Chapter 1. An Accidental Encounter
She was worried that Zenuit would continue to make a fuss about being hungry while she was eating, but he sat in the chair in a calmer manner than she thought and waited until the meal time was over.
After the meal, Nelia tried to leave the chair with bread that she planned to feed Zenuit with, but she was caught by the duke who called her name and reluctantly sat down again.
“It’s been a while since I’ve ordered Ton to buy a dessert. Nelia looks thinner than before.”
‘I look skinny…….’
Nelia was always monitoring her weight because she felt like eating too much stuff while being here.
Luckily, her weight remained the same.
However, from the duke’s point of view, she must have looked skinny. Just like grandchildren who always look skinny from the eyes of their grandmother.
‘Come to think of it, Carlos also said that the other day.’
Duke Hart rose from his seat and brought over something. A sweet smell was immediately emitted from the small box.
“Lately, I think I’ve been neglecting the refreshment Nelia used to eat.”
When the duke opened the box, a pretty-colored cake appeared before her eyes.
“It’s a cream cake made from goat milk. I heard the cake can only be made a few times a year because the milk comes from rare-breed of goat.”
As the duke said that, the wonderful dessert was enough to make her salivary glands act up.
Her attention was distracted from the cake shortly after.
As she was very bothered by Zenuit, who was sniffing it beside her.
Moreover, Zenuit stared at the cake in amazement while Nelia was enjoying the cake. As if the thought of begging her to go back to the room quickly anymore was already in the back of his mind.
‘It looks like he wants to eat this……’
Nelia enjoyed the delicious cake very much, but she ate adequately and put down her fork.
“Your Grace, I’ll eat the rest as refreshment later.”
“Yes, please do so.”
Nelia thought of Zenuit and took the remaining cake to her room.
She checked if the door had been closed properly before putting down the bread and cake she brought along with her on the table.
Zenuit’s eyes were still fixated on the cake.
“Here you go, eat it.”
Even after getting Nelia’s permission, he still didn’t reach out hastily toward the cake as if it was a sort of sacred thing.
Then he finally spoke up.
[What’s this white-colored thing…….?]
Zenuit was trapped in Elena Tears ever since a long time ago, so there must have been cake during the period he lived in.
“It’s a type of bread called cake. It’s very sweet and delicious.”
When Nelia explained it, Zenuit gulped.
“Hurry up and eat it.”
When Nelia urged him, Zenuit tried the cake by taking a little bite.
Shortly after, he had an ecstatic look on his face. She could sense there were words, ‘This is such delicious food……!’ on his face.
Zenuit quickly ate up the cake because he couldn’t resist the sweet taste that stimulated his tongue.
Having completely devoured the other bread she had brought, he tapped his belly.
Zenuit seemed satisfied with his eyes closed, which was a quite cute sight.
Nelia came up with a good idea while staring at Zenuit with a proud heart.
Nelia smiled and spoke to Zenuit.
“Zenuit, if you listen to me, I will feed you with this food every day.”
Zenuit had his eyes wide open.
“Yes, every day.”
Having known Zenuit for a short time, it wasn’t that she assumed he was disobedient. But she thought it might be good to offer something that could earn her his favor just in case.
She thought he would stick around her until the day of the total lunar eclipse, but something might occur if he didn’t listen to her.
[How dare you try to pacify me with food?]
Unlike his displeased face, Zenuit’s eyes were gleaming.
“If you don’t like it, there’s nothing I can do…….”
[You have to bring it to me every day!]
Zenuit replied hastily. Nelia nodded and concealed her smile.
“Got it. In return, Zenuit has to listen carefully so that I won’t get in trouble.”
Zenuit gave out a snort.
[I get it, you arrogant human.]
But Nelia saw it.
His wagging tail, which was a contrast to his frowning face.
Nelia went to work with the duke on the next day.
She wanted to leave Zenuit behind, but he eventually followed her and she had no choice but to take him along.
Riding the carriage, Zenuit clung on the window frame while looking out at the scenery.
[The view of the village also changed completely.]
After looking out for a while, Zenuit calmly took a seat beside Nelia.
Zenuit stared at Duke Hart.
[I feel like looking at my younger self.]
What is he talking about, the younger appearance of the dragon? And she even wondered if he was that handsome.
Nelia sarcastically murmured Zenuit’s muttering to herself, perhaps because she slept in the cold.
The duke asked.
“Nelia, are you uncomfortable somewhere?”
“You were making a frowning face.”
That was because of Zenuit’s words to her, and Duke Hart, who wasn’t aware of the truth, could have quite misunderstood it.
Nelia didn’t have any way to explain it, so she pretended to suffer from light illness.
“Oh…… I just had a headache for a second.”
“Why? Did you not sleep well?”
“It’s not like that…… I guess it’s just because I felt a bit cold in my sleep.”
Nelia said that and shot a glance at Zenuit who sat beside her.
Yesterday, she laid a soft blanket beside the bed to make a separate bed for Zenuit. But he climbed on the bed because he didn’t want to sleep there and took the entire blanket with himself all night.
Whether Zenuit’s guilty conscience was pricked or he was feigning ignorance.
“Is that so…….? I’ll have to talk to Ton and ask him to put a solarite in Nelia’s room.”
Nelia knew what a solarite was.
It was a very useful magic sphere in this heat-free world, but she once heard it was extremely expensive.
Nelia waved her hand in a hurry. Nelia shook her hands hurriedly.
“No……! You don’t have to do that…….”
“No, I have to.”
The duke reached out and stroked Nelia’s cheek.
“Look at you. Your face is burning up…….”
That’s……. She acted that way because his body heat was low.
But she could feel the intense stare from the side.
Nelia turned her head and saw Zenuit watching Duke Hart’s hand, which was on her cheek.
If it were to be compared with the usual skinship she shared with Duke Hart, this one’s level of intensity was very low, but it was embarrassing to know someone was watching.
Nelia removed the duke’s hand, which was stroking her cheek.
“I’m fine, Your Grace. It’s not a big deal.”
The duke added with a worried look, ‘But if you’re not feeling well, tell me anytime.’
Nelia said yes before throwing a glance at Zenuit.
Zenuit was looking out the window again.
“Nelia, take a rest this weekend. I will throw some more effort to find out about Sigrid’s heart.”
Nelia contemplated upon hearing Duke Hart’s words.
She already knew how to get to Sigrid’s heart by this time, so she wouldn’t have to stop by the library to look for books anymore.
‘I just have to wait for the total lunar eclipse.’
But Zenuit had told her to not tell anyone about this yet, so…….
She felt guilty for letting the duke struggle in vain, but there was nothing she could say to him right now.
‘I’m sorry, Your Grace…….!’
Nelia, who was looking at the duke, tried her hardest to turn away.
The day at the Imperial Palace went by as usual.
‘Except for one thing.’
From the morning, Zenuit was sitting quietly at Nelia’s desk, but by the afternoon, he was lying down, flying, crawling, and doing everything else.
Nelia wrote on a piece of paper, ‘I’m bothered, you should stay still.’ and showed it to Zenuit, but he seemed to not listen at all.
Just as she was about to think of tying his flapping wings, the aide knocked and came in to tell the duke that he had a guest.
“Nelia, I’m going to meet a guest downstairs for a while.”
“Yes, please be safe.”
Such good timing.
Nelia spoke to Zenuit as soon as the duke left.
“Why can’t you stay still!”
[What should I do when I’m bored?]
“Then stay alone at home!”
[I don’t want to.]
At first, she thought he was such a demanding animal, but now she feels like having a child.
[How long do I have to stay still? Don’t tell me I have to endure being like this for a few more hours?]
“You have to stay for another four hours.”
Nelia learned what kind of thing the dragon did when they were baffled.
Zenuit stood motionlessly as if he froze in his spot, and soon flapped his wings.
[I can’t stay still like this any further…….!]
“There’s nothing you can’t do if you can’t………!”
Zenuit flew toward the window.
[I’m going to head out and return.]
“Where are you going!”
Zenuit said with a determined look.
[I’ll return in time.]
Then he flapped his wings and went out of the window. But soon there was a shrieking noise of Zenuit.
Nelia jumped out of her seat and walked to the window. Looking down from the window, she spotted Zenuit, who was laid on the ground while rubbing his forehead.
It seemed that he fell down because his head was hitting against the tall tree right in front of the window.
‘Huft, ignorant dragon.’
Nelia left the duke’s office and quickly went out of the Imperial Palace building.
But Zenuit, whom she saw under the tree earlier, had already gone.
Where did he possibly go in the meantime?
Nelia looked around for Zenuit, but he was nowhere to be seen.
She thought he would come back on his own, but she was anxious to leave him be.
She didn’t want him to get into trouble somewhere.
‘Right…… Let’s try to locate him before His Grace returns.’
When the duke and her body got separated distance away, he would turn into a snake, but he would be fine since she was still within the bearable range and didn’t leave the Imperial Palace.
Zenuit couldn’t have gone far with those little wings of his.
Thinking so, Nelia was determined to find Zenuit.
But Zenuit was nowhere to be seen and he must have flown faster than she thought.
‘For real, where did he go?’
It was when Nelia stopped at the back of the palace building and released a sigh.
“Ah, please let me go!”
She heard a voice of a little boy coming from not far away. Nelia’s eyes naturally turned in his direction.
There was the sight of a very cute struggling boy with chubby cheeks caught by an adult, who was much taller than him.
Why is there a child in the Imperial Palace?
However, Nelia was puzzled when she checked the familiar adult who was holding the boy.
‘……. It’s Carlos.’
Unsurprisingly, Carlos was arguing with an unfamiliar child.
“Tell me your guardian, I’ll have someone send you back to them.”
“Oh whatever, I can go on my own!”
Contrary to his cute appearance, the boy seemed quite upset.
Seeing the situation where she wouldn’t wish to get involved, Nelia planned to turn around carefully and pretended not to be aware of them.
However, she wondered why Carlos, who was living in seclusion, appeared in the broad daylight. So, that meant the medicine made by Griff was effective?
‘I’m glad, kinda…….’
It was when she was about to turn around and leave.
Nelia turned around in a startled manner, and the boy was running away from Carlos and went her way.
Nelia looked at the boy in bewilderment. But the boy hugged Nelia for no absolute reason.