< — Ever After — > (1)
When Lucia woke up in the morning, the maid brought in a bundle of flowers. These days, this event repeated itself every morning. Lucia was happy to receive the colorful and beautiful, lavender statice flowers. Every time she received a bouquet of flowers, she recalled why he began to send her flowers and it made her laugh.
Lucia had no idea that the reason why he hated roses was related to herself. She didn’t know how much she had laughed when Jerome secretly hinted that fact to her. Actually, Lucia was not that bothered about the yellow roses, but she didn’t know he was really worried and went to the extent of ordering Jerome to put a ban on roses.
She buried her nose in the statice bouquet and after taking in its faint scent, she returned the bouquet to the maid. Afterwards, the maid was going to place the bouquet as a decoration somewhere in her room. Her bedroom was already turning into a garden of statice flowers. Soon, there would be no more space in her room and the decorations would have to expand to the receiving room.
Lucia sat in the receiving room, doing embroidery and frequently glancing at the door. There was someone she had been waiting for since morning. Seeing the door opening up, Lucia quickly rose to her feet. Jerome came into the receiving room, escorting an old man. Lucia’s face lit up with bright smile as she ran to the old man.
“Haha. Yes. Yes.”
The draw of blood-relationship was really amazing. Lucia felt close to her grandfather as if she had known him for a very long time. Lucia’s personality wasn’t very sociable, but she didn’t hesitate when she gave her grandfather a big hug.
“You’re hungry, right? I’ll have lunch prepared right away.” (Lucia)
“No, No. Let’s take it easy. Let me see my granddaughter’s face. Have you been well?” (Count)
“Of course. What about you, Grandfather?”
“I’m more or less okay.”
Count Baden laughed heartily because his affectionate granddaughter was just too lovely. Lucia grabbed the wrinkled and coarse hand of her grandfather and led him to the couch. Soon, Jerome brought them tea and left them alone so that the two of them could share their joy of reunion.
“I didn’t know I would come back to the capital so soon.” (Count)
His grandson-in-law told him, ‘Whenever you want to come, you can use the gate,’ but at the time, the Count wondered what would make him deliberately come to the capital. He didn’t want his well-off granddaughter to be inconvenienced because an old man kept hanging around. And since he had personally seen his granddaughter doing well, he was going to try living his life and consider it as a blessing in his later years.
However, a messenger came to him with the message that his granddaughter missed him very much and wanted to him to come visit sometime. He was very happy and overjoyed to get that message. Even though her useless grandfather had not been able to take care of her, she still missed him. And after returning to the capital, the Count kept thinking of his granddaughter who resembled his daughter very much.
“I know I shamelessly contacted you and came all of sudden like this.” (Count)
“What do you mean? There’s no such thing. I should be the one to go visit you, but you’re coming instead, and I feel sorry.” (Lucia)
“No. I should be the one to come. I know you are not in a position where you can move around carelessly.”
Although the Count was not someone greedy for riches and fame, he was secretly proud of the fact that his granddaughter was the Madam of a big family like the Duke of Taran household.
“This time, get some rest in our home before you go. You can’t be stubborn like last time and say you’re staying somewhere else.” (Lucia)
“Haha. Alright. I got it.” (Count)
Lucia had lunch with her grandfather and as they took a walk together, they engaged in small talk. In the afternoon, she took her grandfather to look around the mansion, drink tea, and have a pleasant chat. Interestingly enough, they had something to talk about the entire time. Their eyes were the brightest when they shared stories about Amanda whom they both loved very much.
“Grandfather, there is something I want to ask you. It’s about the pendant I mentioned to you before.”
“I guess you found it.”
The Count remembered his grandson-in-law telling him that he wanted to find the pendant and give it to his granddaughter as a gift. He felt that his grandson-in-law’s care for his wife was commendable and was pleased that the couple’s relationship was good.
“Ah, I didn’t find it.”
And I probably won’t find it forever. Lucia was convinced that the day she entered the palace, the pendant gave her a strange dream that night and disappeared.
“I was curious about the story of the pendant which was passed down as a heirloom. Grandfather, when you inherited the pendant, did you hear anything else about it?”
“Hmm. When my father gave that pendant to me, he only told me to keep it carefully because it was a precious item.”
“Was there anything else, like a separately written document?”
“There is no such thing. Maybe there was something like that, a very long time ago. But it has been so long…that thing was left to us by the founder of our family. Even if it didn’t have a grand legend attached to it, it is something that has been passed down for generations and I would have kept it preciously.”
“It was left by the founder? So it is a very ancient item. Grandfather, have you ever thought that the pendant is a treasure of enormous value? For example, something like…a magical tool.”
“A magical tool?”
The Count gave an empty laugh.
“Even I have had such a thought. No matter how valuable the heirloom is, it is useless if the family crumbles. I was so frustrated that I once took the pendant and went to a famous magical tool appraiser.”
The appraiser was interested in the fact that the pendant was an ancient item, but he shook his head and said it was not a magical tool. The pendant showed no reaction to the identifier which picks out the specific wavelength of magical tools. The Count told his granddaughter of his experience from a long time ago, where he visited the appraiser just to be sure, and returned home with disappointment.
‘It’s not a magical tool? Then what explains what I have experienced?’
“You are very interested in the pendant. Do you like antiques?” (Count)
“Not…exactly. For me, the pendant has memories with my mother… Do you really not know anything more about the pendant? It can be something very trivial. It’s an item left behind by the founder and even has the legend that it will save the family when it is in a crisis…”
As Lucia was talking, a thought suddenly flashed through her mind.
A chill ran up her spine.
‘I saved it. I saved the family. Because I dreamt about it…’
According to Lucia’s dream, the annihilation of Count Baden family was in the future to come. However, Lucia saw the future in a dream and moved to change the future, therefore the future had changed.
There would never be a connection between Lucia’s uncle and the Count of Matin, and the Baden family will never be caught up in the treason of Count Matin. At the very least, as long as Lucia was alive, the Baden family would not cease to exist. Lucia would not stand aside and let it happen.
‘Is it a coincidence?’
The pendant did not directly help the Baden family. However, it showed Lucia the future and made her take action.
‘…If we say that the magical tool’s power to show the future is a power to save the family from crisis, then that’s forcing it. I only wanted to change my future, but that was a resulting outcome.’
If Lucia had dismissed the dream as a mere daydream or gave up and accepted the coming future, the future of the Baden family may have gone in the direction of extermination. Hugo could have rejected her marriage proposal and Lucia would have not become Duchess. Even aside from that, there were many other uncertain areas.
“A legend about saving the family…”
Hearing the Count’s muttering, Lucia put off her thoughts for later. Now, she concentrated on what her grandfather was saying.
“Seeing as you know about that, Amanda must have told you.” (Count)
Lucia heard it from her uncle whom she met in her dream, but she simply smiled without saying anything.
“That girl, your mother didn’t believe in the legend. She said such legends are all lies. And that if the legend was true, her mother, my wife, would not have passed away.”
The Count continued speaking with a bitter look on his face.
“Back then, I scolded your mother but actually, I thought the same. It was just the consideration of our ancestors who wanted to encourage their descendants. Perhaps that legend was the one strand of hope keeping our family going till now.”
“…Since when did the legend of the pendant saving the family exist?”
The Count wondered why his granddaughter was showing an unusual amount of interest in the pendant. Maybe she clung to it because it had memories with her mother and at that thought, he felt sad.
“Since when? I believe it existed from the beginning. It is said that the founder left it in his will when he first passed on the heirloom.”
“What kind of person was the founder?”
“The founder of our Baden family was a martial artist. He was a great knight and a meritorious subject in the founding of Xenon.”
The Count gave a benevolent smile and told his granddaughter the old story that his grandfather and father had told to him. Just as there were founding myths for every country, most families with long histories had a story made by exaggerating the contribution of their ancestor. As the story passed from mouth to mouth, more ‘flesh’ was added to it and an epic tale was made.
Lucia enjoyed her grandfather’s story a lot but even though she wanted to know more, there was no clue regarding the pendant in the long story.