‘I’m an outsider and a noblewoman at that.’
In the original work, scenes of wicked nobles oppressing commoners were quite common. I understood why they were so wary of me.
‘I can’t help it.’
Haste makes waste, they say.
Leaving for the day after delivering food and medicine and coming back another day would be better.
Just as I was swallowing my disappointment and giving up,
I saw a young girl walking in my direction, hesitating.
A woman who appeared to be her mother chased after her from a tattered shack. The child glanced at her mother and then looked back at me again.
“Are you giving bread for free?” she asked, glancing around nervously.
“Of course, that’s why I brought it,” I answered gently, matching her eye level.
The girl’s expression brightened for a moment, and she glanced at the medicine basket.
“Do you give medicine, too?”
“Are you sick?”
“Ah, I’m not. It’s my mom. She’s not feeling well.”
I raised my eyes and looked at the woman hurrying toward us. Even at a glance, she didn’t look healthy at all.
“Wait a bit.”
Matching my thoughts, Tia quickly gathered food and medicine, and I handed them to the child.
“Here’s food and medicine. If you need more, come back.”
“Re-really? Thank you!”
The child’s voice was choked with emotion. Clutching the bag with food and medicine tightly to her chest, she ran back to her mother with all her might.
‘She’s kind.’ Seeing the girl muster the courage for her ailing mother warmed my heart, and I couldn’t help but smile.
“Well, we should head back for today… Oh?”
My eyes widened as I was about to turn away. To my surprise, children were converging on me from all directions.
“Are-are you really giving food?”
A boy who looked like he hadn’t eaten for days asked me with a fearful voice.
“Of course, we have plenty of food. Line up and wait your turn.”
The faces of the gathered children lit up, and they formed a line. They were as eager as hungry baby birds, looking at their mother bird.
“Make sure you chew it well; if not, you’ll have an upset stomach later.”
Like that, I started distributing food to the children.
“Um, excuse me… Are you a noble?”
One of the children who received food asked, and I simply smiled without saying a word.
“Are you really a noble?”
When I replied, the children looked at me with amazement.
“My mom always said that nobles are all bad people.”
Most of the nobles these children had encountered were likely arrogant and authoritarian.
‘Because that’s how the aristocrats in ROWW were.’
So, for them, seeing me–a noblewoman–treating them kindly and even personally distributing food must have been shocking.
“You-you’re nothing like the other nobles! You’re like an angel!”
I unknowingly smiled at the word ‘angel.’
The children went “woah~” and looked at me in a half-dazed state as they absorbed the unexpected kindness.
As the line of children slowly dwindled, adults who had been watching cautiously started joining the line one by one.
‘It’s a success.’ I celebrated my accomplishment inwardly.
I felt disappointed, thinking I had to leave without achieving my goal, but things had unexpectedly worked out well.
I had a good feeling that I would meet Evan soon.
Of course, it didn’t take long for me to realize that this was just my own misconception.
* * *
“I’m grateful each time. I don’t know how to repay this kindness…”
The elderly man who received the food repeatedly lowered his head and thanked me. It was the sincerest expression of gratitude that those with nothing could offer.
I smiled kindly and glanced at the few remaining people in line. There were about ten left, but I couldn’t see the face I was eagerly seeking.
‘He didn’t come today, either.’ Impatience made my mouth dry.
It had been ten days, and I hadn’t seen a trace of Evan. I thought that, out of curiosity or hunger, he would show his face at least once. I was completely wrong.
‘At this rate, I won’t be able to meet him before he joins the Duchy.’
It was clearly mentioned in the novel that the duke brought Evan from the slums. The problem was that there were few details about it, and since the exact timing of Evan’s arrival was not mentioned, I had no way of knowing. As a result, my anxiety grew like a snowball. I was worried that this might disrupt my plan to become friends with him before entering the family.
Today, once again, I got on the carriage without any results. As the carriage started moving, a sigh escaped from my lips. Even though Evan was one of my concerns, I kept thinking about what the duke had said at breakfast.
“It seems the subjugation of snow monsters is almost over. Leon and Clark will be back sooner than planned.”
Upon hearing that, I nearly dropped the fork I was holding.
The snow monsters were known to be the most ruthless of the beasts.
Even in the original, the strong characters usually avoided confronting such beasts, as they were intelligent and moved in groups.
But apparently, those two madmen went against these dangerous beasts on their own and killed them as if competing with each other.
‘This can’t be.’ Perhaps this was my last golden opportunity until Leon and Clark returned.
Looking for Evan wasn’t enough anymore.
Creak~ The mansion’s iron gate creaked loudly and opened. As I arrived at the annex and got off the carriage, a familiar system alert sounded.
『System Alert! Unexpected Quest Opening』
『Category: Personal Training』
『Description: Seek out the personal training grounds and successfully defeat the highest difficulty level dummy』
『Reward: Increase in Physical Assimilation』
I quickly checked the contents and closed the window.
“Are you going to the training grounds first today, too?”
“It seems like I should.”
I took the lead and headed toward the training grounds. Today marked the tenth day since I unexpectedly started personal training that wasn’t in my original plans. Considering that these quests had been popping up regularly since I started my “survival plans,” it was more like a daily quest than an unexpected one.
『Current Physical Assimilation Rate – 38.6 %』
Considering that I started from 0%, it was a gratifying figure.
‘I have worked hard for it, haven’t I?’
It was an achievement that I, who hated exercising, accomplished through sheer willpower to survive. Nevertheless, that didn’t mean I was satisfied with this number.
In any other novel, the female lead would gain access to magic, use it freely, and quickly regain her memories… Why did I have to go through so much pain? Moreover! Wasn’t putting restrictions on my abilities going too far?
I glanced at my status window with disdain. The message was clear:
『Abilities will be unlocked when Physical Assimilation exceeds 50%』
‘It leaves me baffled every time I see it.’ The Brunak bloodline could use their abilities freely from an early age. But my abilities were limited like this…
It just seemed extremely unreasonable to me.
Suppressing my growing displeasure, I left the annex and arrived at the detached building after passing through the central back garden.
I descended to the basement of the building and stood in front of a door with the name “Kiana” engraved on it.
Click– The magical device recognized me, and the lock was released.
I opened the door and entered, finding myself in a massive private training ground that was hard to believe existed underground.
“I’ll prepare a change of clothes for you.”
With Tia’s expert assistance, I changed into a training suit comfortable for movement. Although it was called a training suit, it was more like an equestrian outfit.
Tia quietly stepped aside to ensure she wouldn’t interfere with my training. I tied my hair back and stood in the center of the training ground.
Taking a deep breath, I placed my hand on the whip that had been coiled around my waist.
『System Alert! Highest Difficulty Level Dummy’s Defeat Quest start!』
At that moment, a practice dummy that had been lying on the ground suddenly sprang to life.
Snap– With a swift motion, the whip extended and struck the dummy straight on. It was shattered into pieces at once.
‘Ah.’ My fingertips tingled in exhilaration. I had already lost that awkward and alien sensation I felt the first time I held the whip.
Suddenly, more than a dozen dummies simultaneously came to life.