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This brings us somewhere into pg 143.


Perhaps the magic was aimed only at Lydia. Why were the mermaids trying to kill her? Nico buried his claws into Lydia's sleeve and tried to call for help, but if magic was involved, most likely Edgar and the others in the next room wouldn't be able to hear them.

"Nico, if I fall from here, without doubt, I'll die."

"If that's the case, then get back in the room!"

"I can't. I'm caught in their magic...... So Nico, open a path to the fae realm."

"Ehh?! You expect me to fall with you?!"

"Please, jumping into Faerie's the only option."

Lydia could no longer support herself. Just as she realised she was listing, she fell. She no longer felt any resistance on the sleeve Nico had been pulling on, but she didn't know if that was because he'd let go of her or because he'd fallen with her. She didn't have the chance to find out. Just when she thought she felt herself hit the cold surface of the water, salty water rushed down her throat.


Paradise for Eve


"I'm very sorry, master." Kelly's braids almost reached the floor as she hung her head.

"That's enough. I understand."

Surprised to discover bruises on Lydia's body, Edgar demanded an explanation. And Kelly finally admitted the truth. Since Edgar saw them with his own eyes, there was no point in trying to hide things any more.

"Mrs. Lydia didn't want to worry you. That's all."

No doubt. But Edgar was angry unable to forgive himself for not knowing what had happened to Lydia.

"So please, don't be angry with the missus."

"Of course I won't be."

He had absolutely no intention of taking Lydia to task. While he wanted to beat the man to a pulp, unfortunately, he was currently on the run. Rather, he was worried that Lydia might have been taken aback by Edgar's attitude moments earlier. He couldn't help wondering about that once he started thinking about it. He should have waited until Lydia was willing to tell to him about it, but instead he forcibly exposed the injuries. And on top of that, he left her there without saying a single kind word. He'd been unnerved by what he discovered. The idea that someone might have struck Lydia and that he hadn't known about it was more than enough to rob him of any clear thought.

"......Kelly, would you look in on Lydia. Um, if she's in a bad mood, try to talk her around. I know, we can try going to the theatre in town tonight. After that... in any case, we'll go somewhere Lydia's likely to enjoy."

"I heard from Mr. Nico that Mrs. Lydia seemed interested in galettes," Raven offered.

Edgar jumped on his suggestion. "That's it. We'll have Bretagne's local cuisine at an simple cafe. That's not bad, right, Kelly?"

"Understood, I'll speak to her about it."

Kelly curtsied and headed for Lydia's dressing room.

As long as she agreed to going out, most likely he'd be able to win his way back into her good graces after that.

Edgar felt relieved.

"My lord, are galettes a dish?" Raven asked cocking his head to one side.

"Eh? I think so, aren't they?"

"I heard that Mrs. Lydia wanted to see galettes flying through the air."

......Most likely, Lydia was mistaken as to what they are. He wanted to think that. But if she saw galettes, the dish, perhaps she'd be confused thinking that wasn't what she was thinking of. As Edgar fretted over the possibility, Kelly came rushing back into the room.

"Master! ......Mrs. Lydia is nowhere to be found!"


*


Lydia woke to find herself in an unfamiliar room. The sound of the wind and rain continued incessantly. The small window in the room almost seemed to creak, and there was only a bed and chest in the cozy room. While the lamp was lit, there was no fireplace, so the room was chilly for her in only her underwear and dressing gown. She wrapped the blanket around her shoulders and stood.

"I'm...... alive."

Her clothes weren't wet. Which meant that she hadn't fallen into the real sea and perhaps Nico opened the path to Faerie and she fell into the fae realm. However, she thought that most likely she was in the human realm. Nothing about the building seemed unusual. She opened the door a little. While the corridor seemed rather narrow, it was lit. Apparently, she wasn't being locked in.

Still, where did Nico go.

"Oy, Lydia." Along with the sound of the voice, a small hand rapped on the window.

Surprised, Lydia ran over to the window.

"Nico! Is that you, Nico?"

"Hurry up and open the window, will you?"

She unlatched the window, and the grey fae cat jumped into the room. Lydia smiled slightly in relief.

"My, you're completely soaked."

"Sheesh, it's really coming down," he said. He shook himself much like any cat, but after that, he stood up on two legs and straightened his coat, whiskers, and tie with both hands.

"Nico, how did I get here? Do you know where this place is?"

"I ended up letting go of you and thought you were done for when you fell."

"Eh?! Nico! You mean you didn't save me? Letting go of me! You're heartless!"

Nico didn't bother looking contrite and just shrugged coolly. "Well, it doesn't matter, right? You're alive, after all."

Lydia looked down at Nico in disbelief, but decided to simply agree with him.

"In that case, I wonder why I'm alive."

"The mermaids opened the way to Faerie. Then they carried you all the way to this island."

"Mermaids? You mean they weren't trying to kill me?"

"So it seems. And I ended up getting swallowed by the path you fell into and got washed up on this island here."

"It's an island?"

"It's a small island. There's a lone castle built at the top of the crag, and I finally managed to find you."

'I wonder how far away I am from the pink granite coast. From where Edgar is. The sun's completely set, so quite some time must have passed.' At that thought, Lydia couldn't help feeling both panicked and annoyed.

If it's an island, Nico too, couldn't get back now. Even in Faerie, the island would be surrounded by the sea, so she needed to get help from the fae of the sea. Either that or the only others that could come and go freely from there would be one that could fly. Since she couldn't return soon, Lydia decided the best thing to do was to take care of what she could do where she was.

Nico's comment that there was a castle on the island reminded Lydia of the small island in the painting. Since she'd been carried there by mermaid's, it seemed even more likely that the island was important. In any case, Lydia felt that she wanted to know what the mermaids intentions were. Also, it was possible that the mermaids of Bretagne might know something about Ibrazel or the red moonstone. The Blue Knight Earl has almost been close to the merrow. And while the merrow of Ireland and the mermaids of Bretagne weren't the identical, they were both mer-folk and likely to be closely related.

"That's it, Nico, were there any fae among the corrigan that seemed like they might know about Ibrazel?"

Nico sat on the edge of the bed and shook his head. "Those guys are really forgetful. They don't remember things from one month ago very well even. They were just saying that they know everything about the princess at the bottom of the sea."

Supposedly, it was the princess's fault that the royal capital where Bretagne was ruled from sank into the sea long ago. And legend has it that the princess still lives at the bottom of the sea.

"I wonder if it might be possible for me to meet that princess."

"Supposedly, no one's ever met her. Or maybe no one remembers having done so."

Perhaps the mermaids know where the princess's capital city is.

As Lydia considered that, she heard footsteps approaching the room.

"Someone's coming, Nico."

Nico quickly hid himself under the bed when the door opened.

"You're awake." A black haired woman commented.

"......Aeris," Lydia murmured her name surprised.

"I found you laying on the shore of this island."

Aeris entered the room and handed Lydia what appeared to be a change of clothes.

"Why are you here? Weren't you at the hotel?"

"I checked out at sunset. At the time, I'd heard that you'd fallen from the balcony."

"Eh, is that what they're saying?!"

Since she'd suddenly vanished, she wasn't surprised to hear that it had caused quite a commotion. It was also possible that someone might have seen her leaning over the balcony's edge. Lydia panicked. "Um, did Edgar...... Lord Ashenbert think I fell? Do you know how he was?"

"Are you worried about the man who hurt you?"

"Hurt me?"

"You were seeking help and hoping to be able to come to women's paradise, right?" Aeris continued speaking calmly. "A glass of milk left on the windowsill—that's the sign of wanting help. You'd done the same thing, right?"

It wasn't a sign for ladies caught in an unwanted marriage to be able to identify one another, but a sign of wanting help. Lydia desperately tried to get her thoughts in order. "......W-wait a moment. Do you mean that by leaving a glass, a lady can leave her husband and enter women's paradise?"

"That's right."

"And this... is paradise?"

"This island is mine. It's my wish to save as many suffering women as I can."

"Um, if this is women's paradise......"

"There's no need to obey men or fear them here. The lady who'd been burned will be able to relax and heal here. To be honest, I also intended to bring Mrs. Slope here, but......" She looked away in regret.

Rather than at the bottom of the sea, the paradise was at the castle on the small island. Lydia looked around the room in disbelief and wondered how many such rooms there were, and how many women lived there. The castle did seem to be quite large. Lydia had the vague feeling she finally had the full picture of what had happened.

The rumours of female guests staying at the hotel vanishing was most likely because Aeris whisked them away so that their families couldn't find them. Most likely, the women learned from somewhere that if they went to that hotel and sent the signal, they knew they would be saved. Men didn't know about it. It was a secret exchange only between women, and Lydia ended get caught up in it. After all, she'd only been leaving milk out for the fae.

"There's no need to worry. This place is safe. This island is reachable from land only once a year. When the sea level falls to its lowest level when the tide is out. Following the path that's normally underwater, we've finally been able to come here tonight. Come morning, the path will have disappeared, and with no signs that a boat was used, no one will realise that the women have all fled to this island. While there are a number of men who get worked up over having their woman get away from them, and try to search for them for their own pride's sake, none of them have ever made it here."

Since she'd been waiting for the time when the path was open, probably that's why things 'hadn't been in time' for Mrs. Slope.

"If you want to eat, please come down to the dining room on the first floor after you've gotten changed."

Aeris started to leave the room, but Lydia quickly stopped her.

"Wait, this is all a mistake. I haven't been hurt by him. I left the milk on the windowsill for a different reason...... I have to get back right away."

Aeris turned back slightly and looked at Lydia pityingly. "You're free now. There's no need to be victim to a man."

"I'm not a victim. Edgar loves me......"

"Love? Do you truly believe that? Even though you have all those bruises on your body?"

Shocked, Lydia hugged herself as though trying to protect herself. 'They're so ugly that anyone who saw them would likely no longer love me,' she thought not realising that Aeris mistakenly thought that Edgar had done that to her. In which case, it was possible that he wasn't even searching for Lydia now that she's disappeared. 'No, that's not likely. I believe in him. But......'

"Don't look like that. You came here because you were meant to come."

I was meant to come?

"Aeris...... don't you think it strange? My clothes aren't even wet, so how did I manage to come here without a boat......"

"Strange things happen here in Bretagne. But since you're here, you're under the princess's protection. There's no going back." Aeris stated firmly.

Lydia stood there shocked as Aeris left the room.

'What did she mean princess?' Lydia thought frantically. 'By that, did she mean from that legend? The princess that's supposed to have built a paradise for women in the city at the bottom of the sea.'

"Lydia, are you alright?" Nico asked worried when she staggered over and sat down.

"Nico...... it seems things are very serious."

Nico still crouched underneath the bed.

"Things are more serious for me. I didn't expect this place to be the domain of the half-fae princess that hates men! If that's the case, they'll kill me if they find me!"

"I think...... most likely it'll be alright. After all, it's an old castle, so they must have cats in order to get rid of the mice. There are probably male cats here as well."

"I'm not a cat!"

"Umm, Nico, what I meant is that the princess hates human men. I doubt she'd kill fae gentlemen." Lydia hurriedly corrected herself.

Nico slowly peered out from under the bed.

"I see. Well, that's probably true. There's no way she wouldn't be taken with a refined and well-bred fairy like myself."

'If she likes cats,' Lydia thought, but she kept it to herself.

"Also, this is the human realm. I haven't been taken by the fae yet."

Although it's the domain of the princess of another realm, human reasoning should still pass here. And even if she didn't have the princess's permission, as long as she had a boat, it should be possible for her to escape.

But Lydia suddenly became afraid of going back. She couldn't help wondering how Edgar would react if she managed to escape.


*


"Lord Ashenbert, the sun has now set, so we'll be ending the search at the base of the cliff," the manager came over and said. "We'll begin searching again when the sun rises, but the tide will have come in, and most likely......"

Whatever is at the bottom of the cliff at the moment will end up sinking to the bottom of the sea.

"Why...... are you only searching the bottom of the cliff? Lydia won't be there!" Edgar couldn't help raising his voice as he edged closer to the manager.

If they found her at the bottom of the cliff, there wouldn't be the slightest chance of hope. Edgar also couldn't believe that Lydia had fallen from the balcony, as one member of the hotel staff said. While it was true that a strip from her dressing gown had gotten caught on the railing, he couldn't believe that they wouldn't have heard anything even though they'd been in the next room.

A staff member acting like a detective suggested that either she'd jumped on her own, or the person claiming she hadn't made a sound had pushed her. However, he quickly fled after Edgar punched him.


Enjoy.
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