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Ack. ......I get the feeling there were things in this part that I wanted to tweak. ^^; Mostly dealing with word choice, but... *shrug* Oh well. Still slow going. ^^; This brings us to mid pg 67.


Lydia ran out of the room as soon as she decided on her next course of action. She hurried into the salon and checked the other guests' windows from the large balcony there. One window with a glass nearby caught her attention. While there might be others, she couldn't check the rooms with windows facing the sea. As it was, Lydia then hurried to the room where she saw the glass in the window.

"Mrs. Lydia." Kelly hurried down the stairs. "You mustn't go out alone."

"It's alright, Kelly. I won't leave the hotel."

"Please, allow me accompany you. Otherwise, it looks like I'll be sent on an errand with Mr. Raven." Lydia laughed softly at Kelly's look of utter dismay.

"Do you still not get along with Raven?"

"Ten minutes with him in the carriage is my limit. When we talk, we don't see to be talking about quite the same thing, never mind the fact that he doesn't respond much when I talk to him in the first place. Even so, it's awkward staying silent, and when I talk on my own, he asks things like "what is the purpose of this conversation"! And he glares at me with a most frightening expression!" Kelly sighed, but Lydia couldn't help wondering if Raven was many times more dismayed by things. After all, even though he didn't respond, or glared at her, Kelly was the type of girl who would still try her best to lighten the mood and speak to him.

"Raven doesn't mean any harm by it."

"How should I put it. He's the type that never relaxes."

"In that case, will you come with me? That's right, Kelly, there are lots of lady's maids staying here at the hotel, aren't there? Maybe there are some people here that you'll feel more comfortable talking to than Raven."

But Kelly just shrugged. "Lady Newman was it? Her followers and even their lady's maids are very snobbish, so when I mentioned I was from the Hebrides, they treated me like a country bumpkin...... Come to think of it Mrs. Lydia, I heard that there have been a number of incidents in the past where ladies disappeared from this hotel. One of the lady's minions lady's maid's overheard the hotel's maids talking about it, and the ladies were gossiping about it."

"Is it true?"

"Most likely the manager would never say anything about it, but it's rather creepy, isn't it?"

It certainly was an unusual story. But it was a rumour, and it might have been a coincidence. As she was talking to Kelly, they finally reached the room she was aiming for.

But juts as she was about to knock, someone called out to her and stopped her. "What are you doing, Lydia?" It was the black-haired woman from the night before.

"Aeris...... Um, I just heard about it a moment ago, but Mrs. Slope..."

Aeris raised her index finger as though telling Lydia to be quiet. Standing behind her was another young lady. Aeris gestured for Lydia and the lady she'd brought to follow her as she opened the door and entered the room. Lydia realised that the room must be Aeris's.

Lydia sat down on the chair Aeris offered while the other lady looked at her curiously.

"You also ended up marrying against your will, didn't you?"

"Eh?"

"I know. You're in an east-facing room, right? As soon as you arrived yesterday, you placed a glass of milk by the window."

"Um, about that... there's a glass by the window in this room, too....."

"In my room, too. I'm glad to gain another sister."

"Sister?"

Lydia didn't understand, but according to what that lady said, she had to break up with her suitor and forced to marry another man.

"Mrs. Slope was also one of our sisters. I wonder where she disappeared to."

In other words, by sister, perhaps she meant ladies that didn't get along well with their husbands. And the glass of milk was their sign in order to be able to identify one another. Which meant Aeris was also in the same situation. The gossip Lady Newman shared the night before flashed across Lydia's mind.

"Sadly, things couldn't happen soon enough for her," Aeris said calmly. "She said that her husband would kill her one of these days, and that's what happened."

"Y-you mean she was killed?!" Lydia asked surprised, but Aeris only nodded. "B-but her husband was searching frantically for her."

Kelly was quite calm about it. "He'd probably at least try to make a show of that in order to avoid suspicion."

"Aeris, do you hate men?" Lydia asked. She'd had that attitude yesterday, too.

Aeris stared at Lydia for a long moment then smiled gently. "It seems there are a number of rumours about me. Do you think I'm corrupt?"

"......Forgive me for asking such a rude question."

"It's just a rumour."

Lydia felt relieved at her firm denial.

"I-I see. ......I'm glad."

"But even if it's not me, some poor ladies are in that situation."

Perhaps she was making fun of Lydia's simplicity.

Aeris pursed her lips coldly. "What would you do if you were faced with a lady in that situation?"

Lydia had never thought of such a situation. Not to mention she still couldn't understand very well. For Lydia, marriage was a bond based on love and trust. Because that's how it was for her parents, that was her image of the ideal marriage. While Edgar was very different from her image of the ideal man, she could no longer think of anyone for her but him. So the idea of being killed by one's husband or being forced to do something one couldn't bear doing, while she knew such things weren't impossible, they seemed to be things more from stories than reality.

"If it were me, I would set her free." Aeris's almond-shaped eyes narrowed as she stared into the distance. "Even if it meant killing the husband."

"......"

Aeris looked at Lydia as she gasped in surprise. She suddenly started laughing. "I'm kidding."

"Yes, after all, there are many other ways to free her. ......Still, the poor girl. After all, she's come all this way." The other lady murmured meaningfully.

Lydia still couldn't follow the conversation. But before she could ask, Aeris stood up.

"Now, both of you should get going. The men will become wary with this sort of thing happening. In order to keep your husbands from becoming suspicious, it would be better for us not to appear close."

Lydia was shown out of the room even though she didn't understand what was meant by her statement. The other lady, following Aeris's instructions, quickly left the area, so Lydia couldn't ask her either. Why was there any need for women who'd ended up marrying against their will to be able to know who one another were? And who decided that the signal for it would be a glass of milk by the window? Was Mrs. Slope really killed?

"She's an unusual person, isn't she? That black haired lady," Kelly said suddenly.

"Yes, but I don't think she's a bad person."

Returning to the first floor hall, Lydia happened to glance out the window. A person's figure passed by among the trees. A woman...... in a black jacket? Lydia caught a glimpse of her face in profile for only an instant, and stared in surprise. However, the figure disappeared when she was blinked.

"Mrs. Lydia, is something the matter?"

Kelly, was there a person there just now?"

"I didn't see anyone."

Perhaps it was her imagination, but she felt like she saw Ermine. Edgar's former colleague and Raven's sister who'd become a selkie. She was supposed to have betrayed Edgar and obeying Ulysses who was one of the prince's people. Was it possible for Ermine to be here in Bretagne?

"Was it someone you know?"

"......No, it's okay. I was probably mistaken." Lydia very quickly forgot about the figure because she was that uncertain about what she'd seen, and so great a problem would happen soon thereafter.

"Oy, Lydia, come here a moment," Nico's voice called out. He ran over on two legs and gestured for her to come outside.

"Wait, Nico. You're not supposed to go walking around the hotel on two legs."

"It's not like anyone will notice."

Following Nico to the gazebo in the inner courtyard, she heard a voice come from the roots of the shrubs.

(Master Cat, is that the fairy doctor?)

"Wee fae, I told you, I'm not a cat."

Lydia peered into the foliage and spotted pointed ears and what resemebled a little imp's horn moving there. Three little fairies of a type Lydia hadn't seen before were looking up at her.

Like Lydia, Kelly also stared at the bush bursting with curiosity, but it seemed she couldn't see them—she was looking around trying to find them.

"Are you Nico's friends?"

"We just met. They're called corrigans."

(Are you really a fairy doctor?)

(I thought there weren't anymore around here.)

"I'm a fairy doctor from Scotland. But I think I can probably help you."

(She must be the real thing. After all, it seems like she can hear us.)

(As long as she isn't one of the princess's friends. The ones in the sea are so stuck-up.)

"Princess?"

(The princess of the capital city. Of the sea that is.)

(In any case, please help.)

"Yes, you're right. And what happened?"

(This came falling from the top of the cliff and hit me right on the head.)

The little fairy held up the broken handle from a cane.

(A lump of iron fell with it and is blocking the entrance to our home.)

(That's not all, my wife got flattened under it.)

"That's terrible. You should've said that first. Where's your home?"

(It's under the bluff this building's on.)

(If we don't get it off her soon, my wife'll get angry. Not to mention galettes that fly through the sky will be coming soon!)

(Ohh, flying galettes are the best.)

(I wonder if they'll come this year, too.)

(Of course they'll come!)

(That's right, fairy doctor. Have you tried them yet?)

I wonder what galettes are.

"Well...... I'd like to try them. But rather than that, your wife's more important, right?"

While she was curious about what they were talking about, she knew that she wouldn't be able to keep the conversation under control when it came to things that the fae seemed very interested in, so she quickly brought the conversation back on topic.

(That's right, rather than that, my wife!

In any case, if the fairies's home was at the bottom of the cliff the hotel was on, most likely it wouldn't be easy for Lydia to get down there.

"Hey, what was the clump of iron? You mean a frypan?"

"I don't know. It looked like shackles with chains on them.)

Why would something like that come falling from the top of a cliff? Lydia cocked her head to one side and stared absentmindedly at the cane the fairy held. It was only a broken handle now, but she had the feeling she'd seen it somewhere. Eh......? Could it be......

Yesterday, on the stairs in the hall. It was similar to the one Mr. Slope had swung at his wife. And looking more closely at it, she saw bloody long hair stuck on it.

"Kelly...... get Edgar......" Lydia somehow managed to say that as she staggered to her feet struggling not to be sick.


It was Francis.

Edgar stopped and stared at the gentleman standing on the terrace at one end of the hallway as he stared down at the sea below. Since Lydia still hadn't come back, Edgar had just left the suite thinking he'd see how she was doing. Spotting the man with the eyepatch and wavy silvery hair, Edgar thought he'd verify something, so he followed the man.

Francis left the hallway and spoke to the woman on the terrace. The woman's black hair was lightly done up. He thought she was a guest at the hotel, but his breath caught when she turned and he caught sight of her profile. A memory instantly came back to him--under the bright sun at Sylvanford. Sharp almond shaped eyes that looked his way from under a black parasol.

'One day, you'll kill your parents. And you'll bring about the destruction of your house.'

Fighting back dizziness, Edgar took a deep breath. She definitely looked like the woman from that time. But that was from over ten years ago. If she were the same person, it was as though she hadn't aged at all. A child's memories are very vague. It could be that 20-year-old women and women over 30 would've been seen the same--as adult women.

Their brief exchange of words was so casual, it was impossible to tell if Francis knew the woman or if he'd just happened to speak to her. The woman soon left. Left behind, Francis just stood there and stared at the distant sea.

"Raven, find out what you can about that woman."


Huh. It doesn't take as long to post when I'm not X-posting. I'll have to keep that in mind for next time. :P

Enjoy!
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