Chapter 4

 

⋅⋅⋅•⋅⊰⋅•⋅⋅•⋅∙∘☽༓☾∘∙⋅•⋅⋅•⋅⊰⋅•⋅⋅⋅

That’s right. You’re crazy.

Exactly the sixth day after departing from the capital, a black carriage with the emblem of the Imperial Family arrived at Blanc Castle.

Although it was a little shocking that they came here without an escort, the competent servants confirmed the siblings’ identity without asking about their personal circumstances. 

“Are you the Young Lord Pietro Sera and Young Lady Milvia Sera, from the County of Sera?”

The man that descended from the carriage first nodded with a haggard face.

Although he should have stayed at the high-class hotel provided by the Blanc family, perhaps he did not have much stamina, and as such he seemed tired beyond description, with a face that looked like he was on the verge of death. 

“Boss…no, Milvia, would—would you like to take my hand and get off? No, do you want to get off?”

“Thank you, brother.”

The clear voice of a woman resounded through his usage of odd honorifics and gibberish.

The younger sister that descended with Pietro’s escort had a bright face, differing from her deeply contemplative brother, causing her to seem even more radiant. 

“The two of you seem to share a close relationship, even people that are watching you both would feel content.”

Pietro hardened at the idle remark, but unfortunately it went unnoticed.

While thinking that Young Lady Milvia’s beauty was much more outstanding than rumoured, the servant guided the siblings of the County of Sera to the interior of Blanc Castle.

⋅⋅⋅•⋅⊰⋅•⋅⋅•⋅∙∘☽༓☾∘∙⋅•⋅⋅•⋅⊰⋅•⋅⋅⋅

The schedule at the Blanc territory went by very smoothly. While Pietro participated in the regular meeting, Atalante got her weapons ready while secluding herself in a luxurious room.

Pietro was a rarity amongst noble sons that’s quite obedient. Perhaps the five days of mental training helped as he served Atalante politely.

It was clear that with this education, he would at least not do anything useless like his father. 

Today was the last day of the seven-day regular meeting, so it was the day where the closing ceremony and banquet was held.

Originally, only the vassal families of the Grand Duchy were allowed to participate in the Blanc’s regular meeting, but the siblings of the Sera family, who usually had friendly relations with the Grand Duchy, were lucky to be invited while studying abroad for a short period. 

Therefore, Blanc’s noble ladies had extended several invitations to Milvia for tea parties.

As the fake Milvia didn’t want to stir the hornet’s nest, Atalante did not come out of the room at all under the pretext of traveller’s diarrhea.

‘Is it finally today?’

As Atalante looked at the sharp dagger, her eyes darkened. 

Although it was not her first or second assassination request, the discomfort and disgust accumulated each time, let alone her getting used to it.

Of course, Atalante felt most disgusted with herself. 

“I’m sorry, Grand Duke. After this, I won’t do anything bad again…”

After apologising to her target in advance, Atalante began doing push-ups in a chemise.

No matter what, her opponent was the Grand Duke of Blanc. Perhaps he would have an even higher fighting capacity than her, so it wasn’t bad for her to prepare thoroughly.

From what she had heard from Pietro, there was a feeling of intense pressure around Lionel Blanc, even from a distance. 

“It was scarier than His Majesty! It’s true!”

It’s regrettable but Lionel Blanc is two years younger than Pietro Sera. However, age and bloodthirstiness were two separate matters, and Pietro talked endlessly about how scary the grand duke was everyday.

Oh, amongst the lines that he kept chattering on about, there was a line that was particularly impressive.

“Kill.”

When the various disputes that took place within the territory were reported, or when he was asked how he would punish the officials that had committed unlawful acts, no matter what kind of question was asked, the Grand Duke would say, “Kill.” These syllables seemed to be the Grand Duke’s speaking habit.

‘Although there are occasional problems that can only be solved when someone dies, there isn’t a need to kill them all.’

Perhaps she was thinking that way because she was someone that deserved to die. As Atalante gave a self-mocking smile, she buried her face in the soft bedding. 

Pietro and his sister will be returning to the Empire before the banquet begins.

It was arranged that in three hours, a messenger will arrive to inform them that something big has happened in the County. Of course, nothing big had actually happened. It was all to create an alibi for their absence. 

“Pietro would probably feel regret at the fact that he couldn’t participate in the banquet.”

Apparently the people of the Grand Duchy were generous enough to offset the shortcomings of their barren land and fiercely chilly climate. If the rumours were true, the banquet would definitely be spectacular and on a large scale.

Sadly, tonight, Atalante would be taking away the life of their ruler. As she tried her best to make the eyes of the villain, she grabbed her fixed dagger.

Apart from making the country rich, he was also a tyrant that disregarded the significance of the lives of others. Perhaps someone would be pleased with his death, but Atalante tried her best to turn a blind eye to the guilt that was tightening around her neck.

⋅⋅⋅•⋅⊰⋅•⋅⋅•⋅∙∘☽༓☾∘∙⋅•⋅⋅•⋅⊰⋅•⋅⋅⋅

Dressed from head to toe in black, Atalante, who was wearing a mask, was like a part of the night. After finishing her preparations, she burned the navy dress given by the Emperor without any regrets.

The banquet was finally ending, and the pleasant laughter that resounded from the castle slowly came to a halt.

Fortunately, there has not been any contact from the organisation over the past week. Atalante sighed with relief because the no news was good news.

Although there would always be major and minor disputes over turfs, there wasn’t a need to worry as Yuffie could take care of the small fry by himself. 

“You, no… Miss Atalante, where are you going?”

That was a question asked by Pietro to Atalante, as she opened the door of the running carriage. 

Perhaps out of worry for the villain’s safety, his forehead was filled with creases. It seemed like Pietro was, dare she say it, more warmhearted than most noblemen were. 

As expected, the Emperor had clearly kept the plan to assassinate the Grand Duke from him. Since she was told to keep it a secret from Argo, the organisation, how should she respond?

“As you know, if the Grand Duke was assassinated, the Grand Duchy of Blanc will not quietly move on. The more secretive this request is, the better that fewer people are aware of it.”

While the Emperor was not satisfied, he agreed with her. 

If she informed her members about the contents of the request and failed, they would also have to surrender their lives in exchange for their silence.

‘I will take on all the responsibility. No matter what, I will protect my family.’

As Atalante once again simulated how she was going to assassinate him in her head, she stepped forward to locate a secret passage leading into Blanc Castle. 

A small store on the outskirts of the castle.

Even if a thief came along, it seemed like there was nothing of value to steal from the shabby store. Amidst it, a small hole that could barely fit a person appeared when she pushed an inconspicuous old bookshelf. 

‘Who would have imagined that this hole would connect to the bedroom of the Grand Duke of Blanc.’

It seems like the Emperor’s ability to gather information cannot be underestimated. However… It was slightly uncomfortable.

No matter how much the roots of the Blanc family were connected to the Thessalia Imperial Family, the Grand Duchy was definitely a different country from the Empire.

Although it was suspicious that he knew about the secret passages of another country, it was none of Atalante’s concern.

As long as she could safely enter his bedroom and complete the request, nothing else mattered.

As she walked along the route that emitted a foul odour, she could feel a faint breeze. She approached the end of the passage while holding her breath even more.

After confirming that there were no signs of movement, Atalante slowly lifted the ceiling that appeared to be the exit.

‘Ugh, the smell of alcohol…’

As she pulled herself out of the passageway, the pungent scent of alcohol wafted to her nose. As Atalante carefully covered the hole, she glanced at her surroundings. She spotted a large bed, wide enough for five adults to roll around.

It seemed like someone was lying in bed. As Atalante raised herself up halfway and looked at the silhouette sprawled on the bed carefully. 

It was a man, who had brilliant silver hair that was randomly splayed out, shifting with the light sound of breathing. 

The pungent scent of alcohol disgusted her, but somehow, the alcohol scent within the room seemed to fade every time he exhaled. He should have been the reason behind the scent of alcohol though. 

‘He’s handsome, as mentioned in the rumours. Losing a man who looks like this was probably a national loss. Oh, it is a national loss as he’s the ruler.’

During Atalante’s first meeting with Lionel, she realised that his nickname of being the sun god appearing in the flesh wasn’t an exaggeration.

How can a drunken face look so handsome?

She was almost mesmerised by his shocking beauty, but she managed to recall her original purpose for coming here with difficulty.

As Atalante took out her hidden knife, sky-blue eyes and iris coloured eyes met. 

Damn it, why did he have to open his eyes now?

“Who…”

Before he could question the intruder’s identity with half-opened eyes, Atalante stabbed at his heart with quick movements. It was done accurately and with agile technique. 

“I’m sorry, Grand Duke.”

‘But I’ll let you go painlessly.’

As Atalante spoke cruel words in a gentle tone, quickly grabbed the knife and stabbed at the vital point again.

“Haah…”

As Lionel let out a scratchy low groan, his forehead was distorted by pain.

Before she knew it, Atalante climbed on top of him, and daringly covered the noble Grand Duke’s mouth.

“…You’re tough.”

As his beautiful face crumpled, the corner of Atalante’s mouth twisted painfully.

After giving a little more strength to the hand that’s holding the knife, blood that resembled the colour of her hair poured out of Lionel’s mouth.

As the Grand Duke stared at the unknown assassin with eyes not comprehending the reason, it slowly closed. 

When his irregular breathing stopped, Atalante quickly confirmed whether he was alive with gloved hands.

“He died…”

She had perfectly completed His Majesty the Emperor’s request, but as expected, she did not find it pleasant at all. 

His cooling body and the deep blue moonlight together in one frame was like a painting.

“Haha, I’m also… crazy.”

It was really terrible of her to sit down and appreciate the man that she had killed. 

Was it because it ended too easily than she had anticipated? She felt uncomfortable for no reason. Atalante stared blankly at the white sheets slowly turning red, before shaking her head lightly.

After she organised her escape route again, she bit the end of the blood-soaked gloves with her teeth. She wasn’t clumsy enough to leave traces of her behind.

After Atalante tucked the gloves away, just as she lowered her head to open the door to the secret passageway, a cold and hard object touched her neck.

“That’s right. You’re crazy.”

It didn’t take long for her to realise that a knife was touching her neck.

However, the voice that asked for her identity was so… It was peculiar.

But, there’s no way a dead person can talk…

⋅⋅⋅•⋅⊰⋅•⋅⋅•⋅∙∘☽༓☾∘∙⋅•⋅⋅•⋅⊰⋅•⋅⋅⋅