Stone Thrown into the Lake - Chapter 21
Despite the weakening position of the family, and the absence of secret warehouses and armed militia, anecdotes of a long-standing family will persist. From a family member’s simple request for assistance to the pledge of remembrance towards their origins, olden families are kept alive by the power of their history.
After a moment of contemplation, Yvor Adela soon came to a realization. Gremory was the legacy of her mother, while Wundt and Salzmia are her father’s. It was clear that at some point in her life, her father decided to marry her outside. It must have been an arbitrary plan.
But why all of a sudden? And from when?
Yvor fumbled through her distant memories. Days filled with education and corporal punishment melded together, each meaningless like a grain of soil laid on the street floor. No matter how much she felt with her fingertips, it was rare for anything to catch on her outstretched fingers.
But only one thing shimmered in the pile of dry dirt that was her childhood memories, and it was the very day that Yvor Adela met young Duran. And as her hands grabbed the jewel, she recalled the memories of that moment.
Yvor Adela’s first meeting with her younger brother Duran coincided with the time she had stopped taking successor classes for Wundt and Salzmia. As Duran Craig came to mind, her train of thoughts ceased. What’s so important about whatever her father had planned for her?
Before she could ruminate over her father’s intentions, she had to ask Dew why had he left that way. Why did he leave so quickly? She didn’t even know it was uncomfortable for him to be with Ranan. Yvor’s emotions of worry turned frigid for a moment. If Dew really doesn’t want to see him, then there’s no reason for her father to stay in this castle for even a second.
However, someone else sought her out before Yvor found Duran.
“Are you on a walk?”
On a night like this, Ziark Dunmel spoke. He was looking for someone, but that someone did not necessarily have to be Yvor Adela.
Since Serium Castle was built a long time ago, its structure was different from the newer mansions that are being built these days. The olden-style architecture of Serium fit well with the nature of Dunmel, hence being in Serium was almost nostalgic, but unpleasantly so.
“That’s right, Knight…”
Yvor trailed off. At her pause, Ziark then remembered that as soon as he arrived at Serium Castle, he was busy expressing his anger at Sidis, and had yet to introduce himself to the owner of the castle.
It seemed that he hadn’t even greeted her properly, let alone introduced himself. If they were in the capital, it would have been rude enough for a duel request to be issued once or twice by a knight escorting the slighted lady.
But Ziark Dunmel had no intention of begging for her pardon. She was not worthy enough to make people suffer for her, but by refusing to send her portrait, she made Sidis run to the middle of nowhere and in that process undergo hardships. He knew that he should just let it go, as the latter was not her fault.
“I am the Prince’s first knight, Ziark, the second son of Dunmel.”
So he gave a greeting that was mildly polite, yet rude at the same time. Even when she was a queen in the past, Yvor Adela had never received proper courtesy from any of the prince’s knights. Her current station was only that of the lord of Serium castle, which did not demand respect from the prince’s knights.
Instead of pointing out his rudeness, she ignored his attitude gracefully and looked at him with unfamiliar eyes. While it was natural that she would not have met a knight from the capital before, she had never seen him, not even in her memories as queen. In the future that will not come again, or in the past that has not yet come, she did not know the knight named Ziark Dunmel.
Ziark took her outstretched hand and pretended to bow his head slightly. In the past, Yvor Adela wanted Duran Craig to be the only person Sidis could trust when he was crowned as king. As such, she made an effort to remove the people that were already around him.
Thus, she knew of all the people Sidis trusted and had by his side, and killed most of them with her own hands. Because of this, she clearly remembered that none of the blood on her hands belonged to this knight.
“Why are you here, Sir Dunmel?”
Ziark, who was somewhat lost, welcomed her question and replied with a smile.
“I wanted a drink before going to bed.”
He said he wandered around because he couldn’t find a maidservant. This could have sounded like he was blaming the lord for not assigning a maidservant to them. It would not be strange for his response to be heard as a ridicule towards the poverty of Salzmia, which was unable to have enough personnel in the castle. Either way, it wasn’t something that Ziark Dunmel could afford to say in front of Yvor Adela right now.
Be it the prince, Sidis Murka or her father, Ranan Elmund, both were uninvited guests of Serium Castle. Even if she kicks them out the next day, there’s nothing wrong with that in principle. Yvor replied coldly.
“I couldn’t afford to assign you a maidservant as I had to make preparations for guests who arrived without prior notice,” she said. “As you can see, this is a simple household, so I seek for your understanding.”
While Ziark’s words may have been too cryptic, her words were clearly criticising him. Even if she spoke courteously, the words used were considered to be direct in the aristocratic circles of the capital.
Ziark, a member of those aristocratic circles, gave her a once over. Rather than being dismissed as the bluntness of an uncultured rural aristocrat, she was perfect, more so than any other noble lady in the capital.
She was also a rare beauty. In the moonlight, her platinum-coloured hair was darkened, but it was a rare and beautiful blonde shade. Despite it being unfashionable these days, he thought that instead of tightly braiding it together, she should untie it and let the moon become a decoration to her hair.
From the pale outline of her face to her purple eyes that showed no sign of warmth, she had an otherworldly charm. It would make a convincing picture, if she had stopped breathing, as though she had not been alive in the first place.
“I will prepare the drink and send it to you.”
Yvor’s words were an unspoken suggestion for him to return to his quarters. Ziark, who was about to continue talking, calmly withdrew from the conversation. It was not the right time nor place for him to have a long conversation with a woman his master was interested in.
“Please excuse me, Lord of Serium. Thank you for your generosity in allowing uninvited guests to stay here,” he greeted again.
Looking at him, who was more polite than before, Yvor fell into contemplation. The Prince’s first knight, Ziark Dunmel, who was not in her memories. Previously, she met Sidis in roughly four more years from now. Will their relationship become distorted in the span of four years? But thinking back at it, the effort she had expended in the past to beat Sidis’ hands and feet were too great.
Yvor Adela was not interested in the reason, but Sidis Murka was immensely popular and was easily loved by his followers, even his enemies. Such a man cared for them more than anything. Yvor was well aware of this, so she deemed it to be safe to place Dew’s future in his hands. After all, Sidis Murka was a master that could neither abandon his first knight nor be abandoned by him.
Therefore, Yvor presumed that Ziark Dunmel died before she met Sidis. In fact, during her reign as queen, she could not recall seeing the second son of Dunmel in the palace, no matter how hard she tried.
As she turned around, Yvor Adela glanced at Ziark Dunmel’s retreating figure momentarily, before erasing him from her mind. What was the point? If the present progresses similarly to the past she had remembered, he would soon die and disappear.
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Duran Craig was still confused. It was really hard accepting that he was getting angry over feelings he was unclear about. The feeling that confused him was definitely his, but he had no idea what it was.
Having lived for fifteen years in a world that had been divided by clear hostility and indifference, Duran seldom encountered situations where he failed to understand his feelings. The world had consistently given him the same situations, so his response was to give back equally. It was clear that there was no difference between coming and going. Until now.
His sister gave him too many strange things. The words of ‘I love you’, the first time he was warmly called by the name ‘Dew’, the things he had never learned. She let him eat things he had never eaten before, and touched things he never touched before.
All of which seemed to make him a completely different person than before. It was a feeling he couldn’t understand properly, and emotions surged up. The boy went on an adventure every night to find the new sprouts within him.
Now, even the once clear hatred and anger became uncertain. The stone of hatred he bore within a portion of his heart, that he was slowly grinding to shape, turned into something else.
The maid, who was following behind him, called out. Instead of answering, Duran glanced at her with an unkind look. The maid stiffened, her freckled cheeks twitching. Her eyes were not of the gentle sort either.
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