“There was no need to burn down the inn to catch the assassins.”
I grumbled all the way to the village stop.
“There won’t be a carriage until dawn. It looks like I’ll be shivering from the cold in the town square.…. The inn was burnt down.”
I thought it was a rare opportunity to grumble in front of Cardan, so I tried harder.
Will he punish someone who barely escaped from death?
“Even tying the assassins to a bed would’ve done the trick……!”
“Oh, I’m glad you accepted the deal. What would I have done if you didn’t accept it?”
“Why? Are you afraid I’ll hang you upside down on the wall of the palace and grill you on low heat, head first?”
Cardan finally asked back bluntly.
I muttered, quickly hiding behind Knoxus.
“How do you come up with such a cruel execution method?”
“It’s the execution method you came up with.”
Cardan crumpled his eyebrows and grabbed my arm.
“If you don’t want to be hit by an arrow again, stay in the middle, right?”
Such a hard-nosed Cardan wouldn’t let go of my arm.
As if being dragged away by the big men on both sides, I opened my mouth again after taking only a few steps.
“Why didn’t you bring a carriage?”
In the end, I shrank slightly when Cardan sighed as if his patience had run out.
“It was faster to come by horse.”
“Then we can ride back.”
I didn’t understand why he chose to leave such a good horse in the village’s stable and ride a carriage with us.
Despite the sarcasm, Cardan only smiled lightly.
“I feel comfortable going back with you.”
I avoided his gaze awkwardly because his smile got stuck on my mind.
Erina has been talking nonsense for a while, but she couldn’t really make eye contact with him.
Cardan had no choice but to grab her hand, feeling the urge to force her to make eye contact.
The feeling of Erina’s little finger intertwined with his was still clear.
She couldn’t even cover the bottom of his thick finger yet she smiled now, as if it wasn’t the case anymore.
Like she’s afraid of something.
“I think I can be sure now of something that Duke Baloa didn’t believe in. Your Majesty is not a man to break a promise.”
Just as Erina was convinced, Cardan was now convinced.
Duke Baloa changed.
Definitely, completely, cleanly.
The original Duke of Baloa would’ve never given up on Eleanor.
She would’ve never come up with the thought of returning Eleanor to him and believe he would not kill her.
He cannot determine whether her change was due to the aftermath of her losing her memory or whether she is back to her old self, but either way, it was certain that the Duke of Baloa had changed.
And he couldn’t take his eyes off this changed woman.
She’s a quick witted person, so she must have sensed it.
It was so unfortunate that she was trying to pretend otherwise by awkwardly making silly jokes.
Even now, her arm held in his hand was very stiff.
Cardan let go of her without regret as he saw her being self-conscious.
There was no need to be impatient with unnecessary anguish.
He has plenty of time to change their relationship.
(t/n: CARDAN IS ON THE MOVE, THIS IS NOT A DRILL!!!!)
At the same time, the crow, who returned to the palace, opened the window of Duke Baloa’s office with a whimper.
As soon as he jumped through the open window, the pigeons inside welcomed him loudly.
“Gu! Gu!” (Intruder! Intruder)
One pigeon circled its cage and screamed, while the other threatened by spreading their wings menacingly.
“Gugugugu! (Thief, go away!)”
“Gu! Gu! Gu! Gugugu!” (My master swore to pull out all your feathers on the day we catch you, then coat you with white chalk powder, and fry you!)
The last pigeon clearly explained why he had to leave immediately.
He couldn’t shake the feeling that the pigeon’s tone was somehow like the duke’s.
The crow trembled once at the fierce warning.
But he can’t back down here.
The crow hopped one step closer to the cage.
“Kaaa!” (I’m not here to steal your food!)
He couldn’t even watch Cardan at the village inn until the end, and he was on his way back to the palace in a hurry to inform the pigeons regarding their owner.
He couldn’t bear to look away because there was no one else to tell the pigeons what had become of their master.
The pigeons turned silent as if they sensed something was wrong with the crow’s cry, as they calmed down a little.
“Kaa!” (I’m here to deliver a news.)
“Kaa!” (The Duke of Baloa……. is dead.)
The next day, as the Duke Baloa returned to the Imperial Palace in a carriage and arrived at her office, the pigeons made a fuss.
“Gu! Gu! Gu!”
It may be because their food didn’t come out on time, but it didn’t feel too bad to feel like someone welcomed me back.
“Guys… Do you know that I almost died yesterday?”
I opened the cage’s door and tucked my hand in.
Pigeons swarmed around my hand.
I thought they would peck me for food, but the pigeons rubbed their beaks into my hands.
A laugh broke out of my lips automatically.
“What? Are you comforting me?”
The pigeons cried low as if in agreement.
“Don’t worry, it’ll all be over soon.”
I agonized over and over in the carriage the whole way.
Should I take this opportunity to completely defeat the Empress?
Cardan killed most of the assassins, but not all of them were dead, and it would be easy to interrogate and trace the source of their money to the Empress and threaten her.
But I shook my head immediately.
“Let’s not scratch it and make it boil.”*
(t/n: she meant she should not touch the situation unnecessarily and make it worse, or let sleeping dogs lie)
In a few weeks, she wouldn’t even be in the Empire anymore, so she didn’t have to jump at the Empress Dowager for nothing and provoke her anger.
Then, I will be able to cross the Jordan River* without stepping on the boat.
(t/n: symbolizes freedom)
I looked out the window.
The end of winter is visible through the gap.
The branches of the trees were still thin, but the piles of snow were almost gone.
If this is the beginning of spring, then it’s all over.
In the early spring, I can get away from everything. From the Empress, who always aims for my neck, and from Cardan, who did not take his eyes off me throughout the road in the carriage.
“I should send a letter to the maid to ask her to prepare Eleanor’s return to the palace.”
I was lost in thought, scratching the pigeons’ heads.
“I think Cardan was very shocked because he almost lost Eleanor…….”
The Empress stared at the luxurious carriage entering the palace through the window with cold eyes.
The whole palace was in an uproar at the news of the emperor’s birth mother’s return.
On the other hand, the Empress Dowager’s Palace was on thin ice every day.
The Empress Dowager clutched tightly at the window frame.
She hasn’t been able to keep her eyes closed for the past few days when she heard that Duke Baloa returned safely.
As she was worried, she’s glad the Duke of Baloa didn’t come after her right away to grab her neck and stayed calm.
If the Duke of Baloa had chased after her, she might have burned the Imperial Palace to death altogether.
Eleanor’s carriage passed just under the window.
“That abominable girl. She insults me to the end.”
The Empress Dowager’s fingernails were lodged in the wooden window frame.
It was clear that Cardan had arranged it in a way so that the carriage could pass in front of the Queen’s Palace.
“I can’t kill you.”
No one in the palace is unaware of her bad relationship with Eleanor.
If Eleanor dies, the first person to be suspected was her.
If the attention is focused on the wrong reason, it may lead to a mistake.
“You are in a coma, and your life is tough.”
When the Empress Dowager nodded her head to the maid next to her, she politely handed over the crossbow.
“Don’t you think it’s funny?”
The experienced maid only bowed her head and said nothing.
“My husband is taken away by a maid I was in charge of, my throne is taken away, and my son is also taken away.”
The Empress aimed somewhere without hesitation.
“Furthermore, the crow cub that I raised and trained is taken away.”
When she pulled the trigger, a crow sitting on a tree fell with a fierce dull sound.
The maid swallowed her saliva and gestured to the other maids to recover the body quickly.
With a pretty smile, the Empress Dowager reached out as if touching the fast-disappearing carriage from a distance.
“You stepped all over me.”
Cardan was also playing the role of a tyrant today, putting it to shame that he isn’t able to show the proper image of a monarch in front of his servant who barely escaped her death.
Is he trying to kill me with overwork?
As expected, is he a person who lightly ignores their promise?
I’m a fool who believed in their pinky promise for no reason.
Thinking like that, I bent down and recited my treacherous remarks like a manual.
I think I said all sorts of nonsense.
I said that if Your Majesty is bored, that heaven and earth should be opened.
I recommended some dancers. I also recommended a couple of concubines.
But today, Cardan was acting very rigidly.
From the daughter of Marquis Dino, who is so cute, to the princess of a foreign country, whom he refused at once, I wonder what else could he not be satisfied with.
“There’s no more suitable woman from the nobility?”
When I bent down again, my forehead almost touched my knee.
“I am ashamed to face Your Majesty.”
I heard Cardan tapping on the throne with his finger.
“Isn’t there one left?”
The Emperor’s voice rang low over my head as I thought of a woman I might have missed while I was working hard.