Chapter 1 - Prologue
The idea was to have a cup of tea in the office if Lesche had time or in other words, to talk briefly.
However, here Seria was, sitting across a proper tea table with Lesche. When she was Kalis’s fiancée, she enjoyed tea with the ladies from the Haneton estate.
Lesche took a sip of his tea and said,
“I see you like to drink tea here.”
‘Did he prepare this place for me?’
Seria did not easily understand him. He seemed to be interested in her but she wasn’t sure …. Perhaps because Lesche was a male protagonist.
Seria lifted her teacup along with Lesche. The scent of tea tickled her nose. Unlike the office, which was full of vassals, this place was as quiet as the dead world. As she became the Grand Duchess and busily managed the castle, this kind of mundane daily life seemed new to her.
“Why did you ask me to have tea with you?”
Seria said as she put down the teacup.
“I’d like to go to the basement.”
“I thought long and hard about the events at the Laurel Manor. It seems that the sorcerers deliberately burned the imprints. I didn’t tell you because I was afraid you would take away the circlet that you gave me….”
“The first time I caught this circlet in the ossuary, the holy power was really amazing. Oddly enough, it’s at a normal and common level now.”
“You were afraid I’d take back what I gave you?”
Seria cleared her throat.
“I was just saying.”
Lesche drank his tea quietly. Then, he put down the teacup, got up, and held out his hand to Seria. When she raised her hand, Lesche gently raised her up.
“It wouldn’t be a good sight. …. But I’m not the type of person to make you have a stroke over something like this, so it’s okay.”
Lesche chuckled as Seria’s eyes widened.
The place where the sorcerers were trapped was the basement of the main castle. Seria expected it to be tightly guarded by the knights, but it wasn’t as gloomy as she thought it would be.
She didn’t hear any screams as she had imagined. There was no smell of blood or rotting corpses.
‘Are they going to preach in the torture chamber instead of torturing? Or is it verbal indoctrination?’
It was understandable that the atmosphere was more humane than she expected. But then again, Berg didn’t seem to have such peaceful tendencies.
The knight, who nodded modestly at Lesche, blinked a few times when he saw Seria following behind him.
“Tell him I’m here.”
” Yes, sir.”
The knight hurried down the stairs. There was the sound of a steel door opening and closing, and then a slamming sound as if something was tipping over. Unlike how Seria perked up her ears, Lesche’s expression was nonchalant.
“Seria. Give me the circlet. It would be better if it looks like I’m the one who has it.”
“Oh, of course.”
Seria immediately took the necklace off her neck and handed it to Lesche.
“Let’s go down.”
Seria took Lesche’s hand and carefully stepped forward. The iron door of the torture chamber opened and they entered. She could see a sorcerer tied to a chair in the middle of the room. It was the very same sorcerer who wielded the knife at her in the green manor.
The torture chamber was clean. Seria expected to see some sort of torture device with blood hanging from it but there was no such thing, just a black cloth covering it, which made it look like a funeral hall, but that was all.
“He’s more stubborn than I thought.”
Beside the sorcerer was Linon, who had a cloth wrapped around his nose and mouth, and he was wearing three layers of gloves. Linon bowed.
“Your Highness. My Lady.”
Lesche didn’t even give Linon a glance and walked towards the drooping sorcerer. He took the necklace out of his pocket and waved it lightly in front of the sorcerer.
“Is this what you were looking for?”
The sorcerer’s pupils, which were cheerlessly opened, instantly dilated like a demon.
“It would seem so.”
Linon shook his chin at a nearby aide. The aide immediately wrote something down.
Suddenly, the sorcerer, who had been limp for a long time, suddenly began to glow. He tried to get up, but as soon as he realized it was impossible, he opened his mouth and screamed.
The problem was….
Seria gasped and backed away. She backed away in a panic as broken teeth rattled out of the sorcerer’s mouth. Linon stared straight at her. Their gazes met. Linon looked calm, unlike her.
Linon crouched down on the ground and picked up the teeth that fell on the floor in a matter of seconds. Then, squeezing the sorcerer’s chin, he whispered gruesomely.
“Oh, oh, oh. You startled the precious Lady.”
Seria was perplexed.
It wasn’t until she looked around at the other two torture chambers that she realized that the torture devices were hidden behind the black cloth that adorned the walls.
The reaction of the sorcerer was ominous. They saw the necklace and went crazy. By all accounts, the necklace was exactly what they were looking for.
And there was another fact that came to be known. When it was just Linon in the room with the sorcerer, nothing happened. But when Lesche showed him the necklace the sorcerer was subjected to very severe torture.
Then again, Seria was still by Lesche’s side. Tea was prepared in the Lesche’s office where all the vassals had left.
She was drinking a cup of warm tea when she heard a knock at the door.
It was Alliot. He had come to report. However, it was awkward for Seria to see Alliot for many reasons.
No, burdensome seemed to be the right word for it.
Unlike Linon, who pretended to cry, Alliot really did cry.
Ben wasn’t the only one who came straight to see Seria the day she came to her senses. By evening, Alliot also came to visit her like a ghost.
He suddenly knelt down. He didn’t bend one knee, as the knights usually do, but both knees. At that moment, he looked like a lowly beggar on the street.
The knight kneeling on one knee and both knees have completely different meanings. The first is a knight courtesy. The latter is an expression of gratitude of the highest order, not often offered even to a lord, an expression that could only be done to a benefactor who owned his life. Seria was flustered because he even shed tears.
“The manor is a place of honor and life for me.”
Alliott looked at Seria with red eyes.
“So I owe you my honor and life, Young Lady.”
It was of course a good thing that Alliot, one of the best knights in the Empire, was so loyal to her.
‘Did this happen in the original novel?’
Alliot, who had seemed somewhat of a burden since that day, submitted his report to Lesche perfectly.
“I’ve got the name of the person who sent the sorcerers.”
“Is it Mies?”
Lesche easily guessed. No one else but his half-brother, Mies, could harbor such ill will toward the Berg family.
“Yes, Your Highness, I suppose so. And on a much larger scale than I expected.”
“That son of a b*ch.”
Lesche flipped through the report with a blank look on his face.
Mies was sick and tired of being called ‘illegitimate’ and had lost his mind. It was not like bringing down the family would make the fact that he was an illegitimate child go away.
Lesche laughed scornfully.
“……I’ll find out more.”
Alliot’s voice trembled slightly. Lesche, who noticed his agitation looked at Alliot and said,
“I don’t allow you to search alone.”
“…… Yes, Your Highness.”
Seria blinked as Alliot retreated.
She heard the name Mies from Ben at the Laurel Manor.
Mies was the previous Grand Duke’s illegitimate son. It seemed that he even hired the mad sorcerers….
‘I guess he really is crazy.’
When Seria looked at Lesche with that thought in mind, Lesche immediately frowned.
“I don’t have any hidden illegitimate children.”
“You’re not like that.”
“That’s the first compliment I’ve ever heard from your mouth.”
“If someone heard it, they’d think I talk bad about Lesche every day.”
“Aren’t we alike?”
At that time, there was a knock at the door. Two aides and Linon came in together.
“Your Highness. We’ve received an urgent message.”
“…An urgent message?”
“Dozens of imperial nobles who were on their way to Berg were isolated due to the heavy snowfall, and the demons appeared.”
“Where are they?”
“Near the western side of the Tshugan Plains. It is not part of our territory, but it is the closest to us, so we received a request for rescue first.”
“Send the knights. Alliot will lead.”
“Since the isolated people include the High Priest, who was on his way back to the temple, they have asked to send knights and Lady Seria if possible….”
“Then they can freeze to death.”
Linon exclaimed, his eyes widened. His astonished eyes turned to Seria. He seemed to think Seria would be startled by Lesche’s harsh words.
Linon cleared his throat.
“Hmm, but they earnestly asked for help. And most importantly, there is not just one person.”
Suddenly, Linon glanced at Seria again. Then, a moment later, he continued.
“There are priests, official ministers, the Saintess and her…Anyway, they say there are several others.”
As soon as Linon finished talking, Seria knew. It seemed that the stranded people were the priests, and Saintess Lina and Kalis were with them.
T/L: So basically, the nobles who were coming to Berg for their business ( you will know more in the next chapter) and the High Priest along with Lina, Kalis, and other priests, who were heading back to the temple, were stranded at the same time and same place due to snow. Then there, they got attacked by demons.