Hakushaku to Yousei Mato ni Sasowareta Shinkon Ryokou
by: Tani Mizue / Illustrations by: Takaboshi Asako
Honeymoon in Armorica p13
The Women Who Have Vanished p49
The Feeling of an Approaching Storm p88
Paradise for Eve p131
Image from the Bottom of the Sea p182
The City's Princess's Wish p 227
For the New Legend p 255
When was it that that happened?
When Edgar's mother held his hand. The sun was extremely bright, and his and his mother's shadows were clearly visible on the grass.
His mother held his hand so firmly it almost hurt as she pulled him along. Edgar glanced briefly behind him as though checking on some scary monster behind them as he trotted after his mother. A woman with black hair stood by the lake. A woman holding a black parasol. She didn't come after them. And yet his mother quickened her pace as though to flee. The woman spoke the words of a curse upon Edgar. And his mother, looking frightened, hurried along as though to escape that curse.
Moments earlier, the woman had approached Edgar who'd been playing on his own.
"You're Sylvanford's son. You should never have been born."
She grasped Edgar's shoulders firmly and glared at him from beneath the black parasol with her black almond-shaped eyes. "One day, you'll kill your parents. And you'll bring about the destruction of your house," she murmured as though to curse him.
She suddenly wrapped her hands around his neck. Her hands were cold. While it didn't seem like she was squeezing, he could sense her strong desire to kill him.
Most likely, he didn't feel afraid because she looked at him with pity.
"It would've been better if I could've killed you. For your sake, too......"
Before he knew it, his mother was there and grabbed him away from the woman before returning the way she'd come.
"It's too late, isn't it, Jeanne-Marie?"
His mother's name was Jean-Mary. Edgar frantically tried to keep up with his mother even as he was curious about the woman who used the French pronunciation of his mother's name.
Mother, what's wrong?
Leaving the forest, they could no longer see the woman.
Why am I going to kill you?
His mother stopped in surprise and looked at Edgar as though he frightened her. But that lasted only for an instant, and regaining her usual gentle expression, she hugged her young son.
Everything is fine. You're my treasure. Nothing bad will happen.
But his mother started crying.
I'm sorry, she said hugging Edgar.
He didn't understand. But caught up by her tears, the young Edgar cried, too.
Just who was that woman.
When was it and to what extent did his mother realise her son's destiny?
And the woman's curse eventually became reality.
Even though Edgar himself didn't kill his parents, his existence did.
"You should never have been born......"
Ahh, perhaps she was right.
No, that's not true.
It was pointless having these sorts fo dreams now. Why did old memories that he'd forgotten come back in dreams to haunt him?
He's finally found happiness.
Edgar fought his way free from his dream and opened his eyes. He took a deep breath as he tried to calm himself. The curtains covering the tall windows glowed whitely from the morning sun. He unconsciously made sure he was in his bedroom in the Ashenbert residence.
He was used to waking up having been disturbed by nightmares of the past. And regardless of how much he might have cried in his dreams, he showed no sign of tears in the waking world. Even though Edgar was supposed to have overcome all his obstacles, he couldn't help feeling afraid at the words the woman had said in the past.
He should never have been born.
Could it be that that was still true about him. If so, did it mean he'd end up losing what was most dear to him again? He quickly checked beside him and saw Lydia sleeping peacefully beside him. Relieved, he curled up next to her careful not to wake her. He felt her warmth seep into his parched heart.
More than anything else, she was his most precious treasure.
He brushed her hair aside so he could see her face better. Lydia smiled slightly as though it tickled a little. She cuddled her head to his chest as though seeking warmth.
Since marrying, he could feel her love for him even more. And while it made him very happy, he couldn't help wishing for more.
For example, if he were to hold her so strongly right now that he woke her and then want her out of his growing desire. He wasn't sure if Lydia would forgive him. But he didn't want to upset her by doing something like that. He felt that disturbing her when she's sleeping so peacefully and happily to satisfy himself wasn't the same thing.
What was the point of showing her that he was so weak as to be disturbed by dreams?
He was no longer alone. So he should be able to become even stronger.
He slowly held her careful not to hold her too tightly, and Lydia's scent filled his heart enough to erase the unknown woman's cursed words.
Edgar had no choice but to change for Lydia's sake. And to throw away the past and the prince's bonds.
Honeymoon in Armorica (the land of the sea)
Two weeks after their wedding, Lydia and Edgar were in Paris together. They thoroughly enjoyed themselves going to Versailles Palace, Notre Dame Cathedral, and the Opera House. They also took great pleasure in the fashion there which was much fancier and more elegant than London.
Naturally, they enjoyed shopping as well.
Although when they entered the expensive boutiques, Lydia could only stare at the prices, and it didn't matter how much Edgar suggested items, she ended up only browsing. Even so, she really liked the hat that she finally decided to buy.
Edgar pushed her saying that compared to having a bonnet covering her head, pinning this hat with its sweet artificial flowers to her hair when it's put up looks much cleaner and more elegant. And Lydia couldn't help feeling more and more the same way.
It might still be a bit too showy for London society. But it was always an adventure for ladies to try the latest of fashions and even though the older ladies might frown, she couldn't help taking pleasure in it.
But more than anything else, for Lydia, her very marriage was an adventure like jumping into an unknown world. Because her partner, Edgar, was from the nobility. Naturally, her honeymoon and trip abroad were new, but even everyday life was completely different to how she lived before marrying.
"The lady staying in this room is a countess, yet she didn't buy a single bag at that famous shop."
Lydia was in the dressing room taking care of her things when she heard a maid's voice come from her room. Apparently, they'd come to replenish the oil in the lamps.
"My cousin works in that shop. Apparently she said that the items were all expensive."
"Even though she's staying in this sort of expensive room."
"Maybe she's putting on airs?"
The maids laughed as they left the room.
While she wasn't very good at French, since she was marrying into the earl's household, Lydia had studied hard and could now understand some of the language. Lydia sighed feeling a bit resentful of that ability.
This famous high-class hotel in central Paris was well-known even among commoners. Since Edgar had taken care of all their travel arrangements, Lydia hadn't thought about their travel expenses, but most likely, that hotel had been chosen because it was appropriate for the earl's household and had nothing to do with putting on appearances.
After Paris, they were planning on visiting Bretagne. She'd heard that they would be staying at one of France's distinguished upper-class resorts there.
No doubt, Lydia's sense of money was too much that of a commoner's. But Lydia never thought that a single purchase could affect the reputation of the earl's household was completely unexpected.
'Ah, I'll have to watch what I say in front of others,' she reproached herself as she put her gloves and handkerchief in her handbag.
Lydia suddenly noticed the corner of a paper showing from underneath the tablecloth and reached for it. It seemed to be a bromide paper and was the photo of a woman with heavy makeup. Picking it up and seeing it more clearly, Lydia blushed and froze at what she saw.
"Wh-what is this?!"
The woman looked at the camera invitingly as she lay on a sofa deliberately raising the hem of her skirt. With her shins showing, it was clear that it was an illicit pornographic photo.
"Lydia, are you ready to leave?"
Lydia's head spun in anger by the time Edgar entered the room, and struggling to keep calm, she confronted him.
"Edgar! Th-this was on the floor here!"
Lydia avoided looking at the utterly shameless image of the woman showing her legs and thrust the photo at Edgar. Edgar took the photo, and showing no sign of discomfit, he smiled eloquently.
"Ah, your legs are much more attractive."
"Wh-what a thing to say!"
"The French seem to like this sort of thing. They're being sold all over the place here in Paris, and in London, these sorts of photos all seem to be from France."
"That's not the point! What are you doing buying this sort of thing?!"
"Eh? It's not mine."
Edgar cocked his head to one side in surprise, but Lydia refused to be fooled. Regardless how sweet and good a young gentleman he may seem, deep down, he was a womaniser. Even though he was her husband, she wouldn't be surprised if he had a collection of such things.
"Who else's could it be but yours?"
But Edgar just shrugged in denial. "Maybe it's Raven's. Let's pretend we didn't see it."
"Wha-, are you trying to have Raven take the blame for this sin?"
"Sin... Any man would be interested in this sort of thing, and Raven is a proper man."
Even though Edgar's attendant Raven looked like he was about 15, he should be turning 19. And while it may be true he was a man, she couldn't see him liking these sorts of photos.
"My lord, I've arranged for a carriage."
Edgar confronted Raven upon his arrival. "Is this yours?"
Weren't we going to pretend we didn't see it?
Raven started to deny it was his when he realised what the photo was of. He hesitated when he saw the look on Lydia's face.
"..................Yes, it's mine." Thanks to the unusual circumstances surrounded Raven's birth, he showed little emotion and couldn't lie. But at the same time, he was so loyal that he thought it only natural to give his life for Edgar. Because of that, if it was for Edgar's sake, he would try his best to lie. However, he was still unable to lie convincingly.
"See! It's not Raven's after all!"
"It's not mine. That's it. Maybe it's Nico's."
As if that were possible!
For some reason, Lydia's partner Nico was accompanying them on their honeymoon. Even so, he was a fae cat. More than photos of women's legs, he would pounce on fried fish and scotch.
Lydia sighed deeply. "I won't get angry, so tell me the truth."
"But you're already angry."
"That's because you're trying to evade the issue."
"I really don't know anything about it."
"Umm...... that's mine......"
At that moment, a small young lady, with her flaxen hair in braids, hesitantly stepped forward before the arguing couple.
Kelly was Lydia's lady's maid. After the wedding, she'd been called for from the Hebrides, and almost as soon as she arrived in London, she accompanied them on this trip.
"Umm... some young men selling things on the street refused to leave me alone, so I ended up giving him a copper coin, and it turned out that's what he was selling."
Perhaps it couldn't be helped since Kelly didn't understand the language.
"I figured I'd throw it away, but it disappeared from my pocket at some point," Kelly explained looking even redder than Lydia.
Kelly was born and raised on an island which had strong tie with the fae. She didn't doubt that the fae existed and she respected the special ability fairy doctors possessed. She understood Lydia and was serious about her work, and she was trying her best to serve with her inherent enthusiasm.
"My...... I see."
Kelly had taken care of Lydia previously, so Lydia, too, felt very close to her. So much so, that part of what she was looking forward to with this trip was having fun with Kelly.
"I'm sorry, it's my fault that the two of you ended up arguing."
"Don't worry about it, Kelly."
"That's right. Since I've been proven innocent, there's no problem. You see, Lydia? I have the cutest wife in the world, so I'm not interested in pictures of women."
He smiled as he gazed at Lydia from up close. Even though they were married, these sorts of come-ons were still common in his regular conversation with her.
"......I'm sorry, Edgar."
Lydia looked down contrite for having been convinced of Edgar's guilt.
Edgar gazed at her still more. "If you tell me you love me, I think I can forget all about it."
Lydia blushed flustered unable to could think of what to say. Raven and Kelly quickly turned away from her, but she only became even more embarrassed.
"In that case, you can tell me tonight when we're alone," Edgar said cheerfully as he wrapped his arm around Lydia drawing her close. She was completely flustered.
"Well, we should get going, or we'll miss our train."
Just like the word 'honeymoon' suggested, this trip was going completely at Edgar's pace. He didn't restrain himself in the least from touching Lydia even though others were present. Even though he said that it was okay to kiss on the street corner since they were in France, many of the people at the hotel and at the tourist attractions were English.
Leaving the room, Lydia casually slipped free from Edgar's arm. She had no idea that he enjoyed seeing her kindness as she hesitated to reject such displays of affection despite being so virtuous.
In any case, the Earl and Countess Ashenbert, have only just begun to carry the name of the legendary Blue Knight Earl together.
Bretagne is in the northwest part of France. The peninsula was surrounded on three sides by the sea, and it's always had strong ties with England which was on the other side of the straight. Its name meant Little Britain. Long ago, people who'd been living on the British island, sic England, were forced to flee across the straight when the Angles invaded. And they named the place they settled after their homeland.
Lydia and Edgar chose that location for their honeymoon for a reason. While visiting a painting exhibit being put on by a French art seller, they found a very surprising painting. It was the portrait of a noblewoman wearing a ring. Apparently, it was of a red moonstone, and it was identical to the white moonstone wedding ring Lydia wore. The size of the stone, its cut, and the design of the ring's setting were all identical. In which case, it was possible that the red moonstone in the painting had some sort of tie to the earl's house.
Lydia's wedding ring was said to be the first Earl of Ibrazel's--the Lord Blue Knight's--wife's ring. One of the fae, Gwendolyn's (meaning white bow) ring held her magic and protected the earl's house. It was also said that the Lord Blue Knight had a child named Frandolyn (red bow). So, it was possible that, like Gwendolyn's white moonstone, there might be a red moonstone ring as well.
While the painting in question wasn't old, it wasn't known who the artist was. The woman in the painting was wearing a mask, and there was a window behind her. Through the open window, an island could be seen in the emerald seascape in the background. The cliffs surrounding the island were a pinkish-orange similar to the red moonstone. A castle made from similar pink stone stood there, and green trees could be seen dotting the land.
The art dealer said it was Bretagne's landscape. While he wasn't at all knowledgeable of Bretagne, the art was all taken from the residence of a deceased Breton, so most likely that was the case.
Edgar tried to purchase the painting. The art dealer readily agreed, but the next day, he apologised saying that he could no longer sell it. Apparently, a person tied to the original owner had come forward saying that that painting was never supposed to be sold. He tried to find out who the original owner was, but there were so many middle men that it was impossible to determine.
Lydia thought that they might be able to find something out if they went to Bretagne, and if they were lucky, they might be able to learn something about the Blue Knight Earl's house. Edgar agreed with her, and that's how they decided where to spend their honeymoon. Truth to be told, there was much they didn't know about the earl's household. While Edgar had managed to gain the name of the Blue Knight Earl whose family had no more heirs, he knew nothing about the real earl's family.
It's said that the first earl came from Ibrazel, the location of which is unknown but not in the human realm, and it was also unclear what sort of abilities the earl had. However, Lydia wondered if it might be possible to get to Ibrazel. And by doing so,if perhaps it would be possible for Edgar to gain some ability that would truly make him the successor to the Blue Knight Earl. And perhaps at the same time, he would be able to eliminate everything of the 'Prince of Calamity' that he'd ended up taking inside himself. Especially since the prince had feared and been wary of the Blue Knight Earl and did everything in his power to wipe out that bloodline.
"Ahh, we're finally out of Paris. Major cities are all so filthy," Nico muttered as he stared out the window from his seat on the train. There was no sign of the mass of stone buildings anymore, and fields spread throughout the peaceful scenery.
"If that's the case, you didn't have to come with us." Lydia leaned against the cushions as shown grimaced slightly suffering from a slight headache possibly caused by motion sickness.
Nico looked up at Lydia and shook his head pretentiously. "There are some things you can't do on your own, right? You're still not much of a fairy doctor without me—your partner—around." Even so, Nico was an callous partner and would quickly run away when things became dangerous. He didn't have any special useful magic, and about the only thing he was truly good at was guiding her places. Despite that, Lydia managed to get through a number of situations by working together with Nico.
"True, after all, it's said that the fae are supposed to be about as common in Bretagne as they are in Scotland and Wales."
Fairy doctors didn't have any magic ability of their own. Through understanding and have good relations with the fae, they are able to get the fae's help, that's all. And for Lydia, Nico was her must trusted fae friend. If there was any chance of finding any clues about Faerie during this trip, truth to be told, she felt much more confident having Nico there.
"Yeah, while the cuisine in France is supposed to be really good, they have neither fried fish nor any scotch. It was really disappointing not to have bacon, sausage, or fried eggs for breakfast."
"So, you really came just for the food?"
"And on top of that, now we're going to be travelling for who knows how many hours by train. I just can't relax when travelling on iron." Despite saying that, he stretched on the seat. "I guess the only thing to do is to sleep the entire way there."
He lay down and crossing his legs and covered his face with his top hat.
"Um, shall I get Mr. Nico a blanket?" Kelly asked as she watched him.
"It's alright, Kelly. Nico has wonderful fur so he won't be cold."
"Ah...... you're right." Kelly was still trying to come to grips with the idea that Nico could talk, was one of the fae, and was a gentleman and not a cat. Every time she caught sight of Nico, she couldn't help staring at him curiously.
"Lydia, I got you some medicine." Edgar opened the door to the private compartment and smiled.
He was supposed to have gone to the deck to view the landscape, so Lydia couldn't help cocking her head to one side when he suddenly mentioned medicine.
"You have a headache, right?"
"Yes, but it's not so bad as to take anything for it. Perhaps it's because the air's much clearer now that we've left Paris, but I'm feeling a bit better now."
"Really? If so, that's good, but maybe you should take it just in case? We'll be travelling for quite a while by train, so you shouldn't push yourself," Edgar said. He stretched out a hand towards Lydia's cheek and looked at her as he pressed his forehead against hers as though to see for himself. His bright blond hair pressed against Lydia's lashes.
"Hmm, you don't seem to have a fever."
She felt like she was about to have one instead.
"The best thing would be to rest. It's easy to wear yourself out while travelling." The door was still open. It was the person standing in the doorway that spoke.
"Um, Edgar, that person is...?"
Lydia wished Edgar would have said something sooner if he'd brought someone with him. She hurriedly pushed Edgar away.
However, Edgar turned and cocked his head curiously.
"Hey, Edgar. I spotted you on deck and thought I'd say hello. If your wife's not feeling well, perhaps I can be of some service. After all, I am a doctor."
"......Who are you?"
"You're kidding. You forgot? I'm Francis de Finistère. We met last year at Lord Postner's party."
Edgar looked to be thinking things over.
The gentleman spoke fluent English and wore a black patch over one eye. But even more striking than that, was his wavy, shoulder-length silvery hair. It would be difficult to forget after meeting him, but perhaps it was possible given how many people would be present at a social gathering like a party.
"Still, you're married? You have a lovely wife. When did she catch your attention? As I recall, back then, you were pursuing the Postner's daughter......"
"Aah, I remember, now, Francis! What a coincidence meeting in a place like this. How far will you be travelling? Are you travelling alone?" Edgar spoke up suddenly.
Lydia couldn't help wondering if he'd deliberately cut the man off.
"Would you mind if I had a seat, Edgar?"
"By all means." Edgar smiled as he sat down next to Lydia and gestured for Francis to sit opposite them.
Raven entered carrying a glass of water and some medicine and put them on the table. He exchanged a brief glance with Edgar, and nodding slightly as though understanding what he was to do next, he sat in the chair next to the door and watched Francis steadily.
"Won't you introduce your wife?"
"This is Lydia. Ah, kindly don't come any closer than that."
"Hahah, you're completely smitten with her, aren't you? I thought you were the typical playboy, so I'm a bit surprised."
"Deep down, I'm a devoted man."
"I didn't know that," Lydia murmured.
Francis laughed. He seemed very liberal and had class but wasn't pretentious. Lydia took a liking to him, and Edgar seemed to treat him warmly. Kelly laughed, too.
"Lydia, until I met you, I'd never known a lady whom I could be devoted to."
"You're such a smooth-talker."
"I see, Edgar. So, you're the reason your wife's tired. You're not getting enough sleep, right?"
"Eh? Is that true, Lydia?"
So you ask, but...
"See? She doesn't know what to say, so no doubt that's the case."
"I see. I'll have to think about that."
"Master, that's not an appropriate topic for a gentleman to discuss in front of a lady," Kelly warned.
Lydia felt relieved. Unlike Lydia who could only blush and become flustered, Kelly was much more mature mentally possibly because she'd been working since she was a child. Just because she was married didn't mean that she would suddenly become mature. And the fact that she was a countess now still hasn't completely sunk in yet.
'I have to keep myself together better,' she thought as she looked out the window. The train was travelling through fields of grapes. Francis said something and laughter filled the private compartment. Lydia opened the medicinal packet as she listened idly to the rhythmic sound of the train and the conversation happening around her. Raven was the only one who sat still as though to trying to hide presence.
"I'm travelling on my own wherever will my takes me. I wanted to visit some places from the past," Francis said suddenly serious.
Sensing the change in topic, Lydia turned her attention back to the conversation.
"Memories of a past love?"
"......That's right. But a bitter love. Although it's rather pathetic visiting the places where she and I spent time together."
"Can you no longer see her?" Lydia couldn't help asking having been caught by the topic of romance.
"I don't know where she is. She suddenly left me, and I haven't seen her since. Ahh, but I don't want to depress a newlywed. I thought it was about time to for me to move on, and came up with the idea of travelling like this. I thought if I went to the places she'd been again that I might be able to get over her," Francis said speaking cheerfully.
"Was she from Bretagne?"
FWIW, eventually the whole thing will be posted to LJ, but that will be once it's finished. (Assuming it gets finished...) ^^;
[X-posted between shadow and kagedreams]