Chapter 1. An Accidental Encounter
Nelia walked up quickly and crouched down.
When she stroked the duke’s head, the snake form of the duke soon disappeared and was replaced by his human form.
Duke Hart hugged Nelia. The duke whispered quietly while hugging Nelia.
“I was worried. You are suddenly gone.”
“It’s not the time to worry about me. Your Highness turned into a snake all of a sudden, and then my brother barged in……”
“That’s all right. I was astonished at how quick-witted he was.”
The duke praised him with sincere admiration, but when she saw his perfect torso revealed right before her eyes, she thought of getting him dressed first.
Having just returned to his human form, it was understandable that he wasn’t dressed at all.
Nelia slowly pulled herself away while keeping her gaze from him.
“Your Grace…… Please stay still for a moment.”
Nelia looked around for the duke’s clothes.
The duke’s clothes were supposed to be lying near the chair.
Nelia walked up to the duke again after picking up his clothes.
“Here it is, Your Grace.”
Nelia handed over the clothes while trying to keep his eyes from the duke.
The duke put on his clothes and set Nellia back. The duke put on his clothes and set Nelia back.
“I’m all dressed.”
When Nelia saw the duke, who returned to his perfect human form, she continued what she was trying to say.
“You came back to the office, and were surprised that I wasn’t here. His Lord Marquis Clint suddenly collapsed, so I had no choice. He suffered from a fever, and I had to take him to a nearby clinic.”
Duke Hart gently held the guilty-looking Nelia on the shoulder.
“Nelia, I’m all right. Rather, I was worried because Nelia seemed embarrassed.”
Nelia was looking at the duke with touched eyes, Duke Hart asked.
“More than that, about Nelia’s brother.”
“He seems to be looking for Elena Tears. I think that’s why he was here, did you know?”
Rather than asking out of curiosity, the duke seemed to be trying to tell her the reason why Leighton came here.
Nelia slowly spoke up to answer while rolling her eyes.
“Leighton is also interested in Sigrid’s heart, and he seems to think it’s related to Elena Tears.”
Leighton’s assumption was actually right, but no one would think that way.
Even the intelligent Duke Hart.
‘What an irony!’
Duke Hart didn’t know what the simple-minded and stupid Leighton knew.
She expected Duke Hart to not be really bothered about this.
“There are more people who take interest in Sigrid’s heart than I expected. I have to move a little faster.”
Just felt another sense of threat.
But, Nelia also thought the same way. What she went through today made her feel threatened.
If the duke’s curse weren’t lifted as soon as possible, she wouldn’t know when this would happen again.
The duke, who turned into a snake, had met an ordinary person.
Someone could find the duke when he was in the snake form and attempted to harm him, or hurt him while looking at the duke with disgust.
Nelia clearly remembered what Leighton said while looking at the duke’s snake form.
And how about the duke who heard that?
“Your Grace, I like both your human form and snake form.”
The duke smiled softly as if he knew why Nelia said that.
“Nelia, I would be in love with you regardless of what I become.”
Nelia somehow felt even more overwhelmed.
“So, you don’t have to worry. I’m all right, really. Nelia is the only one who looks at me sincerely.”
He was always too sweet, and too kind.
While on the way back to the duke’s residence on the same day, Nelia had a lot of thoughts.
She had to find Sigrid’s heart as soon as possible. To do so, she needed holy dew.
In order to obtain a clue about the holy dew, she must meet Zenuit again as soon as possible, but the access to Elena Tears was blocked by a wall named Carlos.
‘……what should I do?’
Nelia was reminded of the address of the pharmacist written down by Marquis Clint when she was thinking about it.
The pharmacist’s family had developed medicine that alleviated Duke Hart’s curse, and she had been looking for their address because she thought they could also develop a medicine that could relieve or even cure Carlos’ stiff arm.
If they were capable of making such medicine, she had a bunch of excuses to meet Carlos.
She would ask Carlos to meet under the pretext of handing over the medicine, and ask to see Elena Tears in exchange for the medicine.
It’s not an unreasonable demand, so she thought it was possible that he would listen to her.
On top of that, if his arm is healed, he will no longer have a reason to find Siegret’s heart. This means eliminating one strong competitor.
‘Yeah, let’s go visit the pharmacist.’
The only thing that bothered her was that she had to hide this from Duke Hart.
If she said she was planning to see the pharmacist, Duke Hart would ask her for the reason, and if she were going to state the reason, she would have to confess that it was for healing Carlos’ arm.
Duke Hart wouldn’t be pleased upon this fact. As he despised Carlos.
‘No…… It’s beyond hate and he even tried to kill Carlos in the original story.’
It was the same as now.
Hasn’t Duke Hart recently had a big fight with Carlos?
Nelia pondered, and decided to keep it secret from Duke Hart.
But Nelia didn’t know. That this determination wouldn’t last long.
After telling Duke Hart that he would go home after a long time, he went to see the pharmacist.
The pharmacist’s house was more hidden than she expected, so it wasn’t easy to find.
Nelia stood in front of what was supposed to be the home of the pharmacist and knocked on the door.
Soon, an old man with a bent back opened the door.
“May I know what brought you here?”
“I…… I’m here to meet Mr. Griff.”
The old man nodded.
“I am Griff.”
She couldn’t believe that she met him right away. She was glad that she could talk about what brought her here more quickly.
“Oh, it’s nice to meet you. My name is Nelia Benedict, and I work as a handmaiden of His Grace the Duke of Hart. I came here after Marquis Clint told me about you.”
When Nelia introduced herself, Griff looked at Nelia for a moment before opening the door shortly after.
“…….Please come in first.”
When she entered, the firepit was on and the air was warm.
Griff pulled the chair between the brazier and the table. Nelia sat down after murmuring thank you when she was asked to take a seat.
“What brings you to visit me?”
When being asked by Griff, Nelia rearranged the story she had prepared in mind once again and spoke.
“I’m here to request medicine for the duchess.”
Griff was an exclusive pharmacist of Hart Dukedom, so he thought he would accept the request only if it came from someone who was part of the Dukedom of Hart.
“Yes, I’m afraid His Grace Duke Hart will be worried, so asked me to do this secretly.”
Nelia leaned over and whispered quietly.
“About that……. Her arm is growing stiff for no reason, and it’s uncomfortable to move around. As if it’s paralyzed. The doctors said they failed to find the cause.”
The creases between Griff’s brows deepened.
“Hmm…… The doctors said they didn’t find the cause?”
“Yes. However, she has been helped by an energy circulator in the past. I’m assuming it’s probably related to her energy.”
Before being brought into this world, Nelia recalled the original story that might help her in this situation.
There was a drug that Carlos used to help curing his stiffening arm during the war in the past; an energy circulator.
She didn’t know about the principle, but the drug obviously helped him.
“I’ve never heard of that kind of symptom…… I think it’s going to be hard to develop medicine for it.”
“I don’t know much about Duke Hart’s curse, but Griff Family had successfully developed a transformation inhibitor medicine.”
“It was possible because I had done research for a very long time. In the end, I still couldn’t make a perfect medicine.”
Nelia asked in a slightly dispirited voice.
“Then…… is there no way at all?”
Griff remained silent. He seemed to be lost in thought.
He spoke up again after a while.
“It’s not like there is no way…… You said the symptoms have been alleviated by an energy circulator in the past, so I will have to study it. Alleviating it may be possible.”
Nelia had come hoping for a cure, but she knew that it was impossible to that extent.
If Carlos’ symptoms were to disappear so easily, the plot wouldn’t have progressed in the first place.
“If medicine were developed, how much would the symptoms be alleviated?”
“I’m not sure…… I won’t know until I make it myself.”
“Yes, I’m counting on you.”
“All right. U will transfer the charge to Hart Duchy for the medicine development later.”
“Uh……. No need. As I said, they shouldn’t know about this, so please bring the charge directly to me.”
Griff answered almost immediately, as if he didn’t mind whose money he would receive.
“I’ll make sure to do so.”
The conversation was concluded, but Nelia contemplated and didn’t leave her seat right away.
“How much does the development cost?”
Nelia was actually worried about this the most.
The money she saved while working as Duke Hart’s handmaiden was quite a lot, so she intended to use it all in case this kind of circumstances occur.
Griff blinked slowly and slowly opened his mouth.
“I can’t exactly predict it, but maybe……”
Nelia, who had escaped from Griff’s house, was baffled.
This was because the development cost that Griff had stated was really huge. It was almost the price of a house.
Moreover, he said that it was only the development cost, the medicine would be charged separately.
The one thing she realized was that Duke Hart had enough money to pay for it.
When Nelia looked surprised at the amount, Griff chuckled and said that it was much cheaper than the cost for transformation medicine, he didn’t know why she looked so surprised.
Nelia stopped in her spot and stared blankly at the ground below her.
‘How am I going to get this much money…….’
No matter how much she thought about it, there was no way to get such a large amount of money unless she won a lottery.
Lottery didn’t even exist in this world.
Nelia returned to the duke’s residence trudgingly. Duke Hart, who maintained his human form by taking medicine, greeted Nelia.
“Nelia, you came back early today.”
At Nelia’s weak answer, the duke walked up to her. He tilted his head and brought it close to her face.
“Nelia……? What’s the matter?”
Nellia looked at the duke without saying anything.
When she faced the duke, she just wanted to tell him what happened today.
But she knew she shouldn’t.
On one hand, she was blamed. The duke became sensitive when it’s about Carlos. Therefore, she actually had to be careful around the duke.
Of course she knew why he reacted that way, but……
‘Even so, this isn’t something I’m doing for my own good.’
She had no wish to find and pray to Sigrid’s heart.
Her original wish was to live quietly like a grasshopper, marry to a suitable household, enjoy a sweet life, and end her life quietly.
However, all those simple dreams were turned upside down because of Duke Hart.
Nelia stared at Duke Hart, she thought it might be better to be honest with him. That she wanted to see Elena Tears once again.
Once she started lying, she had to tell endless lies.
If she confesses openly but he said she could never meet Carlos again, then she would secretly sneak into the palace and steal Elena Tears or even reveal that she knows the future.
Nelia spoke up after making up her mind.
“Actually…… I went to Griff, the pharmacist for Hart Dukedom today.”
The duke seemed not too surprised.
Nelia observed the duke’s expression and quickly continued.
“I’m going to explain why I visited Griff…… you have to promise me not to get the wrong idea until I’m done explaining.”
Nelia held out her pinky finger. The duke stared at it.
Seeing a serious expression on Nelia’s face, the duke obediently attached his finger with her.
When their fingers had been tightly attached, Nelia muttered.
“The reason why I’m seeing Griff today is……. To see if he could make medicine to cure His Highness Carlos’ stiff arm.”
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