Chapter 1. Kill the Empress
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A baby’s cry roared through the old castle.
How good the voice was, every time she cried, the whole castle would ring loudly.
The first person to come running to the baby’s cry was not the baby’s mother, father or the maid, but the baby’s grandfather, who was sweating profusely.
“Oh, you punk. It looks like another big one. If you eat that much, you’re bound to have a big bowel movement.”
As soon as Henrik held the baby in his arms, despite the smell, he laughed and caressed the baby, perhaps because he had shared the moment of birth with him, and he was particularly fond of his second daughter.
“Oaky. Let’s change her diaper right away.”
“I’ll do it. It’s a baby girl, I can’t let the grandfather change her.”
Rwanda, who had just come in holding a dry diaper, took the baby from Henrik.
“Our little girl eats well, sleeps well, and she’ll grow up very quickly.”
After placing Zenith in the crib, Rwanda changed the diaper with quick and precise hands.
She also had a good hand for carefully wiping the baby’s fragile bottom with a soft cloth wetted with warm water.
After this, the order was set.
She would cry when she was hungry after a little while.
But it had only been half an hour since they had given her milk.
Zenith’s mother was exhausted and had fallen asleep, so the only way to buy a little more time was to hold the baby and let her sleep.
Anna, who had been waiting for the right moment, quickly extended her hand.
“I’ll put her to sleep. She’ll sleep better on my chest.”
“Lady, you need to rest. I’ll do it.”
As Rwanda pushed Anna out of the room, Henrik quickly stepped in.
“Then I’ll just…………”
“Are you going to make her cry again? Arthur. I’ll hold her and put her down. You two need to get some rest. Do you think I don’t know that you’ve been hanging around here for a while now? Hurry up and go.”
Unaware of her grandfather’s love for her, Zenith would not sleep in Henrik’s arms no matter what.
Mostly because he kept the baby so close to his bearded face. They understood his love for the cute baby, but the beard was too rough on the baby’s fragile skin.
When he moved his face away, he looked at the baby incessantly with his head raised.
He cut his beard because of that, but the problem was that the more he looked at the baby, the more beautiful and irresistible his sniffling became.
It was so bothersome that when Zenith started crying again, he panicked.
This was repeated many times.
Rwanda decided not to let Henrik hold the baby to sleep, and everyone agreed.
“I even shaved my beard…..”
“The runny nose is still the same, isn’t it? No, you can’t. If the child sleeps even a little bit, Sarah will have a good night’s rest, too.”
Henrik had to watch with regret as Rwanda walked into the darkened room with the baby in her arms.
“I can’t not breathe…”
Henrik scratched his forehead, clicked his tongue ruefully.
Anna swallowed her laugh at Henrik’s somber appearance as he couldn’t take his eyes off the room with the baby in it. It had only been a week since the baby was born.
The castle, which had been all dark and dour, was now filled with the presence of the baby.
As soon as it was born, “It’s so beautiful and cute,” said Viscountess Alpatio, wailing as she held the bright red baby in her arms.
She whispered the words “thank you” dozens of times as she hugged Anna and Rwanda, who had helped her daughter with the birth.
The two of them were like benefactors to the Alpatio family.
In addition, Anna was not just a noble.
She was a noblewoman who had served as the Empress’s closest maid. And yet, she helped with the birth where blood and amniotic fluid gushed out.
She was a great benefactor to Henrik, and in fact, to the entire Alpatio family.
“Shall we have some tea?”
And that was something Anna knew very well, too.
Henrik was delighted with her suggestion and invited her to his office.
The black castle she had seen that day seemed to have been brightened by the open windows. The weather was gradually getting warmer, like a blessing after the day Zenith was born. It was fortunate.
That didn’t mean it wasn’t cold, but it was enough to allow them to ventilate like this once or twice a day.
This castle was given to Henrik as a gift from the current Duke of Gertium about ten years ago. Ten years ago was before the current Duke Gertium had taken over the title. What he did right after his first achievement was to give Henrik the castle as a gift…
“This is my mother’s hometown. It holds a lot of memories from my childhood.”
Henrik flicked open the large window of his office.
The view of the lake in the distance was spectacular.
“I haven’t been here much since I received this castle… But now Sarah has given birth here.”
Henrik chuckled amiably and sank into the old, soft couch.
He ordered in advance on the way to the office, so the servant brought in the hot tea right away.
As the cup was filled, the white steam rose up in a shimmering stream.
It wasn’t a high-grade tea, but a fragrant aroma spread from the tea produced in this region.
It was a heartwarming scent of tea.
“I was so preoccupied during that time that I couldn’t even thank you properly.”
Anna raised her head and saw Henrik’s crooked dark brown hair tangled intricately in front of her.
Henrik roughly swept his hair, staring at Anna with a gentle smile.
“Your wife and Sarah thank me every time they run into me, so much so that I already avoid them.”
“Oh, really? Hahahaha.”
Henrik rubbed his chin and laughed, as if cutting off the beard he had been sprouting for ten years was making him uncomfortable.
“But Anna, I think there’s a reason why you came all the way here. Will you tell me why.”
Behind the good-natured smile, Henrik’s keen, wise eyes could be seen.
Anna tried not to panic and smiled resolutely.
There was no need to panic.
The more perplexed she was, the calmer she should be.
Don’t let your opponent see your agitation.
Make good use of what’s in front of you.
Unbeknownst to him, Anna remembered what Roselyn had taught her and blew on the teacup that would make her feel relieved and cool down.
After taking a sip of the lukewarm tea, she finally said what she wanted to say.
“It’s just as you said, Uncle. I’m here on an errand, and it’s entirely up to you whether you’ll listen to me or not.”
“I’m sure it will be difficult for me to refuse whatever you ask. Just say it.”
Henrik answered frankly and blandly.
Anna did not linger, but brought up the subject.
“I would like to meet Duke Perso Gertium.”
Henrik was unusually flustered when Anna said a name he hadn’t expected at all. How could Anna, of all people, ask to meet Perso Gertium? Weren’t the two people who had no connection whatsoever?
“Can I ask why you want to meet him?”
It was difficult to explain why, but it was troubling to ask for a favor without explaining. Anna hesitated for a moment, then finally answered,
It’s difficult to tell you because it’s a personal matter. I’ll tell you after I meet him.”
“Oh, I see. I see.”
Henrik rubbed his chin, which had become smooth as a matter of habit. He was troubled for a moment and then nodded, laughing again. Anna was his, or rather Alpatio’s benefactor anyway. He wanted to give a positive answer.
“’All right. I’ll find out. By the way, do you want me to be there with you?”
Anna replied with a laugh.
‘’I heard that man is very scary. I think I would be less scared if my uncle were there with me.”
“Oh, yes. Haha.”
Henrik laughed, as if Anna’s words had convinced him.
“I heard that there are rumors in the capital that Gertium eats live animals. Is that true?”
“Hahaha! That’s really a ridiculous rumor, in battle you have to adjust the condition rather better. If you eat like that, I’m afraid you’ll die first from food poisoning before you meet the enemy, don’t you think?”
“I guess you’re right.”
After a few small chats, Anna left Henrik’s office.
Henrik poured another cup of tea without getting up.
A few moments later, through the large tapestry that occupied one corner of Henrik’s office, a door opened with a rattle.
A huge man with red hair appeared, tilting the heavy tapestry with winter trees.
It was the very man with the piercing eyes who had let Anna into the castle.
Henrik laughed, offered the man a cup of tea, and said.
“What do you think, Duke Perso?”