Even your name is pretty.
“I’d heard that the Grand Duke would be coming to the capital. My family was also getting ready to receive Your Highness…”
“Does the Young Lord know who the girl on this wanted poster is?”
Lionel cut into Pietro’s greeting lightly, waved the wanted poster in his hand.
As expected. How was it that every premonition of danger would always come true?
With a voice that’s as composed as possible, Pietro slowly opened his mouth.
“…She’s a notorious villain in the Empire. Atalante, the boss of an underground organisation, Argo. She’s someone worthy of Your Highness’ interest…”
“Atalante, was it?”
Even your name is pretty.
The words he added were somewhat strange. Thinking that he had heard wrongly, Pietro slowly observed the Grand Duke’s expression.
When their eyes met, Lionel raised a new question.
Despite the friendly line drawn by his lips, his face still felt very cold.
Even though he drew a friendly line around his mouth, his face felt extremely cold.
“Have you met her in person?”
It was spoken in a very threatening tone, clearly implying that he wouldn’t let it go if he lied.
Pietro chose his words for a moment, before answering the Grand Duke’s question with a resolute expression on his face.
“I’ve never met her.”
“Is that so?”
“Yes. It’s the worst of the worst that only aims at the nobility. It’s to the degree where there has never been an aristocrat that met her and managed to leave with their limbs intact.”
Without adding that his father was a victim, Pietro sighed exaggeratedly.
Recently, he was telling a lot of lies, which he wasn’t used to.
It wasn’t enough that he dared to deceive the Emperor, this time he had even deceived the Grand Duke.
As Pietro hoped that his acting was plausible enough, he looked up at the Grand Duke.
Although the question of ‘why’ still remained in his mind, Pietro ignored that and tried to ignore the feelings that were sprouting for the villain.
“I see. I thought you knew her, as the Young Lord was looking at the wanted poster with such a complicated expression.”
“T–that’s not the case at all.”
Is that so?
With a bright smile, Lionel patted Pietro on the shoulder a couple of times like he was giving him an award.
He was a man younger than Pietro, but under his oppressive attitude, the light pats hurt his shoulder, like it was about to break.
“Your Highness, may I ask, what… what brings you to the Empire all of a sudden?”
With all of his remaining courage, Pietro asked the Grand Duke, who was turning around.
The features of the Grand Duke wrinkled into a slight frown.
It can’t be, even if it was Lionel Blanc, he wouldn’t try to kill the successor of a family that was interacting with him at a square in the middle of broad daylight, right?
Hoping that he possessed a minimum amount of common sense, Pietro gave energy to his eyes.
“I’m curious about everything.”
“It’s nothing much.”
The entire nation was without a doubt curious about why the Grand Duke had come to visit the Empire after a year, when there weren’t any special events being held.
This was evident by how everyone along the street waited for Lionel’s answer with their ears pricked up.
“It’s to find the Grand Duchess.”
After giving a plain and simple answer, the Grand duke immediately got on a black carriage.
Everyone could only remain in their places woodenly, until the carriage comparable to the ones belonging to the Imperial Family was drawn away by the fine, praiseworthy horses, and disappeared.
‘The Grand Duke of Blanc visited the empire to take a wife.’
It was probably natural that such rumours spread quickly.
The Emperor was more persistent than Atalante had expected.
This was because the wanted posters for her were also placed all over the western part of the Empire, which was a distance from the capital.
“Aren’t you sick of it?”
It has been over two weeks since Atalante left the capital, but interest in the small villain grew day by day instead of waning.
It was due to the huge sum of money offered as reward for her capture.
Well, if she was the Emperor, she would definitely look for Argo’s boss with her eyes blazing.
If the fact that the Emperor instigated the assassination of the Grand Duke of Blanc, it would cause enormous waves.
‘Also, the person concerned was the boss of the underground that they had condemned so much.’
While she was aware that aristocrats pretended to be noble in front of people and did all kinds of dirty things behind their backs, that was based on the premise that they wouldn’t be caught.
If they were unlucky, and were found to have committed acts that were unbefitting of a nobleman’s dignity, that family would be completely buried.
Moreover, wasn’t he the owner of the Empire? He would obviously not want his dirty linen to be discovered.
‘I thought that if I avoided capture for a while, I would be forgotten very quickly, but this has become a difficult problem.’
If she continues like this, she might be caught by the Garrison stationed throughout the Empire even before reaching the Black Land.
It would be a miracle if she was just caught, but it’s more likely that she’ll be executed on the spot.
When Atalante found another wanted poster with her name on it after a few steps, she let out a short sigh.
- Argo’s boss, with dark red hair and purple eyes, Atalante is urgently wanted.
The charges were robbery and manslaughter.
In truth, she had not only robbed the nobles’ warehouses, but even killed them, so these weren’t false accusations.
However, at the sight of the sins that she’d committed being refined into cold phrases, Atalante couldn’t help but feel strange.
‘It’s fortunate that there are many people in the western region that couldn’t read letters.’
This was evident by how passers-by didn’t pay much attention even after seeing Atalante’s purple eyes.
In the capital, commoners that could read and write were more commonly found, but slightly beyond the outskirts of the capital, most of the people didn’t even know how to read.
However, it was different in the case of aristocrats.
Atalante walked calmly on the streets, but whenever a fancy carriage drove past, she would hide herself stealthily.
‘After passing this village, there will be a deserted forest, so I can breathe a little easier.’
The province of Beli, where she was passing by, was a rural territory that mostly engaged in agriculture.
However, the number of lords of the territory was high due to the vast land, so Atalante couldn’t relax her guard.
She thought that she would be quite familiar with life as a fugitive, but when she was really being chased after, it didn’t feel pleasant.
While she was purchasing some simple rations, someone called out to Atalante from behind.
When she glanced to the side, the middle aged man that called for her was dressed in the uniform of a Garrison officer.
“You don’t seem to be from this village, are you a traveller?”
While Atalante swallowed back the swears in her head, she pulled her hat lower down and faked a frightened voice.
“Y–yes. I–I’m from the North, a–and am here to visit my relatives…”
“A girl, all alone?”
“M, m, my parents are staying in the inn. O–over there! Miss Megan’s Inn behind the alley. It’s been a w–while since I last came to the West, so I was looking around by myself.”
When she pronounced the word ‘parents’, her mood became unpleasant, and her stomach twisted into knots
But she played the role of a timid commoner girl as if nothing had happened.
Due to yesterday’s purchase of an ordinary dress in order to camouflage herself, without a doubt, Atalante looked like a commoner girl to others.
“By the way… Why are you wearing your hat drawn over your eyes like that?”
‘Why are you so interested in other people’s work? You should just mind your own business.’
Although he was being annoying, prying into such useless things, she couldn’t harm others just because of that. She wasn’t the Grand Duke of Blanc.
‘Ah, why is that guy coming out at this juncture?’
Perhaps because what she had gone through on that day in the Grand Duchy was too intense, after that day, she would think of Lionel Blanc inadvertently.
She would retch immediately.
While swallowing her irritation, she grabbed the brim of her hat and whispered shyly.
“I–I have an allergy…to sunlight… The sunlight in the west is much stronger than in the north.”
Even though she gave a plausible excuse, the Garrison soldier didn’t let her leave.
He just looked downwards at the girl wearing a white hat while letting out a musing hum.
“Commander Orlando! A report just arrived, saying that a woman with crimson hair was spotted near the Beli Forest!”
Just as he was about to ask another question, a Garrison soldier that appeared to be his subordinate called for him with a loud voice.
‘What do you mean commander? It would have been a disaster if I was accidentally caught.’
As Atalante let out a sigh of relief internally, she pretended to tremble in surprise by the loud sound.
She had acted as a noble young lady, there was no reason not to be able to act as a commoner girl.
Only then did Orlando, the commander of the Garrison, turn away from Atalante.
“Kid, don’t go around alone. There’s a rumour that the notorious boss of an underground organisation is in the western region of the country.”
The worried voice was similar to that of the stepfather who died in an odd manner.
Even though they looked completely different.
After a brief glance at his shiny shoes, Atalante bowed in thanks to him.
If she shows her face, the colour of her eyes would be spotted.
It wasn’t until Orlando had completely disappeared from sight that Atalante slowly raised his head.
She moved her body quickly.
Atalante may not know how did rumours of her being in the western region spread, but it was clear that she had to leave this village as soon as possible.
Although he did not send word of his arrival in advance, the Grand Duke crossed the threshold of the Imperial Palace simply with just his name.
All the people that were around looked at the man entering the imperial palace with neat steps.
Likewise, the people within the imperial palace were doing the same.
Apparently, during last year’s visit, the Grand Duke’s overly good looks had become a huge topic, but it’s unimaginable that it was to this extent.
Lionel Blanc had such an angel-like face, so much so that others would forget about the modifier of tyrant that followed behind his name.
“Y–Your Highness! Visiting the Imperial Palace without being granted permission first is a great disrespect, how–!”
Paul chased after the Grand Duke’s back, where the black cape that contrasted greatly to his hair colour would flutter with his every step.
Originally, the Grand Duke was wilful and stubborn, but that was only when he was working on politics-related matters.
When someone that wouldn’t even look outside of the Blanc territory headed towards the Empire in such a brisk manner, the Lord Chamberlain Paul was about to become hopping mad.
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