Chapter 10

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The Wanted Criminal, Atalante

 

“It’s nothing! Actually, the same drug bottle was used for the poison and the love potion. Usually, I would label them, but I was quite busy on that day…”

 

“If the Young Lady wasn’t careful, you would have almost killed your beloved person.”

 

After Atalante told a terrible joke, she frowned. 

 

However, Esma didn’t get angry at her words. The hands that were clasped together flinched a little. 

 

“No, that wouldn’t have happened. I… I didn’t intend to make him drink the love potion.”

 

“What? If that’s the case, why did you make a drug that you wouldn’t even use?”

 

At that valid query, Esma gave a faint smile, and opened her mouth with saddened eyes that did not fit with the smile on her face. 

 

“It’s just… I imagined that that person and I were in love with each other while making that drug. Taking a walk together in the garden, promising the future, marriage, and becoming parents from being a couple… Imaginary bliss.”

 

Atalante could feel a deep sadness and affection for the unnamed man within her words. 

 

Although she still couldn’t understand why had Esma chosen not to use it on the man she loved even after making such drug.

 

Was it the first or second time that aristocrats acted in a way that she couldn’t understand? 

 

What Atalante was curious about was not the process of Esma making such a drug, but the exact efficacy and the detoxification method.

 

“So to summarise the Young Lady’s words, the person that drank this drug would open his eyes and unconditionally fall in love with a person that he was seeing for the first time, right?”

 

Esma nodded her head slowly at her concise organisation of the facts.

 

Only then did she understand the both amusing and annoying actions of the grand duke. 

 

‘So it seems that the magical ore’s power would also work on a man that’s called cold-blooded.’

 

It was an amazing potion that causes unconditional love towards a single person instantly, without caring about what happened before and after.

 

With a light sigh, Atalante continued to ask her questions while rubbing her temple.

 

“When will the drug lose its effectiveness?”

 

There were limitations on the drugs made by humans.

 

The ridiculous drug made by Esma would definitely have an expiration date.

 

The grand duke might try to kill Atalante after he regains his senses, but it didn’t matter to her if she could protect her members. 

 

It wouldn’t be bad to use this opportunity and defect to the Kingdom of Paille.

 

Esma, who had been wiggling her hands for a while with an anxious expression, replied with her eyes closed tightly.

 

“Until his death…”

 

“What?”

 

“When the heart stops, the drug will lose its effectiveness.”

 

“Where in the world would such a drug exist?”

 

“As I had put in a lot more magical ore than the standard amount… As long as the heart is still beating, the person that drank the drug will love Atalante for the rest of his life.”

 

This shitty–!

 

As Atalante’s mouth formed into the shape of swear words, glanced at the young lady who was looking at her with the expression of a sinner.

 

Even if she vented her anger on Esma, the situation wouldn’t change at all. 

 

It was like she had ruined someone’s life and had no choice but to live in hiding for the rest of her life. 

 

Although it’s problematic that he’s considered the next most noble person after the Emperor. 

 

“Um… Can I ask who drank the drug?” 

 

At Esma’s carefully asked question, Atalante answered without any hesitation. 

 

“The craziest man in the world.”

 

Although his heart was mangled, he could still stand up normally and completely overpower her, who has never lost in a fight. 

 

That man had even laughed pleasantly while strangling Atalante. 

 

At this rate, it wasn’t undeserving for him to be called the craziest man in the world.

 

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Atalante’s plan was to hide in a location as far away as possible from the Kingdom of Paille, where the members were moving towards. 

 

Located at the southernmost part of the Empire of Thessalia, the kingdom of Paille was practically no different from a colony of the Empire.

 

This was evident with how the first princes married imperial princesses and became live-in sons-in-law every time. 

 

To put it nicely, it was marriage, but their existences were nothing more than hostages. 

 

‘This time, Diana Thessalia and the first prince from the Kingdom of Paille were set to be engaged.’

 

In addition, there was only one imperial princess in this generation, which was Diana, so the conditions were quite decent. 

 

Up till now, the first princes from the Kingdom of Paille had entered the Empire as the husbands of the youngest imperial princesses. 

 

After Atalante had organised a rough idea of what was happening in a shabby inn, she planned to move towards the West once daybreak arrived. 

 

In the North, there was the Great Duke of Blanc and in the South lay the Kingdom of Paille, so her choices were either the East or the West.

 

Since the capital was relatively close to the East, Atalante naturally chose the West.

 

The Black Land located at the westernmost territory was Atalante’s final destination.

 

‘Although that place was called the origin of the demons, it wasn’t like I had any other choice.’

 

A few hundreds of years ago, after absorbing all the neighbouring countries and growing into an Empire, the Empire had one huge concern, and that was the demons that would appear through crevices whenever possible. 

 

It was the Imperial princess Ariadna Thessalia, the first ancestor of the Grand Ducal family of Blanc, that quelled these demons.

 

It wasn’t recorded how exactly she had quelled those demons, but it was certain that she had sealed them in the West. 

 

This was evident from how up till date, the demons hadn’t appeared from the Black Land. 

 

After Atalante packed the weapons that Devon had chosen meticulously, she laid down on a hard bed.

 

Everything wasn’t clear, but she did experience one or two ridiculous things while living as a commoner. 

 

‘But the emergence of a love potion was so absurd that it wasn’t even laughable.’

 

Contrary to that thought, Atalante couldn’t help but laugh when she recalled the way the grand duke had floundered while he was blinded by love.  

 

From the background investigation done on Esma, Atalante was aware that the drugs she made were quite effective and creative, but she didn’t expect that Esma would come up with such a ridiculous drug. 

 

Has anyone ever looked at her like she was such a lovely person? 

 

All of the gazes that she had received all her life were lewd eyes full of desire, cowardly and submissive gazes, as well as gazes of contempt… That was all.

 

‘Oh, there was only one person that thought I was lovely.’

 

That man was her stepfather.

 

‘He wanted me to be a good child.’

 

In the end, Atalante failed to keep the will that he had left behind.

 

“But Mister, you know how hard it is to be a good child when you’re living in the gutter.”

 

As Atalante mumbled an excuse that wouldn’t reach its intended recipient, her eyes closed slowly. 

 

Even if she would be given a scolding, Atalante hoped that he would appear in today’s dream. 

 

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“Shh… Be careful to not wake her up.”

 

“I, I– I know.”

 

Along with the cheerful chirping of birds, a strange voice resounded. 

 

Would these types of shabby inns usually offer morning call services?

 

“That can’t be.”

 

As Atalante got up in one fluid movement, she pulled out the gun that was hidden underneath the pillow. 

 

She thought that the Emperor’s agents had located her already, but what greeted her was a pair of snotty kids.

 

“U–Uwahh! A, a g–gun!”

 

“What are you both doing?”

 

As Atalante asked dispiritedly, she slowly lowered the gun that was aimed at them. 

 

She hadn’t intended to let her guard down just because they were children, but these two children that looked smaller than their peers were too… They looked weak. 

 

It was to the point where she let out a yawn. 

 

When Atalante pressed her index finger to her lips, the children stopped screaming.

 

Just as she was considering what kind of punishment she should give to the rude little kids that interfered with her sleep, the boy opened his mouth first. 

 

“Y, you’re…! A–Atalante, right?!”

 

“I’m not.”

 

“That– that’s a lie! The colour of your hair and eyes are the same as what’s written on this wanted poster!”

 

Atalante instantly snatched the butterfly net that the boy was armed with, before taking away the wanted poster from the girl apathetically.

 

‘Hooh, you’re working faster than I’d anticipated.’

 

Perhaps it was because the fact that she didn’t kill the grand duke was discovered, the details written on the wanted poster was accompanied with the stamp of the Imperial emblem. 

 

Although it was strange that there wasn’t a sketch of her, women with crimson hair and purple eyes were rare in the Empire, so it was an easily identifiable trait that didn’t require a montage. 

 

‘Would the problems of a commoner’s livelihood be solved so quickly?’

 

Atalante lightly clicked her tongue, and dressed herself after putting the wanted poster away. 

 

Even as the wide-brimmed hat concealed her hair completely, and she was arming herself with weapons, the two children had only stared at her dazedly. 

 

As if she had noticed their gaze belatedly, she lowered her head with a yawn and faced the children.

 

“Why? Are you going to arrest me?”

 

“S–seeing as how H–His Majesty the Emperor asked for your capture, y–you must have done something bad!”

 

“Hm, that’s right.”

 

“I’ve heard of the name Atalante before. Sister…no! You! You’re the leader of Argo, right?

 

As she looked at the two children that didn’t have any chance of becoming members of Argo in the future, Atalante smiled faintly.

 

‘Well, when I was younger, I had never thought that in the future, I would be doing something like this.’

 

She, who hoped that these children would only see a good world before they grew up, returned the butterfly net to the boy. 

 

“Use this to catch insects and not people.”

 

“M–my dad said to never forgive b–bad people!”

 

“It seems that you’ve been brought up well.”

 

Even though he had dared to call her a bad person in her face, Atalante didn’t show any signs of displeasure and only stroked the child’s soft hair. 

 

“You’re so cute. If I had the time, I would’ve played with you. What do kids play with these days? Shall I teach you how to shoot a gun?”

 

“What?”

 

Unlike the boy’s face that slowly turned pale, the eyes of the younger sister standing next to him lit up, albeit momentarily.

 

Thinking that it wasn’t a bad look, Atalante turned and left the room.

 

The children behind her shouted something, but she didn’t pay it much attention.

 

Since there was a wanted poster for her, she had to move towards the West as soon as possible. 

 

“Just a moment.”

 

The moment she grabbed the creaking inn door, the owner that was seated at the counter called her.

 

She was certain that she had already paid in advance.

 

As Atalante looked backwards slowly, a benign looking middle-aged woman looked at her with a frightened expression. 

 

She was a woman that strangely resembled the two children that had woken Atalante up in the morning.

 

She had wondered why there were children wandering around freely, but it seems that they were the children of the innkeeper.

 

“…You, you’re Atalante, right?”

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