Chapter 13

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Have you ever longed for someone like this? 

 

“The lady that you’ve mentioned that day is being searched for by the soldiers and servants day and night! I’m begging you, Your Highness, to go back to the townhouse and rest…!”

 

“Paul.”

 

At the grand duke’s call in a low voice, Paul stopped in his tracks like a broken machine. 

 

The grand duke, who turned around and faced Paul, slowly moved his lips.

 

“Who’s fault was it that I had to come all the way here?”

 

It was clear that Lionel could kill a person with his deception without lifting a single fingertip.

 

Paul’s face turned blue with anger, but his mouth opened and closed without answering. 

 

That was because he didn’t have any excuses. The grand duke looked at him with pitying eyes and continued speaking. 

 

“I confirmed that the lady was headed towards the capital and ordered you to bring her here safely. But I didn’t receive a notice that you’ve found her after a day had passed.”

 

“T–that’s! That person was too fast! She changed her horse several times in the midst of her journey and headed to the capital without taking a break.”

 

“In that case, you should’ve done the same.”

 

“It takes five days at the earliest to get to the capital from the Blanc Grand Duchy. But that person disappeared in almost 3 days’ time, your highness!”

 

His brows narrowed even further at the sound of Paul’s cry. 

 

Lionel didn’t seem to have any intention of considering the poor Lord Chamberlain’s position. 

 

“Don’t you think that you all are too slow? Didn’t I also arrive in less than 3 days?”

 

“That’s because Your Highness is so…!”

 

It was because he went beyond common sense in every aspect. 

 

The same could be said for the woman he seemed to be bewitched by. 

 

The same was true of the woman he seemed to have a crush on.

 

Paul pressed on his temple that was starting to ache. While swallowing back the words he was about to say, he looked up at his lord with doleful eyes. 

 

“A–anyway…! The relationship with the Imperial Family was already worsened during the coronation ceremony last time. If you visit the Imperial Palace in this uncourteous manner, Your Highness’ reputation would definitely become even worse.”

 

It was a voice filled with worry, but Lionel didn’t bat an eye to that at all.

 

Paul knew better than anyone that his lord wasn’t an ordinary lord.

 

He was well aware that he was stigmatised as a tyrant, and the cruel anecdotes started in the Grand Duchy were gossiped about by Imperial noblemen. 

 

‘While I can’t say that all of those words are false, no matter what, Lionel is both my liege and the lord of the Blanc Grand Duchy!’

 

It was natural as a vassal to want to hear good things being spoken about the one they serve. 

 

Paul also hoped that Lionel would regain his former reputation.

 

Just like the period where he was called ‘The Lovely Grand Prince’.

 

However, perhaps Paul’s earnestness did not reach him, as Lionel only gave a light smile.

 

“It’s harder to gain a reputation that’s worse than what it currently is.”

 

“Even so, Y–Your Highness!”

 

“I’ll think about my reputation, which you care about so much, after I’ve found her.”

 

Lionel took out the wanted poster from his chest pocket and gave a languid smile. 

 

Paul couldn’t help but stare at his smile absentmindedly, and only came to his senses after the Grand Duke passed through the main gate.

 

Ah, come to think of it, there was a much more major problem than the one of his reputation.

 

Paul was so shocked to discover wanted posters hanging all over the place as soon as he had arrived in the capital. 

 

The description of the organisation’s boss written on the wanted poster matched the features of the woman in the grand duke’s arms exactly. 

 

‘It’s good that you’ve gained an interest in a woman, but why do you have to fall for a criminal that’s wanted by the Imperial Family…!’

 

No wonder that woman’s outfit that day was unusual. 

 

After Paul groaned, he immediately chased after Lionel while calling his name. 

 

As such, he decided to find out about that woman’s true identity.

 

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Even though his visit was so sudden to the point of being impertinent, the Emperor personally received the Grand Duke’s arrival. 

 

This was because he had to show the minimum level of good faith towards the lord of the Grand duchy that protects the north and its borders. 

 

As if the fact that he commissioned an underground boss to assassinate the grand duke was a lie, Emperor Kaiser had a benevolent face. 

 

“As it’s an unscheduled trip to the capital, the Grand Duke seemed youthful.”

 

Instead of criticising him for his visit, the Emperor spoke kindly, as if he was treating him like his own son, and offered him a cup of tea.  

 

He added the explanation that it was a tribute from the Eastern kingdom that was recently occupied by the Empire.

 

“I also felt this way a year ago, but your atmosphere has changed greatly from when you were young. Perhaps…. It’s due to  the terrible fire that occurred previously. How heartbroken you must have been over that incident.”

 

When Lionel was 13 years old, a sudden fire caused the accident where the Blanc Castle went into flames. 

 

While small and large fires may occur frequently due to the cold and dry climate of the Blanc Grand Duchy, it was questionable for a fire to break out in the castle, which was located quite a distance away from the mountain.  

 

That fire instantly took the lives of the still young grand ducal couple, and even numerous servants in the castle died.

 

Lionel was the only survivor of that brutal fire, the only one that had the blood of Blanc flowing within his veins. 

 

“I don’t really want to talk about that.”

 

Lionel seemed displeased as he responded with his brows furrowed while drinking the tea from an ornate teacup.

 

Although his attitude was very arrogant, the Emperor only gave a kind smile instead of pointing that out. 

 

“That’s right. It was a natural disaster that couldn’t have been salvaged by human means.

 

While the emperor specifically emphasised the words, ‘natural disaster’, he looked at the grand duke with subtle eyes. 

 

Actually, as it was an accident that left many questions behind, there were people that gossiped about whether the main culprit behind the fire could be the sole survivor, Lionel. 

 

It was dismissed as ridiculous false rumour at that time, but the nobles that witnessed the grownup Lionel’s cruel nature began to look at him, thinking, ‘What if?’

 

In the end, there wasn’t a more interesting topic than a scandal. 

 

The Emperor tried his best to find a sign of panic within the blue eyes that resembled his own, but he couldn’t discern any emotions from Lionel’s eyes.

 

“The reason why I’ve come to visit Your Majesty today was because I have a question I wanted to ask you.”

 

It’s customary to contact the Emperor before crossing the border, and greet the Emperor upon arrival in the capital. 

 

But Lionel didn’t do either of the two.

 

Considering how he visited the Emperor a week after arriving in the capital, he had quite the shameless attitude.

 

“Speak comfortably.”

 

But once again, instead of pointing out his breach of etiquette, Emperor Kaiser smiled lightly. 

 

“Yes, I’ll speak casually.”

 

With a faint smile, Lionel took out a familiar piece of paper from his pocket.

 

At the sight of the paper stamped with the Imperial Family’s emblem, the Emperor’s eyes gradually widened. 

 

“I would like to know about this lady.”

 

As Lionel spoke in a languid tone, he stared directly into the Emperor’s eyes. 

 

It was a gaze that seemed to pierce through its recipient.

 

The only family that had ties with him, the people of the Sera County, said that they were unfamiliar with her and changed the subject, and even when commoners on the street were questioned, they would cry out that they didn’t know her. As such, he reached the conclusion that asking the person behind this wanted poster would be fastest and simplest. 

 

“What mistake did she make that Your Majesty would personally create such a wanted poster?”

 

Lionel asked because he really was curious, but the Emperor was more concerned with hiding his anxiousness.

 

Was it that even Atalante’s face was discovered by him?

 

‘As there wasn’t any contact after entering the grand duchy, I thought that Atalante had sense at the very least. At any rate, what a useless girl.’

 

But it would be a foolish move to show his emotions first.

 

Even if he had identified the assassin’s face, it can clearly be appropriately disputed. 

 

That’s because there wasn’t any evidence showing that the Emperor instigated her personally.

 

‘The only evidence would be that girl’s existence in itself.’

 

She managed to disappear instantly as if her tail was cut, even though he had mobilised the entire garrison and even prepared a reward. 

 

North, south, east and west. All he got was uncertain reports of eyewitness accounts from all over the Empire, 

 

The Emperor that was struggling with that recently, answered composedly. 

 

“It’s amazing that you’ve even taken an interest in the criminals of the Empire. This woman is the head of a notorious criminal organisation. They wouldn’t mind threatening the lives of nobles as long as they can make a profit.”

 

“Hooh, is that’s why Your Majesty placed her on the wanted list personally?”

 

“Isn’t it natural that the Imperial Family act for the safety of the Empire’s citizens?”

 

As the Emperor added those words lightly, had the face of a perfect monarch.

 

Lionel looked at the face for a while, before crossing his long legs while moving his lips. 

 

“Indeed. In that case, have you found her yet?”

 

“Unfortunately, no. It’s because she’s been working in the gray area for a long while now. Even the members of her organisation disappeared.”

 

“You must have been quite troubled. I, too, want to follow Your Majesty’s mindset of trying hard for the citizens.”

 

There wasn’t a sign that he was hiding anything from his eyes.

 

From Lionel’s reaction, he definitely doesn’t know that the assassin who entered his bedroom was the same person on the wanted poster.

 

Relieved, the Emperor opened his mouth to change the subject.

 

“Come to think of it, there’s also something that We would like to ask you. We’ve heard of an interesting rumour.”

 

“You’ve answered my questions, so I should answer one of your questions at the very least.”

 

Lionel gave an arrogant smile and took another sip of his tea.

 

Underneath his smiling face, the Emperor quietly gritted his teeth. 

 

‘Why was Lionel being much more arrogant than he was a year ago, was it my delusion?’

 

“Rumours have it that you’d come all the way to the capital to find the Grand Duchess.”

 

“You’re well-informed.”

 

“As you would look at beautiful young ladies as if they were stone, We’d thought that you were uninterested in getting married. Well, you’re already twenty two. The Grand Duke has a surprisingly romantic side.”

 

“Romantic…That’s right.”

 

Have you ever longed for someone like this?

 

He had only met her for the first time a few weeks ago, but Lionel could still recall the Atalante of that day accurately when he closed his eyes.

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