At the middle of the night in the corner of the city, there was a trail of gentlemen who all entered the same building one by one, which was located off of the main street as quietly as they could, so they wouldn’t call any attention, like they were avoiding any unwanted notice.
Watching that from the corner of her eye, she entered into the same building from the backdoor.
The place the men and she went into was the gathering place of the Association of the Spiritual and Psychic in the city of London. Tonight was the night when they were going to hold a ceremony to call down the spirits of the dead.
This association of the spiritual and psychic that was an organization which gathered to call down dead spirits and make mysterious occurrences happen and be able to talk directly with the spirits was recently the fashionable thing between the people who were interested in spiritual occurrences and activities. Tonight, she was invited as a spiritualist to one of those associations of like-minded people who researched those kinds of spiritual phenomenons.
She was passing herself as a very-well known spiritualist in America. However, she knew most of all that she didn’t have that kind of power, and never did anything near that of the practice of a spiritualist.
Though, all of the preparations were ready. She was going to need to act the part.
After she was guided into a waiting room, together with the old woman who accompanied her, she let out a sigh from all the nervous tension in her.
The brightness of the gas lamp made her in turn more nervous.
“Don’t worry. You’ll be able to do just fine, Seraphita.”
The old woman spoke encouraging words to her, as she dimmed the lamp light for her.
In the next room, it seemed like the nobles that were invited had gathered. From beyond the door, she could faintly hear the noise of lowered voices whispering and mumbling amongst each other.
The next room was where the spiritualism was going to take place, and so the gentlemen in that darkened room were sure to be wondering aimlessly about. As they were feeling fear, shame and curiosity in the ritual to call for the spirits of the dead.
In that group of people, there might be the man she knew. No, he was sure to be here.
She took the chance and courageously walked over to the door and opened the peeking window.
In the group of the dozen or so men, she was immediately able to spot him. Her heart beated rapidly.
Where ever he went, he stood out.
There were thick curtains covering every window-like opening in the room and although there was just the light from the one candle in the dark room, his brilliant golden-blond hair soaked up all the light there was and shined radiantly.
Even though he was just casually standing alone in the lingering crowd, the beautifully sculptured side of his face and his elegant impression emitted the aura of noble blue blood. He must come dressed in that old, worn-out evening coat so that he didn’t stand out, but it was apparent that he was from a different class than the poor nobles who had gathered.
It was like that from the past. Even if he shared his meals and bed with the street boys in the deserted houses in the slums, he was called sir even if he didn’t wish it or not.
The high-class English and etiquette of the upper-class that was soaked in him from the core and with his noble spirit of being born as a peer made him be able to walk amongst the leading members of the underground society.
If there wasn’t someone who was trying to catch him, then he could have climbed up to rise out as the leader of the group of underground society boys.
His eyes scanned the inside of the room but his seemingly casual eyes didn’t allow anything to hide or sneak out of his vision. If one was looked upon by those eyes, she thought that they would be under the impression like he would be able to look through their mask and easily discover their identity.
If he were to notice, then she wondered what he would think.
The old woman heard Seraphita’s faint whisper and lifted her head up as if she had something to say, but in the end, she remained quiet.
Earl Edgar Ashenbert. That was his current name.
It seemed like he had become a famous figure in the London ton, and appeared to this spiritual ritual knowing that it was a trap.
However, it was unknown how much information he had grasped about them.
Seraphita had her eyes fixed on him, and watched as his eyes stopped when they met a middle-aged woman.
She sat in the corner of the room with her head facing down. The only woman in the ritual room was this Mrs. Collins.
The spiritual ritual that was going to be held tonight was prepared for her.
She was the wife of a wealthy man who had a number of cotton mills in Manchester. Her reason in coming to Londonwas to find a marriage partner for her daughter.
It wasn’t unusually these days for the newly rich to put a handsome dowry on their daughters in order to find a husband who had the title of a peer. Mrs. Collins was one of those.
On the other hand, for the aristocrats who had peer titles who were having a difficult time continuing their peer lifestyle are starting to search for lower class daughters whose parents were profiting in their businesses.
However in Mrs. Collins’ case, the problem was that her daughter had already passed away.
In other words, the spiritual ritual tonight was a particularly bizarre gathering that was held to call back her daughter and then choose a bride groom from the number of poor aristocrats who were so desperate for money that they would marry a ghost.
However, of course, that young earl’s finance wasn’t in peril and he must have no intention of marrying a ghost.
But there could be that possibility, as he was a man who would court anyone as long as it was a woman. He might have some interest even if it was a ghost.
When she closed the peeking window and stepped away from the door, one of the spiritual association committee members whispered to the waiting room to start at any time.
It was almost midnight, the perfect time to perform a spirit calling ritual.
She pulled down her black silk veil to hide her face.
“Let us go, Seraphita.”
The old woman stood in front of her and opened the door of the waiting room that lead to the spiritual ritual room where everyone was gathered.
At once, everyone’s eyes focused on her.
Slowly, she walked into the room and as she did, she flew her eyes around to look at the members in the room from under the veil.
In order to successfully perform the ritual, she needed to confirm who sat where.
However, as soon as her eyes came to him, she was captured by his sharp eyes.
She had thought she was prepared and took caution, but she couldn’t take her eyes off of him for a while. Her face shouldn’t be able to be seen. And yet her heart beat raced and her fingers trembled.
Until she met him face-to-face, she had a feeling like she wanted him to notice her. However, suddenly, she feared being noticed.
She was sure to be seen with scorning, contempt eyes, but she had the desire of wanting to see him even if it was for just a bit, and she hated that part of herself.
She somehow managed to take her eyes off of him, and from there, she didn’t look towards his direction.
The platform of Victoria Station was filled with passengers and people who were seeing them off.
Peddlers with massive loads of luggage, families who were saying their farewells to loved ones, and dignified gentlemen and their ladies departing off to spend a small vacation trip.
In between all those people who had all kinds of different reasons and climbing abroad the train, Lydia was nodding to the words of her father who was saying the same thing that he had been repeating for who knows how many times.
“Lydia, be careful by yourself while I’m gone.”
Lydia’s father, a professor in mineralogy had been invited to take part in an academic conference that was going to be held in Paris. He was just going to be away from London for a mere two to three weeks, and yet, as he kept checking the time, he seemed like he didn’t want to part with Lydia.
“You don’t have to be so worried; haven’t I’ve been living by myself all this time in Scotland.”
“Over there we had familiar faces all over town and it was a peaceful place, wasn’t it? But London is dangerous.”
“We have a housekeeper and I’ll be working at the earl estate, so there’s nothing dangerous at all.”
“The earl…., oh, yes, the earl. I guess he could be reliable….”
But he is the most dangerous, she thought he mumbled to himself.
Lydia was a fairy doctor. She could see fairies and talk with them. The earl who hired her as his private fairy doctor, was Edgar Ashenbert, who had the title of Earl of Ibrazel (the fairy realm.)
Just as his name, the earl from the past generations all had an estate in the fairy world, and as they got along with the fairies, they were said to be acknowledged as a dignified figure amongst them.
Even now, the name of Blue Knight Earl that was associated from the family ancestors was the most renowned human name amongst the fairies.
However in the present times, not long after the earl family bloodline had died out, because Edgar, who had inherited only the title for various reasons, didn’t have the magical powers in order to communicate with fairies, he had hired Lydia.
Putting that aside, what Carlton was worrying about was the earl’s personality.
The rumor about him being a philandering lady’s man was the absolute truth. He was sure to be worried to leave behind his only daughter who was of marriageable age.
“I’ll be fine, Father. I’m not that slovenly of a daughter.”
“Of course I know that. Oh, yes, I wanted to give you this before I depart,” as Carlton said that, he took out a small box from inside his coat and handed it to Lydia.
“Your mother made him look after it before she passed away. After you grow old enough, she wanted you to have it when you turn to an age when you would start to think about marriage.”
Lydia grew uneasy when she heard the word ‘marriage’ from her father.
Oh, no, he doesn’t know, does he?
“I-I have no such plans.”
“Your mother said that I should maybe hand it to you when you turn sixteen or seventeen. I thought it was too early for you, but you are working as a fairy doctor, so I really shouldn’t treat you as a child forever.”
It was just a month ago when Lydia was asked for her hand in marriage by a fairy and left the human realm. She immediately came back, but for Lydia who had the power to be able to communicate with fairies, she was not the ordinary daughter. As long as she dealt with fairies, who didn’t understand the normal acceptable human practice, and was asked for his bride, then as her father, he wouldn’t be allowed to give any time to give her his blessings.
Carlton was taught that and so he must have been mulling over until today and he thought he should finally hand over the item that his wife had trusted him with.
With mixed feelings, Lydia opened the box.
There was a pendant in it which dangled a clear gemstone with a faint blue hew.
“It’s a gemstone called aquamarine.”
“It’s like….., the color of the ocean water.”
“Your mother said that she was handed this down from her mother around your age. And her mother from her mother…., well, it’s that kind of thing.”
Lydia didn’t know about the homeland of her mother who left her house as she had pretty much eloped with her father.
But when she heard the story he told her, it was strange as she felt a faint nostalgia to the island she never say located in the far north.
“Thank you, Father. I’ll treasure it.”
“Well, then, I’ll be off now.”
She kissed his cheek goodbye and watched her father climbed abroad the train.
The steam train left Londonjust as scheduled as it headed off towards the English Channel.
Inside the box along with the pendant, there was a letter from her mother.
[My dear Lydia, I wonder how you are when you are reading this letter. You said you wanted to become a fairy doctor like mother, so I wonder if that came true. A fairy doctor is quite a unique profession, so no one will lend you their hand. I worry that that doesn’t put you through any painful paths, but before you are a fairy doctor, please don’t forget that you are a young woman. Someone who stay by your side and support you will be your treasure.]
It was a short letter, but she was filled with happines from her mother’s love.
Lydia wondered if her mother thought she was also in love with someone just like how her mother and father met.
Or perhaps, since it was an era when people didn’t believe in the existence of fairies, her mother might not have wanted her to be fixated on being a fairy doctor and desire happiness as a normal young woman.
“Maybe Mother thought I wasn’t suited in being a fairy doctor….”
That was a point that the inexperienced Lydia was also constantly feeling. But, once she started it, she wanted to become a fully fledged professional.
Fairy doctors, who were specialists in fairies, gave their advice to people who were troubled by the pranks and magic of fairies and their main job was to solve those troubles.
In turn, there were cases when they would help fairies who were being sustained by human troubles. And by obtaining the trust of the fairy clans like that, they would be able to make negotiations and exchanges with fairies in order to protect the interests of humans.
“That’s why I have no time to think about marriage,” spitted out Lydiaaimed at no one as she looked up at the sky from the bench she was sitting on in the park.
The sun shined bright high in the sky, beautifully coloring the short summer of England. The wooden bench was basking in the sunshine and surrounded by a sense of openness and yet felt cool and dry, letting her forget that she was the in the big city of London.
She had her hour of coming into work to the earl estate shifted to afternoon so that she could see off her father. She planned on spending her time and drawed a deep breath.
Of course, Lydia had nothing to complain about of her work office at the earl estate which was so comfortable, but Lydia's love for the smell of the trees and musical sound of the wind was greater.
“Oi, Lydia, the newspaper published another article on that scoundrel. Two pages even. He sure is popular.”
She looked up to the source of the voice and saw there was a gray-haired cat sitting atop of a thick tree branch. It was Lydia’s fairy partner. He had the form of a complete long-haired cat, but he walked up on his back legs and spoke like a human. Even now, he straightened his spine and sat perched on the branch.
Nico skillfully folded up the newspaper which was as long as him with his two hands and tossed it down to Lydia.
Again? Thought Lydia as she looked down to the paper.
Lydia’s employer, Edgar Ashenbert was, at the moment, the star of the gossip in the tabloids.
The beautiful young earl. There were endless number of women who was rumored with him who was a smooth talker and a lady’s man. He was so famous that there was no one who didn’t know him in the fashionable society.
Coupled with the unique name of Earl of Ibrazel (the fairy world), there was an increasing number of interested individuals in the commoners class and there were reporters, who have never met the earl, who were scrambling to pick up and write his romantic relationships that had hardly any credibility.
But to Lydia, she thought every one of them was possible if it was Edgar.
The article this time read that the earl had dueled with a certain noble over a beautiful widow and inflicted a major injury to the other man. Another one was about how he made advances to a female spiritualist who was invited by the City of London’s Association of the Spritual and Psychic; both of which were stories that commoners would jump onto with interest.
“Those are fat lies.”
There was a voice that spoke to her right by her.
Edgar looked down to Lydia from behind the bench and smiled at her.
Just when she saw that, he quickly came around to seat himself down next to Lydiaand moved up right next to her as if they were cuddling lovers.
“Wh-what do you want?”
“I just wanted to see you. I thought you would be here.”
His shining golden-blond hair and his elusive and mysterious ash mauve eyes were right in front of Lydia.
She nearly watched in awe at the smile that was well-aware of how handsomely sculptured he was, but she hurried to shake her head.
“It’s nice to have a talk outside for once. If this was inside my house, you wouldn’t pay me any attention and focus on your work, and we just got engaged, yet we’re unable to spend any time as lovers.”
Lydia made a strong fist with her hand that was placed on her lap and tried her best to talk in a calm tone.
“I have no intention of being engaged with you.”
Getting herself into an engagement with Edgar was like falling into the trap he had set for her.
Nonetheless, thanks to that promise she was able to return from the fairy world so she couldn’t carelessly state that out in a loud voice.
Taking advantage of that, since then, Edgar treats her like his fiancée as if he was trying to brainwash her and continued to woo her with sweet, courting lines.
“Lydia, why don’t we go to the beach? England’s summers are so short and we can have you take off from work and spend some quality time at the shore. Professor Carlton is going to be in Paris for some time, right?”
Go on a trip with him in Father’s absence? That would surely cause unwanted misunderstandings.
“No thank you.”
“I adore that cold-hearted part of you, but at this sake, I think we should step away from our daily lives and foster our love together.”
Who and why and how is there ‘love’ between us, you skirt chaser!
As Lydia glared at him with piercing eyes, she drawed a deep tired breath.
The reason he was so obsessive about his engagement with Lydia wasn’t because of love or affection. He was trying to keep her by his side because she had valuable use to him.
No matter how much sweet words he spoke to her, she couldn’t believe it was from his heart.
“Don’t you know how many lovers you have?”
“You shouldn’t trust what’s written in the gossip papers. Hey, Nico, don’t you think so too?”
Wanting another’s agreement, Edgar looked to the tree branch.
“Yeah, the gutter press papers are filled with lies, just like you are,” said Nico in a disgusted tone and vanished.
Edgar shrugged his shoulders and Lydia let out a sigh.
However, now they were alone.
Ohh, of course, she realized that Edgar brought up such a lame topic to Nico so that he could drive him away, but it was too late as he already had his hand on Lydia’s shoulder.
She was flinching at the possibility of an array of flirtatious words that might come falling on to her.
“Pardon me, Earl Ashenbert.”
The one who interrupted them was a balky man.
“And you are?” replied Edgar in an irritated tone as if to say don’t interrupt us.
“I was told by your butler that you might be here.”
The man apparently knew of Edgar and he turned out to be a police detective from the London Police Department. Lydia was filled with fear and nervousness, but Edgar didn’t change his insolent attitude.
“Are you familiar with a seamstress named Maggie Morris?”
It was about another woman again. But to have the police involved, this wasn’t going to be pretty.
“I don’t recall. Did something happen to that lady?”
“Her body was found floating in the Thames River. According to her seamstress coworkers, she went out saying that she was going to meet Earl Ashenbert, ….in other words you.”
“That wouldn’t be me. For some odd reason, there are insolent imposters who go by my name these days.”
He faced and spoke towards Lydia like he was trying to persuade her that all of the countless number of articles about his relationship with women written in the gutter papers were the works of those kind of men.
“I see. Since the honeyed-over rumors about the magnificently handsome earl, the jewel of the fashionable society, the mysteriously dashing young noble from the fairy world are all reaching our ears, so it must be a handy name in deceiving women.”
“Then I can relax that you’ve understood that I’m unrelated?”
“Maggie had, uh, apparently dreamed about marrying a rich, wealthy man and so conducted in a behavior like a noble’s daughter like how they talked and carried themselves. It seemed she was lying around that she was born from a prominent family but her father had passed away and so on. Although in reality, both her parents are alive and her father is a drunkard. She was quite a beauty and it seemed like there were many men who believed she was indeed an unfortunate noble’s daughter, but eventually the truth about her was found out and she was repeatedly jilted. But then, she was able to get acquainted with some noble and was so heated up that if he wanted her, she was willing to give up her family, and was so elated that she was bragging about your name to those around her. her claim that he was a blond and quite a young earl matches your profile, so my lord, do you still have no memory of such a young lady?”
“I don’t know.”
“Young daughters have a tendency to get absorbed in their dreams and wouldn’t listen to their parent’s warning and follow after an ill-intentional man. This isn’t that rare of a story, but it would be quite unfortunate for her parents.”
Oh, like you’re the one to say that, thought Lydia to herself. He was a man himself who was trying to take out a daughter while her parent was absent.
“I would like to ask just in case, but where were you on the night of Friday?”
After a little thinking, Edgar replied:
“On a picnic in the outskirts of the city.”
“Is that wrong?”
“Who were you with?”
He replied with a number of names, but for some reason, they were all male.
Lydia thought that there would be no such mussy and fussy picnic, and then dropped her eyes down to the tabloid that was left on the bench.
On the article about the duel, the name of the man that was inflicted with a massive injury happened to be one of the names that Edgar said.
Oh, no, is the picnic with males only actually the site of the duel?
“Hey, how dare you say this is a fat lie! You were in a relationship with the widow…..”
Lydia’s mouth was covered over again.
“Nothing, just something between us. More importantly, if you can verify with those men, then you’ll be able to know that there is no mistake that I was with them.”
If the picnic at night was a gathering for a duel, then his opponent who was injured and his second and the witnesses would need to confirm that Edgar was at that place as well as keep a tight-lip about the illegal duel and claim it was a ‘picnic.’
But to participate in a duel, how dangerous.
“Why did you do such a dangerous thing? What happens if you were killed. Is it something so important that you have to risk your life!”said Lydia, pushing away his hand.
“I thought I could win.”
“Are you an idiot! You could have been the one who might have been injured!”
“So you’re worrying about me.”
W-why would, I, worry.
“I’m sorry, I promise never again to do something that would sadden you.”
He hummed the words with a soft and sweet voice. For a moment, her mind went blank, but Lydia snapped back to her senses and let out another
“You don’t have to promise!”
“Was it that dangerous of a picnic?” asked the detective.
Oh, no, she finally realized her slip-up and shut her mouth.
“Yes, since a demon could have appeared.”
“Ohh, a demon. So it was a gathering with occult-maniacs.”
The detective must have grown tired in not wanting to spend any more of his time on the bizarre hobby of the upper-class and quickly finished his business.
“I understand, thank you for your cooperation.”
“If the offender was the one who used my name, please do catch him. I don’t want myself to be written up in the gossip papers and give the wrong impression to my fiancée.”
“Oh, so you had a fiancée?”
“This is her.”
Since he looked over to Lydia with melting eyes of love, she wasn’t able to say anything to retort immediately.
“Uh-huh, is that so. My blessings to you both.”
Along with those words, the detective was quick to leave and didn’t look at all like he believed her to be his fiancée.
So he thinks I’m not suited for him at all?
Well, one would think that of course.
Her rustic-brown hair was always set down, and she wasn’t that particularly attractive and she wasn’t a noble’s daughter who wore the latest fashionable dresses.
“……Do you see that. Who ever sees me, doesn’t see me as your lover. Even if a reporter for the gossip papers was here, they wouldn’t put me in an article.”
“That’s because we don’t have enough amorous air between us. Because you don’t allow me to even kiss you.”
Oh, this is bad, sensed Lydia and hurried to stand up. But Edgar took ahold of her arm.
“Wait. Let me properly explain.”
“About the widow.”
When he brought that story once more, she started to become irritated.
No matter how much he spoke to her of things that would give a woman expectations, he was still just a frivolous man. She should have known that, but still it made her upset.
“I’m just a friend with her. She came to me with the worry that that man wouldn’t break up with her, and so I went in between the two of them, but things didn’t go well and it ended up like that.”
“I thought your principle was that you don’t become friends with women.”
“However it was in the beginning, there are times when we end up as friends.”
Which means, either way, the two of you were in a relationship!
“Anyways, don’t include me with all of your countless female friends or lovers.”
“I set it right and broke up with everyone.”
“Once we’re engaged, that’s the proper thing to do.”
I thought I said we aren’t engaged.
“Anyone would have an old love or two in their past. Are you going to be upset over something that’s already over?”
He says past, but it hasn’t been six months since he arrived in England and it’s unimaginable how many lovers he really had than just one or two. It was too suspicious if he really did end them.
Lydia didn’t know where she could possibly start in counterarguing with him.
“You are all I have.”
That was impossible.
“How about the spiritualist? The dancer from Soho? The daughter from the family who owns a bank?”
“A fabricated story by the gossip papers.”
“There’s no way to tell. Since you’re such a liar. You could say that you broke up with them, but you’re just thinking it’s safe as long as you’re not found out.”
Lydia was questioning him, and yet, he was beaming with a happy smile.
“……..What’s so funny.”
“Nothing, just that I thought our lover’s quarrel is coming along nicely.”
“This is nice; we’re like a couple in how I’m being pressured to answer if I was cheating or not.”
Lydia realized how she had been acting.
That’s right. It didn’t matter to her how many women this man was in a relationship with or if he still was in a relationship with them.
“I wa-wasn’t pressing you or anything. I wanted to, that’s right, it has nothing to do with me. You just wouldn’t drop the topic so I….Oh, my, goodness, I just wanted to say that I’m not going to believe in anything you say!”
She was speaking in an unnatural manner which put her in a deeper confusion all the more.
“You’re so adorable even when you’re angry.”
……I wonder if I’m going to survive until Father gets home.
Suddenly feeling so tired, Lydia came to worry about herself.
In the members-only high-class club, which was the social gathering spot for the gentlemen, the night was filled with laughter and commotion as the men with leisure played throughout the night.
There was spirits and tobacco and opium. They were free to enjoy themselves in the comfortable, lavish room with games and gamble and even discussions with their friends. Out of all the pleasures in life, the only thing missing might be the women.
In club houses like these, normally women weren’t allowed. The English fancied just gathering with men, which was incomprehensible to Edgar.
However, there was a necessity to come to this club tonight. After he was passed into one of the private rooms, the owner of the club Slade and the painter, Paul were waiting for him.
“And so my lord, how was the spiritual ritual last night?”
“Did you find out about anything on the spiritualist?”
With a quick greeting, they rushed into questioning him. The ones who brought the information about the spiritualist was these two, in order words, the secret organization ‘Scarlet Moon’ that were members of.
The two of them looked so serious that he wanted to play with them first.
“Yes, she was quite the beauty. She had her face covered with a veil, but I’m sure of it. Her figure was perfect as well.”
“Uh-huh….. That’s not what I meant, my lord, what on earth were you looking at. That woman might possibly be working under Prince….”
Slade was starting to get heated up from irritation and Paul was trying to calm him down by his side. Edgar was satisfied that he was able to anger the short-tempered man and so he got to the point.
“There’s no mistake that Prince is involved. As for them, I can guess they cleared their first step in their plan to lure me out.”
The one named Prince they were talking about was Edgar’s nemesis in America. The man had killed off his family and kidnapped him when he was still a child and made him his slave.
Although, Edgar was able to escape from Prince’s hands, he didn’t imagine that he would be allowed to continue on like this.
It wouldn’t be strange if they were going to launch some plan they set for him pretty soon.
He had every intention of taking up that challenge and even planned to destroy that organization along with that man eventually.
In order for that, he was proceeding with an investigation with the help of the ‘Scarlet Moon’ which was an organization that also held hatred for Prince.
And through that, they came up with the conviction that someone sent in from America by Prince was starting to work in London.
This someone at hand went with the name of Ulysses. This man had accepted a massive amount from a money lender who did business with Prince.
What ever he was planning on doing, it was sure to be money that he was going to use for his next plan.
The name Ulysses sounded familiar when Edgar was being under the capture of Prince. He never saw the man’s face but he anticipated he was one of the most looked-upon subordinates.
However, they weren’t able to get the exact whereabouts of Ulysses himself as he didn’t make an appearance anywhere. They had no information of what kind of person he was.
What they were finally able to find out was the existence of a spiritualist that Ulysses if being the patron of.
They didn’t know yet what Prince’s subordinate was going to start doing using the spiritualist.
However this spiritualist went around announcing that she was an acquaintance of Earl Ashenbert and made contact with members of the upper-class who loved the occult, so it seemed like they had the intention of luring out Edgar.
To that, Edgar purposefully made his appearance. Even if it was a trap, he wanted to make the point that he wasn’t hiding in fear of Prince.
He thought that if there was a way for them to win without going as the enemy planned, then the first thing was not to be afraid of the enemy.
“I was told that it was to choose a bridegroom for the ghost daughter.”
“Yes, she made her choice.”
“What, so you met the ghost?”
“I didn’t meet her, so to speak…, it’s unclear. For now, there are four men, including myself that were chosen as candidates. They’re going to call us back on anther occasion. In the other three, there was a man who went with my name of Earl Ashenbert.”
“Could he be Ulysses?”
“I’m not sure yet.”
As he said that, Edgar remembered about the spiritual ritual.
With the invitation to the London city Association of
the Spiritual and Psychic that the ‘Scarlet Moon’ obtained in his hand, Edgar
attended the spiritual ritual using an alias of Viscount Middleworth.
The room he was lead to had all of its windows covered with thick curtains and there was a large round table placed in the middle of it. The carpet that was laid out on the floor erased any kind of footsteps and so the room was severely quiet even though there was a number of people gathered in it.
In the dark, gloomy room that had only one lit candle, it was hard to decipher the faces of the invited gentlemen, but according to the report that was done beforehand, none of them were people who were acquainted with Edgar in the ton.
The ton was a costly place. The nobles gathered here were ones who couldn’t afford that.
After a while, the door in the back of the room opened and a small old woman came walking into the room.
「Gentlemen, thank you so much for your patience. We would like to start the ritual so please have a seat.」
Everyone did as she said quietly and after they all sat around the round table in a circle, a woman who wore a veil entered from the door that the old woman entered from.
The spiritualist wore a black dress and a black veil. Since her face was covered, her looks and age couldn’t be guessed. Edgar thought by looking at the faint line of her face that she appeared to be on the slimmer side and quite young.
After she sat down on the only vacant chair, she slowly took a look at the faces that gathered in the room from under her veil.
It could have just been his imagination, but he felt like her eyes stopped to linger like a panic when they hit Edgar.
The spiritualist must have been unable to bear under Edgar’s piercing glare and so never looked over to his direction after that.
「Is everyone ready. The one who we will be calling tonight is the daughter of Mrs. Collins here, the ghost of Miss Teresa Collins.」
The one who opened her mouth was the old woman who stood behind the spiritualist.
「Mrs. Collins had come to London in search of a powerful spiritualist.
There must have been some kind of work done from beyond in the spiritual world for our Seraphita here to come at such good timing to England.」
Seraphita, it was a name of a beautiful angel. He wondered if she was just going to have someone introduce her name and not reveal her face or let them hear her voice.
「Please forget your feelings of distrust and wish from the bottom of your hearts for Lady Teresa to appear.」
Seraphita lifted her hands to lay them on top of the table and took the hands of the men who sat on both sides of her. Everyone who sat around the circular table all joined hands with one another.
The old woman stepped out of the room and then the only lit candle that was placed on the table blew out even though there wasn’t any gust of wind at all.
At the same time, the room went instantly into pitch black.
For a while, there was silence. Just when the guests were starting to feel nervousness from the thought that this silence might last forever, they heard a faint voice that could barely be heard.
It was the low-toned voice of the spiritualist which had no intonation to it as she mumbled something that sounded like she was casting a spell.
As she spoke, from somewhere in the corner of the room, there was a sound like something creaking. As everyone was listening to it, there was a sudden loud banging noise like something pounding against the wall. The sound moved around throughout the room making periodical bangs against the wall, like it was trying to let people know that it was there.
The men on both sides of him fidgeted, like they were starting to get seriously afraid of what was going on.
Darkness took away one’s self-possession and calmness. It wasn’t impossible for someone to believe that what was happening right now was the work of a ghost.
Edgar was used to controlled and pressing down his feelings of nervousness and fear. This kind of darkness didn’t even fall under a dangerous situation for him. That’s why he was able to calmly think that there could be a possibility that the old woman could quietly come into the room.
Eventually, when the banging ended and it fell silent, they felt the presence of the rustling movement of someone’s clothing like that person was walking right by them.
The spiritualist’s whispers had ended. At that time, the one in the room was the presence that seemed like it was slowly walking around the room behind the men who sat in a circle.
If the souls of the dead had possessed their presence and breathing like this and if there was a possibility that they had come to this realm like this a number of times, then what meaning could there be in mourning their death at all.
As Edgar was thinking that, he was reminiscing about those he lost.
Her father and mother and his comrade and friends who fought along side him to escape from Prince.
Ermine, who confessed her betrayal to Edgar when they faced freedom right before them in their grasp and yet threw herself into the ocean.
Even now, when he periodically remembered her, he would fall into regret from the thought that he could have saved her.
She had went through more grueling cruelty much more than Edgar from Prince. Because of that, he wasn’t able to realize that her soul was being under his control till the end.
If her real self, not an illusion, was able to have an actual presence here in the living world and come from the land of the dead like this….
Just then, Edgar’s attention was immediately focused to what was happening.
Because the mysterious presence that had been circling around the table had stopped right behind him.
For some odd reason, he thought that. Without thinking about the ghost of Lady Teresa and the live person who a part of this trick at that time, he simply sat and felt the hand that touched his cheek.
Ermine, are you forgiving me?
When it came to the candle being lit again, of course there was no shadow or figure that was mingling around them and there was no sign that anyone had let go of the next person’s hand, only the smell that was similar to jasmine floated about the air like it was the only trace of the ghost’s appearance.
Mrs. Collins was crying in broken sobs. She must have completely believed that the presence just now was her daughter’s.
The door in the back opened and the old woman appeared again to announce the end of the ritual.
「Was there anyone who felt the sign from Lady Teresa? We will have only those gentlemen come another day to meet her.」
Meet her? Are they saying that they were going to be able to see a ghost.
「What kind of sign?」someone asked.
「The sign of being chosen by her was being touched by her or hearing her voice.」
「Then it looks like I have qualified.」
Edgar lifted up his hand.
「May I have your name?」
The old woman nodded and then another hand was raised from another seat. Out of those men, he heard someone introduce themselves as Earl Ashenbert and so Edgar slowly and quietly turned his head.
It was a young man who could be described as good-looking in his middle twenties. He had blond hair but that was the only characteristic that could be said he shared with Edgar.
The gentlemen all created a stir as they must have known the name at least of the Earl Ashenbert.
He thought he heard someone say that why would the lord of the earl house be here when he couldn’t possibly have any financial issues.
I heard the rumor that he doesn’t have any particulars when it comes to women…., was the next comment which meant they could have understood but kind of astounded at the same time.
Edgar thought to himself that he wasn’t that destitute that he would go after a ghost.
「Then, later on, we would like to send out another invitation to those four,」said the old woman.
The spiritualist then stood up and bowed to everyone. She took the old woman’s hand and just when she was about to head out into the room in the back, there was a light that seeped through the gas lamp from the door and shined through the spiritualist’s veil and revealed the side of her face.
Edgar was instantly captivated by that sight.
Because, she looked exactly like Ermine.
He didn’t think and ran over to grab ahold of the spiritualist’s hand.
「Please do not, my lord.」
The old woman tried to get in-between them and Edgar paid her no heed and continued to get close to the spiritualist.
「Miss Seraphita, was the one who touched me earlier really the ghost of the last Lady Teresa? Was it not these slim fingers of yours?」
He guided her hand up to his cheek, and confirmed that yes, it was indeed this touch.
The spiritualist’s eyes met his through the veil and froze for an instant, but hurried to take back her hand as she silently left the room.
Ermine, or a woman that looked exactly like her.
If he used that kind of woman, then it was sure that Prince was laughing at him now that he was able to make a show of his power.
But, he couldn’t allow himself to become emotional.
Edgar gulped down the gin that was brought to him by the server in order to calm himself down.
“You are able to get your hands on the names of the nobles who participated in the spiritual ritual from the spiritual association, aren’t you? I’d like you to investigate about the other chose three men and the Collins family.”
“Then, my lord, what will you do? If they invite you, will you go to them again?”
“Then it may be best to have a guard or a contractor to go with you.”
“Raven will do fine. If I make the mistake and take those with me, then it’ll be too much trouble to put my attention in safety.”
Slade made a vexed face, probably because the best troops of the ‘Scarlet Moon’ were said to get in his way.
There were members just in case who could handle weapons and those who would take up the chances of danger and work. In the beginning, this was an organization that started out as a decorative artist family who would secretly enter the castle of an important or leading figure and be sort of a spy.
However, for the time being, Edgar was only expecting investigating and collecting information from this organization.
And if he could, he didn’t want any deaths to come out of the ‘Scarlet Moon.’
If it was Raven, he was the most trusted subordinates of Edgar. He was able to protect himself by himself. With that in calculation, he had the same strength of bringing along several bodyguards so there wouldn’t be any point of increasing the number of men in their group and making their movements any duller.
“I understand. We will do as you wish.”
「Earl Ashenbert, his next lover is a ghost daughter」
A title that would make one frown was boldly printed on the cover of the tabloid papers again.
When Lydia commuted to the earl house, it was laid out on the table of her office. Lydia crumbled it up into a ball and threw it into the trash bin.
“Nico, don’t make me look at the gossip papers everytime.”
“I thought you would be curious.”
Nico, who loved drinking tea, would always arrive at the earl house a little earlier than Lydiaand had an expensive tea imported from Ceylon poured for him and was currently, enjoying his tea time with a satisfied look.
“I said that it has nothing to do with me!”
“Then don’t get so angry every time. I’m just keeping my eye out on that earl to make sure to see if he isn’t plotting some kind of scheme.”
Keeping your eye on him, more like you just like to read about gossip. Even if Edgar was plotting something, Nico was easily bribed with food or wine. He was Lydia’s partner but he was absolutely unreliable.
But then, Lydia just thought of something and walked over to Nico who was having his heart content in smelling the aroma of his tea as he gracefull held it up in his hand.
She cleared her breath before she asked him.
“So you read it?”
“Ah? Well, just skimmed through it.”
“What did it say?”
“If you’re curious, you read it.”
“……It’s not like I’m particularly that curious. Just only that, I have a lot of opportunities to be with Edgar. You don’t know when and how we’ll be seen under the wrong impression, so I thought I should just make sure and avoid any situations that could be used for a gossip article.
“Don’t you think you’ll be all right? Since you haven’t been used for an article even once all this time.”
Lydia felt a little irritated at being declared by Nico even that she and him didn’t look like a couple at all.
Well, it’s all right that we are seen like that.
She was just worried that she didn’t have any attractive appeal at all and that she might not be able to go through the normal experience of falling in love.
Yes, that was all, but it would be helpful to know just for reference.
Lydia carefully picked up the tabloid paper that she threw into the garbage bin.
She pressed out the crinkles and picked up the printed words. It wrote that the wife of a wealthy man held a spiritual ritual in order to find a marriage partner for her daughter who passed away. And it said that Earl Ashenbert had participated as a bridegroom candidate.
It said something about he had set his heart on the beautiful ghost.
She couldn’t help but gasped in horror.
She knew he didn’t hold any indiscrimination on women, but to go this far.
“Why, this is good timing, don’t you think. If he’s intending on marrying with a ghost then I’m sure he’ll let you go.”
“Yo-you’re right. I should have that verbally promised engagement called off immediately….”
As she said that, Lydia stopped herself in a hurry and shut her mouth, as she carefully looked over towards the window.
Because there could be a fairy nearby who she couldn’t let hear about calling off her engagement.
“If it’s that water horse kelpie, he isn’t in London.”
“What, did he return to Scotland?”
“Who knows, he might just be somewhere in the outskirts. He was complaining that Londonwas too hot and smelled rotten.”
The engagement that was supposedly only to get through a certain dangerous situation was something that would void the engagement of Lydia with Kelpie.
That’s why, as long as Kelpie as near, she wasn’t able to go about declaring that her engagement with Edgar was a lie.
However Kelpie wasn’t here. Which means, she would be able to make it clear with Edgar and have him agree that he would annul their engagement.
“Hey, Lydia, where are you going? The earl is gone today.”
“I have to devise up a measure on how I can cajole him into cancelling our engagement before he gets back.”
“I don’t think you’ll be able to win against that glib talker.”
That’s why I need to come up with a plan.
Lydia left the earl estate and headed to the nearby park.
If she was going to have a deep thought, then being outside was more refreshing and it would calm her down.
Eventually the top of the park trees starting to poke out from beyond the gray buildings, but Lydia stopped in her tracks.
Because, she thought she heard someone calling out for help.
She listened carefully for its source. She heard it again amongst the congestion of the crowds of people.
Is it just the sound of the wind? No, it sounded more like the sounds of people talking, like the rumbling of the sea, or like waves….
To hear it like that, it must be the voice of a fairy more than a human.
Lydia followed the voice and entered into an alleyway as she searched for its presence. And when she stopped, it was because she found a woman hunched down like she was squatting in the shadow of a lamppost.
It was a plump middle-aged, finely-dressed woman.
Did this person have a connection with fairy voice? Now she could hear nothing.
“Uh, are you all right?”
The woman managed to lift her pale white face and nodded.
“It was a small anemia. I was just feeling a little light-headed.”
She said that, but Lydia couldn’t allow herself to leave.
“Where is your residence? If it’s all right, I’ll accompany you home.”
And then, the woman looked at Lydia and crumbled her face like she was about to cry.
“……..What a kind young lady you are. If my late daughter was still alive, she would be around the same age as you…….”
Like she was reminiscing about her daughter, the woman took Lydia’s hand.
The woman was called Mrs. Collins and was staying at a high-class hotel that faced Hyde Park.
Lydia picked up a hackney and accompanied the lady to her hotel and was lead into the spacious floor that she was staying on.
It seems like she was quite the wealthy madam of the house. Even if it was just a room in a hotel, it was a magnificent waiting room.
A young maid who was apparently in charge of taking care of the woman had warmly welcomed Lydia, but when she tried to make her leave, she was offered tea and cakes and the like, and ended up staying.
“Oh, no, I should be going now.”
“But, uh, if we could just show you our thanks,”
“Oh, you don’t have to trouble yourselves with that,” said Lydia and tried to stand up, but the maid stood in front of the door as if to stop her and suddenly made a face like she was on the verge of tears as she squeezed her apron that she wore over her uniform.
“Miss Carlton, I would like to go out of my bounds and ask you of a favor. Would you be able to persuade my lady. I know it is out of my place to ask of such a thing to you who had just happened to show her lady your kindness, but, I don’t what else I could do…..”
It looked like she was desperate and driven under the pressure of necessity.
“What kind of problem is there?”
Lydia was the kind of girl who couldn’t refuse if she was asked for help. If she replied like that on a whim, she was putting herself in a position where she had to listen to the maid’s explanation.
“My lady had lost her young daughter over ten years ago. She is unable to forget about her young daughter, but recently she was starting to act strange, and had lost herself because of her love for her daughter. She is in complete belief that the young misses is going to come back and started to
buy dresses and collect bridal accessories, and become to seriously think that she must find a marriage partner very soon.”
Now that she recalled, the lady of the house did say something about Lydia being near the same age as her daughter.
“This started since that spiritualist appeared.”
“Yes, this spiritualist claims that she would be able to revive her daughter. But, to do such a horrifying thing….why, that would be an act against God.”
“Yes, you’re exactly right.”
“At this rate, I’m scared that my lady’s mentality would continue to ail. My lady is currently seeing you and your kindness as the same as her daughter. That’s why, if it was you, then I thought that she might lend you her ear.”
The young girl covered in freckles seemed to care for the lady of the house from the bottom of her heart and deeply worried for her.
“Are you the only accompany for Mrs.Collins? Where is her family?”
She didn’t think that an outsider would be allowed to but herself in.
“Mr. Collins is busy with his work and the one who accompanied her on this trip was her nephew, but he is only sixteen and is too busy going about enjoying himself….”
She must have thought she couldn’t say anything bad about the lady’s relatives so she stopped talking any further about the nephew.
“Since I lost my parents when I was young, I had been taking care of my lady all this time. She had been kind enough to keep a lowly under-servant like myself by her side, and as I worked as a maid, she took time out of herself to teach me how to read and needlework so that I may find a proper family to marry off to….”
“So you wish for her to get better.”
She wiped her eyes as she nodded.
“I don’t mind if I just talk to her. But I don’t think that alone would convince your lady.”
Most likely the young maid wanted someone who would be on her side. Since she didn’t know what to do, that’s why she must have revealed this to Lydia who was the same age as her.
More than for the sake of her Lady, Lydia gave her consent for the maid’s sake.
“Th-thank you so much. Then, I’ll go check on how my lady is doing.”
She gave a bow like she was relieved from the bottom of her heart and quickly left the room with hurrying feet.
Lydia sat back down onto the sofa and touched her mother’s pendant that she wore under her clothing.
Mrs. Collins who lost her daughter; Lydia who lost her mother. If she could be of any help, then this meeting must be fated somehow.
Or could this be guided by a fairy?
She wondered what that voice was.
Just when she was remembering, someone opened the door without knocking and entered. When Lydia turned her head to look, it was a different maid from the one just now.
“Please help me,” she suddenly said as she looked like she was fearing something outside.
“Please help me, Fairy doctor.”
How could she possibly know that Lydia was a fairy doctor. And her voice sounded similar to the mysterious voice that Lydia had heard.
“Are you a fairy?”
“I’m a selkie.”
Selkies were seal fairies who could turn into a human by taking off their skin coats. But she had heard before that if their coats were hidden, they were unable to return to their true home of the sea and were left to serve the one who had hidden it.
However, it was the first time for Lydia to ever see one, so she couldn’t believe her so easily.
She didn’t look different from a human at all. Most fairies, even if they were in human form, had someone different about them, but since they were a fairy that were said to be the embodiment of the souls of humans who died at sea, so they must be much more similar to humans.
“Uh, then the girl just now is also?”
“She is not. We had our skin coats stolen by an evil human. I ask you, please, fairy doctor, please free us.”
So she’s asking to help get her skin back.
She wondered what on earth was going on around Mrs. Collins for there to be a spiritualist and seal fairies around her.
Right in front of Lydia’s eyes, as she was still confused, suddenly white flames burst out from the selkie maiden's whole body.
“Ahh…, my skin is being burned.”
It was an illusion of a fire. For Lydia, it only appeared to her eyes and wasn’t hot at all, but if the selkie maiden's skin was being burned, then it must mean that her soul was being burned to death.
“Where is it, your skin,” asked Lydia as she stood up.
Her mind was filled with the thought of finding her skin coat to put out the fire.
“It is too late for me… It seems I was found out that I came to see you. Please hurry and escape from here. He is coming.”
“What, but, I….”
“There is still many selkies who are enslaved. All of them are being put to work at a different residence. Their skin coats are sure to be hidden there by him…. Please…”
Her body suddenly turned transparent as it was enveloped in the white flames and then, vanished.
Oh, no, panicked Lydia and she scrambled to get out of the room, but she felt someone was behind her.
But there was no time before she could turn around as she was restrained from behind.
“Hey, what are you….”
She was made to smell some kind of chemical which made her mind dizzy and body numb.
“What a stupid selkie. To put her life at the risk and ask help from a fairy doctor. And what could a little chit like this do?”
From far off in the distance, she thought she heard a voice speak that.
“A fairy doctor of the Ashenbert earl family? I thought you were just a incompetent little chit so didn’t pay you any mind. Now, what should I do with you?”
What do you mean incompetent.
I’m a perfectly able fairy doctor….