Chapter 38: Danger
After Victoria left, I crawled on the floor like a caterpillar and approached the wall that I had found with my fingers.
I leaned my back and head against the cold, hard wall and let out a long sigh.
I stared at the crushing darkness.
It was strange.
I was in this situation, but rather than feeling uneasy, my chest tingled with happiness and my body slightly warmed up.
Victoria didn’t hate me.
I thought that no one would love me or like me except for my late mother.
I wasn’t needed by anyone, and at the worst times, I grieved that I had even been born.
Stupid, dumb, useless and a simpleton.
I was torn apart by the countless abuse that I had been subjected to and the hatred that my father had directed at me, and I was trapped into thinking that people hated me because I was defective and had nothing to offer.
I was intoxicated by the sadness and the little bit of pleasure it brought me.
However, that was a big mistake.
People didn’t hate me as much as I thought they did.
I may be hated more than the average person, but there are certainly people who like me.
There are even people who tell me they love me.
I was just under false assumptions after all.
I saw everyone as my enemy and assumed that they ‘hated’ me without confirming what they really thought about me.
I even twisted their most genuine kindness and received their actions negatively.
It was easier to just assume that they didn’t like me from the start and give up ―――.
I kept my distance from them, put up a wall and didn’t try to meet them halfway.
I didn’t try to understand their feelings.
I was always complacent.
I was selfish.
And because of that, I hurt Orpheus and the people I love.
“I have to change.”
I can’t stay the way I am.
I have to let go of my false assumptions, stop overly putting myself down and face the people I love and those who I will meet head on.
If I don’t do that then I’m sure I’ll make the same mistakes again.
I’ll hurt Orpheus and others.
I’ll be wringing my own neck.
“There’s no point in starting over if I keep doing the same things over and over again.”
So, I’ll change ―――.
I will take this opportunity to truly break off my relationship with him.
I will no longer be trapped by his hatred or words.
I will no longer be dragged down by the past.
I will leave the old me behind and be reborn as the new me.
For Orpheus’s sake as well―――.
My heart trembled as I made this decision.
I felt a surge of strength in my stomach and a burning in my chest.
“I will change. I will definitely change.”
I thought about the people I cared about.
I want to see the people who care about me and are important to me.
Orpheus, Claire, Claude, Diana, and Juris.
I want to see them and talk to them.
That’s why I have to get out of here.
I won’t be defeated by that man’s malice.
“Like hell I will.”
I won’t give into such cowardly methods ―――.
When the roar reached my ears, it seemed like there was nothing to be afraid of anymore ――― not even the darkness that didn’t have a ray of light in it, nor that crazy man.
I don’t know how much time passed since then.
I heard the sounds of footsteps again as I desperately tried to figure out how to escape from this mansion.
Is it Victoria―――?
I separated myself from the wall, thinking that she might have brought me food like she had promised to.
I haven’t eaten anything in over half a day.
I wasn’t hungry, but my throat was parched, and I couldn’t wait to drink some cold water.
I was about to call Victoria’s name when a candle lit up the darkness, and I quickly shut my mouth when I realised that it wasn’t her behind the bars.
“Hey Miss. Are you alive?”
It was the bald man who had kidnapped me.
Only him, and no one else.
“Your father told me to bring you to him.”
The bald man skilfully unlocked the door with one hand, then he opened the barred door and walked over to me.
“… I see. It’ll be heavy for you to carry me, so I’ll walk by myself. Please untie the rope.”
“I can’t do that. It’ll be troublesome if you run away.”
“You’ll catch me straight away even if I run away. A woman’s legs aren’t that fast.”
“I can’t. You never know what will happen.”
I looked at the man who was laughing boldly and sighed since it wasn’t going to be easy to escape.
I’m familiar with the structure of this house.
I thought that I could somehow get past him and get away, but it seemed that he didn’t want to take any chances.
He carried me easily and took me out of my cell.
“Can’t you treat me with a little more respect? I’m not an object. My face has been hitting your back for a while now and it hurts.” I protested angrily when we were climbing the stairs since my nose hurt from hitting his back and the bald man laughed in amusement before saying, “You’re real gutsy. You’re not the least bit afraid even in this situation.”
I wanted to tell him, “Of course I’m not.”
Being afraid won’t make the situation better.
The more I lose my cool, the worse things will get.
“More importantly, treat me more respectfully. I’ll throw up if you shake me around too much,” I threatened him, and the bald man finally stopped down his pace and stopped being rough with me.
We left the cold basement, went to the first floor corridor, and proceeded up the stairs to the second floor.
All the windows were covered by thick curtains and the lights were on. Apparently, it was already evening.
I couldn’t see any servants.
The bald man walked straight down the second floor corridor and stopped in front of a room.
“We’re here, Miss.”
The door opened with a creaking sound.
On the other side was that man ――― my father.
He was slumped on the couch; his hair and clothes were a mess. There was a short table in front of him and several liquor bottles lying at his feet.
“Oh, Louise, you’re finally here. I got tired of waiting for you. ――― Hey, sit her down on that chair over there.”
My hands and feet remained tied as I was thrown into the chair across from the man.
“Hmm. What a mess,” my father said when the bald man left the room while looking at me as if he was running his tongue over me.
He must have drunk quite a lot since I could smell the alcohol on his breath even though he was far away.
I looked down since I was sickened by his rude gaze and the smell of alcohol.
“Look at me, Louise.”
“I’m not Louise, I’m Ophelia.”
“Ophelia? Oh, that.”
Father nodded as if he understood something.
“You mean your daughter. I gave her to that man’s son since he paid a lot for her. There were other buyers, but that man’s son paid the most. Aren’t you glad that your daughter and the son of the man you love are together? They’re half-siblings, but that doesn’t matter and you’re happy right? Well, I heard that man’s son loves his handicap cousin, so that girl is probably living a lonely life in the corner of that mansion right now.”
I raised my face and stared at my father, who was chuckling.
I wonder who the man my mother loved was.
Who are half-siblings?
Is he so drunk that he can’t tell the difference between fantasy and reality?
“It’s all because of your bad behaviour. It’s your fault that she was forced to marry her blood brother and that she’s unhappy.”
“What are you talking about? My mother loved you. I’m your daughter ―――.”
It was a miracle that I was able to avoid the flying liquor bottle.
I saw the man grab the liquor bottle on the table and quickly ducked down.
The liquor bottle flew through the air with such force that it shattered with a loud clang when it hit the floor.
“Your mother loved that man! Your mother, Loiuse, didn’t disregard that man! I came to her every day and paid her a lot of money, but she always gave me a cold stare and looked down on me, and then she gave birth to that man’s kid!” The man shouted like he was a child who was throwing a tantrum, then he limped onto the couch, probably from running out of breath from speaking so much.
“… Aren’t I your daughter…?”
“You? My daughter?”
A loud laugh echoed through the heavy air in the room.
“Don’t be ridiculous! I’ve never slept with Louise! I paid her a lot of money and yet I’ve never slept with her!”
The man swung his thick arms and swept away all the liquor bottles on the table.
The sounds of the shattering glass sounded like a scream.
“You’re that man’s, Ernst’s, daughter. You can tell straight away from the colour of your eyes. They’re blue, an even darker blue than Louise’s. It’s an annoying colour, just like Ernst’s. They make me want to kill you.”
I couldn’t breathe, and it wasn’t because he said it made him want to kill me.
I couldn’t breathe because the man in front of me just said something unbelievable as if it was nothing.
That was the name of Orpheus’s adoptive father and my father-in-law.
The former Earl Rosenstein, Ernst Rainer von Rosenstein.
No way, this can’t be true ―――.
“Ernst-sama… is my… real father?” The voice I finally managed to squeeze out was trembling.
“Why are you asking that now? You know. She’s your child.”
I’m not this man’s daughter?
My real father, the man who my mother loved, was Ernst Rainer von Rosenstein.
The man who was smiling gently in the portrait.
I remembered what my mother had said to me before she passed away.
『That person, your father, he gave me so much love. The red roses are proof of his love. Of course, your mother also sincerely loved your father. I loved him more than anyone in the world.』
The person who gave my mother red roses isn’t this man, but Ernst-sama.
Am I happy or sad ――― or maybe what I’m feeling is close to joy?
A number of unexplainable emotions passed through my chest and my heart tightened.
“But it looks like she doesn’t know. Ophelia believes that I’m her father. She’s an idiot. Don’t you think so, Louise?”
I thought that the man, who was drunk and kept mixing me up with my mother, was eerie.
I’m not Louise, I’m Ophelia.
However, I hesitated to point that out because of the eerie and disturbing look in his eyes.
If I provoke him, then he might throw a tantrum and throw a liquor bottle at me again like he had done earlier.
“It’s not working.”
A chill ran down my spine as the man gave me an affection look with a gentle smile which was the opposite of what he had said.
“I tried so hard to forget you, so I sold off your daughter who looks just like you, so I don’t have to remember you, but it’s not working. You always torment me. You criticise me with your cold eyes.”
The man held his head as he hung it down and repeated resentfully, “It’s not working.”
“I was going to get you this time. That’s why I paid a lot of money to hire those guys and had you kidnapped… I knew when I saw you again. I knew that you’ll never be mine. You won’t sympathise with me. Just like that time.”
It’s too late, I thought.
I didn’t need to provoke him. This man is losing his mind.
I need to escape ―――.
My life will be in danger if I don’t.
This man is hopeless.
He’s completely insane.
I don’t know what he will do to me if I stay here.
I thought, but my hands and feet were tied, and I was in no condition to escape.
The more I struggled, the more the rope cut into me, blocking my movements.
I could only gasp and freeze as the man stood up and staggered a little closer to me.
“If you’re not going to be mine and if you’re just going to torment me, then die. Die along with your daughter and let me go!”
I could avoid a liquor bottle, but it was impossible to avoid the big fat man.
He jumped at me and flipped the chair I was sitting on.
I barely avoided him hitting my head, but the moment I tried to get up, he strangled me.
My mind went completely blank.
I tried to resist with my tied up hands and legs, but his hold on my neck didn’t loosen at all.
My heart pounded.
My ears were ringing.
I couldn’t breathe and couldn’t stand the pain.
Is this where I’m going to die ―――?
A high-pitched shrill sounded just after my vision turned bright red.
Something fluttered and the arms that were strangling me disappeared.
His large body seemed to have collapsed and a pale girl with curly chestnut hair appeared.
I coughed while feeling confused, and Victoria pushed the man on top of me with both hands as hard as she could.
“Are you alright?!”
She pulled my arm to help me up and said, “Hold on, I’ll untie you now!” Then, she looked around the room and picked up the sharpest fragment she could find.
She then began to rub it against the ropes binding my legs in an attempt to cut it.
I finally understood what had happened.
Victoria had struck the man on the head with a vase or something, causing him to faint.
I knew that she acted daringly sometimes, but I never expected her to go this far. I could only marvel at her actions.
“Victoria, why are you here…?”
“I brought you some food, but you weren’t there, so I knew he had taken you somewhere and looked around for you. Then, I heard voices coming from this room and when I peeked in, I saw that you were being strangled and I knew I had to help.”
Thanks to Victoria’s efforts, the ropes around my legs were cut and my restraints were released.
The rope had been tied so tightly that they left red marks on my skin.
“Okay, now your arms. Wait, this is hard to cut, so I’ll get something else to cut it with ―――.”
At that moment, the man who had fainted, slowly got up.
But the man was faster.
Before I knew it, he had stood up and was swinging his arms around like a log.
She screamed and her petite body was blown away.
The floor was littered with pottery shards.
She’ll be covered in blood if she falls on top of that.
My body moved on my own the moment I thought that.
I caught Victoria and rolled onto the floor.
Several shards wedged into my back, and it felt painful and hot, but I somehow managed to swallow my scream.
It hurt like hell, but the pain wasn’t unbearable.
“Move aside! Don’t get in my way!”
The man had completely lost his mind. He grabbed Victoria’s curly hair as she laid there unconscious, dragged her with all his might and took out his anger on her by kicking her on the back.
“Stop!” Blood rushed to my head at his poor treatment towards her and I forgot myself and screamed.
“What are you doing?! Victoria is your daughter!”
“Shut up! I don’t care about her!”
I recalled her blue eyes stained with sadness.
『You, my mother, and I were only pawns for his revenge. 』
She looked as if she was hurting and in pain.
I looked like her in the past ―――.
“… I’ll never forgive you.”
This man isn’t my father.
Yet, he tricked me and brought me here. Then he tyrannised me.
He hurt Victoria to get revenge.
I won’t forgive him ―――.
I quickly picked up a shard with my tied up hands and covered them with my fingers so that he wouldn’t see it.
The man jumped at me again and pushed me down. He strangled me again, but I never let go of the shard.
I limped and my consciousness was fading away, but the moment the man let his guard down, I stabbed him with the shard.
I felt a soft, squishy sensation and splashes of blood.
A hair-rising scream resounded in the room, and the man fell back while holding his right eye.
Bright red blood spurted from between his fingers.
My mind spun with a mixture of regret for what I’d done and excitement for having gone through with it.
“Shit! I’ll kill you! I’ll kill you!”
The man was tenacious.
Even though he had lost his right eye, he didn’t give in. He reached out to me and screamed that he would kill me.
I twisted my body and tried to escape, but he held onto my shoulders and finally grabbed my neck.
I was in despair since I couldn’t hold on anymore, and then the door opened with a loud bang and footsteps rushed into the room.
“Ophelia!” When the familiar voice called out my name, the giant body that was pinned on top of me flung away.
The one who appeared before the stunned me was a handsome young man with wavy black hair and deep blue eyes. He was holding a slender, silvery sword in one hand. And seeing him up close gave me goosebumps.
I thought a miracle had occurred.
Or maybe I’m dreaming?
Unbelievable. It was Orpheus who had kicked that man away.
He looked down at the writhing man with the most chilling expression I’d ever seen, one that seemed to lower the temperature of the room by a few degrees.
“You sleazebag!” Orpheus said in a low voice. Then he sheathed his sword, crouched down beside me and put his arms around my back to help me up.
“Are you alright?”
I wanted to ask him why he was here, but the words wouldn’t come out of my mouth.
Orpheus ――－ I finally called out his name.
“I’m sorry I’m late.”
He hugged me so tight that I couldn’t breathe. My body was wrapped up in warmth and I could smell the deep forest.
Ah, why ―――?
I was perplexed by the tears that had suddenly begun to flow.
I wasn’t sad or afraid, so why were tears coming out of my eyes?
Why can’t I stop crying when all I feel is a strange sense of elevation?
“Ophelia, did you hurt your back… on the shards? There’s blood on your neck too.”
When Orpheus looked at my face, his handsome face quickly changed into a horrifying one.
I wanted to apologise to him as his handsome face twisted with anger. It looked far more terrifying than when a normal person’s face twisted in anger.
“Umm… I should have said this earlier, but your hands are stained with blood.”
“That’s not what you’re supposed to say,” Orpheus said as he glared at the man who was lying on the floor.
He then picked me up carefully, so that he wouldn’t touch the wound on my back. He didn’t treat me roughly like the bald man. He touched me gently as if he was handling fragile goods ―――.
My heart leaped at the feelings of his arms wrapped around me. His white face was right in front of me as were his deep blue eyes.
My cheeks heated up even though we were in this situation.
“Does it hurt?”
“A… little. But I can handle this much.”
I tried to smile to reassure him, but his expression grew colder.
He walked to the man, who was facing upwards, with me still in his arms, looked down at him mercilessly and suddenly swung his leg.
I didn’t even have time to ask him what he was going to do.
A crushing scream echoed in the room.
Orpheus slammed the sole of his foot mercilessly into the man’s flabby stomach.
The fat body jumped and writhed, but Orpheus’s anger didn’t subside.
He moved his long legs and stopped on the man’s neck this time.
“Hey, what are you ―――.”
“Shall I kill you?” The words that Orpheus had whispered sweetly as if he was confessing his love gave me goosebumps.
His blue eyes that shone like jewels definitely had a murder in them.
“Orpheus, please wait.”
“It’s easy. I just have to put a little pressure into my legs. ――― What should I do? Should I kill him?”
“No, you can’t. Don’t kill him,” as I answered him, I was horrified by my own cold-heartedness.
I didn’t fear for this man’s life. I just didn’t want to make Orpheus a murderer. I didn’t want him to get his hands dirty.
Oh yeah, I stabbed a shard of the pottery into this man’s right eye ―――.
I intensely regretted that I had done such a terrible thing after having done it.
It was crazy to do something like that even though I was in danger and blood was rushing to my head.
I’m still twisted.
“I see. That’s unfortunate,” Orpheus said while sounding really disappointed.
Orpheus brought his foot down to the man’s stomach once more, aiming for his vital point and knocking him out with ease.
I looked down at the completely flattened man with an indescribably complicated feeling.
“Hey, Orpheus-kun. Can you stop leaving the small fries to me and rushing in by yourself?”
Claude appeared from behind the wide open door.
He was dressed simply in a white shirt and black pants and his hair was messy, but he carried a long sword at his waist.
Renee was dressed in a manly outfit behind him. Her long brown hair was tied in a ponytail and she carried a blood-soaked sword in her right hand.
“Claude and Renee. You two came too…”
You’ve come to save me ―――.
I’m sure my eyes are red and swollen, but Claude smiled brightly like always, waved his hand and said, “Hey, Phelia. I’m sorry I’m late. Are you hurt?”
“… She hurt her back and neck,” Orpheus answered.
Claude’s smile faded. He walked over to me and stared at my back.
“It’s covered in blood. The wounds seem to be minor, but your back is all red. Did Lord Lagerfeld do this to you?”
“No, I got hurt by some shards… Umm, Claude. Can you help Victoria up? The girl over there.”
Orpheus was only helping me. He wasn’t paying any attention to my unconscious half-sister.
So, I asked Claude to help me. He gave me a brief reply, then went to pick up the limp and motionless Victoria.
“Alright. The Princess has been taken, so I’ll just have to put up with this.”
When I called his name fondly, he replied, “I’m just joking.”
“By the way, who’s this?”
“Oh, you did say you had a sister. Hmmm. You two don’t look alike at all.”
I didn’t say it was because we weren’t blood related.
Renee had quickly tied up the man’s arms and legs.
Just as she finished, three armed men came from behind the door and under Claude’s orders, took the tied man away.
“Now then, we have to take care of the two princesses. Shall we move to another room?”