“—The current Countess of Rieda will also be attending… As a representative of the Southern Temple of the Eastern Continent.”
Ronée’s eyes widened.
At that moment, memories started to flood her mind.
It was something she wanted to forget, the memories she buried under the beauty and security of the Western Continent.
The memory of the Countess screaming with scornful eyes and a ghastly face every time she saw Ronée surfaced. Each time the Countess would run into her, she would relentlessly attack Ronée with her magic.
What if… What if she uses magic again this time?
She recalled the faces of the innocent maids who stayed by her side and were struck by lightning and fire magic.
She opened her mouth slightly.
She felt as if she was running away. And the Countess, who knew that, is coming all the way to the West to bring her back.
Ronée knew the Countess was from one of the temples, but she never thought that she would see her again unless she went back to the Eastern Continent.
Nabel covered her eyes to distract her from her other thoughts for a moment.
As he hugged her from behind, he whispered in a very soft voice.
“Don’t be anxious. She wouldn’t dare harm the owner of the Shinsu.”
He held Ronée’s cold hand tightly.
“This is the Western Continent. And remember who you have standing next to you.”
The one with the strongest power in the West was standing at her side.
“I will do whatever my sister asks me to do.”
He clasped his fingers tightly in her hand.
“For you, I can become a tyrant who starts a war with the East. So…” Nabel said, placing their interlaced hands on his pounding chest. “Don’t be afraid of such weak things that will die at your command.”
Ronée moved her head very slowly in a nodding motion.
The memories of the past pouring out like a flood had her frozen.
Nabel kissed her cheek as he gazed upon her softly.
In the quiet garden, the sound resonated in the surroundings.
Surprised, Ronée turned toward the sound.
“Sir Nesha is here.”
‘There is someone else here with us!’
When Ronée spoke with a blushing face, Nabel grinned.
“This is a greeting in the West. This is how we say ‘Hello’.”
When Ronée tension seemed to ease, he kissed her cheek again.
“Isn’t that right, Nesha?”
“…That’s right,” Nesha said in a heavy voice.
Throughout his entire life on the Western Continent, he had never heard of such a greeting.
However, if the emperor calls it a greeting, then it’s a greeting.
He began to seriously think about whether to kiss his fellow knights on the cheek when he returned to the knight’s barracks in the castle.
A cold sweat formed on his forehead as he met Nabel’s eyes.
* * * * * * *
While preparing for the trial of the tower, Ronée began a new nighttime routine. Each night, she found herself waiting for Nabel to appear and knock on her window.
She didn’t need him to make an appointment. A single glance from him was enough for it to be a promise that he was coming.
Nabel always knocked on her window at midnight, so Ronée would not sleep until then, instead she sat gazing out her window.
It wasn’t that she couldn’t see him during the day. However, it was difficult for them to spend time alone.
It was due to the people who always sought Nabel when the two were spending time together.
Either way, he was always busy.
With the Tower’s trial preparations added to his workload, it wasn’t possible for Nabel to have a lot of free time.
Instead of Nabel, it was Ryne and the other maids who were by her side.
The maids of the Ronée Palace, including Dia and Ryne, did not give Ronée time to be bored.
As if they had served Ronée together from the beginning, their hands and feet were in sync. While Ryne was a maid from the Eastern Continent, the maids still valued Ryne’s experience of serving people from the Eastern Continent.
Under Ryne’s guidance, spices and food that were not used in the Eastern Continent were filtered out and Ronée’s favorite things were imported to the Western Continent.
“It’s my first time working with someone from the Eastern Continent.”
“I’d never thought in my entire life that I’d be working with someone from the Eastern Continent.”
The maids were unfamiliar with Ryne at first.
Ronée was the owner of a Shinsu, so it didn’t matter if she was from the East.
But that wasn’t the case for Ryne.
Dia, the head maid scolded them.
“Wherever Ryne comes from, it doesn’t matter. If you have room to talk, you better be able to adequately serve Ronée.”
There was a hint of coldness in her words.
Nabel had ordered Ryne to be assigned as Ronée’s exclusive maid. If the emperor ordered it, it shouldn’t matter where Ryne was from.
‘She is a someone that Ronée cares for.’
And His Majesty ordered Ronée to be adequately served.
These two orders were enough.
Anyone who defied the emperor’s orders would be unable to remain in Ronée Palace.
Dia was one of the people who knew what happened to the former chef when he didn’t know about poison in the food.
“What are you looking at outside the window?”
Ryne was someone who knew how to put Ronée at ease.
Ronée, who had been gazing out the window with a gloomy expression the whole time, smiled softly.
“Just the people arriving.”
To be exact, she is looking at the priests.
The priests and mages who worship the gods at the temples.
They were wearing colorful clothes that were different from the ordinary mages who chose to worship the gods at home.
However, what all mages had in common, were the bracelets they were required to wear.
For Ronée, it was particularly noticeable.
Ronée recalled the sound of bracelets clinking on Countess Rieda’s wrist.
Among them, there would be Countess Rieda.
Ronée clenched her teeth. She couldn’t help but think about the countess more and more.
And the reports of her movements that were regularly sent to Nabel.
* * * * * * *
The sound of a knock at midnight refreshed Ronée’s mind.
She was so engrossed in her thoughts that she didn’t notice the shadow outside her window.
“Oh my gosh.”
Ronée quickly opened the window to allow Nabel, who was outside precariously sitting by the window, to enter her room.
“Every time you come; you use the most dangerous method.”
Even though she complained, she was eager for their blissful time together.
Nabel laughed at her words.
“I’ll be careful when I climb down.”
‘Still, he hasn’t agreed to stop climbing down.’
He just couldn’t stand the useless rumors circulating about Ronée.
“By the way, what were you thinking about?”
Nabel pointed to the window.
“You didn’t even notice I was there.”
Ronée laughed awkwardly.
She didn’t think Nabel would be happy to hear what she was thinking about.
“Who were you thinking about?”
Nabel gradually leaned towards her. With the moonlight behind him, his shadow fell upon Ronée.
Tilting his head, he asked again in a playful voice.
“Were you thinking of someone other than me?”
Ronée laughed at his words.
“No, I thought of you.”
Actually, it wasn’t Nabel she was thinking of. It was Countess Rieda.
Even though she didn’t want to think about her, she couldn’t stop the intrusive thoughts.
For Ronée, Countess Rieda was no less than a tyrant.
‘Even though this is the Western Empire, I’m still bothered by her.’
‘As Nabel said before, I still have anxious memories of my childhood even with the Emperor of the Western Empire at my side. During the worst moments, Countess Rieda would attack me several times a day. While I knew the magic wouldn’t harm me, I was still so afraid that my heart would drop every time.’
At the time, she didn’t know what would happen if the magic suddenly worked on her.
Standing right next to her, Ronée saw the end of her former maid, who had been struck with lightning spells.
‘I still can’t forget her desperate screams.’
Ronée clenched her fists involuntarily.
It was terrifying.
It felt like she was reliving that horror once again.
Even though she knew that Countess Rieda couldn’t use magic on her while she was in the middle of the Western Empire.
“You’re thinking about me?”
Nabel burst into her field of vision.
Slowly bringing his face closer to her, he gently caressed the corners of Ronée’s lips.
“Then, why do you have such a sad expression on your face?”
Nabel looked at her trembling hands and reached out with his hands to stroke her face and ease her anxiety.
“Am I making it harder for you?”
“…No,” Ronée eventually said as she shook her head.
Nabel cupped her face with both of his hands.
“It’s because of Countess Rieda, right?”
Even without holding her hands to check her thoughts, he could tell.
Ronée nodded her head at Nabel’s sharp remark.
“That’s right. It’s just… I don’t think I’ll be able to face her again.”
“Because I’m afraid.”
The latter words were whispered, but it was clearly heard by Nabel.
Nabel caressed her cheeks once more.
“Should I kill her?”
He said it in such a casual tone that Ronée became rather speechless.
After a moment of silence, Ronée gazed up at him with wide eyes.
“I don’t want my sister to feel uncomfortable anymore.”
‘Or frowning like this.’
Nabel’s hand swept over Ronée’s forehead, then stroked the corners of her eyes. Slowly, his hand went lower.
Feeling her neck and beating pulse, he whispered, “Look, your heart is beating fast.”
‘Probably because I’m scared and anxious.’
“I wish it was because of me.” Nabel said regretfully.
‘Not because there’s things making you uncomfortable. I want to be the only reason that your heart races.’
Nabel lowered his head.
With his back turned away from the window, his face was highlighted by the shadows from the moonlight.
“You know, sister…”
Their foreheads touched.
“I’ll do whatever you tell me to do. So…”
Leaning forward, he bit and sucked on Ronée’s lower lip. Her soft lips met his and made a wet sound.
“—Tell me to kill her. Tell me to erase her from this world, that you hate Countess Rieda,” he whispered seductively.
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