I wiped his eyes as gently as possible as well as his lips. When I finished wiping his face, he was already fast asleep. I looked at him softly before standing up to wash the towel. Then, I sat on the chair and continued to look at him.
Once he recovered, I would make sure to feed him all kinds of teas that would help build his resistance.
I quickly jumped up as I ran towards the village.
“Oh! As expected of the Duke’s stamina! The medicine that I prescribed worked perfectly!”
Two days later, the doctor proudly praised himself after he saw the Duke recovering completely like his sickness was just a lie.
Meanwhile, Chaers kept on glancing at me with his arms crossed on top of his chest.
“Then, you should go ahead and rest. I will leave the new medicine with Arielsa.”
When the doctor left, Duke Kyron spoke to Chaers as he changed his clothes.
“How’s the construction coming along?”
“All of the additional materials that we have ordered will arrive today. The village had decided to recommend a village chief. They have been restless and wary about the Duke’s wrath.”
“Administrator Hallisa has written and signed a confession. We have escorted him to the castle.”
“The elders in the East must be creating a ruckus now.”
Chaers glanced at me when he said those words. It seemed like he wanted me to leave the room since he was going to talk about something important.
“—It doesn’t matter.”
Duke Kyron answered him nonchalantly as he picked up the clothes in my hands. I saw Chaers face hardening at his words but I turned a blind eye to it. He clearly looked displeased with Duke Kyron letting me hear their conversation about the political affairs of the duchy. But instead of complaining, he took on a dismissive stance and just ignored my existence in the room.
“Do you have anyone in mind?”
“I’m thinking of Kargo’s son, Gaurin.”
“The elders won’t complain if it’s the son of a senior administrator. But no matter how hard it is, for a young man to be an administrator…”
“However, it bothers me that he ratted on Romney.”
“The circumstances that he reported were reasonable but it was hard to say if he was really innocent.”
I held my breath as I stayed still.
Kargo’s son, Gaurin… He was a traitor. Gaurin was the next Eastern Administrator after he had pushed Romney out for allegedly siphoning off the grain reserve from Forslan Warehouse.
The contents of the original story flashed in my head the moment I heard his name. In the original, the name of the person who was appointed as the administrator for the Forslan Warehouse of the Northern Territory was Gaurin. He played a crucial role in Duke Kyron’s defeat with his fight against the barbarians by deliberately not sending the food supplies.
But the person who should have pushed Romney away to become an administrator of the Northern Territory was now going to become the administrator of the east. I believe that it was necessary to prevent a traitor from becoming an administrator.
I flipped the tray containing the medicine that the doctor had given me when I unconsciously took a step back. The bottles broke noisily as shards of glass and medicines splashed on the floor.
Chaers clicked his tongue as I sat down in a panic.
“Stay still, I’ll send for a servant. I’ll be in trouble if you get hurt.”
I stared blankly at Duke Kyron after being left alone in the room. He stared back at me softly before asking me.
“Do you have anything to say, Arielsa?”
“No. That’s not it… The Duke has not yet fully recovered so I thought that you should go back to the castle first before making such an important decision… I’m just worried.”
I couldn’t think of anything else to say after I flipped the tray to cut off their conversation. My head was in a complete mess. Without realizing it, I had already blurted out words hurriedly.
“I was so scared when the Duke fell ill. That’s why…”
Duke Kyron’s eyes narrowed for a moment before he turned away from me.
“Why? Right now, do you think my judgment is blurred, Arielsa?”
“No. That’s not it…!”
I felt suffocated at his narrowed stare but this was an opportunity so I made up my mind to answer.
“I know that the Duke will make a wise decision, just like always but it just seems strange for someone who was not entirely innocent to sit in such a position… I just don’t want the Duke’s health to be implicated…”
I blurted my words as timidly as I could as I dropped my eyes and looked at the floor. I was in a complete mess. Duke Kyron glanced at me coldly as he let it go.
“I’ll take my time thinking about it. We still need to consider his relationship with Romney.”
I tried to leave the room with my heart filled with relief but when his eyes strayed towards the wound on my fingertips, my heart couldn’t help but stop.
“Are you copying me?”
“I will go and prepare rice gruel for you Duke…”
I was about to say something but I stopped with just a short and blunt call of my name. It was more foolish if I kept on lying when he obviously knew everything.
“The ointment that you put in my hand, it wasn’t from the doctor. I saw him frowning as if what was on my wound was something else.”
My heart was pounding.
How did this person find out!
I tried very hard to put a brave front.
“The scent of the medicine that you gave me was strangely unique, do you think the doctor wouldn’t find out? I know that it’s not his medicine that saved my life.”
“I… I went to the library to research about tea and—”
“—Is this the second time that you have saved my life?”
I quickly came up with an excuse that the medicine that I gave him was something that I learned while researching about tea. But even before I could speak, Duke Kyron had cleanly cut me off as he continued to speak.
Is that so? I saved him twice?
My eyes widened as I looked at him.
There was nothing I could do. He wouldn’t let me go if I did not give him the answer that he wanted.
“In the hive, there is a special antibiotic substance that is made to protect the queen bee and her eggs. It’s good for inflammation.”
It was widely spread in the world that there were natural antibiotics that one could extract from beehives. I was grasping at straws back then when I remembered the hive back in the construction site. I quickly ran towards the place where I found the hive and ripped it off of the tree as I clumsily tried to copy the extraction method that I saw in the documentary back then. I never imagined that it would be extremely helpful.
He stood up and approached me before grabbing my shaking hands. His hand was hot, it felt like his lingering fever was being passed onto me.
“Did you get this injury when you tore up the hive?”
“I was a bit… clumsy.”
I laughed awkwardly but Duke Kyron did not laugh with me. All he did was squeeze my hands. He gently let go of my hands as he turned around.
“Clumsy. What a lie.”
I did not know why but I unconsciously walked away from him. However, the Duke just spoke calmly and peacefully as he wore his overcoat.
“It’s been a while since I have been out.”
I was riding behind Duke Kyron. However, instead of feeling happiness, the only thing I felt was terror. I felt terrified during the entire duration of the ride.
The temperature during the day had eased up quite a bit so it was warm. The colorful spindle trees also added up to the spectacular view. However, I couldn’t enjoy them at all.
The delusional thoughts that Duke Kyron would take me somewhere dark and threaten me with ‘Reveal all of the knowledge that you have of this world!’ was still not shaken off of my body. It was even strengthened since Sir Tyra and two other knights were following behind us.
Regardless of my dark thoughts, Duke Kyron stopped at a vast meadow that started at the end of the forest. The meadow was dyed with a tint of blue due to the cold northern spring. I could also hear a faint crashing noise as if there was something crashing along the mountains.
The sound came closer and closer to where we were.
I was overwhelmed when I saw a herd of deer that was as big as foals trampling along the forest. This was the first time that I had seen a scene like this.
About two-thirds of the herd were females that had no antlers on them but the rest were stags. The stags had large antlers. The antlers even looked like they were huge branches broken off of trees and inserted on their heads.
The stags looked like they were running after the does. Then, the distance between them widened. There were two stags that came out as they stomped the ground with their hooves. It seemed like they were facing each other. I could tell that this was a fight to be the leader of the herd.
“You can only see this at this time of the year.”
Duke Kyron spoke in a low voice tinged with delight. The knights exclaimed loudly from behind. As if waiting for that cue, the two stags charged at each other. The clattering of their huge antlers rang loudly in the forest. The two repeatedly bumped their antlers and heads together as they tried to get past the other’s defenses. Sometimes, there were close moments where the branches of their antlers got stuck against each other and they couldn’t move. This process repeated several times until one of the stags’ neck got torn by the other’s antler. The winner of the duel snorted as it cried strangely. However, it did not end there. Another stag ran out as if it wanted to challenge the winning stag.
I knew that there would be another fight soon after. This process would be repeated until their leader was determined. Then, the mating would begin. It was a very moving sight. This just proved that spring had really arrived in the north.
It made my heart race when I thought that Duke Kyron had shown me a spectacular sight that could only be seen during this time of the year.
I glanced back as I spoke to Sir Tyra. I could see Duke Kyron giving me a momentary glance when I moved away from him to go to Sir Tyra.
Sir Tyra was caught in a fluster when he made eye contact with Duke Kyron. Then, he answered me.
“Y, yeah? Why?”
“Those deers, are they going to die like that?”