Chapter 1

 

 

Ethan Seymour Bertrand swore that he would kill them all.

 

He continued his meaningless pledge that he would do so, pulling the reins strongly that his palms felt numb.

 

‘I will kill all those who have put her in danger.’

 

In fact, the source of this anger was regret.

 

When she was about to leave, he shouldn’t have sent her off with the excuse of the heaviest snowfall in 100 years. He should have used the headache that had been plaguing him since this morning as a weapon to grab her.

 

How much did he run through the bitter winter wind of Lorek? Ethan, who was looking up at the lightless mountain road, took a deep breath.

 

When he unfolded his right hand, the dark red half-moon shaped ore was losing its light. He gripped the reins tightly again. Ethan’s mind rushed.

 

He had to find her before it’s too late.

 

“Your Excellency!”

 

A man’s dry voice flew through the blizzard.

 

Ethan raised his hand, stopping the pack of soldiers running behind him.

 

“Sir, it’s hard to search any farther because of the heavy snowfall.”

 

O’Connell said, brushing the snow off his mustache.

 

It was unbearably cold. He has lived in Imperial Elma for over 40 years, and he had never seen a cold snap like the one this year.

 

It was also the first time he had ever ridden a horse to search on such a terrible day.

 

“We’ll disperse from here. Release all the hounds.”

 

“Sir, but…”

 

“I’ll send Larry to the east and leave the three soldiers here. I’m going into the mountains.”

 

“The mountains? Sir, you can’t up the mountains with the wagon.”

 

O’Connell said, looking up the incline slope.

 

But Ethan had a different idea. If he was going to kill them, he would not have chosen the wide path. He must have made a decision at this point where he could see the mountains.

 

“Sir, it’s snowing too hard. It shows no signs of stopping. Besides, we moved so many soldiers without saying a word to Master. Uh…” 

 

But Ethan didn’t reply, instead he wrapped the reins around him twice and held them. O’Connell knew exactly what this action meant.

 

It meant that even if they died in the snow tonight and lost all their hounds, they would continue their search.

 

“…… Yes, sir.”

 

One more word would be nothing but a waste of energy.

 

O’Connell pressed his hat deeper and grabbed the reins. Then he turned around and shouted at the soldiers.

 

“Larry, move East. If you see anything suspicious, even a small trail, report it immediately!”

 

In the meantime, Ethan has already disappeared from their view along with two hounds.

 

“This is going to be very difficult for His Excellency. I’m sure the Master won’t sit still.”

 

O’Connell shook his head and pulled on the reins. The horse, which picked up its breathing after a short break, began to bounce fiercely.

 

The destination of the carriage they were searching for was Chemult. There were many roads from Lorek, Ethan’s estate, to Chemult, but eventually they had to take the road he was now standing on.

 

As soon as he entered the mountain path, the hounds’ movements were unusual.

 

“Grrr, grr!”

 

They must have smelled blood, and started tracking with their noses sniffing the road.

 

As he followed the hounds up the hill, Ethan was glad that it was snowing.

 

The uniform wheel marks on the snow were clearly visible. And not far away, an elegant silhouette that looked out of place was seen.

 

It was a horse-drawn carriage.

 

“Ruelli!”

 

The moment he opened his mouth, a mass of cold air blocked his throat. However, it was not strong enough to prevent Ethan from screaming.

 

Ethan quickly dismounted from his horse. He ran hard with the lightstone, but the calf-deep snow held him back.

 

“Ruelli Bedivier!”

 

But the carriage was empty, and the horsemen in their black hats were already dead, covered in blood.

 

“D*mn it!”

 

It was no ordinary skill in aiming precisely at the vital point. He carefully held the sword with his right hand and took a step. The red blood spattered on the snowfield caught his eyes.

 

The beautiful and sad fresh blood was leading deep into the mountains.

 

The two hounds ran in excitement. Ethan also took off his coat that was in the way and ran fast along the blood trail.

 

“I will never forgive you. Never.”

 

But the hatred that rose to his chin lost its form the moment he faced Ruelli.

 

“Ruelli!”

 

She was lying on the snow, her blonde hair wet with blood and in disarray. He picked her up urgently, and a weak breath that was about to disappear came from her pale lips.

 

Fortunately, he could feel a faint warmth between her lips. Ethan put his angry face to her lips, afraid that her breath would freeze.

 

“D*mn it, d*mn it.”

 

He managed to save her breath, but Ruelli’s green dress was stained with blood that he couldn’t tell its true color. The dark red thing seemed to have wet her chest and dripped downward.

 

It was obvious that she was stabbed in the heart.

 

“You must not die, Ruelli. I will never forgive you if you die.”

 

‘Never forgive’ was actually the words he said to himself.

 

He quickly took the Rameon out of his pocket and placed it in Ruelli’s  hand. The Rameon, which was originally red, turned black as if it was taken out of the ashes. (*Rameon is probably a magic stone or an amulet. I’m not sure.)

 

“Please, please, please.”

 

But fortunately, the redness was still there, as if it was Ruelli’s precarious life.

 

Ethan covered her with his coat and caressed her cheek, which had turned cold. Fortunately, the cold that froze the world seemed to have saved her life.

 

However, her wound was so severe that he thought he should not move Ruelli recklessly.

 

“Cole, take her away!

 

One of the hounds ran down like a bullet at its master’s command.

 

Her hand, which he had never held before, was covered in blood. Ethan rubbed her icy cold hand against his clothes and prayed earnestly.

 

‘Ruelli Bedivier. It’s only when you’re covered in blood that you give me your approval. I didn’t send you here just to see you like this.’

 

“Not like this.”

 

In fact, Ethan was not a believer. He only believed in himself. In a world where bloodline was the only blessing, God gave precious blood, but for Ethan, that blood was nothing but a hindrance.

 

But the funny thing was that the only person who could comfort his grief now was the one he didn’t believe in. The only person he could turn to was the God who had always ignored him.

 

Ethan cried, his black hair was now wet with snow and sweat.

 

“Please, please…”

 

***

 

Summer 1201, the year of the Empire.

 

That was the day Ruelli Bedivier first received a sword.

 

In fact, before moving into the Duke’s mansion, a sword was just a tool for Ruelli to use to cut fish and vegetables.

 

However, the Duke of Bertrand, Lord of Lorek, gave her a sword, and Ruelli had to work hard to live up to his expectations.

 

Little did the perceptive Ruelli know, beyond the kindness her lord showed her, there were other meanings.

 

Ancient languages, theology and philosophy, even piano and swordplay.

 

Mere goodness was too much for the mere maid’s daughter.

 

“You wielded it so easily, my Lord, that I thought it would be light, but it is not at all.”

 

Ruelli leaned against the castle wall, rubbing her reddened palms. When she sensed the presence of someone, she saw the dry-faced Ethan standing there.

 

“Your Excellency.”

 

Hiding her red hands behind her back, Ruelli smiled awkwardly and greeted him.

 

Ethan looked somewhat uncomfortable.

 

He looked as stern as he usually did, but it had been eight years since she faced him. Ruelli was not so foolish as not to notice Ethan’s subtle change in emotions.

 

“What’s wrong?”

 

“…”

 

“Something seems not right.”

 

At Ethan’s words, Ruelli chuckled and shook her shoulders.

 

“Yes, it is. It’s the first time I held a sword today.”

 

Her wrists were tingling and sore, but Ruelli was having fun. Nothing excited her more than learning and mastering new things.

 

“My lord, I really don’t know if I can repay all the kindness you’ve bestowed upon me before I die…”

 

Her sudden words stiffened Ethan’s brows. If he were an ordinary man, he would have enjoyed the words that exalted his father, but he was not him.

 

“It’s a silly idea.”

 

“I should be punished, but you gave me kindness.”

 

“It is the right thing for a Lord to take care of his people.”

 

Not wanting to talk about it anymore, Ethan suddenly held out something in his hand.

 

It was a half-moon shaped ore. It was palm size, but if looking at it closely, the deep strange red color was quite beautiful.

 

Ruelli stared at Ethan as he handed it to her and asked back.

 

“Are you giving it to me?”

 

Ruelli stopped, trying not to add the next word. She knew that if she asked if it was a gift, Ethan would just take it away.

 

“It’s no big deal.”

 

His face was stern, just like his words. Originally it was a perfect oval, but the one he gave to Ruelli was split in half.

 

“It is a common stone, but it has a purify power even if it’s weak, so carry it with you.”

 

“Thank you, my Lord.”

 

Ruelli thanked him with great courtesy.

 

Ethan refrained from speaking until the end, but Ruelli could tell that he had given it to her as a gift for her own safety as she took up the swordsmanship.

 

‘How is a stone with purify power ordinary?’

 

But there was something that even the astute Ruelli didn’t understand.

 

In fact, Rameon wasn’t simply an ore with purify abilities.

 

It was originally an oval-shaped red stone. It was passed down only to the eldest child of the Bertrand family for generations.

 

It became potent when broken in half with force for several days, but when the life of the person holding the stone was in danger, the color turned black.

 

“The color is truly beautiful, my Lord. I will always keep it close to my heart. Thank you.”

 

Ethan nodded at Ruelli’s words without saying a word, then turned around.

 

Half of Rameon was in Ethan’s chest pocket.

 

Ethan hoped that the color would stay the same forever and he believed that her peace would last a long time.

 

That was, until Ruelli descended the snowy mountain with the halved Rameon in her hand and a sword in her heart.

 

****

 

 

 

Notes

N/A

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