What To Do At Night - Chapter 1.1
<Arsion Hastings is about to become a paladin.>
One day in March, the high society was turned upside down by a rumour that flew into the capital along with the warm spring breeze.
“Sir Arsion is trying to become a paladin? But I’ve heard that he’d return after he was done with his apprenticeship.”
“I know, right? I too thought he’d be back in the capital soon…….”
“No, more than that, isn’t Sir Arsion the sole heir to Duke Hastings? If he does become a paladin, then who will succeed the duke?”
The first thing people were worried about was who would succeed the Duke.
Duke Hastings had only one child, Arsion. This was why people unavoidably began to call Arsion “Little Duke Hastings” since they believed him to be the next duke. So, how could someone like Arsion become a paladin?
A person could only become a paladin if he decided to devote his body and mind completely to the goddess and pledged abstinence; by extension, celibacy in both body and mind and by logic it meant that a paladin couldn’t have a successor.
“If Sir Arsion really becomes a paladin, it will become hard to see him anymore, right?”
Despair tinged the face of the young lady as she asked that. The faces of the other accompanying young ladies were no different.
They couldn’t see Arsion anymore.
It was really something to despair over for the woman in the high society. Arsion wasn’t only famous because of his status as the sole heir to Duke Hastings. Of course, that fact alone would make him desirable, but the reason why everyone in high society liked him was because of his devastatingly beautiful and splendid appearance, which also earned him the nickname: “A gift from God”.
When he first debuted in the social circle, everyone irrespective of their age or gender just kept looking at him and no one danced that night even though music kept playing. Even now, after so many years, people kept on eagerly talking about it as if it were yesterday.
One of the women who was gushing over Arsion grinned and said, “By the way … what will happen to Lady Ariel, now?”
As soon as the name came out, the faces of the young ladies who were talking about Arsion turned stiff. The more praises poured for Arsion, the more they hated that name.
It was because Ariel was Arsion’s fiancée.
“Of course their engagement will be annulled.”
“Oh my! It won’t be easy for her to find a new marriage prospect now.”
There wasn’t a twinge of sad pity in the voice of the lady who said that. No, rather it was dripped with glee.
These young ladies of noble families were always envious of Ariel.
Ariel Bellford. She was the second daughter of Baron Bellford, a retainer of Duke Hastings. She had nothing to offer besides her pretty face. In fact, even though she was pretty, her appearance wasn’t good enough to be the talk of the social circles where there were many ladies who’d beat her in terms of appearance and beauty.
Nevertheless, Ariel received a distinctive special treatment in high society; the crown princess always had her by her side, and the duke’s main residence, which was an unreachable place for many, was like Ariel’s home.
They were already envious of the fact that she was Arsion’s fiancée, but when Ariel was treated like that, their envy towards her grew day by day.
“I heard that when she was six, Lady Ariel begged Sir Arsion to get engaged with her and he promised to do it. Their engagement is a result of that promise. ”
“I’ve also heard about it. In fact, even though they’re engaged, isn’t it actually that the Hastings haven’t promised to be engaged in writing?”
“So you mean to say that Lady Ariel has been going around getting treated as Sir Arsion’s fiancée until now even though their engagement has no legitimacy?”
“Oh my God! How shameless!”
“Well, the daughter of a baron, who has no fief, finally seized the opportunity to become the mistress of a duchy. Do you think she would let this chance go so easily? If that’s the case, she really doesn’t know her place……”
As time passed the young ladies’ voices grew sharper and sharper. Today, they were all determined to vent out all their hostility against Ariel, which they had held back for so long.
They were all so immersed and self-absorbed in their conversation that they didn’t notice Ariel, who was wearing a wide-brimmed hat, getting up from her seat not too far away from them.
Ariel left the palace after she was done listening to their gossip and sighed as soon as she got on her carriage. She told the coachman to head home and then closed her eyes. She felt nauseous and her head was dizzy. Ariel knew very well that it wasn’t because of the shaking of the carriage.
The words from earlier rang in her ear.
Shameless. Someone who doesn’t know her place.
Ariel bowed her head. She herself knew very well that she was such a person.
Ariel recalled the incidents from a time long ago.
Although her father held the title of Baron, his status was in fact close to that of a commoner. By her grandfather’s time, her family’s fortune had dried out, and they had long sold their palm-sized estate to make a living.
Ariel’s family somehow managed to make ends meet thanks to her father’s talent in accounting. It was only when Duke Hastings recognized her father’s abilities and made him his retainer that their lives changed and they no longer had to help their distant relatives in a rural village.
Her father was given the retainers’ lodging that was located in the remote corner of the duke’s estate. While the main household was off-limits for most of the staff, the duke’s large garden was open to all servants. Because of this, Ariel was excited about the new playground and was busy wandering around from morning to evening.
One day, Ariel saw a small building on one side of the garden. It was quite clear that it was a shrine built in the duke’s mansion. The building had no doors but there was a large statue of the Goddess inside, like the ones she had seen at the shrines every weekend.
‘Is there no one here?’
The shrine near her previous house always had villagers in it, but in this shrine, there was no sign of life, only burning candles occupying their place inside the shrine.
Ariel was used to always wandering alone. The shrine had a different air around it from the shrines she had seen and she soon felt sleepy. She thought it must have been because she ate a lot of lunch before going out.
‘Shall I get some sleep?’
The silence inside made her feel drowsier. Ariel looked around the shrine and noticed something like a large basket covered with a soft cloth. It was big enough to fit a 6-year-old child if he or she’d curled up.
Ariel climbed up without even knowing what it was and laid down in it. The soft cloth that rubbed against her face felt good. It smelled good too.
Ariel closed her eyes and fell asleep very quickly.
How long has it been? Ariel woke up and rubbed her eyes. Her little head couldn’t remember where she was, or why she had slept here. All she knew was that it was getting dark because the sun was already setting.
Ariel was suddenly terrified.
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