Chapter 1. An Accidental Encounter
Thank you for the Kofi, Yona ! (7/8) 💖
The thought about the duchess came to her mind on its own.
At first, she depicted her as the hostess of a fearful chaebol family of a weekend soap opera.
Wouldn’t she like it if she knew a strange girl was clinging to her son even though she was just his handmaiden…….?
Of course, she knew it’s too early to be concerned about that, but she was actually anxious because the duchess mother……. Felt like an unknown turf.
Nelia asked in a voice laced with worries.
“If Her Grace finds out I’m staying here, won’t she find it pleasant?”
She probably would say, ‘I can’t believe you’re acting as the handmaiden of my son!’
When she worked part-time at the restaurant, she often heard that kind of line in the weekend soap operas when the kitchen staff came out single-handed and turned on the TV. When a stylish, middle-aged woman fired back at the female lead, even she, who was watching, seemed quite discouraged.
“It’s not possible. No one would ever despise you.”
Duke Hart smiled and comforted Nelia.
He, however, didn’t really sympathize with Nelia.
There was someone who didn’t really like her if she were to take a closer look at once.
It was her brother.
She thought she had gained some weight after not seeing him lately.
“It’s just…… I’m afraid that my mother will trouble Nelia a little bit.”
Is she a nosy person?
“Nelia doesn’t have to worry about it too much. I will make sure to prevent it by any means.”
The duke somewhat looked committed, so Nelia didn’t ask any further.
Whether the duke wanted to change the topic because he immediately asked another question.
“Did Marquis Clint have anything more to say?”
When asked by the duke, Nelia remembered the most important thing.
She thought she would ask Duke Hart when he returned, but she just forgot about it.
“The marquis told me that there would be a total lunar eclipse soon, and he advised me to go home on that day.”
When she brought up the total lunar eclipse, the duke’s eyes became dark as if a shadow was hanging over it.
“…….That’s right. There will be a total lunar eclipse one month later.”
His expression was certainly different from the distressful one he showed on his face earlier. His mood seemed to drop noticeably.
“Is there anything that will happen on that day……?”
The duke opened his eyes lowly.
“As Nelia knows, the total lunar eclipse is the day when the moon is said to be hidden by the power of angry Sigrid.”
Sigrid, the gray dragon, was the symbol of the Andrian Empire. He used to be the God of Anger, but until now he was hiding himself.
The duke said while leaning loosely on his back.
“The Marquis would have said it’s an unfortunate day, so he must have said to keep yourself safe.”
Even if it was simply a superstition, it would definitely be better to stay at home on such a day.
“Therefore Nelia, you must return home on that day.”
“Yes, I will.”
Nelia was concerned by the seemingly dark eyes of the duke, but she nodded, thinking she might be mistaken for that.
A few days later, Duchy of Hart.
In the room filled with expensive frames and items sat a woman as elegant as the luxurious object.
The woman raised her chin at the maid’s message.
“There was a guest for me?”
“Yes, it’s Marquis Clint.”
When the maid spoke politely, the duchess’ eyelashes flicked upward after she quietly savored the tea.
If her nephew spared his time to visit this distant duchy, he must have had something to say. And it would be most likely an interesting story.
When the duchess stood up, the maids followed suit while holding her lavish dress.
As she went down, her handsome nephew greeted the duchess with a smile on his face.
“Aunty, how have you been?”
“”Oh, Marquis Clint.”
The duchess embraced Marquis Clint with a gleaming look.
“It seems that you’ve gotten younger.”
“Ohoho, it seems that the marquis’ talking skill is getting better, too.”
At the marquis’ sweet flattery, a pleasant laugh escaped the duchess’ mouth.
“What suddenly brought you here?”
“Should something happen? I just came because I missed you, aunty.”
However, the duchess knew that Marquis Clint hadn’t come all the way here just for that.
Curious about the stories, the duchess hurriedly led the marquis.
“Let’s head to the drawing room. We just received a good tea from the eastern continent.”
The duchess took the lead.
He saw the large window as soon as the drawing room opened. The warm sun came through the window.
The nicely-managed landscape along with the sunlight was similar to a landscape painting.
“The scenery here is always nice. It’s all because aunty has a great eye for these kinds of things.”
“In order to maintain this cast duchy on my own, there are things that I need to do. So I have no choice but to grow flowers and trees here.”
The duchess sat on the long sofa with an elegant smile drawn on her face. The sofa, which was made of calfskin, looked glossy.
“Oh right, I forgot to ask you, marquis. How have you been?”
“I always remain the same as last time. Except that I’m worried about the recent transformation of the duke into a snake.”
Then, a servant came in and brought the tea. It was an unfamiliar tea with dried scarlet fruit.
When she poured the hot steaming water into it, the water quickly turned into an orange-ish color.
The servant placed the teacups respectively in front of the duchess and the marquis. The marquis smiled brightly and expressed his gratitude.
On the other hand, the duchess was motionless, as if she was deeply concerned for her son.
The duchess opened her mouth with deep wrinkles between her eyebrows.
“It’s not like the medicine isn’t working at all, is it?”
“That’s not true. We need to increase the dosage more than the amount he used to consume in the past.”
Her neatly pulled hair wobbled slightly. The duchess unfolded the fan in her hold and fanned herself as if the air became hot.
“Why isn’t the medicine effective only for Shilian? The head of the house of the previous generations had survived by consuming this medicine……!”
“It’s a curse, therefore we can’t predict how it works.”
Marquis Clint spoke nonchalantly with the teacup in his hold, but it wasn’t the same with how he felt in his heart.
Duke Hart is like his own brother. He had known him since he was a child, and he knew the misfortunes he went through. But he also knew that being antsy in front of the duchess would only add to her concern.
The duchess sighed.
“I’m worried about him a lot. What if the medicine is not effective at all……”
“Let’s quicken our pace to find another way.”
Actually, Marquis Clint was seeking the solution while wandering around the Magic Tower and the Pharmacist House.
However, even the pharmacist who has been supplying the medicine to the duke has not yet to find a single solution.
‘It’s not that easy.’
Marquis Clint sipped the tea and looked at the duchess. She still hasn’t escaped the mire of anxiety.
Marquis Clint thought that he should inform about the good news now to make the duchess feel better.
“Enough about the curse, I have good news to tell.”
The duchess’ fanning movement came to a halt.
“Yes, it’s about Duke Hart.”
The duchess folded the fan as Marquis Clint drew a smile across his lips.
“Why, did Shilian, that insensible j*rk find a nice young lady?”
Marquis Clint thought the duchess was the only one who said Duke Hart an insensible j*rk. But if they talked about it, the duchess would obviously answer with a querulous face and said, ‘He hadn’t been able to find one woman yet, what is he if not an insensible j*rk?’
Marquis Clint replied while recalling Nelia.
“She’s a nice young lady.”
“Are you sure about it?”
The duchess brought her upper body forward excitedly while always maintaining her dignity and elegance.
“The duke recently hired a handmaiden.”
“…….. A handmaiden?”
The duchess narrowed her eyes slightly.
“It’s kind of strange.”
Duke Hart became anxious when the medicine didn’t help him well, so he cleared up all the maids and attendants except for the chief attendant, Ivern.
The duchess completely understood him to that extent, but she didn’t really get it when he returned the chief attendant, Ivern, to the duchy recently.
Even when she asked her son about the reason, all he said was, ‘I will call him to return later.’
She didn’t know a new handmaiden was the reason behind it all.
“She’s Nelia, the young lady of Count Benedict. She has an older brother. The House of Count Benedict has been managing the top for a long time…….”
The duchess waved her hand as if to cut the marquis off.
“I needn’t hear such a thing. After all, the Hart Family is overflowing with money.”
The marquis couldn’t contain the laughter that escaped his mouth endlessly. It wasn’t her attitude that caused him to laugh, but because she has a point.
The Hart Family might have more fortunes than the national treasury.
It wasn’t just because the family has been standing for a long time.
Until now, the Hart Family have accumulated wealth with their impressive brains. When she looked at the history, the people of the Hart Family sometimes felt like tribes. Inhumanely appearance, distinguishable hair, and….
‘He seemed to have another ability.’
Not magic, not divine power, but a mysterious ability.
When she was young, she saw Duke Hart unconsciously using his abilities. At that time, Duke Hart was particularly reserved about his ability when he asked what power it was.
Anyways, everyone who inherited the Duke of Hart’s blood had outstanding abilities compared to ordinary people. Although the Duke of Hart’s blood ran in his veins, he was inferior to the direct heir, Duke Hart.
When Marquis Clint was lost in his thoughts for a brief moment, the fretful voice of the duchess came into his ears.
“Marquis, don’t you know what I’m curious about?”
He knew. The duchess’ most important concern was the condition of the head house of the Duke of Hart.
Marquis Clint nodded.
“From what I’ve seen…. Lady Nelia seemed to have figured out Duke Hart’s curse.”
The duchess asked curiously.
“It seemed she figured it out? That means…….”
“Yes, she already knows about the curse.”
The duchess sprang up again.
“Is that true? How come!”
“It would have been somewhat reckoned from the moment Duke Hart took her as his handmaiden. Although it came off as a surprise that he got caught a bit sooner.”
That was actually why Duke Hart hired Nelia as his maid.
He liked her because of their unexpected meeting, and wanted to test her by keeping her beside him.
Would she be someone who can accept his curse completely?
Duke Hart’s prediction was correct. Actually, Nelia didn’t run away despite knowing Duke Hart’s curse.
“What kind of person is that Nelia?”
Marquis Clint wondered about the way to explain it, and came up with an interesting idea. He deliberately dragged on his words and said, ‘Hm……’ to stall time.
“If I say it here, there will be no room for the twist. So……”
The marquis stared at the duchess with a grin.
“Why don’t you see it for yourself?”