“So Mr. Gossam. How can I thank you for your hospitality?” said a young thin man smiling alluringly as he aimed a pistol at an old man with a proudly cut beard.
“Stop! I‘ll pay as much as you want,” pleaded the old man in his scratchy voice, shivering his portly body that was tied to a chair.
“How generous of you. Then I’d like to ask one more thing, where can I get my hands on the legendary star sapphire ‘ Merrow’s star’?”
“That’s just a legend, it just comes out in a story, it doesn’t exist,” answered the old man whose name was Gossam.
The young man stood back, still with the pistol in his hand and slowly surveyed the room. “And I had this special stage set for you for this occasion, yet you’re not able to please me.”
Gossam was tied up to a large white laboratory chair. They were in a laboratory room that he used as a doctor in psychology.
The room was furnished with cupboards filled with beakers which had preserved human brains in them. All this time, it was Gossam who was the one heartlessly looking down at his human subjects tied up to this chair, but now the tables have turned. This young man was suppose to be for his next experiment, but now he had the weapon in his hand and ran his fingers along the scalpels on the table.
Gossam didn’t know anything about his young man’s past and bought him thinking he was another worthless, unwanted rat of society.
Gossam didn’t know the hidden background of this young man. This man's gestures were graceful even though his brilliant hair was uncombed and he wore tattered clothes, he still was so graceful in all his movements, like when his long fingers trailed over the beakers and as he slowly walked around the room. He stopped and turned to face Gossam with a powerful, silent gaze that made Gossam sink back into his chair in a superior presence.
He wasn’t just some rat from the sewer. The one standing in front of Gossam was a powerful predator who finally was able to show its lethalness.
This creature checked how weak its prey had gotten by slowly circling around Gossam.
And then he lifted up the pistol again.
He gave him a perfect smile that would have normally dazzled anyone but it made Gossam tremble in despair.
In perfect King’s English, the young man spoke to Gossam in a voice dark like he was death itself: “Mister, I will be needing to take off pretty soon. It’s unfortunate that the ‘Merrow’s star’ doesn’t exist. I’d wager this will be the last time I’ll see you.” He put his finger on the trigger.
“Wait! Wait!” bellowed Gossam.
It wasn’t fear of death that made Gossam come to confess what he knew. It was an omnious feeling, that even after death, the devil hiding inside this man would come after him to make sure he fell to the bottom of the depths of hell.
“The only one who would know if the jewel is truly a legend or not, is a fairy doctor! Since, well, it‘s said that fairies are the ones who have the key to it, so only a fairy specialist would know how to find it!”
“A specialist in fairies? If it’s a spiritualist imposter, aren’t there plenty of them in the city of London?”
“…The demand for fairy doctors these days have depleted. There’s barely just a few of them remaining in the outskirts of Scotland and Wales, but they’re all old and more or less have one of their feet stuck into their coffins. Of course they would; the only ones who’d believe in fairies nowadays are children.”
“But you're saying that knowledge, which is only for children, is what we need?”
“Yes, when it comes to merrows, pixies, silkies or whatever, they are the ones who would know if they really exist; who else would? None the less, it’s a fairy doctor who knows everything when it comes to fairies.”
“So, who is qualified for this treasure hunt? You say that they are all past their prime, but I respect you enough that you’ve handled everything and found someone - a fairy doctor - perfect for the job, am I right?”
Gossam could see that the young man had already saw through him and so, gave in.
“Yes, I’ve found one. In a town near Edinburgh Scotland….”
The young man sighed beautifully like he was hearing about his long lost lover and his smile beamed as he listened. Slowly, the pistol was lowered, and Gossam sighed in relief. But in that next moment, from that dark laboratory, a gunshot echoed into the night.
Any inquiries regarding fairies are welcome.
Fairy Doctor, Lydia Carlton
A sign hanging in front of a house, written with that message, was inviting the laughter of today’s passer-bys yet again.
“Momma, do fairies really exist?” asked a boy passing by with his mother.
“That’s just a fairy tale. Of course they don’t exist.”
“No, they are real!” interrupted Lydia, jumping up from behind the bush by the sign, startling the mother and son during their conversation.
“Fairies are real, even if you haven’t seen one before. To prove it, before you go to sleep put a cupful of milk near your windowsill and then brownies will come to visit.”
She smiled down to the boy. But the mother snatched her child’s arm and pulled him down the road. After throwing Lydia a glare, she went out of sight.
Lydia watched the mother and son go off as she lay her head on her hand, imagining how she was going to be called ‘abnormal’ or ‘crazy.’
“Lydia, it’s no use, how ever many times you repeat it, someone who hasn’t seen fairies will never see them. Nonbelievers wouldn’t believe it even if they were smacked on the head by one. So just let it be and relax,” said a long haired gray cat, resting on a branch of a tree.
This cat, who could talk and walk on its two hind legs, was Lydia’s friend. He always wore a necktie and was peculiar about how his fur needed to look by always grooming it to perfection, but the sight of him stretching up to stand and scratching around his bellybutton only looked like an old man in a cat-suit to Lydia’s eyes.
“Hey Nico, do you think there’s a way to make people understand what the job of a fairy doctor is?”
“That’s asking too much. The time when there were fairy doctors everywhere and being asked for help to solve fairy troubles that happens everyday is over. It’s the middle of the 19th century now.”
“But that doesn’t mean fairies are gone. They’re still live right next to people and do good and bad things; don’t you think it’s strange that everyone ignores them? Just because they can’t be seen, why does that have to mean they don’t exist?”
Just when she had her attention was focused on talking she heard a hesitant voice come from beyond the bushes.
“Pardon me…uh, mail delivery….” said a nervous young postman, reaching over the bush with an envelope in his hand. Her cat, who could disappear at will, was already gone.
Could it be that it appeared to him like I was talking to myself?!
“Uh, I wasn’t talking to myself. There was a cat here just now.”
Lydia tried to cover up for what looked like deranged behavior, but the postman only cracked a unsuccessful smile at her.
“No, I mean he isn’t a normal cat, he’s a cat that can talk….” No matter how much she tried, it only made her look more of a lunatic. On top of that, she noticed that some small fairies, brownies by the look of it, were playfully diving into the postman’s bag, and she couldn’t stop herself from shouting.
“Stop that! What are you all doing?! Stop playing pranks with those letters!”
When the brownies all dispersed, the bag, which was already packed full with letters, ended up making several of them to fly out onto the ground.
“I’m terribly sorry, brownies are terrible pranksters.”
She helped pick up the envelopes and handed them out to him.
The postman cautiously accepted them, and as if in a race, he dashed off down the road.
“Now there I go again,” she said, letting out a disappointed sigh.
Either way Lydia was already well known as the Carlton oddball and had no human friends. That was because she didn’t try to hide the fact that she could see and talk to fairies.
By coming out about that and becoming a fairy doctor, she wanted to use this ability to help people, but at this point, all her attempts have ended as a failure.
“Now now, don’t cry just because you’ve scared off the new post boy,” said Nico. She entered the house to see that he was sitting on the sofa and spreading open the newspaper.
“It’s all your fault you know,” replied Lydia angrily.
It wasn’t that she had a fancy towards the postman, it was just that she spotted some of the town's young women, who were around the same age as her, talking to him in a delightful-looking, lively conversation. In such a country town, which had hardly anything new, just the arrival of a young man was enough to make the girls excited.
What Lydia hoped for was that if it was someone who didn’t know the rumors about her, then there could be a chance she could have a normal conversaton with someone as a normal person, but now she just ended up introducing herself as a freak.
Lydia didn’t mind if she wasn’t understood by others or feel lonely. When she was little and growing up, fairies would be her playmates and fight with her. But now, she was seventeen years old, a young lady who was coming into the marrying age.
If she kept scaring off eligible bachelors, then it would become a serious problem for her one of these days.
“Hmmm, looks like there‘s a criminal on the loose,” said Nico, quickly changing the topic by reading the paper. She wanted to show the townspeople the sight of this cat sitting on the sofa like a human, crossing his legs and holding the newspaper with his front paws. That way, they would realize there still were many unexplainable things in the world.
“The residence of a psychology doctor Mr. Gossam, was broken into by a burglar who caused major injuries to the owner of the house, then stole a large sum of the family's money and is currently on the loose.”
“Oh my goodness, why’s a crime in London on the newspaper of a country town like this?!”
“It’s because he’s on the run. Plus the victim’s son is looking for the criminal by putting out reward money. It says the thief resembles a serial murderer who has killed a hundred people in America. His age is around twenty and he has blond hair….”
A creepy portrait of the man was printed on the paper, but besides that, Lydia noticed something more important - a letter that had just been delivered.
“Look Nico, it’s a letter from father. He says I should come to London. He wants to spend Easter with me.”
“That’s rare. It isn’t even Christmas yet.”
Lydia’s father was her only remaining family, and was a professor in mineralogy and currently teaching in an university in London.
It had been a while since she received a letter from her father who loved to do research and thought it was a gemologist’s duty to research and classify every species and nature’s creation, and he would get so absorbed in his studies that he would spend his free time going off searching and collecting rocks.
“Are you going? London is a dangerous place.”
“That’s true. But there's nothing to worry about, even if I meet a thief, I’m not rich enough to steal from.”
Lydia’s mother was a Fairy Doctor. Before Lydia's mother married her father, she lived in an island up north and helped the town people with their fairy problems, and even though so many years have passed from the medieval times, she lived a life not so different from that time.
But that was merely twenty years ago.
Even though the islands were part of the enormous European empire and each had their own discrete cultures still remaining, Lydia had never visited her mother’s birthplace. By marrying her father, who was an outsider, she was told that her mother had left the island. Even if Lydia went to visit, she wasn’t going to be welcomed. Lydia remembered only a little bit about her mother, who had passed away when she was young, but amazingly, she still remembered the stories that her mother told her.
Knowing about the different species and characteristics of the fairies, each species’ rules, how to communicate and negotiate with them, this was the gift Lydia received from her mother.
That’s why, just like her mother, she wanted to become a great fairy doctor. She didn’t want to be embarrassed or hide the fact that she could see fairies. It didn’t matter if she was called an oddball. As long as fairies existed, there was sure to be people who needed a fairy doctor’s help.
Leaving the care of the family house to the house goblin, Lydia went with Nico to the harbor to get on a ship bound towards her father’s residence in London. She left a sign in front of her house saying “Temporarily Closed.” Although there won’t be anyone who’d miss her absence.
There were numerous steamboats parked at the pier, the grounds were covered with stacked wooden luggage boxes and there was a busy crowd of passengers weaving through them. Her plan was to go abroad a ship and head to London. Nico, as if being an ordinary cat, was riding on top of Lydia’s suitcase.
“Why don’t you walk on your own. You’re heavy.”
“It’s tiring to walk on all fours,” he replied, purposefully meowing like a cat.
“Pardon me, are you Miss Carlton?”
Lydia stopped at the sound of her name. An unfamiliar man was smiling at her as he greeted her by tipping his hat.
“How do you do. My name is Huxley and I am an acquaintance of your father.”
“Uh, so you’re Father’s colleague?”
“That’s right, I work as his assistant at the university. I’ve come today to be the escort for the professor’s daughter to London. Since it would be quite dangerous going to London by yourself, wouldn’t it?”
He spoke courteously. He looked to be late in his twenties. At first impression, she saw him as a gentleman.
“Father had you especially come to escort me? Well that’s quite abusive of him to use his authority over you like that.”
“There’s no need to worry. I had come to Edinburgh with business from the university as well. I had sent word to your residence, but it seemed that you were absent, so I was worried if we might miss each other.”
Lydia thought that it was mighty thoughtful of her father. Besides his research, he was a easygoing, relaxed, child-like sort of man, someone who really couldn’t be that considerate to others.
“Thank you very much, Mr. Huxley. By the way how did you know that I was the Carlton you were looking for?”
“A lady traveling by herself would easily catch anyone’s eye.”
That was true. And a young unmarried woman like Lydia wouldn’t be so likely to go abroad a ship in the first place. Besides, being in a well-to-do social class and living by herself was unimaginable as a proper lady and so that labeled her as a freak even more, but it was useless to fret since the house maid didn‘t want to stay in that house for too long anyway. The resident fairies cause rackets at night.
“Actually, I only knew that the daughter’s hair color was a rusty-ir… I mean, reddish-brown, so I had no trouble at all.”
It seemed like he was about to say rusty-iron colored hair, which was how Lydia's hair was described as behind her back on a daily basis, and that description made her hair her complex, so she became a little sad and disappointed.
Just as he was nearly about to say, her rustic, reddish-brown hair was that sort of color, and she did feel a bit of a complex about that.
Maybe father had said something to him. Of course her father was someone who didn’t notice such small details that ladies of coming age would worry about, so it was worthless to try to have him realize that and note it.
Anyway, Lydia rethought that there was nothing this kind gentleman had to be sorry about, and so she smiled. Even though he wasn't someone who complimented her hair particularly nicely, at this point Mr. Huxley thought Lydia was a normal girl. That was the reason he was treating her as a lady, and that should be enough.
But then, if she brought up the topic of fairies, would his attitude change? That was something she couldn’t help but be curious about. He may not show any difference in his expression, but he would definitely think she was weird. Anticipating that, Lydia always ended up keeping a distance between herself and others.
Whatever others think, I will always be me, she thought and pulled herself together, handing him her luggage.
He lifted up the suitcase with ease, which felt quite heavy for Lydia, and he started to lead the way so she followed him, but Nico whispered to her after he jumped down from the suitcase.
“Hey, are you going to trust him? It surely is strange for the Professor to be this well prepared, even if it’s for our sake, don’t you think?”
“Then what in the world would be his purpose be in meeting us? If he wanted to kidnap someone for random money, then he would have surely targeted someone more wealthy, wouldn’t he? Even if we were his target, our savings are used by Father, who is the type to spend it all on his research.”
Nico still seemed to disagree, but perhaps he couldn’t come up with a good reason to change her mind, so he went silent. And there was no reason to be worried, as Huxley headed straight to the steamboat that Lydia was planning to get on anyway.
The only unexpected thing was after she entered her room.
“Um, my ticket wasn’t supposed to be for such a nice room,” mummered Lydia, in surprise. The room she was lead to was quite spacious, well-furnished and looked expensive.
“Yes, but it’s all right, the Professor had this room specially reserved. So please feel free to use it. I will be in the room next door, so if there’s anything you need, please let me know,” explained Huxley and left the room.
In the end, it seemed like there was nothing dangerous to be worried about.
“See, Nico, you were worrying too much.” Lydia fell back onto the large feathery bed. “It looks like there’s still time until the departure.” Just after she murmured that, she heard an unnatural noise come from the corner of the room.
“…..What?” The noise seemed to come from the closet, so she stood up and slowly tiptoed towards it. When she stood in front of it's wooden doors, she reached out with all her bravery and swung open both doors.
Just as she sighed in relief, she felt the air move behind her.
A figure came from out of the shadows of the curtain, and covered Lydia’s mouth with a hand, while grabbing ahold of her tight from behind.
She tried to struggle with all her strength, but couldn’t move. Nico hissed at the intruder with the fur standing up on his back, but he was only a cat. He was useless.
“Help me. I beg you….” whispered the stranger, into Lydia’s ear.
Help me?! That’s what I want to say! she thought, still resisting.
“Please listen to me, quietly. That man…, the man who brought you here, he’s a member of a criminal gang. If you stay here, you’ll be in great danger.”
Surprisingly, the male voice was calm and flowed gracefully from his lips.
Wait, Huxley is a villain?
When Lydia relaxed, the intruder must have decided she wasn’t going to scream and released his hand from her mouth. But he still had a tight grip on her.
“What do you mean? Who are you?”
“I was captured by that man and was confined. I managed to escape and was hiding in this room. Then that man brought you here. He’ll eventually realize that I’ve escaped. But you’d be in danger as well. That’s why I need your help.”
“You’re not making any sense.”
“There isn’t any time. We need to slip out before the ship leaves port. I’ll explain everything later. I can only say you have to trust me.”
Lydia was finally released and she whipped around to face him.
He was a slender man. His brown hair was ruffled and untidy and there was stubble on his face, but looking past his poorly-conditioned clothes, his face revealed that he was quite young, just around twenty. It was obvious that he was in a slovenly state, but mysteriously, his face still had an attractive allure to it. His eyes were strongly set on Lydia, and his sweet ash mauve eyes unnerved and confused her.
“If you’re caught again, what would they do to you?”
“I’ll be killed.”
The blood tinged marks left by rope on both of his wrists was frightening and much more convincing than his words. There wereeven some marks on his neck, like a knife was pressed against his skin.
“Did you notice how this room is at the end of the hallway? Huxley, well it may be his alias, but unless you pass by that man’s room, you can’t go anywhere. By doing that, he plans to confine you here. If you went outside, his brothers who are with him will keep an eye on you. They are a sibling of eight brothers, and there are six of them on this ship, every one of them are muscular and strong, a group good at using force. Huxley is the eldest and they formed a gang to go against the law.”
He silently stepped over to the door.
“Even if you were to sneak out, there’s a string tied to the knob, so as soon as you turn it, it’s made to notify them in the next room. Most likely they would put you under sleep and get you off at any one of the next ports.”
Looking closer, there indeed was a shining, thin, transparent string connected to the door knob. That was all she needed. There was no need for a university assistant, who said he was asked by her father, to do this kind of thing.
Lydia folded her arms and stood in front of the man.
“So, how can we get out of here?”
Lydia took a deep breath as she stood in front of the door of Huxley’s room.
Since she opened the door of her room, Huxley should already know that she made it out to the hall. He could even be putting his ear to the door that was between them.
So she knocked on the door in front of her. After a brief moment, Huxley stuck his head out.
“Oh, what seems to be the problem, Miss Carlton."
“Well, I’m hearing strange noises in my room. Like there’s something hiding in the closet… It’s really disturbing; could you please take a look?”
His complexion subtly changed. Huxley turned his neck to face into his room, probably to his brothers who were with him. “Hey, he’s in the next room. I’m sure of it.”
Oh please, well yes, you might be sure. They must have had no thought to spare about Lydia becoming suspicious about his brother’s sudden appearance and 'being sure' about him.
“Miss, it could be a criminal. It’ll be dangerous, so please wait here.”
In his room, including Huxley, there indeed were six sturdy-looking men.
After watching all of them enter Lydia’s room cautiously, the young blond man, who was hiding behind the hallway pillar, passed by the front of her door.
He took her hand into his as if it was natural and Lydia was forced to follow him as he darted into a run.
“Nico, are you following?”
Nico, who was apparently staying invisible, replied by showing the tip of his tail with a wave.
“Hey, they’ve escaped!” The two of them heard a man’s yell. It seems they were quickly noticed, and Lydia heard the young man tut as he was pulled harder on her hand and they continued to run, flurrying down a flight of stairs.
Just as they were going down, one of the men jumped over the deck’s railing and landed down on the deck floor behind them.
The brother grabbed her bag, making Lydia let out a scream as she was pulled back.
The young man leading her, whipped himself around her, and with a kick, flipped the brother off his feet.
Still having his grip on Lydia’s bag, the man slammed into the railing and that force flipped him over, making him fall into the ocean.
“Don’t look back.”
Lydia’s hand was pulled again, leaving her no choice but to follow. Passing through the deck, going down another flight of stairs, and running down the plank, they finally got off the ship, but he still didn’t stop and hurried, jostling through the crowd of people in the pier.
Even as she was out of breath and her lungs were tightening in pain, Lydia desperately thought only about keeping up with him. When they finally stopped, both of them collapsed down on the floor. She gasped to take in as much air she could, calming down the frantic beating of her heart, and when she finally felt her lungs relax, Lydia noticed that the floor she was resting on was very smooth and soft as a pillow.
I can’t believe how soft this carpet is.
She lifted her head up and slowly inspected the place around her; the room they were in looked like the interior of a castle, with expensive heavy furniture and elaborate pieces of art and nicnacs.
“Where are we?”
“On a ship.”
Right next to her, the young man was still breathing heavy, lying on his back and had his eyes closed.
The scenery outside the window revealed the ocean. She could also see the pier.
They were indeed inside a ship, and in a completely different cabin room compared to the one she was in, and she gradually became worried that they might be reprimanded for entering this special guest room without permission.
“Excuse me, but we..”
“Sorry, but could you let me rest a bit. ….I’m pass my limit….”
Mumbling those last words, he closed his eyes, and no matter how much Lydia tried to wake him up, he didn’t respond, as if he lost one of his bolts.
There was nothing she could do, so Lydia got up by herself.
She couldn't come up with anything other than checking the inside of the room. There was a spacious living room, three bed chambers, an office, and a wash room and shower.
“Amazing….., who could imagine such a room could be on a ship.”
She didn’t leave the room, because she didn’t want the ship crew to find her, and from fear that Huxley and his men might be looking for them.
“This is smells fishy.” It was Nico’s voice. He eyed the large painting that was hanged on the wall, twitching his whiskers. “Who is that man?”
“Who knows, but, he saved us from being tricked.”
“I don’t know about that. We could be tricked by him.”
Could we be? Lydia’s muscles became tense and trembled. But, there was no mistake that the man who called himself Huxley was suspicious.
As an assistant working for an university, there was no reason that could convince her for needing that many large built men as bodyguards in the same room.
“I guess we have to hear his side of the story,” she said, sitting down on the leather bound sofa. Leaning down into the soft silk of the cushions like they were a bed of feathers, Lydia felt the soft pull of sleep come over her.
“Hey, wake up, Lydia.”
She felt the wisp of Nico’s tail brush her cheek, flinging her back awake. It looked like quite some time had passed, as the sky had started to set, and the dark room was only lit by the light of an oil lamp.
She saw no sign of the man who had been sleeping on the carpet, and instead saw him through the open door of the washroom.
Their eyes met in the reflection of the mirror. Lydia’s eyes widened.
His hair, which used to be brown and disheveled, was now a shining gold. It looked like he shaved off his stubble, and he smiled back at her as he combed his fingers through his hair, his charm made him look like a different person.
“You’re awake. Your sleeping face was quite adorable.”
“If your cat didn’t hiss at me, I would have wanted to watch you longer.”
Nico sat on one of the cushion, looking the other way feigning ignorance, scratching his ear with one of his back feet. Normally, he’d say he didn't want to act like a cat.
“More importantly, your hair-”
“Oh, I had it dyed. If it was my normal color, I’d stand out. But, either way, I ended up being found by his brothers.”
He dried his wet hair nonchalantly. The eyes, which peeked through the sheen of his golden hair were those same ash mauve eyes.
Still standing in that spot, he disgustingly stripped off his worn-out dingy shirt.
“You’re in the presence of a lady, my lord.” The one who said that was a darkly complexed young man. She guessed that he might be around the same age as her. But for that, he seemed overly calm and composed, a strange servant who didn’t even faint a smile.
But, wait, servant? And, my lord?
“Oh, excuse me. I guess my mind hadn't quite adjusted to this situation yet.”
The young servant was about to assist in putting on the new crisp clothes he brought with him, but had noticed his injuries.
“My lord, you’re wounded...”
“They’re just scratches. They’ll be hidden once I’m dressed, so I’ll just change as is,” he said, setting his hands on his servant’s shoulders.
“Don’t be bothered by this, Raven. There is no use in killing someone for this.”
Kill? Lydia arched her brow hearing such a disturbing conversation. Even for a joke, it wasn't funny.
“Yes, my lord,” replied the servant. But his expression wasn’t one that was humored by a joke or one that was mulling over if he should really kill the one who injured his master. He just closed the buttons on the shirt swiftly with his fingers.
“But, I was worried that you might not make it in time,” said the servant.
“Everything ran just as planned, Raven. I’d like you to meet Miss Carlton.”
“Wait, why do you know my name...” interrupted Lydia.
“The Huxley brothers were looking for a young lady named Lydia Carlton. So that must be you.” Then he suddenly stopped his servant with his hand like he remembered something, and walked over to Lydia. “I’m sorry, I haven’t introduced myself, my lady. I’m Earl Edgar Ashenbert. It’s a pleasure to meet your acquaintance.” He took her hand and kissed lightly on her fingers.
She looked back at him wide-eyed, which he returned with an amused smirk. Lydia snapped back to reality, and whipped her hand out of his hand.
“E-earl? You? …I don’t believe it. I have need to go to London. If you’ll excuse me now.”
“You're too late. The ship has already left port.”
“What?!” She dashed over to the window, and sure enough, the port was a small dot far off in the distance.
“What is the meaning of this? This is kidnapping! And I left my luggage on the last ship, and I dropped my bag so I’m penniless, and we’re on this ship without a ticket, we’ll be caught as stowaways!”
“I’m shocked you thought of me that way. I promise to have you properly escorted to London. Once we’re done with business. I’ll have all your needs taken care of, and no worries, this is my cabin. I even have your ticket.”
“Then…you had the intention of taking me aboard this ship from the start? So being captured by Mr. Huxley, all of that was just an act?”
“That was real. I have no taste for cutting myself as an act.”
There were indeed cuts on his wrists and neck. Once she saw those vivid scares, Lydia lost her energy to assail him.
“Getting captured seemed like the only way to meet you. Because, I didn’t even know your face or description,” explained Edgar.
Which means, he got captured on purpose?
“Then.., there would be no point in dyeing your hair.”
“Oh, that, that was so they wouldn’t think I had the intention of getting captured.”
Lydia felt dizzy, like she was about to faint. Completely confused, she forgot to ask him the important question about what his goal was.
“Raven, what time is it?”
“Almost seven o’clock.”
“We need to hurry, dinner is about to start. Oh, yes, you would have to get dressed as well. We’ve been invited to join the table of the Marquis and Marchioness Eugen. They’re nobles of Denmark, and the ones who invited me on this ship. Since you can’t board without a respected invitation.”
A ship that he could bring Lydia along, but Huxley and his brothers couldn’t step foot on. There was no chance that he happened to be 'coincidently' invited on a ship that was moored at this harbor at such a perfect timing. He must of had his eye on this ship from the start and approached the Marquis and Marchioness to negotiate himself.
She began to tremble at the thought that perhaps, she might have been caught by an extremely dangerous man.
“You can’t be joking, Mister..”
“Please, call me Edgar, Lydia.”
Not paying heed to Lydia who glared back at him, he continued on in a good mood.
“Where's Ermine? Tell her to bring a dress for Miss Carlton.”
“Yes, I have it ready, my lord. Raven, that tie won’t go along with that cuffs color. Use this instead.” The one who entered with a dress and necktie draped across her arm, was a woman dressed in a man’s suit. She smartly wore pants that fit tightly around her waist, and wore a black coat just like the young male servant. Her hair was short, barely reaching her shoulders, and because she didn’t try to hide the curves of her body, anyone could tell at first glance that she was a woman.
Lydia wondered if she a servant of his as well.
“My lord, which do you prefer?” she asked.
“Well…, I’ll go with what you say. However, Ermine, that dress really isn’t my taste.”
“It’s not as if my lord will be the one wearing it.”
“I know that, but I’d like it more if the front was a bit more revealing.”
“There is no need for vulgarity at the table. This suits my lady perfectly,” stated Ermine. Even if she was a servant, it seemed like she had a more friendly relationship with him.
“Now, my lady, it you would please follow me,” guided the female servant.
Lead into the bed chamber, Lydia was helped in undressing herself.
“Um, I can do this by myself,” mumbled Lydia, who wasn’t used to being assisted in dressing.
However, she ended up needing as much help she could get, as it was too much of a formal dress that she wasn't able to put on by herself.
She needed to be stripped of her regulars and put on a new corset and crinoline, and carefully slipped the dress on, paying careful attention not to damage the soft ribbons, laces and the fine beads adorning it.
“Now, let’s dress up your hair.”
She felt like she was treated like a little child.
Having Lydia settle down in a seat in front of a mirror, the beautiful Ermine smiled at her; she was an attractive piece of God’s work, whose smile didn’t make others feel inferior, only charmed by the sight of her. Her face was set firmly resolved and resolute, but she wasn’t masculine at all. Even her short hair, which suggested her disinterest in flattering others, didn't impair her femininity.
Her white skin was spotless and smooth, her hair and eyes were a near black, dark brown, her brows were set sharp and her red lips, like flower petals, was absolutely seductive.
Lydia looked at the reflection of herself in the mirror; she was a girl who no one could dare say had a beautiful, fair complexion, and her hair was reddish-brown, not the least bit eye-catching, and her yellow, green eyes were so uncommon that it made people nervous, afraid even. Her eyes and nose were nicely proportioned, and only her father would call her a beauty, but due to her impatient personality, it just gave her an even more stern look.
Add to that, she was an ‘oddball,” so no one ever considered her as a woman.
She understood that keeping her long and full hair down, even though she was already seventeen, was childish, but she couldn't weave or set her hair pretty enough, and besides, no one cared. So at least, the only coiffure that Lydia could manage on her own was to arrange it in a braid.
“Ermine, it’s time.” Said a voice from beyond the door.
“Right away, my lord, now, we’re finished.”
While she was busy being absentminded, she saw in the mirror that there now was a elegantly dressed, unrecognizable refined young lady looking back at her. But, that was during the brief peek she was allowed, before she was swept off her chair and lead back outside.
“Amazing, you look even more beautiful.”
“Why? I also think that if you smiled, you’d look even more adorable.”
“What would I be smiling for?”
What’s wrong with this person. Lydia didn’t hide back the absurdness on her expression.
“…Now that I think about it, there is no need for me to accompany you to dinner,” she realized.
“Well, aren’t you hungry?” he asked, nonchalant.
That was true. She was. She only had one bite off a bread that was sold at the waiting area of the station at noon.
“I meant, that it would be more relaxing if I ate alone.”
“That is a waste, there’d be no opportunity for me to show you off.”
“Huh? I am not your accessory.”
“Of course, you’re the main attraction. I’m just serving as your foil. I guarantee they’ll like you. There are times where an inefficient escort can lower the value of a woman, but if all goes well, we’ll be able to show off each other much more attractively.”
So in the end, it’s all for your own sake.
Even though she felt rebellious forwards him, she was lead through the ship and brought to the door to the dinning hall.
The doorman made a respectful bow and opened the door. She was lead by his experienced lead but his lady’s first forced Lydia to step into the room.
“Like I said, Lydia. From this moment on, you’ll be showing me off. Remember that.”
That is quite an arrogant thing to say.
But he wasn't just bluffing.
In the grand hall, a wave of orchestra music greeted them. A chandelier sparkled above them, the silverware shined, and the jewels worn on the noblewomen glittered. At several tables, there were bursts of laughter.
Lydia was looking around nervously as she was smoothly escorted by Edgar who was, no objection, gracefully the perfect nobleman.
When he was dressed in that dirty outfit, his thin figure almost made him appear tired and weak, but once he put on an expensive tight-fitting evening coat, he seemed unassociated to worry or struggle, as it matched his graceful presence perfectly.
The tall, stiff white collar was turned up and tied with a cascade necktie. The buttonhole was a three colored violet.
His facial features showed both sharpness and sweetness, and his shining golden hair, was truly the ideal features of a nobleman that no one could to meet that easily.
What Lydia was feeling must be the same thought that anyone would imagine who had met him. As a young Earl, Edgar dazzled, not only the elderly Marquis and Marchioness husband and wife, but the other extravagant sounding named members at their table.
And as for Lydia, who was introduced as his friend, didn’t have to pay them any extra attention, but was allowed to silently enjoy the dishes that were set on the table.
According to Edgar’s story, Lydia grew up in Edinburg with her grandparents, was a respectable young lady who offer her efforts in charity works and was on her way to Leeds to attend a childhood friend’s wedding.
Her strict father wouldn’t allow a young woman to go on a short trip, but apparently, after Edgar offered her escort her there and back, he finally agreed.
It’s amazing how all of this is just pouring out of him.
“I’m so impressed; the Earl is truly dear to one’s friends.”
“If its to win the attention of a beautiful friend, then anyone would become eager to offer. Isn’t that right, my lord?
“I’m glad you'd understand. But, unfortunately, she only allowed to me to be a friend all this time.”
We only just met today.
But, the young man’s performance of sincerity was able to win a positive impression from the Marquis husband and wife, who were gazing at the Earl like he was their grandson, and the other older crowd of people as a pure, child-like adorable young man.
“Well, that is such a waste,” said one of the women.
“An ocean cruise is a good chance to get away from one’s old routine, if it’s on the waters, then any kind of women would feel the romance, don’t you think so, young lady?”
“Is that so, Lydia,” said Edgar.
Being spoken to with such kind voices, it felt slightly new and strange for her, since she felt like she really was accepted warmly among them.
“...I wouldn’t know.”
It did feel quite satisfying, but half of it was frustrating, but Lydia still replied friendly, which he replied with a sad shrug of his shoulder.
He must be well aware that only added to collecting the warm sympathy of the people around them.
“As one in a position trusted by her father, it’s unfortunate that I cannot court her any further.”
She was viewed as a self-restrained and reserved girl who was sought after by the handsome, young Earl. Edgar had presented Lydia like she was a saint.
So this is what he meant by showing him off.
Just sitting beside him, she received the envious gazes of the young women and daughters from other tables.
But that was meaningless to Lydia. Even if this situation was enjoyable and comforting, Edgar obviously wasn’t her friend; it was all a sham, like she was just embellished with fake jewelry.
Then, what was Edgar’s purpose in fabricating her as his feigning female friend. He did seem like he was just playing a game, but if this were a game, then that would be putting himself on the board as one of the pawns. A being who was worthless and meaningless once off the board.
Was it true that he’s an Earl?
“Oh, now that I recall, Earl Ashenbert, I heard that you were the descendant of the noble, legendary Blue Knight.” The one who asked was the man who was sitting at the edge of the table. He was the one that was just now in a heated debate about Chaucer.
“To say famous would be an exaggeration. For most of the British people, the Blue Knight Earl is just another fictional character like Hamlet. And not even as well known as him.”
“Oh so did the Blue Knight Earl truly existed? I have read F. Brown’s book and it certainly was a wonderful story.”
Of course even Lydia knew about the story of the Blue Knight Earl. Surprised at hearing the unexpected news that Edgar was the descendant, intrigued, she inclined her ear to their conversation.
The scholar began his interpretation of the reading to the curious noblewoman.
“Yes madam. The model of the character was a knight who pledged his loyalty to Edward I. He was led the attack against the crusaders along with the king from when he was still the crown prince. He said he was from the fairy world and spoke of various adventure tales about foreign countries which fascinated everyone… Brown’s writing depicts the work of the Blue Knight Earl’s fairy servants as trustworthy and helpful and was completed as a mysterious fantasy novel. But, aside from the fairy servants there indeed was an advisor of Edward I called as the Lord Blue Knight.”
Edgar remained silent, smiling softly and nodded, letting the scholar talk as he pleased.
“It is true that the Lord Blue Knight was granted the peerage of Earl of England by Edward I. Don’t you think that being the ruler of the fairy world and by pledging his loyalty eternally, the King of England would become ruler of the imaginative land of the fairies reflects typical English sense of humour.
“You’re wrong. Lord Blue Knight really was lord of all good fairies.” Lydia couldn’t stop herself from stating her truth.
All eyes at the table focused onto her. Oh no, I’m going to be laughed at again. Even though she knew that, she couldn’t stay silent after being offended by the scholar’s story.
“Um…because, Sir, if you say that you believe in the existence of Lord Blue Knight, then why do you arbitrarily decide the fairy world is a joke? Both of their stories have been passed down together, it’s wrong to say one is true but the other is a fabrication.”
“Young lady, the fairy part is too absurd but since document papers exists stating that a peerage was given to Lord Blue Knight, then there is no doubt of his existence.”
“Yes of course. But in those papers it should have written about Lord Blue Knight with his other name, as Earl of Ibrazel. In Gaelic, Ibrazel means the legendary fairy land beyond the sea. Making it true as well. Do you think that the people of the time thought of the fairy land as a joke?”
Edgar smiled back sweetly.
Could he have helped me?
The eyes of the group that were looking at Lydia skeptically, quickly unraveled.
“That’s true, people in the past didn’t seem not to believe in the existence of fairies and demons. Edward I must have believed as well. Then, I would like to ask the Earl himself. Do you have your fiefdom in the fairyland?”
“Of course, it was passed down to me from the previous Earl.”
By easily replying like that, they accepted that response merely as British sense of humour.
“Oh, I would really love to pay a visit.”
“The rule in the family is that the only one I am allowed to take with me is my bride.”
“Oh my, if a woman was persuaded with that then I would understand how Ms. Carlton would not want to believe in the land of the faires.”
“So that means I can still be a little hopeful?” Edgar glanced towards Lydia again with warm, nurturing eyes.
A conversation that was taken as a joke out in the open. But a strange time where no one makes denials about fairies.
Like a little game of make-believe.
With just a little help of Edgar’s art of conversation, Lydia wasn’t made fun of or and was watched over with warm eyes.
Her dull reddish-brown hair, that she couldn’t come to like herself, was envied and complemented by how it didn’t frizz and her green eyes that made her look like a witch or vamp was compared like a Peridot.
She became intoxicated by the high-quality spirits, the sparkle of the chandelier, and the smell of perfume.
Lydia absently thought about the human lord of the fairies, the descendant of the Blue Knight Earl might possibly empathize and accept her.
“I feel like I’ve heard a lifetime's worth of praises,” mumbled Lydia, as she refreshed herself on the deck from the breeze of the wind.
The sea was dark, and nothing could be seen. The white foggy smoke from the steamship floated up and covered the moon.
“This is absolutely ridiculous, those lousy servants, they served me milk in a bowl. What am I, a cat!? Who would drink from that?!” Nico, a gray-haired cat no matter who looked at him, was sitting arrogantly on a deck chair gulped down some scotch. There was a side dish of fried fish beside him.
“Hey, Lydia, could you make sure and tell them to bring a decent meal tomorrow morning, I want pancakes, bacon and hot milk tea.”
“You say it yourself, you can talk just fine.”
He tutted annoyingly. “Even if I said something, a normal human would just pretend like they didn’t hear.”
Well, anyone wouldn’t want to admit that a cat would talk.
“So, what was that man’s objective?”
“I haven’t asked yet. But, he claimed to be the decendant of the Blue Knight Earl. Maybe it’s something related to that.”
“The Blue Knight Earl…., if I recall, wasn’t that the legend about having rule over the fairyland? Which means the Earl Lord wants your help as a fairy doctor.”
Could that mean, he might already know that Lydia calls herself a fairy doctor?
But, with a head just barely awake from the spin of alcohol, she couldn’t think of him as the ruler of the fairyland and someone who’d understand her. He looked like a more practical person, a tactician type.
“But, hey, I still think it’s best we don’t get involved. That Huxley man and the Earl Lord is fighting against each other, right? Did you see both of them, trying to pretend to be lady-killers or something! At their level, it’s just embarrassing.”
“I think Edgar is actually quite handsome.”
“Thank you.” The voice from behind was the person in question.
She said her opinion without really thinking very hard about it, but she didn’t imagine that she would be heard by him, so Lydia couldn’t help from blushing.
“Uh, no, that was, I was just simply repeating the general opinion! So, it’s a completely different matter if I have any good feelings to you or anything!”
“Yes, of course. I’m the one who forced you to come abroad this ship, so I don’t have any hopes that it would be so easy for you to open your heart to me. By the way, who were you talking to?”
“Huh? ……well, that’s”
She sneaked a peek at Nico. He had already curled up like a cat.
“Is it strange? Talking by myself with a cat.” Lydia was only left to take a defiant attitude.
“Why? I think it’s marvelous that you can communicate your feelings with animals.”
There is no way you think that way. But then again, Edgar didn’t show the slightest bit of banter in his expression.
Only that he must have noticed the glass of scotch that was by the deck chair that Nico was laying on.
“Were you having another drink? Did you get tired after all?”
I said that I was just a little dizzy so I’d go get a breath of fresh air and left the table, but when he said it like that it makes me look like a drunk.
Becoming embarrassed, and angry at Nico who was feigning indifference, Lydia’s temper burst and she blurted out “It, it wasn’t me, it was Nico drinking. He drinks whenever he wants, he has no manners and bad behavior, on top on that, he’s a picky cat with his taste in neckties and his shiny coat, and complains that he can’t drink milk out of a bowl, and wants pancakes and bacon and milk tea for breakfast, he says nonsense like this all the time!”
As you would expect, Edgar was looking at Lydia wonderingly.
I knew it, even for someone like him, who says he’s the descendant of the Lord Blue Knight, I’m just an oddball freak. Noticing that, she signed.
“If it’s funny, you can laugh you know. I don’t know what you wanted me to do, but as you can see, I’m strange. Just let me get off at the next harbor…” Lydia stopped in the middle of her words because he suddenly stepped up next to her.
With his ash mauve eyes, he calmly gazed down at her. They were so close she could clearly see his blond eye lashes just with the lamp light.
“I was told that fairy doctors can see what others can’t see, and hear what others can’t hear. It is true, your eyes, those light green eyes seem like they can see through the mysteries of the world.”
So he did know that Lydia was a fairy doctor.
“You’re over exaggerating. I’m really not that big of a deal.”
“No, if you bring in the light, your irises shine like a golden flower. It makes you more mystical.”
That part of her eyes was what made others call her a witch, but having them complimented for the first time, Lydia was honestly caught off balance.
“…More importantly, are you really the decendant of the Lord Blue Knight? Then wouldn’t that mean you can also see fairies? If not then you won’t be able to go to your land.”
“Is that so. But the ability that my ancestors had to cross worlds, and the power to talk to fairies, all faded through each generation. The only thing I inherited was the title of Earl. My father and grandfather, and one before that, all traveled the world and lived overseas. I finally came back to England, but even if I wanted to greet Her Royal Highness, I don’t have the jeweled sword given to us by Edward I that is my proof to become the Blue Knight Earl.” As he spoke, he closed the distance between them, so Lydia was made to slowly step backwards.
“Julius Ashenbert, an earl of my family from 300 years ago, hid it in one of his lands and left on a long trip and died. The hidden location is only explained by a riddle, protected by fairies is what I’m told, and to get there are several fairy related steps, so for someone like me who wasn’t born with that power, it’s all incomprehensible.”
“The land you speak of, is it the Fairy Kingdom?”
“My family has land and castles even in the human world. Land given along with our peerage, others given as thanks for our services, and ones that were given to us by others.”
“And that’s why you need a fairy doctor..”
“But that’s not the only problem. There are others who are after the large star sapphire that adorns the jeweled sword.”
“Those others, you mean Mr. Huxley from before?”
“That’s right, the man who tried to kidnap you. He doesn’t know about the treasured sword being proof of the peerage, but as I’m also after the sword he is malicious towards me. If I were to die the line in the Earl family would end. I need to find it before it’s taken and make clear of my position in the Earl family. Lydia, will you please help me.”
Lydia took yet another step back, but felt nothing but air beneath her foot and lost her balance.
I’m going to fall. She realized she was by the stairs.
In that second, Edgar’s arm wrapped behind her back and grabbed her. She was strongly steadied and pulled back up to him. Lydia instinctively held on.
“Be careful, it’s dark,” he uttered with a sigh.
She had never been this close to a man besides her father.
“L, let go of me.”
“If I do, you’ll fall.”
She couldn’t help but think that he was having fun that she had to hold onto him.
“……Enough of this already!”
Just like with the lightness in a dance, he adroitly turned around as he held her.
Placing her back away from the stairs, he let go of her slowly, as if in regret.
Lydia was glaring at him, but he only returned a fearless smile. He must think there was no woman he couldn’t get what he wanted from.
“In my opinion, I don’t believe that you’re really the descendant of Lord Blue Knight. I don’t have any intention of helping an imposter get his hands on Lord Blue Knight's jeweled sword. So I-”
“Refuse? Then do you plan to swim home from here?”
“Are you implying that you’re going to throw me into the ocean?” Nervous, Lydia quickly stepped further away from him and the railing.
“I wouldn’t dare, I’m not such a cruel villain. Only that, I do want to warn you. It will be difficult to head home from the next harbor or to London when you're penniless. Furthermore, Huxley and his brothers are desperately looking for you right now.”
That meant Lydia had no choice in the matter.
There was no doubt she was being threatened. She thought he surely was a cruel villain.
He slipped out a key from an inner pocket of his coat.
“Your room. It’s on the same floor across the hall from mine. Please use it as you like.”
After handing it to her, he disappeared into the dark hallway.