Chapter 1. An Accidental Encounter
Duke Hart headed straight to Nelia’s room from the parlor. He was more worried rather than angry that Nelia had lied to him.
Why did she go out in this weather, even telling such a lie to him?
‘Where the h*ll did she go?’
He had to find something that gave out a clue about Nelia’s whereabouts.
While searching throughout Nelia’s room, Duke Hart found a note in the desk drawer.
The note just said to come to the separate palace on the west side of the Main Palace in the evening. The name of the sender wasn’t written there, but somehow the duke figured out who wrote that note.
The duke remembered the day when he asked Nelia to go for an errand.
It took Nelia a while to finish the errand, and she acted somewhat awkward after coming back.
It looked strange unlike usual, so he wondered what happened, and he thought she met Carlos.
Duke Hart crumpled the paper in her hand with a stiffened expression.
Seeing the duke who went down with his outerwear, Ton stopped his pace.
“Master, where do you intend to go? The weather is not good right now.”
“There’s a place I need to drop by urgently.”
“I understand how you feel, but you don’t look well. And if you collapse somewhere outside…….”
Ton was very concerned about the duke whose face resembled a corpse, but the duke spoke firmly.
“I won’t be late. Please see the guess off for me.”
Leighton frowned at Duke Hart, who disappeared in no time.
“What’s this all of sudden…….”
Even if he tried to be nice and polite on the outside, those kinds of people intended to do as they please.
Leighton, who was grunting in annoyance inwardly, rose from his seat to leave the parlor. Nelia’s gone, and the duke’s gone too. There was no reason for him to stay in the duke’s house anymore.
‘Why is it hard to meet Nelia right away every time?’
He came all the way here intending to ask Nelia once more to take a look at Elena’s tears, but he just had to return without any result.
It was when something bumped against Leighton’s foot. Looking down, he saw a small glass bottle.
Leighton leaned over and picked up the bottle. There was something as small as beans inside.
“Did the duke drop it?”
His pale face looked sickly and disoriented. That must be why he didn’t notice it dropped from his pocket.
Leighton took out the bottle and looked on the inside quietly. It seemed like medicine.
He didn’t look well, is he taking medicine?
There was too much medicine for that. As if he eats it every day…….
Leighton, who was observing the medicine inside the bottle, soon opened his eyes wide.
Is this the rumor about his vitality? That the duke consumes every day!
Looking closely, there was small text labeled on the cork.
If it’s that Griff, the pharmacist known for his vitality medicine, it must be right. They sell extremely effective vitality medicine at the back of Werther’s Farm.
As far as he had noticed, it didn’t seem like a vitality medicine because there were Seitia leaves in it, but what’s the point of it in this situation?
According to the rumor, vitality medicine is really expensive……
Leighton slipped the medicine bottle into his pocket.
‘It’s the duke anyway, he can buy it again because he has a lot of money.’
Leighton’s lips crept up. He actually needed money lately, but it won’t be necessary anymore because he thought this was a good deal.
He spent all the money he had saved to find out about Sigrid’s heart, so he wondered about how to find money…….
If he sells this medicine to the black market, he would get a pretty good deal. The cork clearly has a label.
Leighton left the parlor while thinking so. However, he was surprised to see the person standing in front of the door.
“……… You scared me.”
In front of the door stood the butler, who guided him previously to the parlor.
The way he spoke and acted was very polite, but extremely flat expression bothered him quite a bit.
Of course, he must have felt that way because he just snuck Duke Hart’s medicine.
“I’m sorry for catching you off guard. I wanted to tell you that we prepared a carriage to take you back home because it rains so much.”
“Ah…… Yes, thank you.”
Leighton tried to continue his pace while hiding his discomfort, when Ton’s voice was heard again.
“While you’re here, it would be nice to see Young Master Zenu, but he’s currently not in his room, he might be out with Young Lady Nelia.”
Leighton rolled his eyes.
“Yes, Young Master Zenu. Your younger cousin.”
Leighton couldn’t understand what Ton was talking about.
“Of course, you’re probably hearing about him from Nelia, it would be nice to meet him directly, but I apologize because he’s away right now.”
He wondered about what this man was saying, Nelia seemed to have someone named Zenu in this house pretending to be her cousin……
He didn’t understand the situation, but first he must answer calmly.
“…….That’s all right, haha. We can meet each other next time.”
“Yes, then please go home carefully.”
Leighton tilted his head and climbed into the carriage which has been prepared by Ton.
‘Who the h*ll is Zenu……?’
Nelia looked at Carlos, who approached her, and unknowingly stepped back.
Then she remembered that there was Zenuit beside her. He also came by her side, flapping his wings, knowing that Carlos was acting strange.
However, Carlos took something out of his pocket and quietly recited it for a moment, and Zenuit’s body bounced off.
Nelia’s eyes widened in surprise.
“What…… What did you do?”
“I told you to come alone, but I still made a barrier with magic equipment just in case.”
She wondered if Carlos had noticed Zenuit’s existence, but it seemed that he hadn’t.
So what the h*ll is happening……
“Why do you do that?”
“I don’t want to be disturbed by anyone right now.”
Zenuit, who was bounced away, was unable to enter the space they were in again.
Zenuit’s voice was as if heard from a very distant place.
“You remember why I called you here, right?”
Nelia, who was looking at the door, had no choice but to turn her head at Carlos’ voice.
“…It’s because of the side effects of the medicine that we gave to Your Highness a few days ago.”
“Yes. It’s because of the side effects. Just as I said, the reason why I suffered so much just now was because of that medicine.”
Carlos trudged close to her without her realizing it.
Nelia, who stepped back, hit something which resulted in her losing balance of her body and falling backward. It was covered with white cloth, but it felt like a sofa.
“As you had seen earlier, I often felt severe pain after taking the medicine.”
Nelia gathered the courage to look up and met the eyes of Carlos.
“The pharmacist who made the medicine said that there’s no way…….”
“So, you think I made it up?”
She couldn’t refute his claim. She saw him a while ago and he seemed to be really in pain.
“How do you know that the pain you felt is the result of taking the medicine?”
“It’s because I felt that way.”
“Are you about to say that it’s too unconvincing?”
When Nelia didn’t answer, he took a seat on the sofa and tilted his upper body toward Nelia.
“What’s the matter right now is just that the duke had given me an unidentified medicine, and I took it. That fact alone would be enough to scheme the duke.”
Carlos caressed Nelia’s hair lightly.
“However…… I’m thinking of giving you a chance.”
Nelia nibbled on her lip.
“What do you want from me?”
Carlos raised the corner of his mouth. His fierce gaze and calm smile gave off a dangerous aura.
He continued calmly while looking at Nelia’s twisted expression.
“You have to become completely mine and don’t meet or see anyone, that is what I want.”
Nelia spat out in anger.
“Don’t try to joke with me. Nobody can’t live like that.”
“Even if the duke is in danger? Regardless of how popular Duke Hart is and even the one whose favored by my father, it all will be over for him if he gets dragged in this.”
Nelia stared at Carlos, but he only had an evil smile on his face.
“I’m not saying that I’m going to do something to you. You just have to be my maid and give yourself entirely to me.”
Carlos uttered in an unfailingly tender voice.
In contrary, Nelia hated him so much that she even longed to see his usual cold appearance.
“…….. Why do Your Highness want to keep me by your side to this extent?”
“Because I want you.”
“Doesn’t Your Highness only want to take away the precious things of someone you despise?”
“Well, I don’t deny that I became interested in you for that reason at first. However, it’s not the case now.”
Nelia imagined the black eyes that were seen between his lowly opened eyes were closing on her.
“Now…… I just want you to stay beside me. Then, I think everything will be solved. This pain, emptiness, and everything.”
Nelia still couldn’t figure out what he was talking about, but she was sure about one thing.
“…….. I don’t want to.”
Nelia barely made eye contact and spat out in a clear voice.
“I can’t live only for Your Highness. It’s not that I’m living just for you, and above anything else…….”
When Nelia put him off, Carlos quickly erased his smile.
“Is it because of Duke Hart?”
Carlos sighed when he saw her.
“Such an admirable maid.”
“What would you do if you were forcefully taken away by me?”
Nelia’s eyes widened. Carlos held Nelia’s arms and stopped her attempt as she tried to get up from the sofa as quickly as possible at his ominous question.
“Let me go!”
Nelia struggled, but he didn’t even budge.
“As you saw on your way here, this is a place where no one comes. Therefore, even if I lock somebody up here, they won’t be found.”
“If you see, we’re stuck here, you’ll change your mind someday.”
“……Your Highness has gone crazy.”
“One day, there will be a day when you understand my pain.”
It was the moment Carlos looked down at Nelia with a cold gaze.
A strong wind came with a tremendous roar.
Nelia and Carlos’ eyes turned toward the sound. It came from the door that has been blocked by a magic barrier.
However, the door hasn’t been seen and disappeared in the air.
And at that place…….
There was someone breathing heavily while holding the door frame. Soon after, he controlled his breathing and walked inside.
It was surely Duke Hart who was welcomed with a stream of tears.
She couldn’t believe it even after witnessing it directly. How did he get here?
Carlos, who was holding Nelia’s wrist, slowly picked himself up as he loosened his (Carlos) grip on Nelia’s.
“The magic ball that I had a hard time finding has become useless.”
Duke Hart trudged over and grabbed Carlos on the collar.
“What have you done to Nelia?”
“If you find out, you’ll definitely burn in anger.”
Duke Hart’s eyes flashed at Carlos’ meaningful words.
But it was weird.
He took no action despite Duke Hart’s angry gaze. Rather, it’s like someone who’s about to collapse.
The duke soon frowned and stumbled over his feet. Nelia got up quickly and ran to him.
Upon closer inspection, there was a cold sweat on his forehead.
‘How can he be in such a state…….’
She wondered how he could have managed to come all the way here. He must have evaded through the barrier that Carlos had created using a magic ball.
Unlike worried Nelia, Carlos straightened his waist by smoothing the collar of his shirt, which had been disturbed by the duke. Unlike the worried Nelia, Carlos straightened his back after tidying the collar of his shirt that had been crumpled by the duke.
“But you came all the way here with your dying body. Surely you can’t think of anything when Nelia’s involved.”
Carlos walked leisurely and picked up the sword that was leaning against the wall.
“Well, good for me.”
The blade flashed through the dim moonlight.