Chapter 1 - Prologue
The next day. It was dawn, the sun had not even risen.
When Seria woke up thirsty, something was blocking her view and she blinked blankly. A beat later, she recognized it. It was Lesche’s chest. She was so embarrassed to see the bare skin in front of her that she jumped up. But both of her hands were held.
It was Lesche. How could this man be sleeping holding people’s hands? She propped herself up on her elbows and stared at Lesche. Why is he sleeping with his clothes off, she wondered, but the answer came quickly.
‘I spilled some wine on him yesterday, I did.’
‘He didn’t touch me in my sleep, did he?’
Seria frowned her forehead. Not that there wasn’t a chance of that, there was, but she wanted to believe that there wasn’t. Of course, she remembered yesterday vividly.
‘Lesche and his lips….’
Heat fluttered in her ears. It wasn’t a deep kiss. Her hands were shaking. She hesitated, trying to untwine their fingers.
She was afraid she might wake Lesche. She thought it would be too embarrassing to make eye contact with Lesche now.
So she slowly lay down again and closed her eyes.
“Are you going to sleep like that?”
Seria almost fainted when she suddenly heard a voice from above her head. Rather than her, Lesche was embarrassed and so he let go of her hand and patted her on the back.
“Why are you so surprised?”
“Please, can you make some signs to make your presence known?”
“Signs of my presence? I did.”
“You did? When?”
Lesche suddenly grabbed her hand and put it on his chest. His skin touched her hand and Seria nearly fainted again.
“It’s beating fast.”
“Is that a sign of a person? Do you think I’m a knight like you? How can I know that!”
“Don’t be mad, Seria. I was just kidding.”
Seria trembled at Lesche’s words that mixed with laughter. When people are so startled, they raise their voices without even knowing it.
She lost all her strength and went limp.
“Why did you wake up? Is it cold in the bedroom?”
“No, I’m thirsty.”
Lesche let go of Seria’s hand. She saw his naked upper body and hastily averted her gaze, then glanced at him again. He was wearing pants, and even though it was only his upper body that showed, his muscles were very …. He was a knight after all.
Seria drank the water that Lesche brought and returned the glass. He didn’t lie down again, so she looked at him suspiciously.
“You’re not going to sleep?”
“I have to leave.”
She tried to look at the clock, but Lesche just lay her down and blinked. He pulled the covers to her neck. He must still think Seria was on the verge of freezing to death.
“You should get more sleep.”
“Okay. Do you mind if I stay here?”
“You can sleep until I come back.”
“I will sleep until tomorrow.”
Seria said playfully, and Lesche smiled. Her throat was moist and her body was warm. Her back was plump. Before she knew it, she had fallen asleep.
It was noon that day.
After visiting the glacier, Seria was drinking warm tea.
“I drank so much wine, I thought I couldn’t ride a horse.”
Even though she drank a lot, surprisingly she didn’t have a hangover. As expected, good drinks were worth it.
Linon came to visit when Seria was organizing the internal affairs management money. He came with some very interesting news.
“Yes. I just got the news.”
It was the news that the subjugation of the demons was completely destroyed this time. She had no choice but to open her eyes wide. The subjugation units were organized by Duke Howard to find the land. What he was trying to reclaim this time was a land with a mine where iron veins were buried.
“Even though it was difficult to enter, Duke Howard kept pushing it.
So I heard that the protests from the other nobles who participated in the battle to defeat him were tremendous.”
“Berg wouldn’t have participated either.”
“ He was greedy. To be honest, I think Duke Howard made such a big mistake trying to show that he could be successful without Berg.”
“Oh…that’s certainly true.”
Even though it wasn’t entirely dependent on Berg, Berg had the largest stake. It seemed that Duke Howard wanted to take this opportunity to visibly show that he could succeed in the battle to defeat the demons without Berg.
‘Well…he’s managed to pull it off so far.’
In addition, there was a rather truthful rumor spreading around the Capital that the reason Berg didn’t participate in this battle was because Howard couldn’t provide a decent reward.
“Linon. Do you like it that much?”
“Oh, I’m sorry, Miss. I can’t stop laughing.”
Linon laughed incessantly. It was so much fun that Seria started laughing too. But he was Berg’s aide, so he didn’t have to be thorough in his calculations or forceful in his explanations.
It would be nice if the current system in which Duke Howard monopolized the benefits of the subjugation war with Queen Ekeziel at the forefront would subside.
Honestly, how much of a loss of business would it be for the other nobles? When it piles up like this and pops wide open, the upper levels of the Glick Empire will freeze and tensions between the territories will rise, making it very troublesome.
“Did you and His Highness enjoy wine yesterday?”
As the words fell from his mouth, Seria dropped the papers she was holding to the floor. Puzzled, Linon picked up the papers.
“His Highness, he’s a very strong drinker. If we happen to be drinking together, I’m the only one who can’t drink.”
“If that’s the extent of it, then he really was sober yesterday.”
‘To be honest, I was so drunk that I could go over with just a kiss from drunkenness, but why did Lesche kiss me? The atmosphere was a little off because I had to unbutton his wet clothes, but I didn’t even take them off.’
The more she thought about it, the more embarrassed she felt, and Seria swept her face with both hands. She didn’t know why she was suddenly like this again when she spoke to Lesche so comfortably this morning.
It was shortly after Linon spoke with a trembling voice. Seria stopped sweeping her face and raised her head.
“What is it?”
Linon was sorting through a bunch of papers with different thicknesses of paper in his hands.
“Are you going to this land?”
Seria blinked. What Linon held in his hand was a document detailing the location and layout of the land Seria had inherited from Kellyden. It was actually a magic crystal mine that hid tremendous value, but on the surface, it had been contaminated by magi and abandoned.
Seria was looking at it earlier, and it seemed to have gotten mixed up. She said casually,
“It’s the land I inherited from Kellyden. You know it, don’t you?”
“Yes, I do. I’m very curious as to why the layout is being displayed.”
“Did you know that there is one mine here?”
“Isn’t it an abandoned mine that produced a small amount of copper ore?”
Seria blinked. Linon’s words exactly matched the report that she had received after she finalized her inheritance.
“How do you know all this?”
“It’s one of my hobbies.”
“Were you trying to check on the status of my estate?”
“Hmm? No, not at all! I was just saying that it’s a hobby of mine to figure out the geography here and there!”
“Oh, I misunderstood you.”
“What am I in your eyes, Young Lady?”
Seria just chuckled.
“Anyway, instead of the entrance to the mine here, I want to create a new entrance from the complete opposite side. I think only this part is free from the Magi.”
“That’s where it connects to the Duchess of Polvas’ domain. Since the Duchess of Polvas was from the Berg territory, it shouldn’t be too difficult to arrange…”
Even after answering, Linon still asked with a pale face.
“Lady, it’s not a copper mine, but a vein of gold buried in the ground. Isn’t this place contaminated by magi? It’s too dangerous. Are you listening to me, Young Lady?”
“All right, Linon. Calm down.”
In fact, Seria just wanted to see about half of it. She had the circlet.
But if she kept pushing, Linon might die soon.
“I’d like to try some experiments.”
‘Will this circlet be able to purify Magi? If it does, how much?’
Seria thought she shouldn’t act recklessly until the exact result came out.
Seria looked out the window thinking hard. The snowy white scenery caught her eyes. Come to think of it, the current situation on the continent was that demons appeared everywhere. She was troubled by the fact that demons would occasionally appear near Berg territory.
After pondering for days, she lifted her pen.
How many days later was it?
Seria stood in front of the main conference hall with her arms crossed.
“Come in, my lady.”
A servant kindly opened the door. There were many people in the conference hall. She was a little embarrassed because the seats that were set out in order along the huge table were crammed so tightly that not a single seat was left empty. The vassals, who were standing, bowed silently as soon as their eyes met hers.
The place where the aide took out the chair was again next to Lesche. After Seria sat down, the vassals also sat down carefully.
Lesche opened his mouth.
“Stern has suggested that we go ahead with the defeat of the demons of the Connes plain.”
Seria didn’t have anything else to explain, because the vassals were excited, shaking their hips. Seria proposed this subjugation a few days ago, and the paper was already worn out as if they had read the report countless times.
“If we succeed in defeating the Connes Plain, we can use that road again!”
“In three years, at least a third of the magi will disappear. In ten years, it will completely evaporate.”
“The road back to the east is very long, but the cost of transportation will be greatly reduced!”
The Connes Plain was a small plain located in the far east of Berg territory. Although it was small in size, it was inhabited by magical beasts, making it completely impassable to humans.
The overall size of the land was small, and the center was contaminated, making it a perfect place for Seria to experiment since it was part of the Berg territory.