BBYW Vol. 1 Chapter 22

Chapter 22 –  Invitation to Despair

【POV : Selena Nommes】

“Lord Sullivan…”

I was in my room in the Nommes manor looking at the night sky from my window.

About one week ago, Maxwell soldiers visited house Nommes.

Their objective was to arrest Sullivan, my husband, on charges of the attempted assassination of my former fiance, Lord Dyngir.

“Oh, Lord Sullivan…why did you change so…?”

The Lord Sullivan I talked with in the flower garden of the academy and the Lord Sullivan that married into house Nommes were completely different.

Ever since the sweet, gentlemanly Lord Sullivan came to house Nommes, he started yelling at me and sometimes even hit me.

(How could this happen…where did we go wrong?)

I asked myself this question many times, but could never find an answer.

I wanted to be freed from my terrible fiance — only that and nothing else is what led me to choose Lord Sullivan. Yet now my prince changed completely…

No picture book ever showed such developments after the happy ending.

“Aah…”

Tears streamed down my cheeks.

Lord Sullivan ran away from the manor and had not been found yet. Since then, the servants of house Nommes, who already treated me coldly, began taking an even worse attitude towards me.

『How could she not stop her husband from committing those crimes?』

『Did she really know nothing of the assassination?』

『Why did she marry that man in the first place?』

I pretended not to notice the servants whispering such things behind my back.

“Please…someone, anyone…help me…save me…please, o God in heaven…”

I looked at the stars twinkling in the night sky and held my hands in prayer.

I knew I was thinking selfish things, but I couldn’t think of any way to improve my situation except praying. There was no one I could rely on. I could only cling to God…

“Please…”

Knock, knock, knock.

“Eh?”

Were my prayers answered? Someone suddenly knocked at my door.

“Who is it?”

So I asked, still sitting on my chair, but no reply could be heard.

I approached the door and noticed that an envelope had been slipped under the door.

“What is this…? Who’s there?”

I opened the door, but the hallway was empty.

Perplexed, I flipped the envelope.

“Lord Sullivan!?”

I looked at the sender’s name and couldn’t help but shriek.

I hurriedly covered my mouth with my hands and closed the door.

“A letter from Lord Sullivan…but who could have…?”

I thought that Lord Sullivan did not have any allies in this house. Who could have delivered this letter for him?

“Anyway, I should read it…”

I quickly broke the seal and took out the letter inside the envelope.

After reading the contents, I was wide-eyed in surprise.

“This cannot be…Lord Sullivan…”

The letter said that Lord Sullivan was currently taking refuge in a certain location, in order to gather the necessary military strength to take down house Maxwell, who was sowing seeds of rebellion against the royal family. Lord Sullivan was fighting to protect the kingdom of Lamperouge.

In the letter, Lord Sullivan apologized repeatedly for hurting me.

His sincere words reminded me of the gentle prince I had met at the academy.

“Aah, Lord Sullivan…what should I…what should I do…?”

At the end of the letter, Lord Sullivan wrote that he was going to fight Maxwell soon and he wished for me to be at his side to support him.

Such earnest, heartfelt words naturally moved my heart.

If I rushed to Lord Sullivan’s side, would I find the gentle prince I loved?

(Lord Sullivan needs me…but if I went to his side, I would be betraying house Nommes. Could Lord Sullivan really defeat that terrible house Maxwell…?)

I weighed my expectations and love toward Lord Sullivan with the fear and awe I felt towards Lord Dyngir. The scales maintained a precarious balance and I was at a loss for what to do.

Just then, the poem collection on my desk caught my eye. Between the pages of lyrics written by my favorite poet, peeked the dried flower I used as a bookmark.

“Lord Sullivan…”

The bookmark was made from a flower picked in the garden where we swore our eternal love to each other.

I recalled the days spent with Lord Sullivan at the academy.

His bright smile, his calm voice, his gentle fingers combing through my hair — the happy days I had forgotten.

“Lord Sullivan has pleaded for my help…I have to go.”

I was going to take back my kind prince: I couldn’t just stand around waiting. I had to go save my prince.

The prince can slay the evil dragon because he is supported by the princess’ smile.

I packed my belongings and quietly sneaked out of my room.

It was already late at night: the whole manor was asleep.

Father was away on business, accompanied by my brother. There was no one to stop me.

I didn’t know if Lord Sullivan could really defeat the Maxwell house, but in any case, I would probably never return to this house.

“I’m sorry, father…brother.”

Now that I resolved not to return, I looked back on our life together and realized for the first time how my father and brother actually treasured me.

I had closed my heart to them all this time, refusing to accept their kindness.

(I’m sorry…I’m sorry…please…forgive me…)

My heart aching at the thought of trampling their feelings again, I left the manor via the rear door.

“Lady Selena Nommes?”

As soon as I was outside, a male voice called to me.

I shuddered and stepped away from the man, shaking uncontrollably.

“…who goes there?”

The man that called out to me was a middle-aged gentleman. He did not look like a bad man.

Because of the late hour, however, I had to be wary.

“Please, do not be afraid. I am one of Lord Sullivan’s subordinates, my name is Zaill.”

“D-did you say Lord Sullivan?”

“Yes, my lord gave me the task of accompanying milady to him. I have a horse carriage ready, if you would kindly come with me.”

“…yes, please.”

After thinking for a little while, I decided to follow the gentleman.

The horse carriage was a bit farther away. It was a luxurious carriage, something house Nommes could have never afforded.

The horse carriage was waiting for me, its doors opened, and, for a moment it looked like a monster with its jaws open, for whatever strange reason.

(I’m coming, Lord Sullivan…)

I shook my head to drive away that ominous image and climbed onto the carriage.

“Milady, I shall be with the coachman. Please use this space freely.”

“Oh no, I couldn’t!”

“Oh, it would not do for Milady to be alone with another man after all. We will arrive at Lord Sullivan’s residence by tomorrow morning. Please rest until then.”

“I see…thank you very much.”

My guide went to sit at the coachman’s seat, so I was alone inside the carriage.

I wanted to know more about Lord Sullivan’s current situation, but being alone with a male stranger would make me feel uneasy, so I accepted his proposal.

The horse carriage eventually started moving. I was told to rest, but the anticipation to meet my lover and the guilt for betraying my family would not let me sleep. Or so I thought.

“Mmh…”

I had not slept much recently, however, so my eyelids soon grew very heavy.

Lulled by the shaking horse carriage, I drifted off to sleep.

~

The horse carriage apparently advanced throughout the night. The morning sun filtered through the window and woke me up. I looked out and saw a residence, where Lord Sullivan said he was currently hiding.

“We have arrived, Milady.”

“Ah…yes, thank you very much”

The gentleman that guided me knocked at the carriage door and announced that we were at our destination.

I rubbed my half-opened eyes.

“Lord Sullivan…is here?”

“Yes, please allow me to show you the way.”

I stepped down from the horse carriage and looked up at the residence.

It was more than twice the size of my home.

Its luxurious appearance clearly showed a great amount of money had been invested in building it. Its sheer size surely required more than 20 servants to manage it properly.

Curiously, the stone pavement and walls in the garden were shattered in places and there were strange black patches here and there, but overall it looked like a summer residence built for royalty.

(Lord Sullivan, how did you build such a magnificent manor…?)

Lord Sullivan often mentioned his money troubles, but was it all an act?

Could it be that his unstable attitude after coming to the eastern province was all a front he put up to deceive the eyes of the people of house Nommes?

(Now I understand, Lord Sullivan has been preparing to do battle against house Maxwell this whole time. He said he went out drinking every day, but he was actually making these preparations.)

I reached such a conclusion all by myself, then followed the gentleman inside the residence.

The residence was crowded with a large number of servants, who all seemed busy working.

“If you don’t wipe here first you’re going to leave dust everywhere!!”

“I-I’m very sorry! Please forgive me!”

I turned towards the voices and saw an elderly man, maybe around seventy years old, being scolded by a young butler.

“Who is that man?”

I asked the gentleman next to me.

“That elderly man recently entered the service of this residence. He is a fallen noble who lost all of his belongings and had nowhere to go, so Lord Sullivan invited him to come work here.”

“Is that so…Lord Sullivan is as kind as ever.”

I couldn’t shake the feeling of having seen that elderly man somewhere before but walked on without paying him too much attention. He was struggling with the cleaning, a job he certainly was not accustomed to, as he did not even glance at me.

“This way, please. Everyone is waiting for you, Milady.”  

“Oh, yes. Thank you.”

The guide showed me to a door in the back of the residence and I put a hand on the doorknob.

(Everyone? Who could that be?)

I found the gentleman’s words puzzling, but did not think on them too long and turned the doorknob.

The contents of the room were thus revealed to me.

“Hey, it’s been a long time. We’ve been waiting.”

“Eh!?”

Standing before me was my former fiance — Lord Dyngir Maxwell.

“W-why are you….!?”

“Haha, husband and wife are truly alike, huh. You even ask the same questions.”

Lord Dyngir sat on a chair and folded his arms over the desk.

His tone was calm and friendly, but I felt indescribable hostility hiding deep within his mischievous smile. A chill ran down my spine.

“What…why…?”

“That’s what I want to ask you!! You miserable fool!!”

“Eh!?”

An angry shout suddenly struck me from the side. I shuddered and turned completely stiff.

I turned towards that familiar voice and found none other than my father and brother standing there.

“Father!? Why are you here!?”

“Why….why…!”

My sweet, kind father showed an expression twisted by unbearable grief.

“Why did you come here!! You would have been forgiven if you didn’t!! Why!! Was that man so important to you!?”

“Eh, ah…that’s not…but…”

Looking at my father’s face, filled with anger and sadness as I had never seen before, I finally realized the gravity of my mistake.

Next to my father, my brother also had a pained expression. Our eyes met, but he immediately looked away awkwardly.

“Zaill, how long are you going to keep Milady on her feet? Offer her a seat.”

“Certainly, my lord.”

“W-wait…!”

The gentleman forcefully pushed me towards the chair set in the center of the room.

Unable to do anything to resist, I sat down on the chair.

The gentleman then held my shoulders down: I had no way to stand up or escape.

“Baron Nommes.”

“…..yes.”

Lord Dyngir called to my father. Even while crying and softly sobbing, father duly answered the heir to his lord’s house.

“Now that things have turned out like this, I have no choice. Do you have any objections?”

“…none, young master. I leave everything to you, Lord Dyngir.”

“Very well. Very well indeed.”

After hearing my father’s words, Lord Dyngir exhaled, pleased.

“Then, you can go back. Sorry for all the trouble.”

“I…I…Lord Dyngir…Selena is my only daughter…so…”

“I know.”

Lord Dyngir turned towards me. His eyes, like a beast observing its prey, paralyzed me.

“I promise her life will be spared. Don’t make me say anything more.”

“Yes…”

Father nodded to Lord Dyngir’s words, then left the room, his head drooping down. My brother gave him his shoulder to lean on and they left together.

“Ah….!!”

My fate had already been decided, completely beyond my knowledge or control — such fear compelled me to ask my father and brother for help.

Lord Dyngir’s glare, however, prevented me from actually saying anything.

The door closed behind father and brother.

I would not see their faces anymore — such a hunch, which felt so close to a certainty, filled my heart.

“So, my dear former fiancee. Do you know why you are here?”

“That’s…”

I couldn’t answer Lord Dyngir’s question.

“…no, I do not.”

I didn’t know why he was here, nor what I came here for anymore. I felt so confused.

“You do not know? Not at all? That can’t be. You came to help Sullivan, the man who plotted my assassination. Isn’t that right?”

Lord Dyngir, however, mercilessly pursued me with his words.

“You came here to help him take down house Maxwell, to help him kill me. Isn’t that right? Why are you pretending not to know?”

“Ah…aah….”

I finally realized in what position I actually was.

I was — I fell into a trap.

“I have been tested…to see if I would side with Lord Sullivan or not…is that right?”

“You’re quicker than Sullivan on the uptake, at least. That’s correct.”

Lord Dyngir laughed cheerfully.

Before his horrifying laugh, I felt like a criminal waiting for the death sentence.

“What happened to Lord Sullivan?”

I was trapped with no way to escape, but what I wanted to know the most was what happened to the man who was not here right now, my husband.

What happened to the man I once loved? Was he safe and sound? Or was he…

“…dead. He’s not of this world anymore.”

The moment I heard those words, I felt all strength leave my body. I fell from the chair and collapsed on the floor.

“A….ha…ahaha…haha…my prince is…gone…my only…prince…”

I laughed, spontaneously. I felt as if my soul was leaving my body.

“I…what will become of me…? Will I…be killed…?”

“I’ll spare your life, out of respect for Baron Nommes. But let me say this straight…you will not step one foot outside this manor ever again.”

“Is that so…aha, I got caught then…the evil dragon…gobbled me up…my prince…will never come for me…”

I laughed.

Laughed and snorted, louder and louder.

I kept laughing, hearing the sounds of my heart cracking to pieces.

The prince fell before the dragon and the princess ended up in the beast’s stomach.

And they lived happily ever after.

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