“Is there anything over there?”
“There’s a Van Wert mountain cabin.” Emma’s question was answered by a knight who knew this area well.
“Is it close?”
“No. It’s not that close,” the guard shook his head. “The distance can be either long or short, you have to go a little further.” Emma hesitated slightly when told that it would take about half an hour to reach the cabin.
“How long till the sun sets?”
“About three hours.”
In the forest, the dark fell in earnest. ‘I want to go to the cabin…’ she still thought. That place marked the turning point in Emma’s life. She also wanted to verify what Jenna said in the carriage. It wasn’t that she didn’t trust Jenna, but she wasn’t convinced with just other people’s words. Looking up at the sunny and clear sky, Emma made up her mind.
“We have time, so let’s stop at the cabin for a while and then go,” she firmly said.
The knights’ expressions were not good, but Baroness Berne cared much about Emma so they didn’t complain. The party quietly headed for the trail leading to the cabin. When her legs and ankles became tired and heavy after walking for a long time, the large cabin finally appeared.
The cabin wasn’t like other normal cabins at all, but a stone mansion that stood out the surrounding landscape. Nestled in the forest, it was like a mysterious mansion straight out of a fairy tale, surrounded by quiet and the sounds of nature, birds and grass bugs. It was deserted.
Emma walked through the empty stables and headed for the warehouse as she recollected her memories. ‘There was a key around here…’ She was just about to enter the spacious warehouse when someone came out of the mansion.
“Who are you?” A middle-aged man dressed in shabby clothes came up coughing and narrowed his eyes at her suspiciously. He seemed to be wary to see that a party had approached the residence.
“I’m the mansion keeper of this place. Identify yourselves,” he said.
Shortly, the middle-aged man dispelled all his suspicions as soon as the knight came forward and revealed their identities.
“So, you are the Berne family’s people,” he said amicably. “Ah, I’ve heard a lot. What brings you here?”
Even if he was the keeper of the mansion, he was a commoner. On the other hand, the appointed official knight was a quasi-nobleman. Moreover, since they belonged to the Berne family, who is said to be the cream of the crop of Wert City, the mansion keeper crouched down and took a submissive attitude.
“You are welcome to look around. There’s nothing special about it. Werewolves occasionally appear along the way, but the sun is still up, so it’s safe.”
While he was talking, Emma folded her handkerchief and dropped it without anyone noticing. Immediately after, Emma gave an eye gesture, and Jenna slipped some money to the man. The keeper, who now had a lot of silver coins in his hand, was extremely polite and looked to see if there was anything they needed.
“I’m Emma Herman.”
As Emma stepped forward and introduced herself, the man stammered, widening his eyes. “I don’t want to bring up the rumors, but I heard that Miss Herman is an acquaintance of Mr. Irvan…”
“Right. It was here that I met Mr. Irvan. So I stopped while passing by. May I use the bathroom for a second?”
“Oh, yes, of course.”
For men, it would have been natural to take care of it outside, but when Emma spoke, the man promptly escorted her inside. Emma watched closely as he opened the front door. As Jenna had warned earlier, and as Emma had remembered, the front door had to be opened with a key from the outside.
“Go down that hallway. It’s at the end.”
The mansion keeper pointed towards the bathroom and guarded the living room. As she was heading to the bathroom, Emma made a fuss, pretending to be surprised.
“Oh, wait a minute. My handkerchief… Oh, my gosh, there’s no handkerchief. I think I dropped my handkerchief.”
“Is that so? I will go out and take a look.”
“No, it’s mine, so I should look for it. Let’s go together.”
The man took out the key again and opened the front door from the inside. Emma thought it strange.
“Is this place accessible only with a key?” she asked.
“Yes, it’s the same when you go out. It locks automatically. You must have a key to get in and out,” the keeper answered.
Emma followed the mansion keeper back to the warehouse. She found the handkerchief there and picked it up.
“I apologize for troubling you.”
“No, it’s my job.”
After coming back into the mansion and using the bathroom, Emma looked around carefully. Not much had changed. Although the interior was thoroughly cleaned, it was the same as when she and Irvan had stayed. It seemed that no one had come in during that time. Indeed, since it was a remote area, it was impossible for the people of the Countess to voluntarily come in and stay.
In one corner of the spacious and empty living room, different things were piled up randomly as if a by-product of cleaning. Emma, who found a familiar water bottle among them, approached the stash.