Since the day that it was decided that they were going to be invited to the earl’s ball at the Carlton residence, where Lydia lived, things were being frantically prepared.
They were so busy that she forgot about the where-abouts of the fairy queen’s ‘moon’ and the organization that was fighting against Prince. There were no incidents after that and as a matter of fact, Lydia had forgotten about the bad feeling she had right after that.
She needed to quickly get a dress tailored and get ready matching shoes and gloves and hair dresses, and even learn and remember how to dance and rules of courteous behavior.
Lydia didn’t have any dresses that were fit to let her attend formal settings in the first place.
When she went to the opera house and the noblewoman’s residence which she was dragged to by Edgar, she wore the dresses that were prepared by the earl house staff. She was talked into accepting the reason to attending those places in that it was to have the fairy doctor who was privately hired by the earl family be accepted into society. She imagined that this upcoming ball was something similar to that, but her father, who was exerting himself for the sake of his only daughter, had corrected her in an unusually firm manner that since she was formally invited, she shouldn’t consider it another extensional service of her job.
Lydia’s father was a university professor and had pretty good ties with people in the upper-class, but he didn’t favor glamorous social settings, so he didn’t stick his face out unless it was an invitation from someone he couldn’t possibly refuse.
But in this case, in order to not put his daughter through an embarrassing experience, it was decided that he was going to attend as well.
That’s why, there was all the more commotion and disorder in the Carlton house for doing something they weren’t used to.
While they were doing this and that, the day of the ball came.
From the afternoon, Lydia’s father went to the barber and cleaned and tidied up his usual straggly hair and was waiting for the tailor who was late as he repeatedly took off and impatiently wiped his spectacles.
Since there wasn’t enough time, Lydia’s dress could only be completed on the day of the ball.
In the end, it arrived in the evening, but the housekeeper of the Carlton house was able to skillfully aid Lydia her dressing and they made it in time.
The white mousseline de laine dress had cute cream-yellow ribbons attached to it. Delicately hand-knitted lace decorated the collar and skirt.
She had her hair, that was normally left running down her back, done up fashionably and charming like a young lady. After she decorated it with a freesia hair ornamentation and pulled up her gloves that came to her elbows, she was ready.
She was called by her father in the hallway and the housekeeper went out to respond, and as she made the last check-up of herself complete, she asked Nico who was by her for his impression.
“Nico, what do you think?”
“How would I know.”
Nico yawned and stood up.
Nico was watching the humans scurrying about like he didn’t care, but he was wearing a brand-new white, silk tie.
It looked like he was going to attend the ball as well.
“The tailor said white would be best if it was going to be my first ball. But, do you think it’s a little too bright and uncomforting?”
“It’s all right, since you’re young.”
“If it’s white, the tailor said we can reuse it by retouching it, and if I change the ribbons and lace, then it would be a new design any number of times.”
“Are you planning to attend that many balls?”
“Formal dress for late soiree show your shoulders more than I expected.”
“You aren’t listening to me, are you?”
Rotating her body around in front of the mirror, Lydia checked her back.
“Hey, don’t you think the back is a little too revealing?”
“And you seem pretty excited.”
Lydia snapped back into reality.
“Wh-what are you saying. This is duty, just duty.”
“I think it is all right for you to enjoy this. This isn’t something that can be compared to the ball in the countryside, right? You would be able to brag about this to the country folk.”
That was right, a ball is every girl’s dream. Lydia was no exception.
There were balls held even in the countryside that was her hometown. They were small parties hosted by a middle-class family, but it was the subject of adoration of all the girls who had never left that country town.
However, Lydia had never gone to a ball. Since she was looked upon as an oddball, even if she were to attend the ball held in the small town where everybody knew each other, she figured she wouldn’t be able to enjoy it.
But the one she was going to go to today was a true ball. A ball that was like a fairytale or out of a dream, held for peers and aristocrats.
Her skills in dancing wasn’t near that out of a dream, but if she didn’t meet Edgar, this opportunity would have never arose. She decided she was going to enjoy the glamorous atmosphere to the best of her extent.
“You are right. It would be a waste not to enjoy it if I’m going.”
“But, really, you shouldn’t dance with someone you don’t know. You’re going to embarrass the man.”
Nico said that only because he had been watching Lydia’s dance practice, so her skills must be worse than she imagined.
The instructor told her she was fine, but she had the feeling that the muscles on his stretched smile was twitching uncomfortably.
“Then, maybe I should have Edgar reframe.”
That would be more relaxing for Lydia.
“Oh, why not the two of you dance. You should unload your frustration that’s been piling up on the Lord Earl.”
Nico remained standing on his hind legs and hit the air with his front paws like he was punching someone with his fists.
What is that suppose to mean.
From the hallway, Lydia heard a voice calling for her. It seemed like her father still couldn’t decide on a necktie.
Lydia called out to him that she was coming and pulled the hem of her skirt up a little.
She had to push down the crinoline that was under her skirt to puff it up so that she could pass through the doorway. That meant in order to move about in a formal dress, the doors of this house and stairway was too narrow.
“Oh, good lord, looks like you could nearly stumble inside the house and not be able to get back up,” mumbled Nico, rolling his eyes around.
By the time they arrived at the earl house in the horse-drawn carriage, there was already an endless number of carriages with coat of arms on them parked in front of the palace entrance.
The ones that were getting out of those carriages were ladies and gentlemen who all dressed in fine and elegant evening ball wear. They entered into the earl palace entry way like they were being swept in.
Lydia and her father got off of their carriage and were guided by the servants into the line.
It was the hall that she was familiar with, but after it was covered with a new carpet and numerous lamps and decorated with flowers and clothes, Lydia felt like she might have wondered into a different world and moved her head about in a unladylike manner to look at everything around her.
From the entrance hall, the stairway lead up to the floor above as it curved in an arc. Once they walked up that, they entered the grand hall. The doors from the grand hall that connected to different rooms were all opened and the finely-dressed guests that had already arrived were all busily enjoying talking amongst each other.
Her father tapped her shoulder and when she finally turned her eyes back to him, she saw that Edgar was standing in front of them.
“My lord, it is an honor to be able to be invited to such a fine event.”
“Welcome, Professor Carlton, and Miss Lydia.”
When she was called like that, she was reminded that she came here as the Carlton daughter, not as his fairy doctor. Due to that different state of mind, she was supposedly used to seeing him, but when he showed her a smile, her heart jumped a beat.
“Good evening. …..Lord Edgar.”
She reminded herself that she couldn’t speak to him in their usual friendly manner, but suddenly she felt a great distance grow in between them which was a strange surprise.
“Please take your time and enjoy yourselves.”
Only saying that, his eyes were taken off Lydia and her father.
He needed to welcome the invited guests that came in one after another and didn’t have any time to spare on Lydia. She realized that it was impossible to get any more words out of him and surprised at herself who was apparently expecting to hear something more out of him.
When she was just about to step off to go, her arm was grabbed lightly. Like she was being handed a secret letter, Edgar sneaked a coral-pink rose into Lydia’s hand.
“Wear it on the collar of your dress.”
He whispered that into her ear and it felt to Lydia like she was made to hold a secret from her father and when her father turned back to look at her, he swiftly hid the rose from his sight.
“I-it’s nothing, father. ….I thought I should maybe go get something to drink.”
“All right, I’m going to go greet the Duke Masefield.”
Leaving her father, Lydia mingled into the crowd of people and let out a breath of relief.
“Why do I have to be so panicked?”
It was normal for Edgar to act like he had feelings behind his actions.
First of all, to be told to put a rose on her dress collar, maybe that meant that her dress was too simple and needed more décor.
Once again, she took a look at the people around her and saw that all the women wore glamorous and brilliant dresses. The dress she thought was wonderful at her house did indeed seem bland once a weed flower like her was among a field of elegant large-blossomed flowers like them.
Using a window as a mirror, she tried to slip the rose, which had all its thorns removed, into her collar.
Since she didn’t have any extravagant jewelry adorning her dress, having a flower dress-up her empty collar-area might make it more pleasant to the eyes.
Arranging the frills that ran along her collar, Lydia felt like a pair of eyes were looking at her and lifted her head up. A number of woman looked casually away in the other direction, or maybe that was a figure of her imagination.
Is there something odd about me?
She tried to look for any sight of her father, but then spotted Raven waiting as a server. He walked over to Lydia and held out a glass.
“Care for any refreshments?”
“Oh, thank you….. Uh, Raven, is there something weird with my dress?”
“I don’t know,” he replied immediately.
Looks like she asked the wrong person.
“I’m sorry, I made a mistake. You look extremely beautiful.”
“……Edgar told you to say that?”
How is it that he can say yes.
To this off-tune exchange of words, there was the chuckling sound of laugther near-by.
“It isn’t at all strange.”
The one who said that was a man who just happened to be standing right by them.
“Well, I am not the right person to ask about that. Since it is the first time for me to attend such a ball.”
His eyes showed that he was a gentle person.
“The Earl Ashenbert was friendly and invited me and so I came, but I’m worried that I’m out of place.”
He pinched the end of his worn-out evening coat.
It seemed Raven was busy as he went off to continue what he was doing, but Lydia felt something familiar with this man who said it was his first ball and was able to make a smile naturally.
“It’s also my first time.”
He gave an obvious impression like he was an honest and good-willed young man. His light brown curly hair was let out to grow naturally but it appeared to Lydia’s eyes like he didn’t seem like the pretentious type.
He didn’t seem to be from the upper-class and if Edgar had directly talked to him, then he must be someone that he had taken a liking to.
“But, young miss, everyone has their eye on you. Don’t you have a promise to dance with the earl?”
He pointed at the rose that was pinned in the collar of her dress.
“It’s the same as the one Earl Ashenbert is wearing.”
Now that she thought about it, Edgar’s buttonhole was also this flower.
“This flower is gathering all the envious eyes of the young daughters and ladies. The gentlemen in the room may also be watching as well. Even if they wanted to ask you for a dance, they must feel ashamed. If you only had eyes for the Earl.”
Was that what this meant?
Then I won’t be asked by anyone.
It wasn’t like she wasn’t hoping that she wouldn’t be asked for that kind of thing.
She was a little hopeful that a dream-like occurrence of having each other’s eyes meet and be drawn together to want to hear each other’s voice might happen.
She thought of throwing away this rose. But if she was asked and did dance with the fellow, then she might embarrass him. Edgar may have anticipated that and came up with this idea.
He must not want the ball that he was hosting to turn into a disaster.
Lydia let out a sigh, thinking that reality was much more harsh than she imagined.
Anyhow, the feeling that she had of people staring at her was because of this flower.
“Um, I am acquainted with the earl, but, it’s not like that. Because I’m not good in dancing, he must have done this so that I wouldn’t have to dance.”
“Not good at dancing? So am I. Since I can’t dance, I’m able to speak to you since it wouldn’t be taken as rude not to ask you for a dance.”
When Lydia chucked, he also smiled.
“Oh, I’m sorry, I didn’t introduce myself. My name is Paul Foreman. I’m a beginning painter.”
“Are you, perhaps, the one who painted that Titania?”
“Have you seen it? Oh, then it might have been better if I didn’t say my name…. Women tell me that I didn’t fit what they expected from the image of the painting. It seems they think of me as the vulnerable and sensitive type.”
“No, not at all. I always wanted to meet you. Ah, my name is Lydia Carlton.”
“Miss Carlton, do you like fairies?”
More like she could see them and hear them and was meeting them everyday, than like.
But if she were to say something like that, then even this fairy painter would think her as weird.
She didn’t want him to be scared of her, so she didn’t say anything more than necessary.
“Fairies and gods from mythology are all sources of imagination to me. Since I’ve never seen them before, I’m able to create them freely in my imagination.”
“But, since there are people who have seen them before, wouldn’t you think that the existence of fairies has spread word throughout society.”
“Oh, yes. Because people have the mind’s eye, they are able to see what doesn’t appear to their eyes.”
“Mind’s eye, yes, I think so too. That’s what’s needed to see fairies.”
It was just a simple conversation, but Lydia felt happy, like she was understood by somebody.
Since he liked to paint fairies, perhaps, she thought, that he might even accept it when she told him that she could see fairies.
Before she had realized it, the orchestra was over in playing the prelude.
The people in the hall started to move about. In the center, couples ready to dance gathered.
“There’s the earl. He surely does stand out.”
Lydia was also able to spot him right away. His blond hair that shined and sparkled above anything else, gathered more people’s eyes under the chandelier light.
Of course, he needed to ask all the upper-class daughters and ladies of the distinguished guests, so in reality, he really didn’t have the time to be dancing with Lydia.
She was fine if they weren’t going to.
While she was watching everybody, momentarily, a new dance started along to the rhythm of a quadrille.
As they danced in a line, the partners would change and the young girl who was being escorted by Edgar and during the short period of time she needed to leave his side and held the hand of another man, she didn’t have her eyes leave him as they were gazing heatedly at him.
Lydia was a little envious.
“It looks like fun.”
“Would you like to dance?”
“If it’s this dance, it seems easy enough. And if we make a mistake, I’m sure it wouldn’t stand out that much.”
He was right. That’s why it seemed like so much fun. The dance that Lydia had trouble with till the end was the steps of the waltz and the minuet.
“If you aren’t going to only dance with the earl that is.”
It was a waste not to enjoy anything. As Lydia thought that to herself, she nodded.
“Um, Mr. Foreman, please go easy on me.”
“You can call me Paul.”
Sitting himself down on the stone hand railing that lead to the garden with a glass of scotch in one paw, the fairy cat Nico was humming a tune to himself.
The music that was being performed by the orchestra could be heard from here clearly enough. And yet the noise of activity and gossip of the crowd was far away and it was quiet. Basking in the light of the crescent moon that hung in the night sky and sipping the good spirits and picking and tasting the caviar and smoked salmon, made Nico have a terrifically good mood.
To tell the truth, he preferred a whole freshly-caught fish after it was deep-fried more than fish roe or thinly cut fish slices, but he didn’t mind this either.
The small fairies that had gathered from hearing the music were all dancing by the fountain and tree trunks.
Even the Carlton house hobgoblin was there.
“Mister Nico, the earl’s ball sure is magnicicent.”
Fluttering her honey-golden wings in a hurry, Marygold hovered around in the air above Nico.
“The ear himself is such a wonderful man. If he were to come to our majesty’s side, then our land would surely become even more prosperous.”
“Hey, hey, you still haven’t given up yet. It’s impossible to take the earl back with you.”
“If I had that ‘moon’ with me, then he was sure to have consented.”
“But, the man that your queen fell in love with isn’t him, you know. He’s just a man who inherited the family name and yet you all are all right with that?”
“Why, if they have the same name, then there isn’t much of a difference, is there? Since human lives are so short, I have heard that they pass on down the line through their blood and name.”
But, he doesn’t even share the same blood. Even though he thought that, he kept quiet.
Long ago, the human that was the closest friend with fairies was Lord Blue Knight. As his descendants, the ones with the name of Blue Knight Earl must still be someone special amongst the fairies, so it was no wonder that their fairy queen was so clung on to getting him.
To tell the truth, Nico actually didn’t mind if this Marygold took away that criminal to the land of their fairy queen, so that Lydia would be released.
At this rate, by her remaining as the fairy doctor of the earl family, there was going to be the possibility that Lydia was going to be involved in the unknown war that was behind Edgar.
But, Lydia was somewhat pitying Edgar. She was deceived and used a number of times, and even when she was made to do what he wanted her to do, she ended up pitying him for having such a sad past.
Be that as it may, that was Lydia’s personality, so it couldn’t be helped.
If Edgar were to put in a situation where he was nearly taken away to the fairyworld, and it that was not his wish, then she was sure to do something to help him.
Because of the responsibility as a fairy doctor, she would do any reckless thing.
“Tut, then that means we’ll be living in London for a while.”
Just when he mumbled that, the small fairies in the garden suddenly began to murmur in nervous voices.
The fountain water burst up in exploding waves. The surface of the water that circled around the bronze statue of the mermaid rose up like a black mountain.
In the next moment, the area around them was filled with a sinister touch of wind.
Marygold hid herself behind Nico’s tail and Nico rushed to jump into the bushes.
What appeared from the splashing waters of the fountain was a magnificent ebony, black horse.
Nico couldn’t help but gasp in surprise and then quickly covered his mouth with his paws.
Lifting up his rear, the kelpie kicked away the fairies that hadn’t yet escaped with its hooves, and shook its saturated mane, making the water droplets making it shine and sparkle, then lifted up its head to look up at the building.
“It-it’s him, Mister Nico. He’s the one who stole our majesty’s ‘moon’.”
“He had a human form then, but I won’t mistake those black pearl eyes.”
This is bad. Extremely bad.
As Nico became more and more nervous, he shifted his attention to his whiskers that were standing out straight.
Since the first time he saw the rock that had mold growing on it, he had been having a bad feeling. He didn’t think that the aquatic horse would leave the familiar waters of its home and come all the way to London, so he denied that possibility.
However, he was a different character than the normal aquatic horse. Normally, they would only see humans as prey, yet he followed Lydia around after growing an interest in her.
He apparently was influenced by his even further oddball younger sibling who took a human wife and relentlessly asked Lydia if she would become his bride.
While Nico was trying to figure out what to do, Kelpie changed into his human form and started to climb up the stairs that continued up to the hall where the lively ball was being held.
“…..Oh, no, I need to let Lydia know.”
Nico finally moved his frozen body. He climbed up the near-by tree and jumped over to the window on the second floor to scramble into the hall that was brightly lit-up by the gas lamps before Kelpie.
The dance music quickly changed from one to another. From the beautiful music of the violin that streamed across the air of the room to the bouncing tune of the clarinet to the calm melody of the cello solo.
Walking away from the ring of those who were dancing and stand talking as she listened to the music was actually quite enjoying for Lydia.
She introduced Mr. Foreman to her father and just when the talk was livening up between her and the Duchess who said she loved to hear about fairies, her eyes spotted a gray-haired cat that bobbed and weaved through the legs of the crowded people on his hind legs.
Oh, Nico, he’s completely forgotten to be a cat in front of people and walk on all-fours.
Luckily no-one was looking towards their feet so it looked like no-one had noticed, but Lydia swiftly walked over to Nico.
“Lydia! I’m been looking for you! Something’s come up, that ke……”
It seemed like he was in some sort of panic, but Lydia picked Nico up as it seemed like he was going to continue talking in his upright position.
“Hey, what are you doing, Lydia.”
“Don’t talk like that in this crowd.”
There would be a commotion if people found out that a cat was standing on its hind legs and talking.
She carried Nico in his dangling state all the way to the balcony and lowered him down as she hid in the shadow of the curtain on top of the hand railing.
“Don’t be so unreasonable…..” grumbled Nico in a bad mood, as he fixed his fur that had become ruffled. He was a fairy cat that took caution in his looks above all else. While he was at it, he fixed his necktie as well.
“More importantly, what was the matter?”
“Right! He’s here, that guy.”
“You know, him, the one that stole Marygold’s ‘moon’.”
“You found out who was the culprit?”
“No, I meant he was the one who….”
“Lydia! There you were.”
Before Nico could finish, there was another voice that interrupted them.
From the neighboring balcony, a man was leaning out towards their direction.
From the light of the lamp, his black wavy hair was lit-up. He had a mystical, breath-taking good looks, the sort of beauty and fine features that couldn’t be born from a human. Tall with a strong, well-shaped body.
Of course, all of that was very familiar.
He was the fairy that would periodically pay a visit to her Scotland home.
Originally, he was an aquatic horse that lived in the Highlands. However, he was an oddball that came all the way to the town near Edinburgh where Lydia lived and took up residence in the near-by river.
They were a species that naturally won’t communicate their thoughts with humans. They were an Unseelie court that would use their devilish good looks to trick humans and drag them into the waters to eat them.
However, this kelpie would come to Lydia’s country home and just spend his time arbitrarily and so she only thought of him as someone like a slightly impudent friend.
Even if he was a devilish aquatic horse, he wasn’t all that dangerous once he left the river and when it pertained to him, she saw him more out of curiosity as a fairy doctor than of his true nature as a man-eater.
However, while Lydia was allowing him to visit her home, he must have grown tired of coming up onto the land and started to tell Lydia to come into the waters with him. Kelpie would light-heartedly invite her to live with him as he didn’t know of the ordinary morals of human life, so when she told him the spell that ‘she would if he would bring her the moon,’ he didn’t appear before her for a while.
Leaving in that state, Lydia came to London and the days she spent here all rushed by and so she had completely forgotten about Kelpie.
But, even though, he didn’t have to choose to appear at a time like this.
“I’ve come for you. Let’s go back home to Scotland.”
Kelpie leaped for to the balcony they were on like he was as light as a feather.
“Ho-How did you know where I was?”
Lydia braced herself.
“The hobgoblin in your house told me. Because you are hired by the Blue Knight Earl, you won’t be coming back for quite a while. So that’s why yours truly here came all this way for you.”
She did hear from her father that he sent a letter to an acquaintance of theirs to manage their empty home while they were away. The rumors of the oddball Lydia being hired by the even more oddball named earl must have spread throughout the town by now.
Hobgoblins loved gossip and rumors much more than humans. In order to drive away the kelpie that they disliked, it must have been more than happy to tell him that Lydia was staying in London.
“I have a job here. So return home by yourself.”
But, the kelpie wasn’t listening. He was rudely inspecting Lydia with his confused and curious eyes.
“Why are you dressed up so weird like that?”
This happens to be formal wear.
The one who wasn’t dressed for the occasion was Kelpie. Since he was a fairy, nothing could be done, but when he wore that loose, tunic-like piece of shirt and trousers like he was some sort of sheep herder from the hilly fields, then it made him look like a man intruding on someone else’s property.
For the time being, Lydia decided in a panic that it was best to hid him away from people’s eyes. However, Kelpie didn’t realize the situation and thoughtlessly pulled up her skirt to look into it.
“What are you doing!”
In reflex, she gave him a hard slap of her palm. At least, Kelpie let go of her but she was sure that her action didn’t give him much damage.
“You’re as brutal as usual.”
“I don’t want to be told that by a savage kelpie.”
“I just wanted to know what was inside.”
“This is this kind of dress!”
“Miss Lydia, did something happen?”
The one who spoke to her as he came out to the balcony was Paul Foreman.
He must have seen the two of their behavior just now and thought that a suspicious intruder was doing something unlawful against her.
He slipped himself between Kelpie and Lydia.
“Who may I ask you are? You don’t seem to be one of the guests and if you came in without permission, then I think it would be best if you quickly leave. Or else, I will have to call the guards.”
Kelpie made an irritated look as he knit his manly brows.
“He’s the Blue Knight Earl? Lydia, you’re being worked around by this weak excuse of a man?”
“You’re wrong, he isn’t the earl… More than that, don’t say something so rude!”
Paul turned around to look at Lydia in surprise.
“Miss Lydia, he is your acquaintance?”
“Oh, what, so he isn’t the earl. Then don’t get in our way.”
Kelpie pushed Paul aside and pulled over Lydia’s arm.
“More importantly, Lydia, I found the moon. Now you’ll be mine.”
What? Lydia let her mouth hang open but snapped back into reality when Nico tugged hard on her skirt from behind.
Oh, right. Marygold had said that he was the one who had stolen her ‘moon.’
She remembered that she mustn’t accept it at all costs as she slapped away his hold.
“Don’t be ridiculous. The moon is hanging above us this very moment.”
“Oh, just take a look. It’s the moon and it even changes its phases.”
On the palm of his hand that he opened, there was a ring that had a milky white stone attached onto it, but Lydia turned her eyes away.
“No thank you. It could never be the real thing.”
“Don’t say that and just accept it.”
Kelpie tried to force it onto one of Lydia’s fingers.
“I told you I don’t want it!”
“Stop it, young man…..”
Kelpie started to struggle with Paul who stood to guard Lydia.
“I said don’t get me my way, you little,”
“Can’t you see she doesn’t want whatever it is.”
“Shut up! ….ah.”
Just as Kelpie uttered in surprise, he completely stopped.
Huh? Said Paul and lifted up his hand in shock to see that he was wearing the ring.
“Hey, what are you doing, I don’t have any interest in you! Give it back!”
“….It’s not coming off.”
“Whaat? Then I’ll bite off your finger.”
“Stop it already!”
Lydia desperately tried to push Kelpie back.
But things were already out of her control. The guests who noticed the commotion they were making had already gathered to make a circle around the doorway to the balcony.
“What is all this commotion?”
It was Edgar. He walked over to Lydia and looked over to Kelpie who was grabbing ahold of Paul by the neck of his shirt.
“Would you mind letting go of my precious guest.”
Paul whimpered “My lord” but he was tossed aside by Kelpie who stood to face Edgar.
“So you’re the Blue Knight Earl.”
“Lydia, who is this?”
The way he asked Lydia instead since he had no intention of having a conversation with someone who wasn’t invited was just the derogatory attitude of a noble.
But, most likely, that didn’t communicate with Kelpie.
“I am the much feared, great ke…”
Lydia planted his elbow with all her force right into Kelpie’s stomach. While he was catching his breath, she spoke up in his place.
“K…., Kain is his name!”
If word spread out that he was the aquatic horse, kelpie in full view of everyone then there was sure to be absolute chaos.
“So, Mister Kain, do you have business with me?”
“Business? Oh, yes, I came here to take her back to Scotland. It’s an awful thing you’re doing by leaving her in this dump of a place called England.”
“Well, let’s see, there indeed is an overwhelming number of things here that you can pretty much throw away, but I’m sure back at your home, people must pick up and take anything that’s thrown out.”
Even at this, Kelpie realized that he was being ridiculed.
“Why you little…!”
His strongly built arm reached out to grab ahold of Edgar’s neck.
But Edgar remained as he was, without batting an eye and didn’t show any signs like he was going to evade his assault. The one who stopped Kelpie’s arm was Raven.
He was a slender and Asian man with a baby face, but he silently glared at Kelpie with his penetrating eyes that resembled a raptor bird. He pushed back the savage aquatic horse’s power with his own power.
“Hah, as you would expect from the Blue Knight Earl. You’re keeping such an tremendous thing as your servant.”
She wondered if the blood-thirsty sprite inside Raven was able to be seen by Kelpie.
He narrowed his black pearl eyes and stepped back.
“I’m at a disadvantage on land. Lydia, see you later.”
With that Kelpie twisted his limber body around and jumped down towards the ground from the balcony.
While everyone in the crowd let out gasps and screams of surprise, he jumped into the water of the fountain.
Everyone thought that his body sank down into the supposedly shallow
pool of water but then he immediately rose up again in the form of a ebony black horse and sprayed about a shower of water droplets like the rain as he reared back and neighed, then disappeared under the water surface.
The guests of the ball were aghast and dead quiet at seeing such a shocking sight.
What’ll we do now, thought Lydia as she was looking down from the hand railing of the balcony and couldn’t bring her head up from fear.
She remained frozen but felt Edgar beside take a deep breath.
“It’s all right, just keep smiling,” he said then turned to face everyone.
“Ladies and gentlemen, I apologize for the commotion. It looks like we have fairies mingling among our family ball. If you spot horns or wings on your dance partner, please be careful so that you are not taken away to their world.”
Once he gave them a smile, a stir swept through the anxious crowd as they erupted into an applause.
Lydia heard the guests remarking what a wonderful performance that was.
I wonder what kind of contrivance they used?
Was that black-haired man from the circus?
Or maybe he was a magician?
But the earl is lord of the fairyland, it could have actually been a real fairy.
As they whispered amongst each other, they returned into the hall again as they were lead into by the sound of the music, making the ball flow on again like nothing ever happened.
“Paul, are you injured?”
Worried by Edgar, Paul finally came to his senses and stood up straight. He fixed his necktie that was ruffled because Kelpie had grabbed it and messed it up and shook his head.
“No, I’m fine.”
“I’m sorry you had to go through such an unpleasant experience.”
And then he turned to Lydia.
Edgar already seemed like he was also unaffected by what just happened as he held out his hand to her.
“As we promised.”
They passed in front of Paul who looked like didn’t understand the extent of what happened and wanted to ask questions and as she heard Nico whisper to her “Good luck,” Lydia walked out into the hall.
It seemed a polka song had just ended and when Edgar led Lydia onto the floor, people’s eyes all gathered onto the girl who wore the same rose flower and she didn’t have to look around herself to check that.
“Next is a waltz.”
To try a waltz so suddenly, this was going to be quite an obstacle.
“Edgar, it might be better if we didn’t….”
“You can dance with Paul, but not with me?”
Looks like he noticed.
“It’s not like that. I’m just saying that I might embarrass you. You went through the trouble and calm down the situation back then, but because of me again….”
His ash mauve eyes gazed at Lydia as he peered down at her. He looked angry like he couldn’t believe what she was saying.
“There is no way that you would embarrass me.”
Their hands overlapped and his hand wrapped around her waist, which was to wait for the first sound of the waltz. But, compared to the other couples, Lydia became worried if they might be standing too close to each other.
When she tried to lean back, he didn’t relax the power in his arm.
“…If you’re too close, I’ll step on your foot.”
“I might bang into you and knock you over.”
“I’ll catch you so we’ll be all right.”
“Didn’t you hear from Raven that my dance was like a weapon or torture?”
“I heard you were soft and smelled good.”
“I’m wishing that you would run into me too.”
“……Raven wouldn’t say something like that.”
“Uh-hum, it’s just my imagination. You smell like freesias tonight.”
He would chuckle like usual at Lydia who turned red, but right now his gaze seemed more seductive than usual.
Their hands that were held and their bodies that were pressed together wasn’t for the sake of dancing but more like a harbinger for them to spend a sweet time together which was still difficult for Lydia to imagine.
For a moment, the hall went silent, and then a violin’s one phrase ringed throughout the air.
Like a sign, Edgar pulled Lydia’s body against him and glided into the first step.
They carried on like they were leaning up against the melody of the violin and Lydia was surprised herself that her body was moving naturally.
It was because Edgar cleverly led Lydia.
It was the sensation like both of their breathing matched. It was as if she tightly tied to the music and him, like they had become one.
“You’re doing great.”
“…….This isn’t usual. It’s because you’re a good lead.”
He put his strength in holding his arm around her back as they twirled around in a circle. She felt they were doing splendid and glorious as the hemline of her skirt was carried up as it swung through the air and she was surprised at herself for being able to make it appear like she was smoothly stepping through all the dance steps.
“Lydia, just like this, we’re able to beautifully make up for one another anytime. Don’t you think so?” he whispered at a close distance where his lips nearly brushed against her ear.
Lydia was able to closely view his golden hair up close and that unwillingly raised her heartbeat.
But this wasn’t the result of her practice but Edgar’s technique. Whoever was his partner, he was able to make the two of them appear like they were dancing perfectly.
He knew that the people around them and the young girl in front of him wouldn’t be able to take their eyes off of him like that.
“What are you planning now?”
Because half the reason he spoke such meltingly sweet words was to successfully manipulate Lydia. She learned that by now.
The other half was just simply his character.
That should have been the truth, yet he went quiet with a look like he was disappointed.
He pulled her body tight against his. Because they went around in repeatedly large circles, Lydia nearly went dizzy.
He was leading her more roughly than how he was just earlier. She was just barely able to keep up with him and just when she thought her legs would give out and get tangled, Edgar abruptly stopped their dance.
Before she knew it, they had entered and were standing in the back of the greenhouse that was connected with the great hall.
They could hear the music but the humidity and noise of the crowd from the hall must have been blocked by the thick plants making the area around them be filled with silence. The air in the room felt slightly arid and cooler.
Unlike the room where the chandelier brightly lit-up everything, the lamps in the hallway that were placed with some space between them and the moon-light that shown through the transparent glass ceiling was able to relax her a bit.
“Let’s take a little rest.”
She was breathing hard, like she was been running in a race. Lydia calmed herself by sucking in a gulp of air which carried the aroma of a southern tropical country.
Edgar led her to sit down on a bench and remained standing as he stared down at her. She was a little worried about the chest area of her dress style that she wasn’t used to wearing.
“That dress, it looks beautiful on you. You look like a chiffon cake.”
“Is that a compliment?”
“Yes, you look delicious.”
While she was thinking up how she should retort to his usual foolish behavior, Edgar combed up Lydia’s reddish-brown hair that he described to be a caramel color and planted a kiss on it.
“Since the moon is watching, I’ll have to bear with just some caramel.”
His ash mauve colored eyes appeared like they glowed with a passionate red, but that must have been the large ruby that pinned his necktie.
And yet, she thought that they were showing the color of his heart and that made her more dizzy.
“You’re beautiful, Lydia.”
Lydia breathed in and out deeply to try to keep herself calm.
“……How many have you told that tonight.”
I thought so
“But you are the most beautiful. This, I haven’t said to anyone.”
When she let that pass in a tone like she didn’t believe him, Edgar shrugged his shoulders a little and leaned up against a tree.
“That wavy black-haired man just then, was he really a fairy?”
“Yes, he was.”
“He said that he came to take you back.”
Lydia felt awkward and kept her mouth shut.
Edgar had a keen eye so he must have realized.
“So, he’s the one who proposed to you.”
She didn’t imagine that Kelpie would come all the way here, so she regretted that she shouldn’t have talked about that.
If Edgar got involved in the mess between Kelpie, then things might turn out even more complicated.
“Like I said, it wasn’t a proposal, but more like a feeling that he wants to have me stay by his side.”
“Are you saying that he isn’t in love with you?”
“Yes, that’s right.”
“But as for me, I’m not calm about this.”
“It isn’t like you are even in love with me.”
“Why do you think that?”
“Because, I just think so.”
Edgar unusually looked seriously thoughtful.
“Mister. Kain, was his name? He was as handsome-looking as a Greek sculpture. Well, we can say he’s evenly matched with me.”
So he isn’t going to lower the level of his looks.
“I might lose in strength. But he doesn’t have intelligence, grace, a fortune or title. Most women would be smart and choose me. But you are not those type of women.”
“……This is stupid.”
“Yes, this is stupid. But isn’t love to compare things that would at once seem stupid and think about winning or losing.”
Though startled at what he said, Lydia tried to look for words to deny that.
“You’re wrong, you just always want to be the center of everyone’s attention.”
“That’s not my only worry. Paul seems to be just the type that you would fancy. Normal looks, normal impression, normal presence. The only positive thing about him is his good-natured personality. He doesn’t seem strong in making his way through the world and not that popular with young women, and even if he may be clumsy at times, he lives true to his heart and on top of that, he follows his dream of becoming a painter.
A man with a dream, ahh, for some reason, women are weak against those types of men. Even if they were pore and worked hard, they would support each other and live a modest life and it is your ideal to be able to grant his wish, isn’t it?”
“Don’t decide for me. Besides, you’re out of line by saying shameless things about another person.”
“But, you know, Lydia, an artist may appear pure and innocent but a lot of them are narrow-minded and unreasonable. You’ll be put through pain and toil.”
“I just met him, and it isn’t like that with us. And, Edgar, I don’t think falling in love is about meeting the right conditions.”
“I know, falling in love isn’t logical. That’s why, right now, I’m terribly uneasy. All my time tonight, ever since I saw you having a good time with Paul, I had feeling uneasy and can’t remain calm. After the fairy appeared, I’ve been stirred up even further. This insecure feeling, wouldn’t you say it’s love.”
When Lydia didn’t respond, Edgar was heated up even further.
“It can’t be helped that you are not able to believe in what I say. It might be that you are unable to let your guard down to a former criminal thief, but since love is logical, there’s hope for me. Even if you think I’m being brash, wouldn’t I have the right to tell you my feelings?”
She didn’t know what part of his words that came pouring out of his mouth so smoothly.
All in all, it only looked like Edgar was enjoying a game of his to Lydia’s eyes.
Most likely, a game that harbored no ill intent.
The fashionable style among the nobles is said to be to enjoy the strategy and skills in dealing with the love between someone married that wouldn’t lead to either of them becoming serious.
For him to court and flirt with Lydia who he knew would definitely back away reminded her of that style.
It was pleasant to feel that someone liked you and if both of the people in that relationship were able to feel like they got closely acquainted with another, then there was no trouble.
Lydia was unmarried but knew a little about Edgar’s past, so he would think that she wouldn’t seriously build serious feelings towards him.
That was fine in itself. If he would periodically flannel her, then even Lydia wouldn’t think bad of it and she would be able to do her job with a good heart for the sake of the earl family. She would also be able to feel closely acquainted with Edgar.
But, courtship that went over the lines was troublesome for her.
For Lydia, who wasn’t a lady from noble birth, this was out of her capacity to handle. It was only going to confuse her.
“Let’s stop this already. I don’t have any intentions of playing a love game with you.”
He frowned by knitting his brows which made him look like her words had burned him, but that may be just another one of his routine maneuvers in his game.
“In any case, I want you to stop! With those pretended words of yours.”
She bowed her head down and was surprised at herself for saying it in such a harsh tone.
I’m so stupid for taking this so seriously. Even though she thought on one side, she was seriously become scared at being whispered this words about love and what else.
She remembered the first time when she was young and received a letter that was close to a confession in saying that the writer had feelings for Lydia. It said that the person who sent it wanted her to come to the person’s birthday party.
It was in her neighborhood and a house where the family was well-acquainted with her parents and had invited them to tea before. She had played with the child of that house and the two of them enjoyed playing normally together. He had opened up to her and told her his worry but when he was with his other friends, he didn’t talk to Lydia. Most likely, he didn’t want to be poked fun by his friends for being friendly with the town’s oddball.
Since they were in that sort of vague relationship, she was hesitant to believe in the message that was written in the letter. She mulled over what she should do, but in the end, left to go to the party. However, he didn’t even once talk to Lydia in a place where many of his friends had gathered.
It was any other day it was normal, but at that time, Lydia was a little upset and wondered why he didn’t look over to her direction.
That’s why she went over to him and spoke up to him, but he only gave her a troubled, angry look.
“That was a lie.”
She was told that he lost to a game with his friends and was made to write that lie of a letter; I thought so, was all she felt and she didn’t have any memory of feeling that hurt.
Only, she regretted that she should of just went back home without speaking to him since she felt something was odd.
Most likely, if she was just invited to the party, then she would have done so. But, because of the letter that read like it was some sort of love confession and although she didn’t believe in it that much, she was surprised and disgusted with herself for mistaking the distance between them.
But, remembering that now, she wondered why she felt a sudden fear arise in her.
“I apologize if I upset you. But,”
She was brought back to reality by Edgar’s voice, but she kept her head down and he saw something wet drop onto her hand that she had placed on her lap.
Huh? What am I crying for…..
“Lydia, is something wrong?”
Unable to figure what she was thinking, Lydia rushed to stand up.
“It’s nothing! I-I feel quite thirsty so I’ll go get something to drink!”
I wonder if he saw me. Oh, please, be that he didn’t see.
Lydia prayed as she scrambled into the lounge where her father was.