Erna held a spoonful of soup and brought it to Ruben’s mouth. Inside, she felt like slamming the spoon against his forehead and screaming at him to feed himself, but she couldn’t. She repeatedly imagined beating Ruben with the spoon while she fed him.
Ruben was now accustomed to Erna’s feeding, and Erna acted as if it was only natural for him to be treated like this.
Erna strangled his neck once more in her imagination. The corners of Erna’s lips trembled at the rising irritation and anger, but Ruben couldn’t take notice. His sight had not yet returned. Erna cursed him in her head. Just wait till you’re finished with your role. I’m really not going to let you go.
In fact, if she wanted Ruben to lose his sight permanently, she could have done it—and more. But there was still plenty he had to do. Thanks to his absence, the army of Aether had not initiated an advance. Whether Ruben was alive or not determined their movements.
Meanwhile, Erna further fueled Ruben’s anxiety. She could tell that my intentions were working well without having to check separately, because Ruben was not asking her to meet a representative from Aether.
If he still believed in an alliance with the first prince, he would have asked for an Aetheric man right away. However, Ruben has not yet made such a request.
Erna, who placed the soup down, held the cup containing the medicine in Ruben’s hand. Ruben sniffed it, frowned, and swallowed the medicine. It was a drug containing an antidote that would return a little of his sight.
In order to gain Ruben’s trust completely, Erna recovered his eyesight and was adjusting it little by little. Feeling that her medicine was effective, Ruben reduced his guard a little bit.
Ruben frowned as he swallowed the medicine. He didn’t know what on earth its ingredients were, but the drug had a terrible smell and a bitter taste. So even he, who was quite knowledgeable in medicine, could not recognize what the medicine was made of.
This, too, was on purpose. Ruben’s medicine wasn’t only intended to restore his eyesight, as Erna had planned.
When Ruben consumed the medicine completely, Erna removed the bowl without saying a word. Then Ruben spoke. “By any chance, is there news regarding Grand Duke Kalion…?” he asked.
Erna cleared her throat before answering. “Still none. I feel anxious. I wonder if he suddenly appears and comes to the capital.”
Noticing that Ruben did not intend to ask further, Erna added one more piece of information. “That’s why the Council is so noisy these days. There is a suggestion that we should borrow wizards from Haband to track him down. Of course, Princess Adelaide is very cooperative.”
“Did Hessenguard’s council members allow it?” Ruben asked.
“Vanessa is trying to take her side. It would be a big deal if their plan succeeded and Kalion returned with their help.”
Ruben groaned at the mention of Vanessa. He knew just how much Vanessa’s influence was in the Grand Castle. He pondered for a while; whether or not Vanessa would take Haband’s side.
He decided to speak carefully.
“Erna, I have something to tell you.”
Erna swallowed before asking, “What is it?”
“The disappearance of Grand Duke Kalion,” he looked around with his blind eyes and whispered softly, “Actually, it’s something Aether had been planning for a long time.”
* * *
Erna closed the door roughly and took a deep breath.
“I knew it, but…”
Once Ruben opened his mouth, he revealed the secrets of the Aether.
Erna discovered that magic, similar to that which trapped Kalion and his knights in the Wynfield Valley, was being prepared to be used elsewhere, and that Aether was planning to send more troops in addition to their army that came this time. But what provoked Erna the most was Aether’s despicable plan.
Aether seemed to intend to make Ruben as a new grand duke, then make the most fertile northwestern land of Hessengard the property of Aether.
“Wow, really.” Erna laughed in utter disbelief. But her face instantly turned solemn as she remembered that Aether had prepared to send 50,000 additional knights to the present army. They seem to be really waging war.
Moreover, she knew that even if Kalion succeeded to leave Wynfield Valley, the wizards from Aether would once again distort the space and trap him along with his knights.
Erna thought of the magic formula she had handed over to Orpé in the morning. At the same time, she touched the necklace dangling around her neck with her finger. It was now a habit. He’s wearing the necklace, too, Erna thought.
In order to track Kalion and the knights’ whereabouts, they had to target the things they currently possessed with their magic.
At first, Erna thought of using the knights’ possessions, but there could be many replicas which could cause confusion in their pursuit. So, Erna decided to select an object that was unique. She thought about what Kalion could have that had no other copy.
The answer was this necklace.
Considering the way he had smiled when she hung it around his neck, it seemed like he wouldn’t take it off. But if you did, I will really leave you alone. She’s been fumbling the necklace since the time they’ve been apart; she wanted him to cherish it too.
Sighing, Erna thought of what she needed to do. Complete the magic formula, stop the army of Aether…
It was all she and her wizards had to do without Hesseguard’s knights. But magic has its limits. No matter how large and strong a magic formula is, it is of no use without magic.
Erna wrapped her head with her hands. She needed more power. Magic greater than hers.
Pieces of the sea!
Was there no greater power than those?
“But I can’t go robbing the ancient ruins now,” Erna paused at a sudden realization. “Ruins?”
Her gaze turned to the objects in the room. Everything around her were antiques from the ancient ruins. She then remembered something massive in the basement of the Grand Castle. Two huge pillars that are the magic itself to protect Hessenguard.
If Chenille’s words were true…
Magic that protected Hessenguard for nearly a thousand years. Erna looked at the floor earnestly.
I’ve had something amazing under me all this time, so why didn’t I think of it?