054 From an Otherworldly Window p.1

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Translator: yAmi



A lavish-looking carriage was traveling down the street.

The chalk-white carriage was decorated with gold and silver ornaments, and was led by four sturdy white horses. A group of calvary knights clad in beautiful armour ran by its side. Somewhere further behind were several carriages, slightly inferior in looks to the lead carriage.

Farmers working on the wheat fields along the road looked on with curiosity as the carriages sped by. This was what they might have seen in a painting, when powerful nobles set off on an official visit. The commoners, lacking in entertainment and hungry for stimulation, found this a perfect topic for gossiping.

It was unclear whether they were praising the splendor of the carriages and the accompanying knights, or about cursing the nobility for their extravagance with wealth they have extracted from the commoner’s blood.

All the curious farmers stopped their work and watched the carriages go by. To these commoners, who were not given the opportunity to be educated, all the carriages of the nobility must have looked the same.

Any person with some familiarity on the liturgy of the Kingdom of Arquell would have recognised that since white horses were being used, the noble must be of at least the rank of count. This was because only those of very high rank were allowed to use white horses due to their symbolism to authority.

It was also impossible for the noble in question to be a duke. A duke was either of royal blood, a prime minister, or a general, and would have instead used a unicorn, a sacred beast. The unicorn was considered a guardian of purity, and could only be controlled by a maiden. Unicorns were only given to the king's close relatives, or those in the apex of wealth and nobility. The distinction between the royal family and the ducal family was indicated by a ribbon around the horse's neck. Naturally, the more elaborately decorated horse belonged to the royal family.

In other words, the owner of this entourage could be narrowed down to either the rank of Count or Marquis. The only way to determine which was the correct answer would be to look at the coat of arms on the carriage. This was a surprisingly difficult task. After all, every noble family had their own unique coat of arms derived from their family crest. Brothers and sons of the head of a family could all design their own coat of arms. This was the reason why the total number of coats of arms was so numerous. It was a painstaking task to detect the minor differences between the coat of arms and identify the owner of the coat of arms to a noble.

Let’s take a closer look at the coat of arms on the leading carriage.

Overall, the coat of arms was a square shield. This was a common design in Arquell. Most of the coat of arms of the nobility had the shape of a shield. Some say shields were chosen to help in identification of military merit on the battlefield. Others say defensive magic was engraved in it, but in all cases, it has its origin as armour. For St. Gallen, a part of the shield was chipped off to show their pride and bravery from past battles, and in the case of Marbhea, the shield was shaped like a spindle pointing downward. The shape of the shield differed from country to country. You could tell which country the noble belonged to by observing the coat of arms.

Now, at this point, all that could be deduced was that this was a noble from the Kingdom of Arquell. Let's look at the finer details.

How many colors were painted on the shield, and what colors were they? The nobles of the Kingdom of Arquell, who were particular about their culture and the arts, were also particular about the colour choice of their coat of arms. Specifically for royalty and dukes, out of the three colours they would use, one colour would be blue. Marquises do use three colours as well, but because blue represented blue blooded royals, the use of the colour blue was not allowed for them. Count families used two colours and every rank beneath that used only one.

This coat of arms came in two colors, red and black. It was painted on the shield, dividing the shield into four sections from the center. Thus, it could be deduced that this noble was a Count.

The next clue is the symbol on the shield. Most families could be recognised by the traits of their symbol. There were two types of noble families, the legitimate bloodline and the illegitimate bloodline, and all of them used a standard symbol, as was the custom in the kingdom. The number of colours and the colour used would be the defining trait of which family it was.

The symbol that was carved on the coat of arms was indeed a snake with its tail in its mouth, forming a circle — an ouroboros.

The snake was a somewhat unpopular animal as a symbol. There were many reasons why people disliked snakes. They possessed no limbs, they were cold-blooded, their slippery tongues looked disgusting, some species were poisonous and bit people, and the way they swallowed their prey was barbaric and cruel. On the other hand, there was the favourable interpretation that their molting was associated with reincarnation, and their long bodies with longevity and continuity. They were also a symbol of wisdom in myths and stories. Although they were unpopular, they were sometimes chosen as the symbol of a family.

Now we have sufficient knowledge to identify the owner of the coat of arms. The family that chose the circular serpent as a symbol of permanence and perfection, and a member of the Count family. In addition, it was a coat of arms with a simple design, without any complicated identifying marks, that only heads of family were allowed to use. It could only be the current head of the Oubeniels.

The carriage was filled with an uncomfortable silence. The people in the carriage were not enjoying the idyllic scenery outside the window, nor were they engaging in conversation to alleviate their boredom, but were simply maintaining silence. There was a sense of tension, as if a needle would pierce the invisible membrane and create a shrill from it bursting. Such a delicate balance of silence surrounded the carriage.

The four of the passengers sitting across from each other were distinctly separated by gender.

First, the men. The blond-haired noble, Count Linus Strein Oubeniel, dressed in elegant attire. He was on his way to his own feudal domain as a lord. The young noble, who was supposed to be the owner of the carriage, kept a stiff expression on his face, as if he was being carried in somebody else's carriage. From time to time, the sound of fingers tapping on the armrests of the seat echoed from his hand, making some of the people in the carriage stiffen even more.

The one next to him, his face pale, was his butler. As he was in charge of the various affairs of the house, he was accompanying his master on this return trip. Although he was a close attendant, he was still a vassal, and perhaps because he was the lowest-ranking person in the carriage, he faced downwards.

On the other side were the women. A young woman, Simone Meslier-Oubeniel, dressed in a neat summer dress. The new wife, who had just married Linus last year, was of course also in the carriage with her husband. It was an open secret, though, that the couple were on bad terms way before their marriage. They shared few words between each other and did not have similar interests in topics. In fact, she did not get along well with the servants too, because of her close friendship with the second son, who was considered an outcast in the house.

The last remaining woman in the group stood out compared to the rest of them.

First of all, the atmosphere she wore was different. She had the same stiff expression, but there was a difference in the quality of the expression. Whereas Linus and the others were uncomfortable with the tense silence, this woman didn't seem to mind it one bit. If the others were frozen in place, this one was reminiscent of a statue whose natural state was to be hard and rigid.

Her attire was also different. While the count and his wife were dressed like aristocrats, and the butler was wearing a formal dress, the woman was wearing armour. Be it her breastplate or her helmet, the fine details on them presented an air of refinement, though that did not change the fact they were armour. She was even armed with a slender and sharp sword on her waist. It was unthinkable that such a person, ready to jump into the battlefield at any time, was seated together with a noble of such high rank.
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