Chapter 120.1

Erna conjured light with her magic and began to descend the stairs. Even though the light was bright, the end of the staircase remained hidden in the darkness. There is a long way to go then, she thought.

Erna recalled when Kalion and her had been sucked inside the ancient ruin. They had stepped on the same steps–or Kalion had, rather, as he was carrying her on his back—when they sought after the late duke’s mirage. At that time, Kalion was exhausted, but he carried Erna without complaint despite her unsolicited comment on his sweat.  Even now, she could still feel his tight but gentle grip vividly, and she longed for his scent more than ever.

Erna continued to go down. There was nothing special about the endless staircase except for the occasional bugs startled by the sudden brightness. Her throat did become a little sore from the thick dust in the air, but that didn’t pose any problem.

When Erna was wondering how further she needed to go, an entrance shaped like the one she had seen in the ruin appeared.

She knew it would come sooner or later, but witnessing it before her eyes, underground the Grand Castle, felt fantastically surreal. Their names, Erna and Kalion, were inscribed above the entrance, though theirs was only one among the many names of the grand dukes that had ever been.

The first time she saw their names in the ruin, Erna felt as if her heart would leap out of her throat. But after hearing the truth from Chenille, Vanessa’s black hound, she could only laugh bitterly.

Without hesitation Erna passed through the entrance. Fortunately, the surrounding structure was uncomplicated, enabling her to locate the gigantic pillars without difficulty even with her shrouded memory.

The moment a huge space appeared, revealing the pillars at the end, Erna let out a breath of relief. The pillars were in pristine condition unlike in the vision they’d seen.

“You’re okay,” Erna muttered to herself.

The pillars depict the condition of the present grand dukes. Erna unconsciously touched the necklace on her chest. Seeing that both pillars were unflawed, Kalion was certainly safe.

Erna approached the pillar with her name on it. These pillars are the heritage of the first ever grand duke of Hessenguard—products of his heart and soul. So deep in history, the pillars were covered in magical symbols. The ancient characters unfound in books have been overwritten with new characters.

Erna was confident she would not lose to anyone when it came to magic, but as she stood before this towering pillar, she felt the need to humble herself.

If I was just sane back then, Erna recalled the time she was unfortunately sick while inside the ruins. I would have seen this sooner.

Swallowing her regret, she looked around further when she saw inscriptions engraved on the floor in between the two pillars. The inscriptions were recent. Perhaps the previous grand duke had made an addition. The magic etched on the ground was binding the two pillars even stronger.

Erna approached the pillar with Kalion’s name and stretched her hand toward it. Suddenly, the landscape changed. Instead of the underground ruins, a forest appeared around her, and in the middle, Kalion could be seen lying on the ground, asleep.

Kalion’s appearance was a mess. Unruly hair, unshaven beard, bloodstained clothes. And the dark shadows under his eyes revealed how spent he was right now.

Could that be what Kalion looks like now? Erna couldn’t confirm it, but somehow it seemed so. Erna squatted next to Kalion and looked at him closely. Why are you so shabby? You seem to have lost a lot of weight.

Knowing he was a mere phantom, Erna reached out to touch Kalion. Strangely, she felt warmth on the tip of her finger. But her surprise and joy were short-lived. She could feel warmth, but nothing was tangible. What is this? Erna resented the unknown. She’d rather not feel anything. Erna swallowed her grief.

“Kalion,” she called his name. But Kalion didn’t respond. He still had his eyes closed.

Erna looked around her, even though she knew there was no one there. She hesitated a few times before slowly bringing her lips to Kalion’s. She felt no contact, but felt warmth on her lips again. Erna kissed his lips once more, then the tip of his nose, and then his forehead.

Oh, how ticklish and giddy she felt whenever Kalion did this to her. She wanted to do it to him herself, but she was too embarrassed. Once she did it, Kalion’s eyes widened and he brought his lips closer to her, asking for ten more kisses.

Erna laughed softly. Now that she thought about it, she didn’t know what she was ashamed of. Had she known they’d be apart for so long, she would have done it a hundred times more.

“Kalion,” Erna muttered. His eyes still tightly shut. “When I come back, I’ll do it a hundred times, no, a thousand times.”

It was just a thoughtless mumble. But at that moment, Kalion suddenly opened his eyes and spoke.


Erna froze in surprise. On the other hand, Kalion was grinning at her. How? Looking at him, Erna wondered how he could still be so handsome even though he looked so ragged.

Kalion usually looked sly, but occasionally he smiled like a bright boy, including now.

[I like it a thousand times, but more than that…]

Kalion grinned as he whispered into Erna’s ear. Hearing his words, she screamed at Kalion without realizing it.

“Are you crazy, you pervert!”

At that moment, the illusion vanished. Erna blinked as she looked around the ruins which had returned to its original landscape.

Was that a vision or was it really Kalion?



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