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Chapter 28

The next day, Raymond, along with his knight escorts and nine children of beastmen loaded in a cart, arrived at the border lord’s mansion.

“Welcome, Lord Raymond,” Eva and the others greeted him with a smile as Raymond approached.

“Hello, Eva. How was your journey with Lucas?” Raymond asked with a smile.

“Brother, you must be tired. This is Lord Arthur, the border lord,” Lucas introduced Arthur, glaring at Raymond before Eva could respond.

“I apologize for any rudeness during your previous visit, as we were unaware that you were the First Prince of the Dacian Empire. Welcome to the Stahl border lord’s territory today. We will do our utmost to host you,” Arthur said, bowing his head.

Raymond nodded graciously. “Thank you. I look forward to your hospitality.”

Lily stepped forward and curtsied.

“I am Lily, Arthur’s wife. You must be tired from your long journey. If it’s alright, I’ll go with Lady Eva and show the children to their rooms.”

“Yes, some of the children have deep emotional wounds and will need care. Please take good care of them,” Raymond requested.

“Of course. We will do our best to look after them,” Lily reassured him.

Eva and Lily approached the cart, and Eva lifted the cover to peek inside. The children, with frightened faces, looked back at her in unison. Despite their dark eyes and scared expressions, Eva smiled gently to reassure them.

Many beastmen children from the Dacian Empire had been kidnapped and sold to the nobles and merchants of this country. Only nine survived. While many, due to their physical abilities, managed to escape, others likely met a tragic end in a foreign land. The mere thought of their fate was painful.

The children in the cart varied in age and gender. They had characteristic beastmen traits like tails or beast ears, and some had both. All of them wore expressions marked by deep shadows.

There might be reasons why they couldn’t simply rejoice at the thought of returning home. Eva could only hope they wouldn’t have any more unpleasant experiences during their stay in the border lord’s territory.

Eva guided the boys and girls to their respective rooms. She took the five girls to their room.

“This will be your room. Choose any bed you like. The bath is in the back, so use it whenever you want,” she said, looking around at the five girls who peeked into the room with cautious eyes. They ranged from ten to seventeen years old and were wearing mismatched clothes that didn’t fit well.

“I’m Eva. Nice to meet you,” she said with a smile, but the girls’ expressions remained stiff.

“This is the Stahl Border Lord’s territory at the edge of the Kingdom of Tifris. You can stay here until you leave for the Dacian Empire. Feel free to spend as much time as you like within the mansion. You can go out to the garden too. However, there’s a large forest outside the mansion walls, so please stay within the grounds,” Eva explained.

“Are we really allowed to leave the room freely?” asked the eldest girl, who appeared to be a cat beastman with adorable brown cat ears twitching on her head.

“Yes, of course. Feel free to move around within the mansion,” Eva reassured them.

The previous night, Greta, Lily, and Eva discussed how much to restrict the children’s movements. They decided to house the children in a large room in the knights’ quarters, thinking they might feel lonely if given individual rooms.

Some of the children had been shackled and deprived of freedom. Depending on their beastly traits, they might have found it hard to move freely. It was decided they should be allowed to move around freely here.

“Lily, I appreciate your kindness, but wouldn’t the unfamiliar servants be startled by the beastmen? I don’t want the children to get hurt further,” Greta worried.

Lily’s response was surprising.

“The Stahl Border Lord’s territory borders the Dacian Empire. Some of the locals encounter people from Dacian in the mountains. Thanks to Lady Elizabeth’s guidance, the locals are used to seeing beastmen. She advised farmers and foresters and became beloved as the ‘Silver Fairy.’ Lady Elizabeth often spoke about the people of Dacian, teaching that they were the same inside despite appearances. So, the locals no longer fear them. The servants who stayed are those who understand this and have no intent to harm.”

Eva was surprised by this unexpected information about her mother.

“When we knew that people from the Dacian Empire were coming, we asked all the servants. Those uncomfortable with beastmen were given a few days off. Those who stayed have no prejudice,” Lily explained.

“Thank you, Lily,” Eva said, touched by her thoughtfulness.

“We’re sorry for the past harassment you faced. We couldn’t protect you,” Lily said, lowering her eyes.

Eva held Lily’s hand.

“It’s alright. If anyone had spoken up, they might have suffered too. Just knowing you cared is enough. The household staff always protected me. There’s nothing to apologize for.”

Eva felt a warmth in her heart, realizing how her mother’s actions had borne unexpected fruits.

“So, Greta, the children can move freely here. I’ll inform the servants,” Lily said, making Greta smile with relief.

Annie arrived, carrying clothes for the children.

“Perfect timing. We have clothes for you all. Can you try them on to see if they fit?” Annie asked.

Natalie, Eva’s nanny and Annie’s mother, had quickly gathered the clothes from the townspeople.

“There are clothes for the boys in the other room too,” she added.

A little girl hesitantly reached out for the pile of clothes.

“Pick any you like. They’re yours, even though they’re second-hand,” Eva encouraged.

When Eva gently spoke to the child, she looked up at Eva with sparkling eyes.

“I’ve never worn pink clothes before, and I’ve always wanted to try,” the girl said in a small, stuttering voice. The simple wish tugged at Eva’s heart.

“Yes, yes, we have lots of pink clothes. Let’s find one that fits,” Eva said, blinking back the tears that welled up in her eyes as she turned towards the pile of clothes.

Following the girl’s lead, the other children began to reach for the pile of clothes. Eva hoped that even a little bit of this would help fill their hearts.

However, an older girl with cat ears didn’t reach out at all.

“Didn’t you find anything you liked?” Eva asked gently, moving to her side and speaking softly.

The girl glanced at Eva before turning her face away with a huff.

Annie, who seemed to want to say something, looked at Eva, who nodded with a reassuring smile.

“My name is Eva. What’s yours?” she asked.

“…Felice,” the girl replied.

“Nice to meet you, Felice.”

Though Felice’s attitude remained sullen, she had shared her name, which warmed Eva’s heart. It was a good sign that they could talk.

“What color do you like, Felice?” Eva asked.


“I think vibrant colors would suit you. Deep navy like this would also look great on you. Your size seems similar to mine,” Eva said, holding up a dark blue dress.

Both Greta and Felice were tall, suggesting that women from the Dacian Empire were generally tall. Like her mother, Eva was also taller than the average woman in the Kingdom of Tifris.

“I’ll hang the remaining clothes in the closet in this room, so feel free to try on anything you like,” Eva said.

Annie explained how to use the room and gave a general overview of the mansion’s layout. Eva encouraged the children to relax until dinner, then she and Annie left the room.

“It’s hard to get them to open up,” Annie remarked.

“Yes… They’ve been through so much. It’s difficult to lower their guard in a new place with new people. At least Felice told us her name, so she hasn’t completely shut us out. We shouldn’t force anything,” Eva said, recalling her own captivity under Count Burke.

Felice’s experience might not be the same, but having endured fear and frustration that she couldn’t overcome on her own, Eva couldn’t fault Felice for her attitude.

“Let’s go to Lady Lily. She must be very busy,” Eva suggested.

When they went to call the children for dinner, Felice had changed into the dark blue dress Eva had recommended. Eva exchanged a secret smile with Annie.

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