Translator: Latte Editor: Sasha
Anna grabbed Elody’s arm with a pained expression.
“Madame, you’ve been eating less these days… Please don’t do that.”
“I just have no appetite, is all.”
A year had passed, and Caville would now be 20 years old.
Elody was disappointed that she couldn’t directly congratulate Caville, who had finally reached adulthood.
Every year on her birthday, she felt like she died a little more. It was a reminder of Caville, whose birthday was only a few days apart from hers.
When they were children, the servants of the mansion would hold a party for both the duke and the duchess, and the mansion would be infused in a lively atmosphere.
However, Elody hadn’t been able to celebrate Caville’s birthday for years.
‘A birthday party without Caville…’
It could never be fun.
Maybe that was why Elody had no appetite recently.
But if it weren’t for that reason…
‘Is it because of the divorce?’
The preparations were finished sooner than she thought. The arrangements were complete, but Elody had a lot of regrets.
First, she had not finished producing fertilizers for the citizens yet. New crop seeds were also in development.
‘I can just do it after I leave the mansion, but….’
During that time, she wouldn’t have the time to deal with the land’s management as she would be busy studying her incurable disease.
Furthermore, after Caville returned and divorced her, she had no right to deal with the lord’s affairs.
‘There’s still time, I can build a separate laboratory for research…’
She had made quite the fortune to build another laboratory anyway.
‘I have nothing else to prepare…’
Elody was the only one to leave, so all she had to do was just vanish from Caville’s life.
As if she never existed.
Just like the story…
Elody thought of asking Caville to let her stay in the mansion, or at least on the edge of the duchy.
But she wasn’t sure if Caville would allow it.
Nonetheless, Elody had raised Caville with all of her heart, so she thought that he would at least allow it.
‘Does he still remember me?’
It had already been 7 years.
Young children tend to forget their childhood memories. There was a high possibility that Caville might not even remember her face.
Or worse, her entire existence.
‘That’s probably why I have never received a reply in 7 years…’
A sigh escaped Elody’s lips as she cast her eyes to the ground, her mouth drawn in a frown.
“Madame…” Anna spoke as she watched Elody’s gloomy countenance.
“Oh, that reminds me. I haven’t seen Marie nowadays. She said she was sick. Is she okay? I sent her some medicine, but she still hasn’t come back…” she continued, “I’m worried… I think I’ll visit her myself.”
Anna replied in a shaky voice, “Ah! No, Madame! M-marie… I mean… Marie has been missing Sir Vedos lately! That’s why she’s sad.”
“…Oh, is that true?”
Elody felt the same. She also wanted to see Caville.
‘I’ll ask Marie to join me for a drink sometime.’
Then, Elody headed for the greenhouse.
Anna let out a sigh of relief, however, her eyes began to tear up as she stared at Elody’s back.
She truly felt sorry for the Duchess.
* * *
Elody’s gentle humming filled the greenhouse.
It was her favorite place.
The fresh smell of grass always succeeded in making her feel better.
“My wonderful Ginsengs…” Elody smiled as she watched the herb field.
She reached her hand out to check the condition of the soil.
Each of her fingertips radiated a warm green glow which was then imbued into the ground.
“Magnificent. The soil is in perfect condition.”
Elody had been living in the greenhouse for several years now.
She had been using her mana on the plants every day. Thus, her affinity in mana had increased tremendously.
After all, magic was about combining multiple elements of nature.
Elody would feel a refreshing energy circulating throughout her body whenever she infused mana to the soil.
Elody closed her eyes and felt the refreshing flow of mana.
A while later…
It was night time.
As usual, Elody laid alone in her large bed.
As she was about to blow out the candles to sleep, someone knocked on the door.
“Madame, it’s me.”
The door was opened, and Marie came to her line of sight.
Elody hadn’t seen Marie for a few days, but when she looked at Marie, her face crumpled.
Marie was like a hollow shell of her once plump and vibrant self. Her eyes were red and swollen, she seemed to be crying these past few days…
Marie slowly walked up to her bed.
“Madame, you’re not sleeping?”
“No, not yet. What are you doing here at this hour? How did you get so thin…. Were you horribly ill? Did you take the medicine I sent?” Elody asked anxiously, caressing Marie’s cheek.
Marie smiled and nodded. Then she climbed into her bed and lied next to Elody.
“I want to sleep with you. Like when madame was young… do you remember?”
“Yes, I remember.”
After Caville left for the battlefield, Elody became scared of sleeping alone, and so, she would sometimes call upon Marie to sleep with her.
“I guess you’re not afraid of sleeping alone anymore,” Marie said.
“Even if I’m scared, I’ll have to bear with it. I’m an adult now,” Elody replied.
“You’re still like a child in my eyes… How did you grow so big?”
Elody giggled at Marie’s remarks.
Smiling, Marie hugged Elody and patted her back.
Just like what Elody used to do to Caville.
Elody breathed more slowly, her body melting into Marie’s as every muscle lost its tension to the air. She felt safe and protected in her arms.
‘Is this how Caville felt?’
Elody snuggled in, “Marie, you’re like a real sister to me.”
She could never let another close to her like this, but Marie was different. They were six years apart, but Marie was like a family to her.
“I also think of you as my little sister,” Marie smiled.
‘If I had a real sister, would she have been like Marie?’
Elody had never met her real family in any of her lives.
But now, Elody knew. People can become a family even if they weren’t connected by blood.
Everyone in the mansion was her family.
Although some were away… Caville, Marie, Anna, as well as the maids, butlers, and knights. They were all her family.
“But Marie, why were you crying? You want to see Sir Vedos that much?”
“…Yes, I miss him so much.” Marie smiled, letting a tear slip down to her cheeks.
Elody held her close, feeling the warmth in each others’ embrace.
“Let’s stop talking and sleep now, madame.”
Elody comfortably closed her eyes. It was reassuring to have Marie by her side.
Marie gazed at Elody and wiped her tears away.
Elody was the duchess, the one she worked for, but now she was her treasured little sister.
She was so precious, lovely, and kind.
But she was suffering from an incurable disease…
The pitiful duchess.
Marie brushed a strand of pink hair away from her face and pulled her closer, tears started welling up in her eyes again.
She stroked her hair and made a decision.
She decided not to grieve anymore.
She would not be sad again.
Marie stared at Elody, who tried to hide her illness from the servants.
She would show her cheerful side so that Elody could be happy as well.
She planned to stay with Elody until the moment she died, and even hold the funeral herself.
As Elody said, they were family.
‘My precious duchess. How lonely and difficult it must be for you to come here alone at such a young age.’
From today onwards, Marie vowed to never cry again.
‘Today shall be the last.’
That night, Marie’s emotions were filled with grief, loss, and devastation. She couldn’t stop her tears until she passed into the oblivion of unconsciousness.
* * *
“Madame! Madame! Look at this!” Marie exclaimed, bursting through the office door.
“What is it?” Elody, who was talking with Norman, asked.
“The newsletter is here!”
“What’s the news?”
Marie handed over the newsletter to Elody.
Elody was relieved as Marie’s expression looked brighter than yesterday.
‘But why does her eyes look more swollen than before…? Did she cry again?’
Elody looked anxiously at Marie, then turned to the newsletter.
The news said that the Duke of Cernoir had saved Larissa, the Princess of the Dayev Empire during the war.
‘They’ve finally met…’
There was also news that Caville used the Spirit King of Fire to lead the war to victory, and that the temple called him as the child of the Gods.
‘Caville was chosen by God because of his strong faith…?’
Caville…? He was highly religious?
Elody had never known that.
Confused, she tilted her head.
Furthermore, the spirit of fire was never mentioned in the story.
In the newsletter, there was also the phrase ‘The child of God and the chosen princess led the war to victory.’
It also said that the princess was the emperor’s niece…
Elody recalled her memories.
‘The emperor’s niece? Was there such a setting in the original storyline?’
The novel had never mentioned it.
‘Or maybe I’m just forgetting some things…’
Lastly, the article said that the Imperial Army had captured and executed the high-ranking generals of the Urta Empire that ran away from the battlefield.
Alas, the war had ended.
‘The war is over? Really?’
The war ended in seven years.
Elody blinked in surprise.
The story said that the war lasted for 10 years. Those were one of the things that Elody remembered correctly.
This could only mean that… Caville would soon return to the estate.
Simultaneously, it was time for Elody to leave the mansion.
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