Chapter 24 – Curse (8)
As Julia lay in bed in exhaustion, she recalled the distorted face of the priest as he glared at her.
He had clicked his tongue as he passed by Julia, refuting her words very strongly.
‘I understand what you’re saying, Lady Julia. But if we don’t know how to solve the curse, please note that we will be left with no choice in the end.’
The choice he mentioned was unpleasant and absurd to Julia, but for them, it was nothing. The priests prioritized the eradication of anything that harmed humans.
Whether it was a malevolent spirit, or a ghost crying in pain.
Julia frowned as she remembered this, then closed her eyes. The exhaustion she was feeling weighed heavily down on her whole body because of the meeting they had that had run late into the night.
Eventually, her consciousness was pulled below the surface, and she soon fell asleep.
After some time, Julia opened her eyes and rubbed them as she looked around her dark surroundings. She rarely woke up at dawn, but her eyes naturally opened because there were many things that were bothering her.
Because she didn’t know what time it was exactly, she went towards the door as she rolled her neck. The dark hallway beyond the door was dimly lit by candles, barely driving our complete darkness.
She closed the door behind her and walked down the hallway. Out the window, she could still see the spirits that continued to hover in the air.
“But what’s the answer?”
Life, the reason people live, the hope that there was a place to belong to and the promise of the next life. But why must they suffer?
They hovered in the air, crying as they wished for rest.
Julia wanted to ask if there was truly a god watching. What did they want from humans? Why must the afterlife be divided? Because there were no clear rules, Julia wanted to ask what the answer truly was to all of this.
Julia closed her eyes and put both of her hands together over her stomach.
“Oh, dear god, I implore you…”
She herself didn’t know which god she was calling. Numerous gods existed, and there were many who had passed through Julia’s body. However, Julia did not make a wish for them to grant.
Just as the priests prayed to their god, just as the masses looked for a god, she also prayed to one.
Who was it who could soothe the souls who have yet to pass on in this sad abyss? No matter how much she’d step over and dance on straw cutter blades to perform an exorcism, no matter how many times she would hold memorial services to appease them… There was no way to help the dead as long as they still had grudges.
“For what purpose…”
Tears flowed down from her eyes. If human death evoked desperation and was regarded as something important, the extinction of souls was the same for her. They would also be gone for good.
To Julia, there was no difference between human beings and souls. It was just that one was dead and the other was alive, but each of them were precious to her.
A low sigh escaped her lips, and the puff of breath was visible due to her cold surroundings.
As she stood alone in the cold, Julia gently closed her eyes. That brittle coldness seeped into her through her clothes.
It was the same on that day—the day when she had to pay the price for a god’s contempt. It was also very cold that day.
The God of Seasons was the one who brought her to death. And it was Crone who gave her new life.
Julia gently bit her lips and recalled the memory of that day. The God of Seasons who fell to the floor as he suffered. And, his rage went straight to her.
At the terrible pain that came to mind, Julia hurriedly opened her eyes as she also felt the prickling cold on the tip of her nose.
And in front of her was Leo, as though he had been waiting.
“What are you doing here?”
Leo lifted the blanket in his arms and covered her shoulders. She was warm now, like she was in someone’s arms.
“It’s freezing, but you’re dressed so lightly. I brought this because I’m worried.”
Was it because her cheeks reminded her of the temperature that she moved roughly? Julia glanced down at the blanket on her shoulder.
“How did you know I was here?”
“I just happened to see you.”
Happened to? She heard nothing from the dark hallway. What did it mean that he saw her by chance? Julia’s gaze became complicated.
To relieve the flash of emotions passing though Julia’s eyes, Leo opened his lips to speak.
“I couldn’t sleep because I had much to do, and I felt a presence, so I came out. And I saw that it was you, Julia.”
As soon as she nodded, Leo went to her side, and looked up to see what she was staring at.
It was just the sky with numerous stars—beautiful stars and faraway galaxies that filled the sky that was like a river.
Leo burst into laughter.
“What is it?”
Julia looked at him with a puzzled expression, but Leo only smiled and shook his head, pushing his red lips up.
“Because it’s amazing.”
“There were also many times in the past when we looked up the sky like this.”
As Julia looked up at him, Leo shifted his gaze from the sky and stared at her.
Even in the dark, his eyes resembled the sky.
Us? Julia looked at him in confusion. But Leo simply continued to smile.
“Why can’t you remember? Why didn’t you recognize me? Why did you forget? There’s a lot of things I want to ask, Julia.”
She couldn’t think of anything to answer, so she kept silent. Leo wasn’t expecting an answer from her either.
“What should I say for you to understand? For you to believe? What actions must I take so that you’ll remember me?”
Julia furrowed her brows and spoke quietly.
“Did we know each other?”
Leo looked into her red eyes, and his blue eyes calmed her heart like water extinguishing a blazing fire.
“I wonder if I should tell you.”
Julia. As she raised her head, he leaned forward towards the voice that was like a song to his ears. Julia held her breath as he approached.
Leo’s eyes, lips, even his breath. Everything overwhelmed her. Julia couldn’t even breathe properly because his eyes were focused so completely on her.
“Who are you to me…?”
“Why… Why did you say that to me…”
Leo could only see Julia.
The smile she had, that just like her face resembled the sun and shone so brightly—she always made Leo happy. And as he recalled that smile, there was a little girl caught at the edge of his reminiscence.
“I’ve been waiting for a long time.”
“Could I wait a little more, I wonder…”
“What are you talking about?”
When Julia asked this with her face heavily flushed, Leo looked at her seriously.
And Julia’s own expression hardened at this.
The cold wind was no longer important. It was not cold anymore.
“…dy, Milady. Lady Julia!”
“Oh… Huh? What is it?”
“No matter how many times I called you, you didn’t answer.”
Patrick glanced at her worriedly, and Julia forced herself to smile, shaking her head. She looked down at the documents he handed to her.
But Patrick was still staring at her. Perplexed, Patrick just shook his head as well.
“…Just what is going on?”
After lunch, she sought out the priests. There was no mention of them going on the move, but just them being here made her anxious.
As Julia stood in front of the door, about to knock, she heard a voice from inside.
“…That’s not what’s important. Is it true—about the black magician?”
“According to the Lady’s claim, a black magician intervened.”
“They’re gone, but their traces are still here.”
Julia froze as she listened to them. Then, she grabbed the doorknob and twisted it open, going inside at once.
“Aren’t I the Lady you’re talking about?”
Julia casually greeted the old priest Seren, then her eyes turned and looked at the middle-aged man.
“I had something to say, so I came here… But it seems there’s another guest.”
When Seren turned to the man, the man smiled and greeted in return.
“My name is Horbeloix.”
“Nice to meet you. I am Julia Robinharts.”
When the two shook hands briefly, Seren smiled and explained.
“He was dispatched from the Royal Palace.”
“Is that so? Then you’re…”
Horbeloix smiled and opened his mouth to speak.
“I’m a court mage.”
At the unexpected answer, Julia was surprised, but Horbeloix continued speaking.
“Yes. I’m here to solve the problem in the academy under the orders of His Highness.”
“Solve it… how…?”
Julia looked at him perplexedly then turned to Seren, who slowly opened his lips.
“We’re going to perform a Sanctuary.”
At these words, Julia’s expression hardened coldly.