Chapter 1 - Prologue
Lesche’s childhood ended at the end of that summer. In a beautiful green manor, his father, who was an arrogant idealist, cried out for help, shedding blood and flesh, and his mother committed suicide in front of his eyes.
He was the legitimate heir of Berg.
As if watching his parents’ death wasn’t enough, their blood splattered on his body.
‘How old was I then?’
After a moment of sentimentality, Lesche shifted his gaze to the green manor. He tried almost any means he could to make the unidentified shadow disappear.
The most effective, even if it was faint, were the wizards in distant foreign lands. It was also his last chance. If they failed, then it was doubtful whether there were any other means in the world.
As he was looking at the green marble shining in the snowy landscape, he suddenly remembered Seria, who he handed to Martha like a package.
How did she react to the moving shadows inside the manor?
He wondered if she was surprised, or if she was surprisingly calm and urged Linon to clean it probably. If she was the Seria Stern of last year, he would have easily predicted her reaction, but now, it wasn’t easy at all. Lesche chuckled and moved on.
“You’ll sleep here for the night, Young Lady.”
Seria nodded and sat on the bed at Martha’s suggestion. It was an old-fashioned and solemn bedroom. A weak commoner would be overwhelmed as soon as he entered. As Martha tied her hair in a knot, she said softly, “When you leave the manor, you shouldn’t talk to anyone about this.”
“Wouldn’t it be lovely if you can stay longer. Unfortunately, it’s only for a few days, but we are very happy and honored to have the Grand Duchess here.”
‘Only a few days…’
“I’ll live up to your expectations, Martha.”
Seria smiled warmly and looked around the bedroom after Martha left the room. Martha made it sound like this was a room Seria could stay in, but Seria knew better. This was the Grand Duke’s bedroom.
The door was the same color as Lesche’s bedroom at Berg mansion, and so was the pattern engraved in silver.
The Grand Duchy of Berg’s pattern was engraved with a sword made of pure silver. And out of all the noble families in the Glick Empire, the Grand Duke of Berg was the only one who could use beautiful silver in his patterns. They said pure silver drives away evil spirits. Perhaps because of this, her admiration for the Grand Duke of Berg grew even greater. The setting was typical of a male protagonist in a novel.
There weren’t any fancy accessories in the bedroom. However, everywhere was very old-fashioned and sad. If one looked closely at the details, they could see that a lot of care was put into everything from the materials to the invisible places. Such nobility that the rich dare not imitate….. That’s right. She was talking about the kind of nobility that Seria couldn’t dare to imitate. She stood up, nodding her head.
Thinking as long as she wasn’t crazy about Lesche’s bedroom, she had no reason to refuse to sleep here. She was never one to shy away from the back and forth. Seria was also not a conservative person when it came to gender relations. She also thought that it would be okay if they shared the same bed even if they didn’t have feelings for each other. So it had been until today before she left the castle.
‘Why did you lick someone’s cheek?’
People are usually so careless. But it doesn’t make it okay if you’re in power.
Seria shook her head lightly. She wanted to leave Lesche’s bedroom in a flash.
However, there were so many stories in this mansion. She heard from Linon why Martha and others couldn’t get out of this demonic mansion, this nightmare that was gradually darkening and was going to devour everything one day.
‘It’s a story that didn’t even appear in the original, and yet it needs to be that tragic.’
Moreover, it was about the male protagonist’s past, so why did they leave all this out of the original story? Frustratingly, Seria mumbled to herself, but the complicated feelings didn’t leave her.
She lay down on the bed and pulled the covers up to her chin.
It was late at night when Lesche finally returned to the green manor and stared at the pitch-black shadows that were slowly increasing. It was always the same, but this time there were more of them. It couldn’t be more frustrating.
The wagon returned safely.
“Your Highness. Linon is asleep.”
“I thought he would be able to handle the cold.”
It was expected. Ben, who diligently carried the luggage in from the wagon, smiled when he saw eight boxes full of cakes.
“Young Lady seems to have a particular fondness for cakes. It’s a bit… That’s a lot of cakes.”
Lesche answered a tempo slower.
“It’s a good thing because we don’t have anything for dessert. I’ll have it ready for tomorrow.”
Ben was a born butler. He was a natural at managing the mansion and his master’s family. But the green manor had already been destroyed beyond repair. It could no longer be managed by human hands. His Master thought the same. In other words, there was nothing that a butler could do.
However, Ben felt quite lively again. Even though his master had an unusual wedding, he came with his wife this time, a Young Lady, so Ben felt happy. He pretended everything was no different than normal, but there was a faint sadness in his eyes.
Lesche went upstairs, wiping his half wet hair with a towel. The upstairs was also covered in shadows, and at first he thought it was damp mold, so he put down some charcoal, fanned it all day and let in the sun. However, it was of no use.
Over the years, the black shadows completely covered and engulfed the manor.
“This will be the last. Your Highness, the land of this manor can’t hold out any longer.”
Lesche stared silently at the ominous rustling shadows. What will happen when it’s over?
The mansion was covered with mysterious shadows. He didn’t know exactly when or where it started.
No matter how hard he tried to clean it, instead of disappearing, it grew like moss. Besides, it even moved.
Once he realized that it might not be mold, he immediately took quick action.
The priests of the Great Temple were the first to be invited. A layman, a high-ranking priest, and even the Grand Priest… thanks to the position of Grand Duke of Berg.
But no one knew why. A time when drinking water became polluted, and a lot of land was abandoned. It seemed like the end of the world.
The priests of the temple tolerated Magi’s involvement in the manor of Grand Duchy Berg. If it were anywhere else, they would have suggested it should be burned right away. but they did not raise the subject of the Laurel Manor any further. Otherwise, the tremendous donations sent by the Grand Duke of Berg every year might be cut off.
The shadows began to consume the manor more and more. And one day, no plants could grow properly in the manor.
The golden marble slowly corroded. Various things stored in the manor were transferred to the main castle. If things break, you can get them again.
But you can’t save dead people.
No matter how hard one tries.
If the previous Grand Duke of Berg had not brought the b*stard child and the woman to his mansion in the first place …. No. If such a person was not his father, he would have never looked at this green manor again. Lesche frowned as he thought of the eyes of his predecessor, the “Grand Duke” who was full of greed and madness. He felt the bitterness in his mouth.
Lesche looked away from the shadows and moved again.
The Laurel Manor was where only the direct lineage of the Grand Dukes could stay. The second floor was reserved only for the Grand Duke couple. The staircase in the middle was already covered by the shadows. The staircase on the right had been closed since last year, and the only thing that was decent was the left staircase.
Ascending the stairs on the left, it would reach the Grand Duke’s bedroom. The Grand Duke and Duchess’s bedroom was in the center on the second floor. Passing up to that large door, the Grand Duke’s private bedroom appeared. Lesche entered the unfamiliar bedroom, closed the door behind him and walked to the center of the room.
Strange breathing was heard.
He walked to the edge of the bed. But unlike what he expected, the bed was empty. He saw a person lying on the couch next to the bed, soundly asleep. The person with green hair, who was wrapped up in a blanket and rode on the horse with him not too long ago.
Lesche stared at Seria in silence for a moment.
He lifted her up and moved her to the bed. For a while, Lesche just stared at Seria’s face. Then, he flipped the hair that covered Seria’s forehead to the side and went back downstairs.
It was not long before the lights were turned on. Ben, Martha, Joanna, and Susan were in the dining room.
“Why is Seria sleeping in my bedroom?”
“I’m sorry, Your Highness.”
Martha immediately looked embarrassed.
“It was going to take just a few hours to properly tidy and fill the Grand Duchess’s bedroom, but since the Young Lady was quite tired, I took the liberty of having her there. We’ll get her bedroom ready right away tomorrow.”
“Then why didn’t you put her in bed but on the couch?”
Martha had a confused look on her face and said,
“But I brought her to bed.”
Lesche frowned. It seemed that Seria went to sleep on the couch by herself. Why?
Martha let out a chuckle.
“It seems that the Young Lady gave up the bed to Your Highness.”