A Monster of Times — Sebastian
The Millard territory was one of the few places in the Archive Empire where the poor competed with each other. The land itself was over two times the size of many others, but it was an infertile land. The climate fluctuated erratically, which made growing rye difficult. Even if it did grow, the yield was low, so many starved.
Sebastian was born to a family who served the Millards who governed those swimming in poverty for many generations
Certainly, the land was poor when Sebastian was a child. But the previous head slaved away for the citizens, refusing to partake in any luxuries. Sebastian believed that mindset had been transferred down to the current head.
However, when the current head welcomed his wife from a family of barons down south, the average citizen’s life turned on its head. More specifically, the moment the previous head passed away, that vixen showed her true colors.
She immediately drew closer to the head and began taking a cut from the taxes, soon engaging in every luxury imaginable. Ever since then, life was hell.
When people were forced to cough up everything down to their last reserves, there was no option left but to starve. Sebastian had heard that people had already begun dying in every village besides Mirage. Despite this, the head didn’t lift a single finger.
The wise eldest son, Thomas, was banished to a government official post in a provincial city for the absurd reason that his magic was below average, losing his status as the next heir.
The second son, young Cliff, certainly wielded powerful magic and possessed great talent in the field. However, he lacked a vital skill that all rulers should possess–empathy. Sebastian did pity Cliff, as he was raised that way by that woman, but he didn’t even dream of considering Cliff as his master.
On the other hand, Lady Aqua was even wiser than Thomas and held a strong sense of justice. That unbending will of hers reminded him of the previous head.
But it wasn’t to be. In the empire, the rite of succession fell to men and men alone. In the case that a family had only girls, it was common to take in a son-in-law from another noble. Also, Lady Aqua was the second daughter. Her rank was even lower than the first daughter, Lady Linda, who blindly followed that vixen’s every word. Even if young Cliff lost his rite of succession for some reason or another, the next head would be some son-in-law. It was clear to see that he would be hand-picked by that woman as well. It was unthinkable he would manage the land appropriately.
For better or worse, those in the Millard territory were conservative.
The village heads would definitely support Cliff because of his talent in magic, even if they knew he was just that woman’s puppet.
Once Sebastian resigned himself to this bleak future, he began to see a ray of hope.
That hope was Grey Millard, born from Viscount Maguire’s daughter. He received plenty of love from his mother, but the church recorded him as having the lowest amount of magic to date. The Maguires, caught in a feud for succession, found this fortunate and forcefully separated mother and child. Thus, young Grey became a Millard.
Young Grey, however, was a strange one. He didn’t budge from that woman’s harassment, and even extended a helping hand towards the servants.
The servants were afraid of Cliff and that woman’s harassment extending to them as well, so they kept their distance from young Grey. Moreover, among the servants, there were many who came from poor families, and whose remittance was the only thing keeping their family afloat. That’s why they couldn’t fall under that woman’s scrutiny.
That too changed after they saved Grey from lady Linda and that woman’s bullying. As a reward, they were treated to delicious food and began to change little by little. Now, all the servants, Sebastian included, trusted Grey. You could even say that Dom had become Grey’s adherent.
Within the Millard family, this young child had extreme benevolence. Still, you couldn’t change this rotten land with just benevolence. At the very least you needed at least as much wit as the previous head. Sebastian, who had keen insight into these sorts of things, continued to watch over Grey.
The results were astounding.
First, Grey’s body strength far exceeded us adults. He easily lifted a bucket full of water with just a single hand. It wasn’t the type of strength you would see from an eight-year-old.
Second, Grey could actually use magic, much to my surprise. He seemed to be hiding it, but Sebastian had heard from several hunters that they sighted Grey manipulating wind to hunt wild birds and rabbits and drain them of their blood. When he manipulated the wind, he did so without a single word, as if the wind were just an extension of his body. Chant revocation was known as something only first-rate magicians employed in the royal court could do, although that was probably just them exaggerating. Still, he must have quite the talent in magic.
Third, the rumors of his banter with the merchant in The Ripple. Sebastian knew the shopkeeper since they were kids, and they often exchanged pleasantries over drinks. According to his info, Grey was dealing with the merchant in sums in the millions.
Additionally, after hearing about Grey’s ideas on agricultural reform, Sebastian realized he had made a huge misunderstanding.
–Grey couldn’t even be compared to the previous head. He was a monster of times, born from these hopeless times.
Amongst those in the Millard territory, the only one who knew Grey well was Sebastian. Previously, Grey’s chances of becoming the next head were microscopic.
Naturally, he faced that woman’s opposition and had to persuade the other candidates if he were to have any chance. Additionally, if the Maguires on his mother’s side learned of his genius, they would immediately plan to take him back in. The possibility wasn’t just low, it was so low you might as well just say it was impossible. But in order to save the people from collapse, Sebastian had no choice but to bet everything on Grey.
Sebastian came alive, a fire burning in his eyes where before only despair lived.