“Things are really bad, Your Highness. We need to get out of here now.”
Tristan’s urging didn’t change Ottestad’s leisurely demeanor. To sum it up, he had no intention of getting up from the chair and leaving the treehouse. Tristan was getting more and more impatient.
Swallowing hard, Tristan looked out the window and saw the growing water on the lake. As the heavy rain continued, the water in the lake was rising rapidly each minute.
“Your Highness, please….”
“I think it would do me good whether I die like this or like that.”
“Go now. I’ll leave it to fate.”
Tristan’s heart sank when he realized how little Ottestad valued his own life. Tristan knew better than anyone else where that attitude came from. On the day of the Crown Prince’s coronation ceremony, an accident had damaged Ottestad’s leg and he had given up all his will to live.
Tristan remembered as clear as yesterday the words Ottestad helplessly uttered, who opened his eyes from the dead.
[“This time too… I survived.”]
Although Ottestad lost his leg and survived, he didn’t consider it as a blessing. On the contrary, he seemed to think how he was truly sick of living. Tristan knew this, even though he usually never showed it, putting on the façade of a friendly Imperial Prince.
Ottestad was waiting for his death. He wouldn’t take his own life with Tristan by his side, but when given the opportunity, he wouldn’t pass it up. It was the same now.
“What’s the point in living in a world where I couldn’t even walk properly with my own two legs?” Ottestad flatly rejected Tristan’s suggestion that they take shelter before the water reached the treehouse. “I’d rather watch the lake in all its rainy glory, so you should leave.”
Whenever Tristan saw that look on his face as if he had given up on everything, he regretted that he had barely managed to get him out of the Imperial Palace to escape to this place. Ottestad surely would have died at the hands of the Second Prince if he hadn’t left the Imperial Palace at that time.
However, he regretted that he should have dealt with the Second Prince in the Imperial Palace, regardless of the result. He was regretting his decision to hide here for a while and plan for the future until he could find a way to undo the spell on Ottestad’s leg.
‘No, now is not the time to be thinking about this.’
Tristan shook off the heavy thoughts from his head and rose to his feet. Since Ottestad had no intention of leaving the treehouse, he should go out and drain the lake. I would make sure that the growing water on the lake never overflows and overwhelms this shabby wooden treehouse.
Tristan left the house carrying a large wooden pail he usually used to fetch water. After tonight, Ottestad will be back to normal once we get through this night of heavy rain. Tristan thought, ‘Ottestad will go back to the kind and wonderful image of His Highness, the Crown Prince, I knew very well. As he has always, after overcoming this moment and this crisis….’
With a single thought and resolve, Tristan scooped up the water. He scooped up a full barrel of water and threw it away, over and over again. He continued to do this without stopping, an action that would make a passerby click their tongue and say, ‘What a waste of energy.’
It was at that moment, “Nina!”
Through the thundering rain, he thought he heard a scream. Tristan stopped and listened. Then he heard it more clearly this time.
“… Let go! I said let go!”
It seemed impossible that he heard a voice from so far away through the loudly pouring rain. Tristan thought that it was a miracle – a miracle that might just rekindle Ottestad’s will to live.
Throwing down the wooden barrel, Tristan ran back to the treehouse.
“Something seemed to happen on the winery down on the road, Your Highness.”
Tristan said aloud, running a hand through his sweaty and rain-soaked face. Ottestad’s gaze, which had been staring out the window this entire time, slowly shifted to him. Tristan looked straight into Ottestad’s grayish-blue eyes as he slowly took his firearm and spoke once more.
“I heard the Young Lady from Leroy County screaming.”
As soon as Tristan finished speaking, Ottestad rose from his seat with his staff without hesitation. He finally left the treehouse, the same man Tristan begged to take refuge due to the dangerously rising water but did not move.
Siella and Kyle stared at each other from a distance, their nerves tense as if they were walking on a tightrope. After a period of a deathly silence, Kyle was the first one to speak.
Siella glanced sideways at the vial of antidote lying on the table. Noticing her gaze, Kyle burst out laughing wildly.
“Haa… I’m really starting to get angry….”
Siella clenched the dagger in her hand and looked at Kyle again.
“Are you sure you can handle my anger?”
Kyle asked her in a threatening manner, and Siella took a step back as he approached her.
“Hey, I’m asking you. Are you sure you can handle it?”
Siella bit her lower lip. The more she backed away, the more she was further away from the table. She needed the antidote on the table in order to save Nina’s life. She couldn’t take another step back from here. Siella stood tall and still.
The approaching Kyle stopped approaching her, stood and smirked at her. He removed the hand around his neck and held it in front of him, checking the blood on his palm.
“It has been a long while since I’ve last seen my own blood. Maybe that’s why I’m feeling dizzy.” Kyle said, bringing his hand back to his neck and pressing it down to his wound to stop the bleeding. “I purposely showed up later than I said I would, but instead of thanking me….”
“You hurt me like this.” With a fierce smile, he slowly drew the sword on his waist. “I have to properly teach you a lesson about that habit.”
It was the sword he used to attack Nina, the poisoned sword. Kyle slowly approached, pointing the sharp blade at Siella.
“I didn’t think you’d so obediently follow me anyway.” A smirk tugged on Kyle’s mouth as he watched Siella tremble. “Besides, in the first place, I brought this with the intention of using it to you.”
He glanced at the small vial he had left on the table and continued speaking, “For your information, there’s only one of that.” As if he was announcing something, Kyle added in a cold voice, “Which means there was no antidote for your escort to begin with.”
Siella momentarily stiffened from his words, and soon after, a shiver ran down her body so she clenched her fists tightly.
“Why?” Siella’s rare outburst made Kyle smile even brighter, tilting his head and probably enjoying it, “Are you angry?”
Siella felt the heat radiate through her body as Kyle blinked his eyes and tilt his head.
“It’s not like you didn’t know I was this kind of guy.”
“You are a f**king a**hole, b*st*rd….”
“Yeah, I am a f**king a**hole and b*st*rd.”
Kyle laughed it off as if it was no big deal, but his smile faded after a moment and said with a straight face, “I am a f**king a**hole and b*st*rd… and you’re going with that f**king a**hole and b*st*rd.”
Without a warning, Kyle swung his blade with all his might. Siella reflexively closed her eyes tightly. Just then, she heard a sound of something breaking close by.
(T/N: Just eff off.)