Chapter 1 - Prologue
(*TL: this chapter was hard to translate and a bit confusing….I tried my best. I apologize in advance.)
Back inside the manor, Seria could feel her red, frozen cheeks melt a little. After she took off her shawl, Seria ran up the stairs and reached out to the hardened Magi.
‘I can purify it.’
At this rate, though, it seemed to take about a thousand years. The dehumidifier should be faster than this.
Seria tried to remember the original story as she slowly walked through the manor. Lina didn’t purify the hardened magi one by one like a vacuum cleaner. Magi had its roots, and when Lina purified them with the power of a saint, the sticky magi disappeared.
Even though her power was weak, but she was still a Stern, Seria tried to find the source. She could only notice that at certain moments, the Magi became stronger in very small details. It took almost two hours, and she even broke a cold sweat.
Here’s the thing.
On the first floor, when you enter from the main door, there’s a hall. Unlike usual, there was one huge tapestry taller than Seria’s height upon the parapet, but there was a black door open on the exposed wall.
“Lady Seria? What are you doing here?”
Seria was startled as Linon suddenly appeared. She backed away, and suddenly Linon’s body rattled.
“Agh, Miss Susan!”
It was Susan ……so she was the seamstress of this green manor? With the strength of one hand, she lightly lifted Linon by the chest and placed him on her side. No, Linon wasn’t even short, and yet she could lift a tall grown man that high.
“You scared the Young Lady, Linon.”
“Oh, my God! I didn’t!”
Linon couldn’t speak anymore. He stood drooping in Susan’s hand.
“Linon, did you faint?”
“Please don’t talk to me like that. Lady Seria.”
Seria quickly spoke casually. Susan smiled, but she wasn’t all warm and soft like Martha. There was a sharp smile which strangely reminded her of Abigail.
“Young lady, the sorcerers are here, would you like to go downstairs? Oh, His Highness…..”
Susan spoke with concern.
“His Highness has given me his consent.” Seria said.
“Well, then, since the manor is so quiet and boring, I think you can go down and have a look. I will accompany you.”
Seria had never seen the sorcerers in person, so she was curious. She nodded at Susan’s suggestion. Susan held out her hand to Seria like a knight, and she followed her escort through the open door under the tapestry.
There was a distinctly damp smell in the basement, and colorful lights were flickering below. A voice that sang like an incantation, intangible energy that had a strangely different trajectory from sacred power.
“That’s the Nessla sorcerers.”
The problem was the strange smell. The smell of burning imprints. Seria took out her handkerchief and covered her nose. The smell was definitely an imprint. It was the same imprints that used to make sleeping potions for people with sacred powers. It meant it could make them faint. The scent wasn’t strong, but if you smelled it long enough, you were bound to pass out.
Though it might not affect Seria much as she was a Stern. Similar to Lesche, who had divine power in his body, and was the head of the seventeenth house of the Glick Empire. Seria, with the handkerchief over her nose, approached the sorcerers.
“Since His Highness isn’t here, you must not burn the imprint.”
One sorcerer, who stood holding what looked like a stamp, glanced at Seria. He was a thin, tall man with hair cut in a unique pattern.
“Ah, I understand that His Highness the Grand Duke is absent. But it’s a necessary procedure to drive out this ominous darkness.”
The arrogant voice ruffled her ears. If it was the original standing here, he would be dead. When Seria didn’t respond, the sorcerer’s voice became even more annoying, as if he thought Seria was frightened.
“Who are you, Lady?”
“Lady, answer me…”
“Shut up. You dare to be cheeky and urge me to respond. Do you know who I am?”
Seria gave him a look that the original Seria would have given. The sorcerer immediately snapped out of it and shut his mouth. She took her gaze off the sorcerer and looked at the unique box that sat at the top of this basement. The box, with its striking gold rim, shone alone in this dark and gloomy basement.
‘Is that the Blue Sea Box that Linon told me about this morning?’
Inside it was a single strand of auburn hair. In all likelihood, that place seemed to be the source of the magic, but the sorcerers were here burning imprinted grass and chanting strange codes.
Seria tried to reach out toward the box, and the sorcerers tried to hit her hand with a stick, but Susan immediately grabbed the stick.
“Have you lost your mind? Do you know where you are now?”
Her growling spirit was extraordinary. Susan’s spirit was fierce, but Seria was used to Abigail’s spirits, so she was fine. Rather, the sorcerers immediately dropped their tails as if they were not immune. Meanwhile, Seria raised her hand in an attempt at purification.
‘As expected, it doesn’t work.’
But indeed it was the root of the Magi. The closer she moved her hand towards the box, the heavier the energy became.
The sorcerers warned.
“Lady, if you interfere with our rituals any further….”
“We’re leaving.” Seria said.
It was funny. Seria was a Stern, so she knew quite a bit about rituals. It wasn’t like drawing a magic picture, but talking to him in the middle didn’t break the purification process. It was a good attitude to ignore people who they didn’t know.
Seria stepped out of the basement with Susan without a second thought.
“You must be surprised, Young Lady.”
“No, I’m fine. Thank you for going with me.”
Susan smiled with her eyes wide. Perhaps it was because she felt loyal to protect someone, not the sensitivity that came from malice.
Her smile was as sharp as ever, and it kept reminding her of Abigail.
That evening, a new table mat embroidered with flowers was laid on her dining table. The little specks of dirt next to it also looked lovely, as if they had been individually knitted with woolen yarn. Seria smiled when she heard that Susan had made them. She thought Susan was really good at sewing, with hands as hard as Abigail’s.
And she had to admit. She was falling in love with this manor. No matter how much she thought about it, she seemed to be more wrapped up in the people here than in the green manor…..Who wouldn’t like this place that offers a certain sense of tranquility?
‘No one has been this nice to Seria since the beginning.’
Seria swallowed a sigh as she watched Martha warm up the blanket and made it fluffy. Tonight, she was going to sleep alone in her own room and was planning to sort out her complicated thoughts. However….
“Why am I in His Highness’s bedroom again?”
Martha gave her a look of horror.
“I’m sorry, My Lady. Shadows spread all the way to the Grand Duchess’s bedroom. It’s not much, but we can’t let your precious body sleep in a place where the walls are all black.”
Seria looked at Lesche. He looked tired, unlike usual. No matter how strong he was, he had to patrol the border all day without any knights, so it was natural for him to be tired. He might even have fought with a demon by himself.
Seria handed out a silver branch to Lesche. There was no apparent sign of Magi’s attack, but it was just in case.
“Why do I need this when there’s a Stern around. “
“I can’t purify His Highness like I did with Linon.”
“It’s a bit odd, but come to think of it, I’m your husband, shouldn’t you be holding me and not Linon?”
“Are you saying you want a hug? Hmm, if it’s not in the bedroom, then the hall on the first floor is fine. Shall we go out?”
“The first floor is okay?”
Lesche laughed with an amused expression.
“You’re so innocent sometimes, Young Lady.”
Lesche said and grabbed the silver branch and tossed it up and down like a dagger. Seria sat up in bed and looked at Lesche’s back as he gazed at the fire in the fireplace. He had broad shoulders and back, and a narrow waist, just like a main character should have. Frankly speaking, he had a great face, but his body alone seemed to make many women fall in love with him.
‘Come to think of it, shouldn’t we go to the capital once the winter is over?’
Lesche didn’t show his face much in the imperial society, but the nobles of the Glick Empire had to stop by the imperial palace at least once every year to apply for an audience with the emperor.
Of course, not all nobles could see the emperor’s face. But whether they could see him or not, it was the duty of every nobleman to apply for an audience. And since Lesche was the Grand Duke of the House of Berg, he would be accepted as soon as he applied for an audience.
‘Now that you’re married to me, you have to show up at social gatherings as well.’
“Your Highness, I went down to the basement today.”
“What about the sorcerers?”
“They were fooling around a bit, but Susan stopped them.”
She could hear Lesche laughing. She swung her legs lightly. The slippers Martha had given her to wear wobbled.
That was all.
On the small table beside the bed, there was a glass of steaming milk that Martha had brought, and a new flower in an empty vase.
The flowers were a gift from Susan, of course. It was not a real flower. It was a flower made by weaving wool yarn because plants die quickly here, but it was a really elaborate craft. Still, it was as good as any other flower.
“Hey Susan, in the evening…..”
Remembering what she asked Susan to do in private, Seria touched the soft flowers lightly.
In the original story, no one, including Martha, had appeared. It sounded like Martha was the only one whose death was certain, but did the others choose not to leave her alone in the manor and die together?
Seria’s mind was complicated.