Chapter 1. An Accidental Encounter
“Noona, where were you going?”
‘Wh-what…… When did I meet this kid? He even called me noona.’
The boy turned his head and spoke to Carlos.
“This noona was the person I looked for!”
Nelia flinched in surprise.
Her eyes met Carlos. Even he seemed a little taken aback upon finding out that the older sister the boy told him was her.
“Did you bring him over?”
Carlos asked as he approached.
Just as she was about to say no, the boy pulled at the hem of her skirt.
Looking down at the kid, his clear gray eyes were staring at her.
‘I just realized it……’
Nelia felt odd seeing his gray-colored eyes and hair.
The child smiled broadly and answered Carlos on her behalf.
“Yes, I’m Zenu, I tagged along my noona to the Imperial Palace.”
Zenu…… His name was really similar to Zenuit’s.
Upon figuring out the boy’s identity, Nelia closed her eyes firmly.
Nelia couldn’t figure out why Zenuit appeared as a cute child, but she had to play along because there was Carlos in front of them.
“……..I apologize, Your Grace. He’s my cousin, and I didn’t have anyone to look after him today, so I brought him to the Imperial Palace with His Grace’s permission.
“Last time it was your brother, and it’s your cousin this time. You take care of various things.”
Oh…… Carlos once mistook Leighton as a lout and was meant to help her.
Nelia was quiet because she had nothing to say.
“Why was he walking around alone in such a place?”
“He ran outside because he was bored, so I tried to stop him…….”
Nelia spoke while glaring at Zenuit.
Carlos said in an unexpectedly milder tone.
“I’m glad to have located the kid before it’s too late.”
“Yes, that’s a relief. Zenu was also really frightened because I just lost Noona.”
Nelia stared at Zenuit with widened eyes. Carlos also looked at Zenuit without saying anything for a moment.
As if he had something he really wanted to say.
Then he eventually spoke to Zenuit.
“I’ll give you something to appease the kid, let him be with me.”
She didn’t expect Carlos to propose this kind of offer……
But she had to reject it. After all, the duke’s office was empty and she didn’t get to speak to the duke.
“Thank you, but…….”
“Wow, what is it?”
Interrupting Nelia, who was about to refuse, Zenuit rushed forward.
Carlos explained with a nonchalant look.
“Something like chocolate or candy.”
“What is that……?”
Zenuit tilted his head.
Carlos frowned. Even though he was a child, he (Carlos) must’ve felt the kid was weird for knowing chocolate or candy.
Nelia hurried to the rescue.
“Ahaha, my uncle is trying his best to raise Zenu……. healthily, so he doesn’t even allow him to get close to such sweets.”
Zenuit’s eyes sparkled after hearing Nelia.
“Wow, the chocolate and candy were sweet? Then, I like it!”
Before Nelia could stop him, Zenuit was already nodding his head.
“Then follow me.”
When Carlos said that, Zenuit looked at Nelia with a joyful face.
“Let’s go, Noona!”
Nelia clenched her quivering fist, and decided to tell Zenuit that he would be prohibited from eating dessert for the time being after they returned to the mansion.
Zenuit didn’t hesitate to put the food served by the servants in his mouth.
After seeing this, Carlos might think she made the child starve.
Nelia sighed and turned her head, only to be met with Carlos’ orbs.
I felt embarrassed. Since she only looked at Zenuit, she belatedly realized that Carlos was staring at her.
Nelia spoke first in the midst of the awkwardness.
‘Is His Highness taking the medicine that Duke Hart developed?’
‘That’s why he can come out.’
The reason he lived in seclusion was because of his arm, and the symptoms seemed to have been relieved, so he appeared now.
When Nelia wondered whether Carlos was doing well or not, he suddenly asked.
“That medicine is Duke Hart’s suggestion?”
“……Yes. Because the duke said in order to see Elena Tears, he needed an offer to move Your Highness’ heart.”
Nelia spoke as if it was the duke’s suggestion.
Carlos dropped his gaze without giving her any hint of what was in his mind.
At that moment, the clumsy voice of Zenuit was heard loudly from the side.
“Wow, this is so delicious! Hyung’s the best!”
Nelia frowned out of surprise and looked at Zenuit.
“You can’t call him Hyung, use His Highness…….! The person before you is the Crown Prince who will inherit the Imperial Throne and rule the Empire.”
It was Carlos who answered instead.
“Leave him be. Kid doesn’t know anything.”
Why is he so merciful today…….
Nelia thanked Carlos for his understanding and glanced at the clock.
‘Is it already the time?’
She was certain the duke would come looking for her.
“I apologize, Your Highness. We have to leave early.”
Nelia rose from her seat and spoke to Zenuit.
“Zenuit, you finished your meal, right?”
“I still haven’t……”
“Your Highness, thank you for today. Please excuse us.”
Nelia cut off Zenuit by picking him up and quickly left the drawing room.
That’s why Nelia didn’t know.
What kind of gaze Carlos had while looking at her back.
Carlos, who was looking at the door where Nelia disappeared for a while, suddenly gripped his right arm.
Painful groan broke out of Carlos’ lips as he had his eyes closed.
Carlos held on to his right arm for a while as if he was enduring pain there. The hand, which gripped his arm, lost its color and his knuckles even became pale.
Carlos, who had his eyes closed tightly, slowly released the strength of his grip on his arm when the pain gradually subsided.
Huft, huft. Ragged breaths flowed out of his lips. Not just that, but his forehead was soaked in sweat.
When Carlos finally returned to his room, he looked down at the bottle of medicine located in the trash.
The vial contained a green-colored liquid.
It was the medicine that Duke Hart brought a few days ago.
He drank this medicine immediately on that day and pretended it worked, but in fact, it was doing the opposite for Carlos.
It was obviously expected.
He tried to call the well-known pharmacists and doctors around the world to treat him, but it seemed to be impossible.
However, there was no way that the medicine made by a pharmacist who didn’t even know his symptoms could work for him.
But the reason he acted as if it worked that day was…….
Nelia’s face glimmered in front of Carlos.
‘I was wondering if I could see her again.’
It was Duke Hart who asked to see him, but he knew the handmaiden would come along because she went anywhere with him like thread and needle.
He even knew that the medicine wouldn’t have any effect on him, but he drank it and pulled out a ridiculous acting because the woman was there.
His mind was focused on her eyes, which seemed to be expecting the medicine to work, rather than wise off to the duke for bringing this.
He could be looking at the handmaiden like that when they were alone.
He wanted her to worry about his right arm, he wanted her to be interested in him.
Carlos himself even admitted that he was being ridiculous.
But their meeting on that day brought an end to his secluded life.
The reason he stayed in seclusion and ignored people’s attention toward him was to find a way to fix his stiff arm.
He thought Elena Tears, which seemed to get her attention, might be related to Sigrid’s heart.
He thought it was his last hope so he desperately clung to it. He believed that after he found Sigrid’s heart, he could heal his arm.
The pain in his right arm has recently gotten worse, so the desperation in her heart has grown even more.
The unbearable pain was now affecting his right arm. It was hard to keep being conscious when he was engulfed in pain.
Therefore, he called in all the expert historians, including scholars, wizards, and alchemists to figure out Elena Tears, but he didn’t get anything.
‘Nothing works out.’
On the day he was going to give up everything, he suddenly thought about seeing the handmaiden.
And after seeing her again that day, he no longer thought to give up.
The pain in her arm definitely weakened when she was with him.
Not only physical pain, but also his nerves and mind that have always been on edge, also became calm at some point.
He didn’t know the reason.
But he was sure of one thing.
She was his only cure for the time being.
Carlos staggered and could barely stand by the window, clutching the hem of the curtain.
‘I have to have her.’
But it wouldn’t be easy since Duke Hart wouldn’t leave the handmaiden’s side.
Carlos, who was thinking about a way, saw the medicine that Duke Hart gave him.
He drank the medicine in one gulp as if nothing was wrong.
Seeing the green liquid floating inside the vial, he was reminded by a sticky swamp.
Carlos’ eyes were sparkling as if he was imagining something dangerous.
Meanwhile, Nelia, who had stormed out of the drawing room, asked Zenuit almost immediately as soon as they were outside.
“What’s wrong with your appearance!”
“What do you think about it? I’ve turned into a human.”
“You even asked my thoughts about it! Do you know how surprised I was when a kid I didn’t even know called me Noona?”
Zenuit shrugged his shoulders.
“There was nothing I could do. He was trying to take me somewhere. It’s good that I saw you.”
Thanks to him, she experienced a great amount of embarrassment.
Nelia looked at Zenuit intensely right into his eyes.
“Why did you appear as a child?”
“It was difficult to open the door and grab anything in my dragon form.”
Nelia put her hand on her forehead. She didn’t know dragons had so much talent.
“Now that I know the reason, return to your original form.”
“That’s just it, you’re gathering attention!”
Firstly, the fact that there was an extremely cute-looking kid walking around the Imperial Palace.
He was far from an ordinary human because of his cute appearance.
However, Zenuit didn’t seem to understand her concerns.
“I don’t wanna.”
Nelia halted her pace as he held Zenuit’s hand.
“What did you say?”
“I said I would remain like this. I like my recent appearance.”
“It won’t work out with me. You won’t be able to stick to me.”
Zenuit put on a sulky face.
“You can call me your cousin like you did earlier.”
“I don’t wanna! It’s too much!”
“I don’t know. I’ve been locked up for thousands of years, let me do this much.”
Even if he had passed thousands of years there, Zenuit was still acting like the age of children form he was in right now
“If you don’t listen to me, I won’t give you cake anymore.”
“Hmph, I don’t need it. People willingly give me food when I’m in this form.”
All hell broke loose in Nelia at last.
“This dragon, for real…….!”
Then, Duke Hart’s voice was heard from the side.
Nelia turned her head in a flash. There was Duke Hart staring at her with his pale eyebrows.
“I returned to the office, but you weren’t here earlier, so I came out again to look for you. But…… who is this kid?”
“Uh…… Uhm……. So……”
Nelia bit her lips. But Zenuit interrupted her and spoke up.
“I’m Nelia’s cousin!”
He forestalled her.
Nelia gave Zenuit a sharp glare.
Zenuit hugged himself while putting on a terribly depressed look on his face.
“Because my whole family was away for a while, Nelia decided to take care of me for a while.”
The duke asked, tilting his head.
“Is that true, Nelia?”