“Erna, what are you doing!” Ruben screamed as he looked up at the sky in horror. Though he could barely see, he could feel the overwhelming energy of the magic spell. “Are you crazy? Destroy it now!”
“If it were you, you’d be the same.”
When she and Kalion parted ways in the village, Erna expected that they would soon reunite in the capital. But the only thing that came to her was the news of their disappearance and the invasion of another kingdom.
Erna looked at Ruben in disdain. From the beginning, she had no desire to keep him alive. Must she have any reason to spare the one who attempted the murder of her lover? Now that it came to this, Erna was glad that she didn’t need to pretend anymore.
“You know what?” Erna asked Ruben. “If you’re depressed, you can’t even cry.”
When Erna received the report that remains of Hessenguard knights had been found, she felt something break inside of her. But she couldn’t wallow in grief even as despair descended over her like a blanket. Her position as the grand duchess forced to function like a robot. She strove to survive on her own—against the conspiracies by those who coveted her seat, against the betrayal of her trusted mentor, against the menace of the invading armies.
Even though she felt as if all the troubles of the world came crashing like a tidal wave, the only reason Erna was able to survive the flood was her belief that Kalion would return someday.
But there was no hope now. She didn’t have any reason to keep fighting. Even her title, what she had thought was the most valuable thing in her life, could no longer stop her. She had been brave long enough; even Orpé didn’t notice that she was falling apart all this time.
Perhaps if Kalion were here with her, he would have known. He would have clicked his tongue in disapproval and tucked her into the bed right away. He would have forced her to sleep and said to her, “You’re out of your mind right now, so we’ll talk again after you sleep.”
But he wasn’t here to do those things.
Erna felt the ground shake slightly. She had exhausted the magic of the pillars to complete the spell. Perhaps after the magic activated, the castle wouldn’t survive in one piece.
Erna approached the window and looked down. She could see Vanessa running towards the castle with the council members, but she didn’t want to care anymore. As she shifted her gaze, Erna saw incoming knights behind Haband. Was it Kelon? Nandes? It didn’t matter either way. Rather, it was a good thing. Let’s all die together.
However, as they continued to run towards the castle while attacking Haband’s army, Erna’s chest pounded. One of them was running far ahead of the group. Although they looked like a dot from where she was standing, somehow, that person felt familiar.
“Kalion…?” Erna mumbled absentmindedly.
Erna thought she was calling his name in vain. She stretched out her hand in the air. It didn’t matter if it was real or not. She wanted to see Kalion, even if he appeared as a figment of her imagination.
Suddenly, the space around her was distorted and the image of Kalion, who was running toward her, disappeared. Instead, there was a spell floating above the place where she had seen him last. Erna realized it was the same magic that trapped Kalion in the Wynfield Valley. She was certain of it.
Erna turned her head and saw Aether’s army and above them, as expected, were several magic formulas. Erna muttered, “Yeah, there’s no way they could have prepared just one trick up their sleeve.”
She stood with her back against the wall and outstretched her hand into the contorted space. Her fingers swiftly drew horrifyingly intricate letters. Another spell emerged above the Grand Castle. It was the magic of tracking and destruction completed by Orpé and the other wizards. If Orpé were here, Erna thought, she would have smacked her without hesitation to stop her.
Conjuring the first magic had already driven Erna to her limit. If she summoned one more powerful spell, she would lose control of the first one. But Erna couldn’t think of the possibilities and the dangers. There was only one thing in her mind.
Where are you?
Erna shouted in her mind.
Where are you, Kalion? You were definitely in front of me a while ago. You were coming towards me. Where are you? Where are you? I miss you. I miss you so much. I want to hear your voice. I want to see your lovely eyes. You told me I was pretty. I want to hear it again, Kalion. Kalion…
Oblivious to the tears that had fallen to her cheeks, Erna cast the spell unhesitatingly as she desperately longed for Kalion’s return. There was only one person she needed to find. She groped about the distorted space in the hopes of reaching him.
Suddenly, a large, but warm hand caught Erna.