Home Post 1571-chapter-52


As I listened to him speak, I took a sharp breath.

“You’ve been through a lot because of the unexpected accident. I’m relieved you’re alive… that you came back alive and didn’t die.”

I felt my face contort with emotion, unable to maintain my composure. My expression must have looked strange.

The duke cleared his throat and continued speaking.

“Thank you for saving Ridim. You are my benefactor. It must have been tough in that dungeon. You did well.”

He awkwardly reached out his hand.

Unable to touch my shoulder, arm, or face, his hand hovered uncertainly in the air before finally patting somewhere between my knee and calf.

‘This… I mean, right now…’

My heart felt as if it had malfunctioned. I forgot how to breathe. My body was stiff, my tongue paralyzed. I couldn’t muster a proper response or reaction.

After repeating the gesture a few times, the duke finally withdrew his hand. Only then did I remember to breathe.

“We are, of course, investigating what happened in the dungeon. The crime of daring to provoke Desmiere is one that cannot be repaid even with death.”

The duke had been awkward and now looked serious, his eyes glinting coldly. His tone was chillingly firm.

“When we catch the culprit, we will pursue them to the very end. We will find out who was behind this and avenge you.”

Though his words and demeanor were far from kind, warm, or gentle, I felt something in them. A fragment. A small piece. A strand of emotion that could be called… affection.

“I’ve taken up too much of your time. You must be tired, so get some rest.”


My voice barely came out. Clearing my throat, I spoke again.

“Yes, I will.”

I hesitated before adding.

“Thank you… for coming to see me.”

His brows furrowed slightly again before he stood up silently.

His large hand briefly rested on my head before withdrawing.


He left, closing the door behind him.

For a moment, I lay there in a daze, then slowly slid under the pillow. I lay flat on the bed for a while before pulling the pillow down to rest my head on it.

I stared at the ceiling, blinking, then turned over to my left.

The events in Medina had weighed heavily on me, suffocating me. Now, it felt like they were slowly melting away.

Some of that melted away in the form of tears. I buried my face in the pillow.

Many thoughts swirled in my mind. Reedmore, with his eyes closed; Felicia, with her mouth shut; Claude, drenched in blood and exhausted.

My thoughts wandered back to when I first came to this house. Obert, Aila, Duke Desmiere.

The pillowcase grew damp with my tears.

But they were not tears of sorrow.

* * *

A few days later, a decree from the emperor arrived.

I heard the news at breakfast while seated with the duke and Reedmore.

A messenger, kneeling before the duke, presented a sealed letter on a silver tray.

The duke elegantly wiped his mouth and accepted it.

His long fingers gracefully broke the seal, and his eyes, so similar to his son’s, quickly scanned the contents.

He handed it to me after a moment. As I took it and prepared to read, his calm voice followed.

“His Majesty expresses his concern and sympathy for the unfortunate incident in the Medina dungeon. He wishes to ask you a few questions about what happened that day.”

My fingers trembled with a faint sense of anticipation and a large amount of fear as I held the letter.

After preparing, I immediately went to the palace. Duke Desmiere was also to attend, so we arrived together.

Escorted by the duke, I followed the attendants. My heart pounded as I saw who was standing in front of the conference room.

“Miss Estelle.”

Claude was waiting for me. He stood by the closed door with his hands behind his back and walked over as soon as he saw me.

“Duke Desmiere.”

He greeted the duke next.

“Greetings, Your Highness.”

The duke returned the greeting. Claude then turned to me with a smile that lifted the corners of his mouth.

“It’s been a while.”

His voice was low and calm. His hair had grown quite long before but was now neatly trimmed.

The shorter haircut highlighted his refined features and masculine frame.

Even when he roamed the streets looking disheveled, his face always shone. Since the dungeon incident, he had been playing the role of a proper prince, looking almost dazzling.

He felt like a stranger.

“…Your Highness.”

I bowed slightly. Claude extended his hand to me.

The duke, who was escorting me, glanced between us, slightly furrowing his brow.

Despite the awkward atmosphere, Claude stood firm.

The attendant seemed unsure whether to announce our arrival and glanced back and forth.

I felt my face heating up.

‘Why is he doing this?’

If there weren’t people around, I would have given him a sharp word.

His behavior contrasted with the strange manner he had displayed while I stayed at his palace.

A part of me worried that after today’s meeting, he might act this familiar again.

Slowly, I raised my hand and took his.

“Let’s go in.”

Claude smiled brightly. The duke, standing beside me, was naturally pushed to the background, looking somewhat bewildered. I wanted to hide.

“I will open the door now.”

Finally, the attendant loudly announced our arrival and opened the conference room door.

The room was vast. The center was empty, with long tables on either side where high-ranking nobles sat.

In the middle of the room, a single, simple chair awaited. Claude escorted me to the chair before stepping back. The duke moved to the right side and took an empty seat at the table.

I looked up. At the far end of the room, on a high platform, sat the emperor. I knelt and greeted him.

“By the grace of Lunick, I greet the sun of the empire, ruler of Lurisaide and the North Sea, rightful lord of all people and lands, the most honorable under the heavens, His Majesty the Emperor.”


The emperor gestured. As I took my seat, I felt the piercing gaze of the nobles on either side. I sat upright and dignified.

The emperor bore a resemblance to Claude as he watched me with his chin resting on his hand.

His hair, blonde streaked with white, was a bit duller than Claude’s, but his long, slanted eyes and deep-set gaze were remarkably similar.

It felt like looking at an older version of Claude. For a moment, I had a strange feeling, but the emperor’s voice quickly brought me back to reality.

I felt a bit guilty toward Claude. My face stiffened slightly, but I maintained perfect manners to avoid any reprimands.

“Have you recovered well?”

“Thanks to Your Majesty’s concern, I have regained my strength.”

“I summoned you to hear about the accident in the Medina dungeon. Although I have already heard from the First Prince, I wish to hear it from your perspective, so please recount the events in detail.”

I slowly began to recount what had happened there.

However, I left out unnecessary details and altered the story slightly.

For example, I completely hid Claude’s exceptional swordsmanship.

This was something we had agreed upon while I was recovering in his palace.

Reedmore and Felicia’s skills were already well known.

Therefore, my spirit magic, which had become more known recently, was highlighted in the story.

I also downplayed the difficulty level of the dungeon.

While the monsters were unusually strong for a lower-level dungeon, I made it seem as if they were not impossible for four students to handle.

I omitted the part about the sudden appearance of multiple monsters after defeating one.

I judged that it would be too hard to believe unless we had someone of Sword Master level in the group.

But I didn’t leave out the crucial parts.

“I sensed something strange from the life core of the cave ogre. A sinister, ominous black aura emanated from it before disappearing when the core was destroyed.”

“The prince mentioned that as well.”

Emperor Theron lowered his gaze, deep in thought.

After a moment, he spoke.

“We interrogated those who provided the malfunctioning artifacts and those assigned to your group. They all claimed that they suddenly lost consciousness while resting or during their free time. They only regained consciousness after the students had already entered the dungeon.”


“One of them said the last thing he saw was a dark aura approaching. He possessed faint holy powers and sensed an ominous trace of the demon god in that dark aura.”

The murmuring of the nobles grew louder.

“If the aura you sensed from the ogre is the same as that he felt, then it is certain that the monster was strengthened by an agent of the demon god.”

Anxiety washed over me, and I clutched my dress.

What we had experienced in that dungeon wasn’t just the empress’ plot targeting Claude.

It was something far more serious, with a sinister connection to the demon god.