Chapter 7

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The Return of the Boss

 

The servants that heard the booming sound too late rushed into the room with frazzled expressions. 

 

On the days where a banquet was hosted, summons late at night did occur often, but such a heart-pounding situation rarely happened. 

 

“Your–Your Highness… Are you alright?”

 

Paul looked at his master worriedly, but the Grand Duke did not budge, and kept staring out of the shattered window, as if he had lost something.

 

At the sight of those eyes filled with vivid longing, Paul lowered his head inadvertently.

 

The reason why he had such a gaze was probably because of the suspicious woman he was holding in his arms earlier. From her side profile, she was a woman that gave off an atmosphere of danger.

 

He wanted to ask him for the whole story of what had happened, but the words wouldn’t easily leave his mouth, as he wanted to live for a long time. 

 

Paul was restless and his gaze alternated between the shattered window and the Grand Duke. It wasn’t long before he called Paul with a low voice.

 

“Paul.”

 

“Yes, Your Highness!”

 

“She’s a woman that appears to be in her late teens, with crimson hair and a beautiful face.”

 

Paul stared dazedly at his master that spoke incomprehensible words, before realising that the description matched the appearance of the woman he had seen earlier exactly. 

 

It was obvious what he wanted. He was asking Paul to bring her back. Paul would usually have carried out this order quickly, but this time, he could only hesitate.  

 

The fact that he personally held an unidentified woman and had his own personal physician treat her wasn’t enough… it was because the Grand Duke had said that he had fallen for her.

 

Tyrants could be defined in many ways, but violence, squandering fortune, and indulgence in carnal desires, and so on are the typical behaviours exhibited by them.

 

Grand Duke Blanc was one such tyrant. However, perhaps because he was inclined towards violence, he was a man who was far from being wasteful and lustful.

 

‘No wonder there are rumours saying the Grand Duke of Blanc has special tastes.’

 

In order to suppress this rumour, Paul and the other servants had to rush about busily. 

 

However, although it was dismissed as a false rumour, doubts had dared to arise in Paul. 

 

He was originally not close to women. 

 

Therefore, when Paul heard the following words from the Grand Duke, he grabbed the back of his neck without realising it.

 

“She’s the one that will become the Grand Duchess, so escort her back here safely.”

 

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Barely managing to escape the Blanc Castle, Atalante only had two things to accomplish from now onwards.

 

Firstly, to evacuate the members to a safe place and secondly, to ascertain the true identity of the medicine that the Grand Duke had drunk.

 

No matter how much she had thought about it, what he drank was definitely not an ordinary poison.

 

Esma Evita. As Atalante cursed the blonde haired young lady that gave her the medicine with a sincere face, she increased the strength in her running feet.

 

Strangely enough, there wasn’t any sign of a chase for her yet.

 

Fortunately or unfortunately, the Grand Duke has yet to start the chase. 

 

Another unresolved question came to her mind suddenly, 

 

‘The most urgent thing to settle is finding out how the Grand Duke came back to life.’

 

Stopping in front of the luxurious hotel, Atalante turned straight towards the dim back door.

 

“You, you…! What happened to you?”

 

Pietro was shocked at the sight of an uninvited guest coming in through the window in the middle of the night.

 

At that sad cry that was close to a scream, Atalante looked down at her outfit. The clean dress that a handmaiden of the Grand Duchy helped her wear was torn in several places, even revealing her legs, and the hair that fluttered like falling petals, was dishevelled.

 

“This is the second floor!”

 

About to say that she had jumped off the third floor earlier, Atalante stopped and extended a hand towards him with her palm facing upwards. 

 

As Pietro dazedly grabbed her hand, she frowned and pulled her hand out. 

 

“Is your training still inadequate?”

 

“N–no! It’s not like that……!”

 

As she frowned, Pietro crouched and trembled.

 

If he had to receive another day of the ‘training’ she talked about, there might be a problem with his human nature. 

 

As she looked at the trembling man, Atalante sighed and brushed the hair from her forehead. 

 

“Give me a horse. Travel expenses, too.”

 

There actually was a commoner woman that could confidently rip off a nobleman. Embarrassed, Pietro forgot to respond and stared up at her blankly.

 

“What? You don’t have that?”

 

The family of Sera isn’t that impressive either.

 

At the words she added, Pietro’s eyebrows furrowed angrily. 

 

Even so, the second-largest family in the Empire was the County of Sera. He was the successor of that noble family!

 

It seems to have hurt his pride, as Pietro rose suddenly and began to search the cabinet. 

 

The travel expenses of aristocrats were originally managed by their servants, but some private funds were prepared in case of emergencies for this trip.

 

“It damages the dignity of a noble to carry a lot of money personally.”

 

As Pietro dropped ten gold coins onto Atalante’s outstretched hand, he puffed his chest confidently. A gold coin was a week’s worth of living expenses for a wealthy commoner family.

 

Once again realising the difference in concept of finances between herself and aristocrats, Atalante couldn’t help but laugh. 

 

“Why? Is it not enough?”

 

Pietro had a hand on his waist as he spoke sullenly, like he was about to call for his servant immediately. Atalante observed him in a wrinkle free silk shirt, before returning nine gold coins back to him.  

 

“One gold coin is more than enough. Thank you.”

 

As the words, what’s the use for such small change, almost left his mouth, Pietro barely managed to control his mouth after looking at Atalante’s face. 

 

“As for the horse… I’ll ask the hotel owner to give one to me.”

 

“Please.”

 

Atalante nodded her head lightly, before picking up the jacket that was lying on the bed.

 

“Lend this to me, too.”

 

Although it seems like she wouldn’t be returning it, Pietro couldn’t bring himself to reply with a no.

 

“Also… Keep the fact that I came here a secret from His Majesty the Emperor.”

 

“What? Why exactly…”

 

“For you and your family.”

 

As Atalante added those meaningful words, she moved towards the window letting moonlight stream into the room. Pietro was captivated as he watched her, unable to say anything as she jumped out of the window.

 

‘I had a lot of questions that I wanted to ask…’

 

Unlike the messenger from the Imperial Palace, who said that something urgent had happened to his family, he was shoved into this hotel.

 

It was along with the truth that nothing happened to his family. 

 

Although he was extremely angry at the person that wanted to tease him, he had no choice but to keep his mouth shut upon hearing that it was by the orders of the Emperor. This was because the Sera family was a noble family that was loyal to the emperor’s faction. 

 

It wasn’t difficult for Pietro to follow his orders without any questions asked. So this time was also the same, without any questions. 

 

Even though he wanted to ask why that woman had appeared this late at night in that outfit, and where she was going.

 

After looking at the direction she had disappeared towards for a moment, Pietro headed towards the front desk to bring up the horse that Atalante requested.

 

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The hideout without the boss was extremely boring. Dealing with members of the other organisation that raided once, eating, organising the weapons Devon made, and accepting Jenna’s irritability.

 

In the week without Atalante, Yuffie’s days that went by were surprisingly similar… It was boring.  

 

“Yuffie, I told you not to go in there!”

 

After Jenna found Yuffie’s long figure lying on the boss’ bed, she shouted loudly.

 

Despite her berating, instead of sitting up, Yuffie had only hugged Atalante’s pillow harder.

 

“Atalante, when will you return…?”

 

Like a child waiting for his parents, Yuffie had a sullen face as he asked haltingly. Jenna stared at his pathetic appearance for a while, before letting out a low sigh.

 

“She’ll be back the day after tomorrow.”

 

“When exactly, on the day after tomorrow? Lunch? Dinner?”

 

The questions from Yuffie poured out without a pause. Instead of answering his questions, Jenna avoided his gaze. 

 

With a strong physique and excellent combat capabilities, Yuffie was a child with flaws that were both large and small. It was an aftereffect brought about by the war.

 

After his life was saved by Atalante’s hand dramatically, Yuffie followed her like she was a mother bird. Although he smiled at all of the members, his blind affection for Atalante was truly unrivalled.

 

As Jenna lightly patted his cloudy gray hair, she spoke in an imitated kindly voice that was unlike her. 

 

“Atalante will be back soon. Didn’t she promise us that she wouldn’t come back too late. When has Atalante ever broken her promises?”

 

He shook his head.

 

“In that case, Yuffie has to keep his promises too. Atalante doesn’t like it when others enter her bedroom. Didn’t you make a pinky promise to Atalante, saying that you wouldn’t go into Atalante’s room as you pleased?”

 

He shook his head again.

 

“The boss hates people that lie the most.”

 

“…I lied.”

 

This time Yuffie turned his head towards Jenna. She stared straight at his black eyes and continued to speak.

 

“Wouldn’t it be nice to get praised when the boss comes back? What should our Yuffie do if he wants to get compliments from Atalante?”

 

After blinking for a while, he sat up slowly.

 

While Jenna had a decent build for a commoner girl, Yuffie’s stature was large enough to cover her while seated.

 

In addition, perhaps it was because he used to make a living by participating in martial arts tournaments, dizzying scars littered all over his body.

 

Unlike his threatening appearance, Yuffie, who was fiddling with his fingers, slowly opened his mouth.

 

“I have to sleep alone properly.”

 

“And?”

 

“I have to protect my family.”

 

“Again?”

 

“When Atalante is not around, I have to listen to what Jenna says.”

 

How did his education turn out so well?

 

Jenna kissed his cheek lightly with a satisfied expression. Like an award to a child, it was a gentle movement. 

 

“What should you do now?”

 

“Go to my room and sleep alone.”

 

“Good. You’re very brave. I’ll stay with you until you fall asleep.”

 

Yuffie grabbed Jenna’s hand, and jumped out of Atalante’s bed.

 

Atalante’s rote learning was very effective. It was to the point where Jenna wondered if Atalante would have been a good teacher if she was born in an ordinary middle-class family.

 

Although it was all useless assumptions.

 

When they reached Yuffie’s room, the surroundings outside became noisy. It was a loud roar, as if it was welcoming the return of a triumphant general. There’s only one person that would receive such cheers in Argo. 

 

“Atalante!”

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