Chapter 1 - Prologue
“It’s been a long time since Stern’s wedding, the vows should be sacred.”
Come to think of it, this matched the description in the original story. Lesche Berg was cold and strictly conservative about the sacredness of marriage vows. Now only silence remained in the bedroom, except for the sound of Lina’s wheezing. Seria didn’t even see what kind of expression Lina was making. Lesche looked at Kalis, who couldn’t say anything, and spoke.
“Then please take care of the Saintess.”
The priests were rather pleased that the ice-like atmosphere was broken.
“Yes, Your Highness.”
Now, after Lesche leaves, how should she look at Kalis? Seria honestly didn’t know. However, she knew exactly what Kalis was going to say to her. And his excuse would be because Lina was sick.
She was thinking about what to reply to him….
Then, she suddenly heard a voice. Lesche looked at her and extended his arm.
“Come out with me. The Saintess needs to rest.”
Kalis called her name and she looked back. When their eyes met, Kalis’s eyes were filled with strange anger. But that was all. It didn’t change the situation. If she thought of Kalis’ dignity and decided to stay, she wouldn’t be able to stay long anyway because Lina was sick and needed rest. And Kalis still had to be with her. Nonetheless, since Kalis had called her name, she would have to stay with him, her fiance. But then, Lina gave a low groan and Kalis turned to check her condition, muttering her name. That’s when Seria averted her gaze and looked back at Lesche. Then, she grabbed his arm.
“Thank you, Your Highness.”
She went out without looking back again. After showing her curtsy to Lesche, Seria went to her room and plummeted to the bed. As soon as asking the maids, who had hesitantly offered her a cup of tea, to leave, she buried her face into her pillow and bit down hard on her lip. On her arm, the magic crystal bracelet which she forgot to take off earlier, made a clattering noise. Somehow, she felt like crying, but her mask held on strongly. She could only be relieved at that fact. ‘How fortunate’, she thought.
“You’re not sleeping, Lady Seria?”
“Oh, Sir Alliot.”
The next day, Alliot looked strangely wistful. Looking at his expression, it seemed that rumors had already spread throughout the castle. The noble ladies of Haneton were friendly to her, but it was not so for the nobles from other provinces. She didn’t know what to say at times like this so she pretended to be fine. Moreover, it was just a few days away from the wedding, she didn’t want to make any more trouble with the nobles.
“Are you going somewhere alone right now? Would you like for me to escort you there.”
“No need, Sir Alliot. I just have to check for some silver branches.”
“Then I will be at the stable.”
Seria entered a warehouse called ‘the vault of the greenhouse’. It was a spacious warehouse with a faint smell of dust that no one was guarding. Since it was a place to select and store only various expensive and valuable items necessary for the identification of silver branches for glacier inspection, it was very rare for people to come in as only those with permission could enter. Somehow that made her feel comfortable. As usual, she picked up a silver tree branch to test it.
“Lady Seria Stern.”
The voice she heard was familiar. She was startled and looked back.
It was Lesche. He walked her out to the hallway yesterday. Since the situation yesterday was awkward, she didn’t know what to say and went to her room. She bowed her head and looked up. But as she stared at his red eyes, she glanced down again. Lesche’s eyes were too fierce and somehow intimidating.
“About what happened yesterday… Are you able to do a proper inspection today?”
“If you go to the glacier just for an escape, it is better to do it in an outbuilding.”
Her hand, which was holding the silver branch, weakened.
“Don’t worry, I’ll check the glacier as meticulously as usual. I will never be neglectful.”
Lesche’s expression, which seemed sarcastic, changed a little. When he was about to say something, a familiar voice came from behind.
“… Seria. Are you here?”
Her face distorted in an instant. Without having to see his face, Seria could tell it was Kalis. She didn’t want to see his face at this moment. Before she turned around, Lesche spoke first.
“Marquis Kalis Haneton, it seems that my presence is so insignificant for you to not notice me here?”
“Excuse my impertinence, Your Highness.”
Suddenly, Kalis pulled her wrist, Seria couldn’t help but to look back.
Here it came, her radar that detected facial expressions limited to a significant person in the original story that she developed to live in peace was activated. Kalis was angry right now. ‘What? Why? Why is he angry?’
“I haven’t seen my fiancee for awhile so I’ve been looking for her .”
Kalis was smiling, but only the corner of his mouth was raised.
“But I didn’t know she would be here with His Highness. It’s a rare place to be in.”
As Kalis said, only Lesche and Seria were there. However, the way he said it as if there was a problem…
“Marquis Haneton. Who gave you permission to enter here?”
Lesche’s voice sank threateningly.
“I have never given you access to the vault.”
Unlike Seria and the castle’s owner, Lesche, Kalis had never been granted access to this vault. It was a very sensitive problem among ordinary nobles, and not to mention the nature of the Grand Duchy, Berg.
“I’m sorry, Your Highness. I lost my temper for a moment and made excuses.” Kalis apologized in a stiff voice.”When I return, I will pay the usual compensation immediately. Otherwise, if you are displeased with the amount, please tell me. I will be happy to pay.”
“Oh will you? You’ve got a lot of nerves.”
“You seem to be mistaken.” Lesche stared at Kalis with a cold look. “The punishment is not something you can decide. It follows the traditional punishment of Berg.”
“Then the traditional punishment is….?”
“Cut off one wrist. Can you do it?”
Kalis glared at Lesche. “I didn’t know you wanted my wrist. Do you want to declare a war between provinces?”
“I think war is what you want, not me.” Lesche spoke.
The atmosphere of the two became harsh enough to cross the level of danger. It felt like a real war would happen soon. A war in the middle of winter would definitely cause numerous casualties and mortalities to both sides. With two fingers, Seria gently pulled the sleeves of Kalis’s shirt. The two pairs of eyes shrunk towards her hand at the same time.
“Your Highness, even though my fiancé has done a great deal of rudeness, it would be too harsh for the knights who have to look after the winter glacier if we wage war on something like this. I beg you to give Stern the generosity and let it go once.”
Lesche raised his eyebrows.
“My fiancé will swear that he will never do this again. He will politely apologize. Right?”
Kalis looked at her blankly and slowly bowed his head to Lesche.
“I was very rude. Your Highness.”
Kalis’s apology that followed was, fortunately, impeccably courteous. Lesche had an unknown expression, however, he looked right at Seria the whole time Kalis was apologizing.
“You have a great fiancee.”
He spoke shortly with that usual expressionless face, then quickly turned around and went out. In an instant, Kalis and Seria were the only ones left in the spacious and calm vault.
“I have nothing to say.”
She tried to pull out her wrist that was still being held by Kalis, but he wouldn’t let go. Usually, she would get angry and tell him off, but she couldn’t do it at this moment. She couldn’t understand why.
The image of Kalis, who looked pitifully at Lina, kept hovering in front of her eyes. Lina’s voice and reaction of reflexively looking back at her, left a sticky mark on one side of her chest. When did the emotions that she tried hard to ignore accumulated this much?
“If we break up by midnight today, you don’t have to hold that sacred wedding, Kalis.”
“Break up?” Kalis’s eyes widened. “Cancelling a Stern’s wedding. Does that make sense? Seria!”
“Why doesn’t it make sense!?”
“Right now…You’re angry, it’s easy to say that.”
“It’s easier for me?”
“Okay. Please calm down. Seria, you are talking about breaking up a marriage because I nursed a sick patient. Really?”
“She’s a sick person. She’s God’s representative from a completely different world, with no one else to rely on but me. Can’t you understand that much?”
“Do you? You got angry, grabbed another man’s arm and went out without even looking at me.”
“You did all that first with Saintess Lina!”
“Lina was sick! How is it the same!?”
Her head seemed to be steaming.
“It’s different. At least I didn’t call the Grand Duke by name in front of people.”
At the moment, Kalis knew he made a mistake. Seria grinds her teeth gently.
“Let me go!”
She twisted her hand and tried to get out of Kalis’s grasp, but it was no use. He was being unreasonable. Eventually, anger soared to her head. She clenched her other hand and hit it hard on the wooden shelf next to her.
Bang! With a loud sound that seemed to hurt, Kalis’s eyes widened.