Edith sneakily glanced at the Duke’s back.
Even after returning from outside, his suit was without a single wrinkle, as immaculate as his office she had seen before. His way of speaking was just as neat. Combined with his statue-like appearance, it felt somewhat unapproachable.
It was when they had just stepped inside the house that the Duke, who had been walking ahead in silence, suddenly stopped.
“What would you like to drink?”
To think that he stopped just to ask about the menu. Edith, while finding the Duke unpredictable, quickly replied.
“A warm cup of tea would be enough for me!”
“Yes, miss. I will have it prepared for you.”
Then, hearing a voice from somewhere, Edith realized that they weren’t alone in the space. Others were present, though their presence moved like shadows, which made it difficult to see.
The Duke soon led her to the balcony.
It was ambiguous whether to call it being led or simply following him, but either way, two seats were prepared on the balcony of the third floor. As she sat opposite him, he seemed even more surreal under the midday sun.
His transparent silver-white hair, glistening golden in the sunlight, added to that effect.
Through him, Edith realized an important fact. She had lived thinking she didn’t care much about appearances, though that was because she had never experienced such overwhelming beauty.
“If you’ve come this far, I suppose you’ve gathered some information about my brother?”
The real conversation began after the butler brought in the tea. Just as Edith reached for her cup, she set it down again at the Duke’s direct question.
“Yes, actually, I happened to meet a friend in the capital and asked about a few things I didn’t know.”
Even though it was essentially admitting to having done some background checking, he seemed unbothered.
“Before Miss Edith, there were talks of marriage with five others, all of which didn’t come to fruition. It was a matter conducted secretly by His Majesty, so the exact details are unknown, but unofficially, there were likely more than five.”
“I don’t think you would know about this.”
She was inwardly relieved when the Duke dropped a bombshell. Edith’s mouth was wide open as she was unprepared.
‘Now that I think about it, the daughter of the Count Vicen had a crush on the Duke and was lovesick.’
Regaining her composure thanks to her conversation with Daisy, Edith wasn’t overly surprised. Naturally, being from a fallen noble family, it was unlikely that such an opportunity would come to her first.
Calming her mind, she sipped her tea carefully. Then, struck by a sudden thought, she cautiously asked.
“You’re telling me everything, Duke. But Vincent didn’t mention any of this to me.”
In fact, there was no reason for the Duke to tell the story. Even if it would be revealed someday, it could be hidden right now.
Edith wasn’t naively inexperienced. She knew enough to understand that behind overly favorable conditions, and there usually laid a trap. Even the Emperor’s chief secretary, who seemed kind, only told her pleasing stories. He had omitted crucial issues like the devil.
If the Duke hadn’t informed her, she might have married without knowing anything, which would have been more convenient for him, yet the Duke chose not to do that.
The Duke watched her quietly and slowly spoke.
“I don’t want to be—”
An unexpectedly concise reply that Edith had not anticipated.
“—The cause of someone’s misfortune.”
Their eyes met inadvertently, and she saw his light gray eyes, deep like glass orbs. They were incredibly profound, making it hard to believe that he was just a young man in his twenties. Perhaps that was why?
Edith was suddenly curious about what kind of life he had led.
“Now it’s your turn. What do you expect from me, a wizard?”
However, his sharp question soon overshadowed her small curiosity.
* * *
Thanks to her prior practice, Edith was able to articulate her wish well.
“So, you’re asking if it’s possible to go to a completely different world, one that’s different in time and space?”
“Yes, that’s right.”
She nodded quickly despite feeling embarrassed. When she actually said it out loud, it might have seemed odd. To ask abruptly about traveling to another world.
‘Still, I can’t just say I’m actually from a country called Korea.’
The trust between them wasn’t strong enough yet, and he would hardly believe such a claim. In the worst case, she might be considered insane.
“So… is it difficult?”
“It is difficult.”
“Ah, I thought so…”
Her question, which she managed to ask after a lot of tension, was replied to by the Duke, crushing her hopes. Thankfully, he didn’t probe why she had such thoughts.
‘If even the Duke, successor to the Magic Tower, says it’s difficult, maybe it’s really impossible.’
As she thought inside and sighed dejectedly, the Duke, who had been quietly observing her, opened his mouth again.
“It’s difficult now, but in three years, it might be possible. Of course, this is under the assumption that you clearly understand the ‘world you wish to go to’ and that such a world indeed exists.”
“…In three years? Is it really possible then?”
When she asked with a voice tinged with surprise and hope, the Duke slightly tilted his head.
“I can’t give a definite answer. It might be possible, or it might not be.”
“So, there is a possibility?”
“Yes, it’s not like there haven’t been people who’ve experienced it. It’s not officially acknowledged, but there certainly have been people who left and others who arrived.”
Despite the fact that his answer was calm, Edith’s heart began to race. It didn’t matter that it wasn’t a firm confirmation. The mere possibility of returning was something to hold onto.
“Three years from now, a day will come when magical energies reach their peak. Wizards call it Ruber Luna.”
“It’s when the red moon eclipses the sun, a perfect moment for influencing space and time. Those who have experienced dimensional travel did so during Ruber Luna. Do you want a detailed explanation of the principle?”
Edith quickly declined, knowing she wouldn’t understand the complexities even if he was going to explain it.
What mattered more was the possibility. Her wish would be fulfilled if she married the Duke!
“Then, with me…!”
As she excitedly began to speak, she stopped. A crucial weakness struck her that she had forgotten before… If she returned to her world, the Duke would lose his wife. It was a terribly inappropriate request to make during a marriage discussion.
‘Why am I only thinking of this now? He won’t agree!’
Realizing this, her heart sank.
It was unbelievable that she had forgotten such an important point. She must have been desperate to return to her original life.
“If we were to marry, it should be under the condition that it lasts for three years.”
It was when Edith was startled as her cheeks burned with embarrassment that she heard an unbelievable response.
“I can’t be certain, but I’ll try to fulfill your wish after three years.”
When she raised her head, Duke Devion extended something to her. It was a document—the marriage contract she had left behind.
“I don’t need a wife to stay by my side forever. I never wished for that.”
She noticed his signature was already on the contract. The only space left was for her signature.
“Three years would be enough time for His Majesty to use your family as a pretext to strengthen Duchy Devion. So, we would only need to be married for those three years.”
So, the Duke was proposing to her.
“Will you marry me?”
It was the least romantic yet most hopeful proposal she had ever heard.
“Yes! I will!”
Edith decided to seize this hope.