Chapter 1. An Accidental Encounter
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Nelia’s eyes grew slightly larger.
The duke had never shown an exuberant attitude to lift the curse. But what kind of wind suddenly blew through him that he wanted to lift the curse?
“Did you decide to lift the curse because the medicine didn’t work anymore?”
“There’s that, but there’s also another stronger reason.”
The duke had a faint smile on his face when he looked at Nelia. The silver eyes, which were seen through his gentle, thin white eyes, were completely fixed at her.
Sometimes he would look at her dotingly as if nothing else existed in the room. She still feels that way even at this moment.
“I’ll keep the reason as a secret for now.”
Nelia was secretly hurt that the duke kept a secret from her. He would tell her right away if she asked anything, but this one was a secret.
But she soon realized that she was not supposed to feel hurt. After all, what duke had no reason to tell her everything. What kind of special relationship did she have with the duke?
Rather than that, there was something she had been wondering about.
“Then……. May I ask how you are going to lift the curse?”
The duke nodded.
Now the duke is talking about Sigrid’s heart.
That wasn’t a very good sign.
Although she didn’t read the original book to the end, Carlos, the male lead, had attempted to find Sigrid’s heart.
The reason was that his right arm was getting more stiff.
Carlos seemed to overcome his right arm, which suffered from a congenital handicap, with so much effort, but it gradually began to get stiff again as if they had returned to how it originally was.
Therefore, he absolutely needed Sigrid’s heart. He had to resuscitate his stiffened arm.
She had even read the scene where Charlotte, the female lead, encountered Elena’s Tears, the treasure of the Imperial Family.
Elena’s Tears was the key to finding his heart, and Charlotte and Carlos set off to look for Sigrid’s heart soon after.
But the problem was that even Duke Hart was now trying to find Sigrid’s heart.
She was sure they would collide with Carlos again.
Their opponent was the male lead of this world. It was a fight with a high probability of defeat on their side.
“Nelia seems to know about Sigrid’s heart.”
The duke observed Nelia’s face, which turned serious, keenly.
Sigrid’s myth was an ubiquitous myth, but only those who knew that the heart was granting wishes of those who found it. So, it must be strange that she knew about it.
“Yes……. I heard it from my father. If you find Sigrid’s heart, it will make your wish come true.”
Nelia made up an excuse. Luckily, the duke didn’t seem to pay much attention to the bizarre fact.
“As expected, the news must be quick to spread since you manage the upper-part.”
“Is that so…….. Haha.”
Nelia answered, and the duke added.
“There are still a lot of people who think of it as simply a legend, but Sigrid’s heart definitely exists.”
Of course it exists. Besides, Elena’s Tears, which wasn’t far away from their grasp, served as an important tool in finding the heart.
There was probably no one in this world who knew how to approach Sigrid’s heart as detailed as her.
But Nelia had to pretend she didn’t know anything.
It would have been surely strange that she seemed to know about the secret of this world so rashly. Like someone who fell from outside of this world.
“So, are you going to lift the curse with Sigrid’s heart?”
“That’s the certain method.”
Like the duke said, if it was Sigrid’s heart, the curse would be lifted right away.
The difficulty of finding Sigrid’s heart was too high.
“Did you find out a lot of information regarding Sigrid’s heart?”
“According to the ancient book, Sigrid entrusted his subordinate to play the role of a guide to his heart. The subordinate must be somewhere.”
This was the part she didn’t know about. It might be something that didn’t appear in the part she had read.
So Elena’s Tears are related to Sigrid’s subordinate?
“And the clue to Sigrid’s heart is…….”
The clue is……?
Nelia waited with a pounding heart for the duke’s next words.
She had no idea about Sigrid’s subordinates, but she was convinced that Elena’s Tears in the Imperial Palace clearly served as a clue in finding his heart.
If it was the duke, he would have it figured out already. Elena’s Tears weren’t far away, in fact it was right beside him all these times.
Instead, contrary to his expectations, a completely different answer came out of his mouth.
“I heard that pirates have it because it’s in the form of very expensive jewelry.”
A groan escaped from the bottom of his heart.
Nelia thought that she should drop the hint to the duke if she couldn’t tell him directly.
Nelia hurriedly sat near the duke.
“Your Grace, maybe……. It’s in somewhere close to us? It is said that underneath the light is the darkest spot.”
“Maybe. But if it’s nearby, I’m sure someone has already found it first……..”
Nelia would’ve told the duke by now. The gemstone in the middle of the necklace placed in the imperial exhibition hall was the clue to finding the heart.
It’s Elena’s Tears! Sigrid’s lover!
Nelia, who was very frustrated inwardly, spoke again after gathering her patience.
“Your Grace…….. You know the necklace hanging in the imperial exhibition hall.”
“The necklace that was dropped by Nelia’s brother?”
Although she knew there was no ill-intention in Duke Hart’s words, the fact that her siblings, whom she shared the flesh and blood with, almost caused damage to such an important necklace pricked her guilty conscience.
Nelia continued, polishing her voice.
“I heard the name of the gemstone in the middle of the necklace is Elena’s Tears……. Perhaps, it’s related in some way?”
That was enough to give him insight into everything. Nelia looked at him enthusiastically, hoping the duke would realize it.
But what came out of the duke’s mouth was his firm voice.
“I don’t think so.”
Nelia’s voice rose as if she was ready to quibble.
The duke seemed somewhat surprised by Nelia’s angry attitude.
Upon thinking twice, Nelia relieved the power from her sharply-raised eyes.
“Oh……. I was just curious about the reason.”
The duke nodded.
“There were a lot of people who had the same thoughts as Nelia. The name of the gemstone is Elena’s Tears, so it may be related to Sigrid’s heart.”
“I called in wizards, alchemists, and archaeologists to examine Elena’s Tears, but they couldn’t find anything.”
At last, Nelia was silent.
Elena’s Tears were definitely the clue to finding Sigrid’s heart. Perhaps, are there any other conditions?
“It seems that Elena’s Tears is just a name for it.”
The duke seemed to have already assumed that Elena’s Tears were not related to Sigrid’s heart.
Of course…….. If he called in those sorts of skillful people and it didn’t react, he wouldn’t think it’s special.
Nelia was concerned about Duke Hart. He wasn’t the male lead in this world, so she was afraid he wouldn’t be able to lift the curse forever.
“Don’t be worried so much, Nelia. I’m confident that I can lift this curse.”
Nelia couldn’t help but nod when the duke, the person involved, offered comfort to her.
“It’s already late, shall we go to bed now?”
Nelia lay down on the bed, and the duke pulled up the blanket and covered Nelia up to her chest.
Each of his gestures was affectionate and gentle.
When she saw him in this appearance, the duke was such a gentleman.
She wouldn’t have expected he had thought of avenging the emperor and carrying such a disastrous serpent curse.
Is it because of that?
Nelia prayed that if the duke successfully lifted the curse upon his family, he would abandon the thought of revenge.
If that was going to happen, she would be willing to help him, both physically and mentally, to find Sigrid’s heart.
Nelia, who felt sorry for the duke, suddenly thought it was strange that she seemed so concerned about the problem the duke had. She was more concerned than she was supposed to.
Was this simply because she had grown too attached to the duke?
Although it wasn’t long, she had stayed with him and they had gone through a lot.
Ironically, the duke was the closest person she had been with, both in her previous life and present life. In her past life, she was always alone as far as she could remember. And she didn’t spend much time with her family in this life.
That’s the reason why she was naturally drawn to the duke.
Her thoughts didn’t last long. Because her eyelids slowly become heavy due to the drowsiness that fell on her.
Nelia closed her eyes as if she was carried away by it.
Luckily, nothing out of the ordinary happened yesterday. Nelia, who slept well, looked at the duke with an energized expression.
The duke was still in his slumber.
The silver hair shone dazzlingly as it received warm light, as if it would flutter and disappear into the sky.
Nelia gave a slight poke on the duke’s cheek, wondering if he was awake. His soft skin slowly came into contact with her.
A chuckle erupted from her mouth upon the sight.
Nelia liked to touch the sleeping duke. If she acted like this when he was awake, she might have been taken alive.
The duke murmured.
Nelia hastily retracted her finger. Soon, the duke lifted his eyelids slowly.
His clear silver eyes came into sight. The duke smiled loosely when he made eye contact with Nelia.
“Why are you smiling?”
“It was nice to see Nelia as soon as I woke up.”
This guy was really spontaneous.
She should have gotten used to it now, but she was still blushing in embarrassment like a teenage girl.
Nelia tried to speak as if nothing had happened.
“Why did you wake up later than me?”
The duke always woke up before her, whether it was because of his insomnia or he simply woke up early.
When she went to the study, he always appeared neat and began to work before her.
“It’s because of Nelia.”
Nelia was a little sad.
He slept with her, but she was the reason why he couldn’t fall asleep?
“Nelia fell asleep in no time, so I had to watch over you.”
“What’s wrong with that?”
The duke smiled weakly and shook her head.
“No, I just can’t help it because it’s something I wanted to do.”
Hm? Nelia couldn’t comprehend the duke’s words.
But now, there were more important things to do, so she let it slide.
“I have to go to work at the Imperial Palace today. Please wake up.”
‘Yes, I should.”
Was she the only one who was nervous about going to the Imperial Palace? The duke walked through the blanket and woke up leisurely.
Nelia gave a scolding to the duke who was about to take off his clothes and sent him back to his room to get ready to go to the palace. If she has to get ready, she just has to put more effort in her hair and put on light makeup.
When she left her room, the duke had been ready before her.
He looked a little hollow because he didn’t sleep very well last night, but he still looked great from the outside.
The duke stared at Nelia before walking toward the carriage. Nelia said, ‘Hm?’ while looking at the duke, and he hugged her.
“Ukh, why so sudden…….!”
“Taking such a lovely Nelia to the Imperial Palace.”
The duke mumbled on top of her head.
“It’s good that Nelia’s beside me, but…….. I’m worried that you might abandon me for someone else.”
Nelia thought the duke was worrying over nothing. After all, who would take interest in her in the imperial palace, where she doesn’t know anyone there?
“Please don’t be worried about that. You’re the only one who is interested in me.”
The duke pulled away. He had a serious look on his face.
“Nelia, you don’t really know your own values. There’s one person who comes to my mind when it comes to someone who would possibly show interest in Nelia right now.”
She didn’t know who was in his mind, but the duke’s voice became unusually cold.