I barely managed to pull myself up, my sore knees shaking since I had slammed into the floor too hard. At my feet was the fallen door, along with crushed stones that were scattered all over the place.
When I had finally looked back behind me, the spot where the door had been before was empty.
My lips fluttered open again against my will.
The hand that had slammed onto the door was still tingling. That adamant iron door which hadn’t even budged despite my hand turning into this sort of state, had fallen away with just a slight push. Does this even make any sense?
I looked around to see if someone else had done it, but not even a shadow could be seen.
Then…did I really do this?
“No, that’s crazy.”
I pinched both cheeks in admiration.
Seeing as I could feel the tingling pain, this was definitely reality.
Don’t tell me, those cookies…was it thanks to them?
Bonus Cookies? Reward…?
My head was filled with puzzling and mysterious words.
Although there wasn’t anyone that could tell me what was going on with all of this, one thing was certain.
“Now is not the time for this!”
I was a little worried since the sound the iron door had made whilst it broke had been pretty loud, but if there was anyone guarding the area nearby, no one had come to check on the situation.
After all, even I never would’ve dreamed that I would break that thick iron door and escape.
The hallway was dark since there was no need for people to come here unless it was for something particular, and since there were no public candles, the inside where I had been trapped in was extremely dark and gloomy.
“Just what kind of room did you make?!”
My anger levels started rising again as I looked at the strings hanging from the ceiling.
“You crazy character!”
I cursed him with all my heart sincerely before quickly turning around.
First, let’s get out of here!
[ / / / ]
I rolled up my cumbersome dress with one hand and sat down in the corner of the garden, gasping for breath.
I was completely out of breath after running all over the place, avoiding people’s eyes.
Not far away, I spotted a small iron gate.
It was the back door that was used by the servants and merchants.
That was the last gate.
Although I had somehow managed to get out of the mansion by hiding, the problem right now was that there were three or four gatekeepers keeping guard right in front of me.
How was I meant to get rid of those people?
They were standing with rigid postures and looked around with sharp eyes. It wouldn’t be easy for me to distract them since they weren’t ordinary employees but rather, well-trained soldiers who were more skilled than anyone else.
But I couldn’t just stay like this. It would only be a matter of time before someone finds out that I’m gone.
At that moment, I was biting my lips and wondering if there was anything that could be done.
A thought suddenly flashed through my mind like lightning
When I had almost run out of breath from shouting, the screen really did pop up in front of my eyes.
「Would you like a second cookie?
“Yes, this is it! The same cookie as before!
I crouched down in order not to be found out completely and whispered softly..
“Please give me a cookie! Right this instant!”
As soon as I finished speaking, a golden gauge flashed in the air again. Filled with anticipation, I slowly crept towards the door.
However, for some reason, the gatekeepers did not move.
…Is this not it?
I looked closely at the status window in front of me once more.
Unlike the first cookie, the rate at which the golden bar was decreasing at was incredibly slow.
However, despite it being so, why wasn’t anything happening? Could I have been wrong?
As I gulped dryly without knowing what to do in embarrassment, a loud shout was suddenly heard from inside the mansion.
I hurriedly turned my head to see gray smoke rising from a window on the second floor.
The mansion quickly descended into chaos. People ran around frantically in front of the bush where I was hiding.
Among them, a man holding a bucket shouted loudly at the gatekeeper.
“What are you doing? Go and get the fire blanket right now!”
“Ah, yes! Right away!”
As soon as the order was given, they ran towards the warehouse in confusion.
The front of the iron gate had suddenly become deserted before I knew it.
I rubbed both of my eyes and looked from the iron gate to the gauge which was still shrinking minutely.
“There’s no way a fire was started from baking the cookies…right?”
I asked myself for a while, but I couldn’t come up with an answer.
There was only one thing that was clear.
That the only time to be escape would be now.
Even if i couldn’t come back once I left, I had no intention of going back from the beginning.
I clenched my teeth and started running towards the empty door.
[ / / / ]
At the same time.
Strict commands were deployed to the servants who were running helter skelter in terror.
“Bring the water, quickly!”
“Yes, right away sir!”
The servants rushed to carry out Periot’s orders. Someone quickly brought a vase with all of its flowers removed while others rushed to the bathroom with a bucket.
In the meantime, Periot took off the cloak he was wearing. Then, he swung it wildly over the frame that was engulfed in flames.
“G-Give it to me. Duke. I’ll do it!”
The butler was startled and tried to dissuade him but his hand was unstoppable.
Every time the wind would blow, Periot’s black eyes would also shake as if they were a storm.
‘What the hell was going on?’
He could have never mistakenly seen it, nor could he ever have dreamt of this happening.
He had clearly seen it.
Flames had suddenly begun to soar out of nowhere from the frame that hung gently on the study wall.
It hadn’t even been windy, nor was there anything around it that could suddenly catch fire, so just how did this happen…?
Furthermore, the document that lay inside the frame was the marriage vows he had exchanged with Lorella.
Most important of all was that since it was a document that remained as a preservation of their devotion, no one was allowed to damage it!
He bit his lip and swung his cloak with all his might. But the fire still showed no signs of extinguishing.
At the same time as someone’s urgent call, a whoosh sound was suddenly heard from behind.
A servant who had filled the bucket first had urgently splashed the water on the Duke who was standing near the frame.
Hit by a flood of water in an instant, water dripped down from his head. All the servants surrounding him were startled and frozen in place.
However, far from getting angry, Periot took a bucket from the hands of another servant who had arrived, one after another. Then he started pouring water directly onto the frame.
Amidst everyone’s urgent movements, acrid smoke rose in all directions.
Periot, who had not lost his nobility even on the battlefield, was drenched from head to toe as if he had fallen into a pond.
However the unbelievable events didn’t end there.
“T-The fire isn’t going out…!”
“How did this happen?!”
Voices filled with dismay sounded from everywhere. Everyone started to doubt their own eyes.
The fire that had spread to the curtains and bookshelves of the study had been quenched by the water baptism, but the fire on the wedding vows remained unextinguished, rather, it continued to grow in size.
“Let’s try and do this instead!”
At that time, the knight who brought the thick fire blanket pressed it as if to completely cover the frame. Meanwhile, the servants who had refilled their buckets also came flocking in.
The Duke’s study, which had always been organised in a neat manner, became a sea of water. Gray dust fell everywhere like snow as well.
Was this some sort of sign?
“Duke! It’s a big problem!”
A loud cry rang out from far away.
Then, a soldier ran into the room, gasping for breath and shouted loudly.
“T-The Duchess has disappeared…!”
In an instant, silence struck.
As if it was the eve of a storm.
Periot’s head turned towards the door.
“What the hell are you talking about?”
“M-My apologies sir. Keuk, hic…!”
Although he had a low voice, the soldier facing him was so surprised that he began to hiccup. That’s because that was the first time in his life seeing such a scary face.
“By the time I gone in hic, the iron door had already been broken…I deserve to die!”
Everyone there was stunned by those words. But no one had suffered as great of a shock as Duke Periot.
“The iron door…was broken?”
It was as if Periot’s mind was completely empty. It something he hadn’t even experienced on the blood-splattered battlefield.
In the end, all that remained in his head was Lorella’s face. He had never forgotten it, ever since the day of their wedding.
“Oh, Lord God…”
One of the maids who was frightened by the chaos, murmured in a small voice.
At that moment, a single thought flashed by Periot’s mind and pierced it sharply.
…Is this the work of the person you’ve been meeting with secretly?
“So you’re a man of black magic.”
At that moment, the charred picture frame dropped from the bottom of the fire blanket that the knight had been holding with shaking arms.
The only thing that had survived the fierce fire was the round iron ring that had been used to hang it on the wall.
The moment it rolled over and stopped at Periot’s feet.
“Close all the gates of the castle and my fiefdom immediately!”
A harsh voice which had not been heard by anyone in the mansion before came out of his mouth.
“Gather every soldier. We will thoroughly search through this area with every means available to us, whether that be a dog or a horse.
“Yes, right away sir! I heed your order!”
The soldier shouted confidently, as if he was trying to make up for his earlier mistake.
“We will report to you as soon as we receive news!”
“No, I’ll be taking the lead myself.”
Periot spoke as if he was chewing on each and every word.
“Since I have to keep my promise and cut off that bastard’s head.”
The sound of grinding teeth leaked out from between his teeth.
He put on his dripping cloak which had been burned here and there and left the study at a brisk pace.
The startled soldier hurriedly pursued him, but it was as if he couldn’t hear anything.
The sound of the shoes of the servants running down the stairs and the heavy armor of the soldiers gathering in unison resounded everywhere.
It was the first time that a mansion that had always been so still and quiet, was so noisy.
[ / / / ]
I ran and ran with my teeth clenched tightly together.
Night descended quickly in the north, and at the same time, the temperature dropped to the point where my teeth chattered. The wind blew so hard that I could hear a whistle in my ear.
Nevertheless, the sweat on my forehead didn’t cool off.
A shaky breath escaped from my lips, along with a heavy breath.
I wonder just how long I had been running for. The road had gradually started to get narrower, and soon a dense forest appeared on the side.
However, I didn’t stop moving my legs. No, I couldn’t stop.
As soon as I stood still, I felt as if the hand that had pushed me into that room would descend upon me and grab me by the neck.
My red hair which had always streamed down to my waist had already been disheveled since long ago. The lace, which had adorned the pleats of the dress had been caught on a rough branch and had holes in it.
Even now, both heels of my feet were throbbing and in pain due to the high heels.
「The second cookie has been used.」
Another bright window appeared in front of my eyes with another message popping up, but I didn’t even have time to read it.
As I was running on the rough forest trail, something hard suddenly caught my ankle. Without a centre of gravity, my body fell backwards and tumbled down onto the dirt floor.
The sound of a scream suddenly broke the silence. I quickly covered my mouth with my hand and looked around.
The unidentified night1 flew away with a flap of its wings. Thankfully, there were no signs of people anywhere nearby.
My ankles were burning and my palms were a mess of broken skin. My whole body was full of wounds.
However, I stood up immediately and refused to give up.
Then, I started running faster than before. Not only did it seem to burn my sides, but also to the inside of my throat, but I couldn’t care less.
Because I could clearly hear the dogs barking furiously in the distance when I had fallen.
“You, you crazy motherfucker!”
A tearful voice erupted out of nowhere.
There was a large breeding ground on the west side of the Duke’s mansion. It was a place where dozens of Tosa2 dogs were raised.
Goosebumps welled up on the nape of my neck when I thought of the dogs that were bigger than most children.
I heard that those dogs were used to hunt bears that attacked private property since they had nothing to eat during the winter!
“Hic, am I a bear? Am I a bear?! Hic!”
No matter how many tree branches I crashed through, the metallic taste of blood lingered on the tip of my tongue, as if I had bitten through my lips several times.
However, my own two legs were already out of my own control and moved automatically like machines under any circumstance.
In the end, I finally took off my high heels and held them in my arms.
“It hurts…! Ack, ouch!”
Even though I screamed every time I ran, I was still able to run much faster than I was before when wearing high heels.
‘If I get caught now, it’s over. I might even be hunted like a bear.’
With that thought, I couldn’t really think of anything but running.
However, the forest that seemed to get thicker the deeper I went kept slowing me down. I had to slow down a few times, relying only on the dim moonlight to navigate the way.
At last, I finally saw a clear path through the dense trees. It seemed as if I had finally come all the way to this road after running through the mountain trail.
But then, the sound of horseshoes was heard from far away.
Hiding behind a tree, I glanced around and saw two men riding horses. They weren’t rushed, rather they went at a fairly leisurely pace.
I wonder if the search party has already come this far. Aren’t you going too slow to be finding me?
I bit my lip in frustration and looked around quickly.
Then a large thicket covered with leafy vines suddenly caught my eye.
‘I’ll hide like a dead mouse over there until they pass by.’
It was impossible to for me to run away silently in a forest with so many dry leaves and branches.
It was the moment when I made a decision and took a quick step forward.
Was it because I had acted too quickly? My foot suddenly tripped over a small protruding stone.
And of course it’s the little toe! Of all my damn toes!
I couldn’t bear the pain and just fell right onto the middle of the road.
“Ah! There’s someone over there!”
At the same time, I could hear them running towards me.
I was urgently thinking of a way to run away somehow, but I couldn’t even move my feet, let alone get up.
M-My toenails…! You didn’t fall off, did you?!
“Are you alright?”
As I was struggling to get up, a soft voice penetrated my ears.
In a blink of an eye, before I had even raised my head slightly, there was already someone next to me, kneeling on one knee. The man who was still astride on his horse seemed to have approached me before I even knew it.
Although the surrounding area was dark and obscured his face, the numerous medals attached to his white uniform shone in the pitch-black darkness. Loosely tied blonde hair was thrown casually over one shoulder.
“You look hurt, can you stand up?”
There was the sound of another dog barking in the dark sky again.
It was different from the one before. It must have been heard from somewhere close by.
“Hold onto me. I’ll help you up.”
Meanwhile, the man spoke to me in a friendly voice, as if he didn’t know who I was.
Fortunately, he didn’t seem to be a part of the search party. Then that’s enough for me.
Without thinking any further, I clung to his arm first.
“Don’t worry, I’m not a suspicious person…”
“Please help me. I, I have to run away, right now!”
Only then did I get a close look at the man’s face in the moonlight. He was staring at me with his eyes wide open in surprise.
Even at that moment, that sound was getting closer and closer.
My heart was pounding urgently with the fear that the ferocious dogs might run into my back at any moment.
Eventually, a desperate cry erupted from my mouth.
Clear blue eyes stared at me without saying a word.
Before long, a large cloak was draped over my head.
A low but firm voice whispered in my ear.
The only ray of light that seemed to shine through was over the thick fabric.
 밤새: play on words, the 새 in 밤새 or ‘all night long’ means bird. so lorella is saying that the only figure in the night is night with a flap of its wings which refers to the bird. then she says fortunately there aren’t any human figures nearby (but there was a bird)
 tosa dogs: The Tosa is a breed of dog of Japanese origin that is considered rare. It was originally bred in Tosa, Shikoku as a fighting dog and is the only breed still used in Japanese dog fighting. Ownership is restricted in some countries as a dangerous breed. (wikipedia)
omg bro,,,why’d i just do a complete 180 from the last chapter and feel so bad for periot while he was desperately trying to save his wedding vows with lorella from the fire ??? plS HALSDFJDF FUCK WHY COULDN’T THEY JUST COMMUNICATE AHHHHHHH also our second capture target has appeared HASLDKFJDFJSDFS !!!!