The weather wasn’t very good this morning.
“It might be a bit difficult today.”
Staring at the laundry piled up in the basket, Mabel looked up at the sky. She decided to give up on doing the laundry for today and quietly returned to the kitchen.
With practiced ease, Mabel efficiently went about her household chores. She had finally gotten used to life here. She finished cleaning the room, preparing dinner, and ironing clothes one after another.
Before she knew it, it was already evening, and Mabel made her way to Eugene’s room.
Seeing that the dishes she had left there earlier were empty, she lifted them up with a slightly delighted expression. As she carried them, Mabel looked out of the hallway window.
The sun had completely set, and the sky was dyed in shades of indigo. Several twinkling stars floated in the sky, and Mabel gazed at them intently.
Somehow, the stars looked particularly clear tonight, and she remembered that it was a new moon on the calendar.
“A new moon…”
After murmuring to herself, Mabel recalled the words of the other mage who had come a few days ago. But there was no way to know even if she thought about it, so she headed downstairs to the kitchen.
She soaked the dishes in water and started preparing bread for the next day. After tidying up most of the kitchen, Mabel finally returned to her own room. She praised herself for working hard today and changed into a simple cream-colored dress for bedtime.
It was a dress that she would be scolded for if she were to wear it in her own castle, but here, there was no one to complain.
She carefully brushed her hair and pulled back the blanket, lying down. There was pleasant fatigue, and it seemed like she would sleep soundly tonight.
And so, Mabel fell asleep as usual.
Mabel woke up to a strange sound. At first, she stayed in bed, but when she realized that the sound didn’t stop, she slowly sat up.
“…What’s that sound?”
It sounded like something trembling or an animal’s cry. But it was a sound she had never heard before, and Mabel strained her ears to listen. The sound was faint, but it continued intermittently.
She gently placed her shoes on the floor and draped a simple robe over her shoulders, then quietly approached the door. She held her breath and listened for any signs. It seemed that the sound was coming from outside the room.
She opened the door without making a sound. As she stepped into the hallway, she saw a beautiful night sky through the window glass. In the absence of the moon, numerous small diamond-like stars were shining.
After being slightly moved by its beauty, Mabel listened even more carefully. She had a sense that the sound was getting closer, so she walked in that direction. It seemed to be coming from beyond this hallway.
She walked cautiously and eventually arrived at Eugene’s room at the end of the hallway. She nervously pressed her ear against the door, and indeed, she could hear that sound from the other side.
Worried, she knocked on the door. As usual, there was no response, so she reluctantly placed her hand on the doorknob. But for some reason, the door, which should usually be left open, was locked. She tried turning it a few times, but there was no sign of it opening.
“Eugene-sama, are you okay?”
Mabel called out from this side of the door. However, there was no response from Eugene. Mabel had a sense of unease. What could that sound be?
At that moment, a deep sound reverberated through the floor. Startled for a moment by the vibration, Mabel knocked on the door again. What on earth was happening?
‘This won’t do, I have to find out what’s going on inside!’
But there was no sign of being able to enter from here, and there were no other doors. Just as she was thinking about it, Mabel remembered the balcony in Eugene’s room. There should be a large tree right nearby.
‘If I look from the window, maybe I can see inside.’
Mabel hurriedly ran down the hallway, descended the stairs, and rushed out of the front door. She circled around in the direction of Eugene’s room and searched for the balcony of his room. At the end of the second floor, probably that one.
As soon as she looked, there were several splendid trees right nearby. She ran to the base and touched the trunk with her hand. It was thick and strong enough, so it seemed safe for Mabel to climb. She looked up once, took a deep breath, and swallowed.
“I-I’m going. . .”
Cleaning and doing laundry were Mabel’s specialties, but honestly, climbing trees was a first-time experience for her. She had seen her eldest sister Gertrude climb effortlessly, but Mabel had only ever watched from below.
But if she just stayed here without doing anything, it would be irreversible. Mabel let out a long breath and cautiously placed her right hand on the lowest branch.
‘Otou-sama, Okaa-sama, Wimmie, forgive me for this disgraceful sight!’
As she looked at her attire in the deserted place, she apologized in her mind. But now, saving lives was more important than feeling embarrassed. She carefully climbed, one leg at a time, using her left hand and right foot, struggling to reach the top. The trembling sounds and occasional loud impacts continued, causing Mabel to sweat as she desperately aimed for the window.
‘Just a little more…’
Lifting her left foot, she finally reached the balcony. Gasping for breath, she grabbed the railing and placed her foot on the edge. With a forward roll, she tumbled onto the balcony.
‘Th-That was scary!’
With her still trembling legs and racing heart, Mabel cautiously approached the window. It was covered by curtains, making it impossible to see inside. As expected, it was locked from this side as well. Mabel hesitated for a moment but quickly took off her shoes.
‘Sorry, but I need to find out what’s happening.’
She timidly tapped the glass near the lock. At first, she tapped it gently, but as nothing happened, she gradually increased her strength on the second and third attempts. After several strikes, Mabel, in frustration, slammed the glass with all her might, finally shattering it.
“Ah! It shattered…”
Hastily reaching her hand through the hole, she pushed up the key on the other side. Sliding the window frame, a gust of wind entered through the slightly opened gap, causing the curtains inside to flutter. Mabel strained her eyes, but the room was pitch black, and she couldn’t see anything.
Calling out, Mabel stepped inside. Then, a voice resembling a roar echoed.
“Don’t come close!”
She involuntarily stopped in surprise. Ignoring Mabel’s astonishment, the voice continued.
“Don’t you dare come! Don’t look at anything! Go away!”
It certainly sounded like Eugene’s voice, but at the same time, it seemed to be mixed with a strange noise. More accurately, it was muffled or as if something else was blending with his voice.
“It’s Eugene-sama, right?”
Mabel spoke as quietly as possible. But there was no response, so she reluctantly continued her inquiry.
“Are you okay? I’ve been hearing strange noises, and sometimes loud sounds.”
In the darkness, she extended her hand forward and cautiously moved her feet. But the moment she stepped on the broken glass, Eugene’s scream echoed again.
“I told you! Don’t come! What the hell is wrong with you!”
At that moment, Mabel was speechless. Her chest tightened as if being squeezed.
―His room was filled with books, and at its center, it was there.