My life was a mess.
“Not like that, Miss! If you hold the handle too tightly, your centre of gravity will be too far forward and too much force will be put on your shoulders when you swing.
Otherwise you might stumble.
Hold it a little lower.”
“Ah I uh-.
Wh- Why is this so damn heavy.”
Hey! You're going to hurt yourself.”
“P- please be quiet.
You’re giving me a headache….UGH!”
I fell down with a thud.
It was too damn heavy.
A thrill of pain ran up my hips and buttocks.
This stupid body! This stupid stutter! This stupid world!
I flopped down and gazed up at the sky.
The day was clear and dazzling, uncaring of my mood.
You are going to try again.
But first we need to improve your stamina.
Now! Give me five laps fast!”
I propped myself against the ground and struggled to lift myself to my feet.
I trudged forwards, moving as fast as I could.
However, what felt fast to me likely looked slow and arduous to others.
But what else could I do? I was doing my best.
That was how much I weighed.
(92kg = approx.
203lb for those curious)
Unbelievably I had transmigrated into my friend's novel and possessed the body of an unassuming 18-year-old noblewoman, the fifth daughter of the soon-to-be-extinct Elias family.
The future execution of my entire family was a critical problem.
However, serious matters aside, I was truly unlucky! In every romance-fantasy novel I read in my old life, the protagonist always transmigrated into the body of someone beautiful enough to conquer the world.
Sweat poured down my body, and my breaths gasped out of my throat, but I kept jogging as fast as I could.
Bernard Smith was a low-ranked member of the Elias Order of Knights.
He was a 23-year-old sword runner who had only been ordained as a knight a little over a year ago.
Bernard was bearlike and honest to a fault.
At first glance, he looked like he was actually around 30 years old.
And he could easily belong as a character in the Romance of the Three Kingdoms.
(The Romance of the Three Kingdoms is a classic Chinese historical novel, and is a highly influential piece of literature in the East Asian cultural sphere.)
A month ago I ordered something from the Elias Family Doctor, Sir Oliver, and then went to see Bernard out of the blue.
“P- Please be my dedicated knight.”
When I was nervous, I stuttered the first part of every sentence.
Before I possessed Tara, she had been lying in bed for two months after falling from a tree.
After waking up, my first words were a scream.
I started talking after I was somewhat stable and I stuttered my first words.
However, everyone who saw me was astonished that my speech had improved.
Turns out that I stuttered even more before I fell from the tree.
I had been a shut-in, who was always locked away in my room.*
It had been a long time since I had read the novel, so it took me a while to remember which character I had possessed.
That was unsurprising.
The Ocerian Chronicles, written by my friend, ended serialization at chapter 60, and the character of Tara Elias, who I had possessed, was an extra who had only appeared twice.
It had taken about a week before I remembered my existence.
I had chosen Tara’s name, and I had been the one who had come up with the character concept for a fat young noble girl who stuttered.
It was crazy.
When I realized that I had possessed 'Tara Elias', the fat extra from the novel, I ran away from home.
I didn't want to live in this body, or as a member of a family bound for destruction.
Foolishly, I hired a carriage and ordered them to drive me as far away from the Capital as I could get.
After three days I was robbed and left penniless.
I almost had to beg on the streets to support my large body.
After that, fortunately or unfortunately, I had walked aimlessly on the streets until I collapsed, completely exhausted.
No one tried to help me.
After a few hours of lying down, I woke up, and the first thing I felt was hunger.
My face was blinded by my own tears.
Eventually, I returned to the Capital like a beggar, and my family members gossiped that I must have hit my head and gone crazy.
In any case, two months later I had accepted my situation.
I came to my senses and then went to see Bernard for the first time.
Either way, I was still alive.
And I had to find a way to stay that way.
In order to achieve that, I decided to start with my body, which made it hard to move around.
“What? Why? What do you mean, miss?”
“I- I mean it quite literally.
Be my exclusive knight.
I want to learn martial arts.”
That was the kind of look he gave me.
Bernard blatantly glanced me up and down, frowning heavily.
But also being a knight, he quickly mastered his expression.
Why? Because he would become a famous general in the future.
And since I had decided to save my life, as well as my entire family, I really needed someone like him.
“You- you're not busy.
So you can train me every day.”
This time, he didn't hide his expression.
He looked like he had just stepped in a pile of crap.
Bernard wiped his face dry.
The knights employed by the Elias family could be viewed as individual professionals.
They were paid on a job to job basis, no matter how many knights were employed by the family.
Because of this, they relied on connections with the senior knights in charge of assigning duties in order to get better work.
But Bernard had no such connections.
So where did that leave his capabilities? He had a strictly honest and upright personality, so he didn't know how to bow down, even when it would help him make a living.
As a knight, that was his one fatal flaw.
So this arrangement could free him from those limitations.
“Well, miss, I don't quite understand what you're saying.
You mean you want to receive the same training that soldiers get?”
I could tell the words, 'with that body?' had been omitted.
“Yes, that training.
Of course I'll pay you.
So it's not a losing proposition.”
“But I don't like it.
It's not as though you were born a man and wanted to go to war……
that isn't the case.”
(Take with a grain of salt.)
“Really? You'll regret it.”
“I have no regrets.”
“Even after seeing this?”
I took out the small cloth bag I had been carrying and threw it to him.
He caught it in his hand.
“What is this?”
“What you need the most right now, more than anything else.”
He opened the cloth bag with a puzzled expression.
He didn’t seem to know what it was.
“Why did you leave the tax collection team two months ago?”
He frowned immediately, as if he didn't want to think about it.
“Do you want me to say it for you? Headache, back pain, and abdominal bloating.
Alternating constipation and diarrhoea.
No relief even when you have a bowel movement and your stomach aches all the time, right? You're the Captain of the mop.
What kind of knight are you? Do you get strangely nervous every time you get into trouble, huh Captain? Your nickname is '10 times a day', isn't it?”
“Oh, come on! No matter how young you are, isn't this too much?”
“This is irritating.
That's the best medicine currently available! Do you know how much money I spent to get this? Your salary as a knight is not enough! According to Sir Oliver, if you take it consistently for about a year, you will get better.
It's made from refining sap from elm trees.”
He looked as if I had just offered him the world.
Bernard was suffering greatly from his terrible irritable bowel syndrome.
But he still hesitated for a moment, as if his pride was getting in the way.
“But this is.
Let me think….
It had gotten some leverage.
So I unleashed another flood of vitriol.
“Are you going to let it dribble out every time you swing your sword on the battlefield? Are you going to take a crap every time you slash with your knife?! Now it's '10 times a day', but soon you'll probably be called '10 times a slice'.
Do you want to come out smelling more like poop than blood?”
“Oh really! Are you done? This is insulting!”
“Insulting? It's true.
Fix it if you don't like it! Do you think you're the only knight I could ask?”
Even after that small threat, he still seemed worried and continued to glance around.
Bernard frowned deeply and his countenance was very troubled.
In cases like this, it was best not to hang around.
I turned my back.
“Well, I don't want to beg either!”
I'll do it.”
I thought it would take three steps.
I pursed my lips to hide a smile of satisfaction and met his gaze with the most benevolent expression possible.
“I’ll provide you with a steady supply of medication so that you don’t run out during my training.
Of course, I will also pay you.”
And that was how my strict weight loss regime started.
The only problem was, I hadn’t realized he wielded an axe as his primary weapon.
I trained with him for two hours every day.
I stretched for about 15 minutes, did strength training for about 15 minutes, and spent the remaining hour working on aerobic exercise.
After that, I learned the basics of handling an axe from him.
To be honest, I initially thought that 2 hours might not be enough, but this was like an unwanted bonus after the main workout was over.
I had such poor physical stamina.
After every day's exercise, I would go to the nearby barn located in the corner behind the mansion and climb onto the massive scale used to weigh livestock.
I had lost 10 kilograms in a month.
My cheeks seemed to be slightly slimmer, but it didn't show much.
(10kg = 22lb.**)
So I was now 92kg.
After I had completed all five laps, a servant came to me, having waited until my workout was over.
“His Excellency is looking for you.”
“All of the Elias children have been summoned to the drawing room.”
I gulped and caught my breath, wiping off the sweat that was pouring off of me like rain.
I sat on the ground with my head down thoughtfully.
What? What could it be?
Until now, Tara's father had never come to see me.
He was too busy, a high-ranking businessman who didn't seem to care about me.
Why has he summoned everyone?
After catching my breath for about 5 minutes, I poured water over myself and went to change my clothes.
In the private room by the entrance of the drawing room, a group of noble wives were gathered drinking tea.
I saw my mother there as well.
Tara's mother mouthed those words silently.
I felt refreshed every time I saw her.
She was always so innocent and bright.
Isabelle Elias was 36 years old, just three years older than I was just before I died in Seoul.
She was my mother in this life and Count Elias's third wife.
Tara's mother was very pure, despite the fact she must have been harshly criticized for birthing a daughter who was seen as a waste of space these past 18 years.
In a way, she was a stronger person than anyone else I knew.
When I entered the drawing room, the eyes of all of the family members already present focused on me.
It was as if they were asking, ‘Why are you here?’.
My grey-haired father sat in the centre chair, waiting for the room to fall quiet.
By just sitting there and looking out at us, he exuded a charisma and aura that could have overwhelmed any audience.
I sat down, and a moment afterwards he opened his mouth, “…You must all be aware of the official letters the Imperial Palace issued to each family, correct?”
An official letter? What official letter?
The other siblings answered without hesitation, as if it was news they had already heard.
I was the only one who didn't know.
“The letter stated that they are recruiting new administrative officials, but I am sure you all know that they are trying to choose a family who will lend their power to the candidates competing to be the next Crown Prince.”
Oh no, it had started.
This was the moment where the Elias Family stepped onto the path leading towards their own destruction.
* The word used here to describe OGTara was originally a Japanese term”hikikomori”.
Hikikomori are people, usually young people, who have isolated themselves socially to an extreme extent and have essentially retreated from the world – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hikikomori
** 10kg = 22lb.
Also, quick PSA, losing this much weight in a single month is generally considered too fast and can be unhealthy!
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