But whatever it was, it would be profitable. The treasures in this place were not simple gems, but relics from an imperial family or from old temples. They were things with such histories.
She looked into Lucerne’s eyes. He nodded, and Elisha stood up and looked around the display window.
“Well, what is this thing?”
She then found a wooden box. The wooden container looked very old and small. However, the pattern of the Duke’s family was engraved on the surface. If it wasn’t for that pattern, it was a shabby thing that wouldn’t suit the room at all.
“That… … .”
The family head’s expression became complicated. Remorse, longing, hatred, strange guilt, and fury. Gaju stared at Lucerne without even realizing it.
“It is a gift given to me by Lucerne’s deceased father. He gave it to me, saying it was a precious gift. But no one could open the box. Michelan was such a playful fellow.”
It was worth knowing such an interesting tidbit as Lucerne’s father, Michelan, died young. Gaju could not twist open the box for fear of damaging the contents within and had kept it closed until now.
The corners of Elisha’s mouth went up slightly. But it was so fleeting that Gaju didn’t notice.
“Lucerne, your guardian deity. Shadows have the ability to detect objects. Can you guess what’s inside?”
She removed her hand and said. In fact, she knew what was inside. This is because Lucerne was the one who solved the riddle of the box a few years later in the future during her past life.
Indeed, Lucerne looked at her with strange eyes as if he had noticed something strange.
“I can’t kiss you because it’s in front of the family head. Then can’t you do me a favor?”
she whispered very quietly with her back to Gaju, with the shape of her mouth. Slow enough that if he paid attention, he could roughly understand what she was talking about.
“You really… … .”
He looked at her as if bewildered.
“My Lord, I know that if you use magic in this room, it will be detected right away.”
“Ah, yes. You may summon a shadow, if you want.”
Lucerne snapped his fingers. A shadow appeared and circled the box, scanning it. Eventually, he nodded.
“Do you know what it is?”
“What do you mean, Lucerne?”
The Head also jumped up from his seat to see as if his curiosity was aroused. Lucerne said dispassionately,
“Patriarch, my wife is good at solving puzzles. I’ll give my wife a hint. If she gets it right, please praise her.”
Gaju was anxious; of course, he was curious, but his heightened emotions were due to his longing for Michelan, who had died.
“Alright, give a hint.”
“Inside this is a organ from a special demon’s corpse. It was the most precious witchbeast among the monsters that have appeared in nearly 100 years. I think it’s as rare as my Shadow Demon. It seems to be a demi-god level monster.”
Elisha heard that and thought for a moment. Then she immediately nodded.
“I think I know how to open this box.”
“Not in this room,”
Elisha said softly. The Head followed her as if possessed. She looked around several rooms, and then she headed for one. And she whispered to a servant passing by, instructing her to do something.
There was a fireplace in the room they entered. It was a warm season, so the fireplace was not lit. Elisha poured a generous amount of aromatic oil on the box and lit a match that was kept on the fireplace mantel.
Then she casually threw the box into the fire. The Lord was startled.
“What are you doing now? This is Michelan’s… !… .”
“Let’s wait and see,”
Lucerne said. Gaju hesitated. Before long, Elisha lifted the tongs and pulled out the contents. No matter how much she poured perfume on the wooden box, the box burned unusually quickly.
Inside the box was another small box. However, this time the box was easily opened with just a tap from the tongs. Inside the now- turned-to-ashes-box, a red jewel glowed strangely. The patriarch opened his eyes wide and stared at the gem.
“Look, inside is the heart of the Phoenix. A Demonic Beast, called a phoenix, comes back to life many times without being burned by any fire. So I thought it would be okay to burn this box.”
“… … .”
The Duke’s mouth was agape.
“How did you… … .”
Elisha smiled and calmly explained:
“This is a very valuable item. People with the heart of a phoenix are said to live a long life. A few decades ago, a demi-god-like monster called the Phoenix was subdued near the Elpirim Mountains. At the time, because of rumors about its efficacy, people lined up in nearby cities to bid for it’s heart that had been split into dozens of pieces.”
Gaju couldn’t say anything because his throat was clogged up.
“Oh, my late father-in-law must have sincerely wished for the health and well-being of the family head. Right, Lucerne?”
“I have never met my father so I don’t know, but I have heard that he was a deep-hearted man,”
Lucerne replied calmly.
“It seems that filial piety, which does not change even in life or death, really exists,”
Elisha whispered. And she watched the Head’s changing expressions. He held his breath, closing his lips tightly. It felt like his throat was choking.
“Yes, I see,”
was all Gaju managed to say. But his expression was full of remorse. Elisha barely held back the corner of her mouth from going up.