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Chapter 34: Light
A few weeks have passed since the Dragon Priestess, Melia Laturi, was sentenced to Donna’s Punishment.
Nasha, who had spent every day bawling beside the sleeping Melia, gradually ceased her visits.
Before she realised it, time had slowly ambled on, and a mere two months remained until the Dragon God Festival.
At this time.
As an opening act to the Dragon God Festival that was held once every ten years, a rite known as [The Light of the Spirits] was hosted.
The spirits that gathered, drawn to the ancient dragon Kharis’ abundant mana, dwelled in the fire of every furnace in the kingdom, giving their blessing to those that used it. To offer their gratitude to the spirits, an oath to remain healthy would be written in a letter. On the night of [The Light of the Spirits], these letters would be burned, entrusting their words to the fire spirits. Hymns honoring the ancient dragon Kharis and the spirits would then be sung.
[The Light of the Spirits], that had begun as a tradition, transformed into a custom that was intended to ask the spirits to grant wishes. By burning the letter containing your wishes, and entrusting the words within to the spirits, they would be granted. …It sounded like a fanciful legend, but there were in fact, a number of records that pointed to wishes being fulfilled. The spirits were the same as ancient dragon Kharis. Originally they carefully watched over the human world and would enjoy “fun things.” Sending your wishes to such spirits meant that they would occasionally be granted.
As the people grew restless, the festival grew even more exciting.
The streets of the capital were packed with food stalls lined alongside, and musicians performed under the beautiful lighting in the very heart of the city square. Unmarried ladies spent time getting dolled up, readying themselves to go out on a date with those they longed for. They did not leave a single stone unturned, doing their best to look fashionable.
And on the meadow that unfolded when stepping out the south gate, was the travelling circus troupe that was known throughout the continent of Yugena.
They welcomed the audience inside the tent with a large ring inside, and greatly entertained the visiting people with their thrilling performances that unfolded each night.
“…During the circus’…performance?”
“That’s right. During the show, the Crown Prince and Miss Nasha will definitely enter the tent.”
“At that time, you will break into the royal treasury and look for the circlet… that’s the plan.”
In the parlour of the mansion located on the west hill outside of the capital.
Sigurd, Morino, and I were refining our plans regarding the circus performance that the royal family was invited to, and would be held on the day of [The Light of the Spirits].
To be precise, our aim wasn’t the program presented by the circus, but the castle that would be empty in the absence of the Crown Prince and his fiancee.
Sigurd and the others had read the books and records kept in the royal palace and the Shrine from cover to cover, and had narrowed down the ‘Dragon Pearl’ to a silver circlet kept in the royal treasury.
Although the key to the treasury was in the hands of Prime Minister Morino, he naturally couldn’t use it for personal reasons. And although horrifying, setting aside the Crown Prince, if Nasha were to learn that they were searching for something, there was a possibility that she would hide it away beforehand. If that happened, it would be difficult to conduct a public search.
The time given to the Sacrificial Priestess during the [Pearl Choosing] before the Dragon God Festival’s ceremony wasn’t long. Even if they knew what to look for, if they didn’t have enough time to search for it, it would be meaningless.
That’s why, it would be necessary to choose a time when the Crown Prince and Nasha were absent from the royal palace when they brought Julieta to the treasury. So that they could confirm the circlet’s shape and where it was stored.
“I asked the troupe leader, and he told me that the performance for the royal family is different from the other nights, and would go on for a long time. Worst case scenario, we would have at least three hours of time before they return to the castle.”
“I’ll stay behind in the royal palace. Once His Highness and Nasha depart for the circus, Sigurd can bring along Lady Julieta. And I will guide you to the treasury.”
“…What will you do about His Highness’ guards? “
“Lutora and the Knight Commander can accompany him. We can say that the Head Priest was invited along with the orphans by the circus troupe for the performance on the day of [The Light of the Spirits].”
“Got it. Let’s go with this plan.”
Patting Sigurd’s shoulder as he nodded, I too began to move to do my ‘preparations’.
My aim was to take Jolga along to the special show that would be held once the program ended.
While I would certainly reach it in time, to watch the show, both Jolga and I needed to prepare.
This time, only Malacia had a different ‘partner’…How it proceeded was dependent on Lutora.
[POV Shift to Julieta]
In between her folded hands was a small white envelope that her father, who called her an ‘accomplice’, had gifted her.
She was going to entrust the crude wish hidden within the paper to the spirits. It was a fleeting dream that she had no right to wish for, and could only pray.
In all this time that she had lived.
Julieta thought her days now were the most wonderful.
Her days in the temple were spent giving selfish demands that went unopposed, rather no one had loved her enough to oppose them. The only thing she looked forward to was marrying her beloved Crown Prince, whom she had fallen in love with at first sight during childhood.
The world that she had impatiently waited for at that time, was mercilessly smashed by the beautiful woman who appeared, led by the Crown Prince.
The one who rescued Julieta, who had fainted in despair, was none other than her father.
Just as he had taught her, Julieta played the role of an innocent and pure saintess. Ever since she began acting as such, Julieta realised that it was much more fun than looking down at people from above. Although her legs had been wounded to prevent her from escaping hurt; reading, cooking and taking care of small animals made her daily life bright and fun.
With her slightly shy brother coming to stay by her side, her days became even more vibrant.
Her heart hurt when she thought of the Crown Prince or Nasha. But at such times, Sigurd would snuggle up to Julieta, wrapping her up in his arms, and heal her broken heart. The existence of her brother, even though they were not related by blood, encouraged Julieta.
That was why it was a dream.
Because it was simply a dream, she could entrust her wish to the spirits, couldn’t she?
On the night the [Light of the Spirits] would be held, Julieta would go to the royal palace with Sigurd.
The letter addressed to the spirits could be burned any time after night fell.
But she was unsure if she would have the time once she returned from the royal palace.
As Julieta was lost in her thoughts, the envelope was surreptitiously taken out of her hands.
As she raised her head in surprise, she saw her brother in front of her eyes.
“Julieta, this is? “
“Is it a letter to burn for the Light of the Spirits?” “
“Y-Yes, that’s right. Big brother, please give it back.”
Although Julieta held out her hand, the letter wasn’t returned.
Sigurd’s hazel eyes scrutinized it at leisure.
“I have heard that the most common thing young girls ask the spirits are for love troubles.”
“Did I hit the mark, Julieta? Who is it?”
As he spoke in a flat tone and prepared to open the envelope, Julieta’s eyes grew wide and she lunged at her brother. When he held the letter high above his head with one hand, Julieta knew that she had no way to reach it.
“Brother, stop it!”
“Why, you ask…because it’s my wish! It has nothing to do with you, brother!” “
“But I don’t think it has nothing to do with me.”
Julieta’s fervent appeals were in vain.
Inside the envelope was a piece of paper folded in half. Sigurd took it out and unfurled it.
‘I want to become elder brother’s wife in my next life’
It was a short but sincere wish.
Julieta’s legs lost strength as her knees folded. Her slender body collapsed onto the floor.
Julieta cried as she covered her face with both hands, muttering “I’m sorry”, over and over again.
“I’m sorry, I’m sorry brother.”
“Please forget that you ever saw it. Please forget it.”
She timidly looked up with her tearful jade eyes.
Her brother Sigurd, who earnestly gazed down at her, quietly shook his head.
Folding over the paper in half, Sigurd tore it with his hands.
Ah, once again.
I was once again rejected by the one I love.
It’s the same gaze the Crown Prince gave me that day, full of disdain.
Dreading the fact that it was meant for Sigurd, she couldn’t raise her head.
At least, at least she could have wished for him to love her as a sibling.
Although her father’s love had healed the pain of being sentenced to death by the Crown Prince she loved, Julieta’s heart was still filled with sorrow. When Julieta had been like that, Sigurd gave her love, as if wrapping her in a cocoon, and treated her like a treasure. Saying he would protect her from anything that hurt her, he’d kissed her forehead.
She knew she couldn’t misunderstand.
Her yearning towards her brother grew in Julieta’s heart, little by little.
Bowing her head at Sigurd, Julieta tried to crawl. Unable to give strength to her legs, she kneeled on the floor.
She had to move away from Sigurd now, however little the distance was.
However, Julieta’s petite body was caught in strong arms within a few steps.
“Please, brother, I beg of you. Please let go…now…now please.”
“I won’t let go anymore.”
Before he heard Julieta’s reply.
Sigurd’s lips pressed against Julieta’s.
The lips parted after a simple peck, but their meaning was clear.
As Julieta asked in a trembling voice, Sigurd revealed an ecstatic expression, caging her in his arms.
“My cute Julieta. Julieta…Tell me this isn’t a dream, let me kiss you one more time”
The kiss went just a little deeper. Lightly sucking her tongue, Sigurd distanced himself from Julieta before she could become frightened.
He handed back the torn sheet of paper folded in half to the bewildered Julieta. When she opened it, she realized that a few words had been removed from the short wish.
‘I want to become elder brother’s wife’
Julieta’s shoulders trembled in surprise.
The corner of her eyes, her cheeks, her nape.
Sigurd’s lips brushed across them many times, lighting up a sweet fever.
“Julieta…my cute little sister. And my beloved. Please accept my feelings.”
“Call me Sigurd.”
Her trembling lips uttered his name with difficulty.
Yet the fact that the name at the tip of her peach-coloured tongue wasn’t that of the master he respected, further stirred up Sigurd.
“Julieta…I love you…from the bottom of my heart.”
“Big brother Sigurd.”
“Let us overcome this. I will find the Dragon Pearl and rescue you for sure, why….”
“That’s why once the Dragon God Festival ends… marry me.”
“Forget about him…Forget about His Highness, Julieta. That man doesn’t know one bit about your heart, your kindness, or strong-willed feelings. He doesn’t have the right to make you his wife.”
“Big brother Sigurd.”
It was Sigurd’s ardent confession of love.
Delighted, Julieta leaned on Sigurd’s arm and softly rubbed her silver hair against his shoulder.
“Brother…uhm, you see …I”
“I am not so enamoured that I could continue to love someone who wanted to see me dead. “
Seeing Julieta puff up her cheeks and look up at him, Sigurd laughed in spite of himself.
“I’ll do my best… I’ll work hard to be able to return His Grace’s pearl back to him… But, big brother Sigurd.”
“But promise me one thing. Just one thing. If I, by any chance fail at the [Pearl Choosing] and become food for His Grace,”
“You must continue to live the rest of your life happily, and never give up.”
“If you promise that… I will… after the Dragon God Festival ends… become big brother Sigurd’s wife… you can marry me then.”
The sister’s desire to protect his brother’s heart, to protect his future was higher than the mountains and deeper than the sea.
That’s why, Sigurd hid his real intention to die along with her if that happened, and gently smiled.
“I promise you. I’ll definitely make the ‘Pearl Choosing’ a success. Live on with me.”
They exchanged their promises.
Pressing their foreheads against each other and smiling intimately, close enough to touch.
“I love you… My Julieta”
“I love you… My big brother… Sigurd.”
The day his sister became his wife.
The day her brother not by blood becomes her husband.
They eagerly awaited it.
Hasr: Phew, this was a long one.
I know some of you might have found this pairing a bit sudden, but trust me everything is according to keikaku.
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