YCKTML Chapter 36
Until this time, Rupert had been wandering in the mountains alone. It was around the time the sun came up.
He wandered all night looking for Erin, but he finally gave up and decided to trek down today. He couldn’t stop walking, but he realized he couldn’t do it on his own.
Sweat coated his whole body.
‘I need help.’
Throughout his search, he couldn’t stop thinking of Erin’s eyes–all that resentment–when she fell.
It was a spur-of-the-moment decision to save Chloe. But it shouldn’t have happened.
‘She was closer to the cliff.’
It wasn’t about who was more precious; it was about saving someone in more danger.
Aside from his recent feelings for Erin, making eye contact with a falling person brought him endless guilt.
Just then, he heard a familiar voice behind him. From beyond the rustling bushes, Chloe’s voice called out to Rupert.
Rupert looked back in disbelief. It was the voice of someone he never expected to be here.
“Chloe, how did you get here?”
“I was so worried that I couldn’t just lie down. You went out and didn’t return for a long time, and Madam…”
“However, did you come up all the way here alone?”
“No. My knights and I will help you.”
Rupert bowed slightly to the man walking from behind Chloe.
“Isn’t that Your Highness, Prince Breiman? Why are you in the mountains? This is a dangerous area.”
“I told the Lady to stay at the barracks because I’ll look for you, but she was worried. She couldn’t help but follow along.”
“But…” Rupert muttered, unsure, but Chloe hurriedly pulled something out of her arms and showed it to him.
“Rupert, it doesn’t matter how I got here. Look at this.”
Rupert looked closely at the necklace and pendant swaying before his eyes. In the center of the hexagonal star was a sparkling jewel.
It was the necklace Erin was wearing.
“Where did you get that?” Rupert stared at Chloe, his eyes wide.
Chloe’s face crumpled, and her voice cracked as she said, “…While we were searching, we saw a cave, and I went in, and this was there…”
“Cave? In a cave?”
“The corpse of a monster was there, too. Ha, how is that thing going around in the Empire? Fortunately, it was dead.”
Rupert’s face hardened when he heard the word ‘monster.’ Monsters could never go alone. Moreover, it quickly died when there was no magic.
“That was the magic stone cave, Rupert. Perhaps Madam… to the monster…”
“Stop, stop! That can’t be true,” Rupert yelled at Chloe, who had started crying.
Prince Breiman’s and Chloe’s eyes met for a moment while he ripped his hair out in agony.
“…Rupert, Rupert.” Whimpering, Chloe clung to his arm.
“No, no… How…! How could a monster be there? No, I can’t believe it.”
Rupert ran back up the mountain with the necklace in his hand. Behind him, Chloe called out to him.
Behind him, Breiman scoffed. “If she hadn’t died, he would have fallen for her.”
“I wouldn’t be so confident right now if I were you. Especially when I see him running up like that.”
“… it’s because he’s a righteous man,” Chloe whispered as she looked towards the mountain Rupert had climbed.
Prince Breiman also stared but quickly turned away, unconcerned.
Rupert eventually found a cave in the rocky mountain. He passed by the entrance a few times, but he’d avoided it, thinking Erin couldn’t possibly be there because there were ogre corpses piled up in front of it.
Rupert continued to deny it as he walked into the cave.
Before he could admire the sparkling magic stones, he discovered the corpse of a monster deep inside.
Running there, Rupert checked again and again. The dead body was already rotting, the area smelling of decomposition.
“The monster, why… Here?”
It was strange that a monster was here, and he still couldn’t believe that Erin had died here. However, the necklace in his hand was clearly Erin’s. Rupert collapsed in despair.
“I didn’t hate you that much, I didn’t,” He muttered into the air.
He didn’t really hate her. However, it was not long since he spent time with her to grieve.
But his heart ached as if he was being suffocated. Rupert closed his eyes tightly at the belated sense of loss.
‘I will never see the eyes that have always followed me.’
It was burdensome, and he thought he disliked it. Erin Spilet was such a cumbersome existence to him.
But she was also the only one.
When he stood next to the Crown Prince, when everyone’s eyes were on Enoch, Erin looked at him the whole time.
He remembered every moment he turned away from her gaze. And after they’d gotten married, it ended even before he could realize that how he felt about her had changed.
Rupert exhaled loudly, his arm still on the floor. Still, the frustration did not go away. He was even more frustrated because he didn’t cry.
When I woke up, this time, Lia was sleeping next to me. I saw the sunlight leaking from outside, and heard the sounds of people buzzing about. It was probably already midday.
I shook my arms and legs and repeatedly wiggled my fingers and toes.
My body didn’t hurt as much as I thought, and my clothes were dry. I think someone changed my clothes while I was sleeping.
“Lia, wake up.”
“Hmm… Ah, Madam? You’re awake?”
I sat up and turned my shoulders and neck once.
“Yes, I’m fine now. What time is it now? Where are we?”
Realizing that it was still not my barracks but where I slept last night, Lia looked around like me and said, “It’s about noon now. I think this is a camp where His Highness stays separately.… His Highness brought me here at dawn yesterday to take care of Madam.”
I couldn’t tell where it was from the inside.
“Wait… Help me out.”
With Lia’s help, I got down from the bed, put on my slippers, and stood. The room still spun, but I seemed fine.
Considering Erin’s physical strength and hardships yesterday, this was pretty good.
“Are you going out? We’re in the middle of the mountains. There’s nothing. It’s well-hidden, so when I came and saw it, I didn’t even know there was a barracks here.”
“I can’t just lie down. I don’t know where I am, so I have to look.” Despite her persuasion, I persisted.
Embarrassed, Lia said as she supported me, “At the camp at the headquarters, I just found out that Madam was gone. Everyone was looking for you…”
“Did you not know that they found me?”
“I only did when I came here.”
I still haven’t quite figured out what’s going on. At that moment, the shade lifted slightly.
“Count, may I come in?”
“Your Highness, please.”
I was about to look for him, but fortunately, he came.
Lia assisted me back on the bed and left without notice. Enoch sat on the chair opposite me and said, “How is your body?”
“It’s improved a lot. To be honest, it’s almost the same as usual. How can I get so much better in just one day?”
“Father Antonio has one of the best healing powers within the Empire. Furthermore, it’s because the Count wasn’t seriously injured.”
“Is that so… Ah, right. I’m not the problem.” I stared at Enoch, who was wearing a robe that was neatly buttoned to his neck. “Your Highness, are you alright? The wound was deep.”
Without realizing it, I reached out to the button and grabbed the collar. Then he smiled and gently grabbed my hand. “It’s okay. I’m all better.”
“Oh… Is that so.”
It was then that I realized that I had tried to strip Enoch again and withdrew my hand. Even if things were dire at the cave, it’s not the same situation as it was then, was it?
He’s probably better, right?
I narrowed my eyes as I stared at him, and finally acquiesced when Enoch nodded. After all, even I had gotten better right away.
“I have something to tell you, Count. Unfortunately, I might be busy in the evening, so I might not have a chance to say it.”
Wearing a uniform meant that a person of higher rank than the Crown Prince was coming here. And there were only two such people in this Empire–the Emperor and the Empress.
“His Majesty said that he will be escorted here in haste.”
“Does he usually attend hunting competitions?”
“No, he usually doesn’t. Only the Crown Prince and the other royals participate, and then they go back to the Imperial Palace and receive His Majesty’s congratulations.”
“The report has arrived at the Imperial Palace.”
Enoch tapped a finger on his lap a couple of times. I was frustrated, but I held back from rushing him.
“It was a report that someone discovered the magic stone cave.”
“It wasn’t Count.”
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