Chapter 1. An Accidental Encounter
Nelia quickly listened to the duke as he continued.
“I feel comfortable around him.”
“Yes……. That is what I actually felt at first when meeting Carlos.”
Duke Hart said and immediately loosened his stiff brow.
“The reason is…… I don’t know.”
The conversation ended when the carriage halted.
When Nelia and Duke Hart got out of the carriage, Carlos’ servant was already waiting.
He led them to the drawing room where they were supposed to meet Carlos.
“His Highness is already inside.”
Nelia looked at the duke anxiously. The duke had an expressionless face as he stood at the door, Nelia didn’t know what was on his mind.
When the servant opened the door, they saw a man sitting on the sofa with his head drooped. The man slowly lifted his head after sensing the presence of other people.
It was Carlos, the one they haven’t seen in a while.
He seemed a little thinner than he used to. It seemed that his eyes were a bit empty, too.
“I’m here to see Your Highness the Crown Prince.”
Nelia greeted him first with courtesy. Duke Hart also bowed his head briefly and greeted him.
“It’s been a while, Your Highness.”
Carlos tilted his head to point the sofa across him without saying any greeting in return.
“Take a seat.”
Nelia thought to herself.
His rude personality hasn’t gone anywhere even when he didn’t feel well.
On the other hand, she was relieved that his personality was still like that. On the contrary, she would have felt really sad if his rough personality had been daunted.
After Nelia and Duke Hart sat on the sofa, Carlos spoke up first.
“So, you’ve developed a drug that can relieve the symptoms of my arm?”
Nelia looked at the duke.
Before arriving, the duke said he wanted to do his plan by saying that he developed medicine for Carlos when they were in the carriage.
When she asked why, the duke responded.
‘If he knew Nelia had developed medicine, he might have vain hopes for you again, right?’
She didn’t understand what he was talking about, but Nelia said she didn’t really care who would be pretending to have developed it, so she agreed to go along with his plan.
So right now, it was Duke Hart who answered the question, not her.
“Yes, I’ve asked my family’s pharmacist to develop it.”
“Why did you do that?”
“I wanted to ask you for a favor.”
The duke didn’t hesitate to get to the point. Carlos raised one of his eyebrows.
“Yes. I heard that Elena Tears is in your possession now, so I’d like to take a look at them as a condition.”
“Do you want to see Elena Tears because of Sigrid’s heart? If that’s your reason, I’d like to tell you that you’re barking up the wrong tree.”
Nelia, who was still listening to their conversations, spoke up for the first time at that moment.
“Why do you think so?”
“I kept Elena Tears recently and tried various things such as calling in experts like mages and alchemists who are familiar with minerals, but it didn’t respond to them at all.”
So that’s what he was doing while he was in hiding.
But the duke didn’t back down easily, as if he remembered Nelia’s request.
“But since I’ve come all the way here, I’d like to take a look at it. It’s not a bad condition for you if it’s not that hard to show to us for a moment.”
Carlos stared at the duke without saying anything and spoke shortly after.
“You said you’ve developed medicine to relieve the symptoms of my arm.”
“Are you sure it’s effective?”
The duke nodded and took out the medicine he had brought along.
“Please try it now. You’ll see if it works.”
Griff said that if it worked, it would react as soon as he took it.
‘Please, it has to work.’
Nelia stared nervously at Carlos.
But Carlos looked at the liquid inside the vial and turned to the duke again.
“How do I know if this liquid that you brought along is medicine that isn’t poisoned?”
Nelia hardened at Carlos’ rude question.
‘If he’s going to be that suspicious, why did he meet us willingly?’
Then, Duke Hart opened the vial and drank it.
After taking the medicine, the duke placed the empty vial on the table with a thumping sound and said.
“Can you believe it now?”
Duke Hart has proven that it wasn’t filled with anything harmful by taking it himself, so Carlos would no longer continue to pick on it.
Duke Hart took out the new vial and handed it to Carlos.
“You should try it for yourself now.”
Carlos slowly took the vial that was handed to him. He opened the vial and took the liquid into his mouth.
Nelia watched without taking a breath unconsciously for Carlos’ reaction.
Carlos finished taking the medicine in a single gulp and put the empty vial on the table. He dropped his head without saying anything.
‘What is it…….’
There was no change of expression on his face, so she couldn’t tell whether he experienced any change or not.
Carlos slowly raised his gaze shortly after.
“Who developed this medicine?”
“It was developed by an exclusive pharmacist for Hart Dukedom.”
Carlos recited Duke Hart’s answer.
“It’s not quackery.”
Nelia widened her eyes at his positive response.
‘That’s a relief…….!’
It seemed that Griff’s demand for the development price that could buy a house wasn’t a bluff.
“But…… Why does Hart Dukedom have such an exclusive, talented pharmacist?”
When Carlos asked in a suspicious manner, Nelia quickly shrunk back after feeling delighted for a moment.
On the other hand, Duke Hart replied with a smile.
“My mother is working hard with the exclusive pharmacist to see if it can develop a cure to help the people in the dukedom.”
That was a very reasonable answer.
Nelia admired Duke Hart who was capable of taking care of matters spontaneously.
“Then can you show us Elena Tears?”
Carlor rose from his seat and walked to the table after Duke Hart mentioned the favor he talked about earlier.
He opened the drawer and took out Elena Tears, which was wrapped in a white cloth.
Nelia stared anxiously at the white clothed object. Carlos opened the cloth that was wrapped around Elena Tears. The shining Elena Tears appeared in no time.
Elena Tears seemed really nice when it came into her sight again after a long time.
Deep in her heart, she wanted to call Zenuit out loud, but there were Carlos and Duke Hart beside her.
In anticipation of handling this situation, Nelia had thought of a way to talk to Zenuit ahead of time.
She planned to bring Elena Tears to the corner of the room under the pretext of wanting to see it under the light and called out to Zenuit quietly.
Then, she would ask him quickly if the gemstone that Charlotte had given her was the holy dew he talked about a while back. Nelia asked Carlos carefully, putting her plan into action.
“Can I…… look at Elena Tears under the light? It’s too dark here.”
“Isn’t Duke Hart supposed to look at it himself?”
Carlos seemed puzzled when it wasn’t Duke Hart who had asked to see it, but Nelia who said she would like to examine Elena Tears by herself.
“Nelia recently studied Elena Tears deeply. It will be more helpful than seeing it myself.”
Carlos frowned with a mutter, ‘You make the handmaiden take care of everything.’ and talked to Nelia.
“I don’t mind if you want to take a look at it under the light. As long as you won’t drop it like your brother.”
Why would she do that……
Nelia nodded and reached out to take Elena Tears.
And it was when Nelia’s finger touched the surface.
Dazzling light came out of Elena Tears just for a moment.
Nelia flinched in surprise and brought her hand away.
She glanced at Duke Hart and Carlos since she wasn’t sure whether she was the only one who saw it. Luckily, the two didn’t seem to see it.
Nelia studied their expression for a brief moment and reached out to Elena Tears.
The dazzling light from earlier didn’t appear this time.
Nelia slowly got up with Elena Tears in hand. Then, she walked away from the sofa occupied by the duke and Carlos to the seeping light in the room, pretending to examine Elena Tears while whispering quietly.
Elena Tears was strangely quiet.
When Zenuit didn’t respond, she found out her heart was pounding.
‘You don’t know what it took me to come this far…….!’
Nelia called again out of desperation.
However, it was still quiet.
When Nelia was overwhelmed with despair.
[Who is making this noise…… No, you’re…….]
She heard Zenuit’s voice.
She was very glad having Zenuit respond to her, but before that, she had to take out something that had been in her mind all the time.
“Your voice is too loud…….! Tune it down a little…….”
[You don’t have to worry about that. The person who awakens me is the only one that can hear my voice.]
Nelia glanced behind just in case. Seeing Duke Hart and Carlos didn’t react much, she thought Zenuit was right.
After feeling a swarm of relief, Nelia hurriedly said what she had been wanting to talk about.
“Zenuit, about the holy dew……”
[Looks like you’ve taken it safely.]
Zenuit said calmly before she managed to finish her words.
[That thing in your pocket.]
When Nelia put her hand inside her pocket, her hand touched the gemstone that she brought along, the one that came out of Charlotte’s pendant necklace.
‘So it was right, as I expected…….!’
One of the reasons why she decided to continue meeting Charlotte was because she thought she could obtain some information about Sigrid’s heart, but she really didn’t expect it to be so helpful……!
Nelia took out the gemstone slowly.
Zenuit cried in pure excitement.
[Right, that one! Hurry and put it on the hole in the back!]
Nelia turned Elena Tears around. Then, she spotted the round hole that she had seen last time.
When she put the gemstone Charlotte had given to her over it, it seemed to be the right size and fit perfectly. Nelia hurriedly put the gemstone she obtained from Charlotte to the Elena Tears.
Then, a white light flashed before her eyes for a moment.
Nelia closed her eyes out of instinct.
When she opened her eyes again, the light disappeared and there was something flying in front of her.
‘Wh…… what is this?’
The mysterious thing spoke, having possibly read Nelia’s surprised expression.
[I’m Zenuit. You just took me out of Elena Tears.]
Is this creature really Zenuit?
Zenuit looked like the smaller version of Sigrid on the cover of the book. A dragon that’s just the size of a human face?
He’s Sigrid’s subordinate, and their color was similar to each other. It’s possibly because they’re of the same race.
It looked cute, but Nelia realized she had overlooked something.
Nelia pressed her hands on Zenuit, who was flying in the air, and turned around quickly after trapping him in her hands.
[What are you doing……!]
“What would they think if something like a dragon appeared out of nowhere?”
Zenuit said while being crumpled in Nelia’s hands.
[Others can’t see me anyway. The same with my voice.]
Nelia sighed with relief.
“All right. But I can’t talk to you when there are people around, so you have to be quiet for a while.”
“They won’t even see you, I would receive strange glances from others if they see me talk by myself?”
Zenuit had an expression that indicated he didn’t understand what she was saying, but now she had to return to her seat slowly.
She already took a while to examine Elena Tears under the light.
Nelia quickly took out Charlotte’s gemstone, which was attached on the back of Elena Tears. She couldn’t let it attach there.
Nelia returned to her seat as if nothing happened and put Elena Tears on the table.
“Did you find something?”
Nelia said while pretending to be gloomy, ignoring Zenuit who was flying around.
Duke Hart examined Elena Tears that had been put down by Nelia again.
He took a close look at Elena Tears before putting it back on the table again.
Carlos, who did the same thing as Duke Hart, asked him.
“Is it clear now?”
Duke Hart looked at Nelia. When Nelia nodded, Duke Hart stated on her behalf.
“Yes, it’s clear.”
Carlos, who thought they would get up right away, looked at Nelia.
“It’d be better if there is something to gain.”
Nelia, who made eye contact with Carlos, thought his black eyes seemed particularly distant today, and looked somewhat lonely and grim.
But it only lasted for a moment.
“Shall we go back now, Nelia?”
Nelia returned to her conscious mind upon the duke muttering the question.