「 Oh, dear Renald… How could this happen to you… 」
It is at this moment, I hear a mysterious female voice. The voice sounds quite soothing, yet sobbings could be heard through the suppressed sound of hiccups. I couldn’t really hear what she’s saying but it is as if it’s directed towards me, desperately calling me. Why am I hearing a woman’s voice? Unconsciously, I open my eyes. The scene which greets me was out of place.
Upon waking, I found myself burrowed in a soft, warm sheet. The roof is made with what seems to be fancy marble common in luxurious residences. The freshness of the air, which contrasts with the once sour air, forces me to fully awake as I start to raise my body. On the left side of the bed, a woman with what seems to be in her mid-30s is looking at me with her watery eyes; tears flowing down her otherwise beautiful cheek.
「 Bless the goddess Maria! You are awake! 」
In a flash, her arms wrap around my shoulder as she pulls me closer. Her warmth feels comfortable yet unfamiliar.
「 When the maid carried you over to your bed, and the butler Drake told me you fell off a tree; I became so worried. 」
She tightens her hug and sobs even louder. Who is this woman? Where am I? Why is she hugging me? How is it possible I’m still able to breathe and think?! When seconds before, the excruciating tight pain surrounded my neck was the only thing I could think of. Now, a crying stranger is hugging me as if I’m her most loved one.
「 Who… Who are you…? W-where am I? 」
She stops tightening her arms as she pulls away.
「 Oh dear goddess, a-are you okay my baby? 」
I stare into her eyes, tears still dripping on her cheek. Oh god, why is she crying? Is she crying over my failed suicide attempt? But why is she calling me her baby?!
Silence remains, with only her sobbing echoing through the room. Perhaps, from sensing my clueless expression, she tries to breathe in more in the midst of her hiccups.
「 It’s me Renald, your mother. How could you even forget your own mother?! Oh, dear goddess are you really okay?! 」
What the heck, who’s Renald? My name is Yoshinobu Ryo. What’s going on?! Am I dreaming? Am I in another person’s body?
「 I can’t believe this. I’m so sorry but I-I… 」
She jumps away from me and with her hands lifting her skirt, she runs away.
The door shut closed. With the sound of the sharp steps fading away.
What happens with my suicide attempt? How am I still alive? And she’s my mother? Did she mistake me for his son, Renald? I need to figure out where exactly I am.
I get off the bed as I plant my foot on the floor, I noticed it is covered with smooth carpet. I stood up and felt my body composition feeling weird and unfamiliar; as if I became much smaller. Noticing there’s something wrong with my body, I worriedly looked through a mirror near the bed encased in an artistically carved wooden frame. The reflection it gave to me is a young teenage boy with an innocent babyface. Short blue hair with black eyes.
This can’t be… I-I can’t believe this. No, I refuse to believe this.
I shove my hands all over my body as I looked into the mirror. My movement and senses were aligned perfectly with the reflection.
Unless this mirror is broken, the only assumption I could think of is that I really did move to another person’s body. And that person was that woman’s child, Renald. Which is now gone, somehow replaced by me.
Fuck… Wasn’t I supposed to be dead?! Hanging by the rope or buried down in a coffin with my family crying over my suicide?! How the hell did I somehow possess a child’s body?! Not only that, what’s with this weird blue hair?!
Is this some kind of a sick joke from God?! After all the things I did to commit suicide, God wants me to continue my suffering?! Why the hell did I try so hard to kill myself then?! Just let me die already, goddammit.
So, hell or heaven doesn’t exist? Only reincarnation?! But how the fuck did I reincarnate to a boy?! Why do I still have memories from my past life?! Didn’t the Buddhists believe in complete reincarnation?! Ahhh…. I wish somebody would just explain what the hell is going on!
The door behind me opens with its hinges letting out a small but noticeable squeaky noise, forcing me to stop my thoughts.
「 Renald-sama. It seems that you’ve awakened already. 」
I turn my back and see a man wearing a black suit like a typical butler, bowing fully. His hair and his trimmed beard were white. His black eyes were rather sharp, but what I feel is respect and a gentle attitude towards me.
「 Excuse me, but w-who are you…? It looks like I’ve lost my… my m-memories… 」
I tell him deliberately that I have forgotten my memories. I can’t let them know that the child they used to know is instead replaced with a stranger.
「 Indeed… Looks like Lady Heva-sama’s concern was true. 」
「 Lady Heva-sama… Is she… Is she my mother? 」
「 Heva Alderhide, the wife of the great Earl Falben Alderhide. Please don’t call her Lady Heva-sama. She’s your mother and should be treated like that. 」
That woman is my mother? And her husband or ‘my father’ is an Earl? Am I in the middle age time period?
「 I’m butler Drake, assigned by your father Earl Falben Alderhide to take great care of you and Lady Heva-sama.
「 I know everything is confusing for you right now. I’ve already dispatched the maids to prepare a carriage. Now, let’s go to the carriage, Renald-sama. 」
He extended his hands towards me and so I held it as we walk out of the room. I have no idea where we are going, but I need to follow along to not raise any suspicion.
Shortly afterward, we got outside the building we were in before. As we walk, I saw a heavily decorated carriage with the most noticeable sign is a roaring lion. And besides the carriage, there are two women wearing black and white clothing — the very image of a maid.
Butler Drake opened the door and offered his hand again to help me get into the carriage. I reached it and leaped my body to the carriage.
「 Go to Saint Brastow Cathedral. 」
「 Yes sir. 」
The butler then went inside the carriage, sitting across me.
HIYAA! Followed by a crack; The horse neighs as the carriage starts to move.
「 We are going to Saint Brastow Cathedral, Renald-sama. Hopefully, the priest’s blessing will help you recover your memories. Do you have any questions while we are on our way, Renald-sama? 」
Strange, I thought. Why go to a priest instead of a doctor to recover my memories? From the looks of it, perhaps I went back to history, where scientific thinking is still a foreign concept. The usage of carriage and horses further proves this. At this point, I just hope the priest won’t think of me as a demon possessing someone’s child.
「 My name is R-ronald… Is… that correct? 」
「 Your name is Renald Alderhide. Please remember your name, Renald-sama. 」
「 Where am I…? By that, I mean… the city or the place we are currently in. 」
「 We are in the Kingdom Veinard, Count of Alderhide, in the City of Quondartz. You really did forget your memory and even who you are, Renald-Sama. 」
What?! Kingdom Veinard?! I’ve never heard about that kingdom before. And I’ve studied a bit of history back in my first year of college. Where exactly am I?! Not only that, Count Alderhide? According to the middle age time period, then that means I’m in a noble family.
「 I’m sorry… How was I before I lost my memory? 」
「 You used to be a very energetic kid, simple-minded and short-tempered. Instead of studying, you loved to explore the countryside and play around with your friends, who I believe are commoners. I remember there was a time when Lady Heva-sama shouted angrily to you because you skipped studying in favor of spending your time exploring the city.
「 You only started studying until your mother agreed to give you sweets if you pass her test. A stark contrast to you right now, who I observed to be quite mature and relax-mannered. 」
「 Seeing how you were able to tell how different I am from myself in the past… How can you still be calm about this, unlike my mother? 」
「 As a butler of the Alderhide family, it is my duty and responsibility to stay calm regardless of the situation. Although this might offend Lady Heva-sama, I find you right now to be much better than before. Very fitting to bear the name of Alderhide. 」
「 This reminds me. Am I a noble…? 」
「 Yes, you are. You are the son of the great Earl Falben Alderhide. 」
「 Do I… have… any siblings? 」
「 Yes. You are the youngest with three older brothers and two older sisters. 」
Oh great, looks like I’m in the era where feudalism and nobility still exist. With five older siblings, my chances of inheriting the land, and wealth that goes along with it are very minuscule. But then again, it’s not like it matters right now anyway if I can’t figure out what exactly is going on.
「 How about… my… my mother? Is she fine? 」
「 Lady Heva-sama is still grieving about your lost memory — fearing the worst. I consoled her and suggested she let me check you in with the priest. 」
Not knowing what other topics to talk about, I lean my head to see the view outside the carriage window. Rows of houses and small buildings could be seen next to each other to form a straight line. In those buildings, there are numerous shops, from shops that sell fancy clothing, to a small open market with creative sign illustration.
Along with it, I could see all sorts of people walking around. Showcasing the livelihood and the city’s vibrant. This whole thing reminds me of the European early renaissance era aesthetics. Yet, everything is too pristine for this time period and paved stone roads seem to be quite common here. So even if the building’s aesthetics resemble early renaissance architecture, I can’t confidently say that I’m in the same time period. It just begs the question of where and when exactly am I.
「 Have you remembered anything about this city, Renald-sama? 」
「 Huh? Oh sadly, no. But I must say… this is a beautiful and lively city. 」
「 It is. Thanks to your eldest brother, Elric-sama, for clearing the forest southwest of the city out of wolves and beasts; merchants have an easier time coming to the city to trade. Thus, boosting the city’s economy. And also… 」
While listening to him talking, I realize there is something strange… Why are there a few people with horns and tails among the crowds?!
Is there some kind of Halloween festival going on? But I’m very sure people back then didn’t try to imitate devils or other weird creatures. Or perhaps this is another way for them to commemorate the festival of death, which is what is known as Halloween back then.
「 By the way… How could those people have horns and tails on them? 」
「 Oh dear goddess… You even don’t know that? 」
Who’s goddess are you talking about?!
「 So… are you going to explain or not…? 」
「 Oh yes… I’m terribly sorry for my rudeness, Renald-sama. Anyway, those people with thick pitch black horns are Rengda. While the one with horns but also has a tail is dragonkin. I hope that answers your question, Renald-sama. 」
What?! Dragonkin and Rengda?! Where exactly am I?! Oh dear god, the more I ask, the more questions I got in return.
While I was thinking about what sort of place I’m in with these weird people, the carriage stops and the door opens.
「 Excuse me, my Lord, we have arrived at the Saint Brastow Cathedral. 」
Outside, there’s a man who helmed the horses bowing deeply.
「 Let’s go, Renald-sama. 」
「 Okay. 」
And so I exited the carriage. The cathedral in front awes me with its humongous structure and its usage of what seems to be silvery marble. On the cathedral, lies numerous nine-sided stars, enneagram stars. Strange, it should’ve been a cross normally. There’s a religion with a deep emphasis on this kind of star?
With the accompaniment of butler Drake, we go inside the cathedral. The inside was rather dark with several streaks of light shining from the windows of the roof to illuminate the inside, giving off a serene atmosphere. Several people could be seen sitting in the rows of benches with their heads down and their hands joined flat together; others, in contrast, are standing up with their heads up and their arms open. Hushed whispers filling this place.
In the midst of praying, a single person stood out the most. A shaved old man wearing a white robe. The front of the robe has an enneagram star emblem on it. In his left hand is a white wooden staff, with another enneagram star emblem on the tip.
With so many occurrences of enneagram stars around here, it must have a big meaning in this religion. However, throughout my study, there was no mention of religion with a deep emphasis on this emblem. Great, another key element that I don’t know which would have hinted to me on what time period I’m in.
「 Excuse me, priest. I implore you to check the son of Alderhide with Her goddess, Maria’s blessings. He fell off a tree and went unconscious, as soon as he woke up, he could not recall any memories. 」
「 Oh dear goddess, that sounds terrible… Come closer to me, my child. This goddess servant will impart Maria’s blessings onto you. 」
I come closer to the priest. Hoping, whatever happens, will not result in anything unsavory. At first, I thought he would only say some prayers or make me partake in some strange religious ritual. But instead, he makes unseen-before hand gestures as he says:
「 Wrap thee in cotton…
Bind thee in love…
Protection from pain and all things evil…
Impart thee with Maria’s Blessing;
『 Sanitatem 』」
Circled runes with complex symbols and patterns sprung out of his hand as lights flickered around towards me. As amazed I was, I just stood frozenly. My eyes focused on this never-seen phenomenon. When all of the lights are fully dispersed, I can feel much more calm and peaceful. All of my wandering thoughts seem to vanish instantly.
「 Now, my child. Have you remembered your memories? 」
「 I don’t really feel any difference… other than me feeling calm and peaceful. And I certainly don’t remember any memories… 」
「 That’s odd… But then there’s nothing more this goddess servant could do… Perhaps, this is what our goddess, Maria, intended from the beginning. 」
「 Priest, Please… 」
At this moment, I wasn’t paying attention to any of the conversations between the priest and butler Drake. All the weird and different things that I’ve experienced so far made me come up with a revelation. That, perhaps, I’ve unknowingly transmigrated to a whole new different world…
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