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“… … Are you alright, father?”
Damia frowned in concern as she observed her father. Owen drunkenly waved his hands and bluffed:
“Oh—of course! Don-don’t mind me—hiccup! Not.”
The cider that Damia brought was stronger than expected. As a middle-aged man, he was ashamed to be so drunk when his daughter’s face was only a little flushed and didn’t look intoxicated.
‘Did this child hold her alcohol so well?’
Owen didn’t know. The fact. that Damia had already taken a hangover cure.
“Then have another drink, here.”
He couldn’t refuse the cup that his daughter poured with love. Inwardly, Owen wept as he drank another glass of apple wine.
He felt dizzy, feeling the alcohol level reach the top of his head. Owen rested his forehead on his desk in need of a break.
As is often the case with the judgment of drunken people, he was unwise. As he laid down, his eyes fluttered, intoxicated. Owen eventually passed out, faintly smelling of liquor.
Damia gently shook Owen a few times. Although he was heavily inebriated, he looked peacefully asleep.
Damia apologized for deliberately making her father drunk. Then, she cautiously and carefully began to untie the cravat from his neck.
Perhaps because he was even hotter because he drank alcohol, the cravat that squeezed Owen’s neck was wet with sweat. Whether this happened once or twice, the exposed back of his father’s neck was red with sweat and scratches.
Seeing this, Damia’s face grew sad.
It was heartbreaking to see her father’s exhausted and shabby faces, who had always been a reliable source of strength. Feeling guilty, she suddenly doubted her actions.
‘Is it okay to just listen to Louise and do this?’
However, Louise’s eyes were sincere when she had hesitated whether to advise her in the end or not. So Damia could not ignore it.
Especially if the safety of her beloved family was at stake.
‘Yeah, I’m just checking.’
Otherwise, she would always be plagued by formless worries and uncomfortable suspicions.
Having hardened her heart, Damia pulled off his cravat and looked through Owen’s loose collar. But there was nothing noticeable.
Was Louise mistaken?
She was deeply relieved, and she looked over the opposite side of Owen’s neck. But she couldn’t see well because of his shaggy hair.
Damier gently skimmed his hair lest her father wake up. And she found something crawling on the bare skin.
“This… … .”
It was a faint brown stigma.
There was a mark on her father’s neck that looked like a round brand, similar to what farmers put on their pigs or cows. It was a very incongruous sight.
‘Am I having a nightmare right now?’
But no matter how much she rubbed her eyes, the seal left on her father’s neck remained the same.
Damier lightly touched it with her trembling fingertips. Then, the rim of the stigma glowed red, and there was a sound of sizzling and burning skin.
“Ugh… … .”
Even as he slept deeply, drunk, Owen was in great pain. Startled, she withdrew her hand as if she had been burned.
“Oh my goddess.”
Tears welled up in her frozen eyes. Everything Louise said was true.
‘This is my guess, but… … I think they use the “Forbidden Stigma.” I’ve seen it on the body of someone sent from the High Temple before.’
In ancient times, many magical creatures threatened people and harmed villages and homes. Therefore, the temple developed a “Forbidden Stigma” to subdue the beasts.
However, the number of demons decreased due to the continued subjugation, and the stigma wasn’t needed anymore. So then the temple changed the purpose of the brand and started using it for its own gain.
Fear of secrets leaking out or reputation falling. This was a common concern for all groups.
The same was true of the High Temple. Thus the ‘stamp’ was at one time used to subjugate temple slaves or rebellious lower-ranking priests and retainers.
However, in modern times, it had been banned on the grounds that it was inhumane.
‘But why is this on father… … .’