* * *
* * *
“We’re here, Liarte.”
A little farther from the sea, the Duchy of Birce came into view.
It was similar to Elheim but different.
Like in the other awakener family, a clock tower was seen in the distance.
“My father decided to pick you up.”
“Your Highness, Duke of Birce.”
Liarte has not heard what they think of Elheim in Birce.
Although the Duchy of Elheim was known for its hatred for Birce, Brice rarely responded to them.
The carriage came to a halt.
“Can I get off?”
“Yes. Here you are.”
Michael, who got out of the carriage first, reached his hand out to Liarte.
The Duchy of Birce didn’t feel much different from Elheim.
Liarte took Michael’s hand and got off the carriage.
A man approached Michael.
Without realizing it, Liarte alternated her gaze between the man and Michael.
With silvery hair and eyelashes, the Duke of Birce’s signature delicate red eyes stood out.
His body looked as solid as Michael’s. His wide shoulders and big frame were impressive.
“Hello. welcome to Birce, our savior.”
The man’s eyes bent savagely.
It was the Duke of Birce, Carmen Birce.
“Thank you for your acceptance, duke.”
Recalling the manners and etiquette that she had learned, Liarte greeted the duke.
With the order of raising the tips of her gray dress and then slightly lowering her head.
However, Carmen pulled her hands back.
“It is not the savior’s obligation to lower her head. In terms of real debt, we should rather thank you.”
Carmen then kissed the back of Liarte’s hand. Her manners were polite.
“Thank you for reviving the vision of the only successor of Birce. I heard my son was very indebted to you.”
“No, he is not.”
“I got a lot of help from Michael, too. So, Michael is not the only one who is indebted.”
Carmen, who was looking down at Liarte with a strange look, nodded.
She thought Michael’s love for her was unrequited, but it turns out to not be the case.
“I see. My son.”
“It doesn’t change the fact that I got more help.”
Liarte thought of the future by looking at the two relaxed faces in front of her.
‘It’s different from the future.’
It wasn’t just because of Michael that Liarte decided to stay in Birce.
The family that Liarte knows best of is Birce.
The Duchy of Elheim hated Birce so much that she could not help but know about him because of the many news that came in.
Before she returned, Liarte had seen Carmen and Michael from afar.
Michael was wearing an eyepatch because he couldn’t regain his eyesight.
Carmen was staring at the Elheim family with a vengeful look on his face.
Michael’s vision returned, and Carmen looked like a caring father, although a bit sly.
The future Birce hated Elheim and the Imperial Family too much.
Of course, Michael was blinded permanently by them, so it was right to take revenge.
However, Michael, whom Liarte knew, was not inclined to hate and chew on others for losing his sight.
‘What the hell happened to Birce?’
It was not possible.
“You may already know me but I am Carmen Birce. You can just call me Carmen.”
“Yes, Carmen. I am Liarte.”
The last name ‘Elheim’ was omitted and the name she said felt uncomfortably small.
“You must have had a hard time coming all the way here, so I’ll assign you a maid first. Is there anyone in particular you would want?”
“I don’t know.”
“I thought so, so I already had someone in mind.”
The woman standing behind Carmen approached Liarte. She looked about thirty years old.
She looked like a maid because she wore a long maid’s uniform.
In an unusual haircut with a black bob.
She was a woman with unique odd eyes, with a reddish-brown color on the left and an amber color on the right.
“She’s a former assassin so she’s a little odd, but not that bad. Awakeners are inherently rare here in Birce. Her name is Merlin.”
At that word, Liarte’s gaze rested on the maid.
It was a name she’d definitely heard in the future.
When Birce almost wiped out the Imperial Family and Elheim, there were several warriors who ran wild in the war.
One of them was Merlin.
“I lost hundreds of troops because of the warriors. It’s not enough for them to only touch the Royal Family.”
She remembered eavesdropping on the duke.
There are two reasons she was convinced that one of the warriors was Merlin.
The first one being her odd eyes.
The second was the way they say Merlin’s name.
People before 40 would usually read the name Merlin in a sophisticated way instead of the pronunciation of Marilyn. (e/n so it’s written Merlin but pronounced Marilyn… I think)
The two reasons were common separately, but both overlapped because there weren’t a lot of people working for Birce.
“Is there something wrong with Merlin?”
Carmen smiled, giving a mysterious look.
“Liarte, if you don’t like her, you can say so.”
Michael took Liarte’s hand.
“It’s your opinion that counts.”
“Merlin would be great. Thank you for having me here.”
Merlin stood politely beside Liarte.
“It may not be enough, but I look forward to your kind cooperation, Miss.”
“I look forward to your kind cooperation, Merlin.”
“First of all, you must have been tired from coming such a long way, so I recommend you wash and dress up. Then, we can drink together. How about that?”
Carmen’s tone was similar to Michael’s.
It’s not an order to do something, but a recommendation to do it.
There was no reason not to follow it, so Liarte nodded.
Being locked behind prison bars, Liarte’s clothes were a mess.
“I’ll be back, Michael.”
Michael smiled with great delight.
Carmen smirked at his son who was being dragged around by someone who was older than him.
* * *
“This is the building.”
Even by the time he (M) was a Duke, it seemed that the old house looked not much different.
“This is the main building. It is where the masters live, and where you’ll stay.”
“You don’t call them Duke or Family Head.”
“In principle, we refer to our masters as masters.”
Merlin seemed to do her best to explain. It was difficult to understand, but Liarte nodded.
It was then.
She heard a cry of a beast from somewhere.
Liarte turned her head.
“What is this sound?”
Merlin turned her head.
“I do not know what you are talking about.”
“I can hear a beast howling.”
It was an indescribably terrible cry. Liarte, who was listening carefully to the cry, noticed that it was close to a human scream.
“We don’t keep animals.”
The sound was getting louder and louder but Merlin was acting as if she had never heard of it.
Liarte put her hands up to cover her ears.
Even with her ears covered, she could still hear someone crying madly.
A little while later, the howling faded.
“Is there something wrong?”
“I heard a terrible cry of a man-like beast.”
It wasn’t the sound of suffering or distress. It was a scream of a blood-hungry beast.
“I didn’t hear it, Miss.”
Merlin responded after a while.
“First, I’ll show you to your room.”
There was a room with the best sunlight on the third floor of the main building.
Liarte followed Merlin into the room.
A soft, fluffy bed, pillow, and quilt. A carpet and a bookcase were also in the room.
It was good to be able to push the door in and out freely.
“The door on the side is connected to the dressing room.”
When she opened the door, she saw dresses and shoes. Merlin took out one of them and brought it to her.
“I’ll help you get dressed.”
The bright sky-blue dress felt very comfortable to wear.
She didn’t know if she was allowed to be happy receiving these things because she had never got to enjoy such things.
The dress and the fantastic room and furniture seemed unreachable.
But the shoes drew her attention.
Merlin took out the pair of shoes that Liarte had laid her eyes on.
“Would you like to try them on, if you don’t mind?”
There was a blue jewel attached to the slightly high-heeled shoes.
“I’ll show you the way to have tea with my master.”
Merlin’s tone was polite. Liarte looked at Merlin’s behavior and asked her some questions.
“Why did you choose to quit being an assassin and become a maid?”
Merlin opened her mouth without difficulty.
“I was born a child from a normal family, and I was kidnapped by a group of assassins because I showed my skills. I then became free when Birce got rid of that group of assassins, but I had nowhere to go. That’s why I stayed here in Birce.”
At least Liarte could not find any sign of lying from Merlin.
“I thought I wanted to live as an ordinary person. Birce’s people used to have jobs related to the underworld, but most of them want to live with normal jobs.”
Merlin, who was solemn, smiled heartily for the first time.
“My name was also given when I entered the Birce family.”
At that point, Merlin wanted to live a normal life.
The reason why this person became an assassin who even killed members of the Royal Family.
The reason why Carmen and Michael went on a rampage-like revenge.
‘At this point, nothing has happened to cause all that.’
Something happened between now and three years later at the time of Liarte’s execution.
Only Liarte, who knew of the future, could stop it.
She didn’t know what it was about yet but she had to find out.
And she had to stop what was going to happen.
‘It’s something so important that the people of Birce lost their composure.’
She had a hunch that the howling she just heard was closely related to that.
It was just a feeling, but she couldn’t ignore it.
Tonight, Liarte is determined to track down someone who cries and howls.
* * *
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