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Chapter: 61


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Chapter 61

"Someone who wants me dead?"

"Have you ever thought of it before?"

"It’s not as if it never crossed my mind."

He sighed softly.

"…There’s a lot of them."

"Ah."

I understood at once what he was saying.

The earlier generation had five brothers, one of them Amoide’s father, who was the previous Duke.

And if we were to combine the number of children and grandchildren those other brothers had…

"If I die without an heir, all of the Duchy’s property will automatically be handed over to my uncles or to their children."

He explained further with an indifferent expression.

"Unlike my family, my uncles’ had sired many children. The roots of the household lie with my nuclear family, but its branches had stretched out and reproduced more abundantly."

Count Cainth, Marquis Orlov, Count Vanther…

Apart from the more prominent families, there were a number of other families who had ties with the Efret Duchy.

"But the roots are so poor that they’re about to get pulled out. I understand why Mother has gotten so frantic about it."

"……"

"Successor this, successor that. That’s all I hear from her."

He sighed as he swept his hair up.

Well, I’ve been hearing the same thing since I entered this mansion two years ago.

But he must have lived while hearing the same things from his mother throughout all his life.

After falling ill like this while having all those other circumstances, it’s no wonder why his personality had gotten so crooked.

"Then that’s worse. Haven’t you thought of the possibility that someone had caused your illness?"

"…That’s why all the medicine I drink and the food I eat are being reported to you."

"Yes."

"I’m aware of the possibility as well. Before I eat anything…"

"The poison detection test, right?"

I answered quickly.

The poison detection test.

This wasn’t conducted only in the Efret household, but also in other aristocratic families, especially those with the right to succeed the throne.

So it wasn’t a special case just for Amoide.

Every time this was done, the servant in charge of the poison detection would prod the food with a long, thin silver rod. Only after determining that it’s clean would Amoide start eating. This was done with Camilla’s food as well.

Even though this was a Ducal residence and not the Imperial Palace, the inspection was always thorough.

Since the Duchy of Efret was close to the Imperial Family, and its descendants had a right to the throne, this procedure was of course carried out.

However, this detection test was limited.

If you could detect all kinds of poison with silver, then it shouldn’t have been possible to kill all those Imperial Family members who were assassinated through poisoning.

"But you know it’s not a foolproof method. There are poisons that don’t respond to silver."

"That’s why servants are there for taste testing as well. You’ve been doing it, too."

In fact, during every meal he ate, I would take a little in advance to try it first. Of course, there haven’t been any problems so far.

"But you were fine and I collapsed."

"…That’s right."

Something’s not adding up. Did I miss anything?

His sleep, his medicine, everything else was the usual.

And another factor.

"Do you think it’s a coincidence that as soon as I take my hands off the management of your health, something like this happens?"

"What do you mean?"

"I mean that it’s strange. Why does it keep happening."

Shhhk.

I was so lost in thought that I didn’t even realize that he had gone closer to me.

My entire body was covered by a dark shadow that hid me from the sunlight. Amoide looked down at me from above.

"W-What is it?"

I hesitated as I looked up. Then, he leaned down completely.

His face was right in front of mine.

We were so close together that I could even hear his breaths. Unconsciously, I stood frozen in place.

"If that’s what you’re saying."

A dry voice resonated in my ears.

"Then don’t do useless things. Stop poking your nose everywhere while coming up with careless conspiracy theories. Understand?"

His sharp tone bit at me right then.

"I have no idea why you want to extend my life, but no matter what you do…"

Haa. A hot breath touched my ear, and I trembled.

"I’m going to die anyway."

"……"

Die.

He’s going to die anyway, he says.

He talked as though he knew the future, as if he had already died once.

"How can you be so sure of that?"

I didn’t know why he was so sure about his own death.

I already knew that he had no desire to struggle for his life, but I didn’t know that his resignation to this fate was so severe.

"Amoide, don’t you want to live?"

Even if I was struggling like this for him.

To change the expected future, I was trying so hard just so that the future where he would die unfairly would be changed.

But why was he being like this.

"……"

At my question, there was a faint smile on his lips.

It was a smile that expressed how he seemed to have let go of everything already.

"Sure, but… look at you now, you’re fine. How could you say you’re about to die? You’re still young, you have dreams and—"

"What dreams?"

He asked in a dry voice.

"To return to being the Commander of the Order of the Sun."

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"……"

He couldn’t say anything in return for a moment, speechless.

"You want to return. You were the happiest when you had a sword in hand, but now you’re like an eagle trapped in a cage…"

Tak.

He slammed one hand at the wall next to me.

"You…"

He leaned down towards me, and I could only cower down like a turtle because our faces were almost touching.

"What do you know?"

As though a hushed sigh, he said the words silently. Then, he left.

When I looked up, all I could see was his back as he walked further and further away.

"It didn’t go well?"

Rona looked at me and disappointedly muttered.

"At times like these, it’s really better if you drink…"

"Drink what?"

At that moment, I wondered if I heard her wrong, so I asked Rona again.

"Mm-hmm. Yep. There’s that."

Whether she heard me or not, Rona took ‘that’ out from the glass cupboard.

"When in doubt, there’s nothing better than this."

I looked at Rona with doubt swimming in my gaze.

"Shall we have a taste, Milady?"

As Rona pulled out the cork from the glass bottle, then squealed jubilantly.

"Kyaahh."

Then she let out a refreshed breath after she took a sip.

"How blissful!"

"It’s fermented well."

I poured some into a glass and took a sip myself. As the fragrance entered my senses when I sipped, it spread pleasantly inside my mouth. Ahh, I felt better right then.

"Wow, I’ve never had this kind of liquor before."

Rona couldn’t hide her excitement as she looked at the bottle. Then, she spoke slowly.

"Milady. How ‘bout you have a drink with His Grace?"

Rona made a gesture with her wrist bent, as though taking a shot of alcohol.

"…That’s not gonna happen."

"What do you mean?"

Rona continued speaking with a devious smile.

"He didn’t accept your apology because you didn’t bring a gift, Milady. Even if it’s the same thing, I think he’ll be more upset this time because there’s a rumor like that."

"That…"

I tried to say that the rumor wasn’t the only reason, but I just relented.

"Well… This idea doesn’t sound too bad."

Gifts are important when trying to make up with another person. Raymond also said that there won’t be any problem with moderate drinking.

"We could make up this time, maybe."

After taking the liquor in my hands, I stood up.

"If he can’t be appeased after drinking this…!"

How stingy, how stingy the world would be to me.

Rona glowed as she looked at me.

"Cheer—up, you can do it!"

"Right!"

Maybe I’m already a little drunk? An unwarranted confidence suddenly entered my veins.

"I’ll—go now."

I had one bottle firmly embraced with one arm and left through the door.

"Ah."

I came back and picked up another bottle, a grin on my face.

"Wait, two bottles won’t do."

I tucked the second bottle with the other on the same arm, then held the third in my other hand.

Then, I sauntered out the door once more like I was a knight going to war.

"Amoide."

Ka-chak.

After I entered his room and closed the door behind me, I could already feel the indistinguishable gaze trained on me.

"What?"

An immensely tired, annoyed voice greeted me.

As if that wasn’t enough, I could also feel his exhaustion in his gaze.

"First of all…"

"……"

"I’m sorry."

"About what?"

Crossing his legs and leaning back against his seat, he placed a hand on the table in front of him.

"What did you do wrong?"

He knew the reason, but he’s asking me like this because this meant that I had to recite my sins clearly with my own lips.

…Stingy.

It was so embarrassing though, but it couldn’t be helped because I had to appease this unbelievably stingy man.

"My hand… got better, but I kept pretending that it was still injured."

I admitted this honestly.

"And…"

"And?"

"I lied about you not having enough strength at night."

"……"

I saw his face distort right then, but I continued to speak.

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"Also… I lied about my confession."

This time—all his emotions disappeared from his features.

Instead, a cold expression replaced everything, making me wonder if he was made from ice. At that, the words that spilled out of his lips were to be expected.

"Get lost."

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