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Published at 19th of November 2020 08:18:41 PM


Chapter 22

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Chapter 22 




T/N Rania has been changed to Lania because I don’t like Rashid and Rania starting with the same letters as if they’re siblings. R is interchangeable with L, so the switch is fine, though the name Rashid cannot be changed to Lashid because the Korean word 라시드 is probably referring to the specific name Rashid. 

“This isn’t good enough! Set up more decorations!”

After surveying the hall, Lania lifted her hands up and raised her voice to shout orders. The arch-shaped grand ceiling and marble floor were already sparkling enough, but her face was still full of discontent. 

“Hang a diamond at the center of the chandelier. To the extent that their eyes will be blinded!”

“…Just whose eyes have to be blinded. Seriously.”

“Lonan.”

She raised her eyebrows at the person who had approached her without a sound. However, they seemed to know each other well because Lania didn’t rebuke the other for speaking to her with disrespect.

“I told you not to show up without my permission.” 

“Oh dear. But I thought I could be of use to you.”

“I told you, no. If you use magic carelessly people will try to find out what your identity is. And ‘that person’ isn’t an ordinary human being.”

“…Of course. He has inherited the blood of the grand magician Kerhan.”

Like a slick-looking snake, Lonan’s mouth curled up as he spoke. His bony face was revealed from underneath the black robe he wore. 

Though he was obviously a rare, handsome man, he didn’t seem like a living person at all. 

“But for His Majesty to have accepted the invitation to the welcome banquet, what a surprise.”

“…Hmph, what do you mean surprise.”

*Whoosh* Lania unfolded her fan with a flip of a hand and covered her mouth. 

“It’s a banquet being hosted by the feudal lord of the North. As long as there isn’t anything important happening at the same time, the emperor will most likely attend it.”

“But he can’t be here unless for something important.”

“…What do you mean?”

“I just thought it was interesting that he came all the way here without any knights or guards. And he arrived without any notice as well.”

“According to the manager of the palace, the emperor is here to cherish the favorite visiting location of the late empress.”

“So, you’re saying you believe those words?”

“…”

Lonan’s eyes flashed, and Lania folded the fan that had been covering her face. 

Her smile had disappeared, her face haggard.


“Impertinent. How dare you tell me such lies?”

“Well, take my words as that I’m worried for you. My fate is tied to yours, after all.”

Even after her fierce glare, Lonan only grinned. 

“Though, well, I’ll be fine as long as you keep your promise”

“…I haven’t forgotten, so move your hand.”

“How cold-hearted you are. But it was this exact hand that completed the transforming tasks of everyone you wanted finished.”

Lonan let out an uncharacteristic whine as he looked at his hand held in midair. 

Their relationship hadn’t developed overnight.

They were clear about what they wanted from each other, though they haven’t fully received them yet, both confident about their eventual success.

“Well anyway, are you alright with this?”

“About what?”

“It’s customary for the Duchess to personally meet the Emperor. You’d at least need to have Catherine dragged out of that villa before night falls for a greeting.”

“What nonsense is that!” 

Lania coldly gripped the hem of her skirt as her face shook.

“I’ve already made her the head of the family, and now you want me to have a woman of no standing to represent the Duke’s Household?”

“But it’s still tradition. His Majesty could also ask you about it.”

“The Emperor?”

*Ha,* Lania snorted and smiled as if she doubted what she’d heard. 

It remained unclear what her thoughts were, but her face relaxed once more. 

“You think such a noble figure would care about a trifling matter? Please don’t say anything more ridiculous. Since his days as Crown Prince, he’s only been thinking of the empire and the war campaign.”

“…But the Emperor’s men are probably different? Especially the Third Prince, who’s also a feudal lord. He might be well informed on the situation of the North.”

“Did you think I didn’t think up to that point? I can just say she’s sick in bed.”

She shrugged her shoulders, as if it wasn’t a big deal.

“At best, isn’t it just like when lawyers and inspectors walked in and out of the premises. His Majesty the Emperor is coming. Not even a single hair of someone who doesn’t have the status from a count’s household should be seen at the banquet.”

“Didn’t she just step out and go to the city a bit ago? There are now rumors circulating that the Duchess is actually different from what the rumors say of her.”


“So we’ll have to make it so she never even thinks of setting her foot out again.”

How dare she.

She still grinded her teeth at the fact that she couldn’t finish what she’d begun the other day while being too busy to verify the three lights at the Winter Palace. 

“Really, how many months will she even last like that. But it’d be best for you to keep her as far away as you can while the Emperor is here.”

“So you want to just leave that woman alone? She might cause trouble outside even before the banquet begins-.”

“Don’t be ridiculous. Someone might think I sent you an invitation to the banquet.”

Lania returned to fanning her face as she put on an expression that said that she thought Lonan was saying something absurd. 

Her blue eyes, which slowly moved to the windows of the hall, looking in the direction of the villa, were filled with blatant contempt. 

“Hmph, she’s been stuck in a lake, what would she know about how the world runs?”

◇ ◆ ◇

「…They were insulting you like that, you know?」

“Oh my, I see. Here, eat a little more.”

I picked off the two pond snails off the back of the sparrows and held them in my hands. I offered them the moss they liked and leisurely leaned back. 

“You all worked very hard.”

「It was nothing.」

The green snail, who’d once been a knight in the Duke’s household, shyly lowered his antennae. 

According to Selene, these two were originally transformed into ducks, but after they attempted to escape, were caught and then turned into snails. 

They were now at the bottom of the food chain, an existence that could only eat and poop. 

But that was just what Lania thought, because to me, they were like the perfect, personal wiretaps. 

‘You probably didn’t think I could do this, huh.’

The ducks and geese, who take up a large majority of the lake community, were mobile, but large enough to be noticeable.

Though the best they could do was something like how Selene had gone and stolen an object in the middle of the night, snails could hide anywhere, they only needed to be stuck onto a surface. 

A sparrow like this who could operate at a command was no different from an iPhone that didn’t need charging.

“So, what else did she say? Did the Emperor say why he came to visit? If he was looking for someone or if he was trying to recruit help…”

「That, I couldn’t quite…I’m so sorry, Your Ladyship.」

“No, that’s alright.”


It seems Haniel’s disappearance was being kept under wraps.

Based on what I knew of the emperor, it was possible that he was actually treating this as a very serious matter. Because Haniel wasn’t well-known in the kingdom, I couldn’t exclude the possibility that there had been no news of her not because they weren’t taking her disappearance seriously, but because the search for her was actually being kept a secret. 

“Then when will the banquet begin?”

「This afternoon at 4pm.」

“What? That soon?”

Well, someone’s impatient. 

I suddenly stood up and looked up, gazing at the sky. 

Though it was still light outside, I still needed to remain vigilant. 

There was about an hour until the sun set at six.

In that time, I had to meet the princes and return Haniel to them. 

“…”

If I missed today, I couldn’t tell when I’d get another chance to see them.

As I walked into the forest, my steps grew heavier and heavier. 

Selene, who had brought Haniel over, looked at me with a helpless expression. 

It seemed that she’d painstakingly dragged Haniel with her beak, carefully trying to avoid hurting her. 

「I brought her because you asked, but I’m still not sure this is the right thing to do. She was hiding all by herself today as well.」

“…I see.”

「Lady Melloe said she’s only had a few meals. She said Haniel’s been adapting more slowly than expected-」 

“It’s alright.”

There was no need to adapt to this place any more.

I picked up Haniel, who felt like a dry little ball in my hands. 

Though my hardened mind and determination wavered after embracing her softly for the first time in many days, I made sure I didn’t see her face. 

“We should go in and get ready first. There isn’t much time left until the banquet.”

「Are you really planning on going?」

“Of course. I won’t have another opportunity like this.” 


…For me or her. 

I raised my head, having been looking at Haniel this whole time. 

As I was placing down the snails onto the ground, they clamored out as if they remembered something. 

「Also, Lady Lania said that she would block all the paths from the lake.」

「That’s right. We heard everything. There might be people who stumble into the lake after coming out of the banquet for a stroll, so the paths to the lake will be completely shut down.」

“Really? With what?”

「They can’t use magic in case it’s detected, and they didn’t have time to order barbed wire fences, so for now they’re piling thorny bushes there. The carpenters should have arrived by now.」

“…I see.” 

No matter how much I blankly stared at them, the two pond snails curled up and didn’t move an inch, sneaking peeks at me from time to time. It was as if they were suggesting that they’d yet to eat their fill.

「We’re very sorry, Your Ladyship. But even so, I think it is good to be careful. If they’re carpenters the Duchess herself brought, they will have considerable skill. They will make a robust structure as good as any iron fence.」

“But in the end, it’s not actual iron.”

「…」

“Anyway, you’ve done well. I’ll make sure you get more food, so make sure to rest under your rock today. Oh right, by the way, do you mind doing me one more favor while you’re on your way?”

The snails paused at my words as they were climbing onto the sparrows’ backs and looked as if they were raising their eyebrows. 

“Call over a beaver.”

◇ ◆ ◇

Boom. 

The servants opened the Duke Household’s huge front doors in perfect synchronization. 

At one point, the Duke’s Household had been the center of the Northern Kingdom’s high society, but after Duke Evendell’s passing last year, all parties had been subsequently cancelled.

Normally, the mourning period for a father lasted 3 months, but Lady Lania had been extremely strict on this, even extending the mourning period. 

A very wise lady indeed!

Because of that, people didn’t forget their praises of her filial piety. Moreover, she had only been concerned with the Northern Kingdom’s affairs while other ladies were out busily enjoying parties. 

“Welcome, Count Connell, Countess.”

“To see the Palace doors open like this once more overwhelms me with so much emotion.” 

“Thank you for your kind words.”

Lania flashed an elegant smile as she greeted the guests lined up in the hall. They marvelled at the Countess’ blinding blonde hair and angelic figure. 



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