Chapter 1. An Accidental Encounter
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On the next day, Nelia returned to her daily routine.
Just because there was a huge change in her relationship with the duke, one day didn’t change what would happen every day.
Therefore, she ought to ride a carriage to go to the palace as usual.
Nelia, who was on her way to the carriage, suddenly realized that the garden of the mansion was as clean and beautiful as usual.
‘I was certain the duke who turned into a monster last time had made a mess here.’
The trees and flowers which had been cut off disastrously, and the soil also had been dug everywhere. Not to mention the warehouse collapsed.
But now, it was restored to its original state as if that night was just a dream.
“Your Grace’s garden has been rearranged?”
“Ah…… the mages restored it back to its original state.”
The duke answered somewhat awkwardly, but Nelia didn’t notice because she was busy sweeping the view with her eyes.
‘The mages are amazing.’
Being able to restore a completely ruined garden, restraining an enormous monster, and even creating an invisible magic shield.
Nelia, who was internally admiring them, recalled the protection shield and a forgotten existence of a human being.
Nelia held her hand on her forehead.
She left home that day, and she told Leighton that she was heading to the duke’s residence and set off at once. That crazy j*rk didn’t notify anyone or report it somewhere, right…….?
“What’s the matter, Nelia?”
When he saw Nelia suddenly holding her forehead, the duke asked in a worried voice.
“Your Grace, by any chance……. While I’m still unconscious yesterday, did my brother come here?”
The duke shook his head in response.
“Ton would have told me if he came, but he didn’t say anything.”
So he didn’t come. She felt even more uneasy when she thought that way.
It’s likely that he would appear one day and find out what happened on that day.
Nelia, who felt uneasy, thought she would stop by the house and greet Leighton today.
Nelia asked the duke while still lost in thoughts.
“Is Ton alright?”
On the day the duke turned into a monster, he slammed the man quite hard against the wall.
She saw his neat appearance in the morning, but he could act professionally that she wouldn’t even know he was hiding his internal injuries.
“The doctor said he would be fine except for a few wounds.”
Nelia thought it was surprising seeing the duke calmly reciting about Ton’s state.
She thought he would be a little sorry, or showed guilt.
“At any rate……. It could have been a disaster.”
The duke sighed as he strided and shook his head.
Nelia thought of the human being that appeared the last.
‘I thought so, nonetheless Ton is the employee who became the duke’s hands and feet and he has been serving him for a long time.’
“If Ton hadn’t been the one hurting, it would have been Nelia.”
Nelia’s eyebrows crooked at the way the duke words, she felt guilty to Ton.
“That’s not it either…….! I felt so guilty for Ton because of that……”
“Ah…… my adorable Nelia.”
The duke pulled Nelia for a hug.
“It’s a secret that no one else knows, but Ton is the member of the ducal family who has been serving us for a long time. The first head of the family was a knight who originated from another country, so the people in the family naturally learn swordsmanship and martial arts.”
The Ducal Family of Hart must have had vassals in secret. Only then was she able to understand Ton’s rigid speech and behavior. He came from the knight family, so he must have had a hard time.
“Ton in particular, is so talented that he would be able to sweep the Imperial Martial Arts Championships.”
“Yes, being slammed against the wall like that is not a big deal to him.”
Huft, she became more relieved by his explanation.
At the same time, she became curious. It’s hard to believe that such a wise man works as a butler in a place like this. She wondered how good the terms must be……. Or he might be in debt and said that he had to do something to pay back the duke.
“Well, if your question is solved, shall we go?”
The duke took Nelia’s hand and led her forward.
Nelia walked together with the duke, putting aside the thought of Ton.
The duke’s steps seemed quite light as she assessed him from behind.
Shortly after reaching the Imperial Palace, the duke had to step out of his office.
A messenger from another country has come.
The duke had to go to the audience chamber, which was quite far from his office.
Therefore, Nelia had to follow the duke. In case his body lost control and turned into a snake.
“Nelia, there is a backdoor out there. There’s a pretty lake right beside it, you can walk around there.”
Upon arriving at the door of the audience chamber, Duke Hart told Nelia the nearby place where she could stay, worried that she would wander around awkwardly in the hallway on her own.
“I will be back as soon as possible after finishing it.”
“Yes, please go ahead.”
Being on her own, Nelia went over to the back of the main building, as the duke told her.
At the door leading to the back of the building, there was a small lake like the duke mentioned, the water was clear and there was a small fish swimming around, perhaps it was because the lake was managed well.
There was a flat rock in the great spot, so she felt it would be nice to sit there.
Nelia sat on the rock, enjoying her peaceful space for the first time in a long time. Besides, the wind blew past softly, so it couldn’t have been better.
Until she heard a commotion from behind.
“Oh, I’m not sure, my sister works here!”
Does she have a hallucination? It’s impossible to hear him here.
When a familiar voice registered into her head, Nelia would rather close her eyes pretending not to pay any mind to it.
“Unconfirmed people cannot enter the palace.”
She slowly glanced behind. She found Leighton with his eyebrows scrunched up.
‘Ah……. What is that brat doing here?’
When the annoyed voice of the guard managed to come into her ears, Nelia had no choice but to get up from her sitting position because she thought Leighton might increase her work.
She was planning to stop by and talk to Leighton about the incident at the duke’s residence today, but he seemed to be unable to wait and broke into the palace.
As Nelia approached the back entrance, her eyes met Leighton.
Leighton’s face lit up for a moment.
The guard’s gaze turned to Nelia. And they muttered among themselves.
“That young lady……. Isn’t she Duke Hart’s handmaiden?”
“I think you’re right?”
She never went through the back entrance, so she never met these guards before, but things about her must have not taken a long time to circulate around and even reached this secluded part of the palace.
The guards glanced at Nelia’s face several more times before clearing up their throats and asked.
“Do you know this man?”
Her cheeks heated up in embarrassment.
Nelia once again swore to find out Leighton’s big mistake one day and lock him up in the monastery.
“You heard that? Now, let go of me!”
When Leighton struggled, the guards finally let go of Leighton’s clothes that they were holding onto.
“As I said earlier, you are forbidden to enter without a visitor’s pass.”
“Ah, nevermind! I’m not going in then!”
Leighton shot daggers at the guards.
Nelia sighed and took Leighton to the retired spot outside the castle. This much distance wouldn’t affect the duke.
“Why are you here?”
“You haven’t returned home since your departure on the day of the total lunar eclipse. Don’t you know how concerned I’ve gotten?”
Nelia found an appropriate excuse after contemplating an answer.
“I fell on my way to the duke’s residence that day, I hit my head against the tree and lost consciousness. I couldn’t see things properly because it was so dark.”
“Luckily, the butler found my fainted body and took me to the duke’s residence.”
Leighton scolded her, ‘Why are you so clumsy, oh goodness.’ however Nelia let it slide.
She still had one more thing to explain.
“And Leighton, you also said His Grace the Duke entered the building with a chain or something on that day.”
“Oh, right. What the h*ll happened to him?”
“His Grace the Duke was just moving the chains to the warehouse. The suspicious people you saw were priests who were instructed to hold a memorial service for the former head of the family.”
Nelia sounded as if she was telling the truth just in case Leighton would spread rumors about the incident on that day.
Fortunately, Leighton didn’t doubt his explanation, scratching his head and muttering something like, ‘Is that so…….’
“Rather than that…… Did you really come all the way here to see me?”
Nelia couldn’t believe Leighton’s remark saying that he had come to the palace to see her.
He would have come to the duke’s residence a lot earlier if that was the case, but she didn’t think he was.
“Ah……. just because.”
Leighton’s reply didn’t sit right with her.
Above all that, he was secretly glancing into the palace for some time. His gaze grew even more obvious now.
“I really can’t enter without a pass?”
Ah……. Nelia heaved out a sigh and touched her forehead.
Seeing her must have been only an excuse.
“What are you curious about?”
“It’s just……. I want to see the necklace that I dropped that day.”
“Have you lost your mind? You almost threw a punch at the Crown Prince! If it weren’t because of me, you probably already lost your neck!”
“I know, I know that…… I heard something else.”
He kept saying he heard bizarre things and bothered her.
Last time he was interested in His Grace the Duke, and this time, to Elena’s Tears?
“Don’t say ridiculous things and return quickly, I have to go back to work now.”
“Nelia, just for once! You’re close to His Grace the Duke Hart. How can you not help me when I beg you like this……. Akh!”
Leighton, who was pleading at Nelia while holding her arm, was grabbed by someone and thrown to the ground.
“I can’t believe there’s a rascal hanging near the palace.”
Nelia looked at the man who threw Leighton to the ground with a baffled look.
The handsome man, who was superior in terms of looks compared to others, was wiping his hands as if he had touched something that wasn’t supposed to be touched.
Nelia, who was stunned to see him, asked.
“……Your Highness the Crown Prince?”
She was right.
It was Crown Prince Carlos who threw Leighton easily on the floor.
Carlos wiped his hands thoroughly and walked up to Nelia.
“Did he harass you? If so, I’d inform to have him thrown into the prison cell right away.”
For a moment, Nelia was tempted at his words, but she immediately returned to her senses at the sight of Leighton lying around, groaning in pain while holding onto his waist.
Hah……. She was embarrassed, but she had to reveal that the rascal was her brother.
“Your Highness, I appreciate your help, but this is…… my brother.”
Carlos turned to Leighton. The moment their eyes met, both of them had a frown on their face at the same time.
Because they’ve met before.
Of course, they’re not in the term to properly greeting each other.
Carlos asked warily.
“Why are you here?”
Leighton got up from the ground, and brushed the dirt off his bottom.
“I’m here to see my sister. She collapsed on the street the day before yesterday and didn’t return home.”
Nelia internally clicked her tongue.
What worry is he talking about, he came here to see Elena’s Tears.
“You should have gone in with manners then.”
Carlos folded his arms and spoke in a cold voice.
“The guards won’t let me so how……! Would I……”
Leighton, who was raising his voice as if he was being victimized, hurriedly lowered his voice as if he just realized that the person he faced was the Crown Prince.
Nelia, worried that she might have to do the work again at this rate, intervened.
“……Leighton, I will stop by your house today, you should return for now.”
Lucky for her, Leighton seemed to get the hint, so he nodded.
Nelia nudged Leighton on his ribs and whispered before sending him off.
“Greet His Highness and leave.”
Leighton pouted his lips, but then controlled his expression and looked at Crown Prince Carlos.
“It was an honor to meet you again, Your Highness. I apologize for acting rude today. I will take my leave.”
Carlos didn’t accept the greeting, he simply kept up a stoic face.
Leighton disappeared while rubbing his bottom. Carlos, who stared at his disappearing figure, turned his head and spoke to Nelia.
“Sometimes, breaking off old ties can do a favor to your life.”
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