Nezar and Lockherd’s horses bolted through the harsh rain.
Their hearing had already been deafened by the occasional roaring of thunder and horseshoes.
Fortunately, the speed of the horses exceeded Nezar’s running.

When they arrived at the forest keeper’s hut, the door that should have been closed was wide open.
Nezar got off his horse hastily and ran to the door.
He could only see a shadow from afar, but there was clearly a small person next to the open door.
Katrina was curled up, out in the pouring rain.


There was no answer from the girl who sat down on the dirt with her legs crossed.
Exhaling heavily, Nezar turned his head.
As Lockherd approached, he threw the raincoat he was wearing at him.

“Wrap her up and get on the horse.”

Nezar wrapped Katrina’s body with his and Lockherd’s raincoats.
Obviously, the falling rainwater was cold, but the body in his arms was hot like a fireball.
Nezar bit his lips anxiously.

The three quickly came back to Ezelot Castle.
Daisy followed Nezar up the stairs with puffy eyes.
Lockherd was nowhere to be seen, but it was Katrina, not him, that mattered right now.

About an hour later, a doctor arrived outside the castle.
It was a white-haired old man that Lockherd had brought back himself from downtown.

“I’ve done everything I could for now.
Miss Daisy, a moment outside please…”

Considering that he could memorise the maid’s name, the doctor must have visited quite often.

When the maid and the physician were gone, in Katrina’s bedroom remained only the owner of the room and Nezar.
Unlike the rain outside, Katrina’s room was warm.
The doctor had come, but somehow Nezar still felt helpless.
He reached out towards Katrina’s forehead with her messy hair, then withdrew again.
He was so distracted that he completely forgot that his whole body was covered in dirt.

“Seriously … you have such a knack for making people worry sick.”

Not long after, he led his heavy body back to his bedroom.
As he immersed himself in the hot tub, he felt like he was melting from head to toe.

As soon as Nezar finished cleansing his body, he went down the stairs again.
He was concerned that Katrina might have a seizure in that short time.
Daisy was already exhausted from crying all day and would not be able to help much in taking care of Katrina.
Nezar was the only one left in this castle that would nurse her wholeheartedly.

“You doglike bastards.”

Once the sun came up, he would have to get rid of the head maid first.
In many ways, he could get her kicked out with a bare body.
What would be best… attempted assassination toward a noble family member? Would that be the most appropriate?


The next day, Ezelot’s head maid, Morcada Sola, was dismissed from Count Ezelot’s castle.
She was not simply fired.
She was flogged and her property was also confiscated for attempting to assassinate the Count’s daughter.
Being flogged with that over fifty-year-old body of hers was like a hanging sentence.

As soon as her breathing was confirmed to have weakened, the former head maid, Morcada, was abandoned in a back alley, naked, late at night.
What happened afterward was unknown to Nezar.
He wasn’t interested anyway.

With this incident, the atmosphere of Ezelot Castle changed considerably.
The Count was so shocked that he fired all the workers except Daisy, and the Countess went to Katrina’s bedroom and stay til late every night to put her to sleep.

Why had no one ever noticed the ill-treatment the small girl was receiving? Could it be merely explained by saying ‘it’s dark under the oil-lamp’*? He never thought her family would be this interested in her.
The Ezelot in Nezar’s mind was a very odd family.

T/n: It’s dark under the oil-lamp (or ‘The beacon does not shine on its own base’) – implicates that things are unfolding right before one’s eyes or near them, but they’re somehow blinded and could not see them.
 (for some illustration: )

However, even if the Count and Countess changed, it wasn’t sure that the attitude of the brothers had changed as well.
The reason was very simple.
Because Katrina didn’t want to leave Nezar’s side.

“Read it again.”

“No! I don’t know! I told you I don’t know!”

Actually, it wasn’t a big deal that Katrina didn’t want to be separated from Nezar.
But it was just exhausting…

“What do you not know? Do you have the brain of a bird? Even the parrot that I raised in the palace can say sentences that are repeated more than five times.
But why can’t you?”

“I said I don’t know because I truly don’t know.
What do you want me to do about it? If your parrot is so smart, go and teach it!”

The process of turning Katrina Ezelot into a decent human being required tremendous patience.

Angry, Katrina huffed like a wild boar invading a sweet potato field.
On the other hand, Nezar, who had been staring at her whilst striving to suppress his outburst of rage, eventually slumped down on the desk, helpless.
He just didn’t know what he was doing here with all the wealth and glory he had anymore.

Before long, Kate’s nervous voice was heard from behind his head.

“I-, I take back what I just said.
I’m not a parrot, but please teach me.
I will try harder to memorise it.”

Nezar raised his body with a grimace on his face.

“Why do you always have the same excuses? I’ve told you, if you don’t want to be ignored or disdained wherever you go, you have to be able to speak at least three languages.”

“I told my mother that, and she also said it’s too much for me.”

“Even the idiotic Lockherd, who is only good at using his body, could speak another language.
Do you want to fall behind even the stupid Lockherd?”

Katrina shook her head with her face flushed red at Nezar’s provocation.

“I’d rather not die!”

Her brows furrowed tightly and aggressively at his words, but now that he was already used to it to some extent, he didn’t even bother to point it out.
After getting his frustrated inner self under control, Nezar brought back the book that had been pushed away.

“This is the last time.
This time, memorise it properly.”


As he tiredly repeated ‘Hello.
Nice to meet you.
My name is Katrina Ezelot’, the sun was setting.

Naturally, Katrina’s second language skills did not improve at all.
For a few days, Nezar had to ponder whether Katrina was a goldfish or not.
If she was, how she did become a human? And if she wasn’t, how could she not remember those three simple sentences even after repeating them for two days?

Lockherd, who continued his crazy routine around the racetrack, shook his head every time he heard Nezar’s lament.

“You think that my mother hasn’t tried that? Five tutors left because they couldn’t handle her.

Having said that, Lockherd poured cold water on his sweaty hair.
If he were to go out there in this state and his hair froze, the idiot would probably make a fuss about how amazing and miraculous seemed to him.
Even though Nezar couldn’t see it for himself, he could already tell, for the scenario had already been drawn clearly before his eyes.

Come to think about it, Katrina and Lockherd had many similarities.
The fact that they were closer to being an animal rather than a human, that they only did what they wanted, and that they were disgusted at the sight of bell peppers.
Of course, the ignorance on Katrina’s part had to be added up endlessly.
But all in all, they truly related as siblings in many ways.

“But I don’t think those five were as sincere as you are though.
If you leave, Kate might cry until she’s dehydrated.”

To Lockherd’s words, Nezar answered nonchalantly.

“I promised to come back in a month.”

“A month? Isn’t that when the semester starts?”

“That’s right.
I’m going back to the academy after four more days in Ezelot.”

Because of Katrina, who always asked him to come back every time he saw her, he was forced to make a specific appointment.

“Are you really the Nezar Audrine Caval I know? Are you sure you’re not someone else? Or do you have a fever?”

Lockherd’s damp palm reached over to Nezar’s forehead.
At that, Nezar slapped his hand out, irritated.
Lockherd, whose hand got slapped, clicked his tongue.

“How funny.
If she asks you to marry her, will you do that as well?”

“Don’t be absurd.”

“How is that absurd? Do you think you can marry the grown-up Kate to someone else later on when you love her this much? I am her real brother in the first place, not you, so why are you pampering her this much?”

“If you’re going to keep talking nonsense, get out of here.
Go ride on your stupid horse, fall off and break your nose.”

“You’re the one who’ll fall though, not me.
Let’s see who’s right.”

Lockherd snorted as he did not forget to curse his friend to the very end.
Though Nezar just left it out of his ears.

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