“Something a little…
Simon arrived at the Imperial Palace early in the morning and couldn’t help but feel something was off. After the demonstration at the Academy which had lasted until late last night, he fell asleep and woke up at dawn to join the President, who had requested his and the rest of the wizard’s presence.
for a meal. He arrived at the palace using a teleportation magic circle, dragging countless half-asleep wizards behind him….
[30 minutes later.]
He stopped by the tower to place down his luggage and came out with the business trip report.
With a strange sense of incongruity, he headed towards the Crown Prince’s palace. There were a few people who greeted and welcomed him back from his business trip but their gaze on Simon was strange somehow.
It almost seemed as if they were avoiding eye contact.The entire palace was blanketed in an unnaturally still silence. The few maids and guards whom he passed all avoided his eyes.
Even the Chief of Staff was no different.
Not even a baby ant was seen in passing as he walked through the palace corridors.
Simon struggled to identify possible threats as his unease grew. However, now matter how much he thought about it, he couldn’t pinpoint any possible reasons for the discomforting atmosphere. The abnormal treatment was off putting; it was an invisible but stinging feeling, as if a tiny thorn was stuck between his fingers.
“I’m here to report, Your Highness.”
As usual, Raymond was in his office handling a mountain-high pile of documents. Looking up to see his cousin who’d returned from his business trip in a suit, Raymond’s face stiffened for a moment before he adjusted his expression to a bright smile to greet him.
I’ve been waiting,” he got up and embraced Simon, patting him on the back a few times.
The touch wasn’t the same as usual though.
It was stiff and trembling slightly.
Simon looked at the prince, wrinkles forming between his eyebrows, commenting, “…..everyone’s weird today.”
“Everyone is just… strange.
When they see me, it’s as if they saw a monster (1) and are too busy cringing in fear to meet my gaze.
You are also….
acting strange,” Simon’s golden eyes looked deeply into the prince’s sky-blue ones.
“That’s strange,” Raymond smiled and closed his eyes.
He called the maid for a cup of cold tea, trying to naturally avoid Simon’s statement.
Simon watched Raymond suspiciously but soon placed his report on his desk. The maid came in with cold chamomile tea. Up to this point, Simon had been silently studying the Crown Prince.
“Come and have a drink,” Raymond broke the silence.
Seeing the chamomile Raymond had, Simon couldn’t help but inadvertently mutter to himself, “I seemed to have received these kind of tea leaves from Kalia before.
Is it fate?”
At Simon’s words, Raymond, who was sipping the tea and enjoying the herbal aroma, stopped abruptly.
The chamomile he was drinking almost came out of his nose.
With a cough, he wiped his mouth, sighed briefly and set down the cup. His hands were sweaty.
Raymond had been worrying about the arrival of the returning wizards since yesterday precisely because of this moment; the magic circle had been strengthened since yesterday but he was unsure if it could withstand what he predicted was about to come next.
The smile slowly faded from Raymond’s expression as he looked at Simon.
With a more serious than normal look, he grabbed Simon and said, “Listen Simon.”
“….” Simon’s golden eyes silently prompted Raymond to continue.
“Kalia’s gone,” Raymond forged on in a dry voice.
The normal straight face changed into one lined with fine wrinkles between his brows. Simon looked at Raymond with an expression on his face as if he had heard something strange. His head lowered slightly.
“What did you just say?” His voice came out emotionless, and almost trance-like.
Raymond slowly closed and opened his eyes, all while silently chanting God’s name in his heart. He let out a breath before replying, “Kalia left just yesterday.”
I don’t know.”
“No one knows where she went,” He replied tentatively, never imagining that the day would come where he would have to say this kind of thing. Raymond forcibly made eye contact with Simon all the while chewing the flesh in his mouth.
Simon paused as if he had blanked for a moment before asking again in a repressed voice, “What do you mean Raymond?”
‘Kalia left? You let her leave without knowing where she was going?’
Simon then recounted the words that Raymond had chosen to use. He did not say ‘she went on a trip’ nor did he say ‘she went on a vacation’.
His precise words were ‘she left’. Simon’s face was now void of any expression.
Even the slightest emotion had long disappeared from his face.
His face chilled into cold stillness but hints of tiredness couldn’t be hidden.
The only indication of his unease was the clenching and unclenching of his fists. This little habit of his developed as a result of watching someone else’s habits for a long time.
‘Leaving? Who? Kalia? She left? Why.….?’
At first, he thought it was a bad joke.
Then, he thought it was a ridiculous joke. He even got angry at Raymond, repeatedly asking him, “Why are you playing such a bad joke?”
But no matter what he said, Raymond’s mouth never opened to say, ‘Ha.
Too bad you weren’t fooled.
In fact, there is no such thing as ‘Kalia left’; she's still waiting for you. Rather, he continued to persuade Simon with his silence, simply looking at him with a steady and unwavering expression.
There were no signs of a joke in his tight pursed lips or stiff shoulders. The atmosphere became so serious that Simon felt suffocated.
The moment he realized that the silence meant he was sincere, Simon’s heart plummeted to the floor.
The heart that had hit the ground started bouncing around wildly as it was a salmon out of water, jumping around trying to live and breath. Taking a few breaths in didn’t help to calm it down.
Instead, the pain only intensified.
“Do not lie to me.
There is no reason for Kalia to leave.”
“I’d love to believe that too but it seemed as if she had a ‘reason’ for leaving that I don’t know about.”
Jokes like this aren’t funny,” He vehemently tried to deny it. He jumped out of his seat agitated and turned away from Raymond’s grave face; reality hit him.
“Damn it, stop! What a terrible joke!”
Boom! Boom! Clang!
The teapot on the table exploded under the immense pressure of the sudden wave of uncontrollable magic. Several decorations in the room were destroyed to the atom and disintegrated into the current kicked up by the burst of mana.
To the naked eye, they all simply vanished into thin air.
Despite the raging mana storm around him, Raymond tried to remain calm. In fact, he expected this much.
“If you don’t believe me…”
Simon had to accept it quickly. The faster he did, the faster he could go find her.
Raymond stood up and opened the door for his angry cousin.
Pointing at the open door with his chin, he said, “You can go and confirm if for yourself.”
Despite denying all of Raymond’s words, Simon still ran with all his might. Though he was so perplexed and surprised to the point he felt like he couldn’t properly use his teleportation magic to move about quickly, he continued to try and deny everything.
‘This is ridiculous.
Kalia left? That can’t be true, right? Why would she do this without telling me?’
Though he was in denial, his heart already knew that Raymond’s words were not false.
The subtly different air in the imperial palace today.
The numerous pairs of eyes that darted wildly to avoid his gaze when he glanced their way.
The tilts and shaking of their heads, as if they were gossiping about her absence.
The voice inside his head whispered that all of Raymond’s ridiculous statements were true.
‘No no no.
This can’t be.’ Simon vehemently returned that voice’s words with lies.
This was absolutely not happening.
All of Raymond’s were a lie and he was only caught up in a bad joke. However, no matter what he was telling himself, the pace of his running feet did not change and his face whitened in his urgency.
His chin tipped down as he ran out of breath.
Gasping for air, his inner turmoil continued, 'Where did Kalia go after she left! She's supposed to be here! Where, where'd she go…!'
It felt like his lungs were going to be torn in two from the splitting pain.
‘Why? Why the hell Kalia? Why why why?!’
The soles of his feet were hot to the point of scalding.
‘……Why did you leave me.’
This was the first time he was running so desperately in his life.
As he approached Kalia’s mansion, he gazed up at it with a distorted face. This was the first mansion she was bestowed. Kalia had wished her house to be noisy and lively and had hired a bunch of employees. Though her expression seemed a bit lonely, she had casually told him how nice it would be if there was someone to welcome her home everytime and to greet her at any time.
'Please be there.
You’re still here.
Even when Kalia’s arm fell off during the Battle of Nuhakon, he wasn’t this scared. Despite the many times he saw Kalia bloodied or injured on the frontlines, he had never been as desperate as he was now. It was because back then, she was there in front of him and in his arms; he was confident in his skills to heal her.
Even if she was heavily injured, he was willing to squeeze out every last drop of his mana to save her.
“But this isn’t it…
Madness gleamed within Simon’s eyes. He was running like a lost madman, his elegant silver hair extremely messy and scattered. Any fool could guess just by looking at his reckless and uncoordinated movement how dazed and panicked he was.
‘Kalia, Kalia!’ he repeated in his heart as if he were reciting a mantra. He couldn't even remember how he got to Kalia's mansion. Heart dripping with desperation, he arrived at the mansion’s front door and gripped the cold handle of the firmly closed door.
The solid door easily gave way and opened beneath his strength.
For a moment, he felt a rush of belief that the door was not locked but that quickly faded away when he realized that Kalia’s mansion, which was usually bustling from the amount of more-than-necessary employees, was overly quiet.
He broke out in a cold sweat and his heart tightened painfully at how horrifyingly silent it was.
It was a chillful and sorrowful stillness that enveloped him. His instincts screamed hastily at him, trying to prevent him from heartbreak.
Don’t go inside the mansion.
You will only encounter despair.
Run away now.
'No, I never run away.'
Gritting his teeth, Simon ran up to the second floor where Kalia usually stayed, screaming, “Kalia! Kalia, damn it! Come out now, Kalia!”
Sweat formed all over his neat forehead. When his screams weren't answered, his heart sank with a thump. He opened Kalia’s door without permission; it was a rude gesture that he would never normally do. However, to his dismay, the usual warm space that greeted him was empty and only cold emptiness welcomed him.
“….Kalia! Come out! If you don’t want to see me go crazy, come out!” He barrelled through the room, searching it like a madman.
In his storm of grief, the curtains were torn off and parts of the ceiling were ripped. Under the bed.
Anything on the walls.
Everything was turned upside down in the frenzied rampage.
“Come out! Come out before I break everything.
Kalia! Damn it! Come out.
Please! Before I destroy the Empire, come out!”
When the search through her room came up empty, he tore through her place, leaving a trail of broken doors in his wake.
The gardens didn’t escape unscathed either.
Unable to control his power, one of them was blown up and scorched dry. However, no matter how he threatened, the only response Simon got were the echoes of his own destruction and cries, leaving him in deep sorrow and anger.
Kalia,” he repeated her name again and again as if his pleas would summon his beloved to him.
'Did you really leave? So suddenly like this? Without even saying anything to me?'
By the time his frantic actions had calmed down a bit, the mansion and Simon's heart were both in ruins . Simon staggered to Kalia’s broken bed like a man who had lost all his strength. He laid there, face down in the mess of her sheets and desperately grabbed onto the faint scent of Kalia.
Her scent overpowered his senses and it overwhelmed him; for a moment he felt suffocated from shortness of breath.
Simon grabbed the ragged bedsheet and screamed his pain into it. The heart-wrenching sound, filled with endless despair, was like the cry of a beast; it rang and echoed throughout the empty mansion.
He held his breath for a long time with clenched teeth.
This kind of joke really isn’t funny,” he whispered weakly but earnestly into her scent with closed eyes.
However, no matter how long he waited, no matter how long he whispered…..
Kalia’s voice did not answer his pleas.
The very next day, Kalia’s butler, Jacob, paid him a visit.
In his hands, he was holding a letter from her.
(1) This sentence was a bit harder to translate.
In the raws, it said eagle but….
How does that make sense? So I changed it to monster….
(2) It’s implied that it’s Kalia’s habit and Simon inherently picked it up after watching her for so long.
(3) Raymond was expecting this sort of reaction from Simon.
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