The Great Castle was upside down.
When Kalion began their mission to subdue the demons, he thought he was hunting the same kind of monsters as usual. However, on the day he left, everyone was left wondering when Erna had followed him that afternoon, claiming they were worried because of the flying demons. Because she had never interfered with Kalion’s demon-hunting like this before.
Regardless of what people said, Erna rode the fastest horse from the Grand Castle to Ilgees Forest as she led wizards, believing the demons would be taken care of quickly as the most powerful wizards and the strongest knights would be hand in hand. The next day, however, there was a shocking rumor circulating in the Grand Castle.
The grand duke and the grand duchess were missing. They were presumed to have been caught up in the passageway of an ancient ruin, and currently, the passageway of the ruin had disappeared.
How could they have gone missing at the same time? How could the passage have disappeared with them inside the ancient ruin?
Those who were well-aware the features of the ruin stood motionless upon hearing the news. Among them was Council Chairman Vanessa, whose face was blanched.
“All of the remaining wizards, to Ilgees Forest! Council troops too. Let’s go! To find the hidden passage around us,” ordered Vanessa urgently. She, and a force equivalent to that of most of the people in the Grand Castle, headed to Ilgees Forest.
Normally, this was something that should never happen. Because whatever the situation, it was a principle to leave a minimum number of troops to protect the Grand Castle.
However, Vanessa was adamant to bring with her as many as she could. A few council members had cautiously asked her if she was taking it too far, but they had no choice but to turn around when she left only the words of hope that Erna and Kalion would return safely.
Seeing Vanessa unable to fall asleep as he waited for the news with an anxious face in the council room, her secretary said, “I hope at least one of them survives.”
The secretary recalled Hessenguard when the grand duke’s position was officially vacant. The demons were constantly invading the two kingdoms. It was a period of confusion as to whether the empire would disappear with too many monsters.
The secretary unknowingly quivered in fear, wondering if that time had come again, when she heard Vanessa’s mumbling.
“No, this cannot happen twice…”
She was about to inquire on the meaning of her words when she heard hurried footsteps along the hallway.
“I have a message from assistant Orpé. She said she is looking for the two of you. She is on her way to the Grand Castle now, and Madam Erna has blacked out, so she is asking to send knights…”
“Prepare them now!”
Without delay, Vanessa bolted out of the meeting room.
The maids gathered in Erna’s room and prepared the necessities to tend to their master, and all the doctors of the Grand Castle nervously anticipated the arrival of the royal couple.
The delegates of Haband had complained that the knight which took care of Marquis Canavan hadn’t returned, but the people of the Grand Castle merely answered half-heartedly, saying they would look into the matter, but never even bothered sending a doctor to the marquis.
After a few hours of anxious waiting, a trumpet sounded at the Grand Castle’s gate.
The royal couple was returning.
As soon as the door opened, one horse bolted inside like crazy. The people knew that was a sign of Kalion riding on his horse.
When he arrived in front of the main building, Vanessa and the other council members greeted him.
Kalion disembarked from his horse, his appearance very disorderly. He normally would walk around in a neat robe even after training with the knights. He was never jittery aside from when he ran into Erna.
Now, however, Kalion’s clothes were stained with sweat, and dust covered his hair which had been disheveled by the gusts of wind. Even his face was pale from having not eaten or slept properly, but his bloodshot eyes were frightening still.
When the people who greeted Kalion became bewildered and didn’t know what to do, he yelled out, “Doctor!”
Kalion would be the one to greet them briefly first, but he simply ignored the audience before him as he hastily scanned his surroundings for a doctor.
“In Madam Erna’s room!”
When Vanessa, who immediately followed him, shouted an order, Kalion immediately ran upstairs. As soon as he entered Erna’s room, the maids took her over from his arms and laid her on the bed. The doctors immediately examined her.
Kalion asked the oldest woman among the doctors, “Why is she sick? Is it a disease?”
The doctor lightly clicked her tongue and said to him, “From now on, I must examine her to know the cause. So please step out, Lord Kalion.”
“Do you think yelling and screaming are good for a patient? Also, if you remain dirty like this, Sir, you too will catch something. Apparently, you also need treatment and some rest. So I hope you get some rest after you leave here and wash up.”
“What does that…!”
While Kalion stood frozen, dumbfounded, Orpé and Cedric, who’d followed him, came into the room panting.
The doctor gestured to them as she said, “Please assist Lord Kalion so he can get some rest.”
In short, ‘take him and leave.’ The quick-witted Cedric and Orpé understood what she’d said. Cedric grabbed Kalion’s back and pulled him away.
“My Lord! You must wash up first, Sir.”
“I can’t leave her alone!”
Cedric usually bolted away at Kalion’s blow, but with Kalion being fatigued he wasn’t as strong as he usually was. On top of that, from the moment Erna was handed over to the people, his tension had eased and he had no more strength in him.
When not only Cedric but even the rest of the knights who’d followed him rushed in and grabbed Kalion’s arms and legs and left, Erna’s room became quiet.
The maids hurriedly took off Erna’s clothes and wiped her face with a clean towel. Even then, there were still reddish marks left on her body.
Pretending not to see them, the doctors, maids, and even Orpé fake coughed as they dressed her in clean clothes then scanned her body. Orpé looked at Erna’s body on the bed with a worried face. Then, there was something she suddenly thought of.
“Excuse me, this is a mere guess, but..”