Epilogue, Part 1.1

Erna slowly opened her swollen eyes with a groan. After blinking with difficulty multiple times, her eyesight gradually returned. She absorbed her surroundings and became stunned. She lay in the bed of her room, but in the past decade, not once had she seen the image of the sky above her. She gazed at the heavens; the sky was painted a brilliant blue, with barely a few wispy clouds. She narrowed her eyes slightly as realization dawned on her.

“It’s magic,” muttered Erna.

Although the entire ceiling disappeared, someone had conjured an invisible layer to prevent the rain from soaking her. As she observed the magic, Erna tried to recall the last of her memories, and as soon as she remembered, Erna leaped to her feet. But as she tried to move abruptly, she felt a searing pain all over her body and collapsed into the bed again.

“Ouch,” she groaned.

Had someone kicked her while she was asleep? Her body ached so intensely that she felt as though someone had beat her body. The pain made it impossible for her to consider getting back up, so with a little shift of her head, she began a cautious tour of her surroundings.

“All right, first of all, the ceiling is gone…” she murmured under her breath. “Don’t tell me the floor is gone, too.” She grunted and strained as she gazed down. The floor, thankfully, suffered little damage. There were also a few broken window panes in the wall.

Erna put a hand on her chest. The rhythm of her heart was palpable. When she felt the pulse, a mumble escaped her lips. “I’m alive,” she whispered. Tears suddenly burst from her eyes. “I’m alive,” she repeated in between sobs.

She had one foot in the grave. The feeling of losing consciousness as her entire body was drained of strength was different from collapsing from fatigue. She had feared that if she closed her eyes, she would never wake to see the light of day.

Amidst her cries from her relief of having survived, her stomach gave a shameless growl. As soon as she heard the sound, her appetite immediately soared. Suddenly, she heard the door open. Erna groaned again, wondering who had come inside, and struggled to lift her head. Just then, she saw a familiar figure. “Orpé?” she called, quietly.

Orpé, with a towel and clothes in her hand, froze when she heard Erna’s soft voice.

“Duchess…?” she asked, disbelievingly.


“Duchess!” Orpé dropped everything in her hand and ran madly to Erna. She got down on the floor next to Erna’s bed and grabbed her hand, bursting into tears. “Oh, my god, you woke up!” she cried, “At last!”

“No, no. Wait a minute…” Erna tried to speak, but Orpé only shed more tears. Erna decided to leave her alone until she calmed down a little, as Orpé seemed to be ecstatic just by her breathing. Besides, she didn’t have enough strength to placate her.

As time passed, Orpé’s cries subsided.

“Are you that happy that I woke up?” Erna asked.

Orpé wiped away his tears and shouted, “Yes! To say the least, I’m overjoyed! You finally woke up after three months!”

“What?” exclaimed Erna. “Three months?”

In several cases, wizards collapse and slip into a coma after performing a particularly powerful spell. It was the same when she conjured strong magic in Lake Haldis. But three months?

“Wow…” Erna muttered, “I nearly lost my life.”

“Of course! You used that magic! All by yourself, too!” Orpé cried out, her voice full of resentment, and recalled that day.

* * *

“Goodbye, Orpé.”

Even though she listened to those words every day, the moment she heard Erna’s voice, Orpé felt a chill run through her entire body. She realized it was her final words. Orpé grabbed Erna’s wrist as she conjured the space-shifting magic to interfere, but Erna was faster. She had always thought Erna was quick at casting spells, but at this moment, Erna demonstrated her magic flawlessly.

Orpé’s vision shone brightly and she felt her body rise and fall. The next thing she felt was cold water. While she floundered about, she realized the lake was no deeper than her waist. Suddenly, there was a sound of people plunging into the same lake. Orpé looked around, dumbfounded. Not only her, but everyone in the Grand Castle had fallen into the lake. Orpé hurriedly emerged from the lake and the rest of the wizards followed her.

She looked around, but the Grand Castle was nowhere to be seen. In other words, they were very far away. One of the maids, who had followed them, spoke.

“It’s Lake Inat,” she said.



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