Lydia and Edgar walked together to the back of the manor’s kitchen through the servants’ special private stairwell.
Within the dimly-lit corridor, there was a pile of unwanted furniture and tools in a small room not too far away. Next to that messy pile of debris, one could see a row of irregularly-arranged doors.
In the corner of the servants’ private rooms, it was confirmed that Raven had disappeared into one of those rooms. Feeling as though his premonition came true, Edgar let out a sigh.
“That was Ermine's room.”
At this time, the servants were busy, so there were no other people around.
Raven should have known that Ermine was not here. In that case, although they were siblings, why did he want to go inside her room, knowing that she wasn't there?
Edgar approached the door of the room which Raven had entered.
In this case, he did not listen in on the room but suddenly opened the door. For if he was to try to spy, Raven would have noticed anyway.
Standing by the small desk in the room, Raven quickly whipped his head around to the door. Lydia couldn't tell from his poker face whether his heart wavered or not.
Even so, he stayed in that position, as motionless as a statue.
“Raven, did you forget to tell me something a moment ago?”
Edgar said in a dignified manner as he walked in front of him.
Raven did not move. Was he reluctant to answer this question?
Suddenly, Edgar swiftly reached out his hand to tightly grab his arm.
It seemed so thin, as if it was a child's arm that could instantly break just from bending it, yet it was one that could break a person's neck in a heartbeat, but it was lifted by Edgar quite effortlessly.
“This isn't something you can solve on your own. I have already investigated much of this.”
It was as though Raven felt saved by hearing those words, all the tension had left his body, and his head drooped.
“..... My apologies.”
Raven handed the small wooden box he had been holding to Edgar.
Edgar, who accepted it, opened the lid and saw the dark-green stone that rested inside.
Although the color was dark and somewhat transparent, there were something like random scratch marks on the surface of it. All in all, it appeared as if it was a worthless piece of broken glass.
“When did you find it in this room?”
“Three days ago.”
“Was that the day of Mr. Kent’s death?”
“At around midnight, the windows of this room were still open. Because the lights were not on, I was a little concerned and I went to look inside. I found my sister in this room, in utter darkness, looking at the contents of this box worriedly.”
Ermine was snapped out of her reverie by Raven, who had approached her while holding a lamp. Panicked, she quickly closed the box before shoving it into the desk drawer, as though fearing that Raven had seen her gazing at it.
Raven only saw something like a green jade in the box and assumed that it was a decoration. It seemed that other men would often give Ermine such things.
Regardless, whether it was a gift she received, or if it was something she was forced to accept, it must be difficult for her to speak to Raven about such things. So, it was normal for her to choose to hide them from him.
However, after hearing the words of the police officer, he came into the room to confirm, just in case.
Lydia took the stone that Edgar handed over to her.
It was just as the police officer described. The scratches on the surface the stone looked like they were caused by a knife.
Once the scratches was revealed in the air within the light's radiance, the stone revealed a deep, dark green color, just like the bottom of a lake.
Looking a little closer, Lydia noticed that the scratches formed symbols on the surface of the stone. Exactly as the police officer said, there were certain marks on it.
This symbol consists of straight lines. I feel like I have seen this before, Lydia thought.
“Lord Edgar, Ermine also serves under Prince, is that right?”
“Raven, this matter is for me to judge. You only need to behave the same as before.”
“However, when Ermine had returned as a selkie, I requested for her to be in your care. I guaranteed to supervise her properly.”
Raven knelt down on one knee.
“This is my responsibility. Lord Edgar, please allow me to settle this matter.”
“That is not your job.”
“No, at the time, I give you my word. If my elder sister betrays you again, I will kill her myself.”
Lydia could only look anxiously at them. But, suddenly, she felt someone's presence behind her. Just as she was about to turn her head to look back, her arm was firmly caught.
Calm, brown eyes stared down at her. Although, as usual, there was no hostility in her expression. However, her firm grip on Lydia’s arm was actually very strong.
After retrieving the green stone from Lydia’s hands, she slightly relaxed her grip but didn’t let go, as she watched Edgar and Raven.
“Lord Edgar, this was not Raven's responsibility. It was all my fault.”
“You are not going to justify it?”
“It's almost time, anyway.”
“Last time, in the small town of Wallcave where the dragon resided... Was it you who stole the red fluorite Freya?”
“Ah, so I was found out?”
“Was it for Prince? What does he intend to do with it?”
He asked as he walked near Ermine.
“Someday, you'll know.”
From that response, Edgar didn’t believe he would receive an answer. He then approached Ermine, who still had Lydia in a strong grip, and whispered:
“Let go of Lydia.”
“Although I wish to do that, right now, I need to protect myself.”
Ermine pressed a knife against Lydia’s back. Seeing that, Raven released his sharp killing intent, and slowly reached for his weapon hidden on his waist.
“Your selkie’s coat is in my hands. Even if you run away to Prince, I own your life.”
“It doesn't matter. For me, as long as there is time for me to escape with the stone, that is enough.”
“Then, go. As long as you don’t hurt Lydia.”
In fact, Ermine didn’t wish to hurt Lydia.
However, she still stood her ground, and her penknife remained pressed against Lydia’s back.
At this point, Raven suddenly acted. As it looked like he was going to pounce towards Lydia, Edgar pushed her away from Ermine, and Lydia fell to the floor.
Meanwhile, Edgar quickly pulled Ermine down, and Raven’s dagger stabbed the air, missing its target.
Despite that, with lightning speed, Raven launched another attack towards Ermine again.
However, taking advantage of the little gap between them, Ermine jumped out the window.
As he was about to rush out the window to catch up, Raven was stopped by Edgar.
“Don’t chase her. I’ve let her go.”
“Letting her go will only benefit Prince.”
“This is an order, Raven.”
Hearing those words, Raven lost his will to fight and relaxed his shoulders.
“Lydia, are you alright?”
When she was about to reach for Edgar’s outstretched hand, Lydia stopped.
They agreed beforehand that they wouldn’t touch. Although this was a small thing, it may give Edgar an opening to breach the agreement in the future.
Therefore, she stood up on her own. Seeing that, Edgar became disheartened and shrugged his shoulders.
“I’m sorry. I was trying to get you away from Ermine’s knife, but I did it too roughly.”
Lydia, while fixing her skirt, thought: Edgar also intended to protect Ermine.
Before Raven became murderous, Edgar protected her in order to let her go.
Even if she betrayed him, he would still protect her.
“Lord Edgar, my top priority is to protect my master from danger. Therefore, I do not understand.”
She was Raven’s only family member. Because of this, he was able to trust her again after her betrayal. However, she had betrayed them yet again. Therefore, though it was rare, Raven obstinately stood his ground. Even so, Edgar was also quite persistent.
“Only I can kill her. That was what she intended. After all, she had chosen to betray me, who still held her selkie coat, which is equivalent to her life.
Certainly, in Edgar’s heart, Ermine was better than anyone else.....
Lydia quietly left the room.
Arriving at her own study room, she became wholly absorbed in her thoughts of the symbols that were carved into the stone that she saw a while ago. She began writing them down, working hard to erase the unwanted thoughts that plagued her mind.
It was a recurring dream that used to haunt Edgar.
He had clearly escaped from Prince; but when he opened his eyes, he was yet again trapped in the prison-like building in his dream.
It was a luxurious room, no different from the mansion he, the son of a Duke, used to live in. He was surrounded by heavy oak furniture, but behind the silk curtains, all the windows had iron bars embedded into them.
Looking out the window, he could see nothing but towering stone walls.
Sounds akin to wailing and moaning, that came from somewhere within the building, would always be heard.
Prince himself only appeared at night. He knew that in dim lighting, it made him appear more intimidating, creating more fear among other people.
Just like this, Prince used all kinds of means to torture Edgar’s mind.
One of the worst tactics was to give him a small sliver of hope, before utterly crushing it.
Cats that had sneaked in from the gaps between the iron bars of his window, would lose their head in three days.
There was one time when one of the servants, who had been the first to serve Edgar, had merely spoke with him a few times. However, it was a violation of his orders, so his tongue was ordered to be cut off.
Almost all of the people around Edgar were those who were loyal to Prince alone. Sometimes, ordinary people were mixed in, but Prince must have done that intentionally to aggravate Edgar.
Because of this, no one wanted to approach him again.
Ermine was similarly treated by Prince. During her time as a slave, whenever she found a true companion, she was dealt with a serious blow.
The feelings that had grown between them was dirtied in the end; but, the bond that had been built between them in their thirst for freedom had never changed.
Perhaps she was trying to save her brother. Because even while she still couldn’t forget those mortifying experiences, she still chose to stay close to Edgar. He didn’t want to let her feel regret for her choice.
With this in mind, Edgar had carefully drawn up a thorough, discrete plan to escape.
It didn’t matter that he used Prince’s tactics, for it was a tool to allow him to gather comrades in secret.
That was how he was able to return to England, obtaining the title of a noble and a stable life.
And yet, he continued to have this dream.
To resist and reject these feelings of sorrow and emptiness... These were all thoroughly educated in the minds of the victims by themselves.
If there was nothing left to live for, they wouldn't have any expectations, and they wouldn't have to feel pain ever again. The struggle to live was day-by-day, but as long as they could breathe, that was enough.
'If one day, this world is left with only despair, you'll be unexpectedly happy.'
Prince, who appeared in the dim light, told him so.
'To take everything away from you and give you sweet, sweet despair…'
“What’s wrong, Earl, you look unhappy.”
Across the balcony of the atrium, he found a pessimistic gray-haired cat lying casually on the wicker chair, basking in the sunlight.
This guest was not welcomed. Edgar approached the chair, and picking Nico up, he threw him aside.
“Hey, what are you doing!”
“This is my seat.”
Edgar then sat in the chair and opened a letter he had just received.
“ ‘With regards to the figure in the investigation, there is nothing to report yet’?”
Hiring detectives was nothing but a waste. While he requested a report every two days regarding Prince’s immigration or his location in England, there were no news whatsoever.
He sighed and threw the letter away.
As he talked endlessly, the letter fell near Edgar’s foot, in front of Nico’s face.
Then, Edgar stepped on him. Immediately, Nico struggled to break loose and in turn, kicked Edgar’s foot in anger.
At that moment, Edgar suddenly reached out and grabbed Nico again.
“Hey, I was just joking. I didn’t kick you, I just carelessly ran into you. Hey, don’t be angry.”
He panicked, as Edgar’s nose moved closer to his face, which only made Nico more anxious.
“Earl, you're insane. I’m not Lydia! I’m not a girl!”
“How can I possibly mistaken this long-haired thing for Lydia? However, you and Lydia do have the same scent.”
That scent of Chamomile, was it because he was always beside Lydia? It was so enviable to Edgar that it became irritating.
Then, Edgar made a knowing smile. In a panic of being caught, Nico was stiff when Edgar firmly clung to him.
“Meow – stop!”
“Lydia said that during her period of staying here, I mustn’t touch her.”
“So, don't use me as her replacement-!”
“Her study room is always locked, and she's always busy.”
“She hates you!”
“I don’t think so. But then, she didn’t accept the proposal either. Why is that?”
“Because you're a big cheater!”
“However, right now, Lydia’s my only ray of light.”
Ever since he'd met Lydia, he had never dreamt of his past.
When he was around her, he felt hopeful. Therefore, he made the resolve that he cannot lose her no matter what, that he must protect her.
He ended his relationships with the other women and was no longer lost.
Even so, he felt restless again.
To dream of the past again...
It’s probably my own fear, he thought.
If Edgar had an irreplaceable treasure, his weakness would be tightly grasped by Prince.
“You calling out another woman’s name during a critical time is really not convincing!” Nico continued.
Lost in his thoughts, as Edgar was thinking, he relaxed his hand, in which Nico quickly and skillfully took the chance to escape.
Standing in a place out of reach, Nico angrily raised his fist on his side and hurriedly fixed his crooked bow tie.
“Is Lydia still worried about that?”
“Well, of course!”
Edgar could only sigh. Because he had no memory of it, there was no excuse for it.
Though he could guess what had happened.
However, at the time, he very much wanted Lydia. Also, in front of other women before, he certainly had called out Lydia’s name instead.
I want to hold her, feel her warmth.
He then tried to think back again. If he took into account of other things, the only possibility was......
Even if he could express it in words, he didn’t want to say it.
He couldn’t control his feelings and pursued Lydia. But at the time, struggling to face with Ermine’s wrongdoings, Edgar was probably feeling guilt in having to fight against her.
“Lord Edgar, is it convenient to speak with you now?”
With an honest face, a butler walked into the balcony. After he noticed him, Edgar recovered his usual face.
“What's the matter, Tomkins?”
“Sometimes, women can behave very unreasonably.”
“…… Well, so?”
“That is why, at a time like this, you must remain tolerant. That is precisely the caliber which makes a gentleman.”
“Then, what do you wish to say?”
As if he had made a difficult decision, Tomkins sighed before saying:
“Miss Lydia is gone.”
Edgar slammed the table with his palms as he stood up.
Lydia, who had returned home alone, went to her bookshelf and retrieved her mother’s notebook, swiftly flipping through the pages.
As she had remembered seeing some clues regarding the symbols written in the notebook at home, she hurriedly went back to retrieve it.
She didn’t tell anyone because if she did, someone would have to accompany her. In the worst case, that person would’ve been Edgar.
Since she had intended to return immediately, she hadn't wanted anyone to come with her.
There was also another thing that she wanted to do on her own.
She took the notebook and left the house. After that, she took a carriage at the end on the street and headed to the shores of the Thames River.
She got off when they had reached Westminster Bridge. As she walked down the path beside the rustling willows that ran along the river bank, she removed a small pendant from her collar.
It was the aquamarine stone her mother left for her, and also a symbol of mutual friendship between the generations of her family and the selkies.
Although Lydia didn’t fully understand the power within this stone called the selkie’s heart, it should be able to give her the power to call upon the selkies.
Reborn as a Selkie, Ermine’s selkie spirit was still unconscious. Even so, as long as it’s a fairy, the magic that is invisible to the eyes could still be sensed.
“Ermine, I need to speak with you. Please respond to the selkie’s heart, the holder of friendship.”
The selkie’s home, the sea, was linked to the river. The breeze that blew into central London should be able to convey Lydia’s voice.
She stood there and decided to wait as long as it took.
Suddenly, she could smell the faint scent of fresh water. It didn't come from from the muddy, polluted river; it was a pure scent of the cold, northern sea breeze.
Meanwhile, Lydia found that, on the other side of the tree branches, something flickered. She then stopped at the sight of a figure.
Lydia wanted to run up in front of her, but Ermine stopped her. Her shoulder-length hair fluttered in the wind. And, as if refusing, she shook her head.
“You should not get close to a traitor.”
“You would not hurt me.”
“Being too trusting is very dangerous. However, be that as it may, what is the reason you called for me?”
Certainly not to gossip.
Ermine was about to leave, so then Lydia wasted no time to ask her:
“Why did you want to betray Edgar? He is important to you, isn’t he?”
Ermine did not answer.
“Is there a reason why you’re forced to not answer?”
“I do not wish to say anything. If there isn't anything else, I shall take my leave.”
“Wait! Edgar values you as most important. After the battle with Prince, both of you will be able to forget the past and live happily together. It's true you are a fairy now, but there have been selkies that have married humans......”
“Lord Edgar’s marriage proposal is to you.”
“I do not understand Edgar at all, but if I’m a hindrance to you, I’m truly very sorry.”
“Are you saying, that for my sake, you refused his proposal? However, that is your own problem.”
She saw right through Lydia, who felt extremely shameful.
However, Edgar may have only cared for Ermine. After such a thought, Lydia was afraid of being attracted to Edgar herself.
But if she were to allow herself to accept that, and if Ermine and Edgar were unable to become happy, then that would have been much sadder. He had considered Lydia as his fiancée, and Lydia had eventually stopped rejecting that idea.
She didn’t know what to do, so that was why she planned to go to Ermine to confirm her feelings. If those two truly loved each other then, as long as she could clear up this matter, Lydia thought she could continue rejecting Edgar, just as she had before.
“Miss Lydia, Lord Edgar is the son of the Duke. Starting from a young age, there were many people who taught him how to choose a suitable partner. Isn't it impossible for him to fall in love with a woman of a lower class?”
Ermine’s tone became gentler than before, perhaps it was because she felt that Lydia looked very pitiful at the moment.
“But... but, for me... He must have had relationships with all kinds of women, right?”
“The exchanges between nobles are free, but marriage is another matter. I know excellent noblemen who have expressed affection for good-willed women in the lower class. However, that was only the love of a master towards his subjects - nothing more, nothing less.”
So she's saying that Edgar’s feelings towards Ermine was also that kind of love?
Is it really only feelings of affection between a master and a servant?
Lydia believed that class couldn’t limit a person's true feelings. In fact, even though Ermine was aware of their different statuses, she still continued to love Edgar.
“You are very beautiful. Edgar isn't someone who would maintain a long-term friendship with a woman. Therefore, he treats you in a very special way. He may have suppressed his feelings, but I don’t think he’s not in love with you.”
Ermine narrowed her eyes, as if she was looking out at a distance.
“Even if such things had happened in the past, there is nothing now. Although I have always been thinking of him, I have come to an understanding now. I should be grateful to him for keeping his distance from me. By being together, we will ruin each other. Even though I knew it would be like that, I couldn’t do anything against it, and he refused to accept me.”
“But, Edgar, only for you...”
“It is not like that.”
Her strong resolution left Lydia puzzled.
“In the end, when the one who needed protection was me, Lord Edgar had always remained calm. If that was true love for me, then I would have understood, because those feelings are something that you cannot suppress, no matter what.”
Lydia had never seriously fallen in love before, be it for Edgar or for anyone else, so she couldn't truly understand Ermine's feelings.
“So why did you leave Edgar? Was it because if you were together, you will destroy each other? I don't understand such a thing. You should also be able to save each other, right?”
She probably thought that Lydia was being a meddlesome girl at this point. Or, she might be feeling irritated, having to be interrogated by Lydia, who held Edgar's heart.
“My apologies. What I have said has troubled you. However, even I understand the one whom Lord Edgar hopes to stay by his side the most, is you."
Lydia, who was gazing at Ermine, suddenly dropped her gaze to look at her hands.
She felt the wind blow the sea breeze against them again. Ermine’s soul was connected to the motions of the sea, and feeling the sea breathing into her body, she must have realized that she wasn’t human anymore, but a selkie.
“By Prince’s order, I was assigned to be Edgar’s lover. Edgar understood everything, and yet he didn’t touch me. Instead, he treated me as an ordinary girl. After Prince learned of that, he violated me in front of Lord Edgar.”
Her tone was blank, and initially, Lydia didn’t understand. As Lydia was deep in her thoughts, Ermine flatly continued.
“Even though I couldn’t endure being around Lord Edgar, I couldn’t suppress my feelings for him. I wanted to be held by him. But if he did that, perhaps I would have recalled my memories of suffering and humiliation brought by Prince, and I would have came to hate the ones I cherished the most. Lord Edgar felt that, in practice, he was similar to Prince based on how I behaved around him. Therefore, he didn't touch me. Though, I do understand now. Until the moment when I lost my life as a human, I still hoped to continue having these feelings toward him.”
Shivering, it finally dawned on Lydia what Ermine was saying. However, Ermine kept an unexpectedly calm expression.
“Now that I am no longer human, all these emotions are gradually fading. When I found out Lord Edgar had grown attracted to you, I was neither surprised nor jealous. I suppose you could say, at that point, I was no longer human.”
“...... Even so, do you really have to go?”
The peaceful life of being Edgar's entourage, is it that painful?
“Even as a selkie, these feelings won’t disappear..... Therefore, we will never meet again.”
Then, what are her true feelings? Does she really intend to be Edgar’s enemy?
Ermine, who didn’t intend to continue with the conversation, slowly turned her back to Lydia.
Still shaken, Lydia noticed her cheeks were wet. She wiped away her tears with her hands.
To hear about such cruel matters, Lydia was starting to feel afraid. For Lydia, it was frightening to try and imagine all the hardships Edgar had been faced with, and there were still a lot of things that Lydia found difficult to imagine.
His life and Ermine's, she could never understand it all. When she thought those words, she could only feel pained and lonely.
As if she suddenly remembered, Ermine stated:
“Miss Lydia, if you still have a bond with the selkies, I have a favor to ask. Please do not let Raven touch the diopside.”
That was the stone that was still in Ermine’s hands. However, she was still worried about it being touched.
“I had accidentally obtained one stone of the Diopside. Thankfully, Raven didn’t touch it. However, there will be other similar stones and, if Raven were to touch them, his sprite’s power would strengthen and it may cause him to no longer obey Lord Edgar. So, please be careful.”
As she hurriedly said those words, she then blended into the trees and disappeared to the banks of the river.
As she returned to the Earl’s manor, Tomkins immediately appeared and took her to the room Edgar was in.
“You’ve come back, Lydia.”
Edgar said, as he sat in his armchair in front of his desk, smiling. However, it was clear that he was not happy.
Lydia stiffly stood in the doorway, glancing nervously at the butler, who secretly urged her to get in the room. As she did so, she recalled the seemingly 'useful' advice he had given her earlier on.
“Well, Miss Lydia, to appeal to the earl is actually quite simple. As soon as you walk up to him, apologize in an adorable way while grasping his hand with both of your own.”
That sort of thing… she simply could not do it.
“For the sake of the future, remember there is no harm to it.”
Even if she thought of it in that way, she could not do it.
Because of that, she was not able to stand up straight as she discreetly entered the room. It was difficult for her to act accordingly to Tomkins’ advice. She looked downwards and said:
“...... I went home for my notebook. I thought it was fine, because I planned to return immediately.”
“Well, I'm glad you're alright.”
“Oh, and I understand the symbols engraved on the diopside now. It is an ancient Nordic word. You see, my mother had summarized notes with the same symbols.”
Lydia opened the notebook to let him see for himself.
Even if I cannot hold his hand, I could try to persuade him.
Looking at this, he shouldn’t be angry anymore, Lydia thought and smiled.
Edgar stood up with a light sigh.
Pulling away the chair near the table, he urged Lydia to sit down. Then, he bent down to face her.
“There, it's this one. You still remember it, right?”
Between two vertical lines, there was a symbol like an “x” mark.
“This is the letter m. These two are the ancient Nordic text for C and H.”
“MCH...... An abbreviation for what?”
“It’s probably only the consonant spelling. I believe it’s called Macha. In Irish mythology, she was the ancient goddess of war.”
After the loss of power, the spirits of numerous ancient gods slowly weakened and went to live in the underworld. It was that sort of tale.
Legend has it that there was a terrible, fearful force that fell upon the the gods. Therefore, there came a human hero who fought for the name of the gods in return. This significance could now only be heard within the tales of this story.
Despite the story's relation to fairy ancestry, compared to Lydia’s lack of frequent contact with fairies, it was the poets and writers who understood their names.
“So, within the ancient Nordic text, the names of the Irish goddesses were engraved on the stone? How did something like this end up in the hands of a small clan such as Ceylon?”
“Well, it certainly is strange.”
Perhaps, this was not very effective.. Lydia started to feel a little uneasy, as she lowered her head to secretly observe his reaction.
His ash-mauve eyes gazed toward her. The eyes of the two people met each other right at that moment.
“..... Lydia, this is important information. So, I am very grateful to you for investigating about it. However, though Tomkins advised me to wait another 30 minutes, I was worried sick. Are you also unable to believe in these words?”
Well, I still feel he’s exaggerating things a little, she thought.
“Does telling me about where your going, or bringing a guard with you when you go out, make you that uncomfortable?”
Sure enough, his mood did not change for the better.
“I'm just not used to being escorted by someone without knowing them.....”
“Do you feel constrained by me?”
Actually, she did. Because, without her permission, Edgar had said those words to her father, which had lead to her living there.
Edgar treated her as if she was his possession - a notion that she rejected very much.
I am not Ermine. I do not want to replace her.
Thankfully though, he had to comply with not touching her. Knowing him, he would have taken advantage of Lydia’s mistake in order get closer to her.
It was an obvious tactic to show Lydia some sincerity. In that way, she would feel a little guilty for her unladylike behavior.
“Ah, and there are two other war goddesses, just like Macha. They're sprites with the names of Nemed and Morrigan.”
Lydia continued with her explanation.
“With those two other goddesses, they were known as Anand, the triple war goddesses. Therefore, there should be two other similar stones of Diopside, with engravings of the names Nemed and Morrigan.”
“So, there are other stones with two of the goddesses’ names on them? Even though it is a possibility, do you have any evidence to prove it?”
“Yes, because that was what Ermine said. She said to absolutely not let Raven touch the other remaining Diopside stones.
“Ermine? Did you go see her?”
It was a slip of the tongue, but it was too late.
“You went to go see her? Ermine betrayed us, and yet you went. You should not have gone to speak with the enemy.”
“But, I knew that she was not going to hurt me. Moreover, she was worried about Raven. She said that if Raven touched the other pieces of Diopsides, his sprite would strengthen, and he would no longer be able to obey you. I believe that she was worried about this at the time the diopside was left here at the manor as well.”
Edgar, who stood up, held a displeased expression. He folded his arms and walked to his desk.
“Ah... maybe so, but you’re still too oblivious to the feeling of danger.”
Even from the beginning till now, he still scolded her.
Initially, she felt guilty for making him worry. But now, after some thought, she felt there was no need for that. Where she goes or what she does should all be her freedom of choice.
“Ah, yes. But since I have never seen Prince, no matter how terrible the things I’ve heard about him are, it doesn't feel real to me.”
“Your sense of reality is quite distorted, isn’t it?”
“I already told you beforehand that I’ll only listen to my father’s orders. And, even so, my father would not be as arrogant as you and will also respect my opinion. If you want an obedient woman, you should capture Ermine’s heart as soon as possible. Ah, but wait, you ignored her feelings, and went back and forth with many other women......”
“I did not ignore her feelings.”
Lydia, who was slightly out of breath, closed her mouth.
As expected, he cared for her the most, right?
Lydia didn’t know whether it was as Ermine said - that his love for her was only that of a master towards his loyal servant.
From Lydia’s distressed expression, Edgar spotted Tomkins in his line of sight and called for him.
“The maid who followed Lydia, has she reported to you?”
“Yes. However, this time, when she found that Miss Lydia was not in her room, she thought Miss Lydia went to another room and didn’t think too much of it.”
The maid couldn’t have known because Lydia deliberately wanted to hide the fact that she had snuck out secretly.
The one who was responsible for taking care of Lydia’s daily life during her stay, and the one who arranged the rooms, was a young maid. She was a very serious-looking girl who believed that thanks to Lydia being Edgar’s fiancee, Lydia was also a noble. Therefore, the maid didn’t speak to her.
For the maid, the lower class did not dare to speak to those of upper class.
“Next time this happens, remove her from this premise.”
“Ah, wait, wait. Edgar, this had nothing to do with the maid... Please don't dismiss her like that.”
“If you watch yourself, she will not lose her job.”
This was clearly in order to threaten Lydia. Lydia then clenched her fists and stood up.
“That’s a dirty trick. In order to tie me down, you have to hurt those around you? You're acting just like Prince!”
Because he learned the ways of Prince, he discarded his sense of justice and had to heartlessly and relentlessly fight. But, in truth, Lydia knew he would absolutely never become someone like Prince because he always protected his companions.
However, for Edgar who lost his companions, he couldn’t refute if he was told to be the same as the tyrant of a secret organization, Prince.
The Prince who, in order to punish Edgar, had ended up hurting Ermine.
At this point, Lydia realized that she herself was the despicable person.
She should not be saying such horrendous things.
It would be a relief if Edgar had not been hurt by her words.
“I have already said that in order to protect you, I will stop at nothing.”
He gave her a proud smile.
Then, Lydia’s anger was sparked again.
“For me? Do you think that by saying such words, I will honestly obey you? If you really get rid of the maid, I'd despise you!”
“How can you be so stubborn?”
“If you hate my stubbornness, why not just kick me out?”
“I like the you who never listens to what I say at all. Even though you always make things difficult for me, I just can't help but love you anyway!”
Even when he’s angry, he doesn’t forget to flirt around.
All of a sudden, Lydia was in no mood to argue.
Instead, she sighed and drooped her shoulders helplessly.
She had already told him everything she knew about the diopside. She was about to leave, seeing as there was no purpose in her remaining here, when he called out to her.
"What else do you want?" She asked, feeling slightly irritated.
“There was letter addressed to you from your home.”
She was about to reach out to retrieve the letter he was holding out when he drew his hand back.
“There is no signature on it. Can you open it here?”
Although she knew that it was because he was just being cautious, this made Lydia somewhat unhappy.
If she didn’t do as he said, he would not give her the letter.
After she nodded, he gave her the letter. To have to read and write a letter in front of someone was uncomfortable enough - having to be watched as she was doing it made it even worse.
“It was written by Lota.”
Lydia said as she read it.
She had traveled with her grandfather to the Netherlands. Since she was one of Lydia’s few human friends and Edgar's old friend, she was planning on returning to London soon, or so the letter basically said.
The letter was unrelated to Prince.
“Why? Was it really necessary for her to say this much? She must have written some malicious comments about me.”
She did, a little. However, as he unceasingly pressed her about it, Lydia got irritated.
“You really will be the most annoying type of husband!”
Determinedly saying these words, she dashed out of his study room and ran away.
“Become an annoying husband? What do you think, Raven?”
Raven, who walked into the study, had this question unexpectedly sprung upon him. He couldn’t help but be puzzled. He tilted his head and began to think.
“I am sure I will become like that. However, it was discovered before marriage, so what should I do?”
“Miss Lydia had said that?”
If one stood at the window overlooking the street, they could see members of the Scarlet Moon as they stood on guard around the mansion. Because Prince had killed someone close to them, their vengeance was surging high.
They were all fighting for themselves and their companions.
However, Lydia was different. She clearly had no reason to fight, but Edgar had gotten her involved.
Although, as a fairy doctor, she couldn’t allow the abuse from Prince's organization towards both fairies and humans to continue. It was simply because she had a pure sense of justice.
Despite that, Edgar wanted her to stay by his side. No matter what, he didn’t want to let her go. He was determined to protect her, no matter what happened.
However, because of their quarrel, Lydia had already deemed Edgar as an untrustworthy man.
Her sense of danger wasn’t as sharp as Edgar’s, nor could she strategize plans on the spot like Edgar. Because of this, he willfully felt he needed to chain Lydia down to himself in order to shield her.
“…… Or maybe not.”
While looking out the window, Edgar grunted.
“I have never failed to pursue a girl before. Perhaps Lydia would be the first.”
“... This is the first time I’ve heard you say those sort of weak words.” Raven muttered.
“I was already doing my best, from the very beginning.”
Lydia was also the first to be able to make him feel better with just her presence. And whenever she was beside him, he was able to dream of a better future.
Unknowingly, Lydia was becoming more and more important in his heart.
“Even if I cannot be with her in the end, I still have to protect Lydia.”
Looking back, Edgar could see the confusion in Raven’s eyes.
The faithful youth had always supported him.
Even if Ermine was gone, even if Lydia didn’t have a change of heart, as long as he had Raven, Edgar had the courage to continue fighting on.
“Even if in the end, Lydia wouldn’t wish to see me again, and even if I had to use those ruthless tricks she loathed, I will do whatever it takes to protect her future. She is a part of my obligation.”
Even if he lost to Prince in the end, he wanted to ensure her safety.
“That's so heartless. Raven, would you even follow me then?”
“Of course, Lord Edgar.”
He couldn't let Raven touch the Diopside. Remembering what Lydia said of Ermine’s warning, Edgar felt moved, but also a bit uneasy.
Then, Edgar announced that he was going out.
“Where are you going?”
“I want to know about Ceylon’s Diopside. Since the professor went to Cambridge, he’s busy right now. However, his protege student is still at the University of London, correct?”
“Do you mean Mr. Langley?”
“Ah yes, that's the name.”