Author: Lubai

Adillot looked at the surrounding objects that had not even been touched, let alone moved, and then lay back down.

 

There was a loud breathing sound from his side, and the afternoon sun was warm. The rebellion was resolved, and the surroundings were surprisingly quiet, except for the occasional noise of the person next to him tossing and turning.

 

Adillot fell asleep. It was a deep, peaceful sleep after a long time.

 

***

 

Tweet, tweet.

 

The moment she heard the birdsong in her ear, Mia became anxious. There was such a saying, “If you wake up so refreshed in the morning, you’re screwed.”

 

“… When did I sleep!?”

 

Mia jumped up. The morning sun was shining through the window. When she looked next to her, Adillot’s position was already empty.

 

Mia clutched her hair as it was.

 

“How could I sleep in that situation?! Even if I look back a million times, just how could I?!”

 

She moaned in pain as she wondered if she had drooled or if she had kicked Adillot while she slept.

 

Then the door opened and Adillot entered the room. He was dressed in a long white toga and tied his waist with embroidered straps. There were water droplets on the tips of his freshly washed hair.

 

He laughed at Mia’s bewildered face.

 

“Where’s the person who said she’d guard the house?”

 

“…!”

 

Mia struggled for a long time at the words that hit the nail on the head before crying out.

 

“… I could’ve done it if it was a dog house! Your Majesty’s bed is so fluffy! It felt so comfortable!”

 

“Is it my fault?”

 

“It’s over now! Your Majesty’s pet has learned the taste of luxury!”

 

Adillot laughed at her words screamed with a red face. Then he went on.

 

“More than that, prepare yourself and follow me.”

 

“… Where are we going?”

 

Mia, who was still crying, asked. A smile appeared on Adillot’s beautiful face. It was a cool smile.

 

“To the prison.”

 

***

 

Adillot took Mia to the very depths of the imperial palace. They had passed so many massive gates guarded by magic, sorcery, and knights.

 

For security reasons, at some point, even the perch on the wall had disappeared. Adillot strode across the darkness, holding a single small brass candlestick.

 

Only Mia felt like she was about to die.

 

“Khuhu, khihihi…”

 

“Gasp!”

 

“Creak, creak…”

 

“Hiiiy!”

 

Mia trembled whenever she heard the prisoners moaning somewhere.

 

“Uh, hngg… Mom…”

 

Adillot, who saw her, said.

 

“It’s just some voices, but what the hell are you afraid of?”

 

“It’s scary because there’s only voices! What if there’s—”

 

“There are only prisoners.”

 

“But what if the door where a murderer is trapped is slightly open…”

 

“If it were me, I would be more afraid of the man with a sword next to you than a murderer who would be wearing chains and even a metal ball.”

 

“But the man with the sword is a good man…”

 

At those words, Adillot stopped walking. Mia stopped at the same time.

 

“W-W-Why did you stop!? What is there!?”

 

She grabbed Adillot’s hem in terror, and when she realized her behavior, she withdrew in a fit of surprise. Even so, her pink eyes blinked quickly, seemingly anxious. Her tear-soaked eyes gleamed patheticly.

 

Adillot let out a complicated sigh.

 

“… Hold it and walk.”

 

“Thank you!”

 

Mia quickly clung to Adillot’s back. When Mia’s hand touched him, Adillot’s back twitched for a moment, but then he calmly started walking again.

 

After going down through the spiral staircase, a large space appeared. A guard was guarding the space lit by several torches.

 

Adillot nodded as the guard saluted.

 

“What about the prisoner?”

 

“They’re inside.”

 

A shadow twitched inside the prison as if it had heard a sign of movement.

 

“H-Hiiiy.”

 

Mia said, hiding behind Adillot’s back.

 

“W-Why are we here?”

 

“I have something to show you.”

 

“To me?”

 

Mia’s eyes widened.

 

‘Did Count Celestial get caught?’

 

Adillot gestured with his chin without a word. Mia passed by Adillot’s side and carefully looked inside the prison. Inside the prison was a middle-aged woman with brown hair and a soft impression.

 

Mia’s mouth opened as she looked at her face.

 

“… Mary?”

 

Mia immediately ran to the prison bars.

 

“Mary! You’re Mary, aren’t you?”

 

“…?”

 

Mary lifted her head at the voice calling her. Soon her eyes met Mia’s.

 

“Lady Mia…?”

 

On Mary’s face, which was only full of fatigue, a mixture of embarrassment and joy slowly emerged.

 

“My lady…? Am I really looking at my lady…?”

 

“Mary, didn’t you run away!? Why are you here!?”

 

Mary was the maid of the county. The day Celeste County fell, Mia had sent her out of the castle early.

 

Mary wiped away her tears and wished Mia a safe life. And ran away without looking back.

 

‘I thought he would’ve escaped…’

 

Mary was in bad shape. It was clear that she had been treated harshly.

 

“She was caught at dawn.”

 

Next to her, Adillot crossed his arms and spoke slowly. Mia bit her lip and turned her head to him.

 

“Your Majesty…”

 

“What is it?”

 

“Did… Did you catch them all? All the servants of Celestial County?”

 

“Not all of them. Just the number of people I need.”

 

“A-Am I alone not enough…?”

 

Adillot tilted his head without answering. Mia didn’t know if it was positive or negative. Tears welled up in Mia’s eyes.

 

“They were forced to join my father’s rebellion… Please, be merciful…”

 

“Mia Celestial, you were the only one I offered to spare. Furthermore…”

 

An eerie smile appeared on Adillot’s pretty face.

 

“I don’t know what you mean by they were ‘forced’ to join the rebellion.”

 

Mia blinked twice at the sarcastic voice.

 

“What do you mean…?”

 

“Mary Lehman, 56 years old. The maid of Celestial County.”

 

Adillot spoke slowly and looked down at Mary. Mary flinched like a mouse in front of a snake and avoided his gaze.

 

“But behind the scenes, she is a member of an illegal organization that kidnaps people and sells them.”

 

“What?”

 

Mia doubted her ears. Adillot’s words continued.

 

“The reason she helped Count Celestial’s rebellion was that Emperor Adillot, unlike the former Emperor Ludwig, made slavery illegal.”

 

“…”

 

“Of course, she is the main culprit who helped the treason with all her heart. Did I get anything wrong?”

 

“Kugh…”

 

Mary frowned and gritted her teeth. Mia turned her stiff head and looked at her.

 

“Mary… Is that true?”

 

Mary, who had a frown on her face, soon glared.

 

“… I couldn’t help it!”

 

“What?”

 

“It was hard to make ends meet!”

 

“B-But I took care of you. It was a year’s worth of living expenses for the common people…”

 

“T-That’s because…!”

 

“Gambling debt.”

 

Adillot said as if singing.

 

“She got into gambling and ran out of money, so she joined the human trafficking ring. They gamble, and when they run out of money, they kidnap children and gamble again.”

 

Mary bit her lip, but she didn’t refute it. Tears welled up in Mia’s eyes as she watched it.

 

“Mary, how could you…”

 

Mia took a step back from the cage. Fear flashed across Mary’s face.

 

“Help me, my lady! I will never do that again! I wanted to quit too, but that’s what addiction is…!”

 

Mary exclaimed urgently. Because the opponent was Adillot Gentzen Schroeder.

 

This young, arrogant emperor was notorious for his ignorance of killing traitors and criminals. She did not know why such an emperor took Mia over to see her.

 

In this situation, Mia was Mary’s only hope.

 

“The children… They were the children who originally lived without parents on the street! In the end, now they have a house right? So it should be okay!”

 

Mia shook her head in disbelief. Mary’s heart was burning.

 

‘This slip of a girl, why don’t you beg for me—!’

 

She changed course and spoke in a softer voice.

 

“My lady…! I helped you a lot when you suffered from memory loss. Do you remember…?”

 

“That’s—”

 

Mia’s expression softened slightly. She covered her mouth with her pink hair, lowering her trembling eyes.

 

“Yes. I know… It would have been difficult without Mary back then.”

 

Mia remembered when she first entered the novel.

 

‘Where am I…? Why am I here…’

 

The world in the novel was difficult and unfamiliar. She couldn’t count how many times she cried every night, thinking of the family and hometown she had left behind.

 

Still, Mia had to study and work to survive. No one helped Mia, and it was clear that she would never receive help again. It was after she accidentally overheard the servants’ conversation.

 

‘Lady Mia seems to have changed since she woke up, don’t you think?’

 

‘Whatever it is, I wish she won’t make such extreme choices as before.’

 

‘Seriously! It’s a shame that the priest came early, I thought we were going to clean up a body that day.’

 

‘If she’s not feeling well, just sit back in bed. Why did she have to crawl into the vineyard? Did she want attention?’

 

Hearing the conversation, Mia was able to realize where the original ‘Mia Celestial’ had disappeared.

 

Looking at her diary, the conjecture became clearer.

 

Mia Celestial had been suffering from a genetic disease inherited from her mother, and her diary was filled with sorrow as deep as her years.

 

So neither the servants nor Count Celestial had said anything to the changed attitude. They might think it was strange that the young lady, who had survived, lost her memory, acted strangely, and recovered from her disease as if she had been washed clean.

 

But that didn’t mean they showed tender interest in Mia.

 

Count Celestial had only a desire to succeed and was incompetent, and Countess Celestial had passed away from illness. If even the biological father was like that, what would one expect from the servants?

 

During those difficult times, Mary was the only one who showed Mia even the slightest interest.

 

‘It’s alright, my lady. You may or may not find your memory, but you’re still my lady. This, I know.’

 

Mia had relied on her a lot.

 

“Mary was like a mother…”

 

Mary’s expression brightened with Mia’s murmur reminiscent of the past.

 

“My lady… I also think of you as a daughter…!”

 

Adillot, who watched the scene, quietly drew his sword.

 

It was as he expected. Even the smartest people were sometimes swayed by emotions and made the wrong choice.

 

Like defending criminals or sacrificing for people who did not deserve it.

 

… Like his mother.

 

The same was true of Mia Celestial.

 

‘I knew this would happen, but what did I expect…’

 

The moment when Adillot approached the cage to end Mary…

 

“But Mary…”

 

Mia whispered. It was not her usual cheerful voice.

 

Adillot stood still.

 

“My lady…?”

 

Mary also felt strange and lowered her voice. Mia, who had her head bowed all the time, slowly lifted her face. She moved closer to the cage with a gentle gesture.

 

And, whispered with sad eyes.

 

“My mother doesn’t do anything like human trafficking.”

Author's Thoughts

Hello, enjoy your visit! Yes, the Ko-fi page is Wook's.

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