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Umm... somewhere on pg 178. >.> I really should start this thing before 9PM... Might actually make my daily target if I did. (Doing stuff after midnight would help, too. Motivation is somewhat lacking at the moment.) >.>


Edgar asked the crewman to dock the ship.

"Most likely, you won't be able to see the castle interior." While the crewman didn't understand the conversation in English, he said that as he would to tourists, but Edgar simply smiled.

"The owner is a widow, right? I've never had a woman refuse a request of mine."

A strange expression of understanding crossed the crewman's face and he changed the ship's course and headed towards the dock.

Kelly got of the boat first. At the top of the stone steps from the dock was the back door. Edgar and the others watched from the shadows as Kelly met a woman wearing an apron when she came out of the door. Kelly drew the woman away from the entrance, and as directed by Edgar, she tried to bribe the woman saying she wanted to see the castle. Edgar and the others used that chance to climb the steps and slip into the castle. If it was Aeris's castle, it was unlikely that outsiders would be permitted inside. As expected, the lady refused Kelly's request and they saw her as she made her way back to the dock, but most likely she would be allowed to walk along the shore.

They should be able to leave the ship docked there for a while. During that time, they needed to find Lydia and bring her back with them. There was no one in the kitchen the three of them snuck into. Perhaps it was so quiet because there were so few servants there. It almost seemed as though the widow lived there quietly on her own. However, the large pot filled with potatoes told them that wasn't the case.

"Still, it's almost as though they're not keeping any watch whatsoever."

If she was giving shelter to unfortunate women, she should be a bit more careful. After going through three doors, they came out in the dining room.

Again, there was no one there.

"Hey, Edgar. The crewman said that this might be part of the royal city earlier, didn't he? If that's true, the princess might already know we're here." Francis looked at Edgar uncertainly. "I hope she doesn't use magic and suddenly turn us into frogs."

"If you're scared, how about waiting with Kelly on the ship?" Edgar said shrugging him off and walked towards Raven.

Raven knelt in one corner of the dining room and picked something up.

"What is it, Raven?"

"I found..."

"A clue of Lydia's whereabouts?"

Raven ran off, and Edgar quickly followed him. They ran up an old spiral staircase and Raven opened the door at the end. He stopped in front of a round table.

Just as Edgar felt disappointed looking around the empty room, Raven flipped the table cloth up.

"Wah!" a surprised voice exclaimed from beneath the table. "I-I didn't steal this. I asked the girl in the kitchen if I could eat it. She might not have understood me, but I did ask!" The grey cat hugged a large loaf of bread as though trying to protect it.

"Mr. Nico, you're alright."

Nico slowly turned at the sound of Raven's voice.

"Oh, Raven, it's you. ......I thought Lydia'd found me. She gave me half her breakfast, but the food here's very simple. Even so, it's not like I can pretend to be a cat and eat scraps either. Or rather, Raven and the earl: what are you two doing here?"

Honestly, he was such a complacent cat.

"What do you mean what are we doing here, Nico? We've come here to find Lydia."

Edgar stared at the strand of Nico's fur as it fluttered in Raven's grip and felt tired. "I see Raven, you were looking for Nico, were you?"

Raven blinked as though realising that for the first time. "......No, I thought Mrs. Lydia would be with Mr. Nico......"

It was sweet if he was now able to try his best to make excuses. "It's okay to sometimes put your own interests ahead of mine, Raven. Rather than that, Nico, where's Lydia?"

Nico pointed at the door.

"She just ran to the far end of that hallway, so I quickly hid under the tablecloth."

Edgar immediately turned when he heard that.

"Edgar, please don't leave me behind......" Francis panted as he finally managed to climb the steps. Apparently, he wasn't very good at running.

Edgar left him behind as he ran off again. At the end of the hallway was another set of stairs. He climbed further upwards and burst through the door at the top of the stairs. A person's figure was standing in the sun coming through the window. The figure looked his way surprised and had caramel-coloured hair.

"Lydia!" Edgar ran into the room and took her into his arms.

"Edgar......?"

Feeling her voice, he held her even more tightly. He couldn't help feeling that if he loosened his grip, she would disappear on him. At the same time, Lydia seemed unusually tense and stiff as he held her in his arms.

Ahh, that's right. She might still be angry with him. Because he'd forcefully exposed her injuries. As he wondered how to appease her, Lydia reached up and grabbed his jacket. She trembled as she gripped it tightly.

"I didn't think you would come......"

She clung onto him tightly surprising Edgar. He held her even more tightly as his love for her welled up inside him. "I'm so glad you're alright. I was worried about you."

"The fae used magic on me. So, I couldn't do anything."

"It's okay. I've found you."

"......Are you angry?"

"About what?"

"I'm sorry for keeping things from you......"

"Yeah, I wish you hadn't hidden it from me."

Since he had no intention of blaming her, he kissed her gently on the head.

I'm sorry."

"If you do one thing I ask of you, I'll forget all about it."

"......Okay."

'Eh?' Edgar thought. 'This might not be good.' Even though he was getting ahead of himself, Lydia wasn't getting angry with him. Edgar, too, had done something wrong, yet she didn't blame him. Lydia was that shaken. Perhaps it wasn't too surprising. After all, she'd suddenly been brought to the island, so most likely she'd been feeling helpless from shock.

"You're safe now, so let's go back."

Lydia looked up at him surprised. "Together......?"

Edgar couldn't understand why she looked that way.

"We can't be separated, not even for a moment, right?"

"Is that okay?"

"As if there's any reason why it wouldn't be."

Her teary golden-green eyes looked away. "Thank goodness......"

But she still didn't seem like she truly felt relieved.

"I'll be careful not to get become injured again."

That wasn't the point.

Sensing that they weren't on the same wavelength, Edgar suddenly realised that while Lydia wasn't angry, she'd been hurt by his attitude when he'd seen the bruises on her body. Lydia had yet to let him see her body. It was as though she felt very unsure having no idea how she looked in a man's eyes. She was completely inexperienced when it came to love, and everything was new to her since getting married. There was no way for her to realise how smitten Edgar was with her, let alone for her to have any confidence in things. It would be understandable for her to have interpreted Edgar's attitude at looking away from her painful bruises as his looking away from her body. It would have been better had she only been angry. Even though he held her in his arms, she was so tense. If he'd ended up hurting her, she wouldn't be able to find any comfort in his kisses and embrace.

"Um, Lydia......" He thought to at least explain, but she suddenly blushed and pulled away from Edgar.

"Edgar, Francis was with you, too?"

"Hey," Francis said as he raised a hand standing in the doorway.

'Honestly, talk about inconsiderate.' Edgar frowned, but Francis seemed completely oblivious. Raven and Nico, too, followed Francis into the room, and Edgar realised that Lydia wouldn't give herself over to him any more than she had.

"Francis gave me the hint as to where you were. In any case, let's get out of here. We can talk after that."

He wanted to get Lydia away from the island quickly and then to sit down and talk things over. But she hurriedly grabbed his sleeve and said, "Wait."

She then walked over to the wall. "It's that painting, Edgar."

He followed her gaze and saw the portrait. Surprised, Edgar walked towards the painting. It was the picture they'd seen in London. The portrait of a lady wearing a mask. And on her finger, was a red moonstone ring with the exact same setting as Lydia's white moonstone. Behind the noble lady was a small island floating in the sea. And on the island, exactly as Edgar had seen a short time earlier from the boat, was an slightly orange-hued pink castle.

"I found out about the legend of the red moonstone. This portrait is supposed to be of the princess of the city that sank in the sea."

Unlike how she'd in his arms having lost all confidence, the Lydia who'd found a lead looked at him directly. Edgar felt a hint of jealousy. For Lydia, her role as fairy doctor was what was most important to her. Probably even more important than being Edgar's wife. Even so, he didn't think she only had a little love for him. For her, being a fairy doctor was an essential part of who she was, so there was no comparison. While he knew that, he still had to control himself from wanting everything.

It was wrong to wish to make others do as he wanted. If he did, he would be no different than the prince. Like the prince who controlled people's will and lives. Since he didn't want to become like that, together with Lydia, he sought a means in which to eradicate the prince. As the new Blue Knight Earl. In which case, he couldn't ignore the lead that was right before him and that Lydia said she'd found.

"Edgar, the legendary royal city is supposed to be nearby. If we can meet the princess, I'm sure we'll also be able to learn something about Ibrazel, too......"

"Yes, no doubt. Not to mention that the lady in this portrait is Aeris d'Armor."

"Eh?" Lydia exclaimed in surprise and looked up at him. "Aeris is...... this portrait's......?"

"How well you realised it, Earl Ashenbert."

Aeris stood in the doorway. Edgar took one step forward as though to hide Lydia.

"Or perhaps I should say the Prince of Calamity." Aeris's red lips raised into a smile.

"It seems you know about me."

"Yes, I know a lot about you. And that it was a great mistake for you to have been born into this world."

Edgar sensed Lydia's breath catch as she stood behind him. He tensed as he stared at Aeris.

"So it was you who'd spoken the words of a curse upon me at Sylvanford."

"That's right. I'm an old friend of your mother's family. They were a noble lineage of the French nobility. Or at least they were until the time the wife of the head of the family had a tryst with a member of the Stuart royalty who was in exile and had an illegitimate child."

Edgar realised she was talking about his and his mother's ancestor and accepted it with little surprise. He'd already suspected as much. The prince tried to get Edgar wanting the same Stuart family blood as he himself had. As a duke, his father's family had old blood ties with the English royal family. But it was his mother's lineage that the prince cared about, and it wasn't until later that he learned that that side was closely related to the prince who's supposed to be Prince Charles Edward's illegitimate child.

There's a bloodline that isn't shown on the family genealogy, which means there was an illicit affair that none but a few knew about. Most likely, that in itself wasn't particularly unusual. Whether it was a simple love affair or more politically motivated, it's something that's commonly happened. And his mother's side comes from the French aristocracy. So Edgar naturally thought that the descendant of James the II who'd been exiled to France was somehow related to his mother.

"For the prince, the body he needed had to be closely related to himself. Otherwise, the evil magic power he carried at birth would end up being weakened. And it's because of that that your mother caught their attention."

"In other words, you've known my mother's ancestors from before they were exiled to England during the French Revolution. You've lived quite a long time."

"Something that occurred a mere half century earlier is like something that happened yesterday." Aeris chuckled.

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January 2012

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