Chapter 1 - Prologue
09. The lies you know and the truth you don’t know.
Seria shuddered and pushed Lesche away from her. She wiped the tears running down her eyes. Her toes contracted at the feel of his soft rubbing. His cloudy red eyes were fixed on her. A chill ran down her spine as he looked at her with those eyes. She wanted to close her eyes.
He grabbed both of her hands and lowered his head. His lips were hot as they buried into her collarbone. Goosebumps rose up her spine as Lesche’s tongue stroked up her skin. She was already quite used to the feeling of being eaten. Her neck and collarbone, which had never been revealed since their first night, must be covered with new red marks today.
Lesche’s fingers that stroked her arm were wet. It was the same as his lips. He continued to bite, lick, and suck Seria’s swollen lips as if he could never get enough. As the kissing continued, she felt the weight pressing between her legs.
Eventually, Lesche lifted his upper body. Every movement of his muscular, toned body created a shadow that felt decadent. Lesche kissed her knees, and that was all Seria could think about.
Seria blinked her sleepy eyes. In front of her, Lesche was lying on his side facing her. She rubbed and stroked the red marks on his skin with her fingers. He was used to it by now, and the servants who took care of Lesche didn’t seem too shy.
Would they have to wear only clothes that covered their necks in the full-blown spring or even in the hot summer? Seria decided to be a little more cautious. But Lesche….
Lesche, who was sweeping Seria’s hair, suddenly opened his mouth.
“Is there somewhere you want to go?”
“Where do I want to go? Ah.”
Seria blinked slowly and answered.
“I liked the new coffee house I went to with Bibi a few days ago, and I thought it would be nice to visit there with you. Do you want to go when you have time?”
Lesche answered quickly and immediately asked about something else.
“Other than that, do you like to travel?”
Why is he suddenly asking me this? Seria wondered. It was strange, but there was a place that came to mind when she heard the word ‘travel’.
“I want to go to the southern resort island.”
“We’ll go when summer comes.”
“That would be nice.”
Seria laughed and Lesche’s eyes softened. She used to think it was rare to find something as difficult and frightening as Lesche’s cold and indifferent eyes, but now the man had changed a lot. She reached out and touched Lesche’s eyes as he closed them meekly. She gently stroked his thin eyelids.
Lesche continued to ask.
“Did you want to go there?”
“Hmm….. a long time ago.”
“No, I was going to go with Bibi.”
It was because at that time she was worried about her own safety. Lesche held Seria’s hand. His red eyes stare at her and Seria added just in case.
“I didn’t bring it up because you have a lot of work and you’re so busy.”
“I’m not busy.”
“You’re not busy?”
“Yes. If you want to go somewhere, tell me, Seria.”
‘How could I tell him? This man looks like the busiest nobleman I’ve ever seen. He always has countless meetings to go to. Come to think of it, I think he’s even busier now that he spends more time with me every night. But well…he’s the one who won’t stop even after several times. I thought he would know better and adjust his schedule.’
Seria smiled and nodded and Lesche stared at her.
“I’m serious.” (Lesche)
He sounded strange. Seria blinked and asked,
“Lesche, is your work really hard? Can I help you?”
It was a very modest question, but the look on Lesche’s face was clearly cracked as he listened. Seria thought she said something she shouldn’t have, but then Lesche’s shoulders shook and he started laughing.
“You’re the first person who worries about the intensity of my work.”
“No, of course not.”
“What if it’s not about work? Stop laughing already!”
Lesche’s laughter finally subsided as Seria withdrew her hand from his. Even in the midst of it all, his face, tinged with a faint smile, was very presentable from an aesthetic point of view.
‘If I had met him at the banquet, he would have really caught my eye. Yes. Unless he was laughing at me….’
“Why do you want to go with me then? You’re busy.” (Seria)
The question was rather blunt, but Lesche gave an answer that Seria could not have imagined.
“I’m afraid you’ll disappear on your own.”
“I am just scared, that’s all.”
“… Why would you say that?”
“I shouldn’t have?”
“That’s not it. It doesn’t suit you.”
The common word ‘afraid’ was very unfitting when it came out of Lesche’s mouth.
‘How could he be afraid that I would disappear, of all things? I have no idea why he would be so worried.’
“I’m not going anywhere without you, Lesche.”
‘I didn’t know it was going to come out right after I said that.’
Seria looked around. This was the Temple of the Imperial Palace and the prayer room in the back was with Stern insignia. Alliot, who was busy moving behind her, said,
“Grand Duchess, I’ve tied everything up.”
“All right. Go out for a bit, please.”
Alliot and the other three Berg knights walked out of the prayer room, and the door closed quietly. It was then that Seria finally saw the man who was tied tightly to his post. Half of his face was hidden, but some of the hair that was exposed was silver.
It was Mies.
She crossed her arms and tilted her chin lightly. In fact, it was the first time she observed Mies’s face this closely since the incident at the auction house.
‘Lesche doesn’t like it when I stare at Mies’s face.’
Seria remembered Linon’s report.
“Mies has never woken up and still has the Grand Duke’s face on his face. It really is a nightmare!”
It was said that Mies, who was impounded in the dungeon of the mansion, has never woken up. He was unresponsive to any physical stimuli. Even though he was like that, his pulse continued to beat.
Hearing Linon’s words, Seria could only think of one thing as she followed Lesche down to the dungeon and saw the drooping Mies.
“It’s like a switch has been turned off.”
Anyway, it was difficult to interrogate Mies in this state. That was not good. Because Seria wanted to hear the secrets related to the circlet.
“Linon, do you want to give Mies a stronger shock?”
Seria fiddled with the circlet around her neck. The strongest shock she knew of was the one that knocked out Duke Dietrich at once.
That kind of destructive divine power might come up again, but since that day, she had yet to put it on the circlet on Stern insignia.
After checking Mies’s still motionless face, Seria took out the circlet and put it on Stern insignia on the altar.
The hair fluttered back strongly. This time as well, a tremendous amount of divine power came out as if exploding. At the same time, a strong scream was heard from the back.
Seria turned around and immediately had to stand still as if she had been struck by lightning.
Mies was vomiting something similar to black smoke. An unidentified darkness that seems too dense to be just smoke. So that was definitely…
It was very similar to the one that had been absorbed by Lina’s body in the Tshugan plains. Why was that coming out of Mies’s body? Dozens of thoughts sprang up and nothing could be clearly confirmed.
Standing as if frozen, Seria raised her voice.
Seria groaned and the door opened.
‘I haven’t called your name yet—!’
As if he was waiting right in front of the door, Alliot opened the door and ran right in. Alliot’s eyes went wide when he saw Mies. He was surprised to see Mies was surrounded by an unidentified darkness.
“What is that?”
“I’m not sure either.”
“It’s …… unusual, that’s for sure.”
Mies cramped his limbs violently like a patient in extreme pain. Spitting out a handful of blood was an added bonus. At the same time, a silvery glow slowly escaped from his hair. Lesche’s face, which had been overlaid, also slowly disappeared. It was a very eerie scene, but Seria couldn’t take her eyes off it.
Mies was almost back to his original face. Alliot walked with a broad stride toward Mies and suddenly jammed his fist into his jaw. As if he could feel the pain even during the convulsions, Mies rolled his eyes.
Anyone could tell that the pain that had raised Linon’s blood pressure to its highest level had disappeared. Alliot ordered the knights, glaring at Mies with an unprecedented scowl.
“Tie him up. He’s going to the mansion.”
It was early that morning. The sun had not even risen yet. Seria was able to receive a voluminous report on why Mies had targeted the circlet of Berg.
Baron Ison had been living as if drenched in a dream after Lina disappeared. It was a surprise that his thoughts were different. He strongly believed that the holy Saintess was from another place.
She was back where she belonged, but Baron Ison believed that one day she would return. The Saintess was a being who gave him great faith.
‘She was quite a good match for the Grand Duke of Berg as well.’
That was unfortunate, though.
Grand Duke Berg and Seria Stern’s marriage was due to an accident. The Baron had the strong impression that it was a temporary measure and they would divorce soon, or so Baron Ison had predicted. But the last time he heard another rumor, it was quite different. It happened at the museum.
Now the Grand Duke’s marriage was no longer temporary because the Emperor approved it. Still, it didn’t feel good to see the vaguely expected lanyard disappear.
Baron Ison entered the temple with a sigh. He had come to the Imperial Temple every day to pray for Lina’s return.
There were strangely few people there today. He couldn’t even see the priests passing by… though a quieter atmosphere was better.
When Baron Ison entered the prayer room, he couldn’t believe his eyes. Because he saw that green hair, so unique and absolutely unforgettable.
It was so rare, and it was that same hair color as the Grand Duchess of Berg.
Trying to back away immediately, Baron Ison failed spectacularly.
“Good morning, Baron. It’s been a while, hasn’t it?”
“Yes, Grand Duchess Berg. It’s been a while.”
Baron Ison gave up running away and immediately greeted her politely. Seria Berg. She stood up from her sitting position. The way she approached him was scary as if a fierce beast was walking towards him.
Seria was only smiling, but it was never a warm smile, but that arrogant, cold, and horrifying smile that famous people make when they find prey in social circles…
It was a smile that made him realize why he admired Lina. The cheerful Saintess never smiled like that, which made his heart shrink.
“You’re here to pray for your Saintess to come back.”
At that moment, Baron Ison shivered nervously. He was surprised that Seria could read his true intentions.
The smile on Seria’s mouth deepened.