For Your Sake, I...

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2: Built the Ambrosia Manor

When I had commented on the floral life that bloomed within the palace grounds, Rosetta chucked, “The reason the nation is known as the Garden is because there is plant life wherever you go. There is not a single area within the borders that does not have flowers in bloom.”

“Is it because you love flowers?” Though I did not know what happened to the person that Rosetta had dragged into the palace, I decided to talk to her as normally as I could. It felt inherently wrong, to pretend that there wasn’t a possible death, but the underlying glint in Rosetta’s gaze made me uneasy.

“Rather than the physical appearance of the flowers, I prefer the symbolism behind them,” Rosetta took a drink from her teacup. “There is a library in the residence you’re going to stay at; if you’re curious in the language of flowers, there are multiple books on the topic. The Ambrosia Manor is akin to an untouched treasure trove— take your time and feel free to explore the whole estate.”

As expected, I couldn’t tell what Rosetta was thinking.

The Ambrosia Manor was roughly half an hour away from the Courtyard, or Rosetta’s palace. As I had nothing except myself, the necessities were being prepared at the manor, and all that needed to be done was taking me to the residence. The one who was taking me was Cordelia Gardens, one of Rosetta’s personal guards. She had a gentle smile and friendly personality, which felt so genuine that the long blade that rested against her left hip felt out of place.

“We’ve arrived at the estate, Miss Alphaeus,” Cordelia announced as soon as fields of ambrosias came into view.

It was breathtaking. Excitement welled up within my chest, threatening to overflow.

Cordelia chuckled at my excitement, “My apologies, it is not often that I yet to see such unrestrained glee. It is relieving to see that you seem to have taken a liking to this place already.”

A large set of silver gates appeared, and Cordelia stepped on the brakes to slow down. The gates then opened, permitting them to enter the manor. At the main entrance of the mansion, stood a young man and a middle aged woman. Cordelia stopped the car in front of them.

“Welcome to the Ambrosia Manor,” the middle-aged woman greeted me with a warm smile and a small bow. “My name is Cheryl, and I will be serving you during your stay here.”

“I will be in your care, Cheryl,” I returned the greeting.

“Lady Rosetta has granted you permission to do as you wish, so long as you do not try to leave the borders on your own,” Lancelot informed. I barely managed to catch everything he had said.

“As long as I don’t try to leave the borders alone? Does that mean I can leave the country?” I asked to confirm my thoughts.

“I doubt she would immediately grant you permission to do so, but as she told me to relay the message in that manner, I assume she is planning on allowing you to travel sooner or later.”

“Lady Rosetta is having you stay in the Garden for safety purposes, so it would be best if you waited for her to come and talk to you about this issue,” Cordelia explained.

“I understand, thank you.”

Before Lancelot and Cordelia left, they provided me with a single black butterfly, along with the reassurance that my new companion didn’t require much care from me. After sitting on the tip of my left pointer finger for a few minutes while the two guards spoke with Cheryl, the butterfly decided to perch itself on my left shoulder.

Cheryl led me to the library when I requested her to. The whole residence had a sacred atmosphere to it, but it was especially prominent in the library. The walls were covered with white bookshelves while the flooring was made of varnished oak. The walkways and the staircases of the two story room was carpeted with gray rugs, while the windows were covered with sheer white curtains. The crystal chandelier and other light fixtures provided the room with a sense of elegance while the small sitting area pulled the whole room together, creating a sanctuary for angels.

“I’ll come back when it is time for dinner, so please take your time,” Cheryl stated before she left me alone.

I went exploring immediately.

The first thing that caught my eye was a short story that was wedged between two large novels. My interest was further piqued when I saw that the plot involved the history of the Ambrosia Manor. Without grabbing anything else, I went over to the sitting area and made myself home on the cushioned chair.

A Priest that had just returned to the Garden from his pilgrimage around the continent sought for a chance to speak with the Apostle. He had a single request to make— and it was something only the Apostle could fulfill.

The Apostle granted the Priest a meeting with her. He was mesmerized for a single moment, as it was the first time he had ever seen the Apostle’s face. Her skin resembled that of a porcelain doll’s, her rosy lips were curved into a perfect smile, her almond shaped eyes and refined facial features, they made the Apostle seem like an existence greater than that of a human’s.

“It isn’t often I get a request from a priest,” the Apostle hummed as she sat on her throne— the judge’s bench in the courtroom. “What is it?”

The Priest lowered himself into a kneeling position and clasped his hands together, as though he was preparing to pray. He took a deep breath and confessed, “I would like to receive a plot of land to build a house.”

During his trip away, the Priest had met a Priestess, and they had decided to travel together for a while, and they had developed feelings for one another. Though they would be unable to marry, the Priest wished to be with the Priestess even after his pilgrimage ended. They were both individuals who could not abandon their duties, and so they had eventually separated, but only after promising to meet once again.

“I will build a house for you in the Garden, so when you arrive in the divine nation, you will have a home to stay at,” he promised the Priestess. “I’ll make sure there’s a large library, just like the one you’ve dreamed of.”

The Priestess shyly nodded her head.

The Apostle’s expression became more amused as she had heard the Priest’s story, and he could only pray for her consent.

“In exchange for land, what will I get in return?” The Apostle inquired.

“I will do anything!” The Priest looked up at the Apostle, whose eyes started to glow a molten gold.

“Anything...,” the Apostle contemplated. “Splendid! If you serve me for the rest of your existence, I will provide you the land that you desire, along with the promise to protect your dear during her stay within the Garden.”

The Apostle granted the Priest some land that was thirty minutes East from the Courtyard Palace, and it was large enough to build a mansion.

Despite his efforts to build the manor as soon as possible, by the time it was done, the Priestess had passed away due to an illness. The Priest became devastated when he was informed, and he holed himself up in the newly built mansion for days on end.

“Priest,” the Apostle came knocking on the residence’s doors. No one was willing to stop her, and even the despairing Priest crept out of his hiding place to greet her. With a pleasant smile, the Apostle suggested, “Why don’t you plant ambrosias around the estate?”

The Priest blinked.

“Ambrosias are a symbol of mutual love; don’t you think it’s the perfect flower for the two to you? Though it is rather feisty, it is just as beautiful,” the Apostle smiled. “I want you to plant a field of ambrosias to surround the estate with.Your souls are not limited to one lifetime, meaning the Priestess just might arrive here someday in the future. Instead of a tragedy, wouldn’t you wish to leave a hopeful romance?”

When the Priest started planting the said flowers, he had done it because of the Apostle’s order, but eventually, he had started doing it for himself and the Priestess. The thought of her coming one day motivated him into creating even more beautiful scenery for his love to gaze upon. Even if he wasn’t there, she could feel his everlasting affection for her.

The Priest passed away soon after he planted the last ambrosia. The ambrosias continue to bloom beautifully to this day, as though they were immortalized by his earnest feelings towards the Priestess. Even after the death of the Priest, the Apostle awaits the arrival of his lover, all to fulfill her end of the contract.

“Promises bound to the soul shall never be broken.”

Overwhelmed by my emotions, tears started to overflow and run down my cheeks. I didn’t understand why I had started to cry, but something about the story had tugged at my heartstrings. The butterfly, who had stayed on my shoulder the whole time, fluttered up to my face, causing me to jolt in surprise. It flew back a little before gently landing on my face, as though it was trying to comfort me.

What a strange sight.

“I’m okay, so please get off my face,” I murmured, keeping my mouth closed as much as possible so there was less of a risk of the butterfly going into my mouth. I cautiously nudged the insect off my face with my pointer finger. It’s wings vibrated, like it was expressing its displeasure. “I’m really okay, thank you for comforting me.”

I returned the thin book back to its rightful place and decided to look around the library some more. The books ranged from ones a few hundred years old to recently published, and there was a large variety of genres. Not only that, the books were written in different languages, including ancient ones that only a select few knew how to read. On the second floor, tucked away on a bottom corner shelf, there were even some scrolls and tablets. I reached to grab one of the paper scrolls, carefully pulling it out and unraveling it. I frowned, unable to read the script, and placed it back on the shelf after rolling it back up.

I could imagine Rosetta silently chuckling at me.

The butterfly that had returned to my shoulder as I started to look around the library suddenly took off and made its way to another shelf. I followed it with haste, nearly tripping over my feet. I steadied myself using the shelf that the butterfly had landed on. My eyes widened at the numerous books for flower symbolism that entered my line of sight.

“This whole shelf?!” I gasped as I started to read the title on spines. There were easily a hundred or more books solely on the language of flowers.

I was unable to read a single book on the language of flowers by the time Cheryl had returned, despite a few hours passing, having been unable to overcome my astonishment on the sheer amount of books on the topic. When I asked Cheryl about it, she responded, “Lady Rosetta switches out the books in the Ambrosia Manor’s library annually, and from what I remember, she always manages to fill that shelf solely with books on flower symbolism, and they are all different from the previous collection.”

“How many books does she have on just flowers…?”

“You would have to ask Lady Renata, but I presume she has over a thousand.”

“A thousand?!” I coughed.

“Lady Rosetta’s book collection easily exceeds a few million,” Cheryl disclosed as she opened the dining room doors for me.

“I see you went to the library,” I jumped as someone else had joined in on the conversation. Leisurely sitting at the dining room table with a cup of tea to accompany her, was Rosetta. She smiled pleasantly, as she always did. “Did you find anything to your liking?”

“I haven’t looked at everything yet, but I’m sure I will,” I responded as I went to take a seat at the large, maple table. In a place that was white and grey with pale wood furniture, Rosetta stood out significantly more with her completely back attire, yet she still managed to fit in perfectly.

“If there is anything you wish to have, just mention it to Cheryl.”

“I will do that, thank you.”

Rosetta’s silver eyes continued to watch me.

“Will you be staying for dinner, Lady Rosetta?” Cheryl asked. I let out a silent sigh of relief as Rosetta’s gaze broke away from me.

“Hmm, maybe I’ll partake in a meal tonight. What did the chef make?”

“Baked salmon with grapefruit salad, and the dessert is a lemon chiffon cake.”

“That sounds lovely.”

That night was the first time I had seen Rosetta eat. Her refined movements could only be described as sophisticated and graceful. It felt strange to eat beside her.

Just before I fell asleep, I remembered the story between the Priest, the Priestess, and the Apostle. I hadn’t thought about it, but the Apostle was most likely Rosetta.

“She really isn’t a human,” I muttered to myself.

“Just what are your intentions, Apostle of the Goddess Ophelia?”

Rosetta did not need to look back to know who was standing behind her, “It’s only been a week since her descent, and you already came to check on her? Don’t you have more important matters to take care of?”

The winged figure had nothing to say.

“I will fulfill my part of the contract, you have nothing to worry about.”

“You purposefully left her that.”

“Regardless of what you desire, she’s bound to remember sooner or later. You planned to come down to help her anyways, didn’t you?”

“Your interference is unnecessary.”

“Why don’t you go and finish your duties as soon as possible? Then, there won’t be a problem with the pace I’m setting for her to retrieve her memories. I just wish to have some fun myself.”

“...I will not hold back if something happened to her, even if you’re an apostle of the deities,” the winged figure threatened.

Rosetta smirked, “That’s what I wanted. Let’s see what kind of ending you’re able to unfold. I can’t wait.”

The figure left as suddenly as they had appeared, the only sign of their presence being the cluster of golden tipped feathers.

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