Chapter 1 - Prologue
“What do you mean?”
In the midst of all this, Seria trembled as she grabbed the chest of the unmoving Tuban.
“How could I, how could I have turned back time…!”
Her eyes went blank. She grabbed Tuban and shook him, trying to keep sane somehow, but to no avail.
As soon as Seria started to struggle, Lesche held her down with both arms. He also held both her swaying legs with his body to immobilize her. Seria, who had never come to her senses since the mine, was experiencing something similar to a seizure, but that was it. She couldn’t wake up.
“Please hold on to her, Your Highness!”
That was when the doctor rushed to sedate her.
Suddenly, Seria’s eyes widened. For a moment, she felt like she was dreaming. Lesche noticed immediately.
“Seria? Seria? Are you awake?”
Seria couldn’t answer. Seria’s hand did not move as she wished, as she reflexively tried to wrap her neck. It was because she was being held by Lesche.
“Your Highness! Grand Duchess needs to hydrate first!”
Meanwhile, the doctor, moving like the wind, quickly brought a cup. He put in a little salt and sugar and slowly poured the well mixed lukewarm water into Seria’s mouth. She couldn’t drink much as she kept coughing. Lesche took his handkerchief and wiped the running water along Seria’s chin.
Abigail, who stood close to Seria, saw her hands trembling slightly.
The doctor took a quick look at Seria and noticed that there was nothing wrong with her body. He said the same thing last week.
“Well, Your Highness. There is nothing wrong with the Grand Duchess…. I’ll go warm up the medicine.”
The doctor rushed out. Fearing that the air quality would deteriorate if there were too many people in the bedroom, only Lesche, Abigail, and one maid were in the room.
They were not able to go to the Berg mansion in the Imperial capital. Seria had fainted and was unable to wake up. The castle the Duke of Polvas gave them was small but useful. The doctor of the Grand Duchy of Berg, who was urgently summoned here, examined Celia twelve more times a day.
“…Seria, are you all right? Do you see me?”
Seria’s eyes, which seemed to be searching the bedroom, went to Lesche.
Her hands, held by him, were very cold.
“Can I sleep some more?”
“Why do you want to sleep more?”
A strange feeling of unease tightens in Lesche’s neck. It was an unfamiliar feeling, not easily experienced. Lesche straightened Seria’s upper body and hugged her, trapping her to his chest.
“If you go to sleep right away, the nightmares will continue. Take the medicine when it comes and sleep later.”
Surprisingly, Seria readily accepted.
“I’m sorry for making you worry.”
Seria turned her head and looked at Abigail.
Her voice was cracked. As soon as Seria called, Abigail wanted to hug her, but she decided to give way to the young lady’s husband, who hadn’t been able to lay eyes on her properly for a week. Instead, she held Seria’s hand.
“Yes, My Lady.”
“The insignia from the mine… did you bring it?”
Abigail shook her head quickly.
“I’ll bring it right away. My Lady.”
Seria didn’t have to ask twice. Abigail immediately got up and left the bedroom.
Seria leaned on Lesche’s shoulder. The silence was short-lived. Lesche’s expression slowly began to harden. She tried to move her arms, which had been limp for a week, but they were not smooth. This was because Seria, who finally put her hands together, covered her face as she did so. Since he was in contact with Seria, he felt such a movement.
It was as if she was crying.
“Grand, Grand Duchess! I have brought you medicine to replenish your energy. You’ll have to take some of this and some of that. Here’s some more. Yes, you’ve been unconscious for over a week…..”
With the doctor’s quick treatment, Seria seemed to have regained a minimum of energy. As the doctor worked feverishly to bring Seria back to a revivable state, she finally regained her senses. He had no choice but to do so, because the pale face of Lesche, staring at Seria, was not normal.
“I need to get some more medicine, but I don’t have enough hands. Can you help me?”
“Yes? Yes, of course.”
The maid, already sensing the stormy atmosphere, greeted and left the bedroom with the doctor. She closed the door with the utmost quietness and patted her chest.
Lesche began to speak as he looked at Seria in front of him.
“I’m sorry.” (Seria)
The apology returned to him reflectively as soon as he opened his mouth. Lesche felt something like a cold sword cut through his chest.
“…Why are you apologizing?” (Lesche)
“I heard I’ve been unconscious for over a week.” (Seria)
Seria slowly swept her face with both hands.
“I’m sure you were worried again that it hasn’t been long since I fainted last time……. but this time I didn’t really do it on purpose.” (Seria)
Lesche grabbed Seria’s hand and looked at her. Her blue eyes were somewhat clouded and her lips were colorless.
“You apologize because I was worried?” (Lesche)
An unbelievably innocent answer. Lesche’s face slowly distorted. With such a pale face, for the first time in a week, she finally came to her senses. What could he say to her who was so quick to apologize?
“Why are you being so cruel?” (Lesche)
The light returned to her eyes, which had been floating strangely.
“Lesche? Why… What do you mean?”
As she asked this, Seria tried to observe Lesche’s expression, but soon she frowned as if her head hurt from fatigue. Lesche knew she often looked at his face and expression. It didn’t matter. He was concentrating on Seria’s moods too. Because he was curious to know what she was thinking. Because he wanted to know.
He always thought they were similar.
But Lesche now realized that Seria and he differed in one crucial thing.
“You didn’t do that to your knight.” (Lesche)
“…What is it?” (Seria)
“For the first time in a week, you woke up, saw your knight, and told her to bring the insignia. I was told that you collapsed in front of the insignia.” (Lesche)
“I have something to confirm because of my divine power.” (Seria)
“Is that important?” (Lesche)
“It’s important.” (Seria)
“Is it so important that you had to apologize?” (Lesche)
“…because if you soothe me, I’ll just be satisfied and keep my mouth shut.” (Lesche)
Those words were his true feelings. So was the emptiness that hid behind the slanted emotions.
Lesche’s hands tightened on Seria’s arms. He didn’t think there was sincerity in her apology. It was just an apology. What was the difference between that and a kiss to cover her mouth?
“Why didn’t you just give me an apology?”
“I would have been convinced if you had faked it as a result of your divine powers.”
As he spoke, a strange bitterness flashed through him, as if his chest was burning. But it wasn’t an exaggeration. Just as he had silently consumed Seria’s lies before, he would have done so this time.
This time she woke up after a full week.
In the past, she woke up after two days, so he waited two days. After that, she would wake up in three days, and so he waited three days. He knew she would wake up this time too and it would be soon, but she didn’t wake up. As if she couldn’t wake up forever….
The longer it went on, the more he felt strangled. Clinging to a ray of hope, Seria didn’t open her eyes for a long time.
So when she opened her eyes like this a while ago, he felt like he was dreaming for a moment, and then this happened. He didn’t know before that not saying anything felt so cruel.
“…You didn’t wake up, and it drove me crazy.”
He had thought that nothing could drive him more crazy than Seria not being able to open her eyes, but no.
“But I’m so anxious, I can’t stop thinking about it.”
Lesche wiped Seria’s cheek slowly with his hand.
“Seria, I don’t know why you’re crying silently again.”
Tears trickled down Seria’s cheeks. She didn’t even blink, but tears fell under her chin as if it were broken. It was as if he was immersed in Seria’s deepest dream, this dreamy feeling. It was an illusion that made his vision wet.
“Can’t you tell me why you’re crying, Seria?”
“I’d rather do that if I could even make a wish to hear it.”
Seria held Lesche’s hand and spoke.
“…Where the hell am I? What am I?”
Her question didn’t make sense.
Stern, Grand Duchess of Berg, Young lady of Kellyden…. Lesche could have said any number of simple facts. But why couldn’t he understand that Seria asked such a question? He was the one who had been insane for a week and a half when Seria couldn’t wake up.
“I don’t know what’s going on either. I don’t know what I’m supposed to do now because everything I thought I knew was wrong. Am I crazy?” (Seria)
“Are you crazy?” (Lesche)
“If you’re crazy, then I must be crazy with you.” (Lesche)
Lesche wiped the tears from Seria’s cheeks and said.
“How can I be sane when my wife seems to have lost her mind?”
“What will happen then?” (Seria)
“What will happen?” (Lesche)
Lesche continued slowly.
“Nothing will happen.”