Celine couldn’t remember how she got out of the woods.
All she could recognize was Leonhard, who hugged her tightly.

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“Young Lord!”

When Leonhard, holding Celine’s miserable appearance, came out of the forest, the place suddenly became noisy.

The medic ran out in a hurry.

“La, Lady here…”


Leonhard looked at the medic, who politely extended his hands.

“I will do it myself.”

The moment he was about to enter the carriage with one hand snatching the bandages and medicines from the medic’s hand, the Knight Commander approached.

“Young Lord, the core is…… ?”

“It’s gone.”


The Knight Commander opened his mouth wide as if he could not believe it.
At that, he gave an outright annoyed answer.

“You don’t believe it? Go and find it yourself.”

“Oh, no.”

The Knight Commander immediately withdrew.

Leonhard stared at his back with a cold gaze.
If there was at least one of them who had the courage to break through the corpse of a monster…


Celine let out a small scream as she twisted her body.
Leonhard’s heart sank.
He carefully laid her down in the carriage and examined her.
The reason he stopped the medic wasn’t because it was simple.
There was no expert who knew better than Leonhard about the wounds received from monsters in the Empire.


Leonhard’s pupils shook.

Her whole body was torn to shreds, and she was covered with a distorted red scar as though it had just been attached.

Leonhard’s hand holding the ointment trembled.
Celine only came to her senses when the gentle ointment was applied to her neck.

She mumbled with her moan.

“It’s a waste.
Because I’ll get better, anyway…”

“It’s all wounds.”

He then answered bluntly and spread the ointment, stopping a little below her shoulder.
Underneath the rag-level dress, the flesh visible at first glance is also not normal.
But, it wasn’t an area he could touch or mention.

“I’ll have to call a medic.”

“It’s all right.”

Celine’s eyes, which had been closed all this time, were gazing at Leonhard.

He didn’t miss the fact that her blue-grey eyes, which were normally brightly luminous, were clouded by pain.

It’s gone, right?”

Celine rolled up the sleeves of her ragged dress, revealing her bare white arms.

Leonhard sighed.

“Are you still in pain?”

“Isn’t that obvious? It’s a fantasy pain.
It will disappear soon, and it won’t get better with ointment.”

“…I see.”

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Celine closed her eyes again.

The pain of wounds that no longer existed took over her whole body.
She endured the pain, trying not to worry Leonhard by groaning or shaking her body.

Suddenly, she felt the warmth and pressure on her hands.
Leonhard was holding her hand.

“Tell me if you don’t like it.”

Celine held Leonhard’s hand in place of an answer.
It felt like the pains that had swarmed her like worms that devoured her whole body disappeared little by little following her connection with him.

The last pain turned into a tickle and left her, Celine took her hand from his.

“I’m okay now.
Thank you.”


Leonhard gazed at her like someone who had something to say but said nothing, only a slight rattle of his lips.

Celine smirked and pretended to throw any question that came to her mind to evoke the mood.

“Now, shall we go to the hotel? Or, to the Imperial Palace because you have to report it to His Highness the Crown Prince?”

She could see saw Leonhard’s eyes regain the original cool-headedness look, and she felt a little relieved.
However, the words that came out of his mouth were beyond any of Celine’s expectations.


Celine raised her eyes in bewilderment.
Leonhard spit out his words, word by word.

“Go straight.


“The Imperial Capital… Dangerous.”

He grabbed Rashir’s hilt tightly.
As if he had to cut down all the dangers before him right now.




Celine basked in the cozy blanket, enjoying the warmth.

Leonhard said the road to the north was cold and filled the carriage with blankets and cushions.

She didn’t know exactly why he was in such a hurry, but seeing him calmed down, she knew it was the right decision to go as fast as possible north.

“Is it much colder in the north than here?”

“If you wear those old clothes, you will die right away.”

Leonhard reached out his hand and gently stroked the sable hair of her cap, which Celine was pressed against.

“Keep in mind.
Never take your hat off when you go outside.
Your ears will be cut off in no time.”

Soon, Celine decided that she had nothing to say about when she was in the northern cold.
It was because he raised a fuss every time a related topic came up and gave his precautions.

Suddenly, a blue twilight fell outside the window, and the carriage stopped softly.
They had to camp overnight, as they were told when they left.
Neither of them had an appetite, so dinner was all about biscuits and a little bit of hot tea.

Leonhard gazed at Celine for a long time, holding the mug with both her hands, said in a voice of firm determination.

“I will sleep outside.”


Celine couldn’t help but be surprised.
Leonhard, also stood guard by leaning on the door, saying he was worried even at the hotel.

Besides, it’s a campground now.

Isn’t it normal for him to insist on staying by her side even if he doesn’t like her…?

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Glancing at him, she still didn’t hear the answer, which she thought would be back soon.

A red glow appeared on Leonhard’s pale face, who had his mouth shut.

It wasn’t difficult for her to find out why.

“Because of the nightmare, you’re afraid you’ll wake me up.”

Celine was half right and half wrong.
Nevertheless, Leonhard nodded his head because he didn’t want to reveal the truth.
Today, the pangs that Celine’s death brought to him still linger in his chest.

Though what if he sees it again, dozens of times in the dream?

Leonhard felt his mouth dry out.

“Today was a difficult day, wasn’t it? I don’t want to disturb you.”

“By the way, tonight is a difficult night for Leonhard.”

There was a hint of pure concern in Celine’s voice.

He shook his head with difficulty and opened his mouth.
“Today is purely because of me.
You do not have to bear the price of my foolishness.”

Celine hid her sigh that was about to escape.
Whatever she would say to Leonhard now, he wouldn’t change his mind.

Then, the rest is…

“I see.
Then, who will protect me?”

The moment Leonhard raised his head, Celine noticed that her plan was just right.

“Well, it would be different if the escort came from the North, was running now…”

Saying so, she glanced through the window into the small tent the coachman had already pitched by the burning bonfire.

“How can Leonhard stay there and still protect me? That doesn’t mean you’re not going to stand guard outdoors at all? You have a cold.”

“…I was thinking of standing guard.”

“In this cold…?”

Celine tried to place her hand on his forehead with a worried expression on her face, but her attempt was unsuccessful as Leonhard jumped back and stepped back.

“Well, even if I don’t measure it, you will have a fever… Are you planning to arrive at the castle tomorrow with a runny nose?”

Leonhard sighed.

“…Do you feel at ease when I’m here?”

“Of course!”

Immediately, Celine’s eyes lit up, as though Leonhard understood what she was saying.
She made a good bed for herself with blankets and cushions.

Seeing so, he leaned against the door with a sigh of resignation.

“You must be looking forward to tomorrow night.”

“Of course.
I’m sick of nightmares now.”

Leonhard looked as if asking the obvious.
Celine smiled shyly.

You will finally be able to lie down on your bed and go to sleep.
You don’t have to protect me.”


Only then did Leonhard realize that this was the last night he and Celine would be in the same room.

‘It would have been better if it was a more pleasant night since it was the last time.’

However, soon the nightmare of his own arrogance and incompetence will unfold before his eyes, and Celine will witness his abyss.

He wanted to avoid that.

Leonhard glanced at Celine.

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She was already looking at the window with sleepy eyes.

A smile appeared on Leonhard’s lips.
He felt like he didn’t have to argue with Celine since he could just get out of here when she fell asleep.
It was her way of keeping both a good night’s sleep and Leonhard’s peace of mind.

“…There are so many stars.
It must be because this place is a wilderness, right?”

But, as Celine said on a whim, she seemed to want to talk to him.

“Isn’t it because the sky is clear today?”

Leonhard answered dryly.
He didn’t like the stars.
Stars were reserved for sorcerers and fortune-tellers, and he was not familiar with either.



“A star I know.”

It was a cryptic word that could be considered a sleepy word, though Leonhard did not ridicule Celine.

“It must be because the window is small.
There are a lot of stars in the sky, and there are few known stars, so it’s only natural that you can’t see them.”

“Stars, do you know?”


“It’s not like you to not know anything at all.
Anything, please tell me.”

Leonhard nearly waved his hand to stop her and tell her to sleep, she reminded him of his younger sister who begged him to tell a scary story.
Although Celine’s face, gazing out of the window with an awake face, showed a completely different emotion from that.

A feeling that can be seen in a soldier who has traveled far from her hometown.

Leonhard began to tell the story of the only stars he knew.

“In the north, wizards are called stars.
I live in a world that is different from other people.”

Celine looked a little disappointed, but she didn’t complain.

“But, the stars live in darkness.
And, the stars never disappear even if they are buried in darkness.”

“Are they warlocks?”

In Celine’s voice, there was surprise and laughter mixed.

The blinking star is a wizard who turns into a warlock.
That’s why wizards are so dangerous…”


Her laughter shook the carriage.

“Ha, haha, hahaha…”

“Is this so funny?”

Bewildered, Leonhard asked.
Still, Celine couldn’t stop her laughter as she wiped the tears from her eyes.

“Really, this is a different world.”

It was true that the northern part was very different from the capital, so Leonhard nodded his head.
She smiled at Leonhard with a more relaxed expression on her face.

“Thank you.”


“Thanks to you, I don’t feel sad looking at the stars.”


While he pondered the meaning of those words, Celine fell into a deep sleep.


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Celine’s eyes lit up.

They were in a moving wagon, full of sunlight.
She slept well last night without waking up, so her whole body was full of vitality.


A shock hit Celine’s head.
She didn’t wake up…


Before she thought, the words came out of her throat.

Immediately, Leonhard leaned his head towards her and poured out questions like a shotgun.
“Where are you sick? Shall I set up a carriage? Or, did you have a nightmare?”

“No, not that… Did you sleep outside yesterday?”

“I stood guard.”

As soon as he confirmed that Celine wasn’t screaming at him because she was sick or anxious, he stepped back from her, outright relieved.

“You were supposed to be inside!”

“I just wanted to breathe the cold air.”

Celine was puzzled and glanced at him.

The dark circles under his eyes were back to the same level as when she first saw them.
What’s more, his eyes were bloodshot and he was coughing a little.

Was her yesterday’s death an ordinary death?

To endure that dream alone, even outdoors…

Celine was silenced in astonishment, she barely utters a word.

“You have a cold.”

Leonhard shrugged his shoulders.

“I was born and raised in the north.
Don’t worry, this is nothing.”

Celine let out a sigh.
He couldn’t be bothered.
She had no reason to reproach Leonhard, for it was his act of caring for her above all.
Moreover, from tonight, Leonard’s bizarre duty to protect her will also disappear.

‘Then, there will be no such problem.’

She relaxed her expression and changed the subject.

“When will we arrive?”

“We’re almost there.”


“Look out the window.”

Celine peered out the window unknowingly and almost bit her tongue.

They were approaching the huge castle.

It wasn’t an ordinary castle.
It was made up of dozens of towering towers that seemed to reach the sky and a connecting passageway between them, so anyone who didn’t know would not even notice that it was a castle.

‘I can’t believe it…’

She buried her face in her hands to hide her hardened face.
She wanted to scream in despair.

She knew this castle.

An unidentified ghost castle appeared as a hidden stage that had nothing to do with the main story…

‘It was so difficult that I gave up in the middle…!’

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