Chapter 1.
Arc 1.
The Five

The royal palace with its pointed spires beyond the huge crossing bridge.
Passing through the palace decorated with fine stone, the servants’ quarters in the most secluded place, appeared. 


“Hey, Millicent!” 


Someone shook her shoulder as she wandered through the dreamscape. 


“Wake up!” 


Millicent eventually awoke with the annoying urging.
It seemed that her day was about to begin, which today marked exactly half a month since she had been employed as a maid in the royal court. 


“Isn’t it still night?” 


The sky through the window, however, was a deep purple with a piercing moon and shining stars.


“Because the sun rises late, but it’s dawn.”


“Then I’ll sleep some more until the sun comes up properly.”


She was being awakened by an old maid named Tracy, who was, frankly, a sweetheart.
So Millicent hugged the covers and curled herself up.


“Wake up! You have to go to the gate and get some meat from the hunters,” Tracy said, taking the covers away.


 “If I get it at noon, will the meat turn into grass?”


 Millicent grumbled, rubbing her eyes sluggishly.


“If you don’t get it at dawn, it’s not fresh!” Tracy snapped.
“It’s meat for the banquet.
It’ll be a hug party to celebrate the king’s victory.”


The king returned a few days ago with news of his victory after being away at war for some time.
It was good to hear that he came back victorious, but his victory celebration was a problem.
The celebration was so grand that the servants had to be divided to work day shift and night shift to prepare for it.


“Just go to the castle gate,” Tracy said suddenly, handing Millicent a small pocket of gold coins.
“Pay the price with this.
Make sure you get a signed receipt.
And don’t forget to take the cart with you!” 


Still barely awake, Millicent wandered about, digesting in her mind only the words she could immediately understand. 


First she took off her nightgown and nightcap and washed her face with cold water.
Then she put on a suitably clean-looking linen shirt and a grayish-brown skirt.
The white hat, which had been dirtied and hardened with potato peels, waited meekly for its owner. 


Millicent put it on as if it were a sacred ritual and tied the string under her chin.
She looked at her face in the mirror.
The white hat, like the bonnets worn by children, was long and the cloth on either side of her face came down to her shoulders. 


Her shaggy black hair, her big, bright blue eyes, and even her expressionless face were completely covered.


“Today is perfect, uncle Mulally,” Millicent murmured as she tightened the string under her chin once more. 


Millicent left the servants’ quarters with the dawn breeze blowing as the sun was finally rising.
However, she was not sure where exactly the castle gate was.
It was troublesome to go to the street and ask.
She did not want to be that eager to play the maid. 


She was confused whether she was an assassin or a servant.
In the end, Millicent decided to look for someone who looked like a hunter as she made her rounds.
It was a pathetic plan, but it worked surprisingly well. 


She found a man who looked like one.
He had a quiver of arrows on his shoulder and a hat and bow in his hands.
A large, handsome black horse stood calmly next to him.
And at his feet lied two deer that looked like they had just been slaughtered.


He was definitely the hunter. 


“Good morning, Mr.


It was a day when she couldn’t get anywhere near a good morning at all, but Millicent greeted him as such. 




But instead of greeting her, the man rudely frowned.
Millicent therefore stared at his face, completely uninterested in her.
He was a very handsome man.
It was astonishing.
She had never felt interested in looking the opposite genders.


But the man in front of her looked really cool.
His forehead was straight under his neatly slicked back black hair.
He had gray eyes with a slight blue tinge, a straight, high nose, and full lips that were exquisitely matched on his sunburned face.


His body was also impressive.
First, he was tall at the level of the palace door.
Then the broad shoulders with the cloak and the narrow waist, which could be guessed from under the doublet, formed a perfect inverted triangle.
From his thighs to his calves covered by his riding boots.
All was balanced by muscle.
And he looked strangely familiar. 


Millicent lost her excitement as soon as she said, “Good morning.” She’d rather drool over hard black bread for breakfast than men.


“It’s not like I spoke to you in a foreign language, is it?” (Millicent)


The man’s frown loosened.


“I see, I have committed disrespect.
Good morning, beautiful young lady,” he added politely.


He placed the hat he held in his hand to his chest and bowed respectfully.
A glance at the clothes she was wearing would have made it clear that Millicent was not of the lady class.


Such a nice hospitality was not something one like her could receive every day.


“You must have had a not so good morning, too, didn’t you?”


Simple Millicent felt relaxed.


“It was dark so far, but now that I’ve met the lady, the sun seems to have risen.” 


For a hunter, he surely spoke like a knight of the court.
He skillfully used the typical courtly manner of speaking to the noble ladies, barraging them with sweet honeyed compliments. 


Come to think of it, the clothes he wore on his body were also very elegant.
The light brown doublet he wore was suede leather, and his shoulder cape had soft sable fur. 


“Seems like hunters are making good money these days, huh?”


Millicent marveled, pointing at his clothes.


“Oh, I see what you mean,” the man replied pleasantly.


“I envy you.
I’m thinking of quitting my job as a maid and going hunting.”


“Are you a maid of the royal palace?”


The man asked meaningfully.


“I’ve never seen your face before.” 


“It must be because another maid has been coming here to pick up the goods.
I’ve just entered the palace.”


Millicent replied indifferently.


“But I feel like I’ve already worked for about 20 years.”


 “How come?”


“I cleaned the dishes late last night and polished them even in my dreams, but I have to do it again today.” Millicent said.
“I’m busy preparing for the banquet celebrating His Majesty the King’s victory.” 


“I see,” the man suddenly smiled, a smile that made no sense.
“Has the lady maid seen the king before?”


 “No,” Millicent shrugged.


“Really?” The man asked back gently.
“Think carefully.
You might have seen him somewhere.”


There was nothing to think about.


“I heard he’s been busy with the war,” Millicent shook her head.
“And how am I to meet His Majesty the King when I am at best a maid?” 


“What’s the matter with being a maid?”


She thought the man was joking, but his expression was serious. 


“What’s the matter? The maids are no better than the marble sculptures and paintings in the palace.
They are at least expensive.” 


As far as Millicent knew.
They were.


“His Majesty the King would have enjoyed the pheasant meat and bread on the banquet table.
But he will not look at the maid who flips the grill so that the meat is browned and the bread is cut.” 


The man said in a strange tone of voice, “Well.
Can we really pass up such an interesting young lady?”


For a moment, an unfamiliar emotion flashed in his eyes.
She didn’t know what it was, but it was unsettling and uncomfortable.


She felt as if she were a weak deer being chased by that gaze.
Millicent had always thought of herself as a hunter, but never as prey.
She didn’t like it.
Then she decided they had enough polite banter. 


“I want you to pick up the goods,” Millicent said awkwardly.


Crouching down, she examined the  dead beasts laid at the hunter’s feet, “Let’s take a look at the deer.
It’s fresh, isn’t it?” 


Millicent asked, knowing only how to eat meat and nothing about looking.
The old maid told her to make sure it was fresh, so she pretended anyway. 


“Well, I just harvested it in the forest.”


By the looks of it, the man only knew how to show off and didn’t seem to know how to do business.


“To be fresher than that, you’d have to bring the deer in alive.”


Millicent roughly agreed.
It was not meat that would go into her mouth anyway, and it was not money that came out of her pocket. 


“Then it must be so.”


She held out the bag of gold coins that Tracy, the old maid, had given her earlier.
The hunter did not accept it willingly and hesitated for a moment. 


“Well, um, this is apparently going to get the little lady in trouble—“


“What are you doing? I’m hungry and I want to get going.” 


It was really unusual why he didn’t want to receive the money.
Then she grabbed his hand.


“Your hand……” (Millicent)


Millicent stopped midway while handing him the money.
It was a very masculine hand.
It was large and long.
Veins protruded from the back of his hand.
The palm of his hand was somewhat rough, as if to prove that he had been handling  swords and spears. 


“What’s wrong with my hand?” (The man)


“It’s familiar.
I think I’ve seen it before…?”


Millicent tilted her head. 


“Where did you hold my hand, young lady?” The man asked, amused.


“Where? Think carefully.
When was it?” 


Their eyes met.
His eyes were gray, but seemingly shimmering blue as well. 


I was just in a hurry to get some food.
I think you’re talking nonsense to stop me.”


Millicent came to a nonsensical and simplistic conclusion.


“Normally, we eat bread as soon as we wake up.
But Tracy was lazy today and sent me to look for the Hunter.
What can a person eat to make his head spin…” 


She complained in a disgruntled tone, but one corner of her chest was strained again. 


“Speaking of which, what else did Tracy ask for?”


Millicent cocked her head but couldn’t think of anything.


“Ah, I don’t know,” she quickly gave up on the memory she couldn’t recall. 


“Then let’s see the deer.”


“Wait, I think they’re a little heavy…”


“Oh, move aside, please.
You’re annoying.”


They were not very heavy, but they were heavy enough to carry on her small shoulders.
Still, Millicent sturdily loaded the deer on the cart one by one to put the hunter’s worries to shame.


“No, thank you,” Millicent said, casually tapping the man’s hand, which he had hesitantly reached out.


“What an unusual young lady,” the hunter chuckled. 


It was a smile as if the very fact that God had created such a creature was unfamiliar. 


“May I ask your name?”


He asked shortly afterwards.

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