3.1 The Royal Palace’s Anniversary and the Potato Pie
Dia first met the King of the Night in the Royal Palace of Fashitar during the morning of the winter solstice three years ago.
Even though it was the morning of the anniversary, there was no fire in the kitchen nor the fireplace of the Royal Palace, let alone the chandeliers and candlesticks. The Royal Palace sunk into pale shadows.
Under such circumstances, Dia walked alone through the Royal Palace. During the time when humans wouldn’t be crowding the halls, Dia met an unfamiliar person in a place that was otherwise familiar to her.
Each year in Fashitar, on the solstice, the day of the longest winter night, was an anniversary.
There was a rule for people throughout the entire kingdom to take a break from work during that day—similar to the rule of the Sabbath day.
Opening windows or setting up fires were also against the rule. As such, the people boiled hot water the night before, made plenty of tea in a special fire ore pot that could retain heat, and store them for later. They also had food ready.
It was also the day where no one was to leave their rooms. Thus, the doors of the Royal Palace were tightly shut. Not just the royalty, none of the knights would be able to leave the palace.
It seemed that for the people of Fashitar who denied the existence of nonhumans, believing in the stories of outsiders and ancient customs were two entirely different situations.
They also insisted on believing in the plagues and calamities that would arise from magic—even though their land—Fashitar—had only little magic.
…it’s my first time leaving the room on the anniversary… truly, there’s nobody around…
Dia was sick that day, despite so, she walked barefoot on the cobblestone floor.
Her footsteps echoed in the Royal Palace’s cloister, which had no guards. The place was dim, almost as if deserted.
It was precisely because Dia knew nobody would be around that she left her room.
As she walked, her belly screamed. Dia’s eyebrows lowered sorrowfully.
Since she was well-educated, there was no way she wouldn’t know the custom of the winter solstice.
Food would also be delivered to her room today.
However, Dia, for various reason, couldn’t let herself enjoy such luxury and decided to wander around the quiet Royal Palace due to her hunger.
That was when she met that person.
After a short walk, her toes began to freeze.
The reason why she, a Duke’s daughter who grew up in the Royal Palace, wasn’t wearing a shoes that day was also because of the anniversary. The girls’ and children’s footwear were put away in order to prevent them from being kidnapped by ‘The Bad One’.
After some contemplation, Dia decided that she couldn’t possibly retrieve her footwear, since it wouldn’t be easy.
She had no choice but to give up.
Only her footsteps echoed in the otherwise empty hallway.
She looked up at the painting on the ceiling above. Marveling at the beautiful detail, she found herself immersed almost immediately. Usually, she wouldn’t have much opportunity to do such.
The morning of that season was very dark, but the Kingdom of Everlasting Night Fashitar had plenty of light sources prepared. There were a lot of windows that would be opened during the day to reduce candle consumption.
The corridors of the Royal Palace, which had high ceilings, also let in skylight at regular intervals—pale lights would shine through them.
The coldness of her soles forgotten, Dia stepped along the stunning path created by the rays of light. In the dark, she stretched her fingertips and tried to touch the light.
A ring of blue skylights bathed the blue-gray floor. Her fingertip glided over the border dividing the light and darkness.
Then, she saw a man. He stood quietly in the corridor of the Royal Palace. His appearance befitted that of someone who would appear on the day of death. Even though nobody else was supposed to be out during the day of the anniversary.
His long hair, which flowed down to his feet, was slightly wavy. With a silvery gleam, the color was both pale light blue and that of a snow when basked under the shadow.
His hair was so beautiful, as if spun out of jewels. She was fascinated by it.
That was when she spotted his golden eyes, which resembled melted gold coins, under his fluttering eyelashes, which bore the same color as her own hair.
The smell of old paper and leather bindings…
…there was also the melting aroma of wax, along with the scent of the incense wood for insect repellent.
It seemed that Dia had wandered off to the library.
“…Good grief, in this Royal Palace, how many thorns have been hidden?”
His beautiful appearance aside, to hear such a beautiful creature utter such things, Dia was naturally alarmed.
His beautiful, low-pitched voice was also very sullen.
His beautiful hand, which was outstretched, grabbed a hold of someone who was struggling to raise his voice.
…it’s a castle knight!
She couldn’t see his face from there, but that outfit of his was definitely that of a knight.
Strangely enough, only after she noticed the captive held in his hand did she start to feel afraid.
Up to the age of six, Dia was still the daughter of Duke Gillasfi—
—as such, she understood that the sight in front of her was neither a beautiful vision nor a dream, but a calamity waiting to happen.
The silver-haired man, with a smile floating on his cold beauty, gently grabbed the rampaging knight.
It was very remarkable how even though Dia could only discern his mouth, there was still the expression of beauty that could be felt from the otherworldly creature.
The silver-haired man then peered into the face of the knight, as if confirming the shape of its prey.
Immediately after that, the knight burst into petals.
Dia watched the man, whose cruelty and appearance were totally different than human’s, in bafflement. She had just watched the demise of the knight, whom shattered and vanished with a dim glow when ‘he’ touched the floor.
Ever since when, she had forgotten to run and just stood there. The reason was because—even though his face was obscured by his hair, she felt like she had witnessed this figure; this scene; somewhere before.
The darkness shook.
The morning light during the snowy season was dim, however, no trace of that could be found in the corridor now. Strangely, there was no noise, either—
—despite so, she heard a beautiful sound, like the ring of a crystal bell.
Maybe it was just a figment of imagination, or a voice that only a handful of people could hear.
There was no way for the creature to notice her presence—however, Dia’s breath got caught in her throat when she realized he was looking straight at her.
On the other hand, the stranger who found Dia standing there barefoot, only narrowed his eyes a bit.
He was probably surprised to find such a defenseless human standing barefoot in such a place.
She cursed her bad luck and chewed her lips.
That man obviously wasn’t human—but, even if Dia tried to escape, she was barefoot and not to mention, sick.
If it would only lead to a vain struggle, it would be better if she didn’t run in the first place.
She tightly closed her eyes—is this it? Will I be transformed into glowing petals, too?
However, for some reason, the stranger who looked at her had a very human-like expression—
—namely, a grand frown.
“Good grief, have the people of this kingdom forgotten about the anniversary? …what’s more, to put on shoes?”
Huh, if he talks like a human being, then, can we also communicate with each other?
Dia was appalled that she could still muster such thought.
Before she knew it, the long-haired outsider was nowhere to be seen. It was as if he had disappeared into the shadow of winter.
…where is he—?!
Even the sight of her own shadow falling down at her feet terrified her.
She mustered all her strength to cast aside her fear and lifted her face.
The man who suddenly appeared within the distance that could be covered by merely extending her hand no longer had that long, silver, hair. Instead, the beautiful man supported a light blue hair and purple eyes.
A jet-black cape swayed behind him, bearing the aroma of the night.
…is it truly a cape, though?
Due to the shadow of the dim morning, she couldn’t discern his expression. But the glossy and beautiful jet-black attire of his, which also bore a semblance to a knight’s outfit, …it was hard to be described by Dia’s vocabulary.
How to say it… he dressed like that of a ruler rather than someone who served…
…his appearance has shifted, but it’s definitely the same man as before… no doubt about it…
For some unknown reason, he decided to change his appearance before coming closer.
She tried to compare his current appearance with the previous one—only to find that she could hardly recall anything from before, which terrified her a little.
…but I’m sure I’ve seen someone like him before, somewhere…
The man squinted his bright purple eyes even more due to Dia’s sudden scream.
On a side note, it was as if those pupils of his were producing their own light…
The man probably thought Dia screamed because he suddenly approached her.
“If you plan to leave your room during the anniversary, don’t you at least want to put on your shoes?”
“…did you come to pick me up?”
***T/N: Now please turn that asshole fiance of her to petals too, although that’s too honorable of a death for him. YES, AM I GETTING THE REAL ORESAMA BAD BOI?! AFTER ALL THIS TIMES OF FALSE ORESAMA BAD BOIS!?