Chapter 1 - Prologue
At the year-end celebration, Kalis stood by the window and looked down at his arm. The rotten pain was gone, and the arm was now as healthy as the arm of an ordinary knight. There was a bracelet on his wrist. It was the amethyst bracelet that Seria had given him as a gift.
“Seria,” Kalis murmured to himself.
Until the day before yesterday, he was sure that she was going to be his wife. Today’s party, which suddenly changed to a year-end party, was originally a wedding reception for her and himself.
Seria Stern. She was the famous daughter of the prestigious Marquis Kellyden of the West, even though her mother was of very low status. Her half-siblings did not want to talk about her. It was enough to make her grind her teeth. However, it was actually an understandable reaction. Kalis was well aware of Seria’s wickedness. When she was a child, she was a truly extravagant girl. Jewelry vendors and dress designers from the capital were called in every day.
Among the jewels that she bought on her own, there was a blue diamond the size of a quail’s egg that Queen Echizel wanted at the time. It was said that the Marquis Kellyden had sold one of the islands when he received a bill for it, because of how expensive it was.
Kalis was a western aristocrat, so he knew a little more than the others. The blue diamond seemed to have made the Marquis very angry with her, but that didn’t stop her from being extravagant. Her relationship with her family was getting worse and worse, so much so that she left the house and went to a townhouse in the capital after she became a Stern. Soon after, Kalis also went up to the capital from Haneton estate. Seria Stern was always present at the outstanding balls of the Imperial society.
To be exact, there was always the bully Seria Stern. At the time, she was a terrible villain for whom there was no excuse. Spilling dark-colored juice on the dress of a lady she didn’t like was commonplace, and openly stomping on her foot in front of many people was an added bonus. Unable to watch the scene, Kalis saved the young lady from being bullied by Seria.
“We’re from the same part of the West, and now you’re insulting me?”
Kalis still couldn’t forget Seria’s bright blue and eerie eyes that day, burning with anger. A short time later, Seria took her revenge on Kalis, just as she had famously done. She poured a poison called “Saint Malone” on his arm, but St. Malone was not a powerful poison. Because if it was impaired his life or caused permanent physical loss, Seria would have been put on trial by now.
The symptoms weren’t severe either. It caused his limbs to be stiff for about a week and couldn’t move well. The problem was in the soup that Kalis had eaten the day before with a cold. The restorative soup, which old Mrs. Lysolt, Kalis’s nanny, boiled all night, contained langerine herbs. It was a good herb to protect his weak body, but it was illegally designated by the imperial family because of its narcotic ingredients. However, the langerine herbs were often used as a medicinal herb for older women in the countryside. It was a little known fact that langerine herbs and St. Malone poison were in terrible conflict. This caused a horrible chemical reaction in Kalis’s body, and as a side effect, his one arm began to slowly rot away.
He couldn’t accuse Seria, nor could he be angry with her. If he did, Seria would find out about the herbs, and she might snicker at the idea of accusing Kalis’s nanny. He was very protective of his nanny, and he didn’t want her to go through any unnecessary trouble. So he kept the rotting pain of his hand to himself the whole time.
He took some painkillers from a couple of foul-mouthed doctors and was preparing to part with his arm slowly.
Suddenly one day Seria came, kneeling down and bowing her head. Kalis had thought she was completely gone crazy that day. But to suspect that she had really changed, her behavior was aristocratic and Seria-like. It had been an interminable month since then. Seria, who visited the mansion every two days and asked for forgiveness sincerely, suddenly said she found a way to fix his arm and took him to a small, quiet temple on the outskirts of the Capital.
Seria was gone somewhere and returned in a mess hours later, leaving Kalis, who had to endure pain due to the receding effect of the pain medication. She pulled out a bunch of herbs with little yellow flowers on it.
“What are those?”
“Medicinal herbs. It will fix your injured arm.”
Seria did the best she could to apply the herbs on Kalis’s arm and bandaged it.
“How is it?”
Kalis was dismayed. The moment the herbs touched his arm, which had always ached, even with the painkillers, it magically felt better. It was at that moment when all the doubts that had been hanging around completely disappeared.
“Where do I get more of these herbs?”
“This one? You can’t get it here, it’s plenty elsewhere — but it’s not mine and I can’t bring it with me.”
“It’s not yours?”
“No, I have a master who will appear in about a year. ……?”
Kalis didn’t quite understand Seria’s words, but he deliberately stopped her. It wasn’t just talk. In fact, he didn’t understand her actions either.
“Then where did you get this herb?”
“On the cliff below the temple.”
Kalis was momentarily taken aback.
“You don’t mean that you went over the cliff, do you?
“Yes.” Her answer came out with a blink of an eye.
Seria’s eyes were completely different from her old, creepy, cold eyes that stared at him. This was the first time he had realized that she was one of the most beautiful women in the Imperial capital. He wondered when she had changed so much.
“Why is Young Lady doing all this for me?”
“Because it was my fault. Well, if it’s not enough, do you want me to go get it again?”
“No, no. No, don’t do it again. It’s enough.”
Some time passed, Kalis proposed to Seria, handing her an emerald ring that was handed down from generation to generation to the wives of the Marquesses of Haneton. Seria looked really pretty when she was flustered. She stared at the emerald ring and couldn’t take her eyes off of it.
Kalis squeezed her hand. He loved her. Although she married Grand Duke Berg in an accident, it was only temporary anyway. Not only Kalis but also all the nobles in the castle thought the same.
They all knew that the Grand Duke had taken extraordinary measures to save the precious Stern.
Kalis was going to divorce Lina. She was different from any woman he had ever seen. Rather than hiding her mistakes, she expressed them openly and talked about her difficulties without hesitation. It was somewhat distressing to see her relying on him a lot.
Above all, Kalis was the Marquis of Haneton in the west. It was a politically correct calculation to establish a friendship in advance with the Saintess who would later strike the imperial capital. However, he never wanted to lose Seria for such a gain. He couldn’t let Seria go. Until yesterday, he had been too preoccupied with the fact that Seria had married another man to act rationally. After some rest, he came to his senses. Seria was now very angry, he had to give her time to calm down. Then he could apologize sincerely again—.
With a knock on the door, Kalis’s knight rushed in. The knight was placed by Kalis in Seria’s annex.
“You should probably go and have a look. The Saintess said she was going to commission a dress from designer Begonia, and she went to see Lady Stern.”
Lina was a Saintess. She was as pure as a white gem. She did not mix well with the aristocratic Seria. Lina might upset Seria, but he didn’t know what Seria would do if she was upset. He had to go see her. With a stiff face, Kalis headed for Seria’s annex. He didn’t expect to run into Lesche at Seria’s door, which was guarded by the guards…
Turn back the time to a little while ago.
Linon was complaining to Lesche.
“Your Highness, Lady Seria fainted while bleeding in the wedding hall, and now you want her to roll around like a slave as soon as she woke up. Isn’t it enough for me to do it alone?”
His vicious lord, Lesche, kept on checking his documents without responding. At the end of the year, as the lord of the castle, he too was well dressed. He only checked the documents as times flew.
“It’s better to work. Or it makes me think.”
His answer was calm. Lesche kept looking at the documents containing the word “magic” several times, then suddenly looked up as if he had a question.
“That’s strange. Why do you take Young Lady’s side?”
Linon replied proudly.
“Because I like people who can work fast.”
“Of course you do.”
It was a clear reason. But Linon’s words were very true. Seria got the job done very quickly. Seria hadn’t been following the glacier tour, but yesterday Lesche got reports from Alliot and others on the types of food, and checking the decorations in the halls. Thanks to her, the castle had changed completely in a day. The red ribbons and mistletoe decorations had been hung here and there. All the fabric had been changed into a damask. It was as if by magic.
“What will the people of the manor say when they see Lady Seria as the hostess?”
“Well,” Linon grinned, “I’m very excited. “By the way, Your Highness, shouldn’t you tell Lady Seria about the manor’s history? Even if it’s a temporary marriage, it’s still a marriage, you have to be in it together, don’t you?”
“I’ve never been that timid.”
“I’m pretty sure it looks that way…”
Lesche glanced down at the documents.
… Lastly, six sorcerers from the Nesla kingdom were invited to the manor…
‘I have to do it anyway…’
Lesche rose from his seat. He was also going to pick up Seria. If the ball was held in earnest, he should escort her, whether she was his temporary wife or not.