༺ Interlude (2) ༻
‘I probably should return, shouldn’t I?’
Even though it felt like they had just arrived in the North yesterday, the reality was that the time had finally come for Ferzen to head to the Roverium Kingdom.
Euphemia knew that it would be nothing but an extreme greed to follow him to the Roverium Kingdom, which was currently riddled with political strife.
After all, she was someone who, unlike Yuriel, had no ability to take care of herself. At the same time, she was also carrying a child in her belly.
Those two facts would undoubtedly become a shackle that would make things harder for Ferzen there.
Therefore, it would be appropriate to entrust herself to Brutein, the safest place when he was gone.
‘At night…… I’ll have to say that first.’
Euphemia stroked her own belly. She knew that those words would not easily leave her mouth.
However, knowing better than anyone else that her wish was a greed that should never be entertained, she steeled her resolve.
‘It wouldn’t be bad for me to be his place to come back to.’
In the first place, he would be there for no longer than half a year anyway.
Of course, she thought that it was pathetic of her to be afraid to say goodbye to someone who would leave for only half a year……
However, Euphemia didn’t hate herself for being in love with someone and for being afraid to say goodbye to someone.
Smiling slightly at her own vulnerability for the first time in her life, she rested her back on the chair.
Then the old rocking chair began to creak regularly, as if singing a lullaby to a child in the womb.
* * * * *
At the dinner table, Yuriel did something she rarely does; she raised her voice before looking toward Ferzen.
Laura, who had been trying to appease her hungry stomach with the enticing smell of the appetizing food, bit her lower lip and put her hand down.
Why did he always do stupid things in the dining room?
She sent a glare toward Ferzen and sighed inwardly. Rather than resenting Yuriel, who had raised her voice, Laura was angrier with the man for deliberately letting this scene happen when he could have prevented it beforehand.
“Go to your room. I will tell the maids to prepare your meal again and bring it to your room.”
Laura stood up without hesitation at the rare welcoming news.
Perhaps because she felt that he finally learned how to be considerate of her, her mood improved, albeit only for a moment, because of this brat’s consideration..
In the first place, if he was going to bring up a sensitive topic of conversation at dinner, wouldn’t it have been better to warn her in advance and ask her to have her dinner in her room?
Laura calmly left the room. Even when he was considered an adult, he was still in his late 20s. So, it was natural for him to be clumsy in his way of being considerate.
Right after Laura left the room, Ferzen briefly cleared his throat and met Yuriel’s gaze.
“You haven’t even heard the reason yet.”
“Whatever the reason……! It’s so unlike you!”
“I-I don’t think it’s right to follow you either…”
The agreement between Yuriel and Euphemia, something which had happened for the first and probably the last time.
Seeing that, Ferzen laughed.
“Now is not the time to laugh……!”
Euphemia had no ability to take care of herself. Moreover, she was also pregnant. She would undoubtedly become nothing but a burden to him.
Yuriel hated that not only was he worried about Euphemia, but that Euphemia’s presence caught Ferzen’s ankle and, conversely, put him in danger.
“Do you think I wouldn’t think of such a basic thing?”
She knew for sure that he would think of such things.
However, that only made Yuriel even more resentful.
He didn’t want to be separated from Euphemia even for a moment, but why was he being so selfish and greedy? If the circumstances had been reversed, would he have been like this too?
“Brutein is a safe place. I don’t doubt that.”
If he had to entrust someone important to him, he would choose that place without hesitation.
“Do you know what kind of power a warlock who has reached the Apollyon level possesses?”
“I don’t know……”
Yuriel closed her mouth and turned her head away from his gaze.
She wasn’t naive enough to provide a vague answer when she lacked knowledge on a subject.
In fact, secret libraries existed within the Imperial Family, the Brutein family, the Alfred family, and a few other ducal families.
However, even if she were to accumulate all the information about monsters residing on the third floor or higher that was recorded in those libraries, the number would not exceed thirty.
“I am…… not stupid.”
“Most people only realize the value of something after losing it.”
However, Ferzen wasn’t one of them. He had already come to understand how precious Yuriel and Euphemia were to him.
“In spring, when the snow melts and the greenery comes to life again, I wanted to be intoxicated by the beauty, not… by sadness.”
Euphemia, who had been silently listening, couldn’t help but react. She knew he was undoubtedly referring to her.
“In the summer, I want to savor the sweet scent and taste of a hot cup of tea and a peach on the table, not be overwhelmed by… longing.”
Yuriel, who had turned her head away for a moment, met Ferzen’s gaze once again. She quickly lowered her head after witnessing the love in his eyes and the smile on his face.
Why was her heart beating so wildly?
“I have made this judgment as objectively as possible, setting aside personal biases. I pondered not just once or twice, but dozens, even hundreds of times. And in the end…”
The place where he could safely entrust them,
Was neither the Imperial Family nor Brutein.
“The safest place for both of you is, as expected, by my side.”
If he entrusted both of them to Brutein, he wouldn’t be able to do anything if their lives were in grave danger.
However, if he was right next to them, he could muster all the resources in the world and summon all the monsters residing on the third floor one by one.
If time was running out, he could even inflict a fatal wound upon himself and recreate the scene inside the dream barrier.
“So please understand that I’m not being foolishly greedy.”
What began as a thorough consideration solidified into an unwavering conviction.
And that unwavering conviction soon transformed into a belief.
“In addition, Yuriel.”
“Even if the circumstances were reversed…”
Even if it was Yuriel who had a child and no means to protect herself.
“Right at this moment, in this place, I would have made the same choice.”
“Now, seeing that there is no objection, I will assume you both agree with me. Start eating your food before it gets cold.”
Ferzen spoke before commencing his meal.
However, neither Yuriel nor Euphemia could pick up their utensils.
Did this mean she was the only odd one out?
Before she knew it, the tingling sensation in her chest had shifted to her lower abdomen, causing Yuriel to discreetly rub her thighs under the table.
No one should be able to see what she was doing as it was hidden beneath the table.
However, when Yuriel noticed that Euphemia, sitting across from her, was in a similar state, she struggled to suppress a smug grin as a sense of triumph welled up inside her.
After all, tonight, the one who would be sharing a bed with him wasn’t her, but that woman.
And she couldn’t even restrain herself for a moment?
‘A lascivious woman…’
Even though she had resolved to be more composed, she couldn’t help but feel envious.
Indeed, jealousy was a difficult emotion to control.
* * * * *
A warm breath billowed from the mouths of all those present.
The five nobles who had arrived in Louerg to accompany Ferzen on the journey to the Roverium Kingdom felt a deep sense of shame as they observed the modest level of power each of them had brought with them.
As their self-directed anger surged, they clenched their fists tightly.
These men had come with their proudest soldiers and vassals, so why did they feel so inadequate in the presence of others?
The five nobles soon raised their heads as they saw Ferzen stepping out before them. They couldn’t help but wonder what was going through his mind as he looked at them.
Would he be disdainful of the soldiers behind them and the armor they wore?
“You have worked hard to get here.”
“It’s nothing special.”
Some of the nobles who had come were the current heads of their families, ruling over their territories. Others were sons of the current heads, sent here to gain experience before taking on leadership roles.
After committing their faces to memory, Ferzen continued.
“The timing isn’t ideal for returning to my mansion first, so let’s proceed directly.”
Although they believed they had ample time to rest, arriving at their destination quickly was also preferable.
Only the nobles harbored concerns. When they hurried, the soldiers, their feet sinking into the snow with each step, had to extricate themselves from the frozen ground and push onward.
They couldn’t help but worry about potential frostbite from the cold and exertion.
“Do not fret.”
“There’s no need to worry about being buried in the snow for too long and getting frostbite from the cold seeping into your shoes.”
The northern nobles were inwardly taken aback. Ferzen hadn’t spent much time in Louerg, so he shouldn’t be familiar with the harsh realities of life in the North.
“I may not fully empathize with your grievances, but I understand them.”
“I’m not so harsh as to mistreat the talented people who have decided to follow me. So, if you harbor any unfounded prejudices, cast them aside.”
Behind Ferzen, who spoke in a soft tone as if to alleviate the tension, two horses that pulled a noble carriage arrived.
While it wasn’t exceptionally high, they’d need to traverse at least one mountain range on their journey.
…No, the nobles quickly dismissed their doubts, believing that Ferzen must have taken all this into account.
“Do you require some time to rest?”
“We’ve rested enough.”
“Very well, then we shall begin our journey immediately.”
Ferzen gently stroked the altar before carefully placing an antique coffin on the ground. He bowed respectfully to it and then lifted the remains of the previous patriarch from within.
Turning his gaze to the snow-covered path they were about to embark on, he channeled his magic and created a trail of fire.
It was literally a path made of fire.
As the fiery path approached their feet, the soldiers and nobles couldn’t help but be taken aback.
However, instead of the expected scorching heat, they felt only a comforting warmth that brought relief, leaving them utterly astonished.
How peculiar it was that the fire could be walked upon!
The horses, having already grown accustomed to the sight, moved forward confidently after snorting at the peculiar phenomenon as if they pitied it.
The snow, which had accumulated to the point of nearly submerging a human up to their ankles, transformed into white steam that lingered around the surroundings like a gentle fog.
“……My Lord, don’t you want to ride a horse?”
If Ferzen had confidence that the wagon could safely traverse the path, it would be more practical for him to ride a horse.
After all, he was a warlock, a class of magic users who often lacked physical strength.
“For what purpose?”
However, Ferzen’s response was succinct.
“Rather than looking up at me or looking at my back, wouldn’t it be better to be able to look me in the eye?”
“Those who follow need not look at my back.”
Ferzen took a step forward, and simultaneously, those who had been drawn by his casually spoken words naturally began to follow him, one after another.
‘…… Perhaps I should have sent my son?’
Some of the nobles couldn’t help but smile bitterly as they glanced at the heirs, who were close in age to their own sons, sent here in their father’s stead.
Carrying the weight of their aging bodies was arduous and demanding, but the sight of these young individuals, their aspirations shining like stars in the night sky, was a beautiful thing to behold.
* * * * *
The Journey began in the North!
Its destination being the Roverium Kingdom!
TL note: 10/20
You know, there’s something about a nice cup of coffee at 2 A.M
I mean, it’s almost magical, right?
I was doing sum college papers, and my brain was going cuckoo, HOWEVER MOH DAIJOBU!
COFFEE GA KITA!!!!!!!!
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