“Master, what are you looking for?”
“Ah… I wanted to get into my workroom. I don’t know where my father put the key.”
As Valletta continued to use alchemy for useless things, Count Delight completely moved her workroom to the basement and locked it with a key.
Without his order or permission, she could never use it. She had to stay locked up inside the workshop to hone her skills, but she is not allowed to bring anything out.
Even her underwear is checked by the maids.
“For whom are you doing it this time? For a bird that fell while flying in the sky? If not… Did you find an ant with a broken leg this time?”
Valletta shut her mouth at Reinhardt’s sarcasting voice.
She couldn’t give affection to people, so she decided to give her affection to animals. Those who can leave her arms at any time and come back anytime. She couldn’t call people’s names, but she doesn’t have to give animals names.
She couldn’t rely on anyone and she felt lonely living alone, she needed a little bit of warmth. Even if it is the warmth of a furry beast.
Rather than answering Reinhardt’s questions, Valletta silently turned away.
Since it wasn’t anywhere else, the only place left is probably her father’s office. She needed the key to her workroom.
Reinhardt strode after her as she tried to move toward the office. Stretching his arms outward, he lightly wrapped his arms around her waist.
“… I don’t know why your affection is always directed towards them. I can’t understand it.”
“You don’t have to understand.”
Reinhardt’s eyebrows raised at Valletta’s affirmation. He firmly shut his mouth.
“……There must be a person over there.”
Valletta stopped walking at Reinhardt’s words.
Reinhardt slowly released the hand that was wrapped around her waist.
As she turned around, he looked at her with a gaze that seemed to be looking at something strange.
Reinhardt turned lightly. He headed straight to her workroom.
‘What is he doing when he doesn’t even have the key?’
But then she realized that he didn’t need a key. With a single flick of his finger, he opened the lock.
Valletta quickly entered her workroom.
She pressed the herbs into the vial and wrote the formula on paper, without paying any attention to Reinhardt closing the door and leaning against it.
He didn’t take his eyes off Valletta for even a moment.
An ancient magic circle floated in front of his eyes, and the room was filled with the color purple.
The moment when a simple herb became a potion was always amazing.
A strange light fluttered in Reinhard’s red eyes. He rubbed his neck with an unexplained hunger and stared at her.
Valletta, who packed the potion inside her arms, locked the workroom again and headed to the backyard.
“So you refuse my help, and a cat is the only one that makes you let me help.”
Reinhard said with dissatisfaction.
She was detached, as if she expected someone to be injured and killed.
But, oddly enough, she couldn’t see the injured animal. As if humans are livestock and livestock are viewed as humans.
“Valletta, what are you doing there?”
Her shoulders trembled with fear.
Count Delight made a grim expression while looking at the back of Valletta, who was crouching down and frozen, in case the Count would see the cat.
“… Yes, father.”
She sighed and eventually stood up.
The healed cat was rolling around the grass, crying at her feet as if to recognize its benefactor.
“You used your ability again!”
She raised her head and indifferently spat out the words that had become a habit.
Behind Count Delight stood a servant and a maid.
Valletta’s cold eyes turned on them, and the maid looked away.
‘… That’s understandable.’
Someone must have accidentally seen it, but didn’t stop her on purpose and instead snitched on her.
She glanced to her side and found that Reinhardt was smiling, but his eyes were not.
‘This is how you take a step towards death today.’
She envied ignorance. What you don’t know is medicine.
“Sorry? You’re sorry again!”
Her head twisted to the side. Valletta’s eyes slightly widened, but it was no surprise to her.
He was a man with rough hands from the start, so she knew this would happen at least once.
“Take her to the punishment room and lock her up! Don’t give her anything but water for a week!”
She had been expecting it, so she wasn’t surprised. As if the attendant and maid had been waiting, they grabbed her arms and pulled them. She then saw Reinhardt’s astonished eyes.
‘Why is he eyeing me like that?’
He looked like he saw something he had never seen. It wasn’t until she was in the punishment room that she realized. In fact, it was the first time she showed her true emotion on her face ever since she first met him.
The week that she was locked up was boring. Maybe because she had been suffering since her childhood, she wasn’t impressed by the fact that she couldn’t see anything in the room, and that she had to grope around the room for water to quench her thirst.
She had gotten used to starving for a few days. She at least no longer felt the need to scratch the floor for her life because she felt like dying, like when she was young.
‘But a week is a little too much.’
No matter how much she consoled herself that it’s a new diet, she was not comforted at all.
Closing her eyes and meditating, or sleeping without moving as much as possible, was the best thing she could do.
After a week, the door opened. Count Delight came in and stood in front of her.
“This is the last time. If you don’t behave yourself one more time… You will no longer be treated like a child, my dear.”
Count Delight fondly rubbed her cheeks, whispered and turned away.
‘What happened to Reinhardt?’
Normally, he would at least visit her once, but during the whole week that she was locked up, he didn’t show his face, not even once.
“It will be nice if I can go out.”
Before that, she needed to eat first. She asked for a soup-type meal and headed straight to her room.
Her room had not changed. She tried to sit on her bed, feeling exhausted, and suddenly, she looked at her body reflected in the mirror on her side.
“I can see some of my bones.”
She indifferently glanced at her body at once and the mirror fell over.
Reinhardt never appeared even after she had eaten her meal, had dessert, had dinner, and went to bed.
His absence meant that he’s either dead or has left the mansion.
Either way is fine, but she just wants him to live well in his own way.
….. That lasted only for a short while.
She was about to fall asleep when she heard a soft voice from outside of her door. It was the usual voice.
‘The person who would’ve usually just come in…’
“What? There are no eyes to see at night, so just come in.”
“How is your body?” he asked.
“Is that so. That’s good. Master, did you know?”
If she said she doesn’t want to know, will he cut off her head?
Valletta didn’t answer, but Reinhardt opened his mouth again as if he wasn’t expecting an answer.
“Two people who made fun of you lightly that day died.”
“It was an unfortunate accident. They fell from the window.”
Whether it really was an accident or not, he’s the only one who knows.
Valletta struggled to suppress the words that swelled to her throat.
Is he saying that killing one or two people is enough for now? Well, he doesn’t need advanced magic. When they’re in a high place, he can just push them using the wind.
She once again realized that he’s dangerous.
‘….. If asked not to touch him, then they shouldn’t touch.’
Even with warnings, it was the servants who consistently harassed Reinhardt.
Valletta touched her forehead as if she had a headache, then slowly wiped down her face.
“Master, can I come in?”
Something is weird about him. He doesn’t usually ask her for permission at night.
“When did you ever ask for permission?”
“Serving the master, I want to hold you”
Something must have happened. Those words were Reinhardt’s signal.
Valletta shook her bangs twice and lightly said, “Okay.”
Only then did the doorknob turn. Perhaps because he was not wearing shoes, she didn’t hear his footsteps.
When Reinhard, who came in, closed the door, Valletta raised her head.
“……Why is your body……”
At the same time, she opened her mouth and said in a startled voice.
Reinhardt’s whole body was full of bruises and scratches.
It was obviously a sign of terrible violence. His red eyes were much murkier than usual, and whoever sees them will think that he’s dead.
Reinhardt collapsed in Valletta’s arms. He buried himself in Valletta’s arm as he sat down, and hugged her tightly.
He held onto her like a child, desperately holding back his emotions.
Valletta didn’t embrace him or comfort him, but she didn’t push Reinhardt away.
“….. That is not my knee.”
He embraced Valletta and slid down, and knelt down once his head was on her thighs.
And then he closed his eyes and stayed like that for a long time.
‘What are you doing?’
Even though she thought it was stupid, Valletta did not restrain Reinhardt’s actions.
She didn’t ask why it happened. The reason why slaves are punished would be simple. After all, she is in the same pitiful situation. Even now.
Tomorrow morning, Valletta will begin the day by kneeling down and apologizing to the Count, and Reinhardt will start the day with a bruised body.
No one in the room opened their mouths as the moonlight fell.
Reinhardt did not complain to Valletta, and Valletta did not console him.
There was nothing but silence in the room.
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