Earl and Fairy
A kiss of oath before dawn Preview

Chapter 1 - Left behind on that faraway island

There was a mansion that sat on the cliff of an island surrounded by the sea.
A powerful gust of wind constantly pounded against the glass window outside. Thick layers of clouds covered the sky. Despite that it was summer, the ocean was dark, cold, and gray.
Lydia was sitting in her room looking distantly into the sea, as she subconsciously tightened the shawl around her neck.
“Goodness, it’s very windy.”
The door opened and her father entered the room. Although the wind was no longer coming inside, he firmly held onto his hat in his chest without minding his dishevelled hair.
“Welcome home, Father. It’s certainly not a good day for a walk, isn’t it?”
Lydia left the windowside and sat by the table.     
“The tea is ready. Would you like some?”
“Yeah sure.”
They were currently in an isolated house on the land of the Mckeel. Lydia had been residing at the village house for several weeks now for her medical treatment.
The magical sword she was impaled by the fairies of the Aurorae, the blade of Fir Chlis * had the power to aggravate the wound and reduce her health until it eventually took one’s life. The land of Mckeel was a place that contained a lot of ground power that could to neutralize the harmful magic of the blade. Lydia needed to stay on this land until the poison of the blade subsided. As long as she was here, she could recuperate and be liberated from the pain and fever.
As her father discovered the situation, he was able to stay beside Lydia as a resident of the McKeel and look after her. Because of that Lydia was settling down and getting used to her life.
“Your complexion is looking better today, Lydia. Are you also physically recovering?”
“That seems to be the case. I could sleep soundly at night, and I’ve also recovered my appetite.”
Trying to be as lively as possible, Lydia smiled lightly.
Although the poison in her body was alleviating, there was actually an emptiness inside her heart.
Edgar had abandoned her.
Although they were supposed to get married when they returned to London, Edgar left her on this island. She wanted to go back together but he did not approve of her request.
But she knew this would happen.
Lydia had to remain in this island for her treatment. If she leaves the island, she will die from weakening. On the other hand, Edgar was in a position to be pursued as an enemy of McKeel’s clan.
I want to be with him even if it was brief; Lydia hoped to stay beside Edgar a little longer, but he did not accept such an option.
“Let’s go home together,” he said. Lydia was aware that it was a lie he could utmost give. But only a little, was expecting otherwise.
No, I’m certain that it wasn’t a lie.
That was what he promised. He had to leave Lydia so that he could fulfill it.
Despite knowing this, promises can be ambiguous. Perhaps his feelings could change as the time passed.
This was why Lydia was filled with anxiety.
When she opened her eyes, Edgar was not there. She found herself in an unfamiliar mansion with Fergus of McKeel family. Although she had agreed to the proposal of staying here and recovering, she couldn’t help but feel betrayed by Edgar.
However, perhaps recovering would take longer if she was feeling down and depressed. She was diligent in her recovery with such thoughts in mind.
“Lydia, did you know that this Highland is rich in agate?”
As a mineralogist, her father talked happily, taking out small stones from the hat he held.
“You told me about it the other day. Didn’t you find some around the beach?”
“I picked these up today; Onyx and carnelian.”
He took out a few orange colored stones and darkly striped patterned stones and placed them on the table. Whenever her father talked about stones, his face became childlike; innocent and bright.
Elaborately lecturing away his passion, he was definitely a huge ore fanatic, but most importantly, he was probably trying to distract her from her thoughts. Even though he probably heard about the situation from Edgar, he stayed and watched by her side without saying anything about it.
“Wow, these rocks must be rare.”
“Well, it’s actually not that rare. Both onyx and carnelian, even the rich green prase and bloodstones can all be found on this Highland in abundance.”
“That many gemstones in one place? It’s like a treasure island.”
“That’s right. But in reality they are all minerals of the same chalcedony category. They only contain slight differences in their makeups. They’re like siblings.”
Lydia poured some black tea into her father’s cup. Out of habit, he extended his arm towards the milk jar. This house was not theirs, but they were familiar with which chair was to be sat on and the different utensils on top of the table. Must been because they have been repeating the same tea time and same situation everyday.
Gently lifting her tea cup, the warmth of the black tea taste the same as what she had in London, almost making her forget the fact that she is on a faraway island of the Highlands.
The son of McKeel family, Fergus, welcomed Lydia to stay at their house and reached for her help without any inconvenience.
Everyone was being considerate of Lydia.
She really could not complain about anything.
Watching her father pleasantly stirring away his black tea, Lydia decided to open her mouth about what she been contemplating about recently.
“Father, shouldn’t you go back to London soon?”
Surprised at how it was unexpected, her father had his tea spoon lifted and looked at her way.
“I am fine now. I will stay here and slowly recover. So, you can return to the university.”
Lydia’s father still had his work as a professor. The summer vacation will be over soon and he can’t possibly just neglect his students.
“But, I can’t possibly just leave you here alone...”
”I mean, even before when you were working at London, I was fine living by myself at Scotland. You don’t need to worry about anything.”
“...... But you had Nico at the time. “
Apparently, father viewed Nico as somewhat like Lydia’s guardian. Even though it was a fairy in the form of a cat.
Nico stayed to watch over the young Lydia, in place of her mother who passed away very early. Even though he was so small, looked like an ordinary cat, and could sometimes be unreliable, Nico was a guardian of few hundreds years old. Whenever Lydia get lost in the fairy realm he would always find her and bring her back.
Whenever Lydia was down, he would pull out some off-the-mark encouragement. His optimistic yet insolent attitude often calmed her down.
Although often whimsical and did whatever he liked, he was always there for her from birth. Lydia felt like he was an important part of her.
But on the other hand, for Nico, who was a fairy, living with a human may not have always been so great. Lydia regretted from her heart that she did not notice such for Nico.
“I am also not a child anymore. Besides, the McKeel’s family is related to my mother’s side as well, so they are my….”
“But they are trying to use you,” her father cut in, his expression became serious and grave. With a distressed expression, he took off his glasses and started wiping his circular lenses with his napkin.
As Lydia heaved a sigh, there was a knock at the door.
It was Fergus McKeel who opened it.
A red headed young man wearing a grid patterned quilt came in, greeting Lydia and her father with a cheerful smile.
“Hello, Professor Carlton.”
Fergus made a hand gesture, stopping Lydia and her father from rising from their seat.
“Please, stay where you are. May I join you both?”
“Ah, yes. Most certainly.”
Even though Fergus was a son of the McKeel family, in his own judgement he made an agreement with Edgar to take care of Lydia at his place. With his own arbitrary decision, Edgar was able to leave the island without getting caught by the McKeel family.
Everyday, Fergus would come and visit.
Even with a swift horse, it took at least an hour from the main residence of the McKeel, but it didn’t seem like he was bothered by it.
“Lydia, how are you feeling?”
“Not bad.”
“I see, that is good.” Fergus replied, looking relieved, his expression softening.
Although they didn’t know him very well yet, you could tell that he was not a two-faced person.
“By the way, Fergus, did you figure out how long it will take for Lydia to fully recover?” Her father asked, putting his spectacles back on as he said it directly across from him.
“About that, it is best if we slowly observe and adjust to the situation. According to Patrick, if she does not need to stay in bed here the whole time, then it wouldn’t even take three years to heal.”
Patrick was the fairy doctor for the McKeel clan, just like how Lydia’s mother was. It went without saying that he had vast knowledge and understanding in regards to fairies.
“Three years, I see. I guess it won’t change the fact that it wouldn’t heal in one or two days.”
“Hey Father, rushing and worrying will do nothing. You should hurry back to London before the summer break ends.”
Lydia’s father sighed again.
“Professor Carlton, it is natural for you to be worried. However, I will take full responsibility of Miss Lydia’s well being,” Fergus assured with sincerity.
However, Lydia’s father knitted his eyebrows.
“You people have told Lydia that it will not be dangerous and brought her to this island. In place of her deceased mother, having her attend the ceremony to awaken the prophet, and in result, endangered her life.”
“Father! Fergus didn’t know it would be dangerous.”
“It was my father and Patrick’s arbitrary decision… though, I cannot say that I was not responsible for the outcome that you guys were deceived. Therefore, from now on I will not let my father and Patrick do as they please regarding Miss Lydia. Although I may be inexperienced, as the next chief, you have my word,” said Fergus.
Nevertheless, Lydia’s father was still unconvinced.
“Could you please place your trust in Fergus?” asked another voice. A man with a black hair stood at the doorway. It was Patrick.
The person that took Lydia into the bridal ceremony to awaken the Prophet. However, the Prophet was no longer in the sacred land. Having lost his trump card to save the islands, what was he thinking right now? Does he plan to continuously use Lydia? No one could read anything from this poker face.
“The chief said that anything regarding to Miss Lydia’s treatment will be under Fergus’s full responsibility. He also wishes his heartfelt gratitude and sincerest apologies to professor Carlton,” said Patrick.
“Patrick, do you not intend to apologize then?” Fergus asked accusingly. It seems that Fergus did not like the fact that he suddenly appeared and advocated for him.
However, Patrick did not change his expression, and calmly replied,
“I am a fairy doctor. Professor Carlton’s wife was also a fairy doctor, and his daughter also claims to be one. As an individual that is involved with the fae and their magic, I think of myself and stand on equivalent terms with them. Whether or not the Prophet will bring about the danger, it is the fate of any fairy doctor who has the blood of McKeel Clan in them. Thus, I apologize that I am unable to take blame for the final outcome of this situation.”
Indeed, Lydia had gone to the sacred land on her own will. It was not for the McKeel family but for Edgar’s sake. Moreover, she knew that she would be putting herself in danger, but she did not back out, so it really was not Patrick’s fault. Rather, the origin of all the trouble was all caused by the evil Prince. Even more than Lydia’s situation, Edgar was reluctant in bearing the fate of having to carry the burden of the Prince within him.
“Please forgive my rudeness. However, the oath and pledge from Highlanders is more valuable than their own lives. Fergus will not go back on his words.”
“I know. My wife was the same way,” said Lydia’s father, sarcastically.
“Patrick, Professor Calton will continue to lose trust in us if you say it like that,” Fergus interjected discontentedly.
“Then my apologies.”
“So, why are you here today?”
“May I not send my respects to Miss Carlton?”
Patrick certainly did show up and visit once in awhile. But it was usually only if he was doing other business and just happened to be passing by. There must have been some other duty today as well.
“It seems like I’m not very welcome here so let’s get this over with. I got my hands on a newspaper from London so I came to deliver it,” Patrick said, taking out a tabloid paper that he had hidden behind his back.
“From London?” Lydia raised from her chair instinctively.
“Yes, and published here is the most recent news about Earl Ashenbert.”
Just by hearing the name of Edgar, Lydia felt her chest tightening. The feeling of wanting to meet him and the feeling that maybe she had been cast away, both intertwined and mixed together.
“Patrick, why would you bring it in front of Lydia?”
“Oh, Fergus, are you trying to hide the truth from Miss Lydia?”
“Truth, what truth?” Lydia asked, while thinking that it would be better not to know, but also could not help to inquire further.
What Patrick brought was a popular newspaper, usually consisting of gossips, nothing credible. Even though she was afraid to know what was on the paper, she also really wanted to know how Edgar was doing.
“Please tell me, Patrick.”
“There seems to be rumors that the Earl had cancelled his engagement. He also has been going out and playing around with women.”
Her strength drained from her body and she fell right on her seat. Her father cast her a worried glance.
“Would you like to confirm it for yourself?” Fergus held out the newspaper and offered, but Lydia shook her head.
“Well then, let’s just dispose of this,” said Patrick and swiftly turned to leave. Fergus stood up in a state of irritation and followed him out.
“Lydia, the Earl will always need maintain his social activities. He cannot always refuse the invitations from ladies of the nobility.”
Lydia’s father who rarely defended Edgar, covered for him because Lydia was looking so devastated.
“Yes, I know. I understand…”
Lydia wanted to wholeheartedly trust Edgar. Therefore, she was terrified by the fact that Edgar may have changed his mind. He may become an Edgar that she doesn’t know anymore. Would he still, unchangingly, still think about Lydia?
“Father, when you return to London, make sure to look after Edgar and put a nail on his fickleness,” Lydia made a joke with a smile one way or another to alleviate the tense atmosphere, although she didn’t know how well she pulled off.
“Are you sure you are fine by yourself?” Lydia’s father asked. It seems like he also accepted that he has no choice but to return.
“Come visit me when you are on your break.”
“Okay. Oh right, after the socializing season is over, the Earl would probably have more free time to probably come visit as well, wouldn’t he?”
“I wonder about that. If he met me, I may fret about stopping the treatment again so…”
Her father still did not know that Edgar was in the position to be pursued because he was the sworn enemy of the McKeel Clan. He also did not know that the memories of the Prince within Edgar stimulated the activation of the blade of Philis Chyris, that continuously hurt and tormented Lydia.
Under such circumstances, it was probably hard for Lydia to receive even one letter from Edgar. Even her engagement ring, which Lydia always wore before, was nowhere to be found when she woke up. Afterwards, she heard that it is better not to have anything related to Edgar around for her treatment, however, Lydia suspected that the engagement ring was specifically removed by Edgar himself.
In any case, Lydia was unable to write any letter by herself. Mainly because she could not think of anything to say to Edgar.
Even so, somewhere in the corner of Lydia’s heart, she secretly hoped he could’ve taken her back with him. If that would’ve happened, maybe they would’ve had a period of happiness where they did not have to worry over the future.
“Lydia, you think you could trust Fergus?” Lydia’s father emphasized again to make sure.
“Yes, Father. He genuinely cares for me, it’s not just a facade.”
Lydia knew that it was no use crying about such things and that she must pull herself together and toughen up.
Wanting to see Edgar. Her greatest wish was that hopefully when they meet again, neither will remain changed, and for that she decided to bear the loneliness alone.

Following Patrick, who went out of the mansion to board the horse carriage, Fergus was able to catch up and stop him.
“Patrick, what is your problem? Talking about the matters regarding the Earl right in front of Lydia!”
“I was just checking, on how much trust Ms. Carlton has in the Earl.”
Confused, Fergus furrowed his brows. Seeing this, Patrick once again brought out the newspaper.
“It seems that Earl Ashenbert has never returned to London. Although he may have left this island, he may still be around somewhere within the area of Hebrides Islands.”
“What? But, on this newspaper……”
Puzzled by what he meant, Fergus spread open the newspaper. Scanning the headlines in English, he did not see any article regarding to the earl.
“Miss Carlton just had to check this newspaper to see through my lie. She probably suspected that it was a possible article considering how the Earl is, and was too scared to check and see if for herself….. Ha, it’s fragile, is it not?”
A gust of strong wind blew past and their quited cloaks floated up. Fergus and Patrick’s same McKeel family’s plaid lattice patterns covered the dull gray scenery around them.
“Lies, you say? Why…. Why would you do such things that would hurt her!? The Earl made the decision to save her! That’s why Lydia said that she has accepted this to undergo her treatment.”
“Is that the case? Who knows, the Earl Ashenbert may have done so just to save himself. You did promise him that you will let him go as long as he leaves Miss Carlton here. Moreover, if he is the successor of the Prince, keeping her around may bring upon his own prophesied fate that may destroy himself.”
“However, he hasn't returned to London yet right? Maybe he wants to remain as close to her as possible…..”
“Fergus, the Earl abandoned his fiancee, let it be that way.” Patrick asserted with a straight face. Calmly, he leaned in and whispered,” This is where you must take your advantage.”
“T…...take advantage you say?”
“It’s your chance to comfort her. Make her forget her love, and then fall in love with you.”
Fergus flustered. Indeed, he can’t deny the fact that he hoped a little for such a situation. And it may also seem that the Earl spoke sharply for that reason. But…
“Lying to her, and getting her attention, that sort of thing…….”
“You think it’s unfair?”
“I just want Lydia’s injury to heal. After that, whatever she will do, is not something we could force upon her right?”
Patrick sighed, as if he was a teacher in front of a incompetent student.
“The clan chief thought highly of you because you did a meritorious deed in finding Lady Carlton, but it was bad letting the Earl get away. However, the clan chief has a lot of expectations of you. If you want to meet his expectations then you should at least obtain Lydia Carlton. For the sake of the clan and the islands, as the future leader that must carry the clan further on, you understand don’t you?”
Right now, both the islands and the people living there were in crisis. Crop failure and disease were widespread, the land was bought cheaply by the British, and several villages were dispersed already.
It came to this because the magical power of the evil fairies, the Unseelie Court, was getting stronger within the island. And the root of all these problems was The Prince of Calamity, who was born and created shortly after the war a hundred years ago in order curse the Kingdom of England.
In order to oppose the Prince on a equal ground, the McKeel clan had been protecting the coffin in which the Prophet slept within. However they did not expect that the coffin was empty all along. It’s shrouded in mystery now, whether or not the Prophet had already awakened or that he is somewhere else, or perhaps he was never there to begin with. Lydia was a special person as she was a sole survivor who could communicate with fairies and was raised by the McKeel clan in order for her to cooperate with the Prophet.
“Fergus, we will investigate the whereabouts of the Prophet. We will never know if the Earl, no, The Prince, will ever set foot on this island once again. In any case, he is our enemy. It is your duty to win over Miss Carlton.”
Even if that was the case, Fergus did not want to deceive Lydia. However, Fergus stood there unable to talk back. Glancing sidelong towards him, Patrick disappeared in his horse carriage.

The house of the Carlton family was very silent. In the idle rural town just before sunset, standing on the street where no shadows were even seen, Kelpie crossed his arms, troubled.
“Where the hell is Lydia?”
He was at Lydia’s home, near Edinburgh, Scotland. A while ago, Lydia left London, saying that she was going to visit her own house with her father. He heard that she would be coming back in two weeks, but it didn’t seem like she came back yet. So Kelpie came all the way to her house, but no one was in the house either. Even if he gazed at the sidewalks,  there was no sign of anyone coming home.
Suddenly, he noticed some movement in the grass around his feet and he moved his gaze toward it. His eyes met with a small fairy. Surprised, the fairy flew up, and then fell down trying to escape in a hurry. Kelpie swiftly raised his leg and stepped on its tunic. He peeked into the fairy that was struggling to escape.
“You, you’re the fairy, a hobgoblin, that resides in this house aren't you?”
The fairy began to tremble and his face turned so blue he couldn't even talk.
“Hey, why are you so afraid? You know me, I often come over and see Lydia.”
Gradually, the hobgoblin raised his head fearfully.
The aquatic horse “Kelpie” was a fairy species that was known to have very frightening devilishness. They will devour human and livestocks, and would even eat fairies in one gulp. When they transform into human form, they were extremely beautiful. They would use their devilish charms to capture their prey such as humans, but the fairies were usually aware and were never lead astray. Any type of fairies instinctively feared them.
But for him, he had taken a liking towards Lydia. Never seen her as a prey, but instead, he enjoyed to gazing upon and conversing with her. Therefore, he had no intention of hurting Lydia or any of the people and fairies surrounding her. Upon discovering that a strange Kelpie was here, as if losing all his strength, the hobgoblin collapsed onto the ground.
Removing his foot, Kelpie asked,
“Do you know where Lydia might have gone to?”
The small fairy timidly pointed somewhere.
“What? There’s no way I’ll be able to tell from that!”
The fairy jolted in fright.
(It’s the Hebrides.)
Someone else spoke up softly from the back of thicket for his companion who lost his own voice.
(That guy is very timid. Don’t surprise him too much.)
“Hebrides? At the Highlands?”
(They went together with McKeel Family’s fairy doctor who came from Aurora’s hometown.)
What did that mean exactly?
It wasn’t before long that the presence of the hobgoblin disappeared. Kelpie crossed his arms and started to ponder. Speaking of the Mckeel family, they were the people that wanted to take Lydia as their bride. They were driven away by the Earl, but perhaps they did not give up yet.
“I believe that Ms. Lydia is unable to get out of the island for the time being.”
A woman stepped out from the shadow of a building. She was dressed in what people would’ve considered as men’s clothing in the human world.
“You, why are you here.”
However, she was not human. She was once before, but died and was reborn as a seal fairy known as a selkie.
“Weren't you looking for me?”
Kelpie turned round to face her, placing his hands on his hip.
“You, you called me out because you said you have something to talk about, but you didn’t even appear at where we we promised to meet,” appalled Kelpie.
She was a woman who betrayed Earl Ashenbert. Her name was Ermine when she was a human. Currently, she is serving under a man named Ulysses, who was an aide that served for the previous Prince. She was that sort of woman. It is unclear if she’s an enemy or ally, but at least it seemed that she is trying to protect the Earl and her brother who is serving under the Earl as his attendant. She would provide useful information at times, so Kelpie decided to stay connected with her, but it’s been awhile since he saw her.
“I’m sorry, I could not leave Ulysses’s side for a while,” the selkie said apologetically.
It seemed that Ulysses wanted the Earl to awaken as the Prince, but she did not want that to happen and hoped to prevent it. And of course, Kelpie felt the same way as her. He did not wish for Lydia to get hurt.
They had a uniform interest in that respect. However, Kelpie was doubtful on whether it was only Ulysses and his organization that are working behind her or not.
“So, here you are, does that mean that you are heading to the Highlands on Ulysses's order?”
She shrugged a little. If Lydia went to the Hebrides then so would’ve Earl. Something must have happened on that island.
“I wanted to tell you that Miss Lydia was in danger, but I did not make it in time. Now the situation has changed.”
“Lydia is in danger you say!?”
Kelpie approached her with force as if he going to grab onto her. She stepped away quickly and went around behind the shrubs.
“Calm down and listen to me.”
“I know, hurry up and tell me!”
“Neither Lord Edgar nor Miss Lydia returned from Hebrides. They were heading in the direction of the sacred land on the island, so there’s a possibility that they might have gotten hurt by the blade of Fir Chlis.”
“Fir Chlis? Why would they turn they into their enemy? They are definitely the rulers of the night sky, but they shouldn’t harm any human beings.”
“That is because Lord Edgar is their enemy. Prince was originally created on that island and he is the master of the evil fairies, the Unseelie Court,” explained the selkie.
Kelpie knew about the fact that Edgar forced the previous Prince to his death by taking upon Prince’s memories within himself. However, he did not know the relationship between the Prince and the border island of Highlands.
Kelpie had numerous questions that he wanted to ask, including what was happening with Lydia’s body, but he asked aloud what was concerning him the most.
“Then, if Lydia was with him she might have been hurt as well?”
Ermine nodded.
“Rather, I think something happened to Miss Lydia. If it was Lord Edgar that got hurt, the Earl of London, the mansion would be in panic by now.”
If so, then it was understandable that Lydia was not returning to London. He had heard that in order to heal wounds inflicted by the Fir Chlis, one must remain on their land which was abundantly accumulated with magical power of the Fir Chlis.
“Damn, so that’s the reason. Which island is the McKeel family’s property? What about Lydia?” Kelpie asked anxiously. Not knowing how to get to the whereabouts of Lydia, Kelpie gripped his fist and kicked back on his heel continuously.
“Oh yeah! That shorty might know exactly where Lydia is…”
He was referring to the overseer of the moonstone engagement ring, the mine fairy, Coblynau.
“Wait a second, I’m not done talking,” Ermine persisted, stopping Kelpie who transformed into the appearance of horse already and was trying to rush out at any minute.
“There’s a medicine from ‘The Master of the Islands’, that could even get rid of the magical power of the Fir Chlis.”
“Medicine? I’ve never even heard of such thing.”
Kelpie did not know that there was even a fairy that could erase the power of the Fir Chlis. Wasn’t it true that the power of the blade can only be neutralized little by little by the magic power of Fir Chlis itself?
“It’s a legend that’s been passed down by the Selkies of the Hebrides. Long ago, ‘The Master of the Islands’ created beautiful islands within their own dreams. The humans wanted their islands, so they negotiated and made a contract, handed over the islands to humans and made them into reality. However, at that time, they also detached their memories and locked them up at certain location, along with the powerful magic that was used to create the world of dreams. Ulysses is thinking that if he flickers around the presence of the medicine, Lord Edgar will move for it.”
“So Ulysses is aiming to obtain the magical power of dreams?”
“It is not a magic power that can be handled by humans, but in order to retrieve the medicine it is necessary to awaken the Master. Then, if the Master awakens and its magical powers is released, those islands will be the human world while covered up by powerful magic that would feed the evil fairies, the Unseelie Court, to their full capacity.”
Originally in the world of humans, fairies cannot exercise their magical power fully. This was because powers drifting within the nature are much weaker than the fairy realm. This was why most people cannot clearly see fairies, and they would not notice them even if they were being pranked. However, if the human world was covered with magical power like the fairy world, there might have direct occurrences such as the dragon flying through and burning towns.
“Is the Master an Unseelie Court?”
“I don’t know, I don’t think it is like that. The only thing I know, is that the only way to get close to source of the Master’s dreams is by the ship of the Blue Men of the Minch * , because they were the ones that were captured by the Master as they tried to steal their jewels. They were able to come out of dreams only as Blue Men.”
“Blue Men huh, they were rotten pirates, but it is dangerous for humans to get close.”
“The current Lord Edgar will be able to take control of them. Rather, what’s more dangerous is ‘The Master of the Islands’. We don’t know anything about them, and to awaken such a thing……… That’s why Kelpie, please stop Lord Edgar. Even if I were to warn him he would not believe me, but if you tell him…..”
If that would end up protecting Lydia then that would be Kelpie’s intention. On the other hand, he also thought that if Earl turned into Prince, or even better drop dead, Lydia would be able to cut ties with him. Rather, wouldn’t that be better for Lydia’s sake?
“And? What about you? Are you going to the Hebrides?”
“It is Ulysses’s order to investigate the whereabouts of Lord Edgar, however, I……I am going to escape from his side as it is.”
“Escape? Isn’t it hard to run away from him?”
“That’s true. But, I’ll do something about it.”
“Are you going to another owner?”
“What are you talking about?” Ermine asked, feigned an unpleasant act but Kelpie found her obstinacy quite amusing.
“Don’t be reckless,” he said, grinningly toward her as she raised her eyebrow and scowled.
“It’s quite sickening to be concerned by a Kelpie.”
“I’m not worried about you. Selkies are such an weak fairies. On top of that, you’re like a baby as a fairy. I’m just giving you a warning.”
“Yes. Well, if you are still alive, let’s meet again.”
She turned to her back, as her black shoulder length hair and frock coat fluttered away. Maybe she meant it might be necessary to meet again. Simply wanting to reunite, such a thing, considering her, was out of character.  If she does not live then it was one less thing thing to keep him out of boredom. While thinking such stuff, Kelpie’s jet-black mane trembled, and he started to run towards his own objective.

Earl Ashenbert’s mansion was located in a luxurious residential area of London. While the owner of the resident was absent, there was a young woman who visited the mansion. Even though she was wearing a dress for young lady, her coffee colored hair was tied up with rope. She did not even use horse carriage, was without her retainer, walked here on her own by foot. She rang the bell on the chalk white mansion, greeting “Hi” towards the butler that answered.
“Is Edgar home?” she asked, with an attitude as if a child came to visit her neighbor’s house. Though, the butler was used to it.
“He has not returned from Scotland yet, Miss Lota.”
“Is that so? Why, isn’t he taking a while? He had the momentum as if he was going to hold the marriage ceremony right after he came back from greeting the grave of Lydia’s mother.”
“Yeah, that was the plan but,” said the butler, blinking his round eyes with perplexity.
“Is there some kind of trouble?” Lota asked. Tomkins, the butler, shook his head sideways as if he panicking.
“No, I do not really know the situation in detail...”
“No, wait, you should know! I know, that fellow, Edgar, said to not tell me anything unnecessary again didn’t he? That bastard, there’s a limit of how much he wants to monopolize Lydia. Does he intend to even meddle with the girl’s socialization time!?”
“I’m sorry but please take your leave.”
Lota plunged into the entrance as the butler was trying to close the door.
“Hey, I don’t really care about Edgar. Where is Lydia? I’ve been writing letters to Scotland the whole time but I haven’t gotten any replies, so I thought it was strange and I came to check it out over here!”
Lota stepped in resiliently as she looked down on Tomkins’ light head. He raised his head smiling, however, using even more force trying to close the door on her.
“Is that so? Well unfortunately, we do not know anything about it so.”
Regardless of whether Lota was in between, the butler kept on pushing the door, continuously tightening and squeezing her body in between.
“Hey, what do you think you’re doing to a lady!”
“I’m very sorry, but I’ve been told to that I must do this in this situation by the master so.”
“What? That punk Edgar, who does he think I am?”
“This time particularly, he doesn’t want you to be involved in his business.”
“What did you say?”
“Umm, I’m sorry,”
At that moment, a voice timidly entered the conversation.
As Lota turned around, she saw a dull and frizzy haired young man standing there.
Lota knew him well, he was Edgar’s friend.
“Lota and Mr.Tomkins.... what are you guys doing here?”
“Why hello there, Mr. Ferman.”
The butler suddenly released his hands from the door, because of that, Lota, had jumped into the entranceway and her face scraped against the carpet.
“Lota… are you alright?”
Paul rushed to her and held out his hand.
Lota stared up at Paul and took his hand with a smile.
For Lota, Paul was very strange because he was skillful in painting fairies.
Since long ago, because she was viewed as a companion to many men and although she was a genuine female, she was never seen as a woman.
Perhaps, Paul was a young man who was sincere towards anyone.
“Mr. Ferman, what brings you here today?” asked the butler, while giving an apologetic glance towards Lota who finally got up. Edgar must have told him to treat her discourteously.
“Ehh, umm, the Earl hasn’t returned yet? Do you know where he is right now?”
Lota asked the same question to Paul and Tomkins sighed.
“The Lord will not be back for awhile. And he told me that in the event that you came worried, to tell you that he is okay.”
“What about me? Does Lydia have something like a message for me?”
“There was nothing in particular. Just, don’t get involved.”
“What is up with that! What’s with the difference in treatment between me and Paul!”
Paul stopped Lota who was about to grab onto Tomkins.
“The message is the same, Lota. The Earl probably doesn’t want to drag us into his matters.”
Taking a deep breath, Lota calmed down.
“But Paul, aren’t you so curious that you can’t just stand still either?”
Paul nodded in agreement while feeling perplexed. He took a step towards the butler.
“Mr. Tomkins, I have talked to the Earl before he departed to Scotland, but it seems like he was going to start something himself. That is why I am very concerned. Although I might be unable to do anything, I know a little about the dark organization that he has been dealing with. Is it really alright for me to stand still and not do anything?”
As if he was troubled, Tomkins looked down.
Before long, he raised his head, and he adjusted his posture as if his heart has decided upon something.
“This way, please.”
Considering how he had a short and stout figure, he quite enthusiastically guided Paul and Lota into the parlor and after confirming that there were no other figures around the corridor, he closed the door.
While standing upright, he began to speak:
“I am also very concerned. Regarding my Lord, I do not know where he was and what he did before returning to England. However, I felt he has stepped his foot in something very dangerous. However, protecting this household is my job, and I understand it is not my position to meddle in any of his state of affairs.”
Lota and Paul probably knew more about Edgar’s situation than Tomkins. However, talking about this was not so easy.
“It’s been three hundred years since the master of the household has returned to England. I feel the same way in that I, too am fretting over on whether there is something I can do. I just do not know what should be done.”
Nodding in deep approval, Lota stood up.
“At any rate, everyone shares the same feeling here. Maybe something happened to Edgar and Lydia and so we all want to support them and be their strength, don’t we?”
“But Lota, I wonder whether we’ll be very troublesome to the Earl. Because if you think about it, the Earl will clearly let us know when he needs help.”
While Paul was anxious, he was also reserved.
“Rather than that, it's almost lonely, that he just outright rejected us.”
Hearing this, Lota became increasingly convinced that something was happening beyond her speculation.
“If you are a companion that holds the same purpose, then he will make you work hard as much as possible. However, sometimes he would try his best not to get unrelated friends to be involved, even if that means severing their bonds......... that's why in the past, Edgar suddenly disappeared, even in front of us.”
When she received news on his whereabouts, it was when she heard that he disappeared in a city far away and got executed.
Edgar and Lota were never on good terms with each other and seeing that they were truly not even compatible, if she talked about that guy, it would merely infuriate her, but somehow she couldn’t help but recognise him as a companion. It was not conceited for her to say that Edgar probably also felt that way. That was why, in the past, when Edgar disappeared without saying anything, it was probably because he had to cut all their ties so that the danger that was constantly surrounding him would not reach them.
But Lydia was the only one Edgar could not cut ties from even if he tried. Even after it seemed like he had come to the end of the matter with Prince, new problems arose, and even then she did not let go of him.
And so, Lota loved Lydia very much. It would’ve been fine even if only that rascal Edgar was left alone, but she was worried about entrusting Lydia alone with him.
“I’m going. After all, Edgar is an important friend already and he might need to put his distance between us, but he’s probably fed up with that anyway.
Paul appeared to have returned to himself and stood up.
“Ah, indeed, you’re right. I...just don’t want the Earl to hate me.”
“Well, because I’m already hated by him, I don’t mind being a nuisance to him. Well then, Tomkins, you somewhat know of Edgar’s whereabouts, right? And you will also disobey your command by cooperating with us?”
“Mr. Ferman is the only person I will tell”, Tomkins replied, standing upright and tightening his chest.
Lota clicked her tongue.
“Fine, I’ll ask Paul about it later anyway.”
Leaving the two of them, Lota walked out of the room in long strides.

[1]   The terms Fir Chlis/Phyr Chilis and Aurora fairies are used interchangeably throughout this volume. Fir Chlis are also known as The Nimble Men or Merry Dancers. They are Hob-goblins that light up the aurora borealis.

[2]  The Blue Men of the Minch, (also known as Storm kelpies) are half humoid, half mermen who would frighten and drown many sailors who crossed between Northern Outer Hebrides and mainland Scotland. More on Wikipedia

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16: A kiss of oath before dawn