Chapter 1. The fiancé is back
After lunch, I went to Marquis Valdir and talked about the changed matters.
Sir Hiltine was also there with me.
Marquis Valdir kept glancing at Sir Hiltine as he listened to me.
“…like that. May I do that?”
“As you please.”
“Thank you. Then, I’ll see you in a little bit.”
To tell this to the other nobles, I had to move busily, but as I was about to leave, the Marquis called me.
When I looked at him again, Marquis Valdir asked me with a subtle expression.
“Why do you think His Majesty appointed that man as your escort?”
“It must be because His Majesty was concerned about my safety.”
“If that’s the case, he could have put him on officially, but why did he put him on secretly? And it’s not a regular knight, but a knight leader?”
Now that I thought about it, it was a bit of a question for me too.
“Does the Marquis know the reason?”
“Why are you asking me that? The Lady must know better.”
I asked because I don’t know.
As I stared at him quietly, Marquis Valdir grinned and passed me by.
“Maybe soon the day will come when I will have to bow politely in front of the Lady.”
Finally, the time for us to leave came.
On the absent Marquis Hutton’s behalf, the mansion’s butlers and aides saw us off. And Aldor still didn’t show his nose.
In the carriage, there were me and Sir Hiltine.
Although it was not right for men and women to ride in the same carriage, there had always been exceptions, and the escort knights were among the exceptions.
As I gazed at the ever-changing scenery, I recalled what Marquis Valdir said.
At first, I didn’t understand what he meant by that, but now I understand.
He meant that I might become an empress (concubine).
Other than that, there was no reason for anyone like the Marquis to bow politely in front of me.
Marquis Valdir still thinks I’m His Majesty’s mistress, huh?
It was an absurd misunderstanding, but the reason I couldn’t blame the Marquis was because I also thought it was strange.
It was an exaggeration to say that it was purely because he was worried about me.
“Sir Hiltine, did His Majesty say anything else when he ordered you to escort me?”
If he had, I could have known what he was thinking, but unfortunately, Sir Hiltine shook his head.
My doubts deepened and I was confused.
Don’t tell me, is he really interested in me as is known for a while to the public…
What am I thinking right now!
I can’t believe I have such absurd thoughts.
Even if I was crazy, I wasn’t usually this crazy. I shook my head, erasing the delusions that came to my mind.
Then I found Sir Hiltine looking at me strangely, and so I smiled awkwardly.
“…are you okay?”
“Yes, I’m okay. Ah, I’m a little hungry. Are you not hungry, Sir? I have cookies, would you like some?”
I wasn’t hungry at all, but to divert the topic of conversation, I took out a box of cookies and held it out to Sir Hiltine. It was cookies that Eria gave me to eat on the way.
Sir Hiltine took a cookie without a word.
I was relieved that he didn’t ask any more questions. Thinking I should eat too, I picked up a cookie, but when I was about to eat it…
Sir Hiltine slapped my hand with the cookie hard.
I looked up at Sir Hiltine in bewilderment.
Sir Hiltine then took the entire cookie box I was holding and carefully examined the cookies inside.
“Is something wrong?”
“There’s poison in the cookie.”
What did I hear now?
I looked at the cookie box, more startled than when Sir Hiltine hit my hand.
There’s poison in there…
“Who would do that… No, more than that, are you okay, Sir Hiltine?”
I didn’t eat the cookie thanks to Sir Hiltine stopping me, but it was after Sir Hiltine ate one.
I moved to the seat next to Sir Hiltine, grabbed his hand, and looked over his face.
There was no place where his skin turned purple. The color of his eyes and lips was also fine.
Still, it was unpredictable. I had to detoxify him right away.
“I’ll tell the coachman right away and tell him to go to the nearest temple. Let’s go get your treatment.”
As I was about to open the window connected to the coachman, Sir Hiltine grabbed my arm.
“It’s just a paralyzing poison that doesn’t affect life. It doesn’t affect me at all.”
“It really is. I have been trained against poisons since I was young, so you can trust me.”
A body trained against poisons. Was that possible?
No matter how much I thought about it, it would still be better to go to the temple, but Sir Hiltine refused.
He was so stubborn, but there was nothing I could do.
“Instead, if there’s any inconvenience, please tell me right away.”
So that was it, and all that was left was the poisoned cookies…
I looked at the cookie box that Sir Hiltine was holding.
It was Eria who gave me that cookie box, but I didn’t think she was the one who poisoned it.
Someone else must have done the trick in the middle.
I had no idea who it was. No, rather, there were too many people to guess, so it was impossible to make a conclusion.
From Marquis Valdir to Viscount Malven, the other nobles, Marquis Hutton, and Aldor.
I surprisingly had many enemies.
I didn’t think I had ever done anything worthy of a grudge against myself, but how did this happen?
It was bitter. I smiled bitterly and clenched my fists.
“It is impossible to determine who the enemy is, so it would be better to be careful at all times.”
“So I’ll try all the food you eat first.”
“You can’t do that.”
What if something went wrong with Sir Hiltine?
“I’ll just be careful.”
“Poison is not something that can be avoided just by being careful.”
That’s true, but…
“But I can’t let you sacrifice yourself.”
“That’s my job.”
Sir Hiltine said firmly.
“I hope you don’t forget my job.”
“It’s not like that, I’m just worried about…”
“As I said, my body is trained against poison. Most poisons don’t do any harm to my body.”
Sir Hiltine paused for a half beat before continuing.
“And if anything happens to you, His Majesty will ask me for my fault. So it is right for me to try first.”
It was so true that I had no choice but to admit it even if I didn’t want to.
“All right. Please do that, Sir Hiltine.”
Please let nothing happen.
Inwardly, I prayed and hoped for that.
After Leila joined the mission and left for Hutton.
Kalian’s work ended with hearing the report from Hiltine through the magic messenger bird.
As the Emperor’s agent, and Hiltine by her side, the chances of anything happening to Leila were very small. But he didn’t feel at ease if he didn’t hear from Hiltine that Leila was safe today.
There was a time when he didn’t hear it because he was charging the messenger bird.
Kalian was worried all day long that something might have happened to Leila until he heard from Hiltine the next day. Was that all? He was worried again if he got the call later than usual, and he was worried even if he got the call earlier.
Ver, who was watching the scene closer than anyone else, clicked his tongue.
“Are you that worried about Sir Thebesa?”
Kalian answered right away as if it was natural.
Ver looked at Kalian as if it was ridiculous.
“Aren’t you worried too much?”
Kalian, who was looking at the documents, looked at Ver.
“Is it too much?”
“Yes. When I went to another city for work in the past, you weren’t that worried.”
Was that all? Unlike Leila, he didn’t attach a separate escort knight. And he didn’t even ask for a report on his daily routine.
But when he was asked why he was so worried about Leila, Kalian answered plainly.
“Well, it’s because you are a man and Leila is a woman.”
“What does that have anything to do with this?”
When Ver, unable to understand his answer, asked again, Kalian added.
“Leila is the only woman in the delegation. All of them are men. Leila was thrown alone in a den full of wolves, isn’t it natural to be worried?”
He would try to be sarcastic if he came up with an absurd reason, but that was such a made-sense reason that Ver nodded without saying a word.
“Moreover, the members of the delegation were all displeased with Leila. They might try to do weird things to Leila if something didn’t turn out the way they wanted.”
“That can’t be. They can think as well, would they do such things?”
“Can you say that when you see Duke Williot?”
Lost in words at the added question, Ver shut his mouth.
Even though Philen knew that Leila was away, Ver knew he had visited Leila’s house from time to time.
Philen’s actions were obviously wrong, but Ver knew why, so he couldn’t just curse Philen.
“Sir Thebesa… Did she really do such a terrific thing?”
Similarly, Kalian, who knew the reason, replied “No.” immediately.
“How can you be so sure?”
“Because the Leila I know isn’t the kind of person who would do that.”
What is that…
It was a ridiculous and absurd reason, but for some reason, Ver was also convinced and nodded.
“Right. Sir Thebesa is not the kind of person who would do that.”
“If you know, investigate the truth. Someone must have set a trap.”
There were more things to do at the moment, but Ver replied that he would do it without hesitation.
After checking the documents, Kalian got up from his seat.
Ver, who was helping him, raised his eyebrow slightly and asked.
“You still have work to do, where are you going?”
“I should have dinner.”
He was about to scold him that he couldn’t have a leisurely dinner when he had so much work to do, but…
“Today, I will have dinner at the detached palace. Ver, you get ready too.”
Ver shut his mouth at the added remark.