Chapter 21

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Huge thanks to rmhrpr for your kofi! (1/1)💕

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Second Confession

“Let go.”

After moving a few steps away, a chilly voice rang out beside Paul’s ear.

The temperature of the surrounding atmosphere seems to have dropped by a few degrees.

Ah, when Atalante glanced downwards and spoke in a chilling tone as befitting of a villian, she met Paul’s eyes.

‘This is my last chance to escape.’

For some reason, Lionel remained in the place where the Garrison officers were at, and she was clearly capable of overpowering the lord chamberlain that was carrying her on his back. 

Although the only problem lay in the fact that one leg was numb, if she can find something as a suitable crutch, she’d somehow be able to get away. 

“If you don’t want to die, let go of me right now.”

Paul, who was threatened again, finally came to a stop.

He would definitely be beaten up by his madman of a lord for letting her slip through his fingers, but there was no reason for her to consider that. 

However, Paul let out a deep sigh instead of letting Atalante go.

It was a very deep sigh, like he was trying to take everything that’s within him outside.

‘I’m sorry, but my life comes first.’

When Atalante raised her other hand in order to strike at his vital point, Paul turned his head to her while heaving another sigh. 

“I’m quite resilient, so I won’t faint from attacks of that sort.”

That meant that he expected her to hit his vital point. Atalante’s face became distorted. 

“Let go of me.”

“I’m sure that you have many questions you’d like to ask, but please get treated first.”

After adjusting Lionel’s cloak, Paul began moving again. 

“For your information, the order I’d received was to treat the lady, and not to keep an eye on you.”

“…Does that mean that you’d turn a blind eye if I ran away?”

“I, too, am human. I also hope that His Highness will meet a young lady that matches his position.”

At his words, Atalante then realised the true intentions behind Paul’s words.  

Indeed, there was a huge gap between Lionel and Atalante, one that couldn’t be fully described with the word ‘status’. 

“In order for what the lady wants to happen, you should receive treatment as soon as possible.”

He spoke as if he were plotting to do something secretive.

After Atalante stared at the back of his light brown head for a moment, she nodded slowly. 

“There’s an annex owned by the Blanc family in the west. It wouldn’t take long to reach there, so please wait calmly until then.”

Soon after, Paul stopped in front of a large carriage.

After laying her down in the soft interior of the carriage, Paul skillfully got onto the box seat. 

“It seems that the lord chamberlain of the grand ducal family knows how to drive a horse?”

When she asked why he wasn’t using a coachman, Paul answered firmly, pretending that he didn’t understand what she meant. 

“I’m just saying that there’s nothing that I can’t do.”

“There isn’t a single person that’s keeping watch. What will you do if I run away while the carriage is moving?”

“Unlike my Lord, I’m afraid of harming others, so please think about this easily frightened servant.”

In the first place, she wouldn’t be able to get far with that injured body.  

Atalante wanted to refute his words, but it really was just as Paul said. 

She could feel more pain from her outer thigh than before, so much so that she made a pained noise inadvertently. 

Within the swaying carriage, Atalante did her best to grasp on her fading consciousness.

As soon as she receives medical treatment, she’ll escape before the grand duke arrives.

Atalante gritted her teeth and persisted while repeating the word ’escape’ several times in her mind.

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“Ugh…!”

When she opened her eyes, a white ceiling embroidered with lofty decorations entered her vision.

It was quite strange. Atalante was sure that she was looking at the ceiling of the pitch black carriage just a moment ago.

‘Don’t tell me I fell asleep in the meantime?‘

Feeling a sense of deja vu, Atalante sprang to her feet. 

She thought that her mental strength was second to none, but it seems that she couldn’t resist and fell asleep. 

Atalante presumed that she had already arrived at the Grand Duke’s annex. The pain she felt from the wound had diminished, perhaps because she had received treatment. 

Glancing downwards, she noted that she was wearing a clean indoor dress. 

It was similar to the dress she had worn previously in the Grand Ducal castle, made out of quality fabric. 

When she pulled up her skirt slightly to take a look, a bandage was wrapped neatly around the wound.  

While she was appreciative of the perfectly executed medical treatment, none of her weapons remained in her possession. 

‘Now’s not the time for this. I have to get out of here first.’

When she stepped onto the cool marble, Atalante couldn’t help but let out a small groan. 

Just as Lionel had said, it was quite a deep wound, and so it would definitely take time to heal. 

However, she couldn’t just stay here, vacantly waiting for the Grand Duke’s return. 

Just then, when Atalante took a few more steps with her teeth gritted, she heard a mellifluous voice resounding from right behind her. 

“Are you looking for something?”

“Uwaah!”

Letting out a scream reflexively, Atalante looked back warily. 

She turned her head to see none other than Lionel Blanc. He slowly approached her with a worried look on his face. 

Naturally, with every step that he took, Atalante retreated two steps backwards.

Despite the fact that the room was spacious, Atalante’s back touched the wall before she knew it. 

“Why are you… may I ask why are you over there…!”

A faint smile appeared on his face that was stiff with worry, as if the formal speech that she had awkwardly added was amusing to him.

“As the wound was very deep, I stayed by your side even though I knew that it was rude of me to do so. I wanted to greet you when you’d just opened your eyes, but I was worried that you’d be surprised.”

“Talking to me now would make me much more surprised…!”

“I’m sorry.”

After apologising with a face that wasn’t the slightest bit apologetic, Lionel smiled faintly. 

Atalante couldn’t help but stare momentarily at the bewitching smile on the Grand Duke’s lips. 

His smile seemed to deepen, and his bright red lips lifted softly. 

“I’m so glad…that I could see you again.”

“G–get away from me!”

“Ever since you left, there has never been a day where I hadn’t thought of you.”

Instead of extending a hand out towards Atalante, Lionel bent his upper body and made eye contact with her.

It would definitely be a lie if she said she was indifferent when such a handsome face was facing her at such close quarters. 

As if he had been infected by her, Lionel continued speaking with a slightly flushed face that was very much unlike the tyrant of the North’s typical expressions and tone. 

“As I’ve told you previously, I love you.”

‘D*mn it, why is he so good looking?’

Drawn to his profound pupils like she spellbounded, Atalante barely managed to come to her senses when she remembered about the d*mned ‘love potion’.

“I’m sorry, but you’re dru–!”

She was about to speak about the truth, but soon closed her mouth. 

She had to consider the current state of her body. 

As long as this madman was still enchanted due to the drug and whispering about his love, if anything, her safety would be guaranteed. 

“Please speak.”

Lionel gently urged Atalante, seemingly waiting for her following words. 

Atalante shook her head, and hence he spoke with a look of lament on his face.

“I’d like to know more about you. Such as your likes, the thoughts that you’ll usually have, and the kind of man… that’s to your preference.”

After his last question, a slight flush appeared on Lionel’s cheeks. 

‘What’s this? Does he have a fever?’

Atalante looked at his flushed cheeks, trying her best to hide as much of her complicated feelings as she could.

‘Although I don’t know how he managed to pinpoint my exact location, the Grand Duke had definitely come all the way to the West in search of me. Now, I’m also injured, so before there’s a chance to escape, I can only remain quietly.’ 

However, she didn’t intend to let her guard down.

Although she had never experienced it personally, Atalante had seen countless devoted men instantly change all of a sudden. 

Inhaling deeply, Atalante immediately answered Lionel’s queries. 

“I like good weapons and delicious food. In particular, I like a traditional dish from the Kingdom of Paille, Lowa.”

“What?”

“My usual thoughts revolve around ‘what should I do to safely finish my work as a villain’. Honestly, on the days where I don’t have to fulfil a commission, I don’t think about much and spend the day aimlessly. As for my preferences in men…”

“One moment. I’d like to make a note of this.”

Lionel seemed to be looking around for writing tools, as if such useless information was something important. 

At this rate, he was definitely going to call for his lord chamberlain again.

With a light sigh, Atalante caught him by the sleeve. 

Although there wasn’t any direct contact with his skin, the Grand Duke’s body shuddered visibly. 

“You don’t have to write it down. It isn’t hard for me to say it twice.”

Lionel’s pupils grew, seemingly moved even though it wasn’t spoken out of consideration for him, 

Whether his excessive interpretation of Atalante’s every action was due to the drug or because it was his original nature was yet to be seen. 

Sighing, Atalante opened her mouth in order to answer his last question.

“As for the type of man that I like…”

Unlike her vigorous opening, Atalante couldn’t utter any suitable words. 

‘My preference for guys? Apologies, but I’d never thought about it.’

When she stalled for time, the Grand Duke’s lips opened and closed out of anxiety. 

It suddenly occurred to Atalante that if he had been a dog, his ears would probably be pricked up.  

“I’m not too sure, I’ve never thought about it before.”

“Does that mean that you don’t have anyone in mind?”

‘What would you do if I had?’

While Atalante was choosing her words carefully, Lionel’s eyes gleamed. 

If she really had someone in mind, that guy would probably… Atalante felt a shiver run down her spine for no reason.

“I don’t have anyone in mind, but I do have a man I’m responsible for.”

At her vague answer, Lionel’s brows furrowed slightly. 

Making a smiling face before Atalante noticed, Lionel swept his silver hair lightly. 

“I don’t know who that man is, but I’m envious of him.”

The man that Atalante remembered was Argo’s lovely pain in the neck, Yuffie. 

In fact, rather than saying that she alone was responsible, it was accurate to say that he was the collective responsibility of all the members of the organisation.

“I had a lot of questions that I wanted to ask you when I met you, but my mind went blank when I saw your face in reality.”

Looking at how Lionel was shyly avoiding her gaze, an excellent idea appeared in Atalante’s mind. 

It wasn’t the first or second time that she had to choose between the lesser evils in order to avoid the worst case scenario. 

In that case, putting aside the aftermath, what about making use of the Grand Duke?

Lionel Blanc’s status and power wasn’t inferior to the Emperor’s.

The Emperor’s order for his assassination…It might have been because he found the Grand Duke’s unrivalled power irritating.

Making up her mind, Atalante, looked at his picturesque side profile and opened her mouth slowly. 

“So, Your Highness likes me?”

“Yes. It’s not like, but love. Very much.”

Although a scowl almost appeared on her face, thanks to her painstaking effort, her expression stopped merely at a frown. 

Whether it was the feelings of others, or the feelings that were made from a drug, while it was quite uncomfortable to take care of their interests, there was nothing that Atalante could do. 

‘Above all, I’m a villain.’

The small villain. 

As Atalante recalled her nickname, a corner of her lips crept upwards. 

As expected of a villain, it was a very arrogant and wicked smile.

Gradually, Lionel’s face reddened as the curve her mouth made deepened, 

“If Your Highness is being sincere, would you give me the proof of that sincerity?”

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