“I-I don’t know!”
The innkeeper trembled like an aspen tree.
“Did you think I didn’t know that you mixed the sleeping inducer with the flower tea under the direction of that woman?”
The innkeeper’s body hardened like a tree. Even if Cersinia didn’t hear the answer, she could tell the answer just by looking at his reaction.
“You better confess where she went when I still say something nice.”
Cersinia raised her hand, which was holding him by the collar. Then, without hesitation, she slammed the other hand into the counter.
“This is the limit of my patience.”
With a loud, frictional sound, the wooden counter began to crack, and soon it cracked and broke into two. The divided counter rolled on the floor with a heavy sound.
The innkeeper’s face turned blue as if his blood had gone.
“You think I can’t do something like this?”
“I-I just did what she told me to do! I’m telling you the truth! Save me! Please, please just this once…”
“What did she tell you?”
Cersinia looked at the innkeeper with a cold face and gave strength to her hands holding the collar.
In the meantime, the innkeeper was panicking. Cersinia read the innkeeper’s eyes shaking finely. He continued to conflict about whether to tell the truth or not.
“Are you gonna tell me or not?”
Cersinia looked at him. It’s not going easy to open his mouth. She saw a string in the counter drawer next to his feet just in time. Cersinia pressed the innkeeper’s head back and stuck his face against the wall.
“Wh-What are you doing? What?!”
She ignored the struggling innkeeper and put a force on her arm so that he couldn’t escape, then picked up the string that had been dragged on with her toes.
“You want to die? Then I will kill you.”
With the string she had picked up, she tied his arms behind his back.
“Wh-What is this! Spare me! I just did what I was told to do! I really don’t know anything! She said she’d give me a million shillings if I did her favor, so I only did her favor!”
“I-I will tell you! I will tell the truth!”
Like a person who couldn’t hear anything, Cersinia laid the innkeeper on the floor and, this time, tied his feet so that he couldn’t move.
“I’m sorry! That woman came a few days ago and asked me to deliver the tea mixed with a sleep-inducer to the red-haired guest staying in here today!”
For a moment, Cersinia’s actions stopped.
“A few days ago?”
“She even said that I should never give out a double room!”
With his hands and feet tied, the innkeeper struggled to live, wriggling like a caterpillar.
Cersinia raised her bent body.
‘If what the innkeeper said is true, Roena came to this inn a few days ago and instructed him to hand over a tea mixed with sleep inducer for me, who is going to stay here today.’
Originally, Cersinia had to return to the mansion after going out. She didn’t have any plans to stay here. But, she couldn’t go back because of the broken carriage and had no choice but to stay in this inn…
“Everything was planned.”
The voice as cold as a sharpened blade came out.
“Spare me… Please…”
“Where did she go?”
“I’ve only seen her step out of the door! I’m telling the truth!”
When he had already confessed all his sins, there was no way he would lie anymore. Cersinia now passed the frivolous innkeeper and headed to the door.
“Pl-Please release me!”
A pathetic scream echoed behind her back, but she didn’t care.
When she opened the inn door and came out, the cold wind blew past her skin. Cersinia looked around. It was so cold that even she couldn’t see a single ant pass by the street in the middle of the night. She couldn’t see where Roena had gone.
“What are you trying to do?”
As she was biting her lips at the rising annoyance, she remembered Ben’s shadow knights had attached to her.
She looked into the air and called for the knight. Then, the knight came down from the air.
“Did you call?”
“The woman who just left the inn. Where did she go?”
She asked the knight calmly without a sign of surprise. The knight took the lead, saying, “This way.”
Cersinia followed the knight without a word. The wind was so cold that her skin had already become cold.
‘Whose order did Roena get to do this?’
‘Was it planned since the first time she entered the Grand Duchy?’
Her mouth was dry with bitterness. She didn’t regard her as a friend like Verne, but Cersinia still thought she became closer to Roena to a certain extent.
‘I didn’t know she’d hit the back of my head like this.’
Throughout following the knight, Cersinia realized once again. Humans are scary.
“This is the place.”
The place where the knight stopped walking was a quiet residential area quite far from downtown, where shops were lined up.
“I don’t know exactly where she went from here.”
“Yes, thank you.”
“I’ll escort you.”
“I think it will be faster for the two of us to find her. Can you help me?” Cersinia opened her mouth, seeing the knight that followed her.
“I’ll look for her together with you.”
“Don’t do that. Let’s split up.”
The knight hardened his face as if puzzled by her suggestion. He had a job to escort Cersinia, so getting away from her was the renunciation of his duty.
“This is urgent. It will be faster to split up and find her. Please catch her so she won’t do anything when you find her.”
Cersinia left those words and ran toward the left alley. The knight thought about it countless times as Cersinia said it was urgent and, in the end, turned to the right alley.
At midnight when everyone is asleep. Only the sparse street lights lit the night road on the road where no one had passed. As this place is located on the outskirts of a residential area, the more you go inside, the wider the distance between the street lamps becomes, and now the lamp doesn’t exist.
As Cersinia walked forward, the loss of the light made her assimilate with the darkness. She looked for Roena in the darkness, keep being alert. The front of her was dark, so she couldn’t see well. That’s why she kept her ears up to hear even a small movement there.
‘Where did she go?’
There was no trace of Roena passing the quiet residential area. Cersinia discovered something strange while looking through the alleys of residential areas a little more.
‘Why does it smell like oil?’
The disgusting smell of oil was hovering in the residential area. It smelled so bad that her head felt dizzy as she thought there was an oil leak somewhere. She lowered her posture and walked toward the direction where the smell became stronger. While walking, she stepped on a shallow pit and heard a splash. Cersinia’s gaze met her wet shoes.
‘This is not water.’
When she bent down and looked closely, it was oil, not water, that had pooled in the pit.
She quickly looked around. Then a gleaming wall in the moonlight stood out. Without delay, she approached the wall and stretched out her hand. The slippery liquid touched her fingertips. When she got her fingers close to her nose, the smell of oil spread. The same was true of other house walls.
“Why, the oil…”
The walls of people’s houses were covered with oil for some reason. Anxiety unknowingly crept into her.
It was beneficial to life, but it was a medium that played a big role in lighting and nurturing the fire. Perhaps the reason why a big fire spread in the mansion’s warehouse was because of the oil in the lamp. As such, oil is an uncontrollably dangerous substance if it comes into contact with fire.
Cersinia suddenly got chills in her spine as she recalled the memory of facing the large fire due to the oil from the warehouse.
‘Why is there a puddle of oil?’
‘Why are the walls oiled as if someone deliberately splashed the oil there?’
Oil and fire.
An inseparable relationship. For her, who can use the power of fire.
Cersinia started running to find Roena. Because she seemed to know what Roena was up to. Anxious eyes moved busily to find even one hair that Roena had shed.
Drunk in happiness, there was one thing that had been overlooked as Cersinia was busy thinking about the existence of ‘she’ who appeared.
The contents of the original.
Even though she didn’t commit it herself, Verne’s mother was burnt as in the original. Unless it is a coincidence, Cersinia has suspected that the big event, which is the main pillar of the novel, would happen no matter what she did.
‘If that’s true…’
Even just imagining the consequences will be horrendous. So she had to hurry up and find Roena.
At that time, a black shadow swished into the alley in the distance. Cersinia ran to the place where the black shadow headed. Arriving at the alley entrance, she went inside, making sure not to make the sound of footsteps.
As she went deep inside with her body close to the wall, she could see a small flame floating in the air in the darkness. Under the flame, a person was wearing a hood.
When Cersinia grabbed that person by the shoulder, the woman in a hood screamed in surprise and fell on her butt, just like a thief being caught. Then the hood, which the woman had been wearing, fell over her shoulder.
When Cersinia saw the woman’s hair revealed after the hood covering her face fell down, she hardened for a moment.
When I saw the woman’s hair that was revealed after the hood covering her face disappeared, Cercinia’s face hardened for a moment.
“Ce-Cersi— How can you be here…”
The woman was Roena. Her complexion grew blue as if she had seen a ghost when she made eye contact with Cersinia.
Cersinia grabbed Roena’s hair with a rough touch. Then Roena’s long red hair was peeled off by her hand. It was a wig. A wig that closely resembled Cersinia’s hair.
The place they were standing was covered with oil all around, and Roena was holding a torch in her hand.
“You’re going to set fire and blame it on me, right?”
Reona stuttered and couldn’t finish her sentence.
Cersinia smirked in exasperation. The well thought of plans gave her goosebumps.
“I should have fallen asleep, right?”
She was so angry that blue veins popped out of her hand while holding the wig. If she had fallen asleep after drinking the prepared flower tea, Roena would have set fire while pretending to be her. The long red wig Roena was wearing was already in Cersinia’s hand, proving the plan.
“My sleepwalking. Did you try to use that?”
Cersinia’s eyes flashed furiously.