In a bedroom illuminated as bright as midday in the deep night, the sisters Ashley and Riott were present.
The two sisters were receiving nail treatments while listening to a report from their subordinates.


“Just now, His Excellency Dianel, who had gone outside the mansion, has returned.
We have also confirmed the return of the administrator and the high priest.”

“What about Siara?”

“They returned together.”

Riott looked at her red-painted nails and then turned to Ashley.

“What do you think, sister?”

Ashley examined her nails, which were tinted white and stroked her chin.

“They seem quite close, don’t they?”

“Yeah.
Can that Siara girl even be a member of the subjugation force? Or is there something else?”

“Well….”

Ashley stretched her words as if lost in thought, and Riott shrugged her shoulders.

“Well, what does it matter? Anyway, she’s probably not as pretty as us.
Right?”

Riott gestured to her subordinate, demanding an answer.
For a moment, the subordinate, lost in thought, stumbled over his words.

“…Uh, yes, that’s correct.”

Quick-witted Ashley immediately raised her eyebrows.

“She must have a somewhat ambiguous face, huh?”

“Sis! There’s no way someone with an uncertain status can be prettier than us.”

“You never know, Riott.”

“That’s impossible! Absolutely impossible!”

Riott’s outburst was not entirely incorrect.
The Izbe noble family boasted dazzling beauty, regardless of whether they were male or female, thanks to the power inherited from the elves.

Even Ashley’s power was “Purity,” and Riott’s power was “Radiance.” They possessed the most powerful beauty among the powers of the elves.
They were so beautiful that it was said that flowers would wither just by their laughter, with even lament-filled lyrics.


But for an unknown woman to be more beautiful than them? Riott, who was convinced that it couldn’t be true, shouted in frustration.

“It’s getting on my nerves.
Why are we investigating that Siara girl? I’d rather go see His Excellency Dianel at a time like this.”

Upon hearing this, composed Ashley also shouted.

“Just now, the subordinate saw His Excellency Dianel return with that girl!”

“And you, sis.
They said Adantito and Hierian were also with them.
It seems our guess was right; they were likely members of the same subjugation force.
So maybe they had something to discuss briefly.”

“That makes me feel uncomfortable.”

Ashley furrowed her brow.
Riott, looking at Ashley in distress, bluntly said.

“That’s when she won’t be as pretty.”

“…!”

Ashley wrapped her chin with both hands and hurriedly ran to the mirror.
She then called for a group of palace maids, creating a commotion by ordering hot massages and redoing her nails.
While Riott was in chaos, lost in her thoughts.

“Was she really a member of the subjugation force?”

The subjugation force had been entrusted with the task.
Crown Prince Dianel, Administrator Hierian, and High Priest Adantito, who was a candidate for the Deputy Minister.
They were all powerful individuals whom no one could object to.
So, if people were accompanying them, they had to be individuals who were at their level.

‘Is that Siara girl really that amazing?’

Riott had heard the Astita’s attendants say that Siara was more beautiful than anyone else at the reception hall.
But she dismissed their words, thinking that they were all old-fashioned.

But even the attendants who had seen countless outstanding men and women while working for the Izbe noble family were shuddering in her presence.

‘I can’t believe I don’t know such a beautiful girl.…’

After contemplating, Riott gave an order to her subordinate.

“You! Go and capture Siara’s face with the image stone.”

The image stone was a very expensive item, but the Izbe family provided their subordinates with image stones the size of a fingernail, so they could record important information when needed. 

Therefore, if they just sneaked into Siara’s bedroom and captured the image, it should have been straightforward.
However, strangely, the subordinate hesitated.
Seeing his hesitation, Riott spoke up.


“Why are you acting so hesitant?”

“That’s because… it’s impossible to approach her bedroom.”

“Why?”

“Hierian seems to have set up a barrier.
Moreover, last time, didn’t the person following him lose consciousness and collapse?”

In other words, they couldn’t move carelessly because it could pose a threat to their safety.
It wasn’t a problem with their abilities.

‘They are too strong.’

No matter who it was, it would be impossible to contend with the administrator and the high priest.

Riott sighed in frustration and said, 

“There’s nothing we can do.
Take the image discreetly, even if it takes a long time.”

The subordinate nodded and left the room.
After half a day passed, the sisters received an image stone capturing the appearance of Siara.
As they watched the image of Siara, the two sisters exchanged peculiar glances.

* * *

Being cooped up in the room during the festival was quite boring.
Although I occasionally went out, there were so many people in the mansion that it was risky.
As a result, I ended up staying in the room during the day and only going out at night.
And it was the same now.

Thanks to that, I could take naps and have meals without much disturbance, but being idle for several days was tiresome.
I gazed absentmindedly out the window, lost in thought.

“I want to go out, bask in the sunlight, and socialize with people.”

Hierian was also hiding in case anyone recognized him.
He lay on the pillow and rolled around before suddenly asking me.

“Sister, would you like to go out with me?”

“We can’t wander around in the mansion.”

“We can go to the city.”

“Hmm, the city…”

I wasn’t particularly enthusiastic about going out since I had already roamed the city a lot before the festival, but staying in the room all the time wasn’t pleasant either.
After considering it, I nodded.


“Alright, let’s go.”

So we headed straight to the city.

* * *

The city, which I hadn’t visited in a long time, was even more bustling than before the festival.
I wanted to rest a bit after wandering around, but it was even hard to find a place to sit for a moment.

‘Last time, there weren’t even half as many people.’

It was probably due to the reputation of Crown Prince Dianel, but Adantito’s appearance had also drawn a lot of attention.
The rumor that he granted blessings without any cost had spread to the capital as well.

One way or another, I quickly grew tired of the crowd.
However, unlike me, Hierian seemed full of energy.
Fortunately, he wasn’t completely oblivious, so he noticed that I was tired and looked around.
Then he pointed to a ticket booth.

“Shall we go see that?”

The ticket booth displayed a picture of a bizarre clown face that I had seen before.
It seemed to be a creepy play for the summer.

‘Can children watch something like this?’

I glanced at Hierian’s expression.

Despite my worries, Hierian looked full of anticipation.
His pupils were fixed on the hammer depicted in the corner of the ticket booth.

“It looks like there will be a hammer.
Will they hit people on the head with it? Then their brains will splatter…”

As he blushed and mumbled, it seemed that Hierian wanted to see that play.
Since I also wanted to rest for a while, it didn’t seem like a bad idea.
In the end, I nodded.

“Alright, let’s go watch it.”

Luckily, we were able to get tickets for the play that was about to start.
As soon as we sat down, the lights in the temporary tented theater went out.
A performer wearing a clown mask appeared amidst the black and red curtains.

“Uh-hee, uh-hee, uh-hee-hee-hee! Did you all come here to be my prey?”

With a faint greeting, even the dim light on the stage flickered black.
The rest of the play was ordinary.

It was a story about a boy who suffered from domestic violence and ended up going crazy, killing his family, and living with a mask on his face. 

If it were in South Korea, there would have been age restrictions, but here, even young children could watch such a play without any limits.
As a result, there were occasional gasps from children accompanying their parents.
I couldn’t help but worry and glanced at Hierian.


‘I wonder if it’s a bit scary for him considering his deteriorating mental state.’

Contrary to my concerns, he didn’t react strangely at all.
The popcorn container in front of Hierian was still about half empty.

‘He emptied half of it before the play started, is he full now?’

I tried to focus on the play again, but a question suddenly came to my mind.

‘Wait, did Hierian leave some popcorn?’

Before the play began, he had been whining about wanting caramel-flavored popcorn.
Finally, he managed to grab a whole container of popcorn and continued eating it while holding it in his arms until the lights went out.
At that pace, the popcorn container should have been empty before the early stages of the play were over.

However, at some point, Hierian stopped reaching for the popcorn and left it untouched.
If he had been engrossed in the play, he should have leaned forward and concentrated.
But now, he seemed as if he had fallen asleep.

I lowered my head slightly and examined Hierian’s face closely.

“Hie, are you having fun?”

“… “

“Hie?”

When I gently shook his shoulder, his body leaned to the side.
Upon closer observation, it was clear that he had fallen asleep.

‘Why did he fall asleep?’

Something felt suspicious.

‘Maybe he’s not asleep.’

Just as the play reached its climax and the protagonist with the clown mask started wielding a knife with laughter, the stage lights repeatedly turned on and off, creating a chaotic spectacle.
Children burst into tears, and parents were busy trying to console them, completely distracted.
Seizing the opportunity, I carried Hierian and headed toward the exit.

As we were about to leave the theater, a confident voice reached us from nearby.

“Hello?”

A woman with flamboyant, high-tied red hair that seemed to blind the eyes was wearing a clown mask from the play.

Oddly enough, she remained silent.

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