The hard sound of my footsteps resounded throughout the not very wide room.
But, there were a lot of valuable books that the main building inside the palace grounds did not have. On top of that, only those who had permission were allowed to access, so I didn’t need to worry about being observed.
Between the shelves and the stairs, there were a lot of blind spots so Klaus must be out of his mind with worry, but security was tight so it would be difficult for suspicious persons to sneak in.
The dimensions of the windows weren’t big enough for people to use it as an entry point, either.
Safe, and most importantly, quiet. As a place of concentration, it was a great spot.
I stopped in front of a shelf and took a book. It was quite old, but maintenance must have been on point because there was no smell of mold.
I went up the short stairs, advancing inside. Now carrying two volumes in my arms, I ventured even deeper inside.
An atlas, a medical journal, and lastly…
I heard the sound of a small clatter.
In front of it stood a single man.
I hadn’t noticed his presence, so I instinctively took a step back in fright.
He was…not a brazen intruder. With his face in profile, he looked very familiar.
Platinum blond hair I had originally mistaken for white at first shone from the narrow light streaming in. Different from my curls, fine hair without its own tendencies cast a shadow on a beautiful forehead.
His eyes, framed by long lashes, were the color of a bright winter sky. In profile, from the clean bridge of his nose to his thin lips, his facial features were very well put together but lacked any fragment of emotion.
“Are you also here to read?” he asked, not even bothering to look at me.
Even though it wasn’t a reproach, I was choked for an instant.
“Why are you here…”
Without answering him, I asked him a question in return. My voice worked itself out of my throat, but although it wasn’t hoarse, it was quite stiff.
After several seconds had passed, he closed the book.
Even if it hadn’t been a very loud, my shoulders tensed nervously from the sound. He slowly raised his face to look at me. His light-colored eyes reflected my image.
“Is it strange for me to be inside my own palace?”
Even the motion of lightly tilting his head to the side seemed like it had come straight out of a painting. Though he was in his mid-30s, there was nary a blemish nor a wrinkle on his face.
Receiving a hard stare from this man whose good looks seemed like it couldn’t possibly be real made me want to run away screaming, but I dug in my heels and shook my head.
The name of the man who stood before me was Randolf von Werfald.
His Majesty the King, the current ruler of Nebel. My father.
I called him my father, but there was practically no connection between us as parent and child.
We didn’t have a relationship where I could freely meet with him, and I’d never felt any affection, either. More than anything else, I found this person difficult to deal with.
It wasn’t like I had no questions about the head of the state wandering around in a place like without a single companion, but quite frankly, I didn’t want to get involved.
Let’s find what I came here for and leave without delay.
I made up my mind to concentrate on finding the books as I’d originally planned.
What I was missing and the shelf I was looking for couldn’t possibly be in front of that person, could it?
If I remembered correctly, materials related to history were supposed to be at the very end.
I stole a quick look to the side.
Father made no move to get out of the way, and slowly turned the pages of the book. Hey, you must sense me telling you to move out of the way.
Move, make way, please step aside. I tried sending him my thoughts, but it was ineffective.
His indifferent profile, which irritated me so much, was nothing but a pretty face.
“You’ll burn a hole in me staring like that.”
How long had I had been staring at him?
I remembered his fingers going back and forth four or five times. I didn’t keep count after that so I wasn’t sure, but an appalled sound came out of me.
“If you have business with me, say it. What do you have a mouth for?” he asked dispassionately.
The words he said were very reasonable. But it really ticked me off.
Asshole. Mentally bunching my hands into fists, I pasted a smile on my face.
“Excuse me. I wanted to read a book on history,” I said, implicitly telling him to move, but my father didn’t look like he could be bothered.
It seemed like he had no intention of yielding his spot. He looked at me and the shelves, and after a short while he opened his mouth.
“I’m telling you to state the subject you wish to research.”
Why was he asking about that?
I was puzzled. When I didn’t answer him, he expressionlessly asked, Are you slow?
ARGHHHHH! I’M SOOOOOO PISSED OFF!!!
“The Dark Lord!”
The moment I shouted at him in irritation, my father stopped moving for a moment.
Those unique eyes with its color like thin ice reflected my image. His emotions couldn’t be read, and I faltered under his stare.
“Do you want a fairy tale?”
His low voice was as flat as ever. Anger and delight were absent; no fragment of emotion could be detected.
Perhaps I’d unwittingly brought the dragon’s wrath upon myself.
Still, I couldn’t help but negate him.
“The Dark Lord is not a character inside a story. He does not exist as a fable to lull a child keeping late hours to sleep.”
“You wish to say he was real? Something that is no more, and remains only in the descriptions of ancient texts?”
“Documents were the living proof of our ancestors. Several hundred years’ worth of time have passed, but even after the memories of people have faded, the gift our ancestors have left behind are the methods we can use to struggle against the dark.”
Unintentionally, I began to get worked up as talked back to him.
I couldn’t back down precisely because I knew the Dark Lord existed in this world.
How much horror did the people who fought against the Dark Lord face? How much did they suffer?
They were witness to a strength that defied knowledge, that single-handedly laid waste to all. But even when they continuously lost their homes, were killed, and trampled underfoot, they struggled without giving up hope. I couldn’t help but hold awe and respect for those people.
For their military success, for the proof of a miracle. For the way of life they continued to go against.
A descendant from the kingdom that sealed the Dark Lord, the ruler of that kingdom, was not allowed to ridicule it as a fairy tale.
“I said I wanted to read a history book. Please, do not misunderstand.”
From below I glared at him like I was facing off with him.
Clamping down on my panic, I somehow put on a brave face, but my father was neither angry nor surprised.
All he said was, “I see.”
………huh? That was it?
The intimidating air vanished. After a while, nothing remained and I even thought it had been an illusion.
Closing the book in his hand and returning it to the shelf, my father passed by me.
Really, what just happened!
“If that is the case, you should stop by my chambers later.”
I had a delayed response to the words his dropped as left, before rounding my eyes in shock.
Confused, I turned around. Feet moving without pause, my father continued like we were trading gossip.
“Books relating to the Dark Lord are in my control. If you wish, I will show you.”
I merely stood still, unable say a single word in response to his parting back.