He had thin, violet eyes that glimmered seductively. His nose was narrow and straight. His lips thin. And all these features were perfectly aligned. Even the jet black hair that was tied behind his head seemed to enhance his beauty.
Judging by the air his frighteningly sculpted face emitted, he must be in his late twenties. Not that I had ever asked him.
"It is a pleasure to meet you again, Lord Brail."
"Ahh. It was good of you to come, young lady."
Even as he said it, his face was expressionless and as cold as ice. There wasn't an ounce of warmth in that reception.
Now, as to why a commoner like me was an acquaintance of a noble like him, there was a very simple explanation.
He had come to dine as a guest at the restaurant that I had worked.
The owner of the restaurant had told me that he was an especially famous noble, and at the time, I was quite surprised that such a person would come to this ordinary place.
However, he had not acted particularly self-important, he ate normally, paid normally and left without raising a single complaint. He had been so different to what I been expecting from a noble, that it remained as a shocking memory.
And well, Lord Brail continued to visit like this every once in a while.
And as I waited for him, we might exchange a few words now and again. How is the food? Or, would you like some more tea? And other such small talk.
We were only waiter and customer, that was all it was supposed to be.
Until that day.
On that day, a child of another customer had spilled some soup on their leg. Usually, soup that was served to children would have been cooled a little before serving, but apparently, there was a mistake on that day, and the child suffered a light burn.
Having noticed this and become frantic, I created some cold water as it was faster than returning to the kitchen, and used the water to cool off the child's leg. I don't know if it was due to this treatment, but the burn did not become any worse for it.
And it was none other than Lord Brail who shared some medicine with us at this time.
It happened after the child and the family had left, and the store was beginning to empty. I approached Lord Brail with the intent of thanking him once again.
"So you can use magic then?"
Oh no. This thought only hit me after I heard him say those words.
No, the child was alright, and so I did not regret it.
But I had done it behind a table, no one should have been able to see it. A child was crying, it should have gone unnoticed. But this man had noticed.
Magic belonged to the noble class.
There was a lump of magical energy that existed in everyone to varying degrees. It called a magical core. But you could not perform the ceremony to unleash this core unless you were a noble. It was forbidden for common folk to do.
The surface reasons for this were that it took an immense amount of money and that commonfolk tended to have much less magical energy than nobles. But the general public knew that the main reason was to allow nobles to maintain their superiority over the rest. But most feared nobles too much to point this out to their face.
However, there were a rare few who could use magic even without performing this ceremony. Yes, people like me.
And such people were called 'demon possessed.'
No one knew why we were able to use magic without the ceremony. It was said that the state was conducting secret research on 'demon possession,' but no one has ever heard of any results coming from it.
What people did hear were rumors that those who were demon-possessed were close to monsters. Monsters could use magic without the ceremony. And so it made sense that those who were possessed would be related to them.
Any who were exposed as such was said to be in danger of being taken away by the state or nobles to be turned into research material. And so those who were possessed would have to hide their abilities.
"Wh-what might you be referring to…"
"It will do you no good to try and hide it. I've seen it with my own eyes."
He told me to do it again. Pour water into the cup.
Of course, I could not refuse, and so I steeled myself for the worst. Holding back tears as best as I could, my trembling hand went over the cup. Water. I command in my mind, and the cup was immediately full.
"…As I thought, you don't even need to chant."
Though, his quiet mumbling was not heard by me. My entire body knew nothing but total despair.
I was done. My life was now over.
What would happen to me now? Would I lose my freedom, become a specimen for research for the rest of my days, as the magic was squeezed out of me? Or would they chop me up and inspect my flesh and blood?
Lord Brail didn’t say anymore that day, but quietly left the restaurant. But after that, I had no sense of being alive and waited every day in fear.
And yet, after that incident, he had stopped coming to visit.
While the owner was worried that we had unintentionally done something to offend him, I was quite relieved.
Then a week passed, then a month, and by the time three months had elapsed, my simple mind had found a single hope.
Perhaps Lord Brail had no real interest in me, in demon possession. Perhaps he had only wanted to confirm what he had seen at that time.
That would explain why I was being left alone for so long. It was a rather forceful conclusion, and maybe I had just been desperate to find relief.
However, God was not so kind, and it was only three days later that I received a letter from Lord Brail.
I was to go to the castle one week later. And as if to reassure me, he added that he would do me no harm.
But I had given up on everything the moment I read it. I decided that I would go to Lord Brail.
As I didn't know if I would ever return after going to the castle, it was necessary to end my employment on the day before departure.
I was sure that the couple who owned the restaurant would be furious, but they said that it couldn't be helped and reluctantly let me go. They had seen that I was not myself during the past few months and had been worried. I was grateful for that.
Then the day arrived.
If I must go, then I would at least enjoy seeing the castle and everything else, I told myself as I attempted to remain positive. And I would also try to believe his promise that I would not be harmed.
Such were the circumstances that led to me standing here.