She wasn’t afraid of the ruins. What she was afraid of was the fact that Kalion may not get close to her anymore.
If they made a successor, their original purpose, he would probably turn back into the indifferent man he was before; he would probably laugh at her and call her a pumpkin, like before, and turn his head, annoyed.
Kalion didn’t know how much effort she was putting into the people of the Grand Castle; the royal princess who’d been abandoned by Haband.
Therefore, Erna always had to smile at the people of Hessenguard because she thought there was nowhere to go if she were to be abandoned even here. She couldn’t make any mistakes since she could be replaced at any minute even though she was the grand duchess.
Erna had learned magic diligently because she wanted to show the people of Hessenguard desperately and didn’t want to go back to Haband.
I am worth something. So please don’t abandon me.
Among those people, Kalion was the only one whose heart she didn’t have to try to win.
‘I don’t need affection.’ The thought would forever be in a corner of her heart. Maybe that’s why she had blurted it out more. But now, she couldn’t believe she wanted Kalion to be next to her.
Now she had no choice but to acknowledge it. The fact that she wanted her husband, who had only been seen as a dried worm for the past ten years.
At that time, Kalion opened his mouth.
“I will try.”
That was random. Erna didn’t understand why he suddenly burst out with this when she’d asked him what he would do if she were to see other men. She wondered if it was a joke, but Kalion’s face was serious.
“What do you want in a relationship? You said you’d enjoy your life. What kind of guy are you going to meet and have fun with?”
“A handsome one! With a nice body… A kind man!”
“Then you can enjoy me.”
“I think the first two conditions have been met, so I just need to fulfill the third one. Tell me this kindness that you want. I will conform to everything.”
Kalion hadn’t said anything difficult, but Erna found it hard to understand. Enjoy me? On top of that, I will be kind? This was why he was craz…
“So be my lover.”
The moment Erna recognized that the strength in her body was released, she collapsed. Kalion skillfully received her body in his arms, then patted her back. This was the kindness Erna wanted.
Nervousness was ingrained in the voice urging for an answer. Even Kalion knew that. That these weren’t the words a husband said to his wife of ten years. However, he didn’t want to spend the time after this like the past decade again.
Kalion wanted to hold his wife even just a little faster.
Erna’s face turned blank at that word before being buried back into his chest. Then, she nodded just barely enough for only Kalion to know.
A smile formed on Kalion’s face. That was enough for an answer.
* * *
Kalion crossed his legs and watched the sleeping Erna. She had fallen asleep almost as if she’d suddenly fainted or something. Her breathing became more relaxed when Kalion put her head in his lap so she could sleep a bit more comfortably.
That, however, was only temporary. Kalion carefully placed his hand over Erna’s forehead. It was definitely hotter than before. On top of that, she kept curling her body as cold sweat dripped down her neck.
Kalion became concerned as soon as he heard Erna say this in her sleep. Even so, these days he’d kept thinking that she looked tired, and with everything going on it seemed like her body was being gnawed away.
‘We have to go out somehow.”’
No matter how much he looked at the ceiling, there was no indication of the passage opening. The people outside also had no way to deal with it.
Kalion, who worried for a while, placed Erna’s head on a blanket, then stood up and drew his sword.
At that voice, Erna immediately pushed herself up and looked around for Kalion as she rubbed her eyes. Fear quickly stung her eyes filled with light pain. She approached him like she was crawling and grabbed him by the pant leg. Kalion felt sorry for the way she’d crawled toward him but at the same time proud that she was relying on him.
Lowering his body toward her, he grabbed Erna’s hand gripping his pants.
“We cannot continue to stay here like this. I think I have to look around inside a bit more… Are you able to stand up?”
Erna, after a weak head nod, tried to hoist herself up. But before she could stand properly her knees buckled, and she was right back on top of the blanket like earlier. Kalion watched her tumble back down, then he decided to lift her onto his back after thinking for a moment.
“What are… you doing?”
A fever-induced scruffy voice came out of Erna’s mouth.
“There is no other choice. If we’re going to go together, carrying you is the only way.”
Perhaps agreeing with him, Erna buried her face into his back. Feeling her hot breath on Kalion’s back made him feel unsettled.
He wondered if she’d caught a cold, but she was hugging her stomach to say so. A troubling feeling blanketed Kalion. We have to get out of here quickly.
After fixing Erna’s position on his back, he moved further towards the ruins.
Perhaps she was sick but not asleep, Erna used simple magic every now and then to help him explore. She summoned a light to brighten the dark surroundings; the high places that were out of sight could be explored with magic.
With her on his back, he didn’t stop to rest and continued to trek the ruins. It didn’t only consist of one floor.
Walking up the stairs, Kalion saw a straight path. One side of the road was completely made up of rooms, as stone doors were seen everywhere. He slowly walked the hallway. Then, when he stopped right in the middle, he realized there was a door much larger than the ones he’d seen in this place before.
And he felt something familiar the moment he laid eyes on it.
A long, straight path up the stairs. And a humongous door in the middle. Clearly this was…
Erna’s frightened voice came from behind him.
“I’ve thought about it since earlier… but isn’t this structure similar to that of the Grand Castle?”