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I went back to the couch after making my tea. However, when I looked at him, his face remained cold and passive. He looked like he did not laugh at all.
I glanced over the cup as I took a sip of my tea. In fact, I was actually grieving. It was preposterous for me to hate the male lead, Duke Kyron. However, it was proving to be a hard feat.
Then, he spoke to me.
“It feels weird.”
“Arielsa… It feels a bit weird to see a woman with Arielsa’s face speaking and acting as she pleases.”
Whatever you say…
However, his face was extremely calm. He even turned his eyes away from me to hide his sorrow. Although he was making fun of me, he was still grieving and missing Arielsa. Just like a swaying reed, I immediately cancelled my plan to hate Duke Kyron. I was feeling rather sorry for him.
I spoke up to change the subject.
“Too bad. If I hadn’t been drunk and made a mistake then I would have fooled the Duke for quite a long time.”
He snorted. Somehow, I felt offended.
“Didn’t the Duke believe in the ladder disease?”
I booed him but he did not even sway.
“I just thought that you were crazy. You fell and hurt your head after all. I actually sympathized with George.”
I waved my hands in the air before dropping them on my knees.
“Then… I refused to believe it.”
Our eyes suddenly made eye contact. He was just staring at me with his dark and emotionless eyes. His eyes strangely resembled the night sky. It did not occur to me that he was bluffing.
“It’s because the Duke only wants to believe in certain things.”
He replied with a slight frown on his face. He looked like he was offended by the fact that a stranger, an intruder, like me knew him well.
“Is it also written in your future story that I don’t like apple pie?”
He looked out of the window as he muttered ‘I see’ under his breath. Then, he spoke to me without turning his gaze away from the window.
“No one in the North admires the aurora. Arielsa.”
Then he stared straight at me.
“Didn’t your bard sing about the ominous legend about the aurora?”
I wasn’t sure if I read it and just forgot about it. Or perhaps it was just in the writer’s settings. But strangely enough, I still felt a bit embarrassed. The aurora that I watched in the northern forest on our way to Movale was an unforgettable sight. I felt happy back then…
So I turned to look at my memory destroyer with unhappiness.
Perhaps there was no one in Harpel Territory that would look at him with eyes like this but I felt like I could do it now. Strangely enough, I felt more relieved when I got caught.
“You only know what’s going to happen to me, and not everything. Am I right?”
His sharp argument brought me back to my senses.
“So… What are you going to save me from next?”
I looked at him hesitantly.
“The East’s new administrator. You care about who will take that position, right?”
This man was so sharp that he could easily cut through me with just a gaze. I was once again reminded of how different Duke Kyron was. The Duke Kyron, the owner of the North was extremely different to the Duke Kyron who always looked bored and soft in front of Arielsa.
“You can’t choose Gaurin.”
I had to save my words.
“The things that should happen have not happened yet.”
“That means that he will do something wrong in the future.”
“I have the intention of using the elder’s choice for the new East administrator. They have been administrators since my grandfather’s time so I have to base my decision from what they say.”
It was quite amazing that there’s a ‘kkondae’ in this world too.
“Gaurin is young, capable and able to satisfy them.”
But I still kept my mouth shut. I couldn’t tell him that he was the one who killed most of his knights with his youth and abilities. Because Romney, the administrator that he was trying to remove, was still in charge of Forslan Grain Storage, Gaurin’s role could have changed in the future too. However, a traitor would never remain loyal.
He turned to look at the window again before speaking.
“If I didn’t know who and what you are, how did you intend to stop me from appointing him as an administrator?”
“That’s a secret.”
I spoke with a sneaky smile but the truth was I did not have any countermeasures.
I have been improvising things so far!
He got up after turning away from the window with a slight hum.
“You’re going to spill the information when you want to, aren’t you?”
“I have to live too, after all.”
He smiled at me before speaking again. However, I was left confused when I saw his bright smile.
“I wonder if that’s a good choice?”
I suddenly came to my senses when I heard his cold and threatening voice.
“What do you mean?”
But he pretended to not know anything.
“Heh. Be careful not to get caught by George. Compared to Arielsa you’re too…”
Then, he went back to his desk and ignored me completely.
I glanced at him before going back to my seat by the window. It was just a moment, but it suddenly sank heavily to me that the exciting and thrilling Northern life had become my reality. I was a bit glad that I did not have to pretend to be Arielsa in front of Duke Kyron but just like his warning, I was most likely going to make mistakes in front of others since a lot of my tension had been eased.
“Nothing is ever easy.”
I murmured as I stared out of the window while drinking another cup of winter strawberry tea.
At some point, I fell asleep on my seat. I only opened my eyes when I heard Duke Kyron and Chaers speaking from over the separator.
“Then I’ll call Gaurin. Should I also call the other administrators?”
Duke Kyron then answered Chaers’ question.
“No. The purpose of this meeting is to call the elders and hear their opinions. Let them know that I’m still pondering on who the next administrator will be.”
“I understand, Duke.”
Chaers looked at me in surprise when I approached them and asked what tea I should make. He just realized that I was also in the room. Then, he spoke nervously.
“Arielsa, go out for a while.”
“Yes. Sir Chaers.”
As I turned around to leave, Duke Kyron spoke up as if to cut us off.
“Arielsa. Do we have some yendel tea?”
This meant that I should not go out. When Chaers’ heard his words, he couldn’t help but frown.
“Yes, Duke. I will prepare them.”
I answered quickly as I went to the console table. Duke Kyron just continued to speak indifferently as the two of them discussed several matters regarding the official duties in the territory. I took two cups of yendel tea and placed it in front of them before going back to my seat.
My mind was in a mess.
From what I heard, Duke Kyron called in Gaurin for some kind of interview. I thought he believed me but it seemed like he didn’t. I felt heavy since I was caught and my identity was revealed. It seemed like my persuasiveness had been lost.
Chaers went back after discussing a few more things. I approached the Duke’s table to clear the tea cups up. I also spoke solemnly.
“You’re bringing Gaurin in?”
Duke Kyron turned to look at me fiercely from above the documents that he was perusing.
“Right now, is my personal maid meddling with politics?”
“That’s not it! Duke.”
I took the tea cups away and went back to my seat. I rested my chin on the window frame and looked out at the forest but I still felt extremely uncomfortable. I wanted to go out and get some fresh air but I couldn’t do that since he ordered me not to leave his office.
Anxiety suddenly crept up inside me.
Although Duke Kyron accepted my words, there was no law saying that he would believe everything that I said. After all, he was a man who couldn’t be swayed by other people’s words.
I felt a bit heavier at that thought.
From now on, I have to help him with that huge distrust placed on my shoulders.
When I opened my eyes again after falling asleep on my little desk once more, I realized that the sun was already setting.
‘The Duke’s meal!’
The time was a bit past the meal preparation so I couldn’t help but jump up in surprise. Then, the cape that was on my back fell heavily on the floor. The cape belonged to Duke Kyron.
He must have come here at some point…
I turned to look at him who was sitting on his desk as I quickly dusted off his cape. He was still working even though I knew that he heard me jump up in surprise.
When he turned to look at me, his eyes looked like that of a wolf hunting his prey. I felt like I was going to die just catching his eye.
But maybe he had mistaken me for Arielsa? After all, he wouldn’t cover me with a cape when I was asleep if that wasn’t the case.
A complex of emotions rushed within me. I felt both grateful and disappointed. When I stood up to go down to the kitchen and order his food to be prepared, a maid suddenly came in. She brought in a trolley of food for two people and set it up at the table. Just like he usually did, Duke Kyron was also going to have dinner with Chaers.
I looked out to see the dusk from outside the window. I quickly lit the lamp on the table to brighten the room up. When the maid went out of the room, the Duke gestured towards the table and spoke.
“From now on, the maid will bring the meal on time. All you have to do is wait in my office.”
His words meant that I wasn’t even allowed to go down to the kitchen.
“You don’t have to do that if you just want to keep things hidden. Even if I talk, people will just say that Arielsa is crazy. You know?”
I sighed as I spoke those words to him. But he just pretended that I did not speak. I opened the lid covering the tableware and sat in front of Duke Kyron. His face still remained perfect under the flickering light of the fire.
He still remained elegant. Even when he ate, he still didn’t mess up. He didn’t get food on his face nor did he spill any drop. Even his chewing was elegant.
Occasionally, he would turn to look at me with a glare. The warning was obvious in his stare. I felt like my heart was dropping each time.
[Kkondae] 꼰대 – Someone who gives guidance that one does not ask for. The slang for someone condescending.