I finally came to my senses when Marquis Treve, who was standing next to me, poked my side with his elbow.
The Cabinet meeting was still in full swing. While discussing the disposition of the nobles who participated in the revitalization of the slave market, Cardan seemed to be doing quite well alone, therefore her mind couldn’t help but wander.
It wasn’t the time for me to worry about the ships.
I pretended to be focused on the discussion, by raising my monocle, but it was too late.
Cardan’s red eyes were staring at me persistently.
“D, did you call, Your Majesty……?”
After finding out the secret of the contract, he wasn’t as keen as he was before on the three-second rule, but Cardan’s sharp gaze was still scary.
I bowed down in a hurry.
“I was captivated by the beauty of your face as if it had been sculpted by God himself.”
Did my improvisation work? Fortunately, Cardan’s sharp eyes, which seemed to pierce my forehead, subsided.
“You mean you were slyly looking at my face.”
While criticizing me, I didn’t feel bad when the corners of his mouth went up strangely.
‘Cardan, you’re surprisingly weak when it comes to complimenting your appearance.’
“Howard Linoa. Count Linoa’s eldest son earnestly asked for permission to meet with the Duke.”
It was only then that I remembered the existence of Harvey, or Howard.
As I looked around, I saw Count Linoa standing in the corner with a dispirited face.
Even if he’s a jerk, he’s still his son.
Anyway, my situation doesn’t look good right now.
It is the perfect situation to make me look like I have some great connection with a slave-buying criminal.
“Haha, I’m not really close to Howard Linoa, so why did he ask for a meeting?”
I gave Cardan a signal for help with my eyes.
However, Cardan only crumpled his brows and refused to accept my desperate signal.
“He said you’re engaged.”
I felt an intense regret that I couldn’t tear Harvey’s mouth apart.
“That’s a terrible misunderstanding. I don’t even have enough time to work for Your Majesty, but what do you mean by engaged?”
Fortunately, Cardan nodded.
It would be perfect if Cardan personally steps up and tell them that I have nothing to do with Harvey.
I took advantage of the good atmosphere and took another shot.
“I am a person who has no intention of getting married.”
However, Cardan somehow crumpled his eyebrows fiercely.
My head was racing to figure out what I did wrong when the Marquis Treve whispered quietly.
“Duke, I’m really sorry, but could you meet Howard just once? I’m worried that my friend will lose his mind at this rate.”
At his whisper I glanced again at Count Linoa.
He was still standing there with a lost look on his face.
I stopped feeling weak.
“Well, for a moment, I will talk to Harvey Linoa about his worries about marriage. If Your Majesty wants, I will meet the Young Lord Linoa.”
When I added that, Cardan looked like he was about to kill a person. The young lord said he wanted to meet me first.
Marquis Treve also raised a trembling voice like a goat for his friend.
First of all, he was recognized for his contribution to the downfall of the slave market. However, he also had to be suspended for participating in the revitalization of the slave market.
“Y, Your Majesty, I agree with the Duke.”
When Cardan was silent, the Marquis of Treve hurriedly added.
“No, of course, everything depends entirely on Your Majesty’s will. I will gladly follow any command Your Majesty whom even the Goddess of Beauty will shed tears for.”
I gave Marquis Treve an encouraging look.
I was proud of the Marquis, who quickly noticed that Cardan was weak when it comes to people complimenting his appearance.
“What kind of disgusting thing are you talking about, Marquis?”
However, rather than feeling better, Cardan hated it even more and stared at the Marquis.
While the Marquis was stuttering in panic, Cardan stormed out of his seat.
“Forget it. Whether the Duke meets her fiance or not, it’s all up to you.”
The council stirred at Cardan’s declaration of my engagement. He threw a bombshell like that and disappeared.
I was the only one left to pick up the pieces again.
“It’s a misunderstanding, a misunderstanding! I’m not engaged to the Lord Linoa, everyone!”
☆*: .｡. .｡.:*☆
The stairs leading down to the palace’s dungeon were slippery with moss.
Even though I’ve only taken a few steps, a terrible smell already pierced my nose.
“Please, Duke of Baloa.”
Count Linoa, who could only follow me to the entrance of the basement prison, grabbed my hand and cried desperately.
“I don’t need anything else, just his life, how can I spare his life…”
“Hmm. You know, Count. Just looking at the documents found in Faus’ office, Harvey Linoa is among the top five of his customers.”
The count sobbed out his son’s name.
“Ahem, yes. Other aristocrats’ necks were cut off, but if Howard Linoa is excused, there will be a lot of backlash.”
I was sorry for Count Linoa, but I was going to end Baron Geoffrey no matter what.
But unfortunately, the amount of money that the Baron Geoffrey and Harvey spent on slaves are equal.
“D, Duke! Please, just once. Please have mercy……! I beg you.”
The count fell to the floor hugging my knee.
“Whatever you want! I’ll give you anything!”
Count Linoa nodded as I hesitated.
“Say anything, even heirlooms, my estate, and secret voyages to the East, which have been handed down from generation to generation!”
Secret voyages to the East?
My ears pricked up.
“You have secret voyages?”
“There is! There is such a voyage that is safe from storms, even pirates. I’ll give you a captain who’s been there countless times!”
Even before his words were finished, I raised Count Linoa without a moment’s hesitation.
“Ah, you have bad knees. Come on, get up.”
Count Linoa blinked in bewilderment as I shook off his damp pants with a busy touch.
“I’ll be back after talking to Harvey, so let’s talk about that secret route and the captain.”
“T, thank you, Duke!”
I raised my glasses with a happy smile.
It will take a lot to make an exception for the same crime, but the price was very satisfactory. It was worth reconsidering.
However, the sense of fullness that I had built up while talking with Count Linoa was cut off by a few words from his rascal son.
“Eri! Get me out of here right now!”
“I’m going to be your husband, but I can’t believe they put me here!”
Harvey stamped his feet with a huff.
“Just get me out of here, I’m going to catch the guys who put me in here and beat them up.”
Harvey shook his hand, as if he had noticed my strange expression only then.
“It’s not what you think, Eri. When a man runs a business, people naturally become jealous of his success. They set me up.”
“Hmm. So who is ‘they’ specifically?”
“That despicable man, Duke Baloa. Doesn’t his name sound like an old-fashioned man? I’m sure it’s something he did out of envy for my young and handsome self, who has a bright future.”
“………Harvey, what is my name?”
Harvey, who corrected his name briefly, crumpled his face as if he was agonizing over a complicated math problem.
He looked like he really didn’t know, and for a moment, I wondered if I had hidden the fact that I was the duke.
‘People usually call me Duke Baloa, but it’s refreshing to hear the Lord Linoa call me lady.’
But I made it clear. In addition, it was publicly known that Duke Baloa was a woman. If he doesn’t know that, that means he’s that stupid.
“Eri’s name……. Baloa, since you’re a lady. Eri Baloa.”
At the same time, Harvey’s eyes opened wide.
“No, was it your father who put me in here?!”
Harvey’s eyelids trembled as I looked at him, his head turning with whatever novel he was writing in his head.
“He must have made such an unreasonable move because he opposed us. This won’t do, Eri. We need to spread a rumor that you’re pregnant. Then your father will have no choice.”
“Why are you laughing like that? Are you admiring my genius solution?”
I couldn’t listen any more.
“Are you a single-celled animal?”
“The only cell left in you must be a fat cell.”
“I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
Harvey tried to grab my hand through the bars.
“I understand that you were shocked I was caught, but the more we endure this, the stronger our love will be.”
The slap I gave on Harvey’s hand did not relieve my anger, so I took the torch nearby.
Harby let go of her hand just before he was burned.
“If you try to hold my hand with that jokbal again, you will lose it.”
(t/n: jokbal is a korean dish, consisting of pig trotters)
“You have to say it right.”
“Come on, repeat after me.”
I put the torch close to the bars and smiled broadly.