Slow Prison Life Ch. 33

https://ncode.syosetu.com/n5577es/23/

 

Noblewoman Receives Sympathy From Some Old Friends

Rachel was reclining in her chair while reading a book when the dull bump of someone opening the door to the dungeon to come in echoed down to her cell.
Rachel’s fingers froze as she was in the middle of turning her page. As she glanced over towards the stone steps, it could be noted she was acting unusually cautious.

The reason for this vigilance was because this group of footsteps currently making their way towards her was a set she did not recognize.
There was a limited number of people allowed to come and go as they please from the dungeon, and you can usually tell them apart from one another based off of their footsteps and other minute details. But the group the information she was picking up from the group coming down now was unlike any sound she could remember.
There was no signal sent from any of her guards keeping watch outside, so whoever it was, they shouldn’t be armed or intending to do Rachel any harm. And the fact that none of Elliott’s knights were making any type of uproar must mean these were people of good standing who had gone through the proper procedures to come visit her.
However if this were the prime minister or some other high-ranking government official come to try and rectify her situation, the reports Rachel received from her spies planted within the government offices should have included that information. This wasn’t an official visit from some public person of power. Whoever these people were, they were deserving of a special amount of vigilance.
Having finally reached the bottom of the steps, Rachel took immediate action to identify her new guests……….and then just as quickly lost interest.

 

What, it was just a bunch of dogs barking over an idiot princeElliott who didn’t know when they’d already lost.

 

 

Having come to visit Rachel inside the dungeon, a noble girl dolled up in an extravagantly decorated frilly dress got the ball rolling.

“It’s been too long Miss Ferguson……..no, with you like this, perhaps ‘Miss” isn’t quite the right word?”¹

The girl talked as if they were a couple of good, old friends……..of course there relationship was anything but…….so Rachel completely disregarded the greeting of Agnes Sussex, the daughter to a marquis.
However behind that apathy, “This girl’s level of intelligence seems to not be enough to understand the current state of affairs,” Rachel was busy updating the data stored in her brain. It seems she believes that since Rachel had now lost Prince Elliott’s love, they were now somehow equal in social status. Rachel had to work so that the laughter bubbling in her heart didn’t burst out in front of these naive girls who lack any form of information gathering capabilities.
The noble girls who stepped after continued the attack, offering their own similarly rude greetings. Every last one of them, until recently, were the bunch who did what they could to spread around malicious gossip about Rachel simply because she had been Elliott’s fiancee.

“When you’re engaged to the Prince, these types of people are sure to appear,” “In any case, they’re all bark and being badmouthed a little is just the price of fame,” “But if they really are trying to formulate a plan to drag you down, then it’s best to hit them first,”……..the lessons that Rachel’s father and mother had instilled into her from a young age continued running through her mind this entire time.

“………Huh? You’re supposed to stomp out the plots against you, perhaps that was just a little too complicated for a young me to understand.”
“Did you say something!?”
“No”

Rachel said nothing more as she returned to her book while the group of noble girls continued to snicker amongst themselves, asking rude, rhetorical questions in obviously patronizing tones.

“Ferguson too, didn’t you properly do your part to be liked by His Highness? Well, I always thought he would get bored with you fairly quickly, but I never would have guessed he’d grow to dislike you so much he’d throw you in prison.”
“No no, Miss Audrey. From the beginning it was hard to capture His Highness’s attention, especially with Miss Rachel’s figure you know.”
“Well how rude! Of course, it’s impossible to overlook such an obvious fact, but we should still show some consideration.”

Each of these noble daughters were doing a magnificent job insulting another woman as if she weren’t in the room with them. Perhaps they were trying to throw some challenge her way as each one insisted on using her name without the proper honorific, trying to smear her status and say she was less than them. And then as if to put up a shield around themselves they were making a grand show of throwing false accusations at the others as if they weren’t doing the same thing.

prison life v2 4

And all of it had no effect on Rachel.

 

In front of the cell bars, the group of noble girls continued to talk on and on, acting in an overexaggerated, grandiose way as they continued their slander.
Meanwhile on the other side of the bars, Rachel was staying silent, peacefully reading her book.
Standing on cobblestone dressed up in fine clothes, the high heels the noble ladies were wearing soon began to make their feet sore, forcing them to shift their center of gravity around a bit to relieve some of the pressure.
Sprawled across her armchair with no thought to her slovenly appearance, Rachel continued to read.
Acting awkwardly classy, pretending as if their bad-mouthing was just an ordinary, everyday conversation, the noble girls continued mentioning Rachel by name.
Rachel kept her eyes locked onto her book, completely immersing herself in the story without offering even a half-hearted reply.

 

Finally one of the girls exploded.

“Wait! What is this!? You’re in a prison, looking all self-important lying on your back with your feet propped up while we stand out here………do you understand your position!? What kind of situation is this!? This is the exact opposite of what it’s supposed to be!”

The other noble girls were thinking much the same, and with one of them snapping, all the rest started making noise as well.

“Hey, shouldn’t you say something!?”
“Do you understand your place as a prisoner!?”

Rachel didn’t get flustered or create an uproar.
She instead leisurely turned the page, only giving an absent-minded response during that moment of silence when those noblewomen outside her cell had tired themselves out from all the yelling.

“You people are really lacking in discipline. I’ll be finished after fifteen more pages, so wait until then.”
“Wha!? This woman, what’s with that way of speaking to us!?”
“Hey you, think about what will happen if you turn us into your enemies!”

She didn’t care what they said. She didn’t bother when the other person was Elliott, so Rachel really didn’t care when it was just a bunch of fools who hang off such a guy.

Understanding that no matter how much they yelled, Rachel wouldn’t avert her gaze from her book, fatigue started to show on the little ladies’ faces.
Thirty minutes they were kept waiting.
A relaxed air started to spread between the noble girls as Rachel continued quietly turning the last several pages of her book, glancing through the contents……..and then before those girls’ eyes.

 

“…….huh? How did the story develop like this?”

Rachel turned back about ten pages causing the waiting girls to raise a unified mute shriek.
Already their high heels were causing leg cramps while tormenting their calves. Their ankles were going to give out before she was done at this rate.
Rachel’s self-proclaimed rivals were growing more conscientious, asking “How many more pages are left?” as any collected conversation died away. In the end the girls could only look at each other and quietly wait for Rachel to finish.

 

♠ 

 

Putting the book down on her end table, Rachel had a refreshing smile spread across her face as she took a sip of her now cold tea.

“I never would have thought it would end in such a way. Sometimes a mystery novel is good too……right, let’s get some more books by the same author. Ah, cold tea is rather delicious when your throat is feeling parched……….”

Placing her cup down with a friendly smile, Rachel finally turned towards her noble lady guests. Having been so thoroughly kept waiting, it was easy for her to see what the pain from standing on the uneven cobblestone floor had done to the girls’ poor feet.

“Oh my, pardon my rudeness. Please feel free to take a seat.”
“Don’t joke around! Where is there a place to sit!?”

Tears had begun to form in one of the girls’ eyes as she shouted out.
Rachel looked over the front room of the dungeon, seeing that the only furniture there was the Prison Guard’s desk and chair.

“That side of the room isn’t under my jurisdiction, so please direct any complaints to His Highness Elliott.”
“Y, You………!?”
“Well it’s not like we’re on the sea or anything, so can’t you just sit down wherever you want?”
“H, Here!?”

A noble daughter…….even if you were that Margaret, there is no reason for any child of a fine family who is aiming to become the crown princess to voluntarily take a seat on some dirty, cobblestone floor of a prison.
These noble girls who couldn’t just leave like this or take a seat ground their teeth, something that made Rachel’s smile grow even brighter.

“Oh by the way, weren’t you talking about something earlier? I’m afraid I was reading before, so I was unable to hear the matters of some people who don’t matter……..so please, could you repeat what you were saying before from the beginning?”
“Ferguson, you………….!”

The group of noble women released a terrible pressure with a gaze that was likely to kill someone……..but for Rachel it was like a gentle breeze on a windless day. At any rate, she wasn’t some noble woman who needed to rely on such a look in order to kill her enemies.

 

 

“Well”

Rachel rubbed her hands together with a large grin spread across her face.

“Everyone, it’s been a while since I’ve seen all of your faces……..you all look to be in good health, if nothing else.
“……..and you’ve been imprisoned for how many months now, yet seem to be full of vigor……..”
“Yes, because I prioritize a healthy lifestyle!”

Rachel’s large smile made the other girls flinch…….the girls were taken aback at just how much energy Rachel had, yet they were still unaware of just how close their own persons were coming to peril. These girls had only ever known Rachel as the Prince’s fiancee, never before had they seen the truly wild, dangerous Rachel.

“Speaking of health, are you feeling alright Miss Barbara?”
“Huh?”

Rachel started looking excessively anxious while the noble daughter in question wasn’t able to make any sense of the sudden question.

“I know you love those fried sweets like donuts that have recently become so popular, and you even add on plenty of fresh cream as well. In only two months you’ve gained ten whole kilograms, and quite the shrill scream came from the dress shop when it was discovered they wouldn’t be able to remake your dress in time. Becoming so abruptly fat is quite the amusing tale……..however becoming too plump can put quite the strain on your heart you know? How did your doctor’s appointment last week go?”
“Wha……………..!?”

The called-out noble woman had already felt self-conscious and had kept silent about her recent weight gain, but Rachel so openly pointing out the problem had left her speechless in another way entirely.
Meanwhile the other noble girls standing at her side noticed a strange point concerning Rachel’s words thanks to them being just a bit more calm.

 

If it was two months ago, Rachel would have already been in prison.
So to say nothing of the fact that this was a private physical examination conducted in a person’s own home where you wouldn’t expect information to leak out, how would she have gotten word of it if it had happened just last week?

 

Looking around at the faces of the now silent girls, Rachel called out to a different one this time.

“Miss Kara”
“Wh, What is it……..?”

With this other noble girl so blatantly showing her vigilance, Rachel suddenly showed a lovely smile straight from the heart.

“How was last week’s masquerade ball?”
“………………!?”

Miss Kara’s face cramped up. Growing suspicious, the other noble girls started whispering to each other.

“Last week? Was there a masquerade ball?”
“No, at least, my family never received an invitation……….”

Rachel had dropped a bomb with a smile.

“Ah, even if it is called a ball, it’s not some high society event with formal invitations. It’s more of a private gathering for young nobles who all share similar interests……..”
“Oh………..”

For the most part, the nobles girls were convinced Rachel was talking about some dance group where volunteers gathered together. You heard about that sort of thing from time to time. Boys and girls who aren’t very good at dancing and are anxious about attending an evening party gather together for the sake of practicing.
However if it really was something as harmless as that, there would be no reason for Miss Kara’s face to cramp up like it was. Rachel’s real bomb dropped next.

“………it’s more of a meeting where everyone can dance around naked with each other and have fun doing some good things.”
“!”

The noble girls’ astonishment left them unable to cry out.

“Lies!? I know nothing about such a gathering!”

Miss Kara’s complexion had already turned white as she shrieked.
As the daughter for a high-ranking noble who was aiming to become the crown princess, being a member of a such a suspicious group would create a top class scandal. Forget the prince, it would be difficult for her to find a marriage partner the same rank as her family if this were to be found out.

“You plan to frame me!? You’ve already lost your own standing, so now you wish to drag me with you……….this demon!”

Kara was screaming at Rachel, but at the same time, she was restlessly taking glances over at her comrades’ faces.
So long as all of the noble daughters here keep quiet, then it would be as if this current story had never been told. However…….they had all become a group together in the first place based on their mutual desire to become a princess and steal Elliott away from Rachel. Although they got along, truly, they were bitter enemies riding the same boat, and Kara didn’t think they’d keep quiet after the rope that was Rachel no longer tied them together.
After all, I need to cut through and deny Rachel’s remarks…….!
Thinking so, Kara’s determination solidified.

“Detestable, planning such a……….”

But Rachel shook her head at such an impossible state of affairs.

“I was just a little curious you know? At that party last week, weren’t you boasting about how you’d take son of the Taylor Earldom, Mr. John Taylor’s first time? If Miss Kara had successfully dropped Mr. John, he would have been the fifth man you cherry hunted, meaning in the group you would receive the permanent title of being a carnivorous girlhunter. Isn’t that quite the honor, something even those with similar tastes rarely accomplish? Isn’t it human nature to have whether or not you managed to succeed weigh on the mind?”
“………..!”

Given the rest of the information, the group of noble girl couldn’t say anything anymore. Far from just showing her face at at a suspicious party, she was living a life of indulgence that those with similar tastes would surely admire……..if this were to become known, she could no longer get married.

“…….L-L-L-LIAR! The organizer is always greatly mindful so that no information gets leaked!”
“Oh my, didn’t you claim you had no idea such a group existed?”
“Guu…………!?”

The other noble girls were now looking at Kara with eyes filled with doubt now that she had been carelessly taken in. Having understood she had eaten a fatal blow, Miss Kara stopped any attempt at denial………and having already lost all her energy, dropped down with her butt landing on the cold cobblestone floor.

 

 

“Well…………..and”

The other girls began to shake with fear as Rachel started sniffing out her next prey with a smile.

Who would it be!?

 

 

The girls’ bodies were frozen, yet their hearts were trembling when confronted by this horrible monster wearing the skin of a cheerful noble lady. “Where did I go when I thought no one was watching……..!?” was the singular thought running through each of their minds.
However there was one girl who was brave enough to step forward, asking the question they were all thinking with a trembling voice.

“Y, you……isn’t your personality way too different from what it was before!?”

While smiling as she had been, Rachel tilted her head ever so slightly.

“Oh my, but I’ve been like this since long ago. However, while I was in the position of being the Prince’s fiancee, I did prioritize good behavior………”

Rachel lightly chuckled to herself seeing everyone’s stunned faces.

“It’s so amusing you know? These people who have always made light of me, always incessantly spreading rumors unless they boasting about themselves suddenly can’t think of what to say. Have you never wondered before why I never spoke? Fufu, so funny.”

You could hear the blood draining from the group of noble girls’ faces.
For better or worse, everyone remembered. When mounting a competitor, you can make threats to their pride based off of their own failures. If it was gossip of another person’s shame, you could say even more.

“Also, a great many people were angered when I was thrown into this prison…….although I am rather grateful for it. So for the people suspected of being involved in this incident, I checked up on them to pass the time.”

By now the noble daughters’ faces had gone so white there wasn’t a drop of blood left to drain. Elliott and Margaret would obviously be suspected concerning Rachel’s imprisonment……..and the third person who would be suspicious……….

 

 

Rachel deliberately made a show of clapping her hands together right before the girls were all about to collapse.

“Oh, that’s right! Ladies, are you all right for time? I would absolutely love to continue telling these little tales, but unlike me who has loads of free time, I’m sure some of you must have a busy schedule……..if any of you have lessons or other plans, well, it’s a shame, but I suppose it can’t be helped.”

Rachel was smiling, but that sunny demeanor didn’t reach her eyes or the tone of her voice, and the group of noble women fully understood.

 

“If you want to continue any longer than this, then I wonder which one of you could keep your head held up high. But if you say you’re going to withdraw now, I’m fine overlooking things here”

 

“Tr, Truly terrible, but it is about time for me to go study! O, Ohohoho…….adieu!”

Miss Agnes had taken the lead after entering the dungeon, just as she was now taking the lead in withdrawing from it.

“I’m truly reluctant to part, but please excuse me!”
“I beg your pardon!”

All the rest started throwing out their own farewells while trying to follow Miss Agnes out all at once.
None of them wanted to stay even a moment longer in such a place. The moment they would hear their name come from that monster…….. ruin would visit them the next.
The girls’ teeth were chattering from the pain of their overused legs, but they pushed forward just to escape Rachel’s line of sight. With staggered steps they managed to make it to the cobblestone stairs, but when they tried to ascend above ground………

“It won’t open!?”

The door wouldn’t budge.

 

Miss Agnes tugged and she pulled, but the door leading to freedom wouldn’t give.
Even when a few others walked up to help, the door held fast, not showing any signs of moving at all.
Seeing that the group of noble girls had made no progress in returning, Rachel narrowed her eyes while already holding her next book in hand.

“Oh my. ……….Everyone, it seems you have some spare time after all.”
“N, No…….such a thing is!?”
“Th, The door won’t open!”
“Well……..if it’s that door there, you shouldn’t need a key to open it though? When Miss Margaret comes to visit, she is able to come and go as she pleases even without the Prison Guard accompanying her.”

Rachel put the book in her hands down and sat her chair up from its reclining position.

 

Holding one of her elbows and resting a single finger on her cheek, sitting back in her chair with one foot crossed over another, she bore a striking resemblance to a Demon Lord from legend.

“Well then everyone…….I have more stories that I’ve accumulated. As long as we have some time, let’s enjoy a fun ‘chat’…………shall we?”
“N………..NOOOOOoooooooooooooooo!!!”

 

 

Sitting outside the building by the ventilation window, Margaret let out a sigh while enjoying her short break.

“As I thought, the other party can’t be a horrendously ugly woman…….”

There was no sign of anyone else nearby. When it came time for a shift change for the guards keeping an eye on things outside, replacements didn’t come right away, so Margaret volunteered to act as a proxy and report any issues during that little time when no one else was there.

 

And so before the replacement personnel arrived, Margaret used the techniques she had developed from when she lived in the downtown area to fix the door into place.
At such a time, an amateur would want to stack up a blockade over the whole thing……but really if all you want to do is pin down the door so nobody can leave, you don’t need to cover the whole thing. Just gather up a few light colored stones the same hue as the building’s cobblestone, and then fit them in to a few hollow spots in the broken stone at an angle lining up to the door. That alone will cause the bottom portion of the door to catch, preventing the door from opening while leaving the top ninety percent of it free. It’s a trick to getting things to stick.
Of course there is a possibility of them being able to force their way through. This could be done if it was someone like Sykes inside, but that is a feat impossible for a bunch of refined young ladiesdirty whores to replicate. And so even if those noble girls have good reason to scream, they won’t receive any help from any passing knights keeping watch because they would never imagine the door wouldn’t open. So when can they leave? That’s all up to how lucky they all are.

 

 

Rachel and all those other noble daughters, originally Margaret had instigated this thinking it would be nice if they could just all fall together.

“So one-sided…….after all, Elliott and the others have to do something about this.”

That was, those noble girls were really no help at all, lacking any kind of talent for pulling the carpet out from under someone’s feet.
Well, Rachel would never imagine they really couldn’t get out, so she could end up irritated since a bunch of annoying flies refuse to leave her be.

 

Just because one plan failed doesn’t mean Margaret would get disheartened.
It was fine for her to just think about her next move. To always reply in kind, that was her creed.
And above all, Rachel was annihilating those pig women she was unable to stomach! Rachel, GOOD JOB!

Margaret eventually greeted the guard knight who had finally come and headed back to the castle with a skip to her step.


1. Quick note for this chapter. The other noble girls always refer to Rachel as just ‘Ferguson’ with no honorific. Rachel meanwhile always refers to them with -sama, keeping with the proper respect. Although the word ‘respect’ is a relative term here……..

Chapter 32

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