No, how can he be so oblivious while I’m clearly provoking him with my entire being How can the man who is the first love of the whole country be so dull? I sighed deeply once more.
While I lay in bed and rubbed my eyes in frustration, Daniel quickly summoned a servant to convey my requests, Soon, the hurried footsteps of the servant echoed down the stairs from outside my door.
Meanwhile, Daniel returned to sit by my bedside. I waited for him to initiate the conversation, but he maintained his silence. What was he trying to accomplish?
“Hey, can you say something?”
Eventually, I broke the silence. I disliked feeling stifled. Moreover, this room was uncomfortably warm. It was stifling both mentally and physically. What’s the use of being so well-decorated if there’s not even a cooling crystal? I felt suffocated.
I spoke somewhat gruffly.
“If you don’t tell me your purpose right now, I’m going to kill you.”
And Archduke Daniel, as expected, laughed exactly as I hoped It was an involuntary laugh. Because right after he laughed, he made eye contact with me, and promptly sealed his lips.
He immediately straightened up and apologized sincerely.
“I’m sorry, I was impolite, Your Holiness.”
I rolled my eyes and looked at Archduke Daniel. He didn’t say anything for a while, a clear expression of embarrassment spread across his light blue eyes.
And then, unexpectedly, I couldn’t resist my mischievous side. My knights had mentioned it occasionally, but Daniel seemed to have a playful streak. His laughter just now, coupled with our eye contact, ignited a spark.
“Well, why don’t you laugh even more? Find it funny?”
“No, it wasn’t funny at all.”
“Are you saying, then, that I made a joke and you didn’t find it funny?”
“I’m sorry, it was funny.”
Archduke Daniel looked embarrassed, as if one more word from me questioning if he found me amusing would make him break into a sweat, despite his status as an archduke. Picking on handsome men is actually one of my favorite pastimes. Unfortunately, I don’t get to indulge in it very often due to the small number of targets.
However, one couldn’t continue joking indefinitely, and I deliberately relaxed my displeased expression to something less uncomfortable.
“So, let’s stop with the jokes. How is Jane? Given that you went so far as to threaten me for her sake, I assume she made the right decision.”
“I apologize for that.”
Hearing my words, Archduke Daniel finally spoke up. His face didn’t show it prominently, but he looked relieved.
Maybe my playful remarks threw him off. Well, I thought I was being quite dull, but perhaps it wasn’t that I was dense, but rather he found it challenging to find the right moment to speak.
Maybe he was nervous, considering that until yesterday, I had been treating him quite kindly. Suddenly, the situation turned awkward, and he might have found it difficult to handle me.
My speculation seemed somewhat accurate. Daniel became unexpectedly eloquent.
“I considered honoring Your Holiness as my priority, which led to me bluffing. I have no intention of threatening ordinary citizens recklessly.”
“Fibbing about being a Duke. So what? What about Jane?”
“As I mentioned yesterday, I intend to help her.”
“How are you planning to help her?”
“I plan to introduce job opportunities in another territory.”
“Did Jane agree to that? Did she decide to go work in another territory alone?”
Daniel’s eyes narrowed slightly at my words. It seemed he understood what I was getting at. After all, he must have heard Jane’s family story that night.
“As I mentioned, I did what was necessary regarding the perpetrator, her husband. He will undergo a proper investigation and receive proper punishment.”
“…And the child? What’s going to happen to her child?”
“There is a juvenile reform facility in the Anderson territory. Jane and I thought it would be a good idea for the child to be away from her for a while, and they both agreed. If you want to verify, I can arrange a meeting.”
“No, that’s not necessary.”
I wasn’t particularly close to Jane, and I had already confronted her husband. There was no need to meet her formally.
“You don’t seem to be lying about being the Duke thing.”
Someone of his stature wouldn’t have any reason to lie so openly. He had skillfully handled everything in just three days. Well, it turned out well for Jane. Perhaps we’ll meet again someday.
“You’re not just saying whatever you can to win my favor, are you?”
“I have no intention of currying favor with your Holiness.”
“Well, then why did you seek me out?”
If I could, I would have crossed my arms, but unfortunately, with my ribs completely in a bad shape, I couldn’t. Not that it matters, since I’ve abandoned my dignity anyway.
In any case, I was really curious about Archduke Daniel’s intentions.
“You say you don’t intend to win my favor, huh? But you thought you could get something from me, so you came to find me and keep me tied up in this house, didn’t you?”
“That is a misunderstanding.”
“I’ll be the judge of whether it’s a misunderstanding or not. In fact, I’m most curious to know how you found out I exist.”
Honestly, in the past year, I thought I had hidden my tracks very well.
“Let’s start with that. How did you find out that I’m alive?”
No, to be more precise, it never occurred to me that anyone would be looking for me. Who would think that a saint who died five hundred years ago would suddenly come back to life, even to open a pharmacy in the slums, and lived a life of working one day and enjoying life for a week?
Daniel cautiously averted his gaze at my words. His eyes quickly scanned around my cheeks. Well, it wouldn’t look too flattering since my cheeks were swollen, but it wasn’t so bad that it would be that embarrassing.
I felt like the way this man looked at me made me the most pitiful person in the world. In fact, there are probably as many people in the world in a worse situation than me as there are grains of sand on a beach.
“I don’t know if you’re ready for a long story, you were injured yesterday.”
There was concern in the voice. Despite being a handsome person, the voice didn’t necessarily have to be attractive, but it resonated with a deep, sincere tone. My ears itched and I tried to scratch them, but failed to move my arms. This is what it’s like to have broken ribs.
“Why not summon a magician? It could be solved with a single spell.”
“I know that Her Holiness is not susceptible to the magic of other wizards.”
It was a sudden turn in the conversation. Unconsciously, I found myself nodding slightly to Daniel’s words, but soon a scream escaped my lips due to the pain pressing against my abdomen. Startled by my scream, Daniel quickly stood up.
“Your Holiness, are you alright?”
“I’m not okay! It hurts a lot! Ahh! Ah, ahh, ahh… Wait, it’s calming down a bit.”
But it really did hurt. Tears welled up, and if I blinked, I would probably start crying uncontrollably. I glared at Archduke Daniel to sit down, trying not to burst into physiological tears. I was honestly a little embarrassed.
“I will summon a doctor.”
However, the doctor’s arrival was a spectacular failure. I wanted to bury my head in my hands but thankfully stopped before attempting it.
“Oh, you really have no tact! The look I gave you meant for you to sit down!”
“But aren’t you in pain?”
“Calling a doctor won’t help. I know that medical science hasn’t advanced much in the past five hundred years.”
Muttering, I realized tears were seeping into the soft pillow. It seemed like the physiological pain forced the tears to flow involuntarily.
The Archduke soon noticed. He carefully took out a handkerchief and gently tapped it near my face. In that moment, I screamed again from the pain.
“Oh, your cheek is torn.”
“Just don’t touch it, okay…?”
“Um, sorry. I’m not very good with my hands.”
It was a somewhat embarrassing situation. This man seemed to be trying to help me somehow, but he was awkward. I’d rather he just call Marie.
After a while, I finally managed to alleviate the pain and calm down. No matter how you looked at it, this man and I didn’t seem to get along well. The conversation kept going off track.
“So, what now? How did you know that other magicians’ magic doesn’t work on me? Did it happen to be written in the history books?”
“No, it’s not like that. To be precise, it’s a story passed down.”
“Passed down? Are you talking about folktales? Am I in a fairy tale?”
I don’t think I’m the kind of person to be in a child’s storybook.
“…… I’ll save the fairy tales for another time. I was under the impression that Your Holiness left the temple a years ago, but haven’t you done any research on yourself since then?”
“Well, I… Wait a minute. How did you find out?”
“The temple where Her Holiness was sleeping is located in the Grand Duchy of Anderson.”
I knew that. After leaving the temple, I had gone to the nearest town and looked it up to get the geographical location.
However, the village near the temple where I was asleep was located in a remote area. I pretended to be a poor traveler, stayed for only about two days, and left. Therefore, unless someone who was already watching me knew, they couldn’t have gathered such detailed information.
When I tilted my head, Daniel explained.
“And the lords of the Anderson family have sent people to inspect the condition of the temple at regular intervals for generations. I received a report a year ago during a routine check that the door of the temple was destroyed ‘from the inside.'”
He met my gaze as he spoke and pulled something from his bosom. In his outstretched hand, he clutched a pendant.