36. Day 4 (8)
Astel walked quietly with Shesam and the others down the long corridor of the majestic temple.
The temple staff kindly welcomed Shesam as he presented the letter. He spoke with a sad smile, “I’m glad you came.”
“—Here are Lady Lorona’s remains. We’ve prayed for her.”
“I appreciate it.”
“No, we are the ones who should be thankful to Lady Lorona.”
The staff member shook his head with a forlorn expression and guided them to the room where her remains were being kept.
Even in summer, the basement was as cold as midwinter. It was so that the remains wouldn’t be damaged.
While the room was cold enough for breath to turn white, the three stepped into the room without changing their expressions.
“I’ll excuse myself so that you can say your parting words properly.”
The considerate staff member left Astel and the others in the room before slowly closing the door.
It was a spacious room. Due to how large and beautifully decorated the room was, the exclusive treatment Lorona received from the church was clear.
Upon the stone slab placed within the room, a figure could be seen lying quietly.
Astel whispered her name with a quivering voice. Shesam also couldn’t help but cover his face with his hands and groaned in pain.
As they gradually approach, the figure of a petite woman lying in a white dress could be seen.
The three were taken aback by her beautiful appearance. She seemed to merely be asleep.
However, her chest wasn’t moving, while her skin was unnaturally white. Moreover, the mask covering her face clearly showed that she had passed.
Only her beautiful silver hair, which reflected the light in a divine manner, seemed alive.
As if overwhelmed by the appearance, Shesam crumpled on the floor.
Somewhere in his heart, he had hoped for it to be another person. However, that shape and contour definitely belonged to Lorona.
“…Lorona, dammit! I’m sorry, if only I was braver…”
Full of regret, Astel staggered closer to Lorona’s body, gently placing his hand on top of hers, which were folded on top of her chest.
Realizing that when she was alive, he had barely touched her, Astel cried.
He tried to envelop her small hands with his.
Her white wrists were unblemished and incredibly beautiful.
The plaster mask was probably special. It was firmly fixed so that it couldn’t be moved. Gentle stroking its surface, Astel slipped his fingers through Lorona’s silver hair.
Suddenly, Astel felt that something was amiss.
Lorona’s silver hair, which he remembered, would flutter in the wind and reflect the light.
Even though he had never touched it, he firmly believed that it would be silky and soft to the touch.
While the silver hair he was touching was certainly beautiful, it felt stiff and coarse. In addition, the silver color was both unnatural and pasty.
He wondered if the temple staff had covered Lorona’s hair with a wig. However, that hair definitely grew from her scalp.
“Shesam, I’m sorry, but can you come here?”
“…What is it?”
Shesam, who was crying, responded to Astel’s call and approached with an uncertain gait.
Seeing Lorona’s body up close, Shesam wailed once again.
“You used to be by Lorona’s side. Look at her hair… is this truly Lorona?”
When asked by Astel, Shesam stopped crying. Just like Astel, he felt the silver hair.
His eyes, damp with tears, widened. He seemed to have noticed a sense of incongruity as well.
“The lady’s hair was softer and more beautiful in color. This color is unnatural…!!”
Kaiser rushed over to Shesam’s shout and touched the hair.
He stood right above the lying corpse and scraped the scalp with his fingertips.
“Astel, this is…”
The root of the hair near the back of the head wasn’t silver. Instead, it was a dull gray.
“…The hair, was dyed!!”
“Then, this girl—!!”
The men stared at the body of the girl wearing a plaster mask. All the three of them were shocked.
Not a single person could speak out of surprise from discovering those weren’t Lorona’s remains.
“…What kind of foolish mistake—didn’t the temple confirm her identity? Is it possible that they failed to notice the unnaturalness of her hair color?”
“During worship, to avoid being noticed by the others, Milady would always conceal her hair in a hat.”
Whenever she visited the temple, Lorona would always tie her hair and wear a hat that completely cover her head.
Shesam recalled that her appearance in the temple, praying as a devout believer instead of a countess, was sacredly beautiful.
“Then… the temple must’ve mistaken this girl as Lorona.”
Astel shouted that it was impossible, for the body was found inside the carriage Lorona was riding.
While the girl’s face was crushed, she was wearing Lorona’s dress. Her hair was also silver. Not to mention, her frame was similar to Lorona’s.
Therefore, it wouldn’t be strange for the temple staff to mistake that woman as Lorona.
“…Then, where’s Lorona?”
Inside the large room, Astel’s muttering echoed and vanished.
“Kaiser, where was Lorona’s body found?”
“On a suburban road. There’s nothing near that road except for a small rural village.”
“A rural village? What kind of village?”
Convinced by Kaiser’s words, Shesam lifted his head.
Suddenly spoken to, Kaiser told him of the village’s name with a dubious expression.
When he heard of the village’s name, Shesam’s complexion underwent a drastic change.
“I received a letter from a nursing home in that village…!”
The letter received from a postman just before Shesam went to see Astel.
Shesam took it out from his bag and confirmed the sender.
“This is a nursing home that Lady Lorona had been taking care of. I thought it was a letter of condolences…”
“Anyway, what’s inside…!”
Sesham opened the seal with his shaking fingers.
There was only one simple piece of paper inside.
Astel and Kaiser took a look at the letter from besides Shesam. Shesam followed the text written on it with his eyes.
They were at loss for words and stood there with their eyes wide open.
***T/N: *le gasp*
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