Chapter 1 - Prologue
That exact moment the sword pierced him.
The sorcerer’s arm snapped into a bizarre shape and he fell to the floor. Seria lifted her head, feeling her heart beating hard.
Lesche was right in front of her, a little out of breath, as he seemed to have run in a hurry. He quickly scanned Seria from head to toe and turned around quickly.
“This is outrageous. Where’s the rest?”
“They’re on the fourth floor.”
At the same time as Susan’s report, something was rolling down the stairs. Two of the sorcerers fell down the stairs with their hands and feet tied up. The other two were dragged down by the hands.
It was Joanna, the gardener of this dilapidated manor. A neat, middle-aged woman who liked green that resembled grass, easily dragging healthy men along with her, was a drastic divergence in its own right.
“Joanna. Is that all of them?”
“Yes, Your Highness. Susan found out from the young lady that there was the smell of the imprints. She told me to put them on the fourth floor, and he suddenly attacked Linon…”
“Paralyze them all and throw them in the basement. I’ll call the knights tomorrow.”
“Yes, Your Highness.”
“How about Martha?” Seria asked.
“She’s fine. She wasn’t hit in the vital points.”
It was amazing, even in the midst of all this, Joanna subdued the four sorcerers, and at that time, she also confirmed where Martha was injured.
It was almost midnight when the commotion ended.
Seria couldn’t sleep in the dining room anymore, so she went back to the Grand Duke’s bedroom. Before Lesche, of course, because he seemed to be busy dealing with the sorcerers.
She stared at the bedroom for a moment with her arms crossed. She didn’t expect to return within a few hours of fighting.
‘What’s wrong with the situation? I’m glad Martha is safe, but…’
She wondered if she should sleep on the couch, but Seria decided to go to the bed and lay down. The bed was so big that even six people could sleep comfortably. Though they just had a fight, Seria didn’t think Lesche would want to sleep on the bed now.
Seria lay on the bed after all the commotion, and sad feelings came pouring in.
‘Can’t you just ask me if I’m okay? Why did you have to mock me by bringing up Kalis? Not only do I care about the beautiful Laurel Manor, I also just want to keep the people alive who have made their own memories. Yes, I just wanted to save them just like you do.’
Seria held a pillow and stared into the air. Lesche Berg. Didn’t he also care enough to call sorcerers from another country? He wanted to save Martha and bring this place back to life.
She couldn’t help but feel disappointed, even though she knew there were circumstances beyond her knowledge.
‘I don’t know. Maybe I should sleep on the couch.’
She continued staring at the ceiling when the bedroom door slammed open. She paused for a moment and then heard the door close. Then she heard the sound of footsteps towards the bed.
It was Lesche, but Seria purposely didn’t show any reaction. She just laid there in a daze.
‘What am I going to do?’
Still, she didn’t turn her head even though Lesche stood right in front of the bed.
There was an overwhelming silence in the large bedroom, and after a few moments, she glanced sideways and saw Lesche sitting on the bed.
She was going to call him, but…
A deep voice. She was a little surprised by the clear call. When she turned her head to the side, suddenly, one of her wrists was caught tightly. A strong force brought her back to her feet. In the blink of an eye, Seria stood on the floor. Lesche was still holding her wrist.
She didn’t have time to ask what he was doing because he reached towards her back and his large hand touched every inch from her neck to her waist as if he was checking something. Soon after, Lesche knelt on one knee in front of her.
Seria was dumbfounded but managed to keep her mouth shut. She had no choice but to do so because Lesche’s hand lifted her ankle.
She stumbled lightly for a moment and sat back in bed. Lesche’s hands were hard as they touched her skin.
Embarrassed, Seria couldn’t say anything for a moment. But slowly she had an idea of what Lesche was doing. This man was now checking her body to see if there were any injuries.
Lesche raised his head.
“I don’t think you’re hurt.”
Seria shuffled her feet a little as Lesche grabbed her ankles tightly.
“I’m not. Please let go.”
Lesche silently stared at Seria and let go of her ankle a moment later. However, he didn’t get up. With one knee knelt on the floor, he just looked up at her. His face was expressionless, but his eyes were much more downcast than usual.
“I don’t understand.”
His voice was the same. Shadows were cast low on his red eyes.
“You spoke to Susan. The sorcerers were suspicious.”
It was true that Susan had said such things to her. As it turned out, it was a good thing. If it hadn’t been, she would have been in as much trouble as Martha.
But Lesche didn’t seem to think so.
“If it had gone a little wrong, you would have been stabbed with a blade. Don’t you know that?”
“How could you be so reckless when you know that?”
“They would never have stabbed to kill me. They knew I was a Stern and I know they’re afraid the High Priest would retaliate. So there was no need to bother His Highness.”
His jaw clenched.
“I’m not talking about bothersome things.”
“Why in the world didn’t Young Lady say anything to me?”
“Why didn’t I tell you?”
Seria bit the flesh in her mouth and stared firmly at Lesche.
“What could I say to someone who was busy mocking me for breaking up with Kalis?”
“You were trying to hurt me. You wanted to shut me up because I hurt your feelings.”
Seria had experienced this many times in the Imperial Capital before she went down to Berg’s estate, but frequent experiences didn’t mean she would get used to it. She didn’t even want to get used to this kind of mockery. A feeling of disappointment came over her.
“You want to talk about my safety, then why didn’t Your Highness talk about it yesterday?”
Lesche’s red eyes wavered uncharacteristically in anticipation.
“I didn’t mean it that way. Damn it, damn it.”
Lesche bit his lip hard and brushed his forehead roughly. A silence filled the bedroom. Seria turned away without saying anything more. Lesche was quiet too for a while.
Seria wondered how long he remained silent.
Suddenly, unexpected words rang in her ears. Seria looked ahead again, doubting her ears.
“I’m sorry. I didn’t mean it like that.”
What the voice contained was a clear apology.
Apology. ‘What did this man just say to me?’
Not once but twice? Her sense of reality came back to her a step too late, and Seria hurriedly retreated before she knew it.
The problem was the distance between her and Lesche. It was so close that her foot kicked his leg while retreating. Lesche grinned.
“You don’t know how to kick a knight. It doesn’t even tickle, let alone I would fall down.”
“Who says I want to knock down Your Highness? It was a mistake.”
Seria’s anger faded a little at the joke, and what Lesche said slowly made sense in her mind. He was angry with her, but it was out of concern.
She didn’t want to build up her self-esteem even more after hearing these words along with his apology. She had heard from Linon about the illegitimate child, so why did Lesche make such a decision? To some extent it was understandable.
After Seria called Lesche, she slowly moved to the side. She looked alternately between him and the bed.
“Do you want to lie down next to me?”
“What? You sound very strange.”
Seria said bluntly.
“You had a lot of work to do today and you must be tired. Are you going to stay on your knees like that?”
“I thought Young Lady would tell me to do that.”
“What do you think I am? How could I do that to Your Highness?”
Seria was silent for a moment. Because Lesche’s eyes, staring at her, had softened.
“I can’t do that.”
Seria cleared her throat and spoke more than she should have.
“Okay. Please lie down quickly. I’m going to sleep.”
Lesche, who was staring at her, stood up and gently lay down on the bed. There was a moment of silence.
In the beginning, she had always thought of Lesche as a cold, arrogant male lead. Certain parts of it were true. Because if a man in such a high position wasn’t arrogant, it would be strange in its own way.
Was that why? Seria began to recall the word “sorry” that she heard earlier.
She glanced over. Lesche’s eyes were neatly closed, but it was obvious that he was awake.
His voice dropped suddenly.
“Let’s call each other by name from now on.”
“Let’s call each other by name. It’s strange to call my wife as Young Lady every time, whether she’s temporary or not.”
Unexpectedly, Seria chuckled. She thought of the scene where Martha got angry with Linon over his use of honorific titles.
“By any chance….” Seria said.
Seria lifted her eyebrows, holding back her laughter.
“Did Martha scold you, Your Highness?”
“Lesche.” Lesche said in a low voice.
At that moment, their eyes met. Seria stared at him in silence, as if caught in his gaze. She didn’t know why but somehow his voice made her cheeks feel hot.
So, she couldn’t answer easily, and after a while, Seria finally managed to open her mouth.
She said his name in a low voice, but Lesche didn’t reply. His silence must mean, “You answered too late.” If he really said that to her, it would be embarrassing, Seria thought.
She obliged and spoke again.
“Have a sweet dream, Lesche.”
In a very low voice, of course. It was almost a whisper.