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Chapter 55

“I-I just…”

He had completely lost himself in the indulgence of unconditional love. And as he weighed that love on the scale, the result was the destruction of oneself. He made it so that his child’s mind was empty, and even when she had gone ahead to murder people, he rationalized his actions in accordance with this with love.

The love for his child, the love for his wife—because he loved both of them. However, this love eventually did not weigh more than his own life. One might say that this was inconsequential, but that was not the case for the fief lord. Catherine’s love was not the only thing that mattered. The fief lord despaired at the fact that the love he felt weighed less than his own life.

“It’s alright. I understand.”

Even so, another emotion stood above that understanding. It was the feeling of inevitability.

“Haha…”

Carynne let out a dispirited laugh. Haha, look at this, Mother. Your love. Look at your male lead. He’s crying because he’s scared witless.

“Then that’s the limit of both your love and belief. Ah, I’m not accusing you. Father, this is how everyone is. You see your own death in the way that other people would. There’s no such thing as love that transcends death. So that’s not the answer either. It must be something else. Because it’s not you, Father! That much love is fine. That much belief is alright. Sure enough, I’ll find the answer. But your guess was wrong. Ha, something like ‘eternal love’ that can overcome it all, goodness.”

“I-I… I’m…”

The fief lord’s expression was a disaster. Carynne spoke bitterly.

“I don’t need it. Father, it’s alright. I’m not denying your love.”

Carynne grinned.

“If it’s possible to overcome this with ordinary love, then shouldn’t there be a different solution out there, something else other than an ambiguous emotion?”

She wanted to comfort the fief lord. She did so very sincerely.

“It’s alright, Father. It truly is!”

Carynne smiled broadly as she said this. And she laughed oh so delightfully.

“I’m not such an immoral person that I desperately want to see my father’s corpse. Ah, isn’t that right? Anyway, it’s like that. It doesn’t matter, just like that. You chose your life!”

Clap!

Then, she clapped her hands together.

“Life is great! No amount of hatred, love or power means anything in the face of death! And among them all, even love! Yes, Father. So you chose life! If you stopped breathing with just one word of mine, then that kind of life would be an act of blasphemy! Yes!”

Carynne clapped and laughed. Oh what joy!

“I’m being serious, if you had died, Father, then I’d have made Sir Raymond take some drugs and hypnotize him into falling in love with me. Mm, uh-huh. I just wanted to see how far I could go. But we don’t have to go to that point.”

Unlike Carynne, who became more comfortable now, the fief lord was feeling miserable.

“I… Catherine…”

“Fufu, I’m glad. Seriously… It’s terrible to know that the one hundred years I spent is connected to such a fleeting emotion. But I’m so happy, Father!”

Carynne stepped closer to her father.

He was trembling. He brought his neck to the noose, but he couldn’t kick the chair beneath his feet. Before this, he hid some corpses, killed people, brainwashed her daughter and gave her drugs—all in the name of love. He was blind to that extent.

“I…”

The fief lord believed his wife, and so too did he believe his daughter. He did. He believed them. That’s what he thought. His wife was from another world, and so was his daughter. They repeated their lives until they’d find their true love. Catherine fell in love with him and was released from the spell, and Carynne had yet to find her true love, and so she was doing all sorts of things.

“My dear.”

He recalled Catherine’s final words.

“…You don’t believe me, do you? You also think that it’s absurd.”

It’s not like that, Catherine. My wife, my dearly beloved. My goddess. I believe everything that you say, everything that is about you. I am your god, just as you are my goddess. Even more so, how could I not believe your final oracle.

“Then please, believe in Carynne. That child, too, will find love in the end. No matter how she behaves, trust her.”

Catherine’s entire body was wracked with a disease that couldn’t be named. She faded, as though her existence refused to be tethered to this world. Her body was thin enough that her bones stuck out, and the once milk-like skin had turned ashen, close to the color gray. The fief lord rushed about every which way, but Catherine took everything in stride.

“Finally, death welcomes me.”

He clung to his wife, who said that death was her old friend, but it was all meaningless. Even if the period in which their love blossomed, time could not be turned back. The fief lord was not Catherine. Even when he believed her, even when he loved her, the time Catherine had was not the time he had. Catherine comforted him, saying she had gone back in time so she’s been with him for a very, very long while now—that, even when death came to embrace her, she was no longer afraid.

“I hope that Nancy’s medicine will help her.”

“I’ll give you as much medicine as you need.”

“Don’t give me any more. It doesn’t even taste good.”

Catherine chuckled. Even laughter had become difficult for her. As she coughed, blood also came out.

“Do you believe me?”

“Yes.”

“You don’t believe me.”

Carynne laughed.

“That makes me happy.”

* * *

Verdic dragged Isella roughly into an empty room, and here, Isella shoved off Verdic’s hand.

“Have you gone mad?”

“I’m not going to let something like that go.”

Isella gnashed her teeth in anger.

“I’ll crush that face of hers. I’m going to cut her hair first, pour tar all over her head, and then her face…”

Verdic gaped in bewilderment. Did this child lose all rationality over her jealousy? As his daughter muttered and said harsh things, he berated her.

“Are you out of your mind? What kind of disgrace did you just show Lady Elva? Huuh? Even if she owes us money, she’s a countess for Christ’s sake! And that girl is not your maid! I can’t believe you slapped Catherine Hare during dinner!”

“Father, you call her Lady Elva, too.”

“What?”

“If you knew about it, why didn’t you tell me? What kind of father are you that you didn’t tell me? Right then… just a while ago, I, do you know just how much Carynne humiliated me?”

Verdic was hitting his chest out of frustration. He couldn’t believe how jealous and angry his daughter was right now that she wasn’t even thinking of what kind of mistake she had made—and over a trivial matter.

“Do you not understand what just happened? Do you not realize how you must have behaved in front of those nobles?!”

He yelled at his daughter. In her indignation, Isella retorted back angrily.

“Then shouldn’t you have been born as a great noble?! Father, do you know just how much I’ve been humiliated just because you’re not a noble?”

“Isella!”

Overcome by fury, Verdic eventually raised his hand. Isella cowered for a moment, but she soon recovered her rage as she answered back.

“Go ahead, hit me! In the end, you’re just an upstart who has a bit of money!”

Crash!

“AHHH!”

Verdic picked up the pot next to him and threw it at her feet. Then, as he ignored how frightened his daughter was, he took a step over the broken pieces of the pot, taking in a deep breath.

“I will not hit you… Your engagement is just around the corner, keep that in mind.”

Feeling too much anger could also render someone calm. Verdic’s mind right now seemed to have turned completely white with rage. However, compared to his fury, the words he spoke now sounded normal.

“Keep in mind just how many contracts and people are involved in your marriage. If you throw any more tantrums, know this—I will punish you in a way that will not leave any traces.”

“Hic…”

“Go to your room this instant. And apologize properly to Miss Carynne Hare and Countess Elva!”

Isella sobbed out of anger and frustration, but when she realized that Verdic was truly mad at her, she no longer spoke up. As much as he indulged his daughter with material things, he also demanded that she move as he wanted. It was like that now, and it was like that in the past as well.

Isella trudged out into the hallway. She just wanted to leave this mansion already.

“…It’s cold.”

She walked down the hallway with her arms crossed over her torso. It was so cold here. Even though it was summer, the frigid air permeated through her entire body.

“…I wanna go home.”

The thought crossed her mind that this mansion didn’t suit her. It’s cold, it’s hard. Only strange things happened in this place. She wanted to go back to the warmth of her own home. She once thought that this place was refined, but that was only an illusion. Her father believed that this mansion had history, but for Isella, it’s nothing but a tacky, unpleasant place.

“Apology? Who’s apologizing to whom!”

Isella’s expression was stained with deep-seated resentment and irritation as she recalled Carynne’s words a while ago. She pretended to be polite and gentle, but evidently, she was never that kind of person on the inside.

“It’s ’cause the parents ruined the child.”

“How dare…”

How dare a girl like you! Isella promised herself that she would pour tar on Carynne’s hair. Although she was a little shocked by how violent her own imagination was, in her mind, Isella had already mutilated Carynne in more ways than one. As she did this, she felt a little better.

“Does that satisfy you?”

“…No.”

Huh?

With how casually the answer came back, Isella knew that the distant voice was Carynne’s. Isella had arrived in front of the fief lord’s voice. It was a room that didn’t interest her, but hearing Carynne’s voice inside lured her in.

‘Do I open the door, do I not.”

Was that girl being scolded by her father, too? Or perhaps… Isella could feel her pounding heart. As her curiosity was provoked… all kinds of dark suspicions blossomed. A dead maid. A missing corpse. Hallucinations. A dreary priest. A woman addicted to drugs.

Cree…eeak…

The door opened quietly. And.

“A…Ah?”

A dead body was hanging on a noose.

And Carynne was staring at that dead body.

Then, with those same eyes, she looked straight at Isella.

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