Chapter 19 – Curse (3)
Patrick arrived at the Sedetz Academy after Julia called for him, and he immediately arranged for her lodgings there. Leo tried to stop Julia from staying here, but she shook her head firmly.
“I have to see it for myself, and I have to be close by. It’s not a problem I can solve just by looking from far away.”
The maid Elisa was also called, and she was now tidying up the room that she would stay in.
Then, she turned to Leo.
“Why are you still here?”
“You’re busy with work, so you have to go back. I’ll call for you when it’s settled here.”
Leo’s gentle gaze reached Julia, who had one hand on her waist. She was evidently trying to shoo him away, not needing him here. When he tried to reply, Olden arrived and said his greetings.
“Let’s work hard together, Miss Julia.”
“Yes, I look forward to cooperating with you.”
Knowing what the Duke was thinking, Olden watched Leo as he made a face at Julia before nodding.
“Alright. But promise me you won’t overdo it. Don’t get yourself kidnapped by some weirdo again like last time, okay?”
“Just who do you think I’m doing this for…”
“Well, you’re doing it for the money, right?”
When Leo laughed, Julia just shook her head and placed a hand over her forehead. He wasn’t wrong, but she only started getting swamped with work when she first got entangled with him.
Even so, Julia couldn’t complain because she was comfortable working while she had the Duke of Epesia behind her as a support.
“See you later.”
“You’re coming back?”
“If the situation calls for it.”
As he walked away from her, he suddenly stopped and glanced back at Julia with a smile.
“Don’t get hurt.”
“You’ll make me worried.”
Julia stared blankly at him as he said this, but he only smirked then walked away. But once more, he stopped and looked back.
“That’s an order.”
Ah, he really liked commanding people. When Julia shrugged and nodded, Leo’s eyes curved slightly before he turned away and left.
After Leo disappeared, Julia relaxed and looked around. In her eyes, several spirits were struggling to escape from the academy.
She sighed and went down to business.
“Let’s get started.”
Julia sat with her legs crossed in front of three students. They were the three kids, including Thaldin, who spoke to Julia.
As the three students regarded her with caution, Julia gently raised one hand to the desk and tapped a finger.
They all turned their eyes towards the metronome-like tapping. Then, with a slight smile on her lips, she spoke.
“This will only be a preliminary investigation. I’m older than you so… it’s fine if I speak casually, right?”
“Pardon? Ah… P-please go ahead.”
This wasn’t usually how things went between noble children, even if they themselves did not hold titles. They were taught to speak courteously according to rank, but Julia came in and ignored this lightly.
“Thanks. Did you say your name was Thaldin?”
He had no qualms and proceeded to still regard Julia with respect. She stared at them.
“I’d like to hear a bit more from you. You mentioned Leah…”
At the mention of her name, the three teenagers flinched immediately, but Julia continued.
“You said that she didn’t take her own life, but she was devoured. Can you tell me what you meant by this?”
Thaldin stuttered, a thoroughly confused expression on his face. Julia narrowed her eyes.
“Don’t lie. I’m not here to interrogate you, I’m just trying to help you. I don’t have to tell you what I can do—you saw it just now, right?”
Julia Robinharts was a woman who rarely ever appeared in high society, but she was widely known because of her eccentric behavior.
Actually, even though they were only three years apart, what made the gap wider between her and the students was the strange ability she showed earlier.
With an air to her that they had never seen before in their lives, it was a kind of energy that encompassed the room instantly and immediately affected the surrounding atmosphere.
“So answer me now. We’ll solve this case quickly if you do.”
Thaldin hesitated before he answered, making eye contact with the two other students. Then, he slowly began to speak.
“Leah… Leah didn’t kill herself.”
“Why do you think so?”
Just by hearing that her body was found hanging by the neck in a locked room, a chair on the side—all the signs pointed to suicide.
Since it was a death involving a locked door, there were no other doubts about this. And there had been many cases of suicide recently as well, so Leah Kalia’s death naturally pointed towards this conclusion.
But Thaldin continued to insist that this wasn’t true, and so Julia stroked her chin. Thaldin bit his lips before he spoke again.
“…She became food.”
“…Can you explain?”
Thaldin took in a deep breath and spoke a little at a time.
“We don’t know the details. We only heard the rules first.”
“What kind of rules?”
“…What we must do after the Resurrection.”
Thaldin looked her in the eyes and had a serious look.
“We had to feed them with food.”
“Is it literal food or an animal…”
Thaldin shook his head, now more calm. With her head tilted to the side as she looked at the student, she had a grim look when she slowly rose from her seat.
He could only nod. Julia’s eyes turned vicious.
“…Explain again. One by one. Where did you first hear about this ritual? Who introduced it to you? What are the rules? What are the side effects? Explain everything.”
An understated energy rose. Her ferocious anger naturally stirred her energy, filling the entire room.
Thaldin gulped and slowly explained.
Resurrection. It was a forbidden act of bringing the dead out of their realm and giving them back the breath of life.
It was called ‘Resurrection’ because people said that those who reached the spirits of the dead with this divine power could bring them back from the threshold through the execution of a healing ritual.
But this was a ruse. There was no way for the dead to come back to life.
At some point, even the healing aspect of the ritual was naturally forgotten.
The reason why it was still called ‘Resurrection’ was because it could still call back the dead to this world. However, in general and in such a short amount of time, even shamans found it difficult to bring back spirits and let themselves be possessed.
There was a high risk that they could be devoured, so not many would dare to try this.
As such, people who would attempt to do this were few and far in between. This kind of act contradicted nature and could be considered a crime.
And Julia focused on what made this a crime.
“…So, if you bring back the dead, they’d grant you a wish? The dead. And in exchange for this wish, you have to feed it people. Is that right?”
“Yes, that’s right.”
It was just as horrible as Julia suspected.
“What if you don’t feed it?”
“…It will eat the person who performed the ritual.”
“Is that why you said you’re next?”
“Why you? It could be the two behind you.”
Julia pointed her chin to the two students behind Thaldin, who both flinched. Thaldin nodded.
“That’s possible. But even so, if you don’t feed it, it’ll be your turn next. It’s always been the same.”
Julia was motionless on her seat, a stiff expression on her face. What the hell did they think while doing this?
“Someone introduced me to it.”
Thaldin looked to the side at the other students, but they shook their heads. With a curious gaze, Julia urged Thaldin, who soon opened his lips.
“I don’t remember exactly when, but the person who introduced me to this was the son of a servant who works for my family.”
“Yes. He’s attending another academy, and he told me that it was popular there.”
Julia raised her voice to call someone from outside.
“Is someone there?”
The young man who opened the door had his head bowed. When Julia looked at him, the man introduced himself with a smile.
“I am Baron Gisel. I was told to assist you here, Miss Julia.”
“Send someone to Count Rhodes’ mansion and bring the child Thaldin mentioned. Ask Thaldin for more details.”
Baron Gisel bowed and asked the student, then he went out again. When the door closed, Julia spoke.
“Well then. From what I understand, the curse starts if you can’t complete the ritual. Is that correct?”
“And how do you get rid of the curse? You must have been told about it.”
“…That’s everything I know.”
Thaldin hesitated to answer, and at that, Julia clicked her tongue. As she crossed her legs once more and thought about how she should go about this, Baron Gisel came back through the door.
He was with a boy about the same age as Thaldin.
“I found him running an errand for Young Master Thaldin.”
Then, Thaldin exclaimed, “It’s him! He’s the one who introduced me to that sorcery!”
Julia looked at him, who was perhaps flustered by Thaldin’s sudden yelling. Small and timid, he looked like a typical introverted young man.
“What’s your name?”
Julia murmured as she stared at him. Then suddenly, Thaldin ran forward and yelled loudly, grabbing him by the collar.
“It’s all because of you! Do you know what’s happening to me now because of you?! You damn commoner!!”
“Uh…uaaahh!! I-I’m sorry! I’m sorry!!”
It was pitiful watching him lying flat on the ground and rubbing his palms in front of Thaldin. Julia rose from her seat and pointed towards a chair as she stared at Thaldin.
Thaldin couldn’t resist Julia’s command and just gritted his teeth, turning away from Moro. Julia sighed, raising Moro from the ground and leading him to a chair.
“Let me ask you something, Moro.”
“Pardon? Ah… yes.”
Julia spoke to him calmly, and he answered with a hesitant voice.
“Were you the one who introduced Thaldin to Resurrection?”
“…Yes, that’s right.”
“Where did you learn about it?”
“…A f-friend from another academy taught it to me. It’s popular and… he told me it’ll make my wish come true…”
With this, it was confirmed that another academy truly was connected, so she made a mental note to look into it another time.
“When that friend of yours taught this to you, did he teach you the way to undo the curse?”
As he bit his lips, Moro’s eyes trembled as he looked around, not being able to answer.
Thaldin still glared at Moro with venom shooting out from his eyes. Julia sighed and patted Moro’s head, then leaned forward.
“Can’t you tell me?”
Moro whispered into Julia’s ear quietly. Then, her face stiffened when she heard the answer.
“…Is this true?”
“Yes… That’s what I was told.”
Julia turned back to Baron Gisel with a bewildered look.
“Can you fetch the student from another academy who taught Moro about the ritual?”
Baron Gisel nodded and asked Moro for the name, then he promptly left the room. Julia stared at Thaldin and Moro’s backs as they went out of the room after the two other students. Her gaze was heavy.
‘It really is a curse.’
This wasn’t necromancy. As the students said, it wasn’t done just for fun. This was…
‘The only way out of this ritual is to pass the curse onto someone else.’
Julia’s eyes narrowed. After hearing about the way to lift the curse, Julia became unnerved.
A curse that could only be undone if it was passed on to another person…
It was no different than a curse to kill people.