In Baldwin, where the winters are long and freezing and the summers are almost nonexistent, warm breezes began blowing at exactly 2 pm.
They were a byproduct of a magic formation that protected the city from natural disasters such as ice storms.
It also converted cold breezes passing through the dome-like barrier surrounding the city into warm air before storing it in a wind pouch.
From 2 pm till 7 pm, it would release the captured winds into the county every day under the supervision of the county’s mages, such as now.
Some people stepped out of their homes with wet but washed clothes, for the warm winds blowing through the streets and alleys were also a signal telling them that the time to dry their laundry had come.
They hung wet clothes on clotheslines tied between buildings.
The wind made their clothes flutter like leaves rustling in the wind.
Then, they left home to earn money.
Most, if not all, were not in a hurry to dry their clothes as they had the ability to clean their clothes within minutes with magic and knew those warm gales of wind would dance throughout the city from 2 pm to 7 pm.
Instead of doing tiresome work, they walked through the streets made of fine tiles of stones, relaxing their stiff joints.
It has long become a habit of theirs to enjoy the warmth of the Sun in the coldest and harshest region of the empire as the count introduced such comfort in their lives several years ago.
It was the time of day that induced relaxation and chattiness into the well-off people, and hence, they entered the pub and began gossiping about the most recent happening in the county.
Some did so while drinking beer in broad daylight.
“I can’t explain how much I envy the Count with words only. He has two beautiful wives with impressive backgrounds. His eldest daughter is the most beloved concubine of the crown prince, while his first son is already a full-fledged knight. Furthermore, rumors have it that his second son will be joining the Mage Academy this year. They are bound to bring glory to his home and help him solidify his position in the court. Everything’s playing out well for him. I, on the other hand, have a fat wife and a stupid son who wastes away his days studying the structure of basic-level magic runes.”
This man, who was drunk and badmouthing his family, overlooked all the troubles of the count and only counted his blessings.
But the ones next to the man weren’t the same as him.
Rather, they were fans of the count and knew too well about the things troubling him and the sacrifices he had made to make life better for Far West’s northerners like them.
“The count is not as lucky as you think! His life is full of trouble. He has to do paperwork every day and lead a team of Knights and mages to subjugate monsters in the parts of the Great Forest near the county every winter. Unlike you, he also has a salted fish in his family who likes to eat, eat, and eat!”
“This fellow is right. The youngest master of the count’s family has no ambition or inspiration. He’s born to the count but has never held a sword and doesn’t have a talent for magic either. He’s 16 years old yet has still not done anything remarkable.”
“Conrad speaks the truth. He’s nothing like his siblings. Instead of fame, His infamy has spread throughout the empire. Even the Outsiders know him as a smelly fatty. He’s the black sheep of the count’s family.”
“Drunken man, I believe you know the count has given much to the well-known Charlotte family in order to marry his youngest to their young miss. But just yesterday, Miss Rose sent her servant to return the engagement token and an engagement invalidation letter with her signature on it to the Count. She didn’t appear herself and rather let her people announce to the count her desire to annul her engagement with his dumb child. Her actions are like slapping the county’s youngest master in the face and also humiliating the count if we take into consideration the difference in their status!”
“She has a nasty personality.”
“Well, she isn’t in the wrong either. Miss Rose is expected to become an Archmage in the future! What does that entail? She is like the most brilliant budding seed. Once she realizes her talent and bloom, she might outshine everyone except the Great Sun. Why would she not feel angered after knowing she is to marry a pig? Although I like the count, I do think her attitude towards him and his son is justified.”
Poh! Kaching! Pahh! Pah!
Suddenly, a drunken bard stumbled into the pub and, using his rusty flute, played a broken melody that was so jarring to the ears that the crowd booed and cursed him to the highest heaven.
Worried that the owner might kick him out if he continued to play, he came to an immediate stop.
“You, you, you, did you hear about it? Hic! The count family’s youngest… jumped into a cold pond last night.”
“That’s what my wife said to me when we were having breakfast at the table this morning. She said he tried to commit suicide because he was heartbroken after finding out that his fiancee didn’t want him anymore. Does that even make sense? He had never met her, and there existed no love between these two kids. They aren’t anywhere close to the word intimate. Why would he go so far as to commit suicide to get her attention? I think the count is likely hiding the real reason why he jumped into the pond. As for what it is, we commoner folks might never know.”
“You’re in luck today! An insider told me he took way too many drugs that day. He must’ve mistaken the pond as his bed and jumped into it. Don’t tell others that I told you that. Otherwise, I will do my all to bring you with me to the chopping stands!”
“Worry not. My lips are sealed.”
“Well, if the drug he took is the Ecstasy Pill, then it might very well be possible.”
Someone sighed. “The Count is super unlucky to have that trash as his son.”
The drunk man furrowed his brows. ‘After discovering his life isn’t as perfect as I thought, I envy him less.’
At this moment, the eyes of the one they were gossiping about fluttered open.
He was lying on a soft bed and wearing a one-piece robe with golden linen foreign to him.
Four blankets covered him, warming him enough to make him sweat.
Under the thick coverings, he felt suffocated.
He threw them off himself and sat up.
The room was hot as a fireplace but not smoky.
Still, the temperature of the room was high enough to make him feel uncomfortable.
His chest felt stuffy, a feeling he was unfamiliar with as he had never had a delightful meal in his life or stuffed his gut to the fullest.
The other thing he was unfamiliar with was the room he was in currently.
He looked to his left and then his right in bewilderment.
After taking in his surroundings, the confusion in his beady eyes tripled.
He was certain he had died…
So what was he doing in a fancy but uncomfortably hot room?!