If Kalion hadn’t looked so awkward, Erna would have thought he brought this many snacks just to tease her.
There were cookies, brownies, biscuits, and even dried fruits. When Erna was calmly staring at the large number of snacks, Kalion crept and sat next to her, who was lying down, then his face turned grim when he noticed that she hadn’t touched them.
“There’s nothing you like?” he asked.
“It’s not that, but…”
Actually, there was nothing sweet she wanted to eat. Rather than drooling over the sweet smell, she felt nauseous. Erna, however, grabbed a chocolate cookie from the very top and took a bite. I should never be eating at this hour.
Ever since she became an adult she had stuck to a rigorous diet. On days when she used enormous amounts of magic, her weakened body craved something to eat, but she suppressed the urges. If she were to gain weight and go back to how she used to look in the past… That was something she dreaded thinking about. However, seeing Kalion glaring at her with waiting eyes made her lips quiver.
She couldn’t recall Kalion ever watching her eat these kinds of snacks. She wasn’t certain since they’d never shared a meal, but he didn’t seem to like it that much. Still, he had brought all of these here for her…
Thankfully, the cookie was more delicious than she’d expected. So much that she could still endure her painful cramps. Perhaps, however, since she’d eaten a dry cookie with a dry mouth, her throat was scratchy.
As soon as Erna turned her head to try to get a drink of water, Kalion moved first. He hurriedly poured a cup of water and handed it to her, and Erna downed it hard.
Erna could finally breathe again when her throat was relieved. While tapping on her chest she looked at the cup in her hand. It was the same kind of cup scattered around the Grand Castle, but something about it was familiar.
“It seems like the one I saw at the ruin,” Kalion pointed out.
At Kalion’s mumble, Erna almost dropped the cup. This familiar-looking thing had also been inside the ruin. With a serious look on his face, Kalion asked, “After you regained consciousness, did the people ask about the ruin?”
“I think I was asked about it, but…” Erna tried to recall the people around her when she had woken up. The first person she’d seen was the doctor, then Orpé, and after that, Vanessa.
“Was it Orpé…?”
No matter how much medicine she took, her head was ringing thanks to the piled-up fatigue from the past few days. It was strenuous to try to remember what’d happened then. But someone had definitely asked.
“Did you see something at the ruin, Madam Erna?”
The moment she remembered those words it became clear who’d asked.
“…it was Vanessa.”
Orpé could not have asked in that tone. On top of that, Orpé had continued to explain to the doctors what symptoms Erna had shown when her menstrual cramps were serious in the past.
At Erna’s reply, saying Vanessa’s name, Kalion let out a short sigh. It was a reaction that said he’d anticipated that to some extent.
“By the way, why?” she asked.
“Erna, you. How much do you know about Richard Hessenguard?”
Erna recalled the ghost they’d seen inside the ruin and replied, “That the late grand duke committed suicide before we came. He had a rather quiet personality, and he understood his duties as grand duke well…”
“Do you have any memory about where and how he killed himself?” asked Kalion.
As Kalion continued, Erna’s face stiffened.
During her childhood, she hadn’t been able to ask about him. He was a difficult figure to speak of in front of citizens of Hessenguard; a duke who’d thrown his country away by killing himself. The people of Hessenguard had been abandoned by him. And she stood in that position now.
Since everyone was conscious of each other, unless Erna asked first the others didn’t speak of what Richard Hessenguard had done. That was an implicit promise between her and the people of Hessenguard.
“He died inside the ancient ruin.”
“But all of the people of Hessenguard know that he committed suicide. If so, did someone relay the details to the others after witnessing his death? And did they know it was suicide?”
At Kalion’s words, Erna realized he was suspicious of something. About the old Grand Castle stuff they’d seen inside the ancient site. And that everyone knew that Richard had died in there. After thinking for a while, Erna opened her mouth.
“Why hasn’t anyone ever told us about the ancient ruin?”
“I’m not sure of the reason, but it’s obvious they want to hide something from us,” Kalion said.
A brief silence fell. They both knew well that Vanessa had been in charge of their education during their youth. She had told them both everything they had to learn about the grand duke of Hessenguard. If there was something they didn’t know about Hessenguard… she didn’t want them to know.
“…Why did she do that?” Erna’s heart felt cold in one corner.