→ The Price of a Loss (2) ←
A carriage abruptly came to a halt just before crashing into the fountain located in Amelia’s mansion’s garden.
Its door, engraved with the crest of two birds, was swung open.
“Odette! Quickly, get off!”
“Wait a moment! My shoe just came off!”
No one would have imagined that those two girls, who were chattering away like a pair of birds, were the apprentices that’ll one day inherit Countess Gemini’s noble title.
“Ah, slow down, Sis!”
Odile rushed out of the carriage and tapped her foot impatiently, urging Odette to hurry up.
The latter jumped out, with one finger tucked behind her shoe while bouncing on her toes.
“Stop rushing me! Don’t you realize your impatience always causes problems?”
“What? Have you forgotten that you made us half an hour late for the violin lesson?”
“E-Ehh, b-but that’s because you told me to stop practicing and go to sleep last night!”
“That’s why you should have practiced on the weekend like I did!”
The two of them hurriedly walked while chattering non-stop.
If Head Maid Galina had seen them rushing like this, she would have been furious.
During today’s lunchtime.
They heard news from their masters, whom they hadn’t seen for a while.
Assistant Siwoo had woken up two days ago.
From the moment they heard those words up until this moment, all they could do was to go to Amelia’s mansion to visit him.
The man they had been visiting for sixteen weeks had woken up, of course they’d be in such a hurry.
Not to mention that he had saved their lives twice, sacrificing himself in the process.
The debt they owed him wasn’t something they could pay in their lifetime.
“How do I look, Sis?”
“How do I look, Odette?”
Before opening the mansion’s doors, the hesitant twins turned to each other and spoke simultaneously.
Prior to their arrival, their maids had adorned them with flowers.
Even Pecha looked excited when she did their makeup.
“Your bonnet is crooked.”
“Your brooch is about to fall off.”
The twins, in their friendly haste, tidied up their disheveled clothes, the result of them frantically running
Their hearts were pounding quicker than usual.
With resolute expression, they nodded toward each other and walked slowly towards Amelia’s room.
They had a burning desire to rush to Siwoo’s side, but they couldn’t just not greet Amelia first.
Though their relationship with Amelia had become slightly awkward due to the love potion incident, ultimately, there was no change in their relationship.
Amelia still stood up at the podium, giving them her lessons with the same expression as she usually wore.
They understood that she had no desire to pursue that matter any further.
As for Amelia herself, she didn’t want to enact revenge toward them or anything like that. She had just received harsh words from Siwoo and she had been treating it like her as her punishment. She didn’t have the leniency to think about anything else.
When they knocked on the door, it opened by itself after a moment.
“Hello, Ms. Professor.”
“We heard that Assistant Siwoo woke up, so we came to see him.”
Inside, Siwoo’s doctor, Yebin, and Amelia were having a conversation.
Based on their sour look, it seemed like they were discussing something serious.
“…What happened? …Is something wrong?”
Amelia put down the glass she was sipping, pondered for a while before opening her mouth.
Since the twins would find out eventually, she didn’t answer them, instead she asked them a request.
“He hasn’t fully recovered yet, please be careful.”
“Yes, Ms. Professor.”
“We’ll go see him now, Ms. Professor.”
When Amelia gestured for them to go, they quietly closed the door and dashed away in an instant.
She gazed at the closed door with mixed feelings before taking out a cigarette.
Amelia furrowed her brow as she let out a deep breath, unleashing the hazy smoke from her mouth.
Yebin, who had been bowing her head like a sinner in front of her, drank from her glass with trembling hands.
“So, it’s impossible to progress beyond this point?”
“Yes… In fact, I tried treating him again, twice… I really did my best, but…”
“It’s not your fault.”
Yebin lowered her head in shame.
Seeing how the way she trembled, as if she had committed a grave sin, Amelia couldn’t bring herself to reprimand her.
Besides, even if she vented her frustration at Yebin, it wouldn’t change the current situation at all.
After the previous attempt, Yebin made two more attempts to enter Siwoo’s Palace of Subconscious.
Both attempts ended in failure.
On the second attempt, she couldn’t even set foot on the palace anymore.
This meant, there was no way that Siwoo would be able to completely recover.
Yebin only managed to reach 70% of her goal.
“Is there any possibility of him recovering by himself? He absorbed some of your Self-Essence Magic, didn’t he?”
“I don’t think that possibility exists… I assume he probably doesn’t feel the need to do it…”
From a purely magical standpoint, Siwoo had made a perfect recovery.
His current situation was similar to autism.
He cut off his communication with the outside world, engrossing himself in his own world, free from any distracting thoughts.
With his own power, he exhibited an astonishing level of concentration and calculations that even Yebin couldn’t comprehend.
Moreover, he seemed to be satisfied with his current state.
This was the reason why he kept on refusing to accept Yebin’s treatment.
While the previous Siwoo would think differently, the current Siwoo was the one in charge now.
If the treatment were to be completed, he wouldn’t be in this state anymore and regressed into an ‘imperfect’ being by magical standpoint.
The current Siwoo wouldn’t want that since he thought that his current state was the ideal state.
He gave up his emotion, humanity and any kind of interaction with the outside world for a monstrous talent in magic, completely giving up on living a normal life.
This was the conclusion that Yebin managed to reach.
Amelia closed her eyes before extinguishing her cigarette.
“You’ve worked hard. If you visit Baroness Avenega, she’ll give you the appropriate compensation. Also, here.”
Amelia handed Yebin a silvery ticket that had been inserted into a book.
Its form looked simple but it wasn’t a simple object.
This was a ‘Gnosis Egg’ created by Duchess Keter.
It served as a proof of citizenship and a travel pass for Gehenna.
“I’m truly sorry, Baroness… If only I had been a little more capable…”
Amelia shook her head.
There was no need for her to apologize.
She truly had done her best and they were only stuck in the current situation because of Siwoo’s strange and unpredictable talent.
“If there’s any change in his condition, I’ll seek your help once more.”
Amelia managed to muster her crumbling resolve as she barely managed to see Yebin off.
She grabbed her dizzy head and sat back down at her seat.
Despite all the effort she put in, everything had come to an end.
Now, she really had no choice but to leave everything up to fate.
If it had been any other witch, they might have been jumping in joy.
In fact, if this was a normal circumstance, Amelia would have been rejoicing to find out that she had obtained such a curious slave.
However, her heart felt empty.
Because the slave was none other than Siwoo.
The only man she had ever opened her heart to, the man that she loved.
From his innocent demeanor.
Unexpected act of kindness.
Even his moments of anger.
It hit her that she would never see any of them ever again.
She pulled out a stack of documents from the top of the drawer.
It was her research on recovery magic before she invited Yebin to treat Siwoo.
Even if she were to start it again, she wouldn’t be able to complete it in time.
Maybe, by the time she managed to prove her monstrous talent and reached the level where she could heal him, he would have long passed away.
Unlike an immortal witch like herself, he was a mere mortal.
But, she took out these documents anyway because she couldn’t bear the feeling of helplessness of being unable to do anything.
The pen scraping across the paper lacked its usual vigor today.
“Should we enter through the window, Sis?”
“We just need to enter normally. Why do you keep coming up with those mischievous ideas?”
“Because it’d be more fun that way!”
The twins finished their brief conversation in front of Siwoo’s room. Their hearts were pounding with excitement.
With an elegant bouquet of flowers in hand, they planned to make a grand entrance.
They skillfully kicked the door with a confident swing, before jumping and landing gracefully inside.
“Congratulations on your recovery, Mr. Assistant!”
They stood side by side, leaning their backs against each other, spreading their arms in different directions. Despite their movements, their pretty dresses remained unruffled.
As they stood there, they noticed something odd.
“We are here, Mr. Assistant…”
Since their voices were loud, there was no way that he didn’t hear them.
But, for some reason, he didn’t turn to face them. Instead, he used his fingertips to draw something on the wallpaper.
It was a fractal pattern resembling a tree.
Starting from its roots, branches were added to form a large tree.
Thinking that he was focusing deeply, the twins quietly approached him.
They felt disappointed that no emotional reunion happened, they felt glad nevertheless..
It felt like it was just the day before yesterday that they saw his near-dying appearance. 𝓁𝒾𝒷𝘳ℯ𝘢𝑑.𝑐ℴ𝓂
And now, he seemed to be perfectly healthy.
Without any hesitation, his mana-infused fingertips carved through the wall.
“What are you drawing…?”
“Shh, just watch quietly, Odette.”
Odette was the first to notice something strange about the drawing.
It wasn’t simply a geometrically beautiful pattern.
Every extending branch and hanging leaves were imbued with a certain meaning.
But, with the twins’ knowledge, that was as far as they could comprehend.
When they tried to visualize or alter the drawing in their heads, they realized that they could understand nothing.
This drawing seemed to be something that only Siwoo knew, as it didn’t align with any forms of magic formulas that the twins were aware of.
Well, assuming if the drawing was a magic formula to begin with.
With a flick of his finger, Siwoo finished his drawing by carving the final leaf.
“We are here, Mr. Assistant.”
Unable to contain herself any longer, Odette tugged at one of his sleeves to announce her presence.
In response to that, Siwoo turned around.
When they saw his face, the twins, who had intended to rush at him and cling to his neck, halted in their tracks.
Except for the black eyepatch covering his left eye, he seemed to be perfectly fine.
But, there was no expression of joy, happiness, confusion or even surprise on his face.
His face was devoid of any emotion.
They couldn’t help but feel an unsettling premonition.
“W-Why are you like this…? Aren’t you happy to see us?”
“We even prepared this bouquet for you, Mr. Assistant…”
Odile was taken aback by the unexpected response, while Odile thrusted the bouquet of Baby’s Breath Flowers1https://thefelicityflorals.com/cdn/shop/products/IMG_2025_e4c38008-8f25-4385-b260-8e2f101521b1_400x.jpg of various colors toward him.
However, Siwoo paid no attention to it and simply alternated his gaze between the twins.
Finally, he extended his hand and slowly caressed Odile’s cheek.
“What are you doing all of a sudden?! You know I don’t like this kind of thing, right?!”
Odile let out a complaint and pouted, but she didn’t push his hand away.
“What about me, Mr. Assistant?”
Noticing that Siwoo only displayed his interest in her sister, Odette playfully tugged at Siwoo’s hand, trying to draw his attention.
“Is this… A new way of greeting someone?”
Siwoo leaned closer to Odile and sniffed her forehead.
This situation made her freeze in surprise, meanwhile Odette was looking at Siwoo with a displeased expression.
“What do you think? My hair smells good, right, Mr. Assistant?”
This time, he moved over to smell Odette.
After thinking that it was an expression of affection for a while, Odette’s cheerful expression quickly hardened and became rigid within a short time.
Siwoo swiftly turned his body around after sniffing the twins’ scent for a while.
Then, he immersed himself in the fractal tree drawing the twins thought that he had finished earlier.
The twins attempted to initiate a conversation with him several times afterwards, but he never spared them even a glance.