“You’re getting the hang of it now. I guess today will be the last day.”
I smirked in satisfaction as I watched my colleague, who had stepped up to be our practice opponent, trapped in the illusion magic.
“Ah, I’m still lacking!”
She still seemed nervous, but she was a junior that I enjoyed teaching regardless.
I had thought that teaching someone would never be in my destiny, but watching Fay improve by leaps and bounds as if I were watering bean sprouts, made me think that this was quite enjoyable. I had also become closer to Fay in the meantime.
Fay was a kid with an eccentric side. She would suddenly pick wildflowers and give them to me when I greeted her in the morning. She would also approach me hesitantly and thrust the candy in her pocket at me, saying, ‘Thank you!’ all of a sudden.
She reminded me of what an animal would be like if it became human.
“From now on, you just have to keep practicing and get used to it. Unlike other magic, illusion magic is a power that can only grow if you believe in yourself. You know? You have to believe in yourself to deceive others and trap them in illusions.”
“Yes, I’ll keep that in mind!”
“I can’t help you if you’re up against multiple opponents.”
“If you know a beast master or a summoner, ask them for help, or you could try fighting them yourself and gain experience.”
“Yes! I’ll do that, senior!”
Fay nodded vigorously. Her lemon-yellow hair swayed with every nod.
I had planned to train Fay for two more days, but I decided to end it today. Otherwise, I wouldn’t be able to make it in time. Fortunately, I had taught her everything I wanted to, so there was no problem.
“You worked hard following me around, Fay. You’ll make a fine illusionist.”
“R- really? Is this the end?”
“I’ll miss you so much…”
“But it might not be the end.”
“Never mind. Do you want to practice a bit more? I’m going to Dylan.”
As soon as I turned around, Fay grabbed my hand.
“D- did you think about it? If today’s the last day….”
She must be asking if I could come for dinner. Why was she so obsessed with having dinner with me? Even I, who was Korean in my previous life, didn’t crave meals with others this much, though Fay seemed to have a strong desire to eat dinner with me.
I had been avoiding the question, but since it was the last day and she was begging me, I couldn’t refuse her anymore. It was just one meal, so it was better to just have it and come back. Since she insisted, I might as well.
I nodded readily.
“R-really? Are you okay with having dinner with me tonight?”
“Yes, is it okay if I come over right away?”
“O-of course! You’re my benefactor, so you’re always welcome!”
“Then, how about inviting the other colleagues as well? It seems like a lot of people helped you besides me.”
Fay made a slightly troubled expression.
“Dylan and the colleagues who helped you for a few days?”
Fay thought about it for a moment, then smiled and nodded.
“Yes! They’re all people I’m grateful to!”
“Thanks, I appreciate it. I’ll talk to Dylan about it.”
I left her behind and headed to Dylan’s office.
After receiving Fay’s invitation to dinner, I ran into Annie as soon as I left the palace. Annie let out a small shriek when Noah came to visit yesterday and stayed until this morning.
“I would’ve had a heart attack and died if that happened to me.”
“Do I still look human to you?”
Annie chuckled at my question.
“It wasn’t that bad though…”
Annie snorted and glanced at me.
I let out an awkward cough.
“Let’s not be negative. Annie, I’m in a bit of a hurry.”
“Well, I heard that the Duke came looking for you earlier, so I thought that might be the case.”
Annie had been working hard to transfer my funds, create shell companies, and buy purification stones, as I had requested. She had also asked her colleagues for help, and she had managed to gather quite a lot in a short amount of time.
After that, I kept collecting them diligently, and Annie and my other really trustworthy colleagues know about the warehouse, and I plan to keep piling them up there.
“At this rate… There shouldn’t be a problem escaping for now.”
“That’s… the problem.”
“You had me look into annulments and divorces.”
“…It’ll be difficult, won’t it?”
Annie nodded with a troubled expression.
“Honestly, an annulment is possible. Since Kairos deceived you, but you’ll definitely have to go to court. There’s no other way.”
“Ugh… What about a divorce?”
Annie shook her head with a complicated expression.
“It’s not impossible, but you would have to get help from the Imperial Family to do it on your own. If you get help from the Imperial Family, it’s possible to forcibly push it through.”
“That means I’d have to tell them who my marriage partner is.”
“You’d have to if you want their help. Oh, and there’s one more thing.”
“What is it?”
I asked hopefully.
“Faking your death and reporting it as an accident?”
“Still, that method is a bit messy. It might require more preparation than you can imagine, so I won’t explain it. And the deceased’s wealth also disappears alongside you, so you’d have to leave it behind. Hmm, even if you did all that, if they got suspicious, the death report wouldn’t work, so I don’t recommend it.”
“Of course, aside from the divorce papers issue, we can escape today.”
Annie said she had already finished most of the arrangements. She also said she would leave with me until I was safe.
If we successfully escaped, she would receive the compensation I gave her and become free.
I rubbed my throbbing temples from the headache.
I guessed that was a no-go, too. As expected, there was no proper way. I was disappointed, even though I had expected it.
If I kept looking for another way and dragged my feet, they might catch on…
Was simply escaping the best option?
Hazel Love was a name I wouldn’t be using anymore anyway, and I would become a new person, so it might be easier to just give up, I thought. Then, if the Hadid Duchy ever needed a Duchess in the future, they could just file for divorce, right?
I couldn’t do anything, but the Duke could. There was nothing he couldn’t do.
Maybe for three years? Would it be possible if I hid for that long?
“You said I could escape right away if I gave up on the divorce?”
“Yes, if it’s within Elkium.”
She said it would take a little more time if I wanted to forcibly immigrate.
In the end, I chose the lesser of two evils.
So, we decided to escape first and then stay in a different region while preparing to immigrate. I would have to live in hiding for a few months, though I thought it would be worth it for my future freedom.
“I’ll meet Edmond, Ginger’s lover, today and set a meeting place. From what I know, they tally up the rankings on the last day, so it’ll be hectic because it’s the day people move regions.”
“Oh, I know about that too. I was upset when I went to the colosseum to watch a match and saw a guy I had bet on get demoted to the provinces.”
Annie grinned, rubbing her index finger and thumb together.
“It coincides perfectly with the second day, and it’s the busiest time during the moon festival, so we definitely have to get you out then. Sigh, now I have to start working on Nigella and the maids.”
She sounded bitter as she spoke.
“I wasn’t planning on doing anything to her…”
But from now on, Nigella couldn’t know about my actions. Nigella’s memories could be a big problem in tracking me down. I had to hypnotize her and erase her memories, but I didn’t feel good about it.
Annie smiled sympathetically when I told her I had to break my own rule.
“It can’t be helped. You could be in danger if you worry about others, Hazel. It’s time to be ruthless.”
“…I know. I’ll keep that in mind.”
“So, shall we eat? Let’s eat quickly and get a carriage ready for our escape.”
I steeled my resolve once more as I cut the meat.
* * *
‘Why aren’t you here?’
Edmond, who had been drenched in sweat from fighting all night, was finally able to rest when dawn broke. He didn’t seem to mind the sweat dripping down like raindrops, and he stared at a certain spot without moving.
“You worked hard today.”
He patted the shoulder of an employee who came to him to say goodbye as if to praise him. He had already fought the number of matches the employee had told him. He hadn’t fallen out of the top five, just like she had said.
However, Ginger hadn’t sent the person she said she would, even today. Edmond hadn’t received any contact from Ginger either, so he was starting to feel unusually anxious.
What if something had happened to Ginger in the meantime?
He had asked the colosseum employees about Ginger, but they had only given him vague answers, saying that she was probably working in another region.
It had gotten to the point where he wondered if the vision he had seen, which seemed like his wish come true, had been a mirage. He decided to wait one more day, and if nothing happened, he would find a way to leave this place for a while. Otherwise, he wouldn’t be able to bear the worry about Ginger.
She had told him to stay here no matter what, but if they didn’t keep their promise, it wouldn’t be valid.
Edmond decided to wait one more day with an anxious heart.