Three days later, Saint Freya Academy, two young women were sitting under a lush tree, each holding onto a letter with identical handwriting. It was a marvelously sunny day, but both of them were trembling with pale faces.
“To the esteemed Miss Nora, with all due respect, I’m writing this letter to inform you that Roel Ascart has decided to spend the rest of his life with Austine’s imperial princess Lilian Ackermann. The latter is already expecting a child…”
On one side of the tea table, Nora read out the anonymous letter that was sent to her earlier in the morning with a chilling voice, especially when she verbalized the words, ‘expecting a child’. In response to her intense emotion, a brilliant golden glow manifested from her mana started to cloak her body.
She couldn’t tell who the writer was, but his intention was clear here. The writer was conveying to her that Roel had eloped with Lilian in hopes of convincing her to forsake her feelings for him. Such an act utterly infuriated her.
But despite her infuriated appearance, anger was hardly the only emotion she was feeling. Deep down, she was feeling apprehensive and frightful too.
While Nora strongly believed that the content of the letter was a lie, the writer appeared to be equally confident about it as well. On top of that, the fact that Roel and Lilian had been away for three days now lent credence to the writer’s claim. The thought that she could lose something she held dear shook her up.
Not too long ago, they heard from Roel’s teacher, Chris Wilde, that she had received Lilian’s handwritten letter informing her that they had successfully taken down the evil cultists, but they were taking a detour to clear a mission before returning to the academy.
The two of them did think that something was odd about that—Roel was already busy enough that it was hard to imagine him taking on an additional commitment—but they shrugged off their concerns, thinking that it was unlikely for anything to happen.
It was only when these letters were delivered into their hands that their fears were truly stoked.
Roel and Lilian were eloping together?
There was no way Nora would believe such a claim. As someone who had grown up with Roel, she knew him very well. He was not the type of person to forsake everything he cared about for love, especially not when Alicia was still in the Ascart House.
As much as she hated to admit it, Roel was a siscon through and through. It was impossible for him to abandon the little sister he doted so dearly for a woman he had only met two months ago.
Had that been the case, she would have won this battle a long time ago.
Not to mention, Roel was the sole son of the Ascart House, and he was on good terms with his father too. The Ascart House had been suffering from such a severe lack of offspring for so long that it would fight against all odds to push for the union between Roel and Lilian.
If Lilian was truly expecting, that was.
“Did you think that I would waver at mere rumors? You’re underestimating me, Lilian Ackermann! We have to make a move right now, Charlotte! I need your divination… Charlotte?”
Nora rose to her feet and proposed a collaboration with the auburn-haired woman before her, only to find that the latter had fallen into a daze.
Charlotte’s face was as pale as a sheet of paper, and her body was trembling ever so slightly. But unlike Nora, her reaction stemmed not from indignant fury but a trauma.
It was a trauma from witnessing many unfortunate marriages of Sorofya women.
The Sorofyas’ Loyalty Origin Attribute cursed their female offspring to be fully devoted to their spouses. If they were unable to obtain the love of the person they had devoted themselves to, they would be doomed to a lifetime of misery. She had seen far too many of her aunts suffering in anguish that it frightened her. As much as she desired a family, she feared it as well.
Her view toward marriage only started to change after meeting Roel.
Charlotte might appear to be the most optimistic and composed one amongst the women Roel was entangled with, but she was actually the one who lacked a sense of security the most. She knew logically that it was unlikely that Roel would suddenly turn his back on her, but she couldn’t help but think of the worst when placed in such a position.
There were so many examples around her that she just had to open her eyes to know what was to come if the content of the letter was true.
“Charlotte? Why are you still staring at that thing? It’s obviously a lie!” exclaimed Nora with a frown.
“The content of the letter might be a lie, but don’t you think it’s weird? Why would darling leave with that woman for so long without sending us a word? Not to mention, he chose to approach her for the raid on the evil cultists. Is their relationship really as bad as we think it to be?” replied Charlotte hoarsely.
“… What are you trying to say?”
“I-it has already been a few days. That woman might have already succeeded. Perhaps, the part about her expecting might also be… We might be too late.”
“Are you saying that we shouldn’t do anything at all?”
It was a silent affirmation from Charlotte. Nora’s sapphire eyes widened lividly. She lurched forth, grabbed Charlotte by her collar, and violently pulled her up.
“Do you know what you’re saying?! To think that I actually thought of a weakling like you as a rival!
“Too late? Are you going to wait in your ivory tower for a prince on a white horse to come and sweep you off your feet? What a load of bull. All those excuses you are spouting. You’re afraid of meeting that woman. You’re afraid of losing to her!
“Hundred years ago, your ancestors sliced off their own flesh in Rosa City to feed their soldiers. Look at your own cowardice. You don’t even have the courage to face a woman. Your ancestors must be rolling in their graves!
“If you wish to play a damsel in distress, by all means, be my guest. Just don’t expect me to play along with you… I guess that’s all your feelings amount to if you’re intending to give up with just this much.”
Nora’s derisive remarks sent a jolt through Charlotte’s body. Staring at Nora, her emerald eyes slowly regained their usual clarity. Nora released her grip on Charlotte’s collar and took a step back.
Bidding farewell to the first eliminated challenger in this fight for love, Nora turned around to take her leave. Barely after she took a few steps away, she suddenly felt an intense pulsation of mana coming from behind.
Astonished, Nora turned her head around, only to be met with a brilliant constellation of stars—the Goddess of Fate. The balance the goddess held in her hand was overwhelmingly tilting toward one side due to the chips hurled on it.
Charlotte had regained her senses after Nora’s reprimand, and she decided to stake everything on the line to cast the highest level divination spell.
As the Balance of Fate glowed with increasing brilliance, various images started to flicker across Charlotte’s eyes.
“A city in the north. A logo. It’s Eirbower!”
“They have gone to the Eirbower Dukedom!”
Charlotte peered into Roel’s fate and successfully divined his destination. With her fists clenched in agitation, she began making her way toward Nora.
“You’re right, Nora. Something is amiss here. Darling has met with some kind of trouble! I was unable to sense the gaze of the ancient gods when I attempted to peer into his fate. This means that his window of connection with Mister Grandar and Miss Peytra has been severed!”
“His window of connection with the ancient gods has been severed? This… Wait a moment, the side effect of the Witness State?!”
“Yes, darling must have been kidnapped. That barbaric Austine princess must have kidnapped him!”
Hold on for a moment, didn’t you do the same at one point in time too?
Nora’s eyelids shot up, impressed by how the re-energized Charlotte was unable to see the irony of her remark. However, recalling the plight that Roel was in at the moment, she quickly fell into deep thought.
“If that’s the case, it would be best for us to move stealthily. Roel has far too many enemies out there. We can’t let them know that he’s in a weakened state,” she murmured.
“Yes, you’re right. We need to make a move as soon as possible. Make sure you bring only those who are absolutely trustworthy,” replied Charlotte.
With a grim nod, Nora quickly made her way out of the outdoor café.
“Wait a moment, Nora.”
Nora turned around. Charlotte hesitated with a reddened face before speaking.
“What you said earlier, thanks.”
Nora’s sapphire eyes widened in surprise. She was left speechless for a while before she awkwardly gave her response.
“I only said what I wanted to say. Whether you pull yourself together or not is none of my business. Besides…”
Nora turned her back on Charlotte before murmuring with a sigh.
“… I’m already regretting it.”