“Whatever.
Just take your time and admire that surreal appearance to your heart’s content, Kate.
I would have to go back now.”


Nezar rose from his seat with a small groan, he then stretched out his arm and patted my head.
I did a curtsy to send him off, but in response, he did not give a small bow or a slight nod like usual.
He just stood there, immobilised, even after I had straightened my knees.
The sound of him swallowing dry saliva was heard multiple times.

“Nezar.”

“Huh?”

When I called his name, he, who usually met my eyes, was now staring vacantly into space, as if he was deep in thought.
For a moment, a feeling of uneasiness engulfed my mind.

“You don’t seem well.
What’s wrong?”

Nezar turned his wide shoulder, and after a brief pause, stroked my hair again.
He still wasn’t smiling.

“Nothing at all.
Now let’s go.
I will take you to your room.”

Liar.
You still think of me as an eight-year-old kid.

“…It’s fine.
Lady Caron is waiting for me in the study room.”

Even though I refused, he took my hand and lead me to the study.
There was no conversation between us as we walked.
Nezar was quiet, and I couldn’t open my mouth as I was busy studying his expression.


And my hunch was always right.
In the end, Nezar was not seen for more than ten days.

The sound of wheels rattling stopped.

The first thing to notice change was the tactile sensation.
Pancion slowly lifted his eyelids, as he realised the regular shaking and rocking had become still, and everything had turned awfully quiet.
Outside the dark window, where only the moonlight illuminated, the sound of grasshoppers crowing filled.
He stared straight ahead to clear his breath and mind before stepping out of the wide open carriage door.

Entera Castle, which he returned after half a day, was crowded.
Pancion focus all his senses to grasp everything, including the gazes and breath temperature of the servants bowed down next to him, even their strides as they withdrew to go back to their work.
Everything that made up Entera was the same as usual.
At least, that’s how it seemed to Pancion.

“Shall I prepare a bath for you?”

“No.
Put Geheren on standby.
I’m going to Caron’s room.”

The servant bowed deeply and backed down.
Pancion slowly pulled down the tie that was tightening his breath and climbed up the stairs.
Late at night, everything was quiet in the mansion except for the flickering lights.
Unlike usual, he was taking steps toward the left corner of the hallway.
He approached the servant who was waiting for him.
Came into his sight was a young teenage boy, about fifteen or so, with his gaze lowered, standing by the slightly open door of the room at the furthest corner.

It was the room given to Caron.

The bright light of the yellow full moon poured down like a waterfall on the wide balcony.
Pancion, who had completely untied his tie, leaned against the door frame and captured the peaceful scene with his eyes.
The room was not big, but it was full of old and outdated furniture, as if dating back 20 years or more.
They were not well-maintained structures with antique and time-honoured charms.
Rather, they were just simply old worn-out pieces of furniture.


“Who made this room?”

“Mrs.
Malen.”

“Did my mother not mention anything?”

“Everything related to the young lady has already been entrusted to Mrs.
Malen.”

“What about her personal maid?”

“Cecily Arnoldaro, a 22-year-old woman hired three years ago on the recommendation of Mrs.
Malen.”

The sound of the door closing was heard, Pancion then turned around and walked over the moonlight that had fallen onto the hallway’s carpet and stopped at the opposite corner.
In front of his door stood a white-haired old man in an upright posture.
It was Geheren, the head butler of Entera Castle.

Pancion threw a glance at the old man and entered the room.
Geheren, who followed, lighted up the fireplace in the room.
The chills of the room slowly receded at the burning fire.

“About Malen?”

Geheren, standing in front of the closed door, answered instantly.


“Two maids are quitting within this week, so we are looking for staff to fill the vacancy.”

“And?”

This time he didn’t answer right away.
The old man, who blinked his eyes with an unreadable expression, spoke in a tone a little more stiffly than before.

“Pardon me if I say something presumptuous, but I don’t think it will be any different from what the master expected.”

Pancion threw the tie he was holding onto the chair.
Without any response to Geheren’s words, he kept his mouth shut and undid the cuffs of his shirt.
Originally, it was a servant’s duty to help, but after Turner Entera vacated the castle, Pancion had become careful not to let anyone touch his body.
As if all the people in the castle were his enemies.

The only things that moved in the room were his long fingers and the buttons on his shirt.

“It was Master Turner’s order.”

At those words, Pancion’s eyes turned to Geheren for a brief moment.
Without a single handful of emotions, only the flickering lights in his eyes lit up.

“Why didn’t you report it to me?”

“It was also Master Turner’s command.”


“He is quite fussy about this kind of stuff these days.”

Pancion, who got up and walked over to the shelf, took out red wine from his top compartment.
The dark-coloured wine shimmering in the light looked like rising waves of blood.

“Our lovely older brother left making the mansion a total mess.
Isn’t that right, Geheren?”

Geheren did not answer.
All he did was bow his head apologetically.

“Is my brother’s condition getting any better?”

“According to the medical institution, he has less than half a year left.”

“Half a year…”

For Pancion, it was neither long nor short.
He gently swirled the glass in his hand, then slowly downed the drink.
There wasn’t a very satisfying look on him.
Pancion continued his words again only after he had put down the glass.

“In a week, the Imperial family will declare war against the North.
The expected date of the departure will be up to two weeks later, Prince Nezar and I have decided on it.”

Geheren swallowed a heavy sigh in his chest.
If it was a Northern war, it would take at least five years, even if it used the power of the Empire army.
He was afraid that after five years, the position of Entera’s successor would already be empty.

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