After a confusing meal, the Astita Mansion was turned upside down. It was because their master ordered them to address the unknown woman as ‘Miss’. Even the person being called ‘Miss’ seemed familiar with that title.
At this point, the servants began to suspect whether she was the hidden child of the mistress.
“You mean her. Doesn’t she resemble the mistress a lot?”
“If she only resembled the mistress, I would think she is another child of the mistress. But her facial features closely resemble the master.”
“Yeah, that’s right. She seems like someone from the Astita family… Maybe a distant relative?”
“But did you all hear? She went to the room the maidservant had prepared for her on her own. Like she already knew.”
“Well, that’s a bit creepy.”
As they exchanged ghostly stories, they swallowed their saliva nervously, as if they had agreed.
“It’s a bit eerie.”
Behind them, their shadows grew longer. A servant who sensed something strange turned around and screamed.
Everyone turned their heads at the sudden scream. Therid was standing there. The gathered servants looked at him with widened eyes.
“Yes, young master?”
“Yeah, I was just telling an interesting story.”
The servants swallowed their saliva. They glanced at Therid, unsure of how to respond. The woman of unknown identity was being treated as a young lady following the Countess’ orders. Therid couldn’t figure out how to handle the situation because he didn’t consider her part of the family.
Frowning, Therid looked at the hesitant servants. He had a feeling that even the way they rolled their eyes seemed suspicious. Therid approached them with a subtle smile.
“That girl is pretending to be a young lady without knowing the subject.”
The servants didn’t know how to respond and looked to Therid for guidance. Although the woman was referred to as a young lady according to the Countess’s orders, Therid didn’t feel like she belonged to the Astita family. Not to mention that even the servants were talking about the family’s matters behind her back, which made him uncomfortable.
It wasn’t that they didn’t understand them. There were many noble families in the Empire who possessed the power of fairies, and among them, a few resembled the Astita characteristics. It wasn’t strange, no, it was weird, but Therid rationalized it this way.
‘She’s obviously a swindler trying to take advantage of Mother.’
From the beginning, Therid didn’t care about Siara’s identity. He had no intention of letting her into the Astita family.
Therid looked at the servants who were chattering among themselves with stern eyes.
“Be careful with what you say. If this matter leaks outside, there will be consequences.”
“Yes, yes. Of course.”
The servants instinctively kept their distance, sensing Therid’s future authority. Therid turned around without changing his expression. However, the look in his eyes remained displeased.
‘I want to kick her out right away, but Mother’s madness seems to be cured as soon as she meets that girl.’
Since the woman appeared, his Mother’s symptoms had disappeared. Her habits of wandering around the mansion all night and muttering to the air, as well as staying locked in her room without eating for days while crying, had all stopped.
Even the doctors they hired couldn’t cure her symptoms. When everyone was tired of the repetitive routine for three years, Siara appeared like a miracle, and his Mother’s symptoms vanished. His father didn’t want to miss this opportunity.
‘I don’t care what her intentions are. She might truly be being guided by fairies. But no matter what, I won’t accept it.’
‘Do you have a way to make your mother better?’
‘Therid, think about your mother three years ago. She smiled as she used to today. That’s enough for me.’
At that time, his father’s will was firm, but Therid still didn’t yield. He couldn’t overlook the sight of an unknown woman freely roaming around the house.
‘Let’s prepare in advance.’
She might have the upper hand with his mother on her back for now, but there was no telling how far she would go remained to be seen. But first, he needed to show her a lesson.
‘If you thought being Astita was going to be easy, you’re wrong.’
Therid’s mouth curved up in a mischievous smile, as he entertained an interesting thought.
* * *
With the yellowish wall, a canopy that reached down to the floor, and a soft carpet laid out, except for personal belongings, my room was the same as before I left for the expedition. I looked around with a satisfied expression and then plopped down on the bed.
“…Ah, it’s comfortable.”
The beds in the temple and the mausoleum were all top-notch, but they couldn’t compare to my room. I lay comfortably buried in the bed, enjoying the scent of the bedding, which had been dried in the sunlight. It was a comforting fragrance as if rewarding me for all the hardships I had endured.
‘I don’t want to do anything more intense.’
As I lay there, almost like a melting slime buried in the blanket,
An annoying voice accompanied the knock.
Me? Who’s there?
I realized it was Therid by his voice, but I pursed my lips and didn’t respond. It seemed like he had come to say something to set the mood, but I didn’t want to give up the long-awaited rest because of him. I completely ignored him. Despite that, the knocking continued.
Knock, knock, knock!
“Is anyone there?”
I closed my eyes, ignoring whatever he said. The sunlight was warm and the wind was cool. Sleep was drifting in.
I closed my eyes, listening to the knocking sound spreading like a lullaby.
Knock, knock, knock!
Knock, knock, knock!
After a long series of knocks, a weary voice came through.
“Hey, didn’t they say she’s in the room?”
“Yes, I didn’t see her coming out.”
“But why isn’t she responding?”
“Maybe she’s sleeping? I’ll go in and check for myself.”
“…Never mind. I’ll come back later.”
The conversation ended, and the sound of footsteps faded away. I fell into a deep sleep, smiling like a satiated predator.
* * *
Hierian finished his work and returned to the restricted area for the non-administrators. His hands were full of snacks, a board, and puzzles to enjoy with Siara. He had prepared everything so that Siara wouldn’t get bored.
Finally entering the restricted area, Hierian shouted with a cheerful voice.
“Siara, you’ve been waiting a long time, haven’t you?”
However, the inside of the restricted area was unusually quiet. Sensing that something was wrong, Hierian immediately used detection magic. Magical power spread out in all directions, searching for Siara’s trace.
But there was no sign of Siara anywhere. Hierian immediately left the restricted area and went down to the lower floor.
The teleportation devices connected to the top floor were all closed. There was no evidence of anyone having used them. So if Siara had disappeared, she must have gone to the lower floor.
There were magicians assigned to guard the lower floor, preventing anyone from leaving the top floor. When they saw Hierian, they lowered their heads. But Hierian, who had been in a good mood just a while ago, was nowhere to be seen. He asked coldly,
“Has anyone left the top floor?”
Hierian’s gray eyes were chillingly cold. With an aura that sent shivers down their spines, the magicians hurriedly shook their heads.
“No! No one has left!”
“You can check the surveillance stones! No one has left!”
In response to their desperate cries, Hierian replied sternly.
“…Bring the crystal stone.”
At his command, the magician detached the crystal stone and placed it delicately on a hollowed-out pedestal.
Suddenly, the crystal stone shimmered with a purple light, vividly reflecting the events that had transpired.
Hierian quickly reviewed the recorded footage, but there was no sight of Siara leaving the vicinity.
He examined for any signs of manipulation but found the video to be intact.
Siara disappeared as if she vanished into thin air. Hierian’s body may have weakened, but his emotions took precedence over reason, and he muttered in a melancholic voice.
“…She promised not to go anywhere without me.”
However, the melancholy didn’t last long. Though young in body and mind, he was the administrator who reigned above the magicians.
The administrator is determined by a decree, with typically the strongest magician among them being chosen as the administrator.
Hierian was no exception. He was undeniably the most powerful magician in the current tower, with exceptional abilities. Finding one missing person was a trivial matter to him.
When asked when he felt melancholic, his hazy gray eyes gleamed darkly.
“We need to find out how she left.”
If nothing was captured on the crystal stone, then she must have vanished within the restricted area accessible only to the administrator. The restricted area was known as a sealed space, but in truth, several passages were leading outside.
It was evident that Siara had used one of those passages.
Hierian clenched his fist tightly.
‘I have to find her before Adandito and Dianel do.’
He wordlessly headed towards the restricted area. Recognizing the alarming situation belatedly, the concerned Izaya quietly grabbed his arm and led him into the kitchen. Then, she gently pointed to the busy chefs.
“The dessert team is preparing cakes, puddings, chocolates, candies, macarons, waffles, apple pies, and chocolate cookies.”
“The beverage team is preparing ten varieties of fruit juice and milk tea filled with sugar.”
The chefs started moving swiftly. It was the moment when Hierian’s fuel was being prepared.