Chapter 1. An Accidental Encounter
Nelia sent Zenuit back to his room first.
It was the first time for Duke Hart to fall asleep like today, she thought she had to watch him by his side until he woke up.
Fortunately, the rain slowly stopped in the late hours of night.
The duke was breathing evenly as he was still asleep. The room was too quiet as if a storm had passed.
Nelia also had been very anxious today, so she began to feel sleepy. Eventually, she fell asleep with her upper body leaning against the duke’s bed.
Nelia had a dream that day.
The scenery in the dream was unusually clear, and Nelia expected another scene where the duke became a big snake resembling a monster.
But this wasn’t it.
After climbing the big hill, in front of us……
There was a big dragon. The dragon, whose existence itself could exude tremendous dignity, was obviously…… Sigrit.
A smooth and firm gray scale wrapped all over the dragon’s body.
‘I understand why Zenuit was complaining about his ugly drawing of Sigrit.’
The dragon, who was face to face with her, was breathtakingly beautiful and magnificent.
Nelia, looking at Sigrit in awe, realized there was something in his arms.
It was a petite, old woman.
The old woman’s face was filled with crinkle, but her aura somehow seemed beautiful and noble.
‘Yeah, it might be a prejudice.’
Such beauty only existed whilst in youth.
Sigrit was staring at her, as if there were just that old woman existing in this world in his arms.
However, the old woman seemed weak. She only managed to keep her eyes open lowly, as if she couldn’t even look at Sigrit.
That might be the reason why sorrow was clearly reflected in Sigrit’s eyes.
Sigrit spoke up slowly while staring at the old woman.
Nelia was surprised and covered her mouth out of fear for releasing unwanted noise.
‘I can’t believe that old woman was Elena……’
The woman who Sigrit loved faithfully all his life.
Come to think of it, it must be true. Unlike Sigrit, who was a god, Elena was human, so she would have grown old.
Sigrit seemed to have been by Elena’s side for the rest of her life.
Nelia, who was engrossed in the scene, frowned after a moment.
‘I just realized…… this is a dream.’
Then, she shouldn’t pay much attention to this.
However, it was also the fact that it felt strange that the dream was similar to the actual myth about Sigrit.
Sigrit lowered his head and brought his face close to Elena.
“I don’t think I can do you a favor.”
Elena closed her eyes.
“At last…… didn’t you find Shilin and Carl?”
They were the sons of Sigrit and Elena, named Shilin and Carl respectively.
Shilin was the first son of the two who resembled Sigrit, he hurt his brother, Carl, because he couldn’t control his wild personality, so Sigrit punished Shilin.
After that, she looked for the side story when reading the books related to Sigrit, but unfortunately, neither books told the story of Shilin and Carl.
The book she saw back then seemed to be an extremely rare version of the story of Shilin and Carl.
It wasn’t important at this moment. Listening to the conversation, she guessed Sigrit and Elena haven’t seen their sons for a long time for some reason.
It was reasonable for Shilin to move away after fighting with Sigrit, but she was a little surprised about Carlos. She thought he didn’t have any problems because he was just a normal human like Elena.
Sigrit exhaled deeply.
“Sorry, Elena. It’s all my fault.”
Elena shed tears from her closed eyes. Nelia seemed to be in distress as she felt deep sadness and sorrow from the sight.
Elena slowly opened her eyes and moved her dry lips.
“Sigrit…… everything would never be your fault.”
“No, if I hadn’t granted Shilin punishment that day…… If I’ve tried to understand him a little more…….”
Elena slowly reached out to Sigrit, who blamed himself.
Elena’s hands moved around like the swaying reed in the wind and landed on Sigrit’s cheek. Elena carefully touched Sigrit’s cheek.
“Sigrit, don’t blame yourself for what happened in the past.”
“However, I want to ask you something.”
Elena slowly blinked her eyes.
“You once told me that there is a huge power in emotions.”
“Emotion has a lot of power. You can tell by the fact that love changes everything.”
“Is it the same with sorrow……?”
Sigrit had a bitter gaze in her eyes. Meanwhile, Elena smiled faintly like smoke that scattered.
“Sigrit, make a jewel from tears for me. So that Shilin and Carl can find our traces through my tears.”
“Elena…… you ask me a cruel favor.”
Instead of answering her, Sigrit only put his forehead on Elena’s forehead.
The scene was pure and beautiful as if a scene in the myth, but tears were flowing from Nelia’s eyes.
She didn’t know them, she didn’t even know exactly what happened to them, but by just being she felt heartbroken.
It was when her view shook.
It was Duke Hart’s voice.
The world in front of her was starting to collapse. Soon, Duke Hart could be seen within the darkness.
Adapting to the view, she realized that she was in Duke Hart’s bedroom.
She thought she just woke up from a dream.
Duke Hart had a worried look on his face. He reached out and wiped Nelia’s eyes.
“Why are you crying in your sleep?”
Nelia knew that her eyes were already wet.
‘…… Were you really crying?’
Moreover, even though she woke up from a dream, the scene she was in felt so vivid as if she met Sigrit and Elena.
Nelia thought it was a strange dream, but she soon erased the whole scene from her head. Duke Hart was awake without her realizing.
“Your Grace, when did you wake up?”
“I woke up just now. Why were you crying in your sleep? Did you experience a scary dream?”
The silver eyes filled with worries glistened faintly in the dark.
The duke apparently didn’t want to let something that made her cry in her sleep slide.
“It wasn’t a scary dream…… It was a sad dream. Oh, it wasn’t about me.”
“I see. I’m glad it’s not about you, Nelia.”
She wondered if it’s the time to worry about me…… Nelia twitched her eyebrows and looked at the duke.
“How are Your Grace? Are you alright?”
Nelia, before I talk about my condition, I think I have to talk to you first.”
Nelia was quite anxious at the duke’s serious voice. Since she knew what he was about to say.
“Why did you lie to me and meet with Carlos?”
She knew he would eventually ask about this.
Nelia had to think for a moment about where to start. She tried to organize calmly about what happened before opening her mouth to speak.
“A few days ago, I happened to meet His Highness Carlos at the Imperial Palace…….”
“His Highness said that the medicine Griff made seemed to have side effects.”
“Yes……. The pain in his right arm became severe after taking the medicine.”
Duke Hart had a smirk on his mouth for a moment.
“Of course it was my idea to make that medicine, but he talked about holding the duke accountable since it was the duke who handed it to me……”
“So that’s how he threatened you and called you to the detached palace.”
The duke laughed in great astonishment. It’s been a long time since the duke had a sarcastic look on his face.
Nelia was somehow conscious of the duke. After all, it was true that she went to see Carlos on her own for him, but it only resulted in another fight.
In the opposite of her concerns, the duke suddenly pulled Nelia into a hug.
“You must have had a hard time hearing those for a while. I didn’t know anything as if I was a fool…….”
When the duke unexpectedly blamed himself, Nelia was quite embarrassed.
“I tried to hide it, so it’s no wonder if the duke has no idea about it.”
“No, it’s entirely my fault.”
“I’m sorry, Nelia. I didn’t even notice it.”
Nelia felt her tears stop their way to form around her eyes at his tender consolation.
“However, Nelia. I don’t want you to hide anything from me anymore.”
She replied, but Zenuit’s existence that has been staying close even until now, was another lie.
‘But I will tell him about it one day……’
The duke said and his body drooped.
“I didn’t fear the talk about the side effects of the medicine, but he had drawn close to the innocent Nelia and used her.”
“The side effect……. It’s a problem that could be serious.”
“It’s not. If it had caused a fatal side effect, nothing could have been better than that.”
When the duke spoke calmly, Nelia felt there was no point in worrying about Carlos’ threat.
“I don’t know what kind of things he said to make you afraid, but I assure you that he won’t be able to do anything to me despite mentioning the side effects of the medicine. It’s hard to prove the medicine has indeed caused the side effects in the first place.”
“……Do you really think so?”
“Of course. As proof, Carlos won’t bring up any kind of talk about side effects after today.”
The duke chuckled lightly.
“He will know that it’s his loss if he attacks in the current situation. If he makes issues regarding it, we can make as much evidence as we want to refute it. Griff is a reliable pharmacist.”
Nelia felt like she wanted to cry for a different reason than before.
The duke buried Nelia’s face in his arms as she looked down at the bed with a dejected gaze.
“I feel guilty, you must have been involved with Carlos because of me, but you are also unbearably lovely.”
Nelia pushed him away.
“I was really worried……!”
Despite Nelia’s solemn energy, the duke was still smiling. He smiled and cleaned the trace of tears in Nelia’s eyes by licking it.
“Yes, that’s why you’re so lovely.”
The kind of smile which the corners of his eyes looked genuinely happy.
Nelia stared at the duke who seemed so and got out of bed.
“After I confirm Your Grace is fine, I will go back to my room now.”
As soon as she got up, the duke caught her by the wrist.
“There’s a long way until I recover.”
“But you look perfectly fine?”
The duke laid down on the bed and ignored Nelia’s words. Nelia, who was holding her wrist, also laid beside him.
“My back is stiff from hitting the wall earlier.”
A man’s life is his waist. Nelia’s face instantly flushed when the duke whispered lightly in her ear.
The duke chuckled lowly and asked Nelia.
“I want to ask you one more question.”
“What is it?”
“What about the strong Nelia just now?”
Nelia thought about how to explain herself after being possessed by Zenuit.
She wanted to tell the duke about Zenuit’s existence deep inside her heart, but he said to her that she must never told someone yet.
As Nelia’s expression became increasingly serious, Duke Hart added first.
“You don’t have to tell me if you find it hard to answer. It doesn’t matter to me as long as it doesn’t harm Nelia.”
Nelia waved her hand.
“He absolutely is not harmful! Rather…… he’s like my guardian.”
To be exact, Zenuit was the guide to Sigrit’s heart, but he used the term ‘guardian’ first, so it would be fine to say it as well.
“Although I don’t like the idea of you having a guardian other than me……. I’m simply grateful that he protected Nelia this time.”
“…… Your Grace, you don’t have to worry about it because he’s more like my pet.”
The duke really didn’t ask anything more about Zenuit after that.
If she were in the duke’s position, she would have asked many things out of curiosity.
Instead, the duke gave her a very shocking message.
“Your brother came to pay a visit to the mansion today.”
Nelia opened her eyes widely at the news of the uninvited guest.
“Yes. I should’ve entertained him, but I couldn’t even greet him properly since I have to go out hurriedly to look for you. I should visit Nelia’s house and apologize properly about today’s incident.”
It’s even more shocking than earlier.
The duke is going to visit her house?