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Now somewhere on pg 210. Slowly, but surely.


Edgar automatically looked where Francis pointed. Lydia stood there looking surprised.

"Lydia......"

Edgar panicked. The half-naked woman was still clinging to him.

"......Lydia, it's not that way. This..."

Lydia turned and ran off.

Edgar somehow managed to push the woman away and chased after Lydia.

(Lord, would it be alright if I took care of things here?" Arrow asked. A voluptuous woman was clinging to him.

"Yeah. And get Francis to snap out of it!" Edgar replied as he frantically ran after Lydia. He finally managed to catch up to her half-way down the pillared hall.

Lydia was panting when she turned. She frowned as she looked up at Edgar. It was her angry look. But tears welled in her eyes and he could no longer hold back.

"Please, don't get the wrong idea, Lydia. Those women were a magic trap of Aeris's. But I resisted temptation. It's true. Just ask Arrow. After all, the fae don't lie, right?"

He carefully drew her to him making sure she didn't fight and was relieved when she didn't resist as much as he thought she would.

"You're the only one for me."

"......Really?"

He could hardly bear how dear she was to him when she pressed her head to him.

"Yeah. Magic can't possibly tear us apart. We have to hurry and get out of here."

"Am I really the only one you love?"

Edgar smiled gently at the golden-green eyes that stared up uncertainly at him. He absolutely would not frighten her or cause her sorrow. He'd determined that before marrying her, so he wanted to become someone who could accept her unequivocally.

"Of course."

"In that case, promise me. That you'll never leave me."

Just as he was about to answer, someone yelled at him.

"Edgar, don't be fooled!"

It was Lydia's voice. The person that came running towards him from the other side of the pillars was without question Lydia.

"If you promise her, you'll be trapped forever at the bottom of the sea!"

Lydia seemed flustered when she looked at Edgar and the Lydia that was with him. Her breath caught. She blinked several times then took several deep breaths as she tried to calm herself.

"Y-you're a mermaid, aren't you? Stop using my image!"

"Y......you too, stop trying to confuse him with magic!" The Lydia in Edgar's arms shot back.

"Edgar, I'm the real Lydia." The other Lydia looked at him desperately with her golden-green eyes trying to convince him.

"It's dangerous, move away from her."

"Wait. Which one of you is the real one?"

He couldn't help asking the stupid question.

"I am!"

"I am!"

Naturally, both of them said that.

"Hurry, let's get out of here." The first Lydia pulled on Edgar's arm.

"You mustn't go with her. I'm the real Lydia." The other Lydia grabbed the hem of his jacket.

(My lord, water's incoming!) Arrow's voice said. He could hear the roar as water came rushing towards them from the far end of the corridor. He had to protect Lydia. But which one? He wavered for an instant before choosing suddenly. He pulled the Lydia who'd grabbed his jacket to him, and they ran up the stairs next to them.

Feeling the torrent rushing by their feet, Edgar held Lydia in his arms and lifted her up to the next step. They took shelter by the pillar and clung to one another as they waited for the sound of rushing water to subside.

After everything became quiet again, Lydia slowly looked up at Edgar. The look on her face was mixed, almost like she was about to cry. "Did you know it was me?"

"You're wearing the moonstone ring." He held her hand which bore the wedding ring.

The stone carried the magic of the guardian spirit who was also the first Blue Knight Earl's wife. No doubt, the mermaid's magic had been unable to replicate it.

Edgar buried his fingers in her hair by her ear making. Lydia reacted almost as though it tickled, and her mouth finally relaxed.

"Thank goodness......" she said.

But the mermaid wearing Lydia's appearance stood behind her. Realising she held a long object like a trident in her hand, Edgar pushed Lydia who'd been in his arms behind him.

(You can try to protect her, but sooner or later, you'll kill her.)

The mermaid's, or perhaps it was Aeris's voice, echoed in his mind. She aimed straight for him.

(Lord, your sword!)

Edgar heard Arrow's voice and felt the weight of the great sword in his hand, but he couldn't raise it. The person coming at him was Lydia. If he used the sword, he would end up harming Lydia exactly as Aeris said. Even if it wasn't the real Lydia, that image would be burned in his mind, no doubt he and Lydia, who was there with him, would both end up being tormented by that as though by a curse.

"Edgar!" Lydia screamed from behind him, but Edgar stopped the mermaid with his body. He gasped as he felt a sharp pain in his side. His legs started to collapse under him when someone's arm supported him; it was Francis. Arrow wielded the sword himself and the mermaids fled and disappeared. Edgar heard Lydia's voice next to him.

"It's a mermaid's trident. We have to get it out quickly, or your body will turn to stone......"

'Really?' Edgar was in a daze as he grabbed the trident intending to take it out, but Francis's hand stopped him. While he seemed quite feeble, he's grip was surprisingly strong as he held Edgar's wrist.

"Don't. The trident's barbed. We'll have to push it through......"

Lydia seemed to be in the greater pain as she knit her brows looking like she was about to cry.

(Getting caught by this sort of magic...... In your case, you're sexually frustrated only when it comes to your wife, huh?) Arrow quipped.

Edgar couldn't laugh. Arrow was right.


*


Kelly waiting for a while by the small tour boat, but her master showed no signs of returning.

'I wonder if everything's alright. I wonder if they found Mrs. Lydia.'

Trying to forget her worry, she tried walking around the castle a little. The area that could be called a beach was very small and high rocks soon stopped her. It was difficult to walk quickly around the island. Since the castle was built upon a crag, she had no idea what was happening inside the castle. In the end, she soon decided to return to the pier when she heard a scream and stopped.

Peering through the bushes, she saw the female servant being held from behind by a man near the back door. Perhaps he meant to use her as a hostage. He continued to hold her that was as he took her away.

A number of boats had pulled up to the pier and several men armed with knives entered the castle.

'Surely they're not thieves?'

Kelly caught sight of the small boat she'd come on further out at sea. Most likely, they'd fled.

"You're kidding...... We can't get back now."

Making sure that the men were no longer in sight, Kelly came out from the bushes and peered into the back entrance. It seemed like they'd all gone further inside. There was no one there.

'What should I do? The master is inside, too. I have to let them know about the thieves and about the boat leaving us behind.'

She entered the kitchen and cautiously continued on to the corridor. Going up the stairs at the end of the hall, she found herself in a large room. The stairs continued further upwards.

'Which way should I go?'

As she debated, she suddenly heard a sound.

"Gyaa!"

She heard a terrible scream and the far door suddenly burst open. A grey cat came running out.

"Mr. Nico!"

Nico grabbed onto Kelly.

"Help me!" he said as he hid behind her skirt. For some reason, a big man who seemed angry came running after Nico. He had a scratch on his cheek. The man held an axe in his hand.

"I-I'm supposed to save you?!"

Kelly froze and she felt herself break into a cold sweat as she met the man's eyes. The man grinned and said something, but Kelly couldn't understand. Even though she didn't understand, the lewd look in his eyes was more than enough for her to realise she was in danger.

Kelly paled and screamed when the man grabbed her arm. She struggled frantically against him, and the man suddenly let go and she ended up falling. She quickly looked up only to have the big man suddenly collapse in front of her. A young man with brown-coloured skin stood there coolly and blood dripped from the knife in his hand.

"Mr. Raven......"

'I'm safe,' Kelly thought still trembling. Raven drew closer and held out his hand. Startled, she wondered if it was really alright for her to take his hand, and in that brief instant, he reached down and pulled Nico out from under her.

"Are you alright, Mr. Nico?"

"Ah...... oh, it's you, Raven. You saved me."

Nico shivered after Raven put him down on the floor. He then straightened his fur.

"Kelly, your safe now, too."

At Nico's comment, Raven finally looked at Kelly.

"Miss Kelly, why are you here?"

Kelly got to her feet under her own power feeling a mix of disbelief and resignation.

"I saw thieves enter and came to warn the master...... Also, our boat's; the crew fled with it."

Raven simply nodded. "Understood. However, Lord Edgar and Mrs. Lydia seem to have been taken away by magic. I'll go search for them."

"'You'll go...' But where?"

By the time Kelly asked her question, Raven had already started walking, and it was Nco who answered her.

"Most likely, they're both—and Francis, too—are at the princess's royal city."

"The royal city?"

Kelly hurriedly followed after Nico. Leaving the room, Raven started climbing up the stairs.

"Aeris apparently used magic, and the earl and Lydia ended up being taken away by a wave. Aeris is apparently the princess who ended up sinking together with the legendary royal city."

Kelly didn't know how to react at having folk legend and reality becoming all jumbled together. However, she was currently conversing with someone who was in the shape of a cat, and she also knew that Lydia was a fairy doctor. Even back in her home in the highlands, for whatever reason, she believed that a number of legends and magics weren't just made-up stories. But since she'd never had the opportunity to see such things first-hand, apparently she needed a bit of time in order to realise that they were real.

"Raven, can you see it?"

Raven was looking out from the highest window on the staircase.

"Yes."

Kelly ran over to the window and exclaimed. A city could be seen floating on the sea. A road went straight out from the island dividing the sea. At the end of the road was a town made from stone and surrounded by tall walls.

"It's Bretagne's legendary royal city at the bottom of the sea. It's come up because the tide's gone out."

Nico had at some point jumped up onto Raven's shoulder.

"Everyone was taken there?"

It was a beautiful capital city that could rival Paris. Waterways ran in all directions, and what appeared to be a palace stood at the highest point. Bathed in sunlight, it shone brightly.

"We'll steal a boat and go," Raven said, but Nico jumped onto the window sill and stood with his arms cross.

"No, wait, Raven. Most likely, you won't be able to see that from the sea. You can see it from here because this place is part of the royal city. Since the city's floating on the surface of the sea right now, it's probably as close as it ever gets to the human realm, but it's still the city of another realm."

"In that case, how can we get there?"

"The only choice is to use that corridor."

Nico pointed at the road that led directly towards the island. But it was surrounded on both sides by high walls and the road itself was under the sea.

"It seems the only choice is to swim."

'Surely he's joking,' Kelly thought. 'There's something wrong with this person.'

"Raven, if you do that, how are you going to bring the earl and Lydia back?"

"......You're right."

Kelly felt relieved that he seemed to be rethinking things through. She gazed at the corridor.

"Hey, you said this castle's also part of the royal city, right? If that's the case, could there be some sort of mechanism we can use to remove the water? Otherwise, there'd be no point for this island to be at the end of that corridor. It would seem even more likely if this place acted as the entrance to the city."

"I see..." Nico crossed his arms.

"There must be an exit from this castle to that corridor then. Let's go look for it."

"But Raven, if that's the case, we'll be found by the others. They were gathering every last woman in the castle in the main hall."

"In that case, I'll take care of the others first."

"That's impossible. You don't know how many of them there are."

'No kidding. Saying he'll take care of them. Just what did he expect to do on his own?'

"There are thirteen of them." Kelly answered even though she thought he was being foolish. "I was watching at the pier, so I'm sure." Kelly said the words impulsively possibly because she'd hoped to see Raven look dismayed.

"Understood. Three of them should no longer be able to move, so that leaves ten people."

'What does he mean "understood"?!

Raven turned and headed down the stairs. Since Nico followed after him, Kelly had no choice but to follow.

"Wait a minute. Are you planning on taking on ten thieves all by yourself?!"

"Those people aren't thieves."

"......That's not the point......"

"There was one man who appeared to be a gentleman among them. That man had been staying at the same hotel as we are. It's Mr. Slope. The man who is wanted for having pushed his wife out the window."

Kelly's jaw dropped in surprise and she exchanged looks with Nico.

"Even though he shoved her out the window, he seems to believe that she's actually alive and that she got away from him. Maybe it's because they never found her body, but I don't know if you'd call that incredibly controlling, but that guy's not sane."

"Since he seemed to think Mrs. Lydia was hiding Mrs. Slope, he must have quietly followed Lord Edgar after learning that he'd hired a ship and come to this island."

Raven suddenly stopped and turned to look at Kelly.

"There's a servant's corridor that leads from here to the main hall. Miss Kelly, please lure them out one at a time," he said looking calm.

"Eh? Me?!"

"It's a lady's maid's job, isn't it?"

It was the first time she'd ever heard that.

"A lady's maid should be willing to risk her life if it's for the lady of the house's sake."

"Are you saying that you're willing to throw your life away for the master's sake?!"

"Of course."

Kelly couldn't help thinking that she might not survive if she tried to work on the same level as he did. But there didn't seem to be any other choice. Gathering her determination, Kelly entered the servant's passageway. The passageway was narrow only allowing one person to use it at a time. She followed the corridor until she eventually came to a door at the end. The main hall should be on the other side of the door. She tried to open the door, but the old door refused to open. She pushed against it hard, and it protested loudly as it suddenly gave way sending Kelly tumbling into the main hall.


Hmm, intrigue. We've broken the 40k word mark now. ^^;
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