I stood up with the teacup in my hand like a cool woman from this world. Evidence that Arielsa, this world’s tea manager, failed to brew proper tea had to be removed quickly.
I replied while putting on the kindest smile that I could muster.
“Yes, Sir Chaers?”
“I’ll bring you to the festival. As an apology.”
He stared at the piece of furniture behind me, not at me, as he continued to speak in an uncomfortable voice.
“Are you telling me that you’ll go?”
“Ah. No. That’s not it. You see, the Duke is really a bit too meticulous and cruel. He really has a bad temper, is what I thought. And you guys often confuse me, so I got confused right now.”
He had already forced his subordinate to apologize but I thought that it was a bit of a powertrip to force them to take me to the festival. If I had to calm down his terrible personality, then I should probably plant some poppies and cannabis instead of herbs.
Chaers looked at me with one of his eyebrows raised.
“You’re not going?”
“I sometimes forget about things, since you know, I have the ladder disease.”
He sounded a bit doubtful when he replied to me.
“Am I really not popular with men?”
Chaers blinked blankly. He looked like he stopped working for a moment. I kept my eyes down but my voice was clear.
“There might be a man out there who will enjoy the festival with me and I don’t want to lose that opportunity because of Sir Chaers…”
Chaers’ mouth dropped open. When it came to being cold and ruthless, he more than resembled Duke Kyron. But with that silly face, he looked a bit dumber than the person who fell off of the apple tree.
Wait, I’m the one who fell off of the apple tree. Right?
I chuckled to myself as I continued to talk to him.
“It’s a waste of time to go to the festival as a punishment. If no one will ask me out on a date, then I will gladly go with Sir Chaers as a punishment, but… still…”
He covered his face with his palm before burying them on his knees. I gradually understood the situation in front of me.
“That’s it. I’m his tactician and comrade. I can only cover this much.”
The proud and perfectionist Chaers said that he can’t fulfill the Duke’s orders?
It did not sound so believable. I looked at his grumpy back as he turned to leave the room. But he said this to me over his shoulder.
“It’s because of Sir George. He’s the reason why no men had asked you out for a festival date. There’s no other reason.”
I stared at the door that he had slammed shut with great resentment.
The culprit was the daughter-con! That tsundere ahjussi!
But I couldn’t spend the festival this year like that. This festival might be the last festival that I could enjoy leisurely. This was the only time that we could relax before Duke Kyron got caught up in a lot of conspiracies.
I had to visit Belia again. I needed to get a pretty northern spring festival dress and to make a deal with her and hand the muscular tsundere over to her.
I quickly dumped the releis tea, cleaned up the office and returned to my room. There was nothing for me to do since Duke Kyron was taking his nap. So just like a loyal maid, I also decided to take a nap.
―Arielsa, the Duke is calling for you.
I woke up to the sound of the maid’s knock. I rubbed my eyes and turned to look at the window outside. It seemed like it was already dark. Ah. I must have fallen asleep for a few hours.
I shouldn’t feel happy going to work at sunset but there was nothing I could do. I was weak against this great man, the Lord of the North.
When I entered the office, Duke Kyron was lounging on the sofa with a dishevelled look. I felt a bit happy. If I did not go to the office, then I would not be able to see his dishevelled appearance.
He must have called me out because he was bored all by himself after taking a long nap during the day.
“Duke, did you get some rest?”
I only realized that he was drinking when I saw him pick up a glass from the table.
He spoke grumpily to me.
“Did you receive your punishment properly?”
I glanced stealthily at Duke Kyron before sitting down opposite him. His eyes narrowed to a slit as if he was displeased with my actions but he did not point out anything. If I was his proper maid, then I wouldn’t be able to sit at the same table as my master, but I was just a stranger, am I not?
At some point, I had started acting the way I used to when I was alone with Duke Kyron. He often looked like he was bothered by my actions but he would not stop me from doing so. Sometimes, I would feel like he was observing me in my natural state so I felt a bit uncomfortable. But considering his position, I couldn’t just tell him not to do it.
This was all because of the pretentious Emperor. He had increased his vigilance so much.
An unfamiliar person like me was something that was unknown. And anything that he did not know might threaten the safety of the North. In fact, even if it wasn’t for that reason, I would still leave him alone. After all, I enjoyed the moments when his attention was all on me.
When I looked at it properly, it seemed like Duke Kyron was the only person in this world that had a connection with me. He was the only person who knew my secret and kept it.
I would always feel strange whenever that thought flashed in my head. There were times when I felt stupid and dumb for enjoying the feeling of someone looking at me like I was a strange animal but at the very least, I believed that what I was feeling was not dumb.
It was inevitable that my trust and faith in him would build up especially if he looked at me like that from time to time. I even liked the quiet stillness in the office whenever I was alone with him.
His movements suddenly stopped for a moment when he heard my words. However, Duke Kyron continued to drink leisurely as he stared at the distant mountains. It seemed like he loathed to look at me.
“I made up with Sir Chaers.”
“You should probably receive more punishment.”
“Of course my time with him was extremely painful!”
He snorted at my ridiculousness.
“Did you come here because you can’t sleep?”
“I slept enough.”
“But you have to sleep well to maintain your perfect skin…”
I quickly shut my mouth. I almost blurted out about skin care to a cold Northern man. I turned to look at the fire burning in the fireplace in silence.
“Until when will you be letting the fire burn in the fireplace? I’m worried about making tea when it gets warmer.”
“Just bring a small stove to make tea.”
He stopped talking for a moment before continuing.
“I don’t use the fireplace at this time of the year. I just left it on since you look like you’re sensitive to the cold.”
My face burned up a bit after hearing his unexpected words. I couldn’t believe that a person who willingly placed me as bait to a traitor who was more than willing to kill me would care about my wellbeing…
Still, I decided to just accept the good things. I quickly gathered my senses before looking at him and asking him.
“What happened to Gaurin? Were you able to find out something?”
“Didn’t you say that you knew everything?”
The eyes that he gazed at me with today were unusually wet. I did not know whether it was because he slept well, or because he was tired, or maybe because he looked dishevelled from drinking alcohol. All I knew was that his eyes were glistening.
“He was originally supposed to take the administration position from Romney. But since the situation has changed, I don’t know what will happen to him in the future. So you have to keep giving me information.”
His words were completely unexpected.
“His tenacity is extremely high. He kept his mouth shut until dawn before suddenly hitting his head on the table. Then, he died.”
“Arielsa, humans don’t die that easily. They would only have a bump or a wound but the punk died.”
“What do you mean…”
“It looked like that punk was meant to die. Am I thinking too much?”
I stared at Duke Kyron as a strange chill ran down my spine. In the original, Duke Kyron did not know of his betrayal until the end. He had only realized his betrayal when an ambush came to greet them instead of the important supply delivery. Only at that last minute did they realize that Administrator Gaurin had betrayed them. When Duke Kyron had regained Harpel, Gaurin fled to the capital and lived comfortably before being assassinated by Chaers. In other words, Gaurin never explained his actions to Duke Kyron.
Was it because it was a scene that was impossible to set up in the original? Or perhaps it was because the plot would not be able to proceed if he gave the information to Duke Kyron? Was that the reason why he was removed from this world?
This ridiculous idea floated in my head.
Him choosing death instead of opening his mouth could be seen as an act to protect those who worked with him. It was unreasonable of me to attach other meanings to his actions.
But he died too easily in the interrogation room. It seems like he did not have any chronic disease and he also did not take any poison beforehand so…
I quickly shook my head to prevent my thoughts from recklessly extending. Gaurin’s sudden death must have disturbed Duke Kyron.
I was not sure if this was the reason that he took a long break to sleep before drinking. For such a meticulous person, it was only natural that he would find it difficult to handle if things that were outside the common sense suddenly happened in front of him.
“How did he betray me after taking Romney’s place?”
I tried to evade the question but his eyes were starting to get fiercer by the moment so I was forced to answer him.
“He used the Forslan Warehouse’s grains to put the Duke in trouble. You can’t ask any more than this.”
He looked a bit surprised at the information before glaring at me.
“Is that why you helped me with the auditing and saved Romney?”
“Ah. That was really just coincidental…”
However, Duke Kyron turned away from me. His face looked like he wouldn’t believe in anything that I, or this world, have said.
So I carefully asked him.
“Did you choose the successor for the East’s administrator?”
He spoke out before staring at me. It seemed like he was trying to get confirmation out of me. I felt nervous so I tried to squeeze out my memories.