Author: Nikss



I buried my face in his chest so as not to show my flushed eyes.


… Of course, the distance between us was close enough, even though we had a little distance so that he would not feel the artifact I was hiding.


I cautiously whispered to him,  “… I’m not hurt, and I don’t really care about what they say, no matter how bad it is.” 


Coincidentally, the place I leaned my head was on his heart. 


Thump, thump, thump—


I could feel his heart beating faster and faster with increasing acceleration.


“It was a lie.”




His voice hovered in my ear. 


“I just wanted to hold you.” 


The sound of his heart beating faster and faster shook me to the core.


The Duke was a little strange. 


He definitely seems like a cold, heartless, bad guy…


The rumors that have spread beyond the Duchy and into the Imperial Capital, the way he treats others, and the way he seems to have a sharp temper—


But now he’s being honest in a strange way, and also delicate.


Such honesty and a fragile heart kept poking my heart.


That’s why I kept acting impulsively.


I put my hands, which had been hovering awkwardly in the air, carefully down on his shoulders. As I put my hand on his shoulder and pulled him ever so slightly closer. 


Despite his cold expression, his body was very warm. At that moment, I heard a shout from somewhere.


“Oh my!”


“What have I just seen…?”


“Hallucination? Delusion? Nothing?”


‘Come to think of it, I hugged the Duke on the center stage of the Colosseum!’ 


My face flushed red, but the Duke only squeezed me harder. All schedules after the swordsmanship competition were suspended because of an unexpected event. 


The finals of the swordsmanship competition would be resumed tomorrow morning


Later, it was decided to resume behind closed doors, and the after-party was decided to proceed as scheduled.


Me, the Duke, and Rune sat across from each other in the lounge inside the Delphinium Room.


“So I guess I won’t get to see the finals of the swordsmanship tournament after all.”


I was a little disappointed by that fact, but there was someone who was more disappointed than me.


It was the Duke.


He gritted his teeth and muttered, “Yes, it will be inevitable.”


I was startled for a moment.


He kept muttering with his chin clenched, “I was going to take care of all the mammoths, and then do a sword dance in front of everyone at the end of the sword tournament.” 


I wondered for a moment what I had heard. The words were spoken in a casual tone of voice, but the ramifications were profound.


“I didn’t expect the schedule to be canceled like this.”


I can’t believe the Duke would actually perform a sword dance.


At first, I thought the Duke was playing a joke, and I was going to laugh lightly. 


—That was until I came to face his serious eyes and grim expression. 


“… Huh!”


Did you mean that the Duke was seriously going to show off his sword dance?


No, the Duke was serious — he’s planning to perform a sword dance? 


I grabbed him gently and said, “Then if you want to do the sword dance, can’t we schedule it again after the finals?”


If it’s the Duke, I suppose it’s possible. 


Anyway, Bazel was caught, and it was entirely up to the Silver Fox family to find out what was behind him.


But the Duke shook his head slowly,


“Because Astel needs to take a rest. You can’t come to the finals of the swordsmanship tournament, and you shouldn’t come to the final sword dance. Don’t push yourself too hard.”


I scratched my head at his words. 


“What does it have to do with me taking a rest and the Duke doing the sword dance—?”


The question was barely out of my mouth when the Duke smiled wryly.


“Astel, please go inside and rest for now.”


“The Duke must have had a hard time catching thirty mammoths…” 


‘Or maybe not?’


Should I be worried that the mammoths were slaughtered?


I was a little confused, seeing him looking so unharmed. The Duke quickly wiped the smile off his face and looked at me with a gentle expression.


“It wasn’t hard at all.”


If a normal person had said that, I would have thrown up my hands and called it overly modest, but when the Duke said it like that, I believed him. 


When I nodded in agreement, the Duke changed the subject.


“I will inform you of Bazel’s disposition. I judged that he had planned to do such a thing, even though I had made it clear not to touch Astel, and that he had dared to do it, and mocked me.”




I don’t think it’s that bad—


Unlike me, who had become a little flustered, the Duke had no mercy. 


“After I find out who is behind this, I will— banish, deport him somewhere else.”


“Oh, so he’s been sentenced to banishment…” 


“Yes. He will get off with the exile so that he can’t move anywhere.”


The Duke had a murderous look on his face, like he was going to banish to the netherworld—


For now, I nodded when he mentioned banishment and exile. 


Rune, who had been dozing on my lap until then, opened his eyes and shouted. 


“Right! Right!”


“You little brat, you don’t even know what punishment is!” 


When I jokingly scolded him, Rune, who came down from my lap, toddled and grabbed the Duke’s teacup.




I was a little appalled in a different sense.


“Oh, baby, you can’t do that to the Duke. Stupid? What do you mean, stupid.”




“Because it’s impolite…”


The Duke’s cold gaze swept over Rune.




But Rune only gave him a cute, charming look, as if he didn’t care.


“Baby, you can’t press for orders. So far—”


As the conversation ended, I clutched the pouch containing the medal artifact that Bazel had left behind. 


Once the Duke left, I planned to meet with Warret to have it analyzed.


“Now, get some rest.”


“… Ah, yes.”


“I’ll go rest, too.”


The Duke raised himself gracefully.


I opened the door and saw him off to the front of the hallway.


But instead of going to the side of the corridor, the Duke went down.


Perhaps he was going for a walk, I thought, and closed the door.




Fortunately or unfortunately, Bazel was still alive.


His face was bloodied, and he was deeply troubled. 


‘How the hell did she know all this?’


‘She doesn’t seem like a normal healer, so who is she really?’


‘Had she realized everything I’ve done? Or did she have an inside track?’


‘Had someone else picked up the uniform I left behind?’


Deep in thought, Bazel frowned slightly. 


The magical restraints could not have killed him. 


It was obvious that this prison, which was designed by the previous Duke himself, would be beyond his power to escape. 


‘Damn it—!’


‘I should have lived a decent life as an ordinary thief!’ 


Bazel, who had bitterly regretted everything, realized that the air surrounding him had changed a little cooler.


The door of the prison was slanted open.


‘Is it a guard? Or—!’


At that moment, an eerie voice covered his ears.


“Why did you do that?”




It was Duke Anais.


A sinister shadow fell over the prison. 


“I— If you spare my life, I will reveal who is behind this—!”


Bazel’s head snapped around. The Duke of Anais was stronger than his master. 


Desiring to survive somehow, he opened his mouth desperately. But the Duke had no mercy.


“I don’t need any of that.”


The man in front of Bazel grinned.


“I need someone to vent my anger now.”




The door to the prison slammed shut with an ominous noise. 




Two days have passed.


In the past two days, there have been many changes.




“Bazel is, well, he’s dead!”


—Bazel has been banished to the netherworld.


“He volunteered, dumbass.”


I thought so.


So I wasn’t shaken or scared by the terrible news. 


If Bazel didn’t die, it would be me, my brother, and Rune. 


That thought made my heart grow cold and hard.


“The winner of the swordsmanship tournament is indeed Lord Mayer.”




“There won’t be a Lady of Lord Mayer this time either, oh, I wonder!” 


I nodded and took a bite of food and sipped tea.


To be honest, Lord Mayer’s Lady was not my concern.


All I cared about was the spies! 


‘There is one thing left to do. I must draw a list of suspected spies, and analyze the medal artifact.’


I squeezed the tea cup in my hand as if to crush it. 


Until it crunched and crackled in my hand.


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Comments (1)

  1. Ughhh duke…
    I approved of everything that you do, except this one

    You throw away a golden chance to finish this story early!!