a three-year-old child.
The day the youngest child in the orphanage left like that, Swan and I imagined that one day our parents would visit us like that, all the more.
The conversation from that day is not clear, but the important things remained in my memory.
‘Of course, it would be difficult for me to become blue-eyed with black hair.’
Fortunately, the missing child in Maynard was a newborn baby who hadn’t even opened its eyes.
It was clear that the Duke’s family would not be able to properly determine the hair color and eye color of the missing child.
‘But if the Duke’s family remembers Swan’s characteristics, it’ll be difficult.’
So all Lillian had to do was create Swan’s physical characteristics.
And no one knew Swan’s physical characteristics better than Lillian.
So Lillian cut herself with a hot knife just before throwing away the trash in the closet.
It wasn’t as deep as it should look like a scar, but it was still full of pain.
Lillian frowned for a moment and grabbed her aching arm, then shook it off and stood up.
‘I don’t have time for this.’
Lillian still had one more job to do.
Second, having something to prove that you are Maynard’s daughter.
Neither the director who was talking with the teachers nor the dead Swan spoke of this.
―Haven’t you raised other dark-haired girls in preparation for such a time? There is also ‘that stuff’…
―The director took out a locket and showed it to me… Engraved with lilies with portraits of parents…
The portrait gave her an indication that she was their daughter, Swan said.
I’ve never seen it, but it’s probably because they and Swann really look alike.
‘And now the director must have it.’
So I had to steal it somehow and go to Maynard.
Lillian turned her head to see where the director’s office was.
I saw a room where light leaked through the windows.
The most luxurious and secure room in this nursery.
‘It’s impossible to enter the director’s office alone.’
Lillian stared at it, then walked back to the nursery with the torn-up newspaper.
Before making a plan, there were things to sort out first.
When I returned to the room after finishing organizing the small room, the children playing in the room looked at Lillian and pretended to know.
“Lily, where are you going? I thought you weren’t coming.”
“That’s right, today’s dinner was really delicious.”
Children of similar heights gathered around and started talking to Lillian.
Their faces were as energetic as they ate a hearty dinner tonight.
There were also faces that cared about Lillian.
The children in the nursery school rejected Swan, who had director’s favoritism, calling her a princess, but most of them were essentially not evil.
Even if they didn’t mourn Swan’s death like Lillian, it was enough to worry about Lillian, who lost a close friend.
“It’s cold outside, so dress warmly.”
“Aren’t you hungry? I thought you weren’t eating dinner, so I brought you some bread.”
During the commotion, a curly-haired boy who was folding his clothes inside made out a sullen voice.
“Hey, stop worrying about her and come quickly and organize your clothes.
The child who left is gone.
How long are you going to be whining about?”
Fourteen-year-old Theo, the eldest at the orphanage, was taking Swan’s death much more calmly than the other children.
“If you are weak, you will die, and if you are lucky enough to be adopted, you will leave.
There is no difference.
Or are you guys going to be like that every time someone goes?”
“Why do you say that? Lillian must be upset right now—”
“She will be upset.
So what? Would you like me to cry with you?”
“You don’t have to say that!”
“I’m telling you to calm down.
If you skip meals because your friend died, won’t you be the only one who will die next? Look, I was called to Director Rose’s office earlier.
The director is already looking for the next ‘princess’.”
In Theo’s blunt words, Lillian’s eyes widened.
“… Was Rose called?”
“Yeah, Curtis took her earlier, so I had to clean the table.”
Rose, with dark gray hair close to black and brown eyes, was a girl of the same age as Lillian, and because she entered the nursery school early, she was in charge as the oldest child after Theo.
In principle, Lillian and Swan should have been the eldest, but Swan was receiving special treatment and Lillian had to take care of Swan, so it was out of the question.
Thanks to that, Rose and Theo used to be in charge of wiping the table after meals, but today it seems Theo had to wipe everything because Rose was called.
Theo grumbled that his arm was still sore, then snatched the potato from the hand of the boy who was just about to hand it to Lillian and took a bite.
“Theo! I was going to give that to Lillian!”
“Oh, it’s salty.
Did you wash your hands?”
He said so, then Theo carelessly passed a potato with clear bite marks into Lillian’s hand.
“Hey, bring your own meals.
Unless you’re going to pay for it.
Don’t bother people.
And Dennis, if you’re going to pack something like this in the future, pack for me too.”
“Theo is bad!”
“That’s right, brother Theo is bad!”
When Dennis, who had been deprived of his potatoes, rushed at it, other children also came in twos and threes.
Speechless, most of the children simply found it amusing to cling to Theo’s legs.
Lillian watched the harmonious scene, then returned the potato to Theo’s hand.
“What? Lillian, hold on—”
Theo raised his eyebrows and called out to Lillian, but Lillian ignored him and turned and walked out.
I felt, really, terrible.
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