Side Story: Claira Berch ①


In a bathroom, Claira Berch was soaking in the bathtub, squeezing her eyes shut, as the sound seemed to emanate from around her.

The cypress bathtub was surprisingly large, allowing her to stretch her arms and legs to her heart’s content. For someone forced to live in a cave in the Titis Forest, the pleasure of immersing herself in an overflowing bath was priceless.

“Hehe, that was an interesting experience in its own way, though,” Claira chuckled as she scooped water from the bath and slowly poured it over her shoulders and arms.

It’s not sarcasm, but truthfully, the cave had all the necessary supplies for daily life, including a small tent set up for personal use. Of course, they were only “better than sleeping outdoors,” but since Claira herself preferred a simple life, she didn’t feel any inconvenience at all.

Although she was technically a captive, her freedom of movement was guaranteed, so she felt that the cave was more comfortable to live in than the Berch estate.

To explain, the Berch family, which was Claira’s foster family, took in many talented children as adopted children and raised them by competing with each other to develop their potential.

Those deemed useless to the Berch family were discarded like unwanted pets. If you didn’t want that to happen, you had no choice but to win against the other children. Even if it meant kicking down fellow comrades in the same situation, there was no other way.

Claira and her younger brother, Klimt, grew up that way.

Supervisors, disguised as teachers, closely watched the children living in the Berch estate, evaluating whether each child was beneficial to the Berch family. In such a situation, there was no way for them to rest their minds and bodies, and some children were driven to the point of mental illness.

Thanks to her younger brother, Claira didn’t get pushed to that extent, but the environment where she had to constantly be aware of the eyes of the household members was still painful.

The pain of living in such a situation was something that Claira found solace from in the cave. Perhaps even Sora can’t imagine the extent of the comfort it brings her.

To be honest, even Claira herself is surprised at how much she hated living in the mansion.

“It’s too convenient to even consider… Besides, living in a cave comes with its own set of problems,” Claira says, her cheeks flushed not from the water’s heat.

Living in the cave was mostly just Claira alone, or sometimes with Sora. Occasionally, an elven woman would accompany Sora on his journeys.

There was no problem with the elf named Lunamaria. Claira had exchanged words with Lunamaria several times and could tell from her speech that she was a smart person. Although there was some wariness towards Claira, Lunamaria took care of various details related to women’s lives – things that Sora couldn’t think of, and that were difficult for Claira to ask for.

Under different circumstances, they might have become friends. It’s something that Claira, who tried to kill Lunamaria and her companions, finds it difficult to say.

In any case, there was no problem with Lunamaria’s personality. The issue was the sound of muffled voices coming from their tent when she and Sora spent the night in the cave.

Claira covers her face with both hands, saying, “I’m at a loss with that.”

At first, Claira misunderstood it as a kind of unconventional threat – like, “you’ll soon end up like this too.”

After a while, she realized that it was just that they were not paying attention to Claira. Perhaps Lunamaria even had the intention of teasing Claira, who was not used to such things.

“I shouldn’t think about it again…”

Claira shakes her head in the bathtub. Her hair, which she had tied up to avoid getting wet, now feels heavy and sways.

For Claira, who had spent her days training and on missions, living in the cave was too stimulating in various ways.

Today, Claira moved from the cave to Sora’s mansion. Of course, it was by Sora’s orders, but for Claira, it was a strange feeling that was both disappointing and not disappointing.

“At the very least, being able to take a bath like this is something to be happy about…” she mutters, wondering why Sora suddenly brought her to his home.

Until just yesterday, Sora never even mentioned Ishka to Claira. But today, he suddenly told her they were leaving the cave.

It wasn’t because Sora was concerned about Claira. Although Sora didn’t act violently towards Claira except during training, that didn’t mean he forgave what they did in Ishka. It was evident from his words and actions.

If Claira went against Sora’s will, he would immediately attack her.

At first, Claira thought that Sora was trying to determine her true intentions by bringing her closer to the Kijin, but that would put the Kijin in danger.

Judging from how Sora behaves towards the Kijin, it seemed unlikely.

In fact, while she was in the bath, Claira was considering the possibility of Sora entering the bathroom. But when she glanced at the entrance, the door didn’t even budge. It seems that her guess was wrong.

“So this was all for nothing. What a waste.”

With a wry smile, Claira takes out a thin razor or shaver from her tied hair.

For the first time since entering the bathroom, Claira truly relaxed her shoulders and let out a sigh of relief.

She looks up at the ceiling and quietly closes her red eyes.

“…Klimt would be angry. He’d say, ‘Why are you relaxing in the enemy’s house?’” Claira lets out another small breath, her lips relaxing into a smile.

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