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A large drop of water spat her out mercilessly to the floor. Valletta, who was thrown to the floor, breathing hard.
“Nerade! You stupid thing! What is this?”
<…Ah! I’m sorry. Humans can’t breathe in the water. I forgot! Are you okay?>
“Gosh, yes …….”
She inhaled and exhaled the air quickly and repeatedly, getting her breathing back to normal.
The office was clean and smelled of ink. It was hard to believe that the demonic man would use it.
<Now, I’m done!>
Nerade, who had dried Valletta’s wet body, circled her anxiously. Valletta waved her hand, saying she was okay.
Valletta slowly looked around the study of the room.
“As expected, I can feel something.”
It seemed to be alchemy. She slowly looked around the study. There were few signs of having been touched. It just looked like it was more for decoration. Still, there was no accumulation of dust. It must have been neatly cleaned by the hands of the attendants and maids.
Inhaling, Valletta looked over the books one by one with her fingertips. There was nothing to be found on the bookshelf that was by the side of the desk.
“Jin, Nerade. There’s no device here, is there?”
<Yeah, there doesn’t seem to be any.>
Valletta nodded. She stood in front of the bookshelf behind the desk. This place seemed to be well cleaned and neat as well. Her fingers slowly swept through the books one by one.
She paused for a moment, seeming to detect a subtle difference in her fingertips. There were some scratches on the bookshelf. It was the traces of the books that had been pulled in and out repeatedly. She narrowed her eyes and rubbed the area again with her fingers. It was definitely small marks, but they were interesting ones.
She quickly lifted the book and looked a little further inside. There were traces in the middle, but after that there were no traces. Her fingers came down to the next compartment. The top left square of the bookshelf, then the top right square, then the bottom left again, then another one a little further away……
There were four traces in total. Traces that took out about half of the books. While contemplating, she slowly took out each half of the books from the very top. As she did so, she stepped back and heard the sound of something clicking and meshing from inside.
Click. With the sound of something fluttering, a door opened in the middle of the bookshelf. It wasn’t what it seemed, but rather what it said.
“Is it …… pliable?”
It didn’t glow, and it didn’t feel like the kind of sensation she got when alchemy was used, but this was definitely alchemy.
She swallowed her saliva as she looked at the swinging door.
It was dark inside. It was no different from the pitch black night. She didn’t know what was at the end of the long corridor, but it was clear that at least the emperor hid this much.
But Valletta didn’t like pitch black places. She swallowed her breath. Her fingertips trembled finely. She reached out and hugged Jin and Nerade in her arms.
<What, what is it! Human!>
“…. Don’t go anywhere.”
Her heart was about to burst.
Valletta took a deep breath at the sound of Nerade’s laughter. She grabbed the bookshelf door with trembling hands as she stepped inside.
Alchemy was basically a one-time thing, and sustainability was always a condition. Everything had to return to its original state. Only then would the evidence disappear and the traces be put back together again. Perhaps the emperor continued to use the same method.
She gazed blankly into the darkness, then slowly closed the door. The light that had been shining through the bookshelf disappeared as soon as the door was shut.
There was the sound of the books being returned to their original position, along with the sound of the lock being engaged. Valletta hugged Jin and Nerade and slowly stepped forward.
The sound of flames burning irritated her ears. The sudden sound caused her body to jump reflexively.
Candles flared up along the dark passage. Her body slowly relaxed as she watched the candles begin to burn faintly in the darkness.
<You don’t like the dark, do you?>
Valletta didn’t respond to Jin’s words, but stepped silently, keeping her gaze fixed in front of her. Jin watched her walk and shook his head.
They didn’t walk that long and a huge central hall appeared. It was used by one person, of course. It was more like the structure of a room itself. However, it was a little wider than a typical nobleman’s room and had a different shape.
The desolate room with a single bed was round in shape. The walls were surrounded by an enormous amount of books. There was a single desk between the bookshelves that were packed tightly together. There was nothing else dangerous about it. All she could see was a water kettle.
She stepped forward and shifted her gaze to the bed. The bed was stark white, with what looked like thin sky-blue threads hanging from it. It twitched and it was breathing faintly when she approached. Valletta’s eyes went black and white.
“Is it a person ……?”
She stopped in her tracks. She didn’t know if it was okay to approach the opponent. However, the person didn’t seem to be dead. She didn’t need to get closer, but she could see that the person was very thin.
“You came earlier. Why are you here again? How much more of me….”
The woman’s voice sounded tired and dry, with tears mixed in. Valletta put more pressure on the arms that were holding the spirits.
Jin eventually couldn’t stand it and flapped his wings, pummeling her arms down.
The woman who didn’t turn around looked completely disconnected from the world.
Valletta clenched her fist and greeted her.
The woman’s body bounced loudly on the bed. The woman, who had been lying with her back facing the doorway unwillingly, finally moved on the bed. She slowly raised her body up, pushing it with her thin arms.Then she turned and faced Valletta.
“…… who are you?”
Valletta was speechless for a moment. The person in the bed was beautiful, with pure white skin.
Her long hair was disheveled on the bed, and her skin was pale, as if she hadn’t been in the sun for a long time, and her bones stuck out so prominently on her skin. It was as if she had lost one of her eyes, and the only thing left was a hole that looked pitch black. It looked as if there was a deep darkness inside it. However, the one remaining eye was a beautiful color that seemed to embrace the ocean even darker than Milord’s.
“What are you going to do here….?”
What could she say? ‘I came here because I wanted to know what the emperor was hiding, but I just panicked because there were people…….’
She couldn’t say that. That didn’t mean that there was anything else in this room. There was no evidence of valuable treasures or of the many evil deeds he had committed. There were no corpses lying around, no evidence of human experimentation. To be honest, she was a little disappointed.
“It seems that the emperor is hiding something…I’ve been looking for it, and here I am.”
“It wouldn’t have been easy to find, but it’s fascinating.”
The wind whispered in her ears, a very gentle soprano tone. It was a distance from the kind of voice she didn’t want to hear.
“Are you a spirit?”
“Oh, this one, …….I know how to call a spirit. I’m not a spirit.”
The woman’s words were gentle and her eyes were kind, but within them lay a deep loneliness, an inexplicable despair, and a horrible weariness with life.
“Who are you then?”
“I’m an alchemist.”
Elise mumbled in a small voice. She listened to the child in front of her answer without letting her guard down. It had been a very long time since she had talked to anyone who wasn’t a cynic.
“I am an alchemist, too.”
“Yes. I was an alchemist to be exact. I was so miserable with that power that I gave up on myself, but I still couldn’t get out in the end.”
Valletta’s eyes went wide at Elise’s words. The surprised gaze naturally went to Elise’s empty eyes. The power of the alchemist could only be activated by those who embrace the ancient magical formation carved into their eyes. However…….
The fact that the woman gave it up herself meant that she pulled out the ancient magic circle. There was only one way to pull it out. The only way would be to dig where the magic circle was carved.
“What do you mean you couldn’t get out?”
“I thought it was the power of alchemy that he was obsessed with me. So I gave up. …….”
“The Emperor is obsessed with you…?”
Valletta’s question was met with Elise’s blue eye. She didn’t say anything, but Valletta could feel the insidiousness of it through the pitch black hole.
“I shouldn’t have met him….”
Elise’s face twisted. Her pure white hands gripped the bed sheets tightly. Valletta couldn’t say anything as Elise’s face contorted as if she was crying, but not a single tear came out.
“I didn’t mean to tell him that it doesn’t matter what he looks like.”
Well, that was just like …… the end. Valletta could see Elise painting the worst possible ending right in front of her eyes.
It was after a while that Elise, who had been silent for a long time, raised her head again. She smiled awkwardly with a more serious expression. Valletta stared at the awkward smile, which was as crooked and awkward as her own.
Valletta didn’t dare speak to Elise. She waited until Elise opened her mouth first. She didn’t have the confidence to say anything comforting, and she didn’t know what words to say either.
“I’m Valletta……Valletta Delight.”
” …… Delight, a greedy fox with torn eyes?”
Valletta’s lips quivered at Elise’s scathing assessment that jumped out at her with all her might. Of course, it’s not wrong at all. It was just that she had never heard it so harshly before. And that was coming from someone who was on the verge of tears just now.