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*laughs* Whoops. Doing stuff is one thing, but... even I have to admit, only getting to p 218 is rather pathetic. ^^;; Ah well. That's what I get for getting distracted by something shiny. :P


"Ow......"

Looking up, Kelly found all the men in the main hall looking at her. She quickly got to her feet, turned, and ran back the way she came.

"Hey, there's still another woman!"

"Get her!"

Just as she realised she heard those words spoken in English, several people ran into the corridor chasing after her. Kelly ran as fast as she could, but they seemed to be catching up to her.

"Kelly, hit the ground!"

She suddenly heard Nico's voice.

More than dropping down, she ended up falling flat on the floor, and something flew over top her head. Further down the corridor, she could hear cries of pain echoing one after another when everything suddenly went quiet. She slowly looked up and found Raven looking down at her.

"Didn't I say one at a time?"

You don't have to look so angry......

She almost felt like crying. And almost as though he were completely oblivious of her, Raven then murmured, "There are four people left."

He then ran off towards the main hall. Kelly stayed there in shock, and it was Nico who finally helped her get up. He certainly was a gentleman. But a small cat's hand wasn't much help, so in the end, Kelly got up using her own strength.

"Thank you, Mr. Nico."

Nico stroked his whiskers happily. "Now then, most likely Raven will take care of the men, but it'll be up to you to calm the women in the castle down. After all, we're intruders here, too."

Nico was absolutely right.

By the time Kelly reached the main hall, Raven had already finished taken care of the other men. However, rather than trying to speak to the women who were scared and didn't understand what was happening, he just stood there. Kelly couldn't tell if he was very capable, or utterly incompetent. She hurried and stood before the other women.

"Everyone, please calm down. The thieves can no longer cause any harm. We're here to help you." She wasn't sure if they understood English. The ladies and servants were all huddled in one corner, but several people among them looked relieved at Kelly's words, so a number of them must have understood her.

"I'm Countess Lydia Ashenbert's lady's maid. I believe the countess came here after being invited by Lady Aeris, and we came to bring her home when we ended up getting caught up in this commotion...... Ah, please don't worry. He's the earl's attendant."

"Mrs. Lydia's...? Come to think of it, she was asking about as to how she could get back home. So she really did just happen to come by here." One woman looking like a noble lady said.

"Umm, but I don't see Mrs. Lydia anywhere, so I think she went with Lady Aeris to the town north of here. Does anyone know how to use the sea corridor?"

The women all looked at one another. Kelly wondered what she could do if the legendary royal city was a forbidden subject. They might end up getting kicked out. Kelly stood nervously, but an old woman at the back slowly got to her feet.

"If Lady Aeris took her to the town, then your lady is in no danger. You should wait until she returns."

"......The master ended up following after the missus."

A murmur ran through the crown as everyone was startled.

"Men cannot return from that town alive."

"I will go to that town even if I have to swim there," Raven stated firmly.

"You are also a man. Do you intend to throw your life away?"

"It's my duty to protect the master."

The old woman slowly stepped forward. Her white hair was so long it reached the floor. "Very well. In that case, come this way."

She used a cane and walked as though dragging her feet. Kelly caught a glimpse of the woman's feet from beneath her long skirt's hem. It looked like a fish's tail. Kelly decided not to think too much about it. After all, this was the legendary princess's royal city.

"If you close the floodgate and release the water, it will connect the island with the city. You can use the carriage. However, the town and the corridor will both sink beneath the sea when the sun goes down. If you haven't returned by then, you, too, will end up at the bottom of the sea."

Kelly nodded as she fought the frightening thought of going someplace completely unknown.

"One man got away. His name's Slope and he killed his wife. Just in case, please be careful," Raven said.

For some reason, the woman laughed as though amused. "It would be good if the one that is your master can give the princess her wish."

That was the only way for a man to be able to return from that city alive. Kelly bit her lip as she remembered that legend.


*


Apparently the temple-like building was also the mermaids' home. Leaving that building, Lydia felt the effects of their magic weaken. Francis helped Edgar, and the three of them along with the silver fairy somehow managed to reach the inner city. The door to one building had been left wide open, so they took shelter there. The private residences in the inner city were still in the same state as they'd been when the town flourished. Laundry flapped on the clothesline, and a pot hung by the hearth. While it seemed as though time had stopped, there was no sign of any people.

The great sword Arrow along with Lydia's moonstone Bow set up a ward against magic on the building, so they should be safe from discovery by the mermaids for a while. Lydia set some logs in the fireplace and she lit a fire using a match Edgar had.

With the fire lit, it seemed even more like they'd taken refuge in some private residence and they could almost forget they were in another realm. It seemed hard to believe that the town had been at the bottom of the sea. The logs and the furniture were all dry. There was even plenty of fresh water in the water jugs.

Francis sat Edgar down on a wooden bench.

"It's in very deep, yet there's almost no blood......" Francis said as he examined Edgar's wound.

"I think it's because it's a magic trident. The wound should disappear once it's taken out."

"That's good...... If there's no need to worry about bleeding, even a drunken doctor should be of some use, Francis," Edgar joked despite most likely being in a lot of pain.

"I haven't been drinking that much."

"You were completely taken in by the mermaids' enticements."

"I thought I'd be careful not to get completely drunk and have fun and take advantage of the feast they had prepared. But that sword of yours came at me like he was trying to kill me. It completely killed the happy buzz I had."

Despite the light banter, Francis knit his brows looking serious. Apparently, the trident had snapped when it pierced Edgar, and only a short stub protruded from his side. Francis was apparently carefully weighing whether it was possible to push the head through to the other side.

Edgar tried to take his jacket off, but the slightest movement made him gasp in pain. He looked at Lydia as she moved to help him.

"Lydia, how long do I have before I turn to stone from the magic?"

"Don't worry, Edgar. There's no change yet. You're inside a strong ward against magic, so the magic of the mermaid's trident should also be weakened because of it. You don't need to rush."

Edgar nodded, but gestured to Francis to hurry and get things over with.

"This'll help ease the pain."

Francis took something out from his tobacco pouch, but Edgar pushed it away.

"I don't need opium. I have to keep my wits about me."

Even though they'd escaped their immediate danger, he didn't have time to rest. If he were to lose his ability to think because he was in a daze, they could end up sinking to the bottom of the sea with the city.

"You're really......" Francis closed his mouth before finishing his sentence. He rolled up his sleeves as though he"d gathered the courage to see things through.

Lydia's legs shook as she felt Francis nervousness.

"Lydia, could you wait in another room?"

"But......"

"I don't want you to see me looking undignified." He smiled at her. "Don't worry. I can bear physical pain. Because it disappears once it's gone."

Since Edgar said that, Lydia felt she had no choice but to leave the room. But most likely, a part of her was relieved. She didn't think she could watch calmly as the pushed the trident's head through to the other side and pulled it out.

Most like the building was the home of a wealthy merchant. It was very open in the back and there was a very sunny courtyard there. Lydia sat down on the bench next to the flower bed and fought back the urge to cry. Edgar was the one in pain, so she shouldn't be the one crying. Edgar's always the one to suffer.

Before she realised it, Lydia held her hands together as though in prayer. The prince had killed his parents, and even though he probably despised the prince's existence more than anyone else, he'd had no choice but to take on the prince's memories because of his bloodline. Even though the Blue Knight Earl's position was supposed to afford him some protection, if it's true that someone came from Ibrazel on a mission for the earl, Lydia couldn't help wondering if Edgar would be able to continue being the head of the house. It was possible that the people of Ibrazel wouldn't acknowledge him as the earl since he was the prince's successor. Even though he was trying to carry out his duty as the Blue Knight Earl and as a member of the nobility, it was possible they would see him as the enemy because he was of the the same bloodline as the prince.

Aeris had been that way. She had some ties to Ibrazel's Diana, and yet she was trying to kill Edgar. It wasn't Edgar's fault. So why did he have to take the blame for everything. Lydia couldn't bear how helpless she felt. Even as a fairy doctor, she'd been of no use to him. Even though she was trying to find out what she could about Ibrazel, it might only end up putting him in a difficult position. And on top of that, she'd ended up getting caught in Aeris's trap, and by coming to Bretagne, she'd ended up putting him in danger. Even though it was their honeymoon, Lydia had been thinking only of the fae. She'd thought that by doing so, she could become the sort of wife Edgar wanted, but most likely he'd been feeling more and more unsatisfied.

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January 2012

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