“The fog has sure come out.”
The nervous young debutante, who was spoken to, lifted her head up that was faced down to take a quick peek out the window of the carriage they were riding.
The fog hung heavily around the city buildings, making the shape of the city structures vague and eery.
Her eyes recognized the Central Hall Cathedral, which stood tall and rising above the cluster of city buildings around it as the fog blurred its silhouette, making it almost appear like a giant was standing up and looking over the foggy city.
“It's nights like this that makes one think something dangerous could happen. It’s not a day for a young lady like you to be waiting for a hack on the side of the road.”
The young girl took a modest, small glance at the source of the male voice who sat next to her, but quickly turned her focus back to her hands that were placed on her lap.
“Yes, you are right. I really didn't know what to do when I got separated from my maid. I can’t thank you enough, my lord.”
“Oh, there is no need to be formal. I am so fortunate to be able to spend time with a charming young lady like you.”
“Oh, no, I...”
Even if she knew it was just flattery, she couldn’t make her heart beat slow down. The shy girl wasn’t able to lay her eyes on the owner of this carriage, which was grand on the inside as it was on the exterior.
This man, who possessed a rare personal beauty, was a young male peer that had just returned to London from overseas. His glistening golden hair and graceful stance gathered everyone’s attention from afar. He was the talk of the ton and said to charm the ladies and gentlemen and grabbed their attention with his smart, well-bred conversation. It was even near the Season, yet the hot rumor between the upper-class debutante daughters was always about this bachelor who hasn’t even been in London for a month.
And yet it was unbelievable that the rumored Earl had remembered a girl like her, who although he had met her, he had hardly spoken to her, and happened to pass by her when she couldn’t catch a coach, and offered to take her home.
Some one as shy and reserved as her didn’t really want to help out at the charity bazaar. For an upper class debutante daughter, it was one’s duty to be involved in such charity activities and she was aware that this was kind of a housekeeping training for a future marriage, and just when she was beginning to think it couldn’t get any worse, she was separated from her maid in the crowd, and the weather was turning sour.
The young girl stole another glance at the man next to her for another confirmation that this was indeed reality.
I wonder if Rosalie would be jealous, she thought, because she remembered her cousin’s heated conversation: about how she had fallen in love at first sight with this earl.
“You’re so reserved.”
Even without lifting up her head to look, she could tell he was smiling softly at her.
“Or are you regretting getting onto a carriage of a man you barely know?”he asked.
“On, no, I would never... Because everyone says Earl Ashenbert is the finest gentleman.”
“Rumors appear out of nowhere and disappear like the fog. No one really knows the truth and they aren’t interested in it,” he said and then unexpectedly leaned his body towards her, making her go stiff as a rock.
His supple fingers reached up to her coiffure.
But his fingers stopped just near the air around her locks and he pulled back his arm to reveal he was holding a tree leaf.
“Pardon me. This must have been blown by the wind.”
Without thinking about what she was doing, she looked up and their eyes met.
He gave her an impermeable, perfect smile but the young girl thought she saw some faint dark thing lurking behind them and shivered from fear of not knowing what she saw.
A man she hardly knew. He was right.
Even if he was a man with a prestigious family name and social position, she had no way of knowing if he was an honorable, true gentleman or not.
“They say there is evil lurking in the London fog. Are you aware of how many young girls and boys have been swallowed up and disappeared into this fog, Lady Doris?”
“N-No, I’m afraid not,” she said and shook her head, still unable to take her eyes off of him.
“Please be careful, so that you are not swallowed up by the darkness.”
The carriage wasn’t moving anymore.
The coachman opened the door, and she let out of breath of relief seeing that they were in front of her house.
How silly of her to imagine that she would be dragged into the deep, dark fog.
But after she watched the Earl’s carriage ride off down the street into the thick fog and out of sight, she could understand how people believed that man’s lands were said to be located beyond the realms of the fog, in a different realm.
Lord Ashenbert’s title was Earl of Ibrazel.
He is said to be the Lord of the Fairyworld.
“Doris, where have you been? Wasn’t that Earl Ashenbert in that carriage just now?” said a young girl’s voice from behind her.
“Rosalie! yes, uh.”
Her cousin Rosaile was facing Doris in front of the gate of the house and she must have been watching since she was fuming with anger.
“Are you trying to gain an advantage over me?”
“No, I would never.”
“Why aren’t you looking me in the eyes? Have you been hiding something from me lately?”
“No, I’m not hiding anything,” denied the young girl in a hast.
“Listen well, you will never be able to hide something from me. You had better not forgotten we swore an oath with a fairy.”
“Then, tell me. What was that letter you were writing behind my back?”
“Yo-you were watching?!”
“What? Was it something that would trouble you if I saw it?”
Which means she hadn’t read what was on it. Doris relaxed in relief, but that only angered Rosalie even further.
“Oh, you were hiding something from me! You haven’t forgotten that if you break our oath, that the fairy would come and punish you?”
She remembered when the two of them made an oath together on the fairy. They made a promise, that as friends, they wouldn’t keep secrets from one another. Her cousin said that if either one of them broke that promise, then the fogman would come to punish her.
“But, Rosalie, do you really think a fogman exists?”
“Of course it exists! Oh, I don’t care about you anymore! I will not help you if something were to happen to you. It would be wonderful if you would be kidnapped by the fogman and disappear!”
The fogman. It was a fog fae that any London child would be told growing up. She wasn’t at the age to believe fairytales, but she did believe some bit of it because it frightened her to no end.
The reason of her fear was because she witnessed the sight of a poor child who was captured by the fogman. It was only a vague, fragment of a memory of when she was a young child, but she was sure it wasn’t a dream. Because of that memory, the name of the fogman was the embodiment of darkness, death and fear itself to her, even now.
She wondered what happens when someone is captured by the fogman.
As she watched her orange-haired cousin run off into the distance, she felt the isolation of being abandoned in the fog all by herself.
Mayfair-it was a renown district where it housed the properties of wealth and prestige in London. It one of its corners, was Edgar Ashenbert's castle-like town house.
The young Earl, roughly around twenty, was said to have just returned to England, immediately bought the pale white building; and one of the rooms in it was Lydia's office.
As the private fairy doctor coerced into being hired by the earl family, it had been two weeks since this seventeen-year-old had started to commute to his residence.
Edgar had the title of an English earldom, as the fief lord of Ibrazel (fairyworld), however, he was not from the true bloodline of the Ashenbert family; just a man with an unknown birth and lineage. There seemed to be no mistake he was born from an aristocratic family, but he doesn't have a clue about faeries.
Just as most people were, he also couldn't see faeries or hear their voices, but fairies lived on the lands that he inherited as the earl and since they accept him as their overlord, he must have thought that problems would arise where he would need the help of a fairy doctor, and so he decided to hire Lydia.
From the era when faeries and humans lived hand-in-hand, a fairy doctor, someone with the knowledge of fairies and experience of trading with them existed, and their job was to maintain the peace between the two species.
However, now, in the 19th century, the existence of faeries was pushed into children's books, and everyone has forgotten that they were their neighbors. Even the existence of fairy doctors was thought of as rare.
That was why when Lydia opened her services as a fairy doctor in her hometown, there were hardly any job offers, and she was only treated as a freak. It was those kind of times, yet, she was officially hired as a fairy doctor.
It was easily said that this honorary position was unbefitting for someone as fresh and inexperienced as Lydia, but the reason she couldn't think herself fortunate and feel grateful was because of her employer and the face that she didn't know what he was thinking.
Like today, when she opened the door to the room that was supposedly her work room, she was enervated from what she saw and felt like she wanted to slump down.
The room was filled with flowers in vases.
"What is this?"
"Presents from the master," replied Tomkins, the butler, from behind her.
With speedy and crisp movements, unimaginable from his stocky figure, he laid yet another flower vase by the window.
"The master had duties and is absent today, but he wished that Miss Carlton would please spend your day leisurely." Lydia was relieved to hear that Edgar was out of the house.
"Then, that means I won't have to go off anywhere today." Since, she was practically dragged around everyday, to accompany Edgar to plays, and tea parties and recitals. She wanted to ask how any of this was the job of a fairy doctor, but two weeks had already passed since she was talked her way into going to all of those.
Lydia still hadn't done any decent, honest work.
But did Edgar really hire Lydia to have her work under him in mind?
Lydia thought she was practically his doll.
Even this room, didn't look like a work office at all.
The carpet and wallpaper had a yellowish, light green tone to set off the beautiful sofa and cloths decorated with fine lace and embroideries and the graceful silk curtains made with plenty of pleats.
Even the cabinets had glass ornaments and ceramic dolls lined up in them, making this room look liked it was home to an adolescent girl. She couldn't imagine what he was thinking.
And, several of the ordered dresses have arrived, so please verify their sizes.
What? Dresses? She stopped Tomkins who was making his way out.
"Yes, they are for when you will be going to the Royal Opera House next month."
"Opera? I wasn't told anything about that."
"Then, you shall be informed soon. We have prepared several dresses for in the future when you go to the social settings where you will need them. Oh, please do not feel offended. This is just one of the equipments for your employment supplied by the earl family.
"Um, but, what do you mean by social settings? How is that related to my work? Besides, it's not right for you to include going to the opera in my schedule without consulting me."
Either way, girls were ornaments to him to stand beside him and help magnify his charm. And because she felt that, Lydia had resistance against this flower presents and taken out to glamorous social gatherings.
"In the case you said that, Lord Edgar stated he would put me in a dress and drag me along to the opera house. Please have mercy on this old soul."
One couldn't tell it off as a joke when Edgar said it. Lydia wanted to put her head in her hands.
"Mr. Tomkins, aren't you tired of serving Edgar?"
His family had been in service as the Earl's butler for generations and he was eager to serve his new master who had returned from a three-hundred year absence, but she was curious to know if he was happy with that frivolous young chap.
"Miss Carlton, it is the duty of the master to swing around his butler. By how well the butler can dispose his master's orders, proves his qualifications as a great butler."
"Oh..I see, so it's a world of competition."
He turned up the corners of his mouth, which made her guess this was a challenge worth doing for him.
"But I have no intention of playing competing with Edgar."
Lydia tugged her shall over her shoulders once more, and left her office.
"Where to? My lady."
"I'm free to do as I please, aren't I? Then, I"m going to take a little walk."
The thought that if she were to sit still here, made her think she was doing just what Edgar wanted her to do and that was irritating.
"It looks like the fog will be getting thicker in the afternoon," mentioned the butler.
"You can tell?"
"Yes, the humidity in the air tingles the fin on my back."
"Then, I'll be back before that."
Even though Easter had passed, the spring winds were taking their time and hadn't arrived in London, and so, there were no signs of spring approaching and a number of foggy days continued.
She wondered how long she had to stay here in London. Lydia had originally only came out from the Scotland countryside to spend Easter with her father.
Lydia's father lived and worked as a London university professor, and had actually been worried about leaving his daughter to live alone at their Scotland residence; and so he mentioned that it would be better for her to live here.
But for Lydia, that countryside home of theirs was her haven, where her memories rested about her mother who passed away when she was little, and above else, she loved how it housed many different trees and plants and fairies.
Even when after her grandmother died, and Lydia was left alone, her father didn't force her to move to London.
Even if she were to choose her country living now, her father was sure to agree.
But, the real problem was Edgar.
Since she was hired by the Earl, she wouldn't be able to leave London without Edgar's permission.
However, in Lydia's case, it was more like she was more forced to go under his employment, and so she didn't have to be worried about being fired, so she was able to stay confident in that area.
To have a job that dealt with fairies was a rare one, but she couldn't make herself think that going along with Edgar's playful antics was part of her job, and so she thought it might be possible to retire back into the countryside still as his private fairy doctor.
She tried to think of a good way to convince Edgar to that idea, and as she thought that, Lydia wandered her way to the park.
"Oh, goodness, this fish is really awful."
The one who said that was the cat who was by her side without her knowledge.
No, he wasn't really a cat but a fairy, and he was walking on all fours like a normal feline on top of the brick wall.
"Nico, you better stop secretly taking your meals from the stores."
"Now I understand why the alley cats aren't even going near the place. The food was not meant for me."
Nico paused to make sure there was no one around and he jumped down from the wall and stood up on his two hind legs. He straightened up his fluffy gray fur coat and adjusted the necktie on his neck and puffed out his chest like a proud gentleman.
"Then what is that?"
Lydia spotted his tail wrapped around something like he was carefully carrying it.
"They said it is a tin can. According to the hobgoblins who were sleeping under the eaves, this has the most delicious thing to eat in all of London."
"But that's a can of fish."
"What, fish? I never saw a fish like this."
"No, I mean, the fish in is in the can. It evens says on the label that it's an herb marinated fish."
"Huh? So this is a container? There's no way it can be; there's no hole to put it through."
"Well, yes. Because the lid is sealed tight; you'll need a tool to open it."
Nico was examining the can by turning it round and round and knocked on it to test its hardness and as he began to realize what it was the hair on the back of his neck rose up in outrage.
"That bloody hobgoblin-! How dare he trick me! Just because he couldn't open it up himself to eat it, he practically stole my walnut bread! On top of that, inside it is fish?・Lydia snatched the can away from him as he was about the throw it.
"Now, don't get too bothered by this. Let's have it opened up later. Even if it's fish, I'm sure it's something that couldn't be normally caught around here."
From there, along with Nico, she entered the greenery - filled park through one of the small dirt paths.
The sky was filled with clouds and the fog was starting to set in around them, but entering an area surrounded by trees was just relaxing in itself.
Because of this weather there was no one around, and she was able to spot faeries among the squirrels and small birds who bopped their heads out of the tree branches.
It wasn't much compared to the woods of Scotland, but places like this in London still had many fairies. Once they figured out Lydia could see them, a human who could see them must have been rare, as they began to gather into a swarm around her.
Sitting down onto a bench, Lydia listened to the playful conversations of the fairies. Listening to them wasn't like trying to pick up the meaning of their words, most people wouldn't know that it was more like enjoying listening to the chirping and twitter of small birds.
As she calmly let the time roll by, the view around suddenly grew dark. She thought a big cloud of fog had rolled up around her, but she heard the deep, rumble of dog's barking.
The fairies immediately flew away in all directions. It seemed the dog's barking was getting closer.
"Oh, no, Nico. I wonder if there's stray dogs on the loose."
"What, you have to be joking. I'm out of here."
"Oh, wait, Nico!"
As soon as he vanished, a bush right beside her moved unnaturally.
A large dog stepped out growling. One by one, more came out from the dark and circled around her.
"No.. go away!"
One of the canines jumped up to attack her, and she didn't hesitate to throw the can that was in her hand. It hit its mark, and the dog tumbled to the ground, but it looked like that only sparked and stirred up the other dogs.
Just when she was about to break off a branch, a figure appeared from behind the tree trunk.
It was a large man clothed in all black and he appeared like he came rising up out of the fog.
"Fogman...." Its name slipped through her lips as a whisper because the sight of him resembled the ominous faerie that was said to appear out of the fog along with a pack of fae dogs.
The man reached out his hand towards Lydia.
She felt the tinge of dizziness from the smell of strong chemical drugs.
What? A kidnapper?
However, just then, the man's body went stiff. And still in that same position, his body craned forward and fell to the ground.
A pool of blood oozed out from under his body and soaked the ground red and the one who stood behind him as he looked down with absolutely no expression on his face was a young man with hazel skin.
Lydia knew who he was. He was a fighter from overseas who was like a walking killing weapon and Edgar's loyal servant.
Next thing Lydia knew, the fangs of the wild dog in front of her.
The young man rocketed at her with the knife in his hand aimed at the dog. In one slash, he gashed opened the animal's neck.
Within a blink of an eye, he stood guarding in front of Lydia and knocked down the dogs one-by-one as they charged at him.
"We must leave, Miss Carlton."
"But, uh, Raven, why are you,"
"Hurry, we need to leave this area."
Urged on, she followed after him.
When they finally reached an area where there were some people, Lydia suddenly felt sick.
Although she was out of that unnerving situation, she felt like the smell of chemicals and blood were swirling around her.
She checked her clothes and hair and they weren't dirty or stained at all, yet, she felt as if she was soaked with invisible blood that was splashed back onto her.
It was no mistake that her life was saved by Raven, but she was more frightened than thankful because she witnessed his merciless way of killing.
"Couldn't you go easy on them just a little," was what she wanted to say, but Lydia knew that that sort of standard evaluation of his was much too different than hers.
"My lady, are you hurt anywhere?"
"No, ....I'm fine."
She just didn't want to be touched, and so Lydia somehow managed to straighten her spine.The city was sure a dangerous place.
She never imagined that she would be attacked during the day in a deserted area.
She even needed to watch out for pickpockets and purse-snatchers in crowded areas, and even if there was no one around, thieves or perverts would be looking for a chance to go after her.
It wasn't hard to imagine that someone would eye a person like Lydia who didn't know her way around London and was walking around alone.
But still, to have Raven follow after her didn't put her at ease at all.
Because Edgar's loyal servant also happened to be a ferocious killing animal. There were still parts about him that Lydia hadn't fully grasped.
But the part about not knowing someone good enough was the same for Edgar who was his master.
"Lydia! Thank goodness, you were safe."
Edgar came running into her flower-filled work office, and overly reacted like he was relieved and quickly took both of Lydia's hands.
Lydia only looked at him with a frown, and he looked back at her with a sweet smile like an innocent child, but she knew there wasn't a once of innocence inside him.
Lydia speedily shook off his grip.
"Yes, I was safe. Thanks to you having Raven trail after me." She tried to have every word that came out of her mouth filled with sarcasm, but Edgar wasn't hurt at all.
"I'm glad I could be of help."
"That's not what I meant, what is the meaning of this! If that pervert didn't appear, then that meant you were going to have Raven report every single little thing I did without me knowing it, weren't you?"
"I didn't anticipate that. This was purely for the purpose to guard you."
Lydia stared up at him like a hawk as he looked back at her worryingly, but those soul-melting ash mauve eyes and stunningly handsome looks hid what he was really planning skillfully in the dark.
Edgar was still 'a mystery man' to Lydia.
From the corner of her eye, she saw Raven entering the room through the doorway.
"This is medication for Miss Carlton. Since she reported of a headache."
"Is that true, Lydia? It must be because you went through such a terrifying experience." As he said that, he leaned in as if to peer in closer to her eyes, which made Lydia scoot herself the other direction on the sofa.
He was a man who didn't hold back on creating an intimately short distance, and he wa aware that no one wouldn't desire a man with his looks and sweet words and seductive gestures, which was all the more troublesome.
For Lydia, who was called an oddball and excluded from the group and hence not used to being in close contact with the opposite gender, all of that appeared improper and displeased her, but he carried on in spite and laid his hand on her forehead.
"It doesn't seem like you have a fever."
"It's because I saw blood, but I'm fine now!"
Edgar turned his eyes towards Raven. Thanks to that, he leaned back and finally let there be some room between the two of them.
"Blood? Did you kill?"
It was normal for Raven not to move a muscle on his face. He was forever loyal to Edgar and didn't give any excuse and answered his master's question in a calm, composed manner.
"One man plus four."
"He had dogs with him."
Edgar's eyes dropped down as if in deep thought but then he opened his mouth to speak to Raven.
"All right. That's enough."
With a nod, Raven set down a glass of water and medicine on the table, as well as a tinned iron object.
"I also picked up this up which was dropped by Miss Carlton."
It was the tin can that Lydia threw at the dogs.
Edgar picked up the object and looked at it curiously, it had a corner of it bent-in.
"A can of fish?"
"No, it's a weapon. Most likely."
Raven wasn't the sort of person to make a joke, so that must mean he thought Lydia always carried around a tin can to be ready to throw it at something.
She felt a little embarassed for some reason, and glared at Nico who was curled up in a circle on the cushion pretending to be a cat.
As if saying it had nothing to do with me, Nico opened his mouth in a yawn.
"Hmmm, and how would you use it?" teased Edgar, after he saw Raven leave.
"Would you like to find out?" Lydia replied.
"No, I think I'll pass."
Replying with a crack of a smile, he stood up to sit down on the sofa opposite of her.
"By the way, Lydia, I would like to ask you not to walk outdoors by yourself from now on. If being with Raven makes you uncomfortable, then you could have the head maid accompany you, plus you can use our carriage to go from your house to here like always."
"You don't have to over-do everything like that, I'll just be more careful from now on."
"I'm not over-doing this. All the daughters from respectables homes do the same."
"But I'm not a peer. I'm used to traveling by myself and I prefer to."
"This isn't Scotland, but the capital of Her Royal Highness. People judge you by the way you dress and act. Your father is a member of the Royal Academy and a known professor among the upper class. You are his daughter, so you should be aware of the social etiquette of a proper lady."
"Father doesn't mind any of that."
"But would he oppose for you to become a proper lady? It isn't that strict or formal. As long as you don't miss the basics, saying something odd or acting a little strange wouldn't become an issue. Even if you see fairies, or hear them, and talk yourself tired about their existence, people will just think that is a characteristic of your personality."
I'm not sure if that's true.
In the countryside town, Lydia was treated as a lunatic because she went around claiming that she could see faeries. On the other hand, Edgar announced his title of Earl of the fairyworld, and yet he was accepted without any troubles.
That didn't mean that the upper class believed in the existence of faeries, but they only accepted the seasonal sense of humor of the family that had inherited that name from generation to generation; but the reason society accepted him so readily was probably because of how Edgar was able to act like the ideal, perfect nobleman that no one could find fault in.
"So that's why a former gang member like you is able to walk around with that proud upper class face."
"Yes, that's why."
However, Lydia didn't wish to act like a peer. Even if that benefited her, she was stuck about the point where she would be doing what Edgar wanted.
"The reason you want to dress me up like a lady is because it would take away your boredom, wouldn't it? You must be out of your mind to supply this office and send these flowers."
"You didn't like it? I chose everything with your image in mind."
"Huh? How would I?"
"Like this rose, it's a rare species that blooms an ice-green flower. If you look at it under the lamp light, you can see it shines in golden green, just like your eyes."
He pressed his lips lightly against the rose that was near him. He looked at her with his heated, luring eyes, and they made Lydia be under the impression like she was the one getting a kiss on her eyelid.
Edgar stood up and continued his conversation as he walked over to Lydia.
"And you are the fairy in the flower garden. By having you sit here, this room is completed like one marvelous painting. Just like I thought; it's a beautiful sight. Ahh, yes, would you allow a small violet to bloom beside you. To stand in my place so that I can always be watching you; I think it will highlight that beautiful caramel hair of yours."
"Ohh, all right! Fine! So, just stop."
She regretted that she asked, and he held out a violet in front of her-it had the same color as his eyes-and although tired, she accepted it.
She nearly forgot that if this lady's-man was allowed to keep his mouth open, then he would endlessly keep on coming up with ways to complement and flatter the person, no matter what kind of person they were.
Edgar shrugged, like he still had more he wanted to say.
He had the trait of openly speaking lines that was too embarrassing for her, but she knew what he said wasn't what he really meant. Even if she knew that, she felt like he would somehow sneak into her heart if she were to allow him the chance, and that terribly upsetting for Lydia.
"I treat you as a lady because I didn't hire you as one of my servants. It's because I feel you are an important, irreplaceable member of this earl family."
He spoke in an unusually serious tone and placed his hand on the back of the sofa Lydia was sitting on.
"This title was something you gave me, and so this isn't just mine alone, but I feel it was thanks to you. You, as a Fairy Doctor, are my important partner."
"I prefer to work behind the stage. I don't want to dress-up and become your accessory."
"A jewel's value is only when it captures and mesmerizes the eyes of many people. It's a waste to leave a young and beautiful fairy doctor behind the curtain."
It was true that she was a young chit, but it was a personal opinion and completely subjective if she was pretty or not. She wasn't ever complimented on her looks other than her family, and she didn't consider herself attractive. She was told time-and-time-again that her looks were too stern and her personality was too harsh.
Although Edgar was an exception, he was sure to be saying the same sort of flattering lines to anybody.
As she thought that, she started to become a little irritated.
"And, why is that? Isn't it to make you stand out more."
"No, that't not it. I mean to say..., that I always want you by my side."
He said it in a timid tone like he was unconfident; and that made it seem like he was confessing his unbearable feelings for her.
Lydia desperately tried to calm the racing beat of her heart.
Edgar was a man not to be trusted. He wasn't twisted from the core, but he could do any heartless act if it was necessary.
If Lydia's help was needed for the Ashenbert family, then he would think up of any way that would keep her here.
"Do you want to keep an eye on me that much? Is it because I'm the only other person besides Raven that knows you were the criminal that was supposed to be executed in America? I don't have any plans of revealing that, so you can relax. For all the faeries that accepted you as their new earl, I'll do anything I can to help as a fairy doctor. So it isn't necessary to flannel me or pretend to flirt with me."
Edgar lowered his eyes to the floor, the sight of him looked like he was heart-broken.
Why are you making that face? Because you felt stinged by what I said?
There's no way he was hurt, but, still, Lydia felt a tinge of guilt. If it wasn't a lie when he said he thought of Lydia as his partner, then she would be the one who hurt him by dening and questioning his feelings.
"I see, I never imagined you hated me that much."
"Uh, I didn't mean," said Lydia, as she stood up and called out to him like she wanted to stop him.
"Then, does that mean I'm not hated?" Edgar whipped away in a blink of an eye and he suddenly had her hands in his.
"It's not like I particularly hate..."
"So it's more towards like?"
The smile that made any girl fall under a romantic illustion came right up to hers.
"I-I'm not either! I am the Fairy Doctor of this house, nothing more and nothing less, so you should stop talking about something so improper. Let go of my hands," she dauntlessly told him, with her eyes firmly looking up at his.
Edgar made a sour smile but he still let go of her hands, so that must have meant he sensed her feelings about there being no romance or desire.
"All right, all right. Then let's talk about something that might make you happy. Do you know about fogmen?"
She already had her back to him, but hearing that, she whipped around.
"What about a fogman?"
"Hmmm, when faeries come up in the conversation, your golden green eyes give off a keen sparkle. I wager my strong rival are faeries, no doubt."
Lydia was no longer listening to what Edgar was saying. Because she was remembering the time when she was nearly attacked at the park.
Of course, it wasn't a fairy but a human man that came after her, but she couldn't help feel fate of hearing the word fogman again.
"There is a female visitor here who wishes you hear your opinion. I know you just been through a frightening experience, but if you're not tired, would you mind paying her a visit?"
As he watched Lydia leave the room, Nico raised his body up from the cushion and sat himself upright on the chair and crossed his legs.
"Oh, no, she's played just like the Earl wanted her."
He took a silver spoon into this paw and using its reflection, he fixed his necktie.
The more high class a fairy was, they could make their reflections appear and disappear at will.
He was unsatisfied about the part where he was frequently mistaken for a cat, but for the moment, he liked his lush, oxidized silver fur-coat, his eyes that shined like jewels, and his manly whiskers.
"I wonder what's going to happen. It's obvious that he's a scoundrel and as long as he doesn't do anything to Lydia, then there's no use for me to stand up," uttered Nico but as he said that, he wasn't really against Lydia going in-and-out of the castle-like estate of Edgar who was beginning to consolidate his position as earl.
That was because the tea here was just so delicious.
The food and spirits were also quite excellent. The air was filthy in London and it was so noisy, and he was really getting tired of this city, but he was beginning to rethink about staying here at little bit longer.
"Gheesh, listening to his overly sweet talk made my tea go cold."
"Shall I pour a fresh cup?"
The one who came into the room was the butler.
"Yes, make it especially hot," asked Nico, handing out his teacup.
This butler had merrow blood in him, and so he had quickly realized Nico's true self. And so, Nico stopped pretending.
Edgar might have sensed something, but Nico didn't have the intention of lowering his guard around him, so he continued to pretend like a cat.
That man still had things he was hiding, so there was no reason or obligation for Lydia and him to reveal their secrets.
Giving the sense that something was off and making him believe he would never be able to understand their true nature was just right.
"Oi, Mr butler, what is that earl thinking up of next?"
"Oh, as in?" said the butler in a half-hearted reply, as he poured hot Darjeeling into the cup.
"A while ago, I spotted him taking off down to the downtown area by himself. He was dressed in a completely different fashion than his usual perfect self, like one from the lower class and mingled in with the common folk in dirty clothes.
"Wouldn't you have been mistaking that for someone else?"
"There was no mistake. Even if he could hide that bright blond head of his under a commoner hat, he could never be able to hide that presence of his. He stands out in a crowd no matter what. You would know that. I can't say how he's different, but he has an air about him that makes him different than the rest of the crowd."
"Then, who was the girl that he invited into his carriage three days ago?"
"Did someone get on?"
"Lady Walpole, was what she was called, but what is she to him, I don't know. Is he going after her?"
"I haven't the faintest idea."
"Humph, are you trying to prove that a good butler doesn't spill his master's secrets? Well, bravo, you pass."
Tomkins only replied by curving his full lips into the shape of a smile.
That was what this man's features resembled, because he had merrow blood, and that made Nico lick his lips.
Nico then remembered and turned his eyes over to the tin can on the table.
"Oh, could you open that up? That can."
"Will you be eating it directly from here?"
"I'm just going to give it a taste."
From his pocket, the butler took out a chisel. Nico was amazed at how he had been carrying that around with him.
He stared at the can, swallowing the wad of saliva in his mouth as he wondered if it was really the most delicious thing in London.
Just then, he saw the tin can shake a faint shiver.
As if it was trying to resist Nico trying to eat it, it emitted hostility through its steel cover.
"Hold on right there!" Nico stopped the butler who was about to put a hole into it by his chisel.
And then he took the can and tapped it, shook it, and clamped his fangs onto it.
When he set it down onto the table once more, it gave a slight tug into the opposite direction as if to escape.
Could there be some strange creature lurking inside it?
However, because of its hermetical seal structure, one had to open it in order to know what was inside, but it would be too dangerous to try to open it when you didn't know what it held.
"For now, I'll hold back on taste-testing it," said Nico crossing his arms, as he looked down at the can.
Escorted by Edgar, Lydia entered the salon facing the south of the house to see that the visitor was a woman, who stood up to greet her with a nervous expression.
"Sorry to keep you waiting, Ms Marl. This young lady is my Fairy Doctor, Lydia Carlton."
Hearing his introduction, the woman let the anxiety roll off her shoulders.
"Oh, my, so she is, I had imagined that I would be meeting an old woman like some sort of witch. I'm a little hesitant to relay my story to such a young lady, it might frighten her."
A fairy doctor isn't a witch. She raised her eyebrow as she thought that, but it was a common mistake, however on second thought, she decided that it wasn't something to make a fuss about.
"There is nothing to worry about. If it's about faeries, then she is perfectly aware of their ferociousness."
Edgar invited Ms. Marl to take a seat.
"And so, weren't we talking about how the late Baron's daughter Miss Doris Worpole had been taken away by a fogman?"
Ms Marl sat herself down, and at Edgar's question, she drooped her head.
"Yes, that is correct. My lady hasn't returned home for three days. She had left the house to help out at the charity bazaar and according to the maid who accompanied her, they had gotten separated somewhere at the site, and they do not know of her whereabouts since."
A baron's daughter went missing. And, the story seems to be that she was kidnapped by a fogman. Lydia tightened her expression at the seriousness of the situation.
According to Ms Marl, the sixteen-year-old Doris' parents had passed away and she currently lived with her ward uncle and her female cousin who was one year older than her.
Ms Marl had been the tutor in the past for the Worpole family, but she left her post due to her marriage, but had been keeping in touch with the baron daughter even after that. Since she was a distant relative of the baron family, she was searching for the whereabouts of the baron daughter and worried for her safety as her friend.
However, because this sort of incident would be seen as a disgrace and could possibly negatively affect the future prospects of marriage for an upper class young debutante, her search was secretly managed within the baron family, but when Ms Marl brought up the possibility of the fogman, she was laughed at and it was never brought up again.
Well, Lydia was also frequently laughed at for bringing up the topic of faeries, so she knew how she felt.
That was when Ms Marl mulled over on what to do, and in the end, aware that she would be revealing the secret that Lady Doris may have been unintentionally involved in some sort of dangerous incident, and came to pay a visit to ask for help from Edgar.
Apparently she felt he was sincere, trustworthy and so she could rely on him. But, Lydia's thoughts on that were, she has sure been tricked into thinking that.
Even though she was married, Mrs Marl was still a young woman, and quite attractive, so Lydia could understand how Edgar would want to put up a good face in her presence.
"Yes, I remember the fog that day was so thick you couldn't see two steps in front of you," said Edgar.
But just because of that, normally no one would jump to the claim that it was a kidnap by a fogman.
"Then, why do you think it's a fogman? Even if she did disappear on a foggy night. These days, there aren't that many people who take the fogman seriously," said Lydia.
"Yes, honestly, I still don't really believe in it. I'm so sorry, even though I'm here to ask for your help about it. But, we have no clues, like she had disappeared into the fog. And, my lady seemed to seriously believe in the existence of the fairies like the fogman. She was absorbed in the 'fairy egg' game. I heard that it's like a fortune-telling game and if you break your promise to the faerie, it's said that the fogman would come to punish you, and so I remembered she was quite frightened about that, and I was bothered at how panicked she seemed."
"You don't know, Lydia? It's very popular amongst the young ladies."
Why would you know a game that's favored amongst girls? Lydia really wanted to question that at him, but decided it was only silly.
"You lay a piece of paper that has all the alphabets written on it on a table and lay a glass ball and coin on top of it. With a few members, you put your finger on top of the coin and call out to the faerie that's supposedly in the glass ball. There's two ways of doing the game, one or two friends would make a promise and swear an oath to the 'fairy egg'and the other is where you ask questions and the faerie would answer them. For the question game, the faerie uses its invisible power to move the coin and point to an alphabet, so you can find out if the person you're interested in shares the same feelings as you, or you can find out if there is someone who likes you."
"So you've tried it."
"I have. It's quite fun. All the girls were thrilled and were screaming with joy. When you move the coin on top of your own initials when they asked who their future lover would be, the girl would really grow conscious of you, it's so much easier than trying to win her over."
You good-for-nothing man.
Lydia glared at him with loathing eyes, and he only turned the corners of his mouth upward. But when he turned his face back to Mrs Marl, he quickly shifted his expression to the look of worry.
"So, Mrs. Marl, that fairy egg is just a simple game. Even if there wasn't a fairy, one of the participating members must have purposefully, or even unconsciously moved the coin. Only those young ladies must all believe it was the power of the fae, so if they broke their promises or let go of the coin in the middle of the questioning, they are overly worried and scared that they would anger the fairy."
"But, you can't be for certain that there wasn't a fairy. They love to play pranks. If there was something inside the glass ball that would interest them, then there could be the possibility that they got near it and something interfered with the fortune-telling."
The lady bent herself forward in a worried gesture.
"Which means, if you were to offend or upset the fairy, then there's the possibility you could be taken away somewhere by them?"
"Perhaps, we can't be certain to deny that possibility, but a fogman is surely not the kind of fairy to be interested in a coin game. Its body is like a mass of evil and malice clumped together with a demon spirit. It's not the type to trade or negotiate with humans."
Oh, my lord, uttered the lady, shivering.
"Edgar, is it true that the fogman would punish those who participated in the fairy egg game?"
"Who knows, when I participated, there was no mention of the fogman. We just called it 'Mr Fairy.' And I don't think that the punishment was that severe enough to make the young girls worry so much about it."
"That would make sense. Or else, it wouldn't be a game. Then the only thing that bothers me is the fairy egg game and the fogman and how they are connected with Lady Doris mentioning about them."
"But, Lydia, couldn't there still be the possibility that she was taken away by a different fairy who likes to play pranks."
"That's...hard to say at this point."
"Then what should we do? Is this in your area of work?"
It was also important to decifer if this was the act of a fairy or human. Lydia didn't hesitate and faced the lady.
"Of course, I will search for her. If I can be of any use."
"Uhh..." uttered Mrs Marl with a dubious look.
"Couldn't you be able to summon out a fairy now and ask them the location of my lady, or look into a crystal ball?"
It looks like she had mistaken the role of a fairy doctor with a psychic or fortune-teller.
"Umm, I cannot solve mysteries using any magic. It's just that I'm a little educated about fairies is all, and all I can do is look for any clues that any faeries have left."
At her answer, Mrs Marl didn't hide her disappointment.
Her reaction also depressed Lydia.
The lady had come here hoping for an answer. Even if her only help was someone who could use magic, she must have be looking forward for someone to clearly indicate where the baron daughter was and if that place was here on earth or in a different realm.
A fairy doctor's dull performance wasn't something lavish like using magical powers in front of the clients so they weren't usually well understood and depended on.
That's why most of the time, they were seen as oddballs to the rest of society.
"Would that be meaningless for you? Mrs Marl. Like how you ask around to different people, Lydia here would ask around to different faeries. If something happened to Lady Doris in a deserted, empty area, then maybe a fairy could have been there and seen it."
Edgar softly spoke to the lady. Apparently that reassurance had worked and she had a satisfied, happy look.
"Yes, you're right. Please Miss Carlton, please find my dear friend."
Lydia showed her gratitude and nodded.
Edgar turned to hide one side of his face from the lady and gave her a wink. Lydia understood that he just gave his timely hand of help for her, but she couldn't help think he was kidding around when they were in a serious situation
But, amazingly, Edgar was well aware of what a fairy doctor was. That could have been because he himself had hoped for knowledge about fairies than magical powers from Lydia in the past, but from the start, he didn't regard her with excessive curiosity or overly be fearful of her.
The reason she couldn't brush him away even though she knew he was a dishonorable man, probably came from that part of him. .
Since there hadn't been anyone in the past who had decently understood and accept Lydia's ability, so that made her look over Edgar's flaws.
Maybe that was the reason why she would be thrown around.
"My lord, thank you very much. You were the only one who honestly listened to such a laughable story about fairies."
Mrs. Marl looked over to Edgar with a some what calmer expression.
"On top of that, you were kind enough to encourage me that your fairy doctor would be able to solve this problem. Since there's nothing I can do when it comes to fairies."
What? Edgar was the one who came up with that offer?
Lydia was certainly surprised about that.
However you think about it, there was no way this man thought this was the work of a fairy. He claimed that the fairy egg's fortune-telling was a simple game that had no tricks behind it. And yet, it was irresponsible of him to claim to her that a fairy doctor would be able to do something.
She had the small feeling that he was purposefully trying to drag Lydia into this case.
"Not at all. I had met Lady Doris before, so naturally I got a little worried."
He gave the lady a crack of a smile, as Lydia coldly stared from the side with dubious eyes.
Now that she thought about it, would this man really offer his help in an innocent attempt to help another?
Or, did he just want to act like a kind gentleman in front of a lady?
She didn't know the answer, but she felt like she was conviniently being used by him.
Perhaps, he might be planning on doing something against the law again.
At that moment, the thought that drifted across Lydia's mind was maybe he was the culprit, which was a doubtful suspision, that wasn't based on anything, against this former criminal who didn't think or feel anything against breaking the law.