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In the Marquis’ estate, she was able to sleep on a thick mattress with two layers of duvets.

The duvets were filled with only soft duck feathers, and so it felt like she was sleeping atop clouds.

There was no pain from her bones pressing against hard boards, and she wasn’t like a piece of ham with her arms and legs bound while sleeping in a hammock.
When she woke up in those duvets, they didn’t become frozen blankets that made the sound of something being shattered.

Awakened by the soft sunlight streaming through the soft chiffon curtains, the feathers that smelled like lavender made it feel like she was embracing light on that bed.
She couldn’t believe she could roll around like this in the morning…!

Radis decided.

“Even if I end up leaving the Marquisate, I’ll live—surely I will! I need to buy wool mattresses and feather duvets…!”

Radis opened the curtains and opened the window.

Soaked with dew and shining under a silver sheen, the garden was so beautiful that exclamations came out naturally.

She stood against the window frame and enjoyed the cool, fragrant morning air.

And her luxury didn’t end there.

“Lady Radis, are you up?”

She didn’t know how, but when Radis woke up, the Marquisate’s maids knew it right away and brought over some water for her to use to wash her face.

After washing her face in warm, flower-scented water, she saw that there was breakfast waiting for her.

Meals at the Marquisate.

Considering this, Radis somehow wanted to last at least two years here.

Brendon, the Marquisate’s chef was, in Radis’ humble opinion, a genius.

When Radis was suffering from her cold, Brandon made a dish for her that made her feel as though she could rise from her bed even if she was dying.

Lemon sherbet that just goes down smoothly in one’s throat, caramel pudding that melts at the tip of one’s tongue, apple pies baked with plenty of cinnamon.

When Brendon, who had a nice mustache, gave a generous dash of caramel syrup with spices on the pudding while saying it was good for her cold, Radis heard a bell-like, angelic sound coming from above the chef’s head.

Today as well, Brendon was displaying his genius on a platter.

The light sandwich was chock-full with salted ham and crunchy vegetables, and beside it was a bowl of sweet chestnut soup.

Of course, both were so delicious that she could cry.

These days, because she looked forward to breakfast, her eyes would open at dawn.

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After a satisfactory meal, Radis poured a cup of tea that was brewed with high-quality leaves, and inside the teacup was a slice of lemon.

The sweet taste spread inside her mouth as she took a sip, and its warmth was spread within her as well.

“Haa…”

Almost shuddering, Radis’ shoulders shook with happiness.

In the past, she didn’t know how much satisfaction food, clothing and shelter could bring to one’s life.

It was too great of a feeling of happiness that it’s unbelievable that this luck came by chance.

“If this isn’t a vacation, I don’t know what is.”

Cloud-like beds and sunny rooms.

And also delicious meals brought by lovely maids that made Radis wonder if they were actually angels.

She felt sorry for her own self when she recalled how the grumpy Irene would bring her meals before.

The most important thing was that there was no Margaret, who frequently came to her and did verbal and physical abuse, no David, who would spout sarcastic remarks and quarrel whenever their eyes met, no Yurhi, who would turn her face to look away and ignore Radis.

And there was no Jade, who seemed to be doing nothing wrong, but was actually the cause for all the family’s problems.

“Now that I’m out of the Tilrod household, it feels like I’m living when it’s like this.”

Other people undergo sufferings after leaving home, and they would feel homesick because they would miss their families.
However, for Radis, she felt sick and tired just saying the word ‘Tilrod’ with her own lips.

She shook her head to rid herself of thoughts of the Tilrod family.

Then, she opened the letter she received from her teacher Armano, which was brought to her by a maid.

[ My most lovely and cute student Radis,

My heart is filled with both joy and sorrow to hear that you are now in the Russell Marquisate.

My joy stems from the confidence in my belief that you would fare better anywhere compared to the Tilrod household, but my sorrow comes from my own helplessness.
I didn’t want to leave without being able to help you.
]

Radis smiled because it was almost like she could hear her teacher’s voice.

Teacher Armano sounded more like a bard than a knight.

[ I wish to teach you more about swordsmanship, but it will be difficult for you to learn through letters.

But it’s a meaningful challenge for me, as I am infinitely interested in expressing everything through ample words.

First of all, you have to tap into your vitality and the essence of your strong will in order to feel your flow of mana.

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Conjuring it is the first step.

It’s usually conjured through the hand.

For me to explain this, I may have to write about it from the time the sun sets to the time the rising star has reached the sky’s zenith.

Ah, don’t you like this expression? It’s more poetic than just saying ‘all night long’.

Anyway, your hand, and the next is through your weapon.
However, the moment I tried to explain this in writing, I felt the limitations of my vocabulary.

A cold sense of despair and helplessness surrounded me that made me put down my quill.

If you reach this level, you’ll be able to gain the seal of a mage knight.

But you know already that’s not the goal of knights, right?

This level is only something you’ll have to pass through, for a knight’s path is continuously headed towards the devotion that would quench one’s own temper so as to tread the path of honor.
You must keep this in mind.
]

Radis read through the lines in Armano’s letter with a smile on her face.

Armano was the most distinctive person she knew.

When she didn’t know anything, he was the one to open her eyes and widen her horizons, and this was by only listening to Armano so that she could understand properly.

Radis continued to read his letter.

[ There are various training methods to purify and enrich one’s yang¹ though I think it’s too early for you to know about them.

But my cute disciple, to satiate your curiosity that which shines like the brightest star in the evening sky, I will tell you that the basis of training your mana is to deal with it delicately.

The fact that I can’t express all of these in writing also gives me a sweet sense of defeat.
]

Oooong, oooong.

At the tip of Radis’ right index finger, a red, flame-like dollop of mana fluttered, making an undulating sound.
And at this, Radis wrote in a letter, ‘It’s more than enough, teacher.’

[ And the relationship between a mana stone from demonic beasts and pure mana that you asked about.

I didn’t know you had such a weird side.

You cute fellow.
]

“So Teacher doesn’t know.”

The letter fluttered in Radis’ hand, and she turned the paper over.

[ I wanted to leave for the south so that I can meet you one more time, however, there’s something urgent I need to do first because it’s been a long time since the deadline I promised to my boss had passed.

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But my cutest, loveliest, most adorable disciple, I am ready to help you any time, whenever you need me.

If you need my help, do send me a letter any time.

Don’t be too impatient for the day we see each other again.
]

Radis folded Armano’s letter carefully.

“Hmm…”

Then, she picked up a teaspoon that was on the table.

Whoosh. A flame that was conjured wrapped over the teaspoon.

She directed her focus towards her fingertips.

She already knew how to wield mana.

In her previous life, she had already created a mana core and learned how to use mana through practicing.

Mana had no form or shape, but depending on how you handle it, it becomes a weapon more threatening than any other.

Back then, her mana was, for her, a razor-sharp sword.

It was a weapon she used to fight against all that came at her.

She wielded her mana endlessly and honed it well enough for it to become sharper than anything else.

“Mm.”

Radis lowered her chin as the flame-like mana wrapped the entire teaspoon, looking as if the two substances were fusing.

She wasn’t satisfied with it, but with this teaspoon, she’d be able to reach the middle of the forest of monsters.

“First, I think the amount of mana I have is sizeable enough.
It wasn’t that my mana was lacking that night, but that my body couldn’t keep up.”

Radis gathered her mana.

Then the teaspoon, which could not endure the mana’s pressure, crack! split in half vertically.

“Aack!”

Raising the teaspoon that was split into two vertically, Radis was taken aback as she felt sweat trickling down.

She just wielded what she had conjured, but she didn’t think this would actually happen.

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“This could be expensive… No, it shouldn’t be, right?”

Radis had no choice but to shove it under the carpet.

“I’ll throw it away later when I leave.”

Radis lifted the teacup and drank her remaining tea, glancing at the clock.

Her meeting time with Marquis Russell was approaching.

Her expression became a little darker.

 

* * *

 

“Radis…!”

Yves Russell’s neck was flushed red and his breath was rough.

“Why are you being stubborn? Don’t you know how important this is?”

At Yves’ words, Radis blushed and avoided his gaze.

“Yes, I don’t know.
I have no idea why Your Excellency is so fixated on this.
Is it really that important?”

No one saw it, but Yves Russell’s forehead crumpled, but smoothed out again.

“Just endure it this once.”

“…You said that last time, but this is already the second time.”

Yves Russell’s body shuddered at the sound of Radis’ whining.

Eventually, because he’d become so impatient, he took it upon himself to undo the first button of her shirt.

In a domineering tone that was disguised with politeness, he whispered softly.

“Radis, don’t you have to pay for your meals?”

——

¹ Yang is generally translated as positive, light or masculine energy compared to yin, which is negative, dark or feminine energy.
These are only loose translations, and I don’t feel like any of these words truly encapsulate what yang means in the context that Armano has brought it up, so I left it as is in my translation.

I know this novel has a western setting, but the source material is still, after all, Asian, and ‘yang’ is such a concept that I don’t think one single English word can encapsulate.
I hope you don’t mind.

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