Devan did not come to visit me that night. There was no food either.
I fell asleep with a starving stomach, and when I woke up again, I finally heard a knock at the door. I hurriedly got out of bed and opened it. Before I knew it, the lock was unlocked.
Standing there, contrary to my expectations, was the old butler.
Surely, Devon would have attacked the room on his own instead of knocking.
“Is it finally time to eat? It’s early.”
He smiled at my sarcastic tone and bowed his head.
“‘I have orders to bring the Lady to the Great Hall.”
“Didn’t you say you wanted to see His Highness? He also said you can have dinner there.”
He said that I could do both if I went to the hall.
I pondered for a moment and then nodded. I had no right to say no anyway.
“…Okay. Lead the way.”
The hallway had the same atmosphere as in the room. It was clean and uncluttered, with no fancy decorations. There wasn’t a single person passing by, which made it seem even more so. It was different from the Count’s house. There were no butlers running around the corridors, no maidservants, no one at all the whole time.
It was complicated because the roads were twisted all around.
If it hadn’t been for the butler who was leading the way, I would have been lost at any moment. I wondered if he had locked me in this room on purpose.
At the crossroads, I went to the right, then to the left again, then up half a flight of stairs, then straight ahead, then up again….
The old butler did not hesitate. I had to give up trying to remember the way halfway through, because I was too busy following him.
When we finally arrived at the Great Hall, it was big. Really big. But it was desolate.
There was a long table plopped on the uncarpeted floor, and a large chandelier with no pattern on the ceiling.
That was all. There was not a single tapestry on the wall, no flower pots or statues or anything.
Devan was seated at the top of a long table.
“I’ve brought the Lady.”
The old butler bowed, then disappeared somewhere else.
Devan rested his chin on his hand on the table. He still had a black eye patch wrapped around his eyes. I tried to sit naturally, but I hesitated. The way I looked was awful. I couldn’t look in the mirror, but my messy hair and wrinkled dress looked unbearable.
“Um, I’d like to wash up first, if you don’t mind.”
“Let’s just eat.”
“But I haven’t been able to wash since yesterday. Since I was kidnapped.
“Washing up or not, I think it’ll be the same, just sit down.”
I stared at him absurdly. Devon, however, seemed to have no intention of changing his mind.
Soon the old butler appeared, dragging a tray full of food. He looked at me strangely, perhaps because I was still standing, then he pulled out a chair.
Do they really don’t mind me sitting at the table dressed like this?
While everyone seemed unconcerned about my appearance, I felt embarrassed.
Eventually I gave up and sat down at the table. The smell of food wafting from the tray was also the reason why I sat down.
The butler began placing the food on the table. There was no sign of the time in the Great Hall.
“You don’t have any servants.”
In response to my sudden remark, Devan replied with a frown.
“I don’t think it’s something you need to be concerned about.”
Well, yes. I intended to finish the treatment and leave here as soon as possible. It was none of my business if this old butler left this house because it was too much work for him to do.
The dishes were placed on the table.
It was the hottest soup I had ever seen. There was so much meat that I took a spoonful and many came up all at once.
My stomach was growling. I made an effort not to behave ungracefully and took a full mouthful of the soup.
…It was so good. It was the best thing I had ever eaten in this world.
I almost forgot my position. I released my tension and let my body relax.
Devan opened his mouth, breaking the desolation of the hall filled with clattering sounds.
I put my spoon down, feeling nervous.
“I heard he’s a very rich man.”
It was true. The Count was one of the richest men in the empire.
“Why on earth do you need money?”
He was talking about the deal I proposed.
The deal where he would give me the money to leave this empire and a position in exchange for me resolving the curse.
“That’s….I want to leave this empire.”
He didn’t even give me a chance to speak.
I could feel Devan’s gaze on me.
Is he really blind? I could feel his gaze was sharp enough to make me doubt that.
Besides, he had been eating skillfully earlier without any help.
I narrowed my eyes and looked at him, shrugging my shoulders.
“I don’t think there’s a reason why I should tell you my situation. I can lift the curse and Your Highness can give me the money. I’m sure money is not a problem for Your Highness.”
There was no change in Devan’s expression even in my quite cheeky tone. He just kept looking at me.
“Yes, I don’t need to know about your situation. That is, if you can really lift the curse.”
“You don’t need to worry about that.”
“What about the rumors that have spread through the Empire?”
“A child with immense divine power went to Count Diego’s family and suddenly couldn’t use her power anymore.”
Oh, come to think of it, such rumors were circulating throughout the empire.
“You don’t mean to say that it’s merely a rumor. In fact, the number of patients who had been in and out of Count Diego since eight years ago has been cut off.”
I bit my lip.
No wonder he accepted my suggestion so easily. He locked me up all day yesterday to investigate my background.
“Or are you saying that you can lift the curse with some other power that is not divine power?”
“That’s not it.”
“…… It’s true that patients haven’t been in and out of Count Diego’s mansion since eight years ago. But…”
I hurriedly continued.
“It’s not that I couldn’t use my divine powers. It’s that I didn’t use it.”
“You didn’t use it? Why?”
“That……………. I cannot say. But what’s certain is that I did not use my power for eight years just because I wanted to. If His Highness were to lock me up in the room like he did yesterday and prevent me from doing anything….”
“Then what shall you do?”
“‘It means I may not use my power in the future. I have endured eight years, and how many of those days will be hard?”
He laughed as if it were funny.
“What if I threaten you? Torture you into using your divine powers and then lock you up? Then what are you going to do?”
“If you want to try, then do it.”
I stared into his eyes. Or more accurately, where his eyes were.
Confinement, intimidation, torture…. After what I had endured in that basement, none of that was a threat to me.
“No matter what you do, I won’t use my divine powers unless I want to. On the contrary, I’m saying that I can fix the curse if I want.”
“I thought it was strange from the first time I saw it.”
“I’m simply telling you the easy way out.”
“……. Is that the deal you’re talking about?”
“Yes. All I need is money and status.”
Devan folded his arms and leaned back. He seemed to be deeply thinking about something and I stared at him.
I wondered how much time had passed.
What broke the deadly silence, not even a rattling sound, was an unexpected question.
“Can you wash by yourself?”
I looked at him with a stunned gaze.
“As you can see, I have very few servants here. I’m saying there’s no maid to take care of your bath.”
“Does that mean you accept the deal?”
“Yes, I can do it on my own. Just tell me where the bathroom is.”
Devan lifted the fork again and began to eat. Staring at him, I also slowly lifted my fork.
It seemed that I had crossed the first barrier.
It was the old butler who took me to the bathroom after dinner.
Does he really work alone in this big mansion? I stared at him in wonder, but the butler handed me some clothes.
“I could not prepare your clothes in time. After washing up, you can wear this gown, and I will have it ready for you.”
The butler bowed and disappeared.
The scenery in the bathrooms was similar to the atmosphere of the hall I just saw earlier. It wasn’t glamorous, but it was clean and had a luxurious appearance.
I took off my clothes and hung them on the wall.
A small yellow necklace shone on my naked body.
I took the pendant on the end of the necklace and clicked open the lid. The pendant, which looked like a flat penny, broke in half.
I dropped a drop of the liquid inside it into the bathtub filled with hot water. In no time at all, the bath was filled with the scent of daisy flowers. I hurriedly soaked myself in the bathtub. What was in the pendant was a magically concentrated extract of daisy flowers.
Just one drop was enough to maintain the scent for several days.
It was a scent I was already tired of because I was not used to it, but I dipped my head into the water to see if it would go away.
It was not until I was suffocated that I came out of the water. Then I held the small pendant tightly in my hand.
It was the one I had asked Killian to get for me. Not a day had gone by since then that I hadn’t smelled this fragrance on my body.
[The young sun goddess with the scent of daisy flowers will break your curse.]
There were two conditions for being the main character of the prophecy.
First, I had to be a member of Count Diego’s family who had the Sun Goddess as his seal.
Second, I must have the scent of daisy flowers.
Perhaps it was because she was a heroine, Cordelia really did have the scent of daisy flowers coming from her body.
But it was not me. This pendant was my second way to replace Cordelia.
I immersed my body in the hot water again and slowly closed my eyes.
I finally got out of the tub as the heat of my body became unbearable. The cold air made my body tremble.
Now I remembered that this was not the Count’s house. The magic tools for making hot water were very expensive and I had never been allowed to use them before.
I hurriedly put on the gown that was hung on the wall.
When I looked in the mirror, I could see bruises all over my body through the open gown.