Do Flowers Bloom in the Fallen Land? - Chapter 4.2
It was actually a lie when she said she couldn’t remember since it was so long ago. Seira remembered everything.
‘Seira, the world you will live in is your father’s responsibility to protect. So, I want you to be happier than anyone else.’
Those were her father’s words to her.
She remembered it fondly, his big hand patting her head and stroking her hair. Seira could still recall her father’s gentle voice and his wide, warm arms around her as he hugged her tenderly.
‘Please… Please take care of this child for me. Please save her,’ Nathan Askan begged the Emperor earnestly.
Just before leaving for battle, Nathan held the Emperor’s hand as he took faith in entrusting his daughter’s life to the Emperor. But in the end, the promise with which he held on until the moment of his death was broken. His tomb was empty as there was nobody to be laid to rest.
Did he close his eyes in peace as he breathed his last?
“My name is Askan…” Seira finally spoke.
She was able to spend the past eight years in comfort because she was young and weak. If Nathan sacrificed his life to protect the world where Seira would live in, then it was Seira’s turn to protect his name, which was already all in the past.
“I will continue the duchy of Askan,” she continued, this time around with more determination.
At her declaration, whispers and murmurs erupted all over. Even with her head bowed down because she couldn’t make eye contact, Seira could tell what Calrad’s expression would look like now.
‘This is how it ends,’ she finally accepted.
From the moment she spoke, the ground that she stepped on seemed to open up and gobble her in the darkness. But then again, it was a decision she couldn’t take back.
Now, she had to fulfill the obligations that she had put off for so long – to be the new owner of Askan.
* * *
“How can his Majesty…”
The maids whom Seira had become close to for a long time burst into tears.
“I’m fine, so don’t cry,” she tried to console the ladies.
Seira was already packing her belongings in a small bag. She thought she wanted to leave everything behind, but then she just couldn’t and picked a few items. Since the day she lost everything, including her family, the imperial palace had been her home – if she left empty handed, she would either freeze or starve to death.
Seira, who became the Duchess of Askan upon breaking her engagement a few hours ago, didn’t want to die that way and be everybody’s laughing stock.
There would be no time to wear a dress in the future, so she took out simple clothes and packed her underwear and a thick coat. The dresses and jewels that Calrad gave her were kept in a safe box. Whether they sold it back or not, the rest would be taken care of.
She worried that there wouldn’t be a duvet in the duke’s castle, which would now be nothing but short of ruins, but she couldn’t take such trivial things with her now.
“Seira,” a deep voice called out to her.
Seira, who was still looking at her halfway done pack of clothes in the bag, froze.
Dark blue hair akin to the night sky and blue eyes cold as the deep seas. Calrad was as soft and gentle as spring sunshine when he smiled, but when he became angry, he would turn cold and hard like that of a frozen lake in the middle of winter.
The Crown Prince Calrad stood in front of Seira’s door.
‘No wonder I couldn’t hear the cries of the maids at some point,’ Seira thought to herself, ‘he seemed to have bitten his surroundings silently.’
“Where are you going?” Calrad asked her, his voice bitter.
“Your Highness, I’m the Duchess of Askan now,” Seira explained in a matter-of-fact tone, and continued packing her things, “Of course I have to go back home.”
“Utter nonsense! No human can ever live there,” Calrad argued.
Seira was at a loss for words. She was not packing because she didn’t know. She was not going back knowing people couldn’t live there.
Since the day her father lured a swarm of beasts to his estate and killed them eight years ago, Seira had heard that toxic black rain had fallen over Askan for three days and three nights straight. The duchy had then become known as the land of death where no one dared to step foot on.
But what could she do? She wanted to leave this instant.
“Let’s go see His Majesty together. Give up your title and stay with me,” Calrad said as he grabbed Seira’s bag away from her.
“I’m the only heir to Askan. I can’t betray my family,” Seira said as she wrestled her bag out of Calrad’s grasp.
Seira got up from her seat and took her bag with her.
“Seira!” Calrad yelled to stop her. “It’s just a dead land. If you could just throw it away, you’ll give it to me!”
“It’s Your Highness and the imperial family who failed their promise because they couldn’t throw that piece of land away,” Seira replied coldly.
The icy look on Seira’s face, which she had never used against Calrad before, turned him rigid.
She was a kind, gentle woman. Even when she wasn’t as lively as her peers because of her sadness over losing her family, Seira smiled prettily when she was with him.
But now it looked like she really was ready to let herself go. It seemed like her leaving was set on stone.
“No… No…” Calrad shook his head in denial.
He stood by the door with a blank face, and then reached out for Seira and grabbed her wrist with force.
“Don’t be ridiculous. How can you… How can you leave me?!” Calrad erupted, his emotions growing more intense as the seconds ticked by. “Your home is here, next to me, and your name is already Viseltium! Where the hell are you going?”
Seira’s eyes widened at the intensity of Calrad’s screams. She had never seen him like this before – uncontrollably mad at her.
The two of them have never fought during the time they were together, and he never raised his voice against her no matter the situation. It was him who always quietly listened to Seira vent out her frustrations and feelings as he tried to understand her.
But now, it seemed like Calrad had completely lost all his reason.
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