Chapter 1. An Accidental Encounter
According to what Zenuit said, the holy dew definitely existed. But, it was because Elena’s Tears were split in two…….
“The latter part of the book is torn, so I don’t know the details, but I think it would be good to spare several possibilities.”
That was a good point.
Everyone knew the Legend of Sigrid was a very old myth, but the recorded content varied widely as it was so old.
Centered on the ‘Legend of Sigrid’, this was because a lot of content has been derived.
But now, what she was sure of was that Sigrid’s follower, Zenuit, was trapped inside the gemstone, Elena’s Tears, and she had to get him out to get Sigrid’s heart.
And she needed the holy dew in order to get Zenuit out of there.
Nelia was lost in her thoughts for a moment.
There was a nail-sized hole on the back of Elena’s Tears.
‘Maybe that circular hole is…….’
Could it be the place to put in the holy dew.
The circular hole didn’t look as if it had been splitted, but it might be part of Elena’s Tears.
If that was true, another problem would occur here.
Where would she find that nail-sized holy dew?
The duke spoke with a concerned expression when the dark shadow of anxiety hung on Nelia’s face.
“Nelia……. Are you all right? You don’t look really good.”
The duke examined Nelia closely as his face drew closer to her.
“Yes, I think you make that kind of expression oftenly these days.”
Nelia knew why the duke said so.
This was because Sigrid’s heart and Charlotte’s problem have been disturbing her mind lately.
Nelia was mostly disturbed by Charlotte in particular.
After Charlotte left, the duke never asked about her, but there were times when she suddenly felt anxious.
She has managed to regain her composure which was similar to calm waves, but her expression might have been dark for a few days after Charlotte’s visit so she might have looked otherwise.
“Nelia, is it because you’re having any difficulty finding the curse? If that is the case, you don’t have to feel obligated to help me, Nelia.”
“It’s not like that. It’s just that there has been a lot on my mind lately.”
Nelia smiled lightly and reassured the duke, his expression gradually loosened after that.
“I’m glad to hear that…… but if it’s difficult, you can tell me anytime. I can lift the curse on my own.”
If it were anything else than this, she would’ve complied to the duke, but not this one.
It would never be easy for Duke Hart to find Sigrid’s heart on his own because he was not the main lead of this story.
It’s probably close to impossible.
Nelia swallowed the bitter smile inside as she knew the truth.
The duke rose from his seat.
“I think I have to go out for a while. You don’t have to tag along because it’s not far away.”
Nelia’s eyes followed the hurrying duke.
“Who are you going to see?”
“I forgot that the Knight Commander is going to visit the mansion because there’s something he needs to report.”
“Yes, go ahead.”
The duke said with a smile.
“Take a rest for a bit, Nelia.”
The duke left the study as soon as he finished his remark.
When one person disappeared, the study became chilly. Nelia looked at the empty seat of the duke.
‘He’s a busy man after all.’
Many people from here and there have been looking for Duke Hart recently.
She heard that the reason was due to Carlos’ absence.
He hasn’t been seen in public lately, and held off the imperial task.
‘Is it because of his stiff arm?’
Carlos thought his right arm was a disgrace, so if there was any problem with it again, he would never want people to know about it.
If not, he could be busy with other things.
Nelia quickly gave up on her thoughts about Carlos. She wasn’t supposed to be worried for him. She just couldn’t help but to be bothered about it.
As she lost concentration a moment after that, Nelia got up from her seat and decided to approach the duke’s seat.
She wanted to read the book about the holy dew that the duke saw earlier.
The duke didn’t arrange his desk, so the book he was reading remained there.
The book looked shabby from its appearance.
As expected, the most useful information seemed to be contained in these kinds of ancient books.
Nelia found the page where the duke left off. She skimmed through it quickly in order to find it as fast as she could.
But as the duke said, there were really just two lines of information related to the holy dew.
The later part was torn.
Nelia turned the page again just in case and looked through it carefully, that’s when she found a new part she never saw before.
[The origin of the holy dew.]
The holy dew was mentioned again at the latter part where the duke hasn’t read yet.
[During the process when Elena’s Tears were coagulating, the small splitting fragment became the ‘holy dew’. Which then formed as a small gem.]
She couldn’t entirely rely on this book, but if this was right, this information might be very helpful.
It gave a clue that the holy dewa was a small gem.
[Elena’s Tears are said to have coagulated in the shape of falling raindrops, and the holy dew also fell and came out in a circular shape.]
Nelia’s eyes grew slightly wider.
‘In a circular shape…….!’
The content was supporting Nelia’s assumption about the round hole on the back part of Elena’s Tears which might have been the place of holy dew.
[The reason why the premodifier ‘holy’ is attached is due to the fact that the holy dew was discovered by a priest. It has been kept in the monastery for generations.]
If this was true, the holy dew was probably kept somewhere in the monastery.
She read the content again from the beginning to the end just in case, but failed to find another clue.
Nelia put the book back on the duke’s desk.
‘Such a pity, but I should be satisfied to have learned more about the holy dew.’
And when she retreated,
The envelope on the desk fell down when it brushed against Nelia’s hand.
As the envelope fell down, the papers inside scattered on the floor.
Nelia drooped down hurriedly and collected the scattered papers.
But one paper suddenly caught her eye. There was something written on top of the paper.
Nelia’s heart pounded anxiously again at the familiar name.
Nelia slowly extended her hand to pick up the paper. It contained information about someone.
Such as information about their name, age, where they reside, and place of origin.
And the information matched with Charlotte whom Nelia was familiar with.
Nelia’s eyes trembled slightly.
“Why did His Grace…… investigate Charlotte?”
She felt weird.
Her heart was pounding, and she felt like sinking to the other side of the world.
Although the duke didn’t seem interested in Charlotte, it occurred to her that it might not have been true.
One particular scene flashed across her mind.
In the original story, the duke also did a background check on Charlotte.
He couldn’t forget about Charlotte, whom he met briefly, so he wanted to meet her again.
‘So it was like that……’
The tip of the paper crumpled slightly when her grip tightened.
Nelia looked down at the paper for a long time before putting it back in the envelope. She put it on the desk and left the study.
She had no energy left to do anything else.
Returning to her room, Nelia locked the door and sat and slouched on the bed.
She felt as if her anxiety was bursting out all of a sudden.
The shock was bigger than she thought.
Nelia hugged her knee and buried her face in it.
As expected, the duke seemed to be attracted to Charlotte like in the original story.
In fact, it was weird that he wasn’t fascinated by her. She was so pretty that even people of the same gender would fall in love with her.
‘But why am I so depressed?’
Nelia couldn’t figure out what she was doing at this moment.
She didn’t know what this unsettling and unpleasant feeling she had never experienced before.
She was close to bursting out crying.
As the warm feeling around her eyes intensified, Nelia realized that her eyes were teary.
Nelia closed her eyes tightly as if she was running away from the truth.
Thump, thump- Nelia opened her eyes at the noise.
It was dark inside the room.
Nelia realized that she had fallen asleep unknowingly, and it was already evening.
“Nelia! Are you there?”
When the duke’s urgent voice came into her hearing, Nelia got up from the bed.
This was because if she didn’t open the door, the duke intended to break it down right away.
When the door opened, she saw the duke’s rigid face. But as soon as he saw Nelia, his rigid expression immediately loosened.
“Nelia, you were here……..”
Despite the duke’s assured remark, Nelia only stared at him. The duke drew out a sigh with a worried expression.
“I returned just now, and I was surprised to hear that Nelia disappeared.”
Nelia came back inside and thought it was probably because he encountered no one.
That was a good point though, what is he worried about? If she wasn’t in the study, she would be in her room anyway.
Nelia thought twistedly, different than usual.
“…….I was so surprised knowing you disappeared.”
The duke’s concerned gaze gradually blew Nelia’s brittle heart over. When her mind cleared up, she wondered if she went too far.
But such thoughts disappeared shortly after.
It wasn’t her but the duke was more likely to be the one who would disappear one day.
‘Nelia, I found my true love. That being said, I don’t need you anymore.’
Just imagining it made her feel as if being struck by lightning. It was extremely bad at the same time.
How could he leave her so easily after she stayed with the duke and went through all sorts of hardships?
Nelia’s eyes turned red again. The duke saw it and lowered his head to match their heights.
“Nelia……. Are you crying?”
The friendly voice made her cry harder.
But when he asked why she was crying, she shook her head because if she complied, she would have to tell him this ridiculous imagination.
“No. It’s because I’m not feeling well.”
She answered powerlessly and the duke’s hand touched her forehead. She felt strange at the familiar cool touch.
“I don’t think you have fever……..”
Nelia removed the duke’s hand.
“I don’t suffer from cold. It’s just…… I guess I’m just a little tired. I just need to rest.”
But the worried expression still lingered on the duke’s face.
“I’ll stay by your side to take care of you today.”
If he has feelings for Charlotte, why is he this affectionate to her?
He would end up loving Charlotte just like the original story.
Nelia recalled the story after the duke did a background check on Charlotte in the original story.
He eventually found out about Charlotte through the background check and continued to meet her under the guise of coincidence. Then he became convinced of his feelings.
Thanks to that, Nelia’s mood had already reached low level, or she had dug a tunnel by now.
“I don’t want…… No, it’s fine.”
Nelia let out a subdued voice from her mouth.
And when she was about to close the door, the duke held it.
“Is it because I’m afraid I will touch you again…….? I will never do that. I’m not as much of a beast to touch the sick Nelia.”
The duke said with a serious look. Nevertheless, Nelia couldn’t stay with the duke now.
If they were to stay together, she might end up weeping bitterly and asking if he was attracted to Charlotte.
“I just want to be alone. You don’t have to take care of me.”
The duke’s hold on the door loosened at Nelia’s firm words.
His eyes seen through the door bothered her, but she couldn’t afford to think about it now.
The next day. Nelia closed her eyes as if she was ignoring the sunlight shining through the curtains.
She didn’t really want to open her eyes.
She fell asleep late yesterday because she was depressed on her own. She was more absentminded rather than being tired.
Nelia was already looking at the hands of the clock pointing at ten o’clock before she realized it.
Luckily, today was a holiday. If she had to go to the Imperial Palace, she would have to be with the duke again.
The duke was probably drinking tea in the garden or reading in his study by now.
‘Then shall I go out…….’
She couldn’t sleep again once she opened her eyes, and when she gradually collect her wits, she felt stuffy in the room.
If she went out to the hallway for a bit now, she wouldn’t encounter the duke.
Thinking so, Nelia washed up and dressed in simple attire.
But when she opened the door,
She spotted the duke standing in the hallway while looking out the window.
‘Why is he standing there…….!’
Nelia closed the door quietly and wondered if she should return inside. But the duke turned around shortly after and looked at Nelia.
And their eyes met.