‘There are witnesses, it’s fortunate.
I’ll torment you for the rest of your life using this incident as an excuse.’

Maybe it’s the greed in my stomach and the dozens of thoughts I’ve been harboring, but being trapped for about a month felt somewhat tolerable, even like a decent deal.

However, Adandito couldn’t control his anger and shouted, but upon discovering my calmness, he lowered his head with a weary expression.

“Siara, how can you be like this…?”

His face seemed as if he was guilty of a crime.
I looked at Adandito with a puzzled expression and shrugged my shoulders.

“You have no reason to apologize.”

“…Is that so?”

“Of course.
Do you feel guilty, thinking that you couldn’t protect me? Anyway, stop pretending to be good when you’re not.”

“…I’m sorry.”

“You don’t have to apologize.”

“No, I have committed an unforgivable sin.”


“It’s a sin that can never be forgiven.
Please never forgive me.”

I didn’t know the reason, but I nodded my head vaguely.

“Yes, I won’t forgive you.”

“…Yes, I will repay the debt for the rest of my life-“

“So, bring back the ring I entrusted to you quickly.
And continue repairing it if it breaks in the future.
Oh, and have my gold ready, too.”

This much acceptance was enough for Adandito.
When I looked at him with a questioning expression, he nodded slowly.
A faint smile appeared on the corner of his lips, which had been bitten down hard as if he had endured a deadly sin.

“Yes, I understand.”

“Alright, that’s settled.
Come here quickly.
Since I don’t know where Dianel will turn, you have to protect me.”

“…Yes, of course!”

Then he swiftly stood by my side.
I felt more assured with him by my side.

‘He doesn’t say anything.’

I glanced at Dianel sneakily.
Although his liveliness was gone, his expression remained unreadable.
I turned my gaze away from him and let out a sigh.
Unintentionally, my true feelings slipped out.

“What kind of situation is this?”

* * *

After Siara disappeared, Astita Mansion plunged back into darkness.
Fortunately, the guests who were present for the festival’s finale were oblivious to what had happened and left, but others remained.

“Siara disappeared…”

Lady Astita fainted, and Count Astita ordered his knights to search for Siara.

Amidst the confusion, news of Therid’s disappearance also reached them.
Fortunately, it was reported that Therid had gone to the royal palace with the Crown Prince, which allowed them to breathe a sigh of relief.
But it wasn’t Siara.
There was no news about her anywhere.

In this situation, the count began to ponder.

‘Why did Prince Dianel come to the mansion?’

Although Therid boasted that the prince came because of him, no one was unaware of the ruthless nature of Prince Dianel.
So, since then, the count had not relaxed for a moment after hearing that the prince had participated in the festival.

However, Dianel was so relaxed that it was incomprehensible why he came to a remote Astita Mansion.
It was not just a matter of being relaxed, but it seemed carefree to the count.

Meanwhile, the prince disappeared without a word before the end of the festival.
On the same day, Therid and Siara also disappeared together.
By chance, according to the words of the stable boy who witnessed them, Therid urgently left the mansion with Siara.

After that, the count closely observed those who remained in the mansion.
There were Adandito and Hierian.
Although they seemed to fight frequently, one day, Adandito left the mansion.
However, Hierian remained and held his ground.

The count purposely approached Hierian and subtly asked him.

“Administrator, you seem to be in a bad mood.”

He had heard from the Izbe ladies that he was the administrator.
Hierian didn’t hide his identity and nodded his head.

“Siara disappeared.”

“Administrator, if you set your mind to it, you can go find her anytime.”

“…No, I can’t go.”

Hierian bowed deeply and murmured in a melancholic voice, 

“Siara will hate it.”

It was puzzling for Hierian, the owner of Mage tower, to cower for the reason that Siara will dislike it. 

“What kind of person could Siara be?” 

The count quietly asked, but Hierian tightly sealed his lips and didn’t answer.
The Count then ordered his subordinates.

“Find out where High Priest Adandito is heading.”

A few days later, the report came that High Priest Adandito was staying in the imperial city and frequently visiting the vicinity of the Northern Palace.
Upon receiving the report, Count Astita took a frustrated breath.

“…If it’s the Northern Palace, isn’t it where the Crown Prince’s residence is?”

The sudden disappearance of the Crown Prince and Siara.
Therid, returned to the knight order without even saying goodbye to his parents.
And now, even High Priest Adandito found his way to the Northern Palace.
Something smelled fishy.
The Count immediately furrowed his brows and spoke.

“Send a letter of visitation to the royal palace.
I have to go and see for myself.”

Hierian, who happened to be nearby the Count, heard the information and raised his head, glancing at the Count.

“You’re going to the royal palace?”

“Yes, that’s right.”

“Well, then I want to go too.”

With an observing gaze, the Count bent his knee and met Hierian’s gaze, asking.

“I heard that you have a bad relationship with High Priest Adandito.
Is it alright? Also, I apologize for my rudeness at that time, taking advantage of this opportunity.”

Count Astita, who had suspected Hierian’s true identity, mentioned the incident involving Dianel.
Hierian shrugged his shoulders and replied.

“Well, it’s fine.
Adandito is there too…”

As Hierian hesitated with his lips, his eyes glanced elsewhere.
It seemed like there was someone he wanted to see besides Adandito.
The Count already knew who Hierian had spent time with during the festival.
He asked with a composed voice.

“Is Siara also there?”

“…I don’t know.”

“Then, do you want to see her?”

Instead of answering, Hierian nodded.
The Count, instead of prying further, stood up and said.

“If you go together, it would be an honor for me.”

At that moment, Hierian’s head jerked up.


“Of course.
Besides, if you want to, you can visit the royal palace anytime, right?”

“Of course, I can.”

“But why do you want to go with me?”

“I can’t go alone without a reason.”

With that, Hierian shrugged his shoulders.
It was a self-assured tone that asked when he had ever looked gloomy.

“You can’t go to the royal palace without a reason.”

* * *

After that, Dianel took me to a separate palace in the Northern Palace.
Unlike the tower, the separate palace was ordinary.

‘It’s far from ordinary considering it’s in the royal palace.’

Even so, compared to the tower located in the Forest of Evil, where monsters howled every day, it was relatively normal.

The number of people allowed to enter and exit the palace seemed to be strictly controlled, as the personnel moving in the separate palace were limited.
However, he didn’t bother to restrict my movements.
He simply informed me of the essential facts.

“A letter from Siara has arrived at the Astita mansion.
It seems Count Astita will visit the royal palace soon.
Until then, how about staying here and resting? You are free to move around, but be aware that you might attract the attention of others if you go too far.”

His excessively polite and considerate tone was not something I could get used to.
Every time he used honorifics, it was clear as day that I frowned.
However, even when he saw my reaction, Dianel behaved as if nothing happened.
Moreover, he didn’t stop Adandito from staying around me.

“If it gives you peace of mind to have him by your side, then let it be.”

“What if I tell him to leave?”

“I will send him away immediately.”

Seeing the sincerity in his eyes, it seemed he was ready to send him away if I asked.

“No, never mind.”

I gave a vague answer and fell into my thoughts.

“Anyway, it’s better to stay in the royal palace for a while since Father is coming.”

I was worried about my mother, but seeing my father leave the mansion, it seemed like nothing major had happened.
Still, I couldn’t completely shake off my concerns.
While I was contemplating, Dianel added as if he knew exactly why I was worried.

“Several members of the royal council went to the mansion with letters, so you can rest assured about Lady Astita’s health.”

I almost blurted out, “What’s wrong with you? Did you eat something bad?” But I swallowed my words, not wanting to provoke Dianel, who had inexplicably become docile. 

As I remained silent, Dianel excused himself and left the room.
I turned my head and noticed that Adandito had appeared beside me.
Since the incident where I was trapped in the tower, Adandito had stuck to me like sticky rice cake.

Without saying a word, I looked at him as he casually sipped his tea and asked, 

“Has he suddenly become strange?”

Adandito placed the teacup down with a loud noise and replied, 

“He was always strange.”

“…That’s true.”

“He’s a dangerous person.
Always be careful.
Once Count Astita arrives at the palace, I will make arrangements for us to leave immediately.”

‘You’re not exactly innocent either.’

I swallowed the rising thoughts and said, 

“Okay, let’s do that.
But can you afford to leave the temple vacant for so long?”

Adandito calmly responded, 

“I am performing my duties.”

“It seems like you’re just slacking off.”

“What could be more important than protecting Lady Siara?”

“Well, you’re good with words.”

Although I criticized him, spending time with Adandito didn’t feel awkward at all. 

‘Being alone can be boring.’

Besides, Adandito moved like an extension of my limbs.
There was no reason to drive him away. 

And so, peaceful days passed by in their way.

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