Ruben Aether was released from detention this morning.
While it wasn’t a rough place like the basement of the knights’ building, a jail was a jail. Perhaps because it was dark and humid with no sunlight, his body felt heavy no matter how much he slept.
Orpé was waiting for him when he came up.
“This way, please.”
Ruben was relieved at Orpé’s kind behavior, he had actually been nervous in his jail cell that he’d die secretly without anyone else knowing.
I didn’t know Lady Erna was that powerful.
Ruben drew magic in the air with his finger. The faint letter of force that evoked a slight breeze disappeared as soon as his hand fell. It was evident that the protection magic Erna had summoned was still prevalent.
He’d also noticed something unusual on his way to the knights’ building with Vanessa. As those who weren’t wizards couldn’t feel it, the clear feeling was felt especially to him, a wizard.
Goosebumps erupted on his skin the moment he realized the immense power had extinguished the protection power on the Grand Castle. Was it a success for Aether? He wondered to himself.
That Aether was messing with the protection magic on Hessenguard Grand Castle was not a lie. From quite long ago, King Aether hadn’t taken kindly to the fact that Hessenguard, a vassal state, had protection magic that neutralized outside powers. So, the first time he’d conquered Hessenguard he tried to extinguish the protection magic by any means but never achieved satisfactory results.
That was why Aether’s wizards who came to Hessenguard expected that it would take more than a year to completely understand and overpower the protection magic and that it would take at least dozens of wizards and months to extinguish it.
Like that, he had believed that dozens of wizards had infiltrated Hessenguard, and while he was shocked at what the hell would happen next, the Grand Castle was enveloped by new magic.
And Ruben had come to know while entering the knights’ quarters that the protection magic had been extinguished and the fact that it was Erna who had summoned the new protection magic.
King Haband must be shaken in his pants, he thought. It would be frustrating to know that the child he had abandoned was a grand wizard, but it would be a massive loss to discover that she was a powerful wizard enough to surpass the power of the Wizards’ Tower alone. That’s why I must desperately try to drag her back.
A wizard cannot be invincible, no matter how powerful she is. It takes time for magic to rise again after it has been extinguished, and during that period, you’re eventually bound to pass out if you attack someone.
Under Orphe’s guidance, Ruben stayed in another guesthouse on the other side of Adelaide’s place. His reception with Adelaide, however, was quite different.
“These servants will tend to you, for the time being, Mr. Ruben.”
Ruben sucked his teeth at the title ‘Mr.’ Sounds like she’s still pondering about how to treat a prince who claimed asylum. He went into the room, thinking that it was better not to send her back to Aether right away. Upon first look, there were knights in his room standing, dressed in servants’ clothing.
“Please make yourself at home until Lady Erna arrives, Your Highness.”
He didn’t know how he was supposed to make himself at home, but for now, he decided to shut up.
A few hours later when night came and he wondered if he should go to sleep, Erna came calling.
After changing into clothes he’d prepared ahead of time, he was guided to the main building of the Grand Castle. They headed to the place he hadn’t been able to go to when he was hiding his identity. He didn’t know why he had been called here all of a sudden.
Ruben was even more nervous as he trailed his guide, Orpé. He felt Hessenguard’s wealth again as he walked the stairs in the hall. The war-torn duchy had recovered from most of the damage on the heels of the council’s quick action, even as there were now two royal positions—the grand duke and grand duchess.
This magnificent Grand Castle was also one of Hessenguard’s possessions.
That’s why they kept sending representatives, even though the royals were dead.
In the center of the continent was the duchy that held the richest soil—soil that continued to be exploited but still boasted its abundance. What’s it like to become the owner of this place?
While Ruben felt around, Orpé approached the big door and knocked. Then, there was a short reply that said “Come in,” and Orpé opened it.
“We’re entering, My Lady.”
Ruben naturally thought that he would enter after her, but she only opened the door and stood in her spot.
He heard the loud sound of the door closing behind him when he entered. He stared at the inside. Among the dozens of books and documents was a huge desk, and Erna was sitting there.
“So you came. I need you to sit down and wait for a while.”
Erna, who was writing something with a pen, continued focusing on her papers after glancing up at him once.
Ruben sat on the sofa in the middle of the room that Erna had pointed to with her eyes. Only the sound of the zigzagging pen echoed in the room. Ruben’s gaze was naturally glued to Erna, who was working.
Was she annoyed at her work? With her long hair tied up appropriately, Erna was looking at the papers with a slight frown. As it had been tied up loosely, a few strands of long blond hair had fallen loose and were dangling on the back of her neck.
Under a light made from magic, Ruben could see tiny white hairs on her neck. Also, he was blinded by Erna’s casual clothes, which somehow revealed her shoulders and chest more than usual.
He absently swallowed.
There was a story he’d heard from the knights who had escorted him during his childhood when Kalion left for Hessenguard.