Two years ago, during Year 191 of the Hoplian calendar.
Mia began making her secret preparations to overthrow her father when she was five years old.
No, this wasn't due to a young child's desire to take over the world or anything like that.
Mia had been born into this life with her memories of a previous life intact. She recalled that she had been a Japanese college exchange student studying in America for a psychology major when she met an untimely end at the hands of a random university shooter. Now that she had a second chance to lead a new life, Mia wanted nothing more than to live at least to enjoy a peaceful conclusion rather than meeting a violent death.
It took several years for Mia to get used to this new environment, as the language was unfamiliar and took time to learn. Unlike normal children though, she retained her adult mind and learned the language quite swiftly, along with maintaining an awareness of her surroundings.
What Mia did know was that she had apparently been born into a high-ranking noble family, as her own parents never personally took care of her. Instead, this work was typically done by a girl wearing an actual black-and-white maid uniform: something that Mia had never personally witnessed in real life before. Unfortunately for Mia, her personal maid had some nasty habits that Mia could only do her best to ignore.
Everyone in the mansion Mia lived in addressed her father as Count Hart. He was a tall young man approximately thirty years old, with a handsome face that just about every young female in the mansion would swoon over. He had dashingly fine silver hair and charming green eyes that Mia had inherited. Personally, Mia privately believed that her father's overly handsome appearance caused everyone around him to flatter him so much that he was led into depravity.
She also had an older half-brother named Barnaby, born outside of wedlock. Mia didn't know who his mother was, but he was also living at their mansion. Barnaby was a straight up bully that Mia tried avoiding as much as possible. Every time they met, he would always greet her with an unavoidable noogie, using the advantage of his much greater size and power.
According to what Mia's tutor taught her, the illustrious Hart family had been serving the Hoplia Kingdom loyally for many generations.
While Mia couldn't claim to know the name of every country on Earth, she knew for a fact that monarchies had already become a defunct form of government in the 21st century that she was from. Not to mention, there was no way that she wouldn't know the continents of Earth. When she got her hands on a map of Hoplia, the surrounding countries' geography confirmed what she had suspected all along: that this was a new world.
Not only that, after Mia saw the map of Hoplia and the surrounding countries, she finally came to a realization: that this was the world of an RPG game she had played in her past life! The game was called Legend of Eristan, named after the setting of the game's main continent of Eristan, and was a typical tale of heroes battling against a monster invasion. Nonetheless, she considered it only of medium importance – since the RPG game's scenario would take place in the neighboring country to the south, the Rodan Empire.
Long ago, in the land of Eristan, everything was peaceful and flourishing under the protection of the gods, the elemental lords, and past emperors' rule.
However, after the Eristan Emperor passed away, the empire split up into many smaller countries as his retainers battled with each other for power. In approximately ten years' time from now, the Demon King was going to revive and summon countless monsters into existence, causing massive chaos in the land.
Mia assumed that she had been reincarnated into a minor character who wasn't even mentioned in the game and that it would have nothing to do with her, so she put the game's scenario out of her mind and focused instead on her daily life and figuring out the system. She didn't realize at the time how wrong she was that it would have no connection to her life.
Since this was an RPG game world, people here had many unusual hair and eye color combinations just like Mia's. A dazzling array of palettes was available: all the bright anime colors a person could think of were commonplace here.
Technology here seemed to be a few centuries behind her previous world, with no concept of electricity existing. At the very least, Mia was grateful for the existence of toilets. Magic definitely existed however, something that Mia dearly wanted to learn more about. However, judging from what she learned, magic seemed rare in this world, and most of it was at a weak level. That didn't seem to match the RPG game that took place at a noble school where just about all the students could use magic of some form.
Mia was unaccustomed to throwing fake tantrums or pretending to cry just to act like a normal toddler. She believed in practical solutions rather than wasting time needlessly on something as unproductive as crying. Nor did she make any selfish requests as most children would, instead having spent the majority of the past three years learning her new country's language at a far rapider pace than other children.
It was Mia's own choice to avoid all unnecessary interaction with her father, Count Horatio Hart. Mia felt no familial affection for him at all. If all Count Hart did was lavishly enjoy an opulent lifestyle at the expense of his citizens, that would have been bad enough. But, there were two incidents in total that goaded Mia into wanting to become strong enough to overthrow her father.
Both incidents happened in quick succession right in Mia's presence. The first incident occurred on the day that Mia decided to ask her father about learning magic.
"You have something to talk to me about? Wait your turn. I have a guest to take care of."
When Mia went to visit her father's study, there was a merchant from a northern country haggling with her father about some gems for sale. Mia knew the merchant was foreign from his clothing that was evidently a different style; he was wearing a thick yellow cloak that seemed out of season for the summer emblazoned with an unfamiliar insignia. While they shared a common language, the merchant spoke with a thick accent that required Mia's full concentration to understand his words.
"These mana gems are the finest wares from the Arland Kingdom! They can be ground into mana stones for enchanting magical equipment, or simply make a fine accessory for this young lady here! They could all be yours for the low, low price of 5000 elemental crystal shards!"
Elemental crystals were the basic currency of Hoplia. This was due to the vast influence of the Elemental Church that spread the worship of the six Elemental Lords of Fire, Water, Earth, Wind, Light, and Darkness. Elemental crystals contained minute amounts of their respective elemental magic, and were a critical component in forging magical equipment in this world, as well as being a catalyst for many powerful spells.
One loaf of bread could be purchased for two elemental crystal shards. 5000 elemental crystals as the asking price meant that… well, it was a lot of money.
"Mana gems of the highest quality, you say? Interesting. I hardly think this pathetically small bag is worth my effort though. I could simply import mana gems from the Rodan Kingdom at a much lower price. These stones are worth nothing more than 2000 crystals at best."
"Surely you jest, Milord. Even in the far north, we're aware that the southern Rodan Kingdom strictly controls the trading of mana gems as a precious national resource. Even if their government was to permit the exporting of mana gems, they would surely place high tariffs to protect their national interest. I can go no lower than 4500 crystals."
…and so on. After another five minutes of detailed haggling, both sides agreed on the price of 3800 elemental crystal shards. With a brilliant smile, Count Hart sealed the deal with a firm handshake. However –
The foreign merchant seemed momentarily confused when it seemed like Count Hart was continuing the handshake for longer than necessary. Then, confusion transformed to terror when his hand lit up in flames.
Mia could only helplessly look on in horror as the merchant burned to death while screaming and rolling on the ground right in front of her, leaving behind only a nightmarish charred smell of burnt flesh. Throughout all this, Count Hart remained calm and smiled as he witnessed this scene, as if he was enjoying the spectacle.
Mia fled from her father's study without even remembering to ask about the possibility of learning magic. Not long after, she was too busy with the act of puking.
The subsequent incident occurred right on the next day after when Count Hart took Mia out together with him on a tour of the eponymous Hart domain. Perhaps Mia's unfinished visit yesterday had reminded the Count of the fact that he had a daughter, since he personally visited Mia's room and told her "let's go see our domain together!" with a jolly smile on his face.
Being an inland non-border domain close to the capital, the Hart domain was relatively rural and peaceful, with the greatest public disturbances coming from the Count himself. Mia later learned that such "raids" by the Count were actually commonplace.
Was it because Mia turned five that the Count involved her more in his affairs? Was this a benchmark age of some sort? Mia didn't know, but this "raid" opened her eyes to what this world was truly like.
"Okay, men, that's a nice-looking bitch right there! Hahahaha, let's take her back to the mansion, just like usual! Everyone gets to share!"
"It's tax collection time! Time to pay your dues as gratitude for our protection! It's all thanks to us that you get to enjoy this peaceful life free of monsters, don't you know!"
It was a typical situation straight out of a textbook villain scenario. Under the leadership of Count Hart, a fine-looking young lass caught his attention and was captured to be taken to the mansion. Mia never saw her again, and only learned what happened to her eventually much later. Another incident occurred in which Count Hart ordered his soldiers to deliver a vicious beating to a pregnant woman's elderly father for failing to pay rent. The soldiers also went around in armed small groups, bashing doors in, ransacking homes, and generally acting more like a group of bandits rather than defenders of the peace.
Mia's older half-brother Barnaby participated in the beatings as well. He was only a few years older than Mia and wasn't old enough yet to entirely understand some of the more carnal affairs that were happening, but liked to talk the part. Privately though, Mia felt like she knew a lot more than he did, thanks to her experience in a past life.
"Mine, mine, and mine! You're all going to be mine! I'm going to take you all back the mansion with me to serve my needs! You're going to play with me every day until I get tired of you!"
Well, the girls that he took were the "lucky" ones, as when Barnaby said "play," he wasn't going to be nearly as lecherous as the adults… even if he did pick up some bad habits from the negative influences around him.
Mia was spurred to take action to change things, but to be honest with herself, it was more out of a sense of self-preservation rather than a desire to be heroic.
Mia was fully aware that she was currently nothing more than a powerless, weak five-year-old girl. There was nothing she could do for anyone. If she spoke out, there was even the possibility that she might be killed herself.
That didn't mean that she could just turn a blind eye, however. The person committing the atrocities was her father and the ruling noble of this domain. Just from history in her previous life, Mia knew all too well how the eventual downfall of every tyrant would end. Not to mention, this was a fairly common trope known as the "death flag" – an event that would lead to the death of the villain.
In fact, Mia almost never saw Count Hart doing any work related to governing, and she privately wondered to herself how he even kept this domain running. The Hart domain would collapse eventually if this situation was allowed to continue, with great repercussions for the ruling noble family Mia was a part of by heritage.
Of course, Mia had a sense of right and wrong carried over from her previous world. But there were no heroes, no adventurers in that life who really existed that could fight against evil. They only appeared in fiction. Mia didn't think of herself as such a character even after reincarnation. She had only been a normal college girl, albeit one slightly on the nerdish side.
The Hero wasn't supposed to appear for another ten years yet. Nor was there an Adventurer's Guild in Hoplia, as its lack of strong monsters and rural status meant that there was no business for adventurers to do here. Apparently, the last Adventurer's Guild had closed down twenty years ago for having gone out of business. But even had there been adventurers around, there was an unwritten rule that adventurers and the nobility wouldn't interfere in each other's affairs. After all, adventurers were closer to mercenaries than heroes: they were paid to do their jobs. There were actually very few in real life that would go out of their way to oppose a powerful faction like the nobles just out of a sense of justice with no money involved. Those that did would usually meet a quick demise.
The only possible force that could oppose Count Hart in his own domain would be the Elemental Church, but Mia didn't know much about them as she never saw them around despite knowing of their existence.
Mia had died once already. She was unwilling to just become a bystander and passively die without being able to fight back again. Shivering in fear at the sight of someone she didn't even know pointing his gun at her and pressing down on the trigger was a memory she felt she would never forget. While she had reincarnated, there was no guarantee that reincarnation would happen again. People in this country worshiped various gods and the elemental lords, but who knew if they really existed?
Mia took three days to mentally steel herself and resolved to live at least long enough to die in peace and comfort at old age. The first step was to learn more about magic. She needed to gain enough strength to take charge of her own life.
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