The window was half open, and a warm breeze of early spring wafted in.
The office smelled of old wood. My gaze was drawn to the tall and massive bookshelf that filled one side of the room. It was filled with intricate stacks of books and documents. Swords and leather straps. Sword sheaths decorated with steel and embellished with silver caught my eye.
My gaze rose to the central wall adorned with patterns.
In contrast to a typical study, the Commander-In-Chief’s office had three patterns hanging in succession. At the top was the royal pattern, and below it was the military pattern. Finally, the pattern of the Procyon family, which had produced the current Commander-in-Chief, occupied its place.
“Commander, I have brought Lady Vlandea Lefevre.”
The office was quite spacious, but there was no more time to explore. Schloitz’s gaze was directed towards me.
Schloitz’s gaze towards me was still as cold as I had seen it yesterday. I lowered my eyes slightly. He seemed to be engaged in a conversation with another officer who looked like a senior.
“We have everything ready for the purification process.” The officer who had been talking with Schloitz said.
As the officer spoke, I noticed a large table on one side of the study, covered with various Opats of different colors, arranged like jewels. I had seen enough of them in the mansion’s laboratory.
Schloitz got up from his seat and walked towards me. Unintentionally, I held my breath. Schloitz’s hand came into view through my lowered gaze. He was holding one of the Opats. It seemed like he had been examining it even before my arrival.
It was a moment before Schloitz reached me.
I was nervously holding my hands together, and my palms were sweaty from the tension.
His voice was so different from when I was a child. His voice resonated heavily in my ears.
“Which position is more comfortable for you?”
“For the purification demonstration”
For a moment… I almost misunderstood something. If I had a slightly more mischievous personality, I might have screamed just now. I sincerely thanked my mother.
‘Thank you for teaching me how to manage my expressions so well…’
“Just this position is fine, My Lord.”
It was similar to what I did in my debut. It was no different from offering the back of my hand to the shy young men who came to greet me.
‘It’s the same posture, but why do I feel like this…’
I looked insolent.
Maybe it was because of my mindset. Anyway, it didn’t seem right to just offer the back of my hand arrogantly, so I hesitated and opened my mouth.
No other words came out. I couldn’t think of anything else.
‘Would you like to kiss my hand on the back of my hand? Or should I lower the protection?’
No matter how I thought about it, it all seemed strange. Too many words came to mind and clashed and disappeared. Besides, he probably already knows how to receive the purification.
Schloitz took my hand.
As expected, he didn’t say anything special.
However, he was quite tall… so he had to lower his head a bit. That way, our eyes would meet.
His lips gently touched the back of my hand.
In general society, this was the time when a lady offered her hand for a gentleman’s lawful observation. Typically, ladies would use this time to closely examine their potential suitors.
The gentlemen of this society were well aware of these unspoken etiquettes.
I had learned them from a very young age.
So whenever I kissed the back of someone’s hand, I almost always had to lower my gaze.
It wasn’t a ballroom right now, but it didn’t seem like Schloitz was going to stare at me intently. So, I subtly moved, and my eyes that I tried to move quietly trembled slightly.
Blue eyes above long, thick eyelashes. His forehead was even, and the shaded facial features were exquisite. Schloitz, pressing his lips on the back of my hand, looked as elegant as described in the original work, making it difficult to look away.
I thought he was extremely handsome. Perhaps it was because of his exquisite appearance, but the sight of Schloitz kissing the back of my hand looked almost sacred, making it hard to avert my gaze.
‘He looks a bit tired.’
Didn’t he sleep well? Even that passing thought vanished for a moment. My heartbeat became increasingly irregular. Initially, I thought it was because Schloitz had come closer, but that wasn’t the case. It was strangely intense.
‘…Could it be because of the purification I am giving him?’
My heart raced to an abnormal degree. Of course, my heart always raced when I saw Schloitz, but this time it was different. The tension was rising. It felt like the energies within my body were colliding, and my skin tingled. There was a sharp discomfort around my chest.
‘If this happens every time I give a purification to activate the Opats, it might be tough.’
The last time I received a purification from Enricor was a week ago. Enricor was dedicated to his research to the point of exhaustion, so within a year, most of the high-ranking swordsmen in the military would receive opats.
To avoid exhaustion, I needed to plan the allocation of the purification process carefully.
When my heart was about to race uncontrollably and cold sweat started to form, Schloitz raised his head. I naturally withdrew my hand from his grip and gave him a polite smile.
Venus had instructed me to gradually become more timid, even avoiding eye contact from our second meeting onwards. From now on, I could probably avoid eye contact, acting cautiously and shyly.
Afterward, as I extended my hand to the officers and knights one by one, I felt something strange.
‘Isn’t this too easy?’
It felt completely different from when Schloitz kissed the back of my hand. I didn’t break into a cold sweat, and there was no discomfort around my chest.
‘Did I just get too nervous and imagine things?’
But it would be weird to ask him to do it again just to confirm.
Meanwhile, the officers and knights seemed to have coordinated their actions and removed their lips at about the same time. It didn’t seem like they were deliberately timing it, but after receiving the purification, they definitely seemed to be reacting to something.
Because they wrapped their fingers around my hand as if making a promise and looked at me with their rabbit-like eyes.
Someone might think I had punched them with my fist.
Why are they doing this?
‘I didn’t have time to ask at the mansion.’
Of course, it had to be kept a secret, as I had secretly left the mansion.
I stared at the two men who seemed puzzled while maintaining a stern expression and said, “I’m not sure if it’s mentioned in the letter, but as far as I know, the protection from Opats effectiveness lasts for a week.”
The officer quickly responded as if snapping out of his daze.
“Yes, understood. Lady Vlandea Lafevre, you don’t have a sub-officer yet, so I’ll arrange a schedule for you.”
I shifted my gaze. Unlike the two men who seemed unsure of what to do, I met eyes with Schloitz, who was looking at me with a cold, unique gaze. There was no warmth in his gaze, making it even colder than usual.
So, as described frequently in “The End of the Mad Beauty,” if Schloitz stared at you expressionlessly, even the protagonists had no choice but to avoid his gaze. I, of course, liked that aspect of him.
I was about to say that I should go now when I hesitated. What if Enricor had made a plan to take my place while I was here?
I wasn’t sure why I had to deal with Enricor, who wasn’t even the male lead of the story, but for now, I added a few words with a calm expression.
“See you in a week.”
Schloitz, who had been staring at me, nodded.
“It seems that Lady Vlandea Lefevre is quite afraid of the Commander-In-Chief.”
It was only after Lady Vlandea left the office that the officer finally spoke up.
“Her eyes were trembling. She seemed scared.”
“I’ve known a few nobles like that.”
In response to the somewhat perplexing answer, the officer wore a puzzled expression.
While many nobles froze and hesitated to approach due to the Commander’s reputation, this was the first time someone had rushed forward like Lady Vlandea and then suddenly shrunk back. Was the Commander truly that terrifying?
The officer felt somewhat concerned.
“What if she sees a monster and starts crying….. Commander-In-Chief? Are you feeling uncomfortable?”
Schloitz didn’t respond. He had just removed his gloves all of a sudden. Then he took the officer’s hand.
“Commander? Why are you doing this?”
The officer was momentarily taken aback.
He realized a beat too late that Schloitz’s hand felt like ice. It was as if his hand had been soaked in ice water for a long time, or as if he were holding a lifeless corpse without warmth.
“No, why is your body temperature suddenly like this?It seems to be fluctuating.”
“Are you unwell? Should I call for a doctor?”
Schloitz released the officer’s hand with a casual gesture and then looked down at his own hand.
“It seems there’s an issue with the research result on the artifact.”
Indeed, there was an issue with the research results.
I only found out the next day, thanks to Enricor, who had arrived like the wind.
“Why are you here?”
“Enric, this is a secret.”
I said with a serious expression.
“I’ve wanted a place in the military for a long time,” I added
“You don’t have any desire for honor!”
“I have plenty.”
“You’re being ridiculous. You think I don’t know that you just want to stand still like a tree and soak up the sun for the rest of your life? You live like you’ve died and come back to life, and if you had enough money, you’d go down to the manor and live as lazy as a dead person!”
‘How did he find out?’
Did he really understand me this well? I attempted to hide my embarrassment and coughed lightly. More than anything, even if Enricor was making a fuss, it was already too late.
“My rank has already been assigned. I’m the First Commander.”
“I was supposed to be the Seventh Commander because I’m a Lefevre, but due to my extraordinary ability to use the Holy Sword and the shield, I was promoted rapidly.”