She is standing in front of the door.
When she opens her eyes, there is not a single light around her.
But it would be foolish to turn on a light. It's like telling the trespasser where she is, if someone comes in.
Darkness is good.
Sight means nothing.
Because a knight can fight not only by the presence of his opponent.
Meditation, mindfulness, whatever it is called, if one concentrates one's mind, the contours of the body will gradually become vague and consciousness will diffuse.
With these thinking, she traces the wall surface with her fingertips, grasping the shape of the wall.
Behind her is an iron door, the door to the secret room where the princess sleeps. In front of her is a long passageway leading straight ahead.
Yes, it's all right. She doesn't feel anyone's presence but her own.
Nothing has changed in this room since the sound of the outer door being closed.
The stagnant air reeks of mold, and the only thing that shakes it, even slightly, is Valerie's own breathing.
How much time has passed?
The sense of time is vague. But perhaps morning is not far away.
The constant tension of her consciousness is tiring her.
But then, her consciousness, her concentration, is interrupted by the image of a man appearing in front of her.
He had a peculiar black hair and a dazed look in his eyes.
Immediately, she shakes her head after remembering Lucas's face.
Maybe, she misses him. But she has never missed someone so much in her life.
The reason might be that she's decided to devote herself to his wife for the rest of her life. She thought so.
It could be that she will be with him 24/7 for the next time.
Has she fallen in love with him? Maybe so.
No, otherwise there is no explanation for this feeling that she has.
Although he is a man without luck, a man who seems to be possessed by a plague god.
Although he is the kind of man that bird droppings fall when he walks on the street, and he always falls when there is a step.
Although he irritates her just by looking at him.
But when she thinks about what annoyed the most, it's when he accepts his bad luck without fighting it.
That is what she was irritated the most.
(Come to think of it, I haven't seen him fall recently.)
Strangely enough, she never saw him meet with any bad luck since they left the capital.
The only thing she can say is that he was involved in a funny way with the Princess, but that too has been blown away by this commotion.
(Hmm... I heard that a man change depending on the kind of woman he gets together with. So, I was his lucky goddess. Ufufufu... I see, I see, it must be so...)
She smiled to herself thinking such a thing.
Regardless of his luck, there are many good things about him.
She would not have noticed it if she had not made an effort to look at him, but now she feels more and more favorable toward him.
(Perhaps this is what love is?)
If so, it is a strange story. Not to fall in love and get married, but to fall in love after getting married.
Valerie smiles and regains her concentration.
Everything is fine, she still doesn't feel anyone's presence.
A sudden drop of water rubbed her eardrums.
It was a faint sound, so small that it could be lost instantly if she lost her concentration.
However, the sound gradually increased in volume and turned into the sound of dripping and splashing on the floor.
Valerie tilts her head.
(By the way, isn't this passageway next to a large bathroom?)
Is this sound coming from there? No, it is not. The sound is coming from behind her, from the room where the princess is sleeping.
Before she came in, there was a heavy storm outside. Maybe a leak? That's impossible. She's on the first floor. That's impossible.
But if there's a leak somewhere that's getting the princess drenched, it's a big deal.
However, without any proof, it would be awkward to wake up the princess who is sleeping peacefully.
While she was hesitating like this, she heard a sound like something heavy falling.
It sounded as if something had fallen on the soft carpet.
The faint sound coming through the wall made her raise her eyebrows.
"What is this smell!?"
Her eyes widened involuntarily.
She felt as if something cold had been poured into her back, and her heart jumped.
A smell similar to rusty iron rubbed her nose.
It is an odor that she has smelled many times on the battlefield.
It was the smell of blood.
She is so surprised that she forgets that her surroundings are dark, and looks to the left and right. But still there is no sign of anyone.
As she becomes more and more aware of her surroundings, the smell of blood becomes thicker and thicker.
It is coming from the door behind her, and through the cracks in it.
(Is it possible that someone has entered the room? No way, that's impossible! It's impossible!)
As she shakes her confused head, Valerie desperately knocks on the door.
"Your Highness! Your Highness! Please answer me!"
But there is no answer.
The sound of the water increased, and the smell of blood became thicker and thicker.
She has a bad premonition, no, it is not a premonition at all. It is a reality that is happening right in front of her eyes.
Every moment is now at a critical juncture.
(I have no choice but to break the lock by force!)
Valerie puts her hand on the handle of the door, and as soon as she tries to exert herself, she gets a shiver.
It was opened. It was unlocked.
That's impossible. It can't be.
Olga must've locked the door and checked it again and again.
What's going on. What's happening.
She can't breathe. her heart is beating noisily.
Valerie takes a deep breath and talks to herself.
(Calm down, calm down, Valerie. No one has opened the door. No one has passed through. I know that. It was unlocked because Olga picked the wrong lock. Really, she's quite careless. The same thing happened in my childhood school. Calm down, calm down.)
The more she tells herself, the more her mind screams, "But what is this bloody smell?"
If no one has passed through here, is there any other way?
No, it's impossible.
She has checked carefully for any kind of hidden door.
It's all right. There must be some mistake.
The next moment, however, a scary image flashed through her mind, and her spine froze again.
"Under the bed!?"
Come to think of it, she did not check there even once.
(If someone was hiding there! If so, who would be there by now?)
Valerie draws her sword and bites her lower lip in frustration.
(Calm down, don't be in a hurry. The room is probably dark. With this much blood, even if Her Highness is still alive, she can't stand still. And the only thing I can rely on is a sign. Still, I can't even be sure of that if my mind is distracted.)
She meditates again, takes a deep breath, and lets it out.
And the next moment...
As soon as she opens the door with a mighty bang, she steps into the room without a moment's pause. As expected, the room is completely dark, and she searches for a sign as she steps in.
(No way! There is no sign of Her Highness?)
Valerie is confused. But the next moment, she utters a stupid voice that even she did not intend to make.
"Eh, awa, wawawa!"
She steps onto the floor, which is already drenched in blood, and her feet are caught in the wet floor, and she falls on her feet with a heave.
She hit her chin hard on the floor and let out a muffled voice, which is unbecoming of a maiden, and stars flew brightly in front of her eyes.
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