The week that had been foreseen has passed.
“…” Rufus watched the old lady who ate breakfast without saying a word.
It was today. Today’s the day Sarubia prophesied. Today, his grandmother would die.
“What are you looking at so much?”
Baroness Inferna, seated at the top of the dining table, glanced at Rufus. She was eating the oblate, which Sarubia and Ethel had prepared for the early morning meal, and this time there was no unintended crispy taste.
Peeling the steamed potatoes, Rufus asked his grandmother, “Are you feeling well?”
“Always asking if I am okay, does that makes it better? Stop asking me now.” By saying so, Baron Inferna coughed again.
“I asked because I was worried.”
“I see your intentions, but just because you worry doesn’t make me feel better.” Stabbing the golden bread with a fork, Baroness Inferna retorted, “There’s one thing you still don’t realize, Rufus.”
“What is it?”
“Your grandmother is already old. And, naturally, a person feels the labours of age.”
Of course, he knew it by reason. Everyone dies. But his grandmother would never fathom it to be today.
Baroness Inferna, coughing lightly, leisurely took a sip of tea.
“Rufus, you don’t think I can live with you and Edel forever, do you?”
“Then, is it okay for Grandma to die today?” Rufus couldn’t stand it. The moment the words went out of his mouth, he regretted them. Oh, he shouldn’t have said it like that.
Baroness Inferna put down the teacup with a thumping sound.
“Rufus, Edel. I’ve lived without regrets.” Baroness Inferna, who neatly trimmed her mouth with a napkin, looked at her grandsons.
“I raised you upright instead of your parents, who closed their eyes early. Both of you have become great individuals, worthy of the Inferna family’s reputation. That’s enough. I could die here today.”
The baroness’ eyes were not a bit shaken. At this, Rufus could not say anything.
[(◍＞◡＜◍)♡ Visit me @ www.millenniumsnow.com ♡]
After breakfast, Baroness Inferna gathered her two grandchildren and Sarubia. “Let’s go for a walk in fine weather.”
The sunny autumn sun shone down. Clouds were gathering and floating over the sky, and nameless birds were singing in a clear tone. The garden where all kinds of rare flowers of the kingdom are collected and planted seems to be buried in the bright, colourful light.
“Sister Ruby, look at that! It’s your namesake!” Edel pointed at a flower in the flowerbed.
Rufus also reflexively turned his head toward the direction that Edel’s fingers pointed.
There was a long stalk with red buds on it. It was a salvia1.
“It’s pretty.” Baroness Inferna, who was moving with Rufus’ support, smiled quietly.
“Let’s plant salvias next to the fuchsia flowers at our mansion. Both of them are red flowers, so they must be very harmonious. How is it?”
“Good!” cheered Edel excitedly.
Rufus didn’t know how a day could feel this short. He didn’t want the time to pass.
But when he closed and opened his eyes, another moment was passing by, and those short moments piled up, and the clock’s hand has jumped another lap.
[Thanks for reading! Rate and Review on NU! (◍＞◡＜◍)♡]
After having a late lunch, Baroness Inferna went back to her room.
“Sarubia,” wandering near his grandmother’s room, Rufus turned to Sarubia.
“To be honest, I’m hoping you’re wrong.”
“I wish my magic was a sham, too.” Sarubia looked up at Rufus. Unlike her usual self, a sorrowful look prevailed around her eyes. “Sorry.”
“…” The hand gripping his sword was shaking.
He was afraid that his grandmother might be killed by people who broke in from outside, so Rufus guarded in front of his grandmother’s room with his sword attached.
In a few hours, the darkness will fall over them. The day was coming to an end soon. Could his grandma be safe?
“Do you need anything?” A passing maid carefully went to Rufus and Sarubia.
“No, I don’t need…”
“I’d like a glass of water, please,” Sarubia answered instead of Rufus.
It’s been hours already. Rufus stood motionless in front of his grandmother’s room and guarded the door, as if not allowing an ant to break in.
“You’re going to hurt your body this way.” Sarubia, who received water from the maid, handed it over to Rufus.
“Does my body matter now?”
“Rufus…” Sarubia expressed disapproval.
Sarubia has never told Rufus about the death of Baroness Inferna. Except for the fact that she was dying today. Though he thought that Sarubia was cruel, Rufus could understand her intentions to some extent.
Baroness Inferna won’t face a smooth death.
Sarubia had revealed Rufus’ death without any hesitation. She said it wasn’t a bad death. However, she did not bring up a word about Baroness Inferna’s death.
“Thank you for bringing me water.” Rufus held out the emptied glass to the maid.
“Please let me know if you need anything else. ”
“No, you may go rest.”
“Then I’ll leave now.”
At Rufus’ order, the maid bowed down to show her courtesy and then retired. Looking at the back of the maid who was getting farther away, a sudden thought came to his mind.
“By the way, where did that maid from before go?”
“Which maid are you talking about?” The maid turned around.
“The freckled maid,” Rufus recalled a maid he had given cookies a few days ago. A maid who he ordered to take away the cookies that Princess Sordid had given him.
He remembered saying that he couldn’t eat what the princess gave him, so he told her to take it home and share it with her family. But somehow he hasn’t seen her since that day.
At the moment, he was wondering if it was discovered that he had given those cookies to a subordinate. He wondered if she was at a disadvantage because of that.
But an unexpected answer came back: “The child is dead.”
What? Rufus, who was wiping the water around his mouth, froze.
What does she mean, dead? Why did the girl die?
“She hasn’t been to work for a while, so someone went to her home and checked. They found her dead.”
“I don’t know the details either. However, seeing that the whole family was dead, I think they died after eating something like poisonous mushrooms.”
After finishing speaking, the maid bowed and left with her head down. Her back was shaking. She, too, seemed to be still in shock over the loss of her colleague.
Rufus mused blankly over what the maid had told him. The maid was dead. Not just her, but the whole family had passed away.
At that moment, a shocking thought ran by his head.
‘Cookies from Princess Sordid.’
He gave the cookies to the maid because he didn’t want to see the sight of the princess. At that time, the maid hesitated, and he clearly remembered saying:
‘If you’re afraid of the matter falling into the ear of the princess, take it home secretly and share it with your family.’
That maid was now dead. Her whole family was.
“Rufus? What’s wrong?” Sarubia grabbed Rufus’ arm. His complexion was worse than ever.
“…nothing.” Rufus held Sarubia’s hand tighter.
‘No, she won’t.’
Rufus was a national hero. And the princess wouldn’t be stupid enough to hurt the hero who had the whole population’s support. No, she shouldn’t be so stupid, at least for the sake of national security.
‘No matter how much I am an eyesore to the princess, there is no way she would have tried to kill me.’
Rufus pressed down the terrible idea that had passed through his mind. It was a disrespectful act to be suspicious of another person.
Instead, the maid who just brought him the water was more reasonable. Unfortunately, that maid must have passed away because she ate the wrong mushrooms.
As he desperately tried to settle his thoughts, Sarubia’s voice was heard: “I’ve been thinking about something, Rufus. Does it hurt to ask?”
“Yes?” Listening to Sarubia’s voice, he was able to find some stability.
“It’s a bizarre question, so don’t get upset.”
“Then, if Baroness Inferna and I were drowning at the same time, who would you save?”
“You.” Rufus answered without a single thought.
“What? Why? No!” Sarubia hurriedly stopped Rufus. “Why are you saving me? Of course, we have to save our family first!”
“Grandmother is a good swimmer.”
“Oh… I didn’t think of that. Then, again,” Sarubia cleared her throat with a cough. “Some kind of situation prevented both, me and Baroness Inferna, from swimming, and we both fell into the water. And you can only save one person. Then who are you going to save?”
“You can only save one.”
“But I still save both. Instead, I will die.”
“…” Sarubia seemed speechless at Rufus’ firm answer.
You are saving two people, killing yourself. That was a ridiculous answer. What else is more precious than your own life in this world?
But Rufus, who was willing to sacrifice himself and save Baroness Inferna and Sarubia, was sincere. So Sarubia realized what she had to do.
“…okay, Rufus.” Sarubia had the sweetest smile she could ever make. “I think you’re great.”
Now what she was thinking to herself, Sarubia couldn’t bear to tell Rufus because he was that kind of person. He was a person who did not spare his own life for his precious person. So she couldn’t say more.
Sarubia clasped the necklace that Rufus had hung on her with one hand. Her instincts, born as a saint, told her not to interfere in the death of others. But she has always wondered what would happen if she went against her instincts, and she might know the answer to that today.
The sun goes down, and darkness begins to fall. And someone’s death was imminent.
[rant]I’m currently trying to learn Piano because my brother wants to learn and I thought it would be nice if we do it both and keep each other encouraged. Man, my hand hurts hahaha how come I can use my fingers to type so fast and blindly, but I can’t hit two different notes at the same time on a keyboard that is not a laptop??? *sob* I’m too old to learn anything new :1
Lot’s of foreshadowing in this chapter. From now on, it’s going downhill! Hahaha… If people just talk to each other, most novels would be so short! Sarubia! Don’t do anything stupid! TT^TT
Anyways! Thank you so much for reading! (◍＞◡＜◍)♡[/rant]
The more you know...
- Korean: 사루비아 Japanese: サルビア = Sarubia
It’s the herb salvia which can bloom with violet to red colours. It is told to have healing properties and was used often in medicine. It’s also used as a culinary herb in cooking, known as sage. I’m using salvia instead of Sarubia to keep the confusion low. And if you have forgotten, fuchsia is Rufus’ flower.