Author: alyalia

* * *

Edward woke up some time after the rain had stopped. He opened his eyes slowly, feeling a rough texture wrapped around his body. The first thing that caught his eye was the back head, with pure silver hair reminiscent of a snowy field. It was a beautiful color that gave off a mysterious atmosphere, like moonlight flowing over a snow-covered field.


Now that he thought about it, he felt like he had seen hair like this before he lost consciousness. It was a back view that felt somewhat familiar. Before he could turn over, that person turned their head first.


“Are you feeling better?”


“Yes. Thanks to you, I survived.”


Edward’s eyes scanned Luize and the surroundings. He was speechless for the first time in a long time.


Corsets and petticoats were scattered haphazardly on the floor. In particular, the petticoat was torn to pieces and stained red to the extent that it was difficult for people to recognize what color it originally was. The woman, who appeared to be its owner, was looking at him, wrapped her body in a cheap blanket.


“I think I heard that you’re Countess Luize di Cloette.”


“Yes, that’s right.”


“Did Madam do this?”


“Yes. Fortunately, your wound wasn’t as deep as it looked, so first aid was required. As soon as you get home, call a doctor to get treatment.”


Edward looked back and forth between the ragged petticoat and Luize. He looked dumbfounded, but then laughed out loud. “Ha. Ahahaha.


Edward reached out and scooped up his hair. He tried to not to laugh as he grabbed his wound with his other hand, but once he burst out laughing, there was no sign of stopping.


“…Your wound will open up.”


“Yes. I will be careful,” even as he said that he was still laughing.


“There’s no need to pay for the treatment. Then.” Luize got up from her seat.


Edward slowly raised his body after her. He stood in front of her in two steps.


When she raised her head, their eyes met. There was a peculiar charm in the red eyes of the famous grand duke. His eyes contained purity that only living beings could possess, different from the jewels. Luize realized what those who saw him for the first time said were unable to easily take their eyes off him. People praised his eyes, but it may not have been just his eyes that made them unable to look away.


Edward had a firm body suitable for being examined, but his skin was fair as if he hadn’t been exposed to the sunlight often. He’s a handsome man with handsome features that can be seen at a glance even from a distance, and will make you look back a couple of times if you’re walking down the street. He even smelled like a subtle rose.


Luize belatedly looked away. Edward bent his upper body towards her. His rain-soaked black hair flowed down. He then smiled briefly.


“It looks like you’re leaving already.”


“If it’s any later, my husband will be worried.”


Even as the sun was setting, it was unclear whether Reiad had returned to the mansion now. However, Luize was a little reluctant to be alone with a man who, though he had been a patient, had recovered enough to get out of the bed.


“Well, I’m not in a position to entertain the guests. As you can see, my situation isn’t good.”




“Aren’t you curious about how I got hurt?”


Luize’s lips were slightly moist. Soon she opened her mouth and shook her head. “Each person has their own circumstances. I will pretend that I didn’t see what happened today, so I hope that Your Excellency will keep it a secret from others.”


“Of course.” Edward answered willingly. He wanted to keep it a secret, but he never thought the other person brought it first.


The first aid she gave was definitely not the skill of an ordinary countess. Although he didn’t say it out loud, the bandages on his wounds were perfect even without checking under the blanket. Having suffered many wounds, he quickly noticed that her treatment was better than most knights.


“Then, goodbye.” Luize left a greeting and stepped out.


Edward, who remained in the shack for a while after she left, headed to his destination only after the sun had completely set. “…She had striking silver hair.”


* * *

 “Luize, I was surprised. What happened outside?”


When Luize arrived at the mansion, Reiad wasn’t there, as she expected. He returned long after she came in and immediately looked for her. Although he didn’t see it in person, it was thanks to the servants who described in detail how Luize had returned in a miserable state.


“It rained a lot. My petticoat and corset became heavy, so it was difficult to return with that condition.”


“You should have avoided the rain before you got so wet. Is there a lady in the world who takes off her corset just because of that?”


“I was out of my mind… I’m sorry.”


“Luize, if you catch a cold, my heart will hurt a lot.”


Reiad sat across from the tea table. He extended his hand toward Luize, who was embroidering. When she laid down the needle and embroidery frame and reached out to Reiad, he took her hand.


“You’re not sick, are you?”


“Yes. I’m fine.”


As their body got closer, there was a strong smell of perfume that must have come from somewhere. It wasn’t the perfume Reiad used. Every time he spoke to her, the smell of alcohol tightened her heart.


“Thank god. There’s an important banquet tomorrow.”


“…I see.”


“If Grand Duke Lindeman returns, it will cause a huge stir in society. Because no knights have been in patrol of Perils’s forest for such a long time. From what I heard today, the number of deaths was less than half.”


Lindeman. As soon as she heard that name, Luize’s face hardened. Why was he like that on the outskirts of the capital today when they said he would return tomorrow?


The departure of Grand Duke Edward von Lindeman was an event that once caused an uproar in the capital. By imperial decree, he and the knights he led went on a patrol to Perils, also known as the Forest of Death. The word was patrol, but in reality, it was no different from driving the knights into danger.


Perils Forest has been dark all year since the dragon that ruled it was killed 30 years ago, and strange phenomena constantly occur there. The wild beasts living there all had strange shapes, and some of them even used magic.


Most of the knights who were sent there under the pretext of patrol didn’t return alive. If you sent out 100 people, it was rare for even 10 of them to return. Even more, half of them suffered fatal injuries and spent their entire lives in bed.


Knowing such a fact, the emperor would often sent people who he didn’t like there or who were difficult for him to deal with. Since this was an open secret, all the nobles thought that the emperor would finally deal with the thorny stain on the imperial family.


But such a man came back alive. He even saved more than half of his knights.






“Watch out for that guy. There are rumors he plays with beautiful women, both noble ladies and married women.”




“They say the women he attracted are used as ingredients for black magic.”


“Isn’t it just a rumor?”


“It’s only a rumor, but there’s no harm in being careful.”


“…Yes.” Luize nodded, avoiding his gaze. She had already been involved with him once, but she’ll never talk to him again.


They encountered each other a few times at the banquet before Edward went on a year-long patrol. Every time she ran into him, Luize just quietly smiled and greeted him while being next to Reiad. But today was the first time she met his eyes properly. Still, it would continue to be the same as before.


“Because you’re so beautiful that no one can compare to you. Indeed, there’s no way my Luize would get close to such a dangerous person.”


“…That’s right.”


Was he a dangerous person? Luize remembered that there were no weapons around Edward. She hurriedly used the fabric of her petticoat to stop his bleeding, bought herbs, blanket, and bandages, and checked the surroundings, but couldn’t find anything that could be his weapon. If he had been outnumbered enough to have his weapon taken away, he wouldn’t have ended up with such injuries. No matter how much she thought about it, it was clear that he was lucky.


“You seem to have a lot on your mind today. Is it because you’re tired?”


“Yes, a little. Can I take a break now?”


Huh? Ah, let’s do that.” Reiad nodded with a puzzled look on his face.


“Have a good night, Luize.” After saying a short goodbye, he got up and left the room.


Tak. Looking at the closed door, Luize remembered the grand duke’s wounds she had seen during the days. Those were clearly the skills of a skilled assassin and swordsman. Coincidentally, it was also the type of wounds frequently seen in Perils. The injuries wouldn’t allow you to move immediately, but the grand duke got up and approached her as soon as he opened his eyes. It was either a coincidence or proof that he was familiar with such wounds.


Grand Duke, assassins, Forest of Death Perils.


The red eyes with a peculiar look.


The more she tried to think about it, the strangely the sight she was during the day disturbed her mind.


* * *

The banquet was grand. Spring flowers, which can only be grown in magical gardens in this season, filled the banquet hall in abundance. It was a gathering of all the famous figures within the empire.


Of course, the most crowded place was around Edward, the main character of the banquet. His half-brother, the emperor, and the empress dowager, who had given him the order to be dispatched, were also present.


The emperor dowager quietly greeted those who approached the emperor. Because she was an introvert, she rarely appeared in front of people and had a particularly difficult time with Edward.


“Grand Duke Lindeman, congratulations on your safe return.”


“It’s all thanks to His Majesty’s wish for good luck. I’m honored that you personally hosted a congratulatory banquet and came in person to praise me.”


Haha. Isn’t it natural? You’ve been traveling such a long distance under my orders. I believed that the banquet would be worth it. Unfortunately, I’m busy with work so I have to go back first, but you can enjoy it enough before you leave.”




Bright and cheerful music continued to be played in the banquet hall, and the two were smiling friendly smiles the whole time. Nevertheless, their atmosphere was cooler than a sheet of thin ice. 


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