Published in Cobalt 2007 december issue - story after book 10
This mansion’s master --- Edgar Ashenbert was officially engaged recently. Although he finally made the engagement public, he could now also take his beloved fiancée in and out of society, but when it came to whether or not he was in a good mood everyday, it seems that it wasn’t always the case.
As he had breakfast under Raven’s service as usual, he seemed to have suddenly remembered something and mumbled:
“Lydia won’t be coming today as well.”
Edgar’s fiancée --- Miss Lydia Carlton, was the Earl family’s advising fairy doctor. She was an unusual girl who was well very acquainted with fairies.
“Duchess Masefield entrusted the royal gown shop to custom make a dress for Miss Lydia, so she is at Masefield mansion to have her measurements taken.”
“Measurements....I really want to be there and watch too.”
He said and he turned towards Raven.
“Raven, what were you imagining just now?”
“It’s okay Raven, even if you imagine Lydia in her underwear, I won’t take offence.”
He revealed a perfect smile with his flawless appearance. This young earl, who possessed dazzling blonde hair and alluring ash mauve eyes was adept at showing a smile, but only those close to him knew that he was actually a scarier person in comparison to Raven, who didn’t smile.
Raven would only attack enemies in front of him, but as for Edgar, as long as it was someone who wasn’t pleasing to his eye, he would thrust them down to hell no matter where they tried to escape to.
“So, what’s she like?”
“Your imagination of Lydia.”
Despite Raven often being teased in this way, he didn’t feel like he was being teased. He was merely loyal to his master whenever possible.
As long as he was asked to, he would do his utmost to imagine.
On the other hand, Edgar was quite satisfied seeing Raven having modest secrets concealed from him and showing a perplexed expression like an ordinary person. For Edgar, teasing Raven was well worth it.
“Ahh, anyways, we are already undoubtedly engaged, I somehow feel that the time I spend with Lydia is less than before.”
Edgar mumbled alone, leaving Raven still troubled over the imagination matter.
Before, Lydia came to mansion everyday as the advising fairy doctor, so he was always able to see her when he wanted to, but now, not only was she occupied with wedding preparations, even as a fiancée it was difficult for them to be alone together whenever he took her out in public.
Thinking about this, Edgar remembered something. Come to think of it, when they attended the club’s ball not long ago, he made Lydia angry.
To Edgar, these matters were merely trivial, yet it`s possible that Lydia was still angry; he had completely forgotten about this point. Lydia’s personality was the kind that would unexpectedly mind trivial matters.
After several days, Edgar became busy and so he wasn’t able to have a proper chat with her. Realizing this, he felt a little bothered.
He put down the fork and looked at Raven.
He then called for the motionless attendant, who frowned a little and still seemed to be troubled.
“Raven, can you pour tea for me?”
After receiving new orders, Raven knew that he could finally be released from the question from just a moment ago, and thus he picked up the teapot hastily.
“Lord Edgar, a congratulatory gift was sent this morning, would you like to take a look?”
Perhaps having determined that his master’s meal had come to an end, Raven brought up the topic.
“Who sent it?”
“It ought to have been a fairy.”
“Open it for me.”
After opening up the parcel, a small wooden case appeared. It seemed to contain something like a small seed.
“What kind of seed is this? I’ve haven’t seen this kind of shape before.”
Edgar picked up the seed, rolled it around and examined it. It was yellowish green, much like a round walnut seed.
“Something is written inside.”
Raven looked at inside of the lid.
“It says ‘do not plant'.”
“What’s that all about? To go as far as to send something that can’t be planted.”
“I do not know.”
Raven also tilted his head.
“Then I have no choice but to plant it, this way I’ll know why.”
With regards to Raven, his mind didn’t have the option of stopping Edgar from jumping to this sort of thought, because his master’s words were absolute.
“May I ask if it will be dangerous?”
“Dangerous? Don’t tell me that this seed can attack people?”
Edgar jokingly replied.
“Something will probably sprout. Alright, I’ll plant this in the flower pot and take a look.”
Edgar stood up. Raven hastily stopped him and said:
“Lord Edgar, please allow me.”
“What? there’s no need, it’ll be fine if I call the gardener to prepare the pot.”
“No, because it is unknown as to what will happen, it will be troublesome if an incident were to occur by chance.”
“You’re saying that it’ll be troublesome if the seed attacks people by chance?”
Although Edgar laughed, Raven was very serious and was unwilling to back off from his master.
“Please allow me.”
This time, Raven was not going give up easily. For him, an attendant’s work wasn’t an occupation, but rather a duty. He firmly believed that he had use his life to protect his master.
It was also because he was a descendant of one of the small Ceylon tribes, moreover legends say that he had a sprite living within his body.
If that tribe was prospering as a small kingdom, and the nature of the frightening and murderous fairy stayed in Raven’s body, then he would have possessed the majestic status of the king’s soldier.
However, the kingdom from long ago no longer existed and after going through various ordeals, Raven was saved by Edgar and thus considered him to be his only king.
He was born possessing outstanding combat abilities, the more blood that was shed, the more stimulated the spirit that cannot suppress it’s serial murderous behaviour became, and it would also only obey the king. Due to staying by Edgar’s side, Raven began to gradually recover into a teenager, rather than a brutal warrior.
Although he had never communicated with others since growing up and was also unable to understand human emotions, he had slowly begun to turn his attention to others apart from his master.
But for him, his master was everything to him; this sort of cognition was not easy to change.
“I understand, I’ll leave it to you then. Let me know if there’s a change.”
“Hey, are you really in love with Earl Ashenbert? ”
At the dinner party a few days before, there was an extraordinarily beautiful lady who had spoken to Lydia.
It was said that those gathered in that club were all misfits in society, but regardless of who they were, Lydia saw them as decent ladies and gentlemen of the upper class.
Nevertheless, it seemed that this was the first time she was being shamelessly asked in this way.
“Was I too rude? But you seem a little unhappy with him. ”
This was because Lydia wasn’t used to the social circles, so she was always very nervous. Moreover, she thought that an unmarried couple being intimate in public wasn’t too good.
Edgar could hardly control himself in this aspect and Lydia often felt very embarrassed, so she was forced to defend herself.
However, since she misunderstood that the two of them weren’t happy lovers because of Lydia’s attitude, would this woman be interested in Edgar? Perhaps they’ve been acquainted.
Edgar was a philanderer who was good at flirting, but he was possessed conspicuous good looks, thus he was often involved in scandalous affairs. In the end, it was unclear to Lydia how many lovers he had in the past, and she was also unable to find out whether or not he had broken up with all of them.
It was merely these sorts of things happening that made Lydia a little dispirited.
This stylish big-chested woman was referred to as Duchess Sayles, but Lydia did not know what kind of person she was.
Perhaps because she felt that she had asked too much, she burst out laughing when she saw that Lydia had a guarded expression, then suddenly wanted to introduce a young man whom she heard was a friend of the woman. It was said that the person who could predict the future exceptionally well was named Ladon.
He examined Lydia a little and said:
“Miss, if you feel puzzled whatsoever over your engagement, it’s better to reconsider.”
Because Edgar had heard this, it then developed into a serious matter.
Edgar said that Ladon was a swindler, and Ladon, who firmly refuted, announced that he was going to prove his abilities.
It seemed that in order to showcase his special ability, he had come to attend the party.
Recently, he had gradually developed a reputation in society.
Under everyone’s attention, Ladon entered into the other room alone, and asked Lydia, who remained in the hall, to write down a sentence after five minutes. It was said that he had already read the sentence in advance and remembered it.
In result, the answer was exact and people couldn’t help but gasp in admiration, but Edgar immediately saw through his trick.
The nobles who knew they were cheated were all furious, thus the party was in an uproar.
Lydia realized that the cause of the uproar could have been herself, so her face tightened in annoyance, thinking that Edgar should have chosen a slightly more peaceful way to deal with it.
While leaving, Lydia caught a glimpse at Duchess Sayles glaring resentfully at Edgar, and that stare gloomily remained in her mind.
So when she went to see Edgar after keeping a distance for several days, and moreover knew the reason why she was suddenly being called over, she couldn’t help but exclaim,
“Why would you plant something that’s forbidden to plant?!”
Lydia found out that Raven had an accident, so after having her measurements taken and immediately rushing over, she had just reached the Earl’s mansion.
“But if it’s not planted, then it’s unknown as to what will happen, isn’t that so?”
He answered as if it was a matter of fact.
It clearly indicates “do not plant” because bad things will happen, what was this man thinking? Although she was engaged to him, Lydia still found it difficult to understand him at times.
“Even if you don’t know, what does that have to do with it!”
“I don’t like it this way. I want to know what the gift is, and so I kept it at hand.”
He shrugged, unconcerned. Lydia was standing with him in the courtyard.
“This has something to do with fairies, at least discuss it with me.”
Lydia said this, but it was her first time seeing this kind of phenomenon.
A massive bell-shaped dome with branches and leaves intertwining in a complex manner sat in the courtyard.
The closely interweaved branches and leaves didn’t even have small cracks, so the situation inside couldn’t be seen. Even if they wanted to cut off the branches and leaves, the saw was to no avail. It seemed that Raven was locked inside.
“But Lydia, not only were you very busy lately, you were also avoiding me, isn’t that so?”
Edgar suddenly leaned his face over and Lydia couldn’t help but pull away. Look, he’s frowning in dissatisfaction and going back to his original attitude.
“If there’s anything that you’re displeased with then speak frankly, because being busy and gradually drifting apart will make people unhappy.”
Hearing him say this, Lydia also felt that way.
“No matter what I say, don’t you turn a deaf ear to it? I clearly told you not to be so intimate in public, but at that party before, while dancing you…”
He suddenly kissed Lydia’s neck.
“Many of my close friends were present at the time, and moreover, the atmosphere of the party was really expecting us to be able to interact as fiancé and fiancée. Isn't that okay?”
“Is that so? You humiliated me for the sake of the party atmosphere?”
“Say, Lydia, I actually think that having no interactions like strangers only because of being in public is very odd, which may bring about unnecessary misunderstandings.”
“You mean to say that your former lover will perhaps hope that you won’t get along with your fiancee?”
Edgar revealed a slightly surprised and troubled expression, sighing softly.
“That’s not what I meant. I am worried that someone may be interested in you and are hoping for that.”
And yet there isn’t such a person.
“Listen well Lydia, I only have you in my heart, please believe me.”
“I--I believe you, otherwise I wouldn’t have gotten engaged with you.”
“But when that swindler wanted you to reconsider the marriage, didn’t you hesitate?”
“....I didn’t hesitate.”
“You did. After you saw that guy’s simple trick, your face turned pale.”
She was indeed frightened, as she was worried about what she was going to do if that person could truly predict the future.
“Edgar, even if that was the case, you shouldn’t have exposed him on the spot and made him a laughingstock.”
“Then what do you think I should have done?”
Their argument was meaningless. Lydia lowered her head; this isn’t what she wanted.
“I’m sorry, I was overdoing it that time.”
Edgar said, giving in and reaching out to touch Lydia’s face.
“I’ll be careful from now on, is that okay?”
What about Duchess Sayles? In the end, Lydia couldn’t question him further and nodded, but when his lips touched her cheek as if it was a sign of reconciliation, Lydia couldn’t help but retreat.
“C--compared to this, Raven’s matter is more important, we must hurry and save him.”
Unwilling to withdraw his hand from her body, Edgar half-satirically whispered:
“If I was the one locked up, would you have hurried here too?”
“My lord, the rest of the fruit trees are here.”
Tompkins came in at the perfect timing. He’d probably been waiting for the chance to speak up, as he moved nimbly towards Edgar, which didn’t match with his round corpulent body, and handed him the small wooden box.
Lydia peered into the box. Although it was her first time seeing it, she thought that it shouldn’t be something bad.
“Mr. Tompkins, did you see what the fairy looked like?”
“No, the person to answer the door was Raven. When I came to the main entrance hall, they had already left, and the hall was still amassed with numerous leaves.”
Perhaps it was a reincarnated tree fairy.
“I wonder if it was a woodwose fairy... ”
“Is it a dangerous fairy?”
“No, they shouldn’t be. It’s an ancient race, and although they rarely come in contact with humans, it isn’t surprising if they’re close with the Earl house’s ancestors. These fairies are very faithful in their friendship, so I think Raven should be okay inside.”
Edgar looked up at the dome made of branches and leaves.
“However, it has been more than three hours since it turned out like this. He can’t live in there for the rest of his life.”
Yes, but if that fairy is a woodwose, then taking the initiative to contact them is very difficult.
As Lydia contemplated on this, the intertwining branches and leaves suddenly emitted a rumbling sound.
Then, the leaves fell down.
The leaves scattered and finally dropped completely in one breath. It formed what looked to be an avalanche of leaves and was rushing towards the three of them standing in the courtyard.
Lydia was almost swept away by the leaves when Edgar grabbed ahold of her hand.
Tompkins wasn’t standing firmly and fell to the ground on his buttocks, and as a result it seemed that the leaves pouring out from the dome buried him.
After the leaves had finally stopped rushing out, the tightly intertwined branches from before had very quickly withered, then completely vanished.
Bewildered, Lydia turned around and saw Raven standing motionless, clasping a flower pot. He was standing in the center of where the dome made of branches and leaves should have been.
The seed brought by the fairy sprouted and grew immediately as soon as it came across soil, growing into a large dome that had shut Raven inside.
Nevertheless, that was the only thing that happened and for awhile before the branches naturally withered, Raven felt that he was inside a cozy forest.
In the end, despite knowing what happened after it was used, it was still unknown in what it was intended for.
For Raven, only completing the daily tasks dutifully was his duty, so he returned to his original activities once again and soon forgot about the matter with the seed.
But before long, Raven’s body was beginning to act strangely.
When he poured tea as usual, the hand holding the teapot moved by itself. To say the least, he felt as such, and so he immediately turned his body to the other side.
Although the tea he had thrown about had spilled all over the floor of the morning room, fortunately it had missed spilling on the lord’s head.
Despite Raven breathing a sigh of relief, he stood there blankly, as he was confused.
“What happened? It’s quite rare that your hand slipped.”
Edgar’s voice made him return to his senses.
“My deepest apologies, were you burnt in any way?”
“It’s nothing, only a bit of water splashed on me.”
When Raven bent down and tried to wipe the droplets off his lord’s coat, his hand appeared to move by itself again.
His tightly clenched fist almost swung towards him and so he squatted down immediately.
“Raven, are you unwell?”
“No… I’m fine.”
As long as he left Edgar’s side, the strange power concentrated within his hand would be gone. Even then, Raven still pressed his hand cautiously while lowering his head.
“I will brew new tea.”
“No, you don’t have to. I will stay in the study, so if Lydia comes, let me know.”
Raven stiffly watched Edgar leave and after waiting for his lord to leave the room, he silently wiped off cold sweat.
He unfolded his right hand and found nothing unusual, but the actions just now clearly had nothing to do with his will.
Previously, Raven often lost himself during battle and brought about severe casualties, but he was in a state unable to think at the time, so if he tried stopping himself composedly, he should be able to control his own body.
What on earth was going on?
“Raven, if your work is completed then you can rest.”
Before Tomkins called out, who was passing through the living room, he had been thinking about this.
The resting place of the Earl house’s high-ranking attendants was a small room, which was connected to the head butler’s private room. Unlike the other waiters, they even had their meals here.
When Raven entered the room with Tompkins, and housekeeper just happened to bring tea.
“I’m sorry, Mrs. Lane, I spilt tea onto the floor of the morning room, could I ask you to send a maid there later?”
“Oh my, was it the lord having some strange suggestion and wanted you to try it out?”
“No, it’s was my own mistake.”
“Oh dear, that’s not like you.”
“If tea stains remain on the wallpaper, perhaps that would look very unpleasant.”
Seeing Raven appearing panic-stricken, the tall housekeeper burst out laughing.
“It’s just tea stains, once I recalled you getting blood in the parlor before, this isn’t anything at all.”
Has this sort of thing happened before?
But to turn his surroundings into a sea of blood in order to protect his lord, it was difficult for Raven to consider it as a disrespectful action. He cared more about the tea stains.
“Well, sit down, I don’t know if we still have biscuits.”
Tomkins rummaged through the cupboard, then placed the cookies and spare honey onto the table.
The moment after having finished the morning shift, resting a little and drinking tea. Was this called peace? This notion swept past Raven’s mind.
His master often said to him that if the enemies chase them disappeared, and a daily peaceful life approached, then he could go and pursue his own happiness.
Raven didn’t know what that happiness was, perhaps originally, his upbringing and destiny were too cruel, but he had no choice but to bear it completely.
He only knew that if Edgar was happy, then he would also be happy. Therefore, compared to the past, the present was much better now.
Raven who was covered in blood, ran to the dressmaker studio and the maids inside had all run away.
He nonchalantly prepared the needle and thread and began stitching his own wound. He was already quite used to suppressing the pain, and a wound to this degree was practically nothing.
As he was silently carrying on, a person stood by the door.
“I heard that you were injured.”
It was Lydia, Raven tried to stand up.
“Ah, it’s alright, it’s better if you sit.”
Even if she said that, there was no way that he could act discourteously towards his lord’s fiancée.
“This is the servants’ workroom, I’ll send someone over if you need something, please wait in the reception room for a little bit.”
“I came to see you. Edgar is very worried about you. However, he said he can't seem to get close to you.”
A grey cat by Lydia’s feet jumped onto the table. This was Lydia’s working partner ---the fairy cat Nico.
“Hey Raven, your needlework is really strange.”
He gazed at Raven’s wrist, which had a needle stuck in it.
Lydia followed Nico’s gaze and looked over, then widened her eyes in surprise and almost fainted.
Raven quickly caught Lydia with his uninjured arm and managed to hold her up. She sat on the chair, then took a deep breath.
“I’m sorry...... But, um…… stitching it yourself, wouldn’t it hurt?”
Lydia wanted to look away, but she looked over because she cared too much and as a result, she looked away again.
”Well, sit down and let’s talk.”
Nico, who was sitting by the table, urged Raven to and he finally did so. If he didn’t do this, the stitches in his hand and the exposed wound would visibly enter Lydia’s sight.
He bit off the thread, and after rolling down his sleeve, he was able to conceal the ugly wound, but on the contrary, it was his blood-stained shirt that became very ugly. But either way, Lydia would not look below Raven’s neck.
“Hey, why did it turn out like this? Could it be related to the fairy’s seed from before?”
Raven realized that just then. Having said that, his right hand started to feel strange after that.
“I am not too sure, but my hand would often move against my will, I thought it was merely my imagination at first.”
“Your hand moving by itself? When does that happen?”
This was already quite clear.
“When Lord Edgar is beside me, I will hurt him.”
“Ohh was there a fairy trying to harass the Earl whom it doesn’t like, by giving a pretend congratulatory gift?”
“But Nico, I don't think the woodwose fairy would do something like that.”
“Hmm, well that is true.”
“Can I take a look at your hand?”
Lydia gently raised Raven’s hand that unwillingly moved and was uninjured.
“Please finish looking within a minute.”
“If Miss Lydia I have touched for more than a minute, I must report it to Lord Edgar.”
“Did Edgar say that?”
Lydia frowned. When she did this, it meant something had offended her. But Raven merely knew up to there, so he could only tell the truth.
“Yes. Lord Edgar said that trivial matters do not need to be minded, but I cannot discern what a trivial matter is.”
“…… Even so, a minute is too short! Truly an incorrigible man! Listen well Raven, this is like a doctor consultation, I’m investigating clues in order to find the cause of this, you don’t have to report everything to Edgar!”
Just as Lydia deliberately wasn’t going to let go and investigated it, he began to carefully check the time, and when the clock’s minute hand clicked, Raven confirmed that a minute had passed, thinking that this must be reported to his lord, thus he took note.
“Hey, have you had these kind of injury marks * on your hand before?”
His right wrist had traces of black ink droplet-like stains.
“I believe I never had. Miss Lydia, what does this have to do with fairies?”
“I'm sorry, I don't know. But don't worry, I'll do something about it.”
“Ehh, don’t make promises easily, you have this bad habit.”
Hearing Nico say that, Lydia’s smile froze; it seems that she had no solution.
Raven thought to himself that he firstly mustn’t expect too much.
Lydia released Raven’s hand, however she also appeared to have similar injury marks on her wrist that no one seemed to have discovered that time.
“How is Raven’s situation?”
In the moving barouche, Edgar asked Lydia.
The two of them were currently going to Hyde Park for a walk. It was said to be taking a walk, but for Lydia, this was one of the social activities that she was bound to by obligation.
The sunshine peeked through the clouds. Lydia held a parasol sewn with artificial flowers, and appeared to be a considerably sincere and proper young lady on the verge of getting married. Edgar wanted to make Lydia, who was dressed for the occasion, well known as much as possible, and integrate his fiancée, who was not of noble birth, into society.
Although some of the details were exhausting, Lydia tried hard to keep up with Edgar.
But compared to social life, she was more worried about Raven.
“Surely enough, something’s happened to him, right? He said that he hoped you relieve him of his attendant duties for the time being before things are settled.”
“Yes, it was my fault that I let Raven plant that seed.”
Edgar lowered his eyes in dismay.
The shadow of his top hat fell among his long eyelashes, making him appear lonely.
“Edgar, it’ll be alright, you’ve struggled through more awful matters with him.... besides, I can help you now.”
He raised his gaze, his strong and forceful ash-mauve eyes catching Lydia’s figure.
His golden bangs fluttered and were being blown irregularly by the wind, he casually leaned forward and gripped Lydia’s hand.
“Lydia, I’m glad that you are with me.”
With sorrowful eyes and sincere words, it immediately stirred Lydia’s heart.
It wasn’t known if Edgar knew about that, as he used his fingers to push back Lydia’s wind-blown hair behind her ear.
“Let’s not go to the park.”
“If possible, let’s go to a place where there’s no one, I want to spend time together alone.”
Because she wasn’t sure if he was joking or being serious, she would panic.
Ever since they got engaged, Edgar’s restraint would disappear when it came to seducing Lydia and it had come to the point where he would even go as far as to speak of suggestive matters.
Even if only his words were tolerable; Lydia had always felt that his behaviour was beginning to escalate.
But for Lydia, things like merely talking to him like a lover or gazing into each other’s eyes was already using her greatest effort.
“You speak in a very cute voice, it doesn’t sound like a refusal at all.”
Edgar revealed a naughty smile to Lydia, who was blushing. At that moment, Lydia’s hand was pulled with force, which resulted in her body having been thrust forward, and then his upright face leaned close.
Lydia suddenly pushed Edgar away.
Since the engagement, she was careful with not blatantly refusing, and it wasn’t an action that she disliked, yet her hand seemed to move on its own.
Just as Lydia was astonished, Edgar sat back down in surprise as well.
“Are you angry?”
“N--No… I’m not.”
Her disordered mind couldn’t calm down and the carriage proceeded towards the surrounding roads of Hyde Park, finally stopping.
“Let’s get off.”
After Edgar picked up the cane that had fallen by his feet, he pulled Lydia’s hand up, and in result, Lydia suddenly slapped his hand away.
Lydia was also confused and didn’t know what to do.
“We’ve already reconciled beforehand. Are you still dissatisfied with me?”
This time, Edgar was truly unhappy.
“Um, it’s not like that.”
“Perhaps it’s best for you to go home for today.”
Edgar said, as he dismounted from the carriage, leaving Lydia behind and closing the door.
“You may want to be alone, so I’m going to find a street carriage. ”
It can’t go on like this . Lydia quickly tried to get off the carriage and because it was difficult to move in a dress with many decorations, she lost her footing.
Although she did not fall thanks to Edgar, Lydia’s hand moved by itself again.
By the time Lydia realized, she had already lifted her hand and swung it towards Edgar.
Edgar was almost hit as he caught Lydia’s hand to stop her, and looked down to see the mood expressed through her eyes. Instead of saying that it was anger, it was rather forlorn.
“....Me touching you makes you that unhappy?”
Despite there being pain from the strong hold on her hand, Lydia quickly shook her head.
“No, I didn’t want to do that! It’s my hand…”
“Are the both of you having a lover’s quarrel?”
A female voice could be heard from the side, making Lydia swallow back the words she wanted to say. Wearing a beautiful hat was Duchess Sayles, who bore a smile and was standing to the side.
“Earl Ashenbert, aren’t you very familiar with how to treat women? To make an innocent young lady angry, this isn’t like you.”
“Please don’t worry about it, the more we quarrel the more our feelings grow.”
As long as Edgar faced women, he would smile regardless of who they were, but his tone just now felt sarcastic. Did he and Duchess Sayles harbour feelings of animosity? Thinking about this, Lydia became confused.
“Miss Carlton, if you are hesitant… that’s right, if you wish for him to disappear before your eyes, I can lend you a hand.”
Her hand casually took Edgar’s; did she want to take him away?
If she could say ‘please stop this’, then it was fine. However, if she didn’t firmly say that as a fiancee herself, especially at this sort of time, then it would be mistakenly interpreted by others that she may not want to get married.
Lydia was clearly fond of Edgar more than anyone else but was unable to properly express her feelings with her behaviour and words.
Right now, wanting to convey those feelings was more difficult. Because if she approached Edgar, her hand would certainly hit him again; this would definitely make Duchess Sayles misunderstand, and even Edgar will get angry.
“No, I will leave.”
Lydia said, then turned around and broke into a run. As she ran, she finally figured out the cause of this incident.
Am I not like Raven?
She gasped for breath as she stopped by a large tree, then quickly took off her gloves to examine her wrist. Lydia’s wrist had black ink droplet-like injury marks just like Raven.
“Wh--what am I going to do...”
There’s no way I can get close to Edgar anymore...
Edgar appeared to have chased after her, as his voice reached her ears. Lydia was shocked and moved to the back of the tree.
“No, don’t come close to me.”
“Why are you like this? I really don’t understand.”
“I’m the same as Raven, my hand will move on its own!”
“......Really? Is it contagious?”
“Didn’t I say to not come close!”
Lydia was afraid; she felt that if she was careless, perhaps an irreparable rift will form between them, so she firmly said this to Edgar, who wanted to come closer. At that moment, a strong wind blew.
The sound of the leaves around them was unusual. Just as she was thinking that, without knowing when, a dark figure had emerged, standing there.
“You used it, did you not?”
The person said.
“It seems like I was a step too late.”
“....Who is it?”
The brim of his hat was quite low and he used a branch as a walking stick, but the two of them couldn’t remember any other features of this man. It was clearly a bright day, but it felt like they were in a dark place overlooking the other man, this made Lydia think that he wasn’t human.
“Are you a woodwose fairy?”
As soon as his body moved, the sound of giant tree leaves rustling against each other rang.
“The two of you are the Blue Knight Earl and his Countess, correct? I was very disrespectful a few days ago, I accidentally sent you a defective gift.”
“Defective... so that’s why it can’t be planted.”
“Since you have already used it, it can’t be helped, please allow me to deliver you the real gift.”
The fairy handed a new box to Edgar.
“Wait a minute, why is the seed from before defective? It was all because of that seed that the Earl family’s attendant and I have been trying to hurt Edgar.”
Lydia hastily asked the fairy to stay.
“Ohhh, if that’s the case, the malevolent powers residing in our trees’ fruits are directed against the Earl.”
“The tree fruits are malevolent…”
“This is a fruit that grows on special trees, and it happens that someone buried something malevolent under the tree roots. Humans seem to have a spell where they curse each other using pieces of paper written with resentment and bury it within the roots of the giant tree. It originally ought to be merely a consolation, but because of the magic of the fruit trees, a will of the malevolence was created.”
“You mean to say that someone hates me, so they casted this sort of spell?”
“I’m afraid that’s right. The malice residing within the fruits deceived us, and perhaps it had been delivered here by mistake. The two of you must be careful, it’s contagious if you touch someone infected with the malevolence.”
Lydia exchanged a glance with Edgar.
“Is there no way to eliminate the malevolence?”
The dark figure who seemed to be thinking shook his head, and the sound of rustling leaves came again.
“If the paper with the spell is returned to the caster, and the caster no longer approaches the person that they hate, the malevolent power may disappear. If the paper is torn, then the spell’s power will attack the caster. This is what is referred to as a rebound, when someone harms others, they harm themselves as well.”
The wind blew. The silhouette of the fairy swayed.
“My deepest apologies, but I must go. Earl, I hope you remain the best of health from now on.”
“Woodwose, where is the tree with the papers of that spell?”
She was missing her chance to ask for that crucial information. Lydia hurriedly asked the disappearing silhouette.
“....On the outskirts by the riverside, near the tree by the side of the red tower…”
When only those words were somehow managed to be caught, the fairy’s figure disappeared.
In the end, they decided to cancel their walk around the park and Lydia returned home. He tried not to touch Lydia while in the carriage, but he arrived at the Carlton residence and got off together with her.
“Can I drop by and visit?”
Although it was a usual thing, Edgar had been quiet and looked like he had been contemplating about something since then in the carriage. She thought that he would’ve left for home already.
Even if he approached Lydia and got close to her, he would only feel apprehensive because he wouldn’t know what her “malevolent” possessed hand would do.
However, it seemed that Edgar naturally gave his hat and walking stick to the care of the housekeeper who came and entered the parlor.
“Edgar, who would curse you? Do you happen to know something?”
He was standing by the window and maintaining her distance from him, while Lydia sat on the sofa. After thinking a little, he answered:
“I didn’t do anything to make others resent me.”
Of course he’s done something.
“We need to find the red tower by the riverside. If we can find what’s buried under the roots of the fairy tree, Raven and I should go back to normal.”
“That’s right, leave that matter to me.”
It seemed that he did not want Lydia to be involved.
“....You know about the red tower?”
“Oh well, it’s easy to know of that landmark, so I just think it’ll be easy to find it.”
Is that true?
The housekeeper entered the salon and placed tea on the table. She blankly watched the housekeeper leave the room but by the time Lydia suddenly noticed, Edgar was before her.
“Edgar, it’s not good to be close to me.”
“I know. But can I ask you something?”
Lydia endured the the will of her hand with the cursed injury mark.
“Slapping and pushing me away are actions that aren’t of your own will and due to the curse, correct?”
“Th--that’s right. None of them are of my own will.”
“It’s not like you don’t want me to touch you, right?”
He quickly sat down beside her and leaned forward towards Lydia.
“Thank goodness”, he said, expressing a smile on his face.
“Even when I’m by your side, it’s painful not being able to hug you. Don’t you think so too?”
While Lydia was startled, she looked into his eyes. His eyes were unusually serious.
Indeed, it's not like she didn’t care if things were as it is.
Walking close to each other, and not even being able dance with each other. If they couldn’t even hold hands, they wouldn’t be able to hold the wedding.
However, the matter that Edgar was thinking of was quite different from small inconveniences, Lydia thought. He was always much more impatient.
“Even now, with your behaviour being the opposite, your true feelings are that you yearn for me, isn’t that so?”
“Eh… that is…”
Edgar didn’t mind as Lydia tried to push him back, who was getting awfully close to her. Instead, he put his arm around her and murmured into her ear.
“If that’s the case, I’ve made my decision. Listen Lydia, I will not falter at such a trivial matter.”
Before she knew it, Lydia grabbed onto the vase. She felt the chill as her hands raised it up by themselves, but Edgar managed to grab on her wrist and stop it with a composed expression.
Although she knew he was cautiously putting strength into his grip, Lydia felt as if her wrist was going to break. It hurt so much that it started to numb and she let go of the vase.
Even so, he did not loosen his grip as he moved forward and grabbed onto her hand. He pinned her down on the sofa until she was unable to move about.
“I’m sorry, but I’m already at my limit.”
“I would not do such a thing normally. It’s just for now, so don’t be afraid.”
Lydia was confused by the pain on her wrist and also the feeling of her body being glued down. Not only with her right hand that was possessed with malevolence, but also with her other hand desperately trying to push him away.
“Look at me.”
On contrary to the Edgar that was trying to use force to hold her down, his eyes were gentle, soothingly staring into her like a different person. Persistently and gently, he stroked her hair.
“I will do nothing but stay like this.”
Drawing back his arm around her back, he tried to wrap her around with his whole body. Her heart was strikingly fast as usual, but Lydia gradually calmed down little by little. She laid her cheek on his shoulder and took a deep breath. She felt relieved by his faint smell of hair gel, knowing that her favourite person was right beside her.
Lydia may have also thought about wanting to be in contact and touched.
At that moment, she felt the tension of power from her cursed hand being released.
Edgar relaxed his strength as he felt her resistance diminish. He gently held her hand up and muttered,
“Your mark, it’s gone.”
Lydia also shifted her glance. The mark that looked like an ink stain was gone. Her hand that lost all her strength accepted Edgar’s fingers that entwined with it.
Perhaps this meant that the contagious malevolence was gone now. Although it was malice directed at Edgar, it may not been able to keep its power within Lydia while she was being hugged.
As she faintly relaxed back absentmindedly, Edgar licked the side of her ear.
Caught off-guard, she gave out a short scream.
“Wh-- What are you doing!?”
“Can I take back what I said earlier?”
“I don’t think I could stay back not doing anything to you.”
Instantly, her right hand raised up upon her own will.
For Raven, taking the initiative to leave his master was simply impossible. But now he needed to do so.
He left the mansion and then wearily and aimlessly walked along the street. At that moment, Nico stopped him.
“Yo Raven, where are you going?”
He was unable to answer and walked past Nico, who was resting on top of a tree by the road.
Thus, Nico jumped down from the tree and stood in front of Raven. He stood on his hind legs, had his arms crossed over his chest, and looked up at Raven doubtfully.
“Holding that kind of thing, it’s best that you don’t anywhere with a lot of people.”
Raven held a hatchet that was stained with chicken blood.
“Is that so?”
“What are you going to do with that?”
“If by any chance I do something, I plan to chop my hand off.”
Nico shivered as the fur all over his body stood on end, but he took a deep breath and calmly began to speak with a stiffened expression.
“Well, I suppose that you’ll act quickly. Umm, anyhow, let’s calm down,” Nico said.
He walked up to the roadside hedge and sat on the edge of a stone wall. After motioning Raven, he eventually followed along.
“You don’t have to fret so much.”
As he said that, he patted Raven’s shoulder. Although up until now, Raven still didn't completely understand how to interact with others, but he openly received Nico’s friendly attitude. Luckily, Nico spoke with him, he thought.
Nevertheless he sat reservedly as before, and firmly held onto the hatchet on his lap.
“However, I almost hit Lord Edgar in the end.”
“Oh? And what happened with the Earl?”
“Lord Edgar dodged it well and so I’ve made a hole in the wall.”
Nico worriedly glanced at Raven’s clenched fists and it seemed that he had hit the wall with a lot of force.
“....I see. It’s a relief he can dodge, otherwise Lydia would have lost her fiancé.”
Raven broke out in a cold sweat, as a one-hit kill was not rare for him.
“Why did he get close to you? It’s dangerous, so shouldn’t he try to stay away from you?”
“It was because the ink stain that infected Miss Lydia seemed to have disappeared, so Lord Edgar wanted to try the same method.”
“The same method? What did he do to Lydia?”
“Lord Edgar seemed to be unable to restrain himself yesterday so he hugged Miss Lydia tightly with all his strength.”
Nico looked at Raven with both surprise and pity.
“I see. You and Lydia are different, as your wrist power and reflexes are quite good. You wouldn’t be subdued that easily.”
People who walked along the street would certainly pick up the pace before Raven, who seemed to be muttering away to himself while sitting alongside a cat and holding a hatchet.
Indifferent about that sort of thing, Raven gripped onto the hatchet tightly.
“It seems that I have no other choice but to chop off my right hand.”
“Y--you should wait, you mustn’t do that extreme sort of thing, there may be other ways, ahh that’s right, Lydia said that she would think of a way.”
“Yes, Miss Lydia made a rash promise.”
Raven let out a sarcastic remark unconsciously, and Nico looked up at him, scratched his head and said:
“Oh dear, although the one who said that was me, Lydia will try her best to help you even if it was a rash promise.”
The fairy cat Nico stood up and swung his tail, motioning Raven to follow him, thus Raven stood up.
Raven followed Nico to the Carlton house. His head was solemnly lowered, and despite Lydia urging him to drink tea, he was motionless with a meek expression.
After Lydia got hold of the situation from a moment ago, she felt sorry for him and thought that she must hurry up and help him somehow.
Although Edgar said that he would try to find the red tower, it seems that he wasn’t able to properly explain it to him. But It was also possible that he couldn’t explain in time as Raven had just suddenly rushed out of the Earl’s mansion.
“At any rate, Raven you shouldn’t worry about it too much, there’s still hope in this matter.”
“Yes, Miss Lydia’s rash promise is my only hope.”
He looked directly at Lydia, with no other meaning expressed through his eyes whatsoever. Although Lydia knew this, she smiled and became very embarrassed.
The teacup in Nico’s hands was shaking; he must have been resisting the urge to laugh.
“Like I said Raven, I already found a way.”
Lydia pulled herself together and said:
“I know of the cause of this now. That’s why all that’s left to do is to undo the spell. On the outskirts of the mansion, there is a woodwose fairy planted at the red tower, so if we find the object buried within the roots...”
“Red tower? Is it that castle?”
“You know about it? That’s right, Edgar seemed to have known as well.”
“If I remember correctly, that it is Duchess Sayles’ mansion. She bought that ancient castle several years ago, and Lord Edgar was once invited as well.”
In other words, that was Duchess Sayles’ house. Yet, why did Edgar tell Lydia that he didn’t know of it?
Moreover, if the cursed paper written with a grudge against Edgar was buried in her mansion, wouldn’t the one who hates Edgar be Duchess Sayles?
There really is something between her and Edgar…...
Lydia took a deep breath to calm her unsettled heart.
How could she be worried because of this?
Edgar made the “malevolence” attached to Lydia disappear. He should only have Lydia in his mind now. She must also save Raven for Edgar’s sake.
“What is Edgar doing right now?”
“Currently, he is at a nobles’ gathering.”
In that case, he shouldn’t have time to investigate the fairy tree.
“Raven, let’s go. To Duchess Sayles’ mansion.”
Duchess Sayles’ castle courtyard was open to the public, and regardless of who, they could enter.
Nobles arranging for private land to be used as parks for the nearby residents was not unusual. With this, Raven followed Lydia and Nico into the garden pathways and headed towards the red tower, which could be seen clearly even from a distance.
This time, Raven was not here under Edgar’s orders nor for work, rather, he decided to do this, which was inconceivable to him. If it was him from before, he would think that he must wait for Edgar’s instructions if there was a way to undo the spell, but this time, why did he decide to follow Lydia’s suggestion? He really didn’t understand.
Both Lydia and Nico were doing this for Raven, and these kind intentions had also moved his heart. Raven was still unable to comprehend his own heart, so he hadn’t noticed this; he merely looked at the two people walking not too far ahead of him.
For Raven, to go as far as to have people that he must to serve and protect, apart from Edgar, was something unimaginable. But nowadays, he was naturally come into terms with this.
If the person to become the Countess was not Lydia, perhaps Raven wouldn’t have this kind of feeling. He would have merely deemed them as Edgar’s possessions.
“Raven, it must be that tree.”
Lydia turned with a cheerful smile on her face, Raven narrowed his eyes at her.
The tree Lydia pointed at was a tall tree whose height could rival the red tower.
That tree was probably more ancient than the castle, and the range of where the roots grew was huge, but they could only search everywhere carefully.
Raven was about to immediately take action, but then he heard Lydia whisper “ah” and then turned around.
He saw a woman standing at the other side of the shrubbery.
Lydia waited there as she watched Duchess Sayles slowly approach gracefully, and told herself that it wasn’t necessary to escape or be afraid.
“What a coincidence, Miss Carlton, to unexpectedly meet you here.”
Even though she revealed a smile, Lydia still felt very oppressed by an intense feeling. Her back straightened, thinking that she didn't want to be outdone.
“Have you come to visit the garden? Or…”
“Duchess Sayles, I have something to request of you.”
Lydia had decided to say directly.
“Oh my, what is it?”
“Please don’t hate Edgar.”
The Duchess showed a slightly surprised expression.
“Me hating Earl Ashenbert? Why do you think that?”
“I absolutely…. don’t know what Edgar has done to you, so I can only come to request this of you.”
Despite Lydia having to look up while confronting Duchess Sayles, who had a tall stature, she still displayed a strong willed gaze.
After the Duchess contemplated for a bit, she laughed, as if she thought that it was amusing.
“Is he that important to you? But he is a man to be hated. Let me tell you how terrible of a man he is.”
At this point in time, no matter what Edgar did, she wouldn’t be surprised. Despite that, she still liked him.
“I know better than anyone what kind of man he is! More importantly.... please tell me where you buried the paper with the curse.”
Lydia, desperately spoke in order to not lose to the Duchess. Even with a face of surprise, the Duchess still replied frankly.
“If that’s the case, what will you give me?”
“If I fulfil your request, then are you willing to do as I say?”
Duchess Sayles leaned over and reached towards Lydia’s cheek with both hands. Being gazed at so closely by the Duchess, Lydia panicked.
“I didn’t expect you to have such a stubborn personality, I feel that you become more and more cute.”
While Lydia was confused, the Duchess hugged her. Baffled, Lydia looked towards Raven but he was also at a loss and merely looked in Lydia’s direction. If the person was male, it was a different matter, but he didn’t think that the lady before him would harm Lydia.
“Umm... Duchess Sayles?”
“Miss Carlton. How about we get to know each other more?”
The Duchess lightly stroked Lydia’s hair. The scent of perfume on her body made her feel dizzy.
“Duchess Sayles, do you really want to infuriate me?”
A familiar voice interrupted the two of them. After Duchess Sayles released her arm, Lydia quickly left her side, and Edgar came over, holding her around the shoulders.
“Oh my, Earl Ashenbert you shouldn’t be mad at me, she came to request something of me.”
“You don’t know what the cursed paper is, and yet still negotiated with her, it’s not fair at all to strike up a deal.”
Astonished, Lydia saw the side of Edgar’s face. With a solemn face, he firmly said to the Duchess:
“Please hand Ladon over, you’re hiding him here, isn’t that right?”
Ladon? Could it be that young man?