The Two Keys and Sacrificial Blood
"Master Edgar, please forgive me."
Raven seemed to be his normal calm self as he knelt.
But even Lydia could tell that his apology wasn't because he'd been unable to save Ermine. He'd let go of his sister for her sake. For his sister who had chosen to die, he disobeyed his master's order. Raven, who entrusted the spirit within him to Edgar, must have had to prepare for the worst when he disobeyed the order.
That's why Edgar said that quietly. Still sitting, he held his knees and buried his fingers in his blond hair and seemed to be fighting to suppress his rage. Most likely, anger that was directed at himself.
"......I'm the one who should be apologising to you. I wasn't able to do anything about Ermine's pain. Even though she seemed to be troubled about something."
"I should have made love with her," his soft murmur was almost like a sigh.
Lydia sensed that he was talking about last night. At the same time, she remembered Edgar mentioning how he would do anything to help Ermine find happiness.
Ermine`s one-sided attraction. But most likely she knew that Edgar regarded her as family. That`s why this was too unbearable an end.
"Ultimately...... even now, I'm still the Prince's slave. The memory of that man being everything and absolute isn't so easily overcome. Even as I'm still fleeing trying to escape, just as I think I can finally see the exit to this maze, it's as though he's waiting just beyond...... Regardless of how many years passed, that fear never faded. That's how it was even for me, so Ermine, who'd been his woman, must have been carrying an even deeper hurt, dread, and fear."
It was something that only those who'd been through the despair of losing one's sense of self becoming little more than a puppet, yet still living could understand. Lydia couldn't even imagine how much they must have suffered when they were with the man known as the Prince. But she could understand Ermine's feelings a little.
She thought she could understand, just a little, Ermine's true bittersweet feelings that could neither be forced nor controlled, deep within that betrayal. If she took Lydia with her, Lydia wouldn't be killed by Edgar. In any case, as a traitor, Ermine would no longer be able to stay by Edgar's side. It was a brief flight that would last only until either the time when Edgar was caught by the Prince, or until her betrayal was discovered.
A fleeting love that would eventually have to end. That's why she wanted to end everything here and now.
Edgar slowly climbed to his feet.
"Please give me a moment. I'll be back shortly."
As he disappeared into the building, he looked so empty as though he might disappear. It was too much that his wanting the Blue Knight Earl's noble sword might have been what had driven her to this. Edgar had wished that she could grow out her hair, dress up, and smile like a normal girl.
"You would cry, for my sister's sake?"
At Raven's words, Lydia finally noticed the tears that ran down her cheeks.
"Even though she tried to kill you."
She suddenly wondered if Ermine really intended to kill her. If she'd intended that from the beginning, there was no need for Ermine to tell Lydia about Edgar's plans. In which case, her talking about it meant that she had thought of Lydia being alive when reaching where the sword lay. While she attempted to take Lydia with her when she tried to jump, if she had really been trying to kill her, and given her knowledge of how fast Raven could move, there should have been some other more definite way to have done so. If they continued the way they were currently, they would be unable to get the sword, and it was possible that both Edgar and Lydia would end up dead. And Ermine was neither able to betray Edgar any further nor was she able to escape from the Prince. That's why she chose death. Her only wish was that Edgar would not sacrifice Lydia and would instead reconsider things, and even if he was unable to get possession of the noble sword, that he would be able to find another new way to gain freedom. She wondered if that wasn't the reasoning behind it.
And for that, she showed the cutting of the thread - herself - that still connected Edgar to the Prince.
"......I've only known her for a few days. And maybe I only think that I understand...... No doubt, it's much more painful for you."
"Painful...... is that so? I don't understand very well. It's difficult for me to even notice what I'm feeling. I think I saw my sister as my only blood-relative, and as such, it was only natural to be together, to help each other out, and I thought that I would never lose her. She had her own worries and inner conflicts and was troubled by them, but I was always so caught up in my own issues." As always, Raven's words were almost too composed as he spoke evenly.
"No, most likely you do understand. You too, have feelings. If you thought of her and let go, then more than anyone else, you loved her deeply and are feeling hurt.
Dark green eyes were directed at Lydia. While she still couldn't help feeling that the dark eyes were disquieting, right now, they weren't piercingly sharp.
"Miss Lydia, did my sister say anything to you?"
"Wh-what do you mean?"
"......No, never mind. Please keep it to yourself."
Raven realised that Ermine might have told Lydia about Edgar's plans. But he was Edgar's servant. More than being troubled by his master committing some evil, no doubt he would do everything he could for his master's wish to be realised.
Even if it meant ensnaring Lydia in a trap.
"Master Edgar isn't trying to get the noble sword for his own sake. The only thing he has within him is his sense of noblesse oblige. That's it."
It was almost as though he was trying to explain his master's position to Lydia. Even so, she understood well.
Noblesse oblige - the obligation of a lord to protect his vassals, family, and citizens and to guide them. The noble class who continued to follow the spirit of chivalry since feudal times not only to had a refined social rank, but since they ruled over people, they also carried great responsibility and duty. Theirs way a position such that in times of war, they could not abandon their soldiers or citizens in order to flee. Edgar had continued to fight for Raven and Ermine's sake. No doubt, it meant that even now, he had no intention of backing down.
"Lydia, come here a moment." While there was still a sense of anguish about Edgar, his manner seemed almost normal as he called Lydia. "Could it be that the leprechauns are hiding gold underground?"
He beckoned to Lydia from behind the stairs.
"Yes, that's right. Did you find something?"
"The Blue Knight Earl's gold coin. This coin with the poem that the fae were supposed to have engraved on it. And here, there's a hole in the wall, right? It's the exact same size as the gold coin."
"Should I put it in?"
The coin fell into a gap in the wall. At the same time, along with the sounds of a mechanism operating, the stairs began to move. A hole opened up in the ground. The stairs continued downwards.
Following Edgar, Lydia entered the hole. Raven was the last to follow.
If she continued this way, Lydia's life would be in danger. But in order to save her father, she needed the "Merrow's Star", so she had no choice but to continue onward.
Having solved one of the riddles together with Edgar made it seem like they were working together and
She couldn't deny feeling excited that having solved one of the riddles together with Edgar made it seem like they were working together in going after the great sword. But at the same time, it proved that Edgar truly intended to kill Lydia despite Ermine's act which tried to ask Edgar if it was alright for him to risk his life and continue sacrificing others.
She wished that Ermine's feeling of not wanting him to do evil would reach Edgar. But at the same time as she thought that, she felt as though she were being refused by Raven's presence right behind her. Most likely their resolve would not be moved by such sentiments.
Even though Raven realised the reason and wish behind his sister's death, he intended to follow Edgar. And no doubt Edgar intended to carry out his duty as a noble for Raven's sake. But like them, Lydia too had someone she had to protect. Naturally, that was her father. And even though she didn't think someone as unworldly as herself had a chance against these two who had managed to survive bloody battles, she had no choice but to go on.
Hopefully, it makes sense. Enjoy! ^^;