Chapter 1 - Prologue
Lesche stood up straightforwardly.
Seria was thinking of asking someone in the manor to change the bandage on Lesche’s hand, but surprisingly, he took the old one off and wrapped it up with the new one by himself, as if he was used to it.
In the original story, he did everything by himself anyway. But it doesn’t suit his amazing status sometimes.
Seria parted her lips as she looked at Lesche’s shimmering silver hair.
“Your Highness, the sorcerers are coming today. Will I be confined to the chamber?”
“Why? They’re the ones who should avoid you instead.”
“Your Highness saved my life, so I won’t accuse you even if you lock me in the room.”
“That’s generous of you.”
“They’re not the most pleasant people to run into. But that doesn’t mean Young Lady has to avoid them.”
“It means I can do whatever I want?”
“As long as you don’t whip them.”
“Your Highness, you say as if I’m a very bad person…”
Seria tried to make excuses, but she had to keep her lips shut and admitted it.
‘That’s right. Last year I was still a villain who everyone talked about.’
“Anyway, I know what you mean, Your Highness.”
Seria leaned her chin on the back of her hand, looked at Lesche, and said,
“Your Highness. There’s one more thing that’s bothering me.”
“What is it?”
Lesche replied without even raising his head. She looked around once and asked him what she was curious about the whole time.
“Why is the manor like this… No, I’m sorry but why do you have a butler and a maid in a mansion that’s not in a normal state? The other two didn’t seem to be working on repairing the mansion either.”
Apart from the manor being covered in shadows, it had a butler and a gardener but there were no signs of careful repairs. The unaffected areas were swept and polished every day, but that was it. Nor the gardener or the butler was trying to repair the areas outside the mansion.
Lesche, who was tying the bandage, said absent-mindedly,
“I never told them to stay.”
“Then why? Is there a compelling reason why they don’t leave the manor?”
“I’ve noticed it for a while.”
“Young Lady is really thoughtful.”
“I’m just saying…”
Seria’s eyes opened wide. The silence felt awkward for some reason. Seria tried to change the subject and said something else at random.
“So that’s why there’s no butler at the castle. Ben is tied up here?”
“Martha is the one who is tied up here.”
“Yes. The others said they like the manor and wanted to stay. I know it’s a lie.”
Seria was surprised to hear that Martha was the only one. Because out of all the people, Martha seemed to have the calmest expression. It wasn’t like the others were scared, but she was the maid of the former Grand Duchess, so she should stay in an ordinary mansion.
This huge green Laurel Manor was never mentioned in the original story. And it was about to be completely destroyed within a year for whatever reason. It was impossible for the others not to notice, if not exactly foresee, the deserted ruin that hovered here.
It must mean that Martha, bound here, would also die. So the serenity she saw was not due to a sense of security, but for the resignation of seeing her own coffin being buried? Seria thought that Martha was a very strong person on the inside.
“You’re calling sorcerers to get Martha out of this house? I didn’t know Your Highness was such a gentleman.”
“Yes, I called them to get her out. I’ve been trying…”
While they were conversing, Lesche finished bandaging and rose from his seat.
“It’s my fault she’s tied up here.”
Lesche sounded strange. His red eyes somehow sunk. Seria stared at the figure. It was like glimpsing at a wounded boy, and it made her feel strange. She didn’t say anything more.
Lesche put on his sword and went out to check the border. Courteously, Seria saw him off and looked up at the sky. The snow fell incessantly. The day before the snow was up to her ankles, but today it was almost knee-deep.
She glanced over at Linon as he ran to see Lesche off. He was the one who had the most trouble in this cold house. He had his sleeping bag wrapped around his shoulders like a cloak.
“Yes, My Lady.”
“How is His Highness going to check the border when it’s snowing this hard? Can he ride a horse?”
“I think His Highness went on foot.”
“On foot? With the snow falling like this? Isn’t he in distress?”
“His Highness is in distress?”
Linon asked back with a rather uncomprehending expression. Lesche Berg was the male protagonist of this novel. He was the strongest man and knight. He was the one who always had a calm expression when there were moving shadows in the spacious manor.
Seria was easily convinced that this was a set value from the original story.
However, Linon’s expression was not so good. When Seria asked why, Linon sighed deeply.
“We’ve just been informed by the Mana Communication Center that the arrival of the sorcerers will be delayed further due to heavy snow. It’s expensive, so we don’t usually use it, but they called and delivered the message….They were supposed to arrive at midnight.”
“It can’t be helped. By the way, is there any reason why the sorcerers shouldn’t come late?”
“That’s because they’ll have to return to the mainland even later.”
Linon said with a pitiful face, while shaking as usual. The author of the original story must have given Linon an intelligence of 10 and a health of about 1. While Seria was a little curious about the sorcerers of the kingdom of Nessla, she wondered about something else as well.
“Yes, My Lady.”
“Do you know why Martha was tied up in this manor?”
“You know Lady Seria…”
Unexpectedly, Linon told a story….
“The previous Grand Duke and his vicious b*stard son once insulted His Highness.”
“His Highness was about fifteen years old at the time, but he was the official heir to the Grand Dukedom in both name and reality. However, the previous Grand Duke and his b*stard son wanted to remove His Highness from his position as the heir of Berg.”
“They tried to make it difficult for Sir Alliot, who was His Highness’s knight at the time, to be the gatekeeper of this green manor. They even brought the Blue Sea Box to scare Sir Alliot.”
“The Blue Sea box?”
“Yes, it’s a family heirloom of the Berg family. If you put your hair in it, you will not be able to leave the Laurel Manor. In return, the protective magic that protects the Laurel Manor is activated, so the knights in pursuit of honor use it to serve as guardians of the manor.”
“And they made Sir Alliot do that?”
“Yes. They said if he truly cares about the Berg family, why can’t he be a guardian. But Lady Martha, the beloved knight of the previous Grand Duchess, willingly cut her own hair in place of Sir Alliot.”
Linon spoke with a fresh face.
“It’s a very long story, but in short, that’s how it happened. Since that day, Lady Martha has not been able to step out of the green manor, and the others are here willingly because they’re close to her. They could have lived quite well if the manor didn’t become like this….”
Seria was speechless. Previously, she wondered what kind of magic or curse had bound Martha to this place. But suddenly, she was puzzled by the details of the heavy past. Linon didn’t seem to understand Seria’s bewilderment, and he continued talking.
“So please don’t be too offended if His Highness brings Young Lady to this awful manor. His Highness brought you here to show you to Lady Martha. Lady Martha has always been very loyal to the former Grand Duchess.”
“I’m not offended.”
“I’m glad to hear that.”
“So you were concerned that I might have been offended, that’s why you told me the story?”
“Yes, My Lady.”
“Is it okay for you to tell the Berg family’s deep story to a stranger?”
“Young Lady isn’t a stranger. You are already a member of the Berg family. In fact, you’re the closest to His Highness. Of course, it’ll take a year for the imperial to authorize you to become an official Grand Duchess, but that’s customary, so you can ignore it.”
Linon said with sincerity, and for no reason at all, it deepened her thoughts.
Once the imperial family authorized their marriage, Seria and Lesche would be stuck together for life. She became the temporary Grand Duchess because she was saved from a life-threatening crisis. But of course, she didn’t mean to divorce until Lesche agreed to do so. She owed her life to the best unmarried man in the empire, so she couldn’t possibly say ‘I have no more business to do here, so I will step down from this horrible role of being the temporary Grand Duchess.’
Plus, something tells her Leche wouldn’t let her go.
She didn’t know why, but she had that gut feeling. Besides, Linon was so nice and kind now, but she felt like he would get revenge if she stepped out of the marriage with his Lord first. It was pretty scary in the original.
Seria looked at the chief aide in front of her and decided to do some preliminary practice.
“I’ll keep what you just told me a secret until the day I die.”
Linon’s lips formed a nice line as Seria spoke informally. He extended his finger and pointed to the cliff to the left rear of the manor.
“You can’t see it now because it’s covered with snow, but that’s actually sugar rock. In the sunlight, it shines like a jewel and is very beautiful. You can take a horse ride there later and see for yourself.”