With a creaking sound, the door opened. The man and the boy, who had been rolling on the floor, looked at me upon hearing the noise. I sighed and shrugged my shoulders.
“Oh, I didn’t realize the door was open.”
“What kind of woman are you, barging into someone else’s house like this!”
Oh, it was terrifying. The man grunted and stalked toward me as I stood dumbfounded in the doorway, the stench of alcohol and unspeakable body odor assaulting my nostrils.
I pondered when to take out the hammer hidden behind my back. Should I hit him on the head with it? Would that kill him instantly? Or just hurt a bit and knock him out?
“Anyway, it doesn’t matter.”
“What are you mumbling about?”
“I’m just pissed off, so I’m going to hit you.”
While the man was momentarily caught off guard by my petite size, I raised the hammer hidden behind my back above my head and brought it down with force, accurately hitting the man’s forehead.
I felt the sensation of the hammer hitting bone. The man screamed horrifically and staggered back, clutching his head. Apparently, my strength wasn’t enough to shatter his skull in one blow. He staggered for a moment, clutching his head, but soon realized what had happened and shouted in pain.
“You crazy bitch!”
Then he swung his fist. Hard, jagged bone struck my cheek. I fell to the floor in a heap. Before I could even groan, he kicked me right in the stomach.
Wow, this really hurts.
“Where did you come from, bitch, are you a thief?”
Right now, he probably didn’t really want to hear my answer while he was vigorously pressing his foot on my stomach. His foot was pressing hard near my ribcage, causing intense pain and making it hard to breathe.
My vision quickly darkened. I could feel my own breathing becoming shallow. My chest heaved, and I tried to move my arms, but it was of no use.
Alright, if I die like this, the world will end too. Just like that, because of something like this.
That’s exactly what I wanted.
However, someone called my name.
Who is it, calling me by that name?
I breathed in sharply. Light returned to my vision. The flickering candlelight in the distance caught my eye first, and as I took a deeper breath, my focus sharpened.
Ah, I instantly recognized the person who had revived me.
I looked at his face and smiled.
“So, you knew who I was?”
That explains it.
I had thought his kindness extended to a mere pharmacist in this desolate slum was excessive. As I said that, I realized that this man had his arm around my waist, propping me up so that my body didn’t touch the ground.
Suddenly, I turned my head and saw that the surroundings were a complete mess. The child was leaning against the wall, trembling, glaring at me, and the man who had been stomping on me earlier was groaning on the ground.
Amidst all this, the only intact thing was the man holding me unnecessarily tightly, looking handsome. His calm sky-blue eyes were gazing down at me.
I called his name.
“Your Grace, Archduke Daniel.”
As I called him that way, he replied to me.
“At your service, Your Holiness Vivian.”
“Wow, that name really doesn’t suit me… *cough*.”
While saying that, I coughed. When I raised my hand to my mouth, I saw that blood was dripping steadily. Archduke Daniel’s expression changed when he saw it.
“It seems you’re internally injured. We need to treat you quickly. I’ve sent for a carriage. Please allow me to take you to my mansion.”
“I’ll decline. Sorry, but you’ve got the wrong person.”
“Your Highness Vivian, you don’t have to deny it. I would never think of harming His Holiness…….”
“I’m not denying that. I’m just pointing out that I’m no longer a pope or anything. If you can recall, I have abdicated the position about five hundred years ago.”
I gestured towards the hammer rolling on the floor. Duke Daniel followed my gaze, his eyes falling on the man’s forehead and the hammer. A complicated expression crossed his face.
“Have you ever heard of a saint trying to kill someone with a hammer? Such a thing doesn’t exist in this world.”
“Aren’t you trying to condemn a sinner?”
“Not at all. I was just pissed off and wanted to hit him.”
“…Anyway, please allow me to take you to my mansion. This place is dangerous.”
Hmm, I groaned. No matter how I thought about it, this situation didn’t bode well.
“Dangerous? Weren’t you the one who was stabbed on the streets? You seem more in danger than me.”
“If you don’t come willingly, I’m willing to make a threat.”
The extremely handsome man maintained his polite demeanor, and perhaps my weakened state contributed to my lack of resistance. He continued holding me securely with his arms wrapped around my waist, making the situation strangely amusing. If I were in better condition, I might have raised my chin and openly appreciated the view.
“Threat? Go ahead, tell me.”
“I could take Jane and her son hostage, although I hesitate to do so.”
“How’s that supposed to threaten me?”
“Isn’t that what you came to this house with a hammer for?”
“Enough. Stop it.”
I raised my hand. Enough, there was no need to hear more.
“That doesn’t threaten me, but I have no reason to believe you even if you say otherwise. I’ll go along with what you say.”
It was annoying to listen any further. I couldn’t move due to my possibly broken ribs, and I couldn’t care less if I died like this. But now that I had been discovered, Duke Daniel wouldn’t just leave me alone to die. Given the situation, I had no choice but to comply.
My limbs went limp. In truth, I was in so much pain that I wished I could just pass out.