‘What should I do?’
Without revealing that she had returned to the past, there was no way to explain the events to Lucian.
To explain her connection with Viscount Nox, Ariel would have to admit that she had traveled back in time.
It was an unbelievable story.
Ariel held her trembling fingertips tightly.
Lucian examined Ariel, who was struggling to respond to his question.
While he wanted to tear away the pain that the question had caused her immediately, he needed to understand why she was in such distress.
Once he understood the reason, he could act without delay.
Seeing that she couldn’t continue to answer, Lucian leaned closer to her.
His sweet breath brushed against Ariel as if it were tempting her.
“If you can’t explain, I’ll just kill him.”
Perhaps that would be better.
If Viscount Nox had any connection to her suffering, Lucian was willing to make him suffer the most painful death.
His piercing eyes contained a cruel glint.
Ariel clutched her tiny face with both hands.
She felt trapped in a difficult situation.
She still didn’t know whether Viscount Nox was a good or a bad person.
She also didn’t know why the group of wizards used her to kill the Viscount in the past.
“But… I don’t want the Viscount to die because of the incident at the ball.”
At least, it wasn’t his fault that Ariel panicked.
She didn’t want Lucian to harm someone else because of her.
‘I can’t just let that happen to him.’
Furthermore, Ariel planned to investigate the Viscount further to uncover the meaning behind the events of the past. If the Viscount were to die, she would lose her first lead.
Ariel closed her eyes and took a deep breath before speaking.
She managed to squeeze out an answer.
“I… I saw him die.”
She couldn’t lie to Lucian, but she also couldn’t tell him the full truth.
Ariel gave the best truth she could.
Lucian raised an eyebrow after hearing her response.
Ariel whispered in a low voice.
“When I saw his face… Suddenly, that scene came to mind.”
Lucian frowned as he listened and then spoke.
“That’s not enough.”
Ariel replied, her voice quivering, “But I don’t know how to explain it better…”
She continued to watch Lucian, trying to gauge whether he intended to kill the Viscount or not.
“Oh,” a thought suddenly flashed through her mind. ‘What if Lucian doesn’t want the Viscount to die?’
Ariel had observed the power of the Lacartel family up close until now. While she knew only a small part of it, she was well aware that opposing Lacartel was not something anyone could easily do.
Even if the Grand Duke was terrifying when on their side, becoming an enemy was a level of terror that exceeded all expectations.
‘Could Lucian prevent it?’
Could I change the future with what I know?
Ariel grasped Lucian’s cuff and, her gaze lowered, tentatively continued.
“Lucian, can you protect him from dying? I have a feeling the Viscount shouldn’t die right now.”
Lucian slowly scrutinized Ariel, as if he were peering into her innermost thoughts.
“Are you sincerely hoping that I will save him?”
After a brief moment of silence, Lucian responded in a low voice, “Alright.”
He then leaned in closer to Ariel’s face.
“Now, I will receive my reward.”
Lucian’s lips touched Ariel’s forehead with a soft, gentle kiss.
Ariel looked bewildered.
Lucian, who had kissed her, wore a devilish smile with his red lips.
“Whatever you wish will come true, Ariel Lacartel.”
Ariel blushed as she pressed her forehead with her hand.
It felt like she had been stamped with a seal.
Is this what it feels like to make a contract with a demon?
“Now, shall we continue our boat ride?”
Lucian spoke languidly, and he flicked his fingers.
The motionless boat started moving once more, gracefully gliding across the beautiful autumn lake.
End of Volume 3 chapter 7
* * *
Volume 3 Chapter 8
The red flames subtly crackled in the fireplace.
Ariel had been sitting in the same spot for the past hour, diligently knitting with tiny knitting needles.
Lucian, who had lost Ariel’s attention to the yarn ball, grumbled.
“I told you not to knit.”
Ariel, intent on not dropping any stitches, responded quietly.
“I’m doing this because I want to.”
She secretly observed Lucian, who didn’t understand other people’s feelings.
Ariel was knitting winter hand warmers as a gift for Lucian. She had originally wanted to give him the easiest-to-knit scarf, but Lucian didn’t seem like the type to wear it.
‘Lucian can’t even tolerate a tie.’
Ariel had heard that winters at the Johannes Academy, located at the edge of the Empire, were severe. She thought hand warmers would be useful during swordsmanship practice or for everyday life.
Now, with Lucian about to return to the academy in a few days, Ariel was in a hurry to finish.
Unaware of Ariel’s thoughts, Lucian mockingly commented on her slow progress.
“To knit something this small, won’t it take a hundred years?”
Ariel was already feeling a bit slow, and Lucian’s words made her even more upset.
“Lucian, I hate you! I really hate you!”
Ariel restrained her anger.
Observing Ariel’s frustration, Lucian chuckled.
He reached for a glass jar filled with strawberry preserves and swallowed a spoonful between his red lips. Although he always claimed they were too sweet, he continued to eat them.
Just then, a knock sounded on Ariel’s door.
Next, she heard the voice of Susan.
“Miss Ariel, Lady Diana has arrived. Should I bring her in?”
Ariel’s head snapped up. She hadn’t seen her friends for a while, so her joy at the prospect of their visit was palpable.
“I’ll go out. Please let her know.”
Ariel hastily placed her knitting materials into a small basket and got up.
Addressing Lucian, who was sitting across from her, she said, “Lucian, a friend has come to visit. I’ll be back after I see her.”
Lucian touched his chin, looking at her as if he disapproved.
“You can meet your friends even after I leave.”
“It’s been a few weeks since I last saw their faces…”
Ariel pouted and looked at him with puppy eyes.
“Can’t you let me go, please?”
Before Lucian could say it wasn’t allowed, Ariel gave him a head start.
She scooped up some strawberry preserves and placed them in Lucian’s mouth, soothing his displeasure. It was said that eating something sweet helped ease anger.
Lucian, with a mouthful of red fruit, observed Ariel’s retreating back as she ran away with a flushed neck, then let out a light laugh.
He stretched his slender body that had been lounging.
If she was running away, he had to chase her.
Lucian leisurely left the room. He was curious about the bug that had captured Ariel’s affection, which was from Monica duchy.
He had seen her a few times from a distance, but to him, any human was no different from a bug.
Their faces were not important enough for him to remember.
‘But it’ll be different if she prioritizes her over me.’
Lucian started to follow Ariel’s footsteps leading into the glass greenhouse.
* * *
Ariel rushed over and embraced Diana. Diana put down the pink paper box she had brought and hugged Ariel in return.
“Ariel, Ariel, Ariel! How long has it been? Have you been well?”
“Yeah. How about you, Diana?”
“It’s been one party after another for me. It seems Cecile went to a different event with her mother today.”
After hugging Ariel tightly and twirling her around, Diana gently set her down and spoke gracefully.
“Take a look at what I bought.”
“What is it?”
Diana held out the pink paper box.
“It’s a limited edition Earl Grey apple cake from ‘Bellarus’!”
Ariel’s eyes widened.
‘Bellarus’ was a high-end cake shop that had become popular among the elite in the capital recently.
Although their cakes were expensive, they were delicious and extremely pretty, making them perfect for young ladies with refined tastes.
As Ariel’s face brightened, Diana coughed lightly and blushed.
“Sometimes, it’s good to try foreign food. Taste might not be as good as your home’s cakes, but you eat food with your eyes too.”
“Thank you, Diana!”
She’s so cute! She’s gotten even cuter since I last saw her!
Diana, who had been unable to engage in her fandom activities due to tedious autumn parties, looked at Ariel with enthusiastic eyes.
‘She’d light this fire of mine with me if Cecile were here.’
Although the beginning of their friendship was different, both Cecile and Diana fell for Ariel’s charm.
Lately, Cecile had been feeling dizzy and sighing whenever she saw something red.
She couldn’t convey the symptoms to Ariel out of concern, but…
Diana tossed her violet hair behind her shoulder and spoke haughtily.
“Shall we talk while having cake?”
That’s when an uninvited guest appeared.
“You’re here, Ariel.”
Diana was taken aback at the sight of the newcomer. He had jet-black hair, fair skin, a straight nose, and red lips. He was a boy with a heavenly appearance, standing a few steps away. Just his appearance alone felt dazzling.
Could that be Lucian, the Grand Duke?
This was the first time Diana had seen him up close.
Lucian gestured to Ariel, and amidst the seductive smile he wore, an inherent fierceness emanated.
“Come here. We should finish our conversation from earlier.”
As he spoke, he coldly scanned Diana with his eyes, and she could feel the overt hostility directed at her.
His attitude seemed relaxed, but Diana, who was quick-witted, quickly grasped the situation.
‘It feels like he came out to suppress me.’
Oh… Could it be… jealousy?
In Diana’s opinion, Ariel was far too good for Lucian. She had always thought that Ariel was worth more than a hundred Lucians.
But setting aside Lucian’s unfavorable qualities, Diana was curious about how much he truly cared for Ariel. If he stole away Ariel, a beautiful, kind, and adorable angel, but didn’t genuinely cherish her, how terrible of a person would he be?
‘Alright, I’m going to test him.’
Diana, who shone with the title of Ariel’s first friend, glared at Lucian with a determined look in her eyes.
‘An unworthy person like him will not have my Ariel!’
Between Ariel, who knew nothing, Diana, and Lucian, the gazes clashed sharply in the air.
Amidst the tense silence, Diana gently lifted the hem of her dress and curtsied.
“I am Diana, and I have the honor of meeting His Excellency, the Guardian of the Empire, Luciatel Grand Duke.”
Lucian, who greeted her with a nod, had a contemptuous gaze that made it seem like the pretty girl with violet hair in front of him was nothing more than an insignificant bug.
Cautiously examining Lucian, Ariel thought, ‘Sometimes, he seems unfamiliar like this.’
At times like these, she got a sense of the cold and ruthless Luciatel, which he was known for.
“Come to me.”
He gestured to Ariel.
With a worried expression, Ariel walked up to Lucian with small steps.
She thought she had escaped well earlier, but it seemed that she hadn’t.
She approached him and whispered softly.
“Lucian, I’ll be in trouble if you chase me now. Please don’t scare my friend and treat her kindly.”
He responded with an unpleasant look, “Sure.”
“I’m not being assertive now.”
“I’ll continue in the future.”
Support me for more