He probably doesn’t understand the situation. Waking up suddenly after being stabbed with a knife, seeing a random woman in front of him, who then pulls the knife out and heals the pain, it’s natural for him to be wary.
But that doesn’t mean I have to put up with it.
“Besides, I saved your life.”
I wasn’t particularly fond of volunteering, so my annoyance was evident. With that, I kicked him in the stomach with a burst of magic.
This time, he let out a groan. His large body flew across the room, hitting the living room wall and slumping to the floor, seemingly powerless. It made an ominous sound, and I hope he didn’t crack his bones. Well, if they are, I’ll give him another bottle of magic potion.
I adjusted my dress while standing up.
“’Thank you for saving me,’ You should start with that.”
“Get your shit together. You don’t happen to be the kind of person who treats those who help you this rudely, do you?”
Still, that wasn’t my fault. I snorted. Maybe I had turned the cooling charms too high. Perhaps I needed to take some cold medicine myself. I was just about to consider shooing the man out, lock the door and getting some rest. That’s when it happened, our eyes met.
The man blinked. Frowning, I scrutinized his face.
“Have we met somewhere before?”
I said, but it sounded like a cheesy flirtation line. It wasn’t the right thing to say in this situation. The man grimaced at my words. He brushed his hair out of the way with his hand, revealing a sharp forehead, deep eyes, and a high bridge of a nose. His black eyelashes flickered, and his now-clear sky-blue eyes were visible.
Well, he was certainly handsome.
“With a face this good-looking, it would be hard to forget, but where have I seen you before?”
When I tilted my head, the man chuckled dryly. Seeing my face, he seemed to regain his senses. After a moment of stunned silence, he spoke again.
“Never met you before. Who are you? And why am I here?”
“I’m Mary, a mage who owns a small pharmacy, and you were lying in my shop, stabbed to death. I considered you a customer and treated your injuries. If you wanted to die, you should have gone to a mortician’s shop next time. The funeral costs might be more expensive than the medicine, you know.”
I actually thought I was going to faint when I heard the price of a white oak coffin from the mortician next door. I should ask to be cremated. If it’s possible.
The man listened to my words and seemed to contemplate for a moment, trying to match his memories with my explanation. Eventually, he nodded.
“I see… I’ve inconvenienced you. I hope I didn’t hurt you.”
“There’s nothing to apologize for. You fell into my place. If you feel guilty, you can pay me more for the medicine. This is a pharmacy, you know.”
He chuckled at my words. Oh, that’s a good feeling. He seemed quite wealthy. A wealthy and handsome man like him could be a valuable asset.
“Anyway, how did you end up getting stabbed? I’m sorry, but I don’t want a criminal in my house. Are you sure you’re the victim?”
Although it sounded like an interrogation even to my own ears, but the man didn’t show any signs of being offended and answered obediently. Earlier, I had thought he was nervous, but it turns out he was just sensitive to the possibility of death and might actually be gentle.
“I was passing through this street by chance. Initially, there was a thief who tried to steal my wallet, so I tried to catch him.”
“Ah, I see.”
Well, looking at him now, even though he was a mess due to his injuries, it was clear he wore expensive clothes that one wouldn’t normally see in this impoverished area. He might be someone important. I didn’t know who he was, but he must have been in an accident. I thought of a few street thugs in my mind.
“I chased them into an alley to get my wallet back, but… as I turned the corner, someone stabbed me with a knife.”
“Wow, that’s quite…”
“…I think, in my dazed state, I tried to escape. I remember hiding somewhere… But I don’t know why I ended up entering your store. I’m sorry.”
Hmm, he came into my shop in a daze, huh?
“Well, I understand the situation roughly.”
He seemed to be the victim. I lifted the man, who couldn’t stand up on his own, off the floor. With magic, of course. The man looked completely bewildered, but I paid no mind to his reaction. After laying him down on the couch, I fetched a basin of warm water and a towel and handed them to him.
“I’m a small town citizen, so I can’t actively participate in solving crimes, but I’m not so evil as to not help the victim. I’ll walk you to the patrol officers first thing tomorrow morning.”
“No, I’m not injured enough to be unable to walk on the streets myself. I’m already grateful for your help. I’ll definitely repay this debt.”
“But what’s with the way you talk? Are you a knight or something?”
“I’m not a knight, but… Ugh.”
He was struggling, trying to clean the blood from his hair. I watched him wipe the blood off his handsome face with a grimace, then asked.
“Do you mind if I ask what your name is?”
“…This blood really isn’t coming off.”
“You can’t even talk properly.”
Could he be a handsome idiot? Did I help a handsome idiot? I feel like I’ve made a difference in the world.
It’s not every day that I get to stare at a handsome face, but looking at the man made me hungry again. I had just eaten two slices of pie but I was hungry again. I decided to get something from the kitchen because I knew he would be hungry too.
Meanwhile, the man struggled to tear his bloody clothes apart to put on the oversized T-shirt and pants I had provided. It was quite entertaining to watch, but I didn’t want to stare, so I gave up.
I took out meat from the storage, grilled it, and chopped onions, cabbage, and carrots, sautéing them in oil. I boiled potatoes and served them with sour cream. Earlier, I made excuses about being too lazy and my stomach being sensitive, but now that I was really hungry, those excuses seemed ridiculous. It’s nice to have an excuse to eat late at night, and he has to eat too.
The smell of grilling meat filled the living room. The man, now changed into clean clothes, cautiously walked to the kitchen. A look of apology and embarrassment crossed his face. He turned to me, looking nervous.
“I’m really sorry about this, but may I…….”
“You don’t need to hesitate. Just eat; I’m giving it to you willingly.”
His expression of gratitude seemed awkward. Could he be a nobleman? That guess seemed quite plausible. Even though I didn’t know why a nobleman would walk alone in this district, wearing expensive clothes that were uncommon in these parts, it would be natural for him to meet a robber.
Whether he intended to rob for money, kidnap someone, or kill, it was unclear. But in this neighborhood, where people could vanish without a trace, he must be quite fortunate.
Given that the police hardly ever patrolled here, even if a nobleman was killed, it wouldn’t be easy to discover. In that sense, this man was incredibly lucky.
As I offered him a plate with meat, vegetables, and potatoes, the man’s face brightened. Amidst eating, he still looked like a nobleman, slicing the meat and eating the potatoes with a fork and knife. Of course, I just tore into my food without any dining etiquette.
Thank goodness I had two plates and two chairs. Otherwise, I would have had to feed him on the floor. While he was eating his food elegantly, I noticed a newspaper that had been left neglected on the table. Since I had spread it on the floor earlier to prevent splattering oil, only a few pages were left.
I hadn’t gone outside for about a week, so this newspaper was probably from about a week ago. The headline on the front page caught my eye.
Duke Daniel, missing for the past month… Where is he?
The face on the front page looked familiar. He had a manly yet not too soft handsome face. It’s the kind of face that women probably think of as their first love’s ideal.
I could’ve ended up in a lot of trouble if I had killed him earlier. I scratched the bridge of my nose as I looked at Archduke Daniel, who was eagerly eating his meat.
It’s not that I’m not interested in current events. On the contrary, I’m quite interested. Of course, I have keen interest in handsome men as well. So of course, I knew Duke Daniel’s face. I’d been seeing his face for about a year now.
He was quite a famous man in this country. First of all, he was from the distant branch of the royal family, born into the noble Anderson lineage. He was the stepbrother of the current emperor. So he’s the son of the former emperor but he wasn’t the empress’s son, but of a government official.
That might have made him just one of the many fortunate illegitimate children, but his mother’s status was not to be underestimated. She was the only daughter of the former Duke Anderson.
From an early age, she was said to have been so famously beautiful that suitors lined up early on to become her husband. A woman of such beauty, bringing not only a hefty dowry to the ravaged Anderson estate, but eventually the Emperor’s undivided affection.
Born to such illustrious parents, Archduke Daniel had lived as if he were a prince throughout his life, albeit an illegitimate one. When his father, the former Emperor, died of natural causes and his half-brother ascended to the throne, he naturally decided to follow in his mother’s footsteps. He chose to move away from the capital to guard the Anderson’s estate, far from the bustling city. From the outside, it appeared as though he was just a peaceful noble.