Suddenly there was a loud sound of water dripping.


 

It seemed as if a single drop of water would make this sound if it dripped into a quiet lake where nothing could be heard.

 

I didn’t hear it in my ears, I thought it was somewhere in my head.

 

Drop.

 

Drop.

 

Drop.

 

The more I sang ‘Serpens’, the more frequent the sound of dripping water in my head.

 

And then, swooshㅡI had the illusion that it was raining.

 

The whole area was filled with the sound of rain, and the rabbit’s voice couldn’t be heard.

 

It was like being in the middle of a dark forest in the pouring rain.

 

I instinctively thought it was now.

 

The feeling that I entered directly into my heart.

 

There was no other explanation than this.

 

Answer me, Serpens!

 

“Serpens!”

 

I shouted out its name with all my heart and soul.

 

Drop.

 

The loud sound of rain stopped.

 

It was then.

 

“Are you there-ing?”

 

A voice broke out in the stillness where the sound of rain had stopped.

 

My whole body felt cold as if I had suddenly been hit by a shower.

 

“Gasp.”

 

At that moment, I opened my eyes in surprise.

 

There was a rabbit in front of me.

 

I looked around.

 

“I heard a sound.”

 

“I know, it’s awakened.”

 

The rabbit was looking somewhere behind me.

 

“Where?”

 

But when I turned around, I couldn’t see anything.

 

I felt as if I was seeing an invisible ghost.

 

It was a very high-pitched male voice.

 

“I can’t see it.”

 

“It hid behind you.”

 

“Behind me? why?”

 


“It’s usually very shy.
It’s glancing at you.”

 

At that, I furrowed my eyebrows.

 

“Then it’s no different from being inside me.”

 

“Not like that.
You said that being able to see the future at will is scary and uncomfortable.”

 

“It is, but…”

 

“The more you get to know it, the more you’ll be able to see it whenever you want, maybe.”

 

At the same time, the rabbit said that Serpens would show up when it wanted to be friendly with me.

 

I thought I’d be able to see right away.

 

Somehow, the steam cooled down.

 

Ah, this wasn’t the time.

 

“I really have to go now.”

 

If there’s a problem, I’d better come back here.

 

Or maybe Uncle will be really mad.

 

“Alright.”

 

The rabbit came after me as I went through the entrance.

 

“Rabbit, what is your name?”

 

I asked one last time before leaving.

 

It was a series of surprises, so we haven’t even asked each other’s names yet.

 

I can’t not know its name when I said we’re friends!

 

“Lepus.”

 

“Lepus?”

 

“Yes, Lepus.”

 

I checked again and nodded my head.

 

“I’m Aika.
Aika de Valliot.”

 

“Aika.
Seria, Aika.
I will remember.”

 

“Okay, I’ll come play again.
Bye, my friend Lepus! See you again.”

 

And I pushed myself into the hole in the bookshelf where the book was empty.

 

After Aika left.

 

As usual, Lepus ran around the old bookshelf as if flying.

 

“Nanana, friend.
Friend! NananaㅡAika is my friend!”

 

While singing cheerfully.

 

***

 

“Gasp, it’s really night.”

 

As soon as I crouched down, I could see the moonlight coming down from the top window and the lanterns all over the old bookshelf.

 

It was clearly different from daylight.

 

I had a hunch that something really big had happened.

 


What the rabbit said was true.

 

I don’t think I’ve been there for less than 30 minutes, yet it’s already night.

 

It was also very late at night.

 

‘What about Grandpa? Did Grandpa go back already?’

 

I have to tell Grandpa that something dangerous is going on tonight!

 

I hurriedly got up from my spot when I heard a commotion outside.

 

There was a buzz, then it became quiet, then it became noisy again.

 

I was terrified.

 

It seemed like it was all because of me.

 

The keen senses in my body were telling me so.

 

“What should I do.”

 

I was frightened and my eyes widened.

 

I think they’re going to be very angry.

 

Still, it was scary to stay here.

 

When I was carefully going around the corner, thinking I had to get out and go to Uncle.

 

It was quiet outside and the sound of footsteps could be heard.

 

The sound gradually got closer to me and stopped.

 

I grabbed one side of the bookshelf and stuck my head out.

 

Along with a sigh full of frustration, I saw the back of someone standing crookedly with one hand running through his hair roughly.

 

That too, a very familiar, tall male adult.

 

I recognized it at once.

 

“…Uncle?”

 

At the same time, I met the eyes of Uncle, who turned around quickly.

 

Unknowingly, my body trembled.

 

I-I think Uncle just got a bolt of lightning in his eyes.

 

I hurriedly took a backward step, but I couldn’t even take two steps and Uncle grabbed both of my armpits.

 

“U-Uncle! I’m sorry…, gasp!”

 

In an instant, my body flopped and I was gripped tightly.

 

In the blink of an eye, I was in the big arms of Uncle.

 

The back of my head was pressed by a large hand, and my body almost collapsed.

 

Even so, Uncle’s cool and comforting smell miraculously loosened my stiff body.

 

I felt relieved as if I would soon fall asleep.

 

“Mmph, can’t breathe…”

 

Haa, I heard Uncle’s voice with a low sigh.

 

“Where have you been?”

 

Uncle’s voice in my ears sank to the floor.

 


I froze again.

 

For the first time, I thought that voices might have color.

 

It was a very, very dark voice.

 

I couldn’t see his face, so it felt lower and darker.

 

Oh my God.
Uncle is really angry.

 

But what should I say?

 

“Me, me, here.”

 

I groaned and opened my mouth with difficulty.

 

“Here, where.”

 

“I-I went in between the bookshelves…”

 

The weight that was pressing on the back of my head disappeared.

 

As I raised my head like a spring, I met the eyes of my terrifying uncle.

 

Hic.

 

I hiccupped spontaneously.

 

“You went in there?”

 

Uncle’s gaze turned in the direction I pointed.

 

I nodded vigorously.

 

“I’ve been here ten more times.”

 

“It’s true, though…”

 

Uncle doesn’t believe me.

 

However, I thought he wouldn’t believe the story that I came out to another ancient library even though I went there.

 

When Uncle saw it, it was just an open space, enough to see the bookshelf on the other side.

 

“…”

 

Uncle’s eyes ran all over my body.

 

I thought I was going to get scolded, so my hands and toes were curled up for no reason, but our eyes met again.

 

What should I do.

 

I thought I would get scolded even more if I said I met a talking rabbit.

 

Because there are no rabbits here.

 

So should I say it was just a dream?

 

Then I was able to keep my promise to Mom.

 

“I-I think… I slept here.
A rabbit came out of my dream…”

 

I managed to turn my head and point to the space again.

 

“…”

 

Uncle’s eyes grew even more ferocious.

 

“Uncle, I…”

 

I was afraid to look at Uncle, so I glanced at him.


 

Uncle, who hadn’t responded to my words, suddenly turned around.

 

“From now on, don’t come to the Imperial Palace.”

 

Then he headed straight out of the ancient library.

 

“T-That can’t be!”

 

I held onto Uncle’s shoulders and said urgently.

 

He stood tall again.

 

And it was then that he put me down.

 

As soon as my feet touched the floor, I awkwardly supported myself and looked up at Uncle.

 

“Tell me straight.
Where have you been?”

 

“…”

 

Unable to answer the question, I stared at the fingertips of Uncle, who put his back on me.

 

Each second seemed to pass very slowly.

 

“Where have you been…,”

 

“Uncle, I was wrong.”

 

I closed my eyes tightly.

 

It was so scary.

 

I shouldn’t tell him it’s a secret, but I think Uncle will get angry and leave me behind.

 

I was confused about what to do.

 

“Why are you apologizing?”

 

“…”

 

I shut my mouth again.

 

Tears came pouring out.

 

“Aika de Valliot.”

 

“…Yes.”

 

“If you keep doing that, Uncle will get angry.”

 

“N-No…”

 

Aren’t you angry now?

 

I’m scared to death, though…?

 

Instead of answering, I grabbed Uncle’s pants.

 

As I just stared at Uncle who was combing his hair roughly, he urged me to speak quickly with his eyes.

 

“I won’t do that again…”

 

Regardless of my will, tears came out once again.

 

I quickly wiped away my tears.

 

I held onto the hem of Uncle’s clothes and kept wiping away the tears, yet belatedly, I heard a noise from outside again.

 

Although I could hear many footsteps, only one, His Imperial Majesty the Emperor, appeared.

 

“Aika!”

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