4 Chapter 3
Three years have passed since I have reincarnated into this world.
By now, my mind is already as clear as it was before I died. I could already process the writing of my home region, the High Azurian. The writing is essentially old French, which was not that hard to read for someone with a social sciences background like me. Even if I can read, I don't yet have enough confidence to write, especially since I would undoubtedly revert to my former writing style.
Of course, I also cannot show my parents that I knew how to read, as children generally learn that at around 10 in this world. I would rather not raise suspicion if I can avoid it. For now, I just want to relax and learn as much as I can of this exciting new world. A world with a strange technology balance and Kantian politics and above all, no nuclear arms to act as a deterrent.
The superficial peace we had back in my former world was extremely boring. Every morning when I would spare some time to read the news, only critics about a certain world leader would pop up. Starting up with a group of people with questionable interests and winning the election after a very mediatized campaign, he has started purging key members of his staff due to scandals and internal power struggles. After two years of reading about him every single day, I fear that I have become an expert on the matter without being aware of it. At this point, I can probably speak about him more than I can speak about math, chemistry or physics, as a matter of fact. And these are subjects that I have majored in during pre-university college for two strenuous and very disappointing years. In the end, I even had to turn in this paper called the "Extended Essay" on top of my already painful courses and assessments. Again, compared to this, my life right now is heavenly, to say the least.
Every day after my reincarnation, I remind myself that this is a second chance that Chronus has given me. A new life where I am starting from zero, where my past failures are unknown.
You see, even after becoming a reasonably successful lawyer, I have always been haunted by the fact that I have failed three courses during pre-university, two math classes and one organic chemistry class. Due to this immense and irreparable failure, I had attended one more semester to redo these courses for my diploma and go to university a year later than anyone my age. When I was finally able to attend law school, I was still suffering from my past humiliation seeing that my classmates were mostly younger than me. Even some of my seniors were a few months younger. I was never able to let go of that. In order to stop thinking about it, I immersed myself in my studies and later on, my work. This procured me with temporary pleasure from the success I have earned without any math or chemistry to crush me. As a result, however, I have never gotten close to anybody after prep college. But now, this is all erased, gone, as it never happened. I'm in a world where all those things are non-existent. No one here knows that I have failed classes, that I had to take a year more to finish my studies. That I have been treated as a slave by my former parents because of my lamentable failure. That my father has been diagnosed with cancer a few months after he found out I failed so hard in my studies.
In my most desperate times before law school, I have even considered enrolling in military school. In my former world's era, the armed forces were regarded as an alternative for people who have failed in life, who was unable to get a proper career. Thus, military officers in the so-called "Western Powers" were not the most brilliant people, but more like people with good background and physical strength. Of course, I don't say all countries. The United States and Russia still have very decent officers because they value national defense more than any other nation. Canada, on the other hand, has a severe lack of personnel in its ranks due to the fact that the army is not positively recognized, especially during the Justin Trudeau administration that does not believe in the relevance of a standing army. Thus, enrolling in the army in my country was not at all well regarded and not at all a prestigious career. Even more so, as the army's purpose is becoming obsolete because of technological advancement in the arms industry, especially in the area of nuclear weapons.
Another reason that I cherish my current lifestyle so much is that I have very caring parents. It has been more than 8 years since I have been actually treated well by my parents. In fact, since I was in high school, I was in a constant state of fear and depression partly due to my strict and insensitive parents. I do recognize that they loved me, but their way of displaying their affection is...not the way I would have liked it to be. There was an old French saying that came from Latin that said: "Qui aime bien châtie bien," which basically means that those who love you the most would also be the ones who punish you the hardest. While I understand this, it does not mean that I enjoyed it.
My current parents are more...relaxed in life, let's say. They are not strict and I am very free to do what I want as long as what I do doesn't exceed the 3 years old child's behavior by too much. My parents impose certain restrictions on me, but they are far from unreasonable. For example, when I go outside, I must be accompanied by an adult and I cannot go out of the mansion premises. As I am not the type of suppressed child who desperately wants to try everything and disobey orders, I am just fine with those simple rules. I know that later on, I will be able to go out of the house and see the world. I will be able to go to school and study everything other than math and chemistry. I believe that I could even go to Military School, which is a very prestigious institution here in Lacrimosa. I am still a blank sheet and I will be able to do anything...except for math and chemistry, as I have already insisted so many times.
In this past year, I have never seen little Erika even once. In fact, the only people we have received here at the house were Lady "Betty" and her husband, Sir "Lardon" and a couple of other older people. They mostly spoke about their lives in Military Academy back in their time, which was like 8 to 15 years ago. Hearing them speak so fondly about their time there, my resolve for enrolling there only grew firmer. I have also heard them speak about the War that they have fought before the peace treaty. It seems that it was more of a war of attrition than anything else. The troops would fight in lines and fire at each other when they were reloading their guns. The artillery would be stationed at strategic places and fire on the firm lines and squares. The cavalry would charge at the squares and try getting some psychological victory through shock and hope to disrupt enemy morale. Of course, that results in more in heavy casualties than anything else. It looks like bravery is rather well seen in this world and every little child would dream of joining the cavalry, which I consider as a waste of valuable resources. Intelligence was even cruder. Signal Corps didn't exist. Radio didn't exist. Air units didn't exist and spies were crudely trained. It looks like having continuous war can be fairly unproductive. Generally, the biggest army would always win. The only units that actually had a detailed strategic doctrine were the cavalry units since they just happen to die a lot no matter what they do and the authorities wanted them to do something meaningful before dying. When they did not need to charge, cavalry units were used to do reconnaissance and relaying orders. Except for that, nobody seemed to have thought about using their higher mobility for combat purposes. The more I listened in, the more I wanted to burst in the gazebo and tell them just how stupid their wars were.
Fortunately, I was able to control myself. I have to remain a three years old baby after all, right?
Perhaps I should become a military advisor in the future. I would not need to personally go to the combat zone and risk my new life that I'm firmly intent on enjoying to the fullest. Yes, this is the best course of action and career plan: becoming a military advisor. Maybe even becoming a military theorist like Clausewitz, Sun Tzu or Basil Liddell Hart. I can already imagine myself sitting in a comfortable room with maps and analyzing others' battles all day long. In fact, during that desperate time when I wanted to give up on everything and joining the army, I have read countless military publications, ranging from Julius Caesar's campaigns to General Hermann Balck's memoirs of the two World Wars. I have also read anything relevant to intelligence activities, such as books about the Abwehr, the CIA and the KGB. I even had a doctrine manual for officers of the Wehrmacht, written partially by General von Fritsch.
For now, though, I should immerse myself in learning about this world's history and also how I came to have such a long surname.
My home region is Azuria, which spans from the western border area of Lacrimosa to the central kingdom of Laurelia, the last French-speaking country on the continent. Since the ancient Azurian Empire has collapsed long ago, most of Azuria has been completely assimilated by neighboring nations, from their culture to their languages. Only sparse territories still have traces of the Azurian culture and language, such as Laurelia and my hometown, Neuchâtel.
In fact, Neuchâtel is a fairly new addition to the Kingdom of Lacrimosa, as it was a conquered by our very King Lars less than 10 years ago. My mother was the daughter of an important noble who fought against the kingdom. However, as a young intelligence operative, she met my father many times on the battlefields and eventually chose to elope with him, tired of the desperate combat her father was after. At that time, Lacrimosa was also in a bad situation and even cadets from the military academy were sent to the frontlines. My father was a young Lieutenant who was still a cadet. Somehow, my parents bumped into each other many times and also saved each others' lives. Since my father was not the first son, he did not inherit his father the Margrave of Eastphalia's estate in the easternmost region but receives annual subsidies from his older brother and the kingdom. After Neuchâtel was officially a Lacrimosian territory, my father, who was a friend of the young king, protected my mother from persecution for her status as a hostile lord's daughter and was allowed to live in my mother's mansion, my actual home. Of course, we do not have territorial rights or anything like this, but that was okay since we did not have any financial problems. Now, where did the name "d'Este" come from? When I asked my mother, she would always say that it is too complicated for me to know, since I'm still a baby. I had to nag her many times during half of the year until she finally gave me a clue. She said that for legal reasons relative to her marriage with Father, her cousin's family, the d'Este family, adopted her, but in exchange, her children with my father would also have to bear the name "d'Este". Her cousin currently lives in the Confederation of the Cadornian States, which is south-west from Neuchâtel City. Since that name originates from Cadornia, I can infer logically that people there speak Italian or a very similar language.
Enough about that, however, since I cannot even go out of the house, so it's going to take a few years to confirm my theory. I wonder when will I tell my mother that I can actually read...I mean, I trust her a lot by now. She and my Dad are very nice people and very open-minded as well. I just feel so bad to hide things from them.
I also want to meet Erika again. She was the first friend I had since I was 18 in my former world, which makes it 10 years from now.