Chapter 77 - Thinking About Her
“Miss Irene took her back without permission?”
“Yes. I tried to stop her, but Miss Irene was adamant…”
Kane appeared troubled by the imperial attendant’s reply. After the dragon situation was settled, the mysterious maid had been discovered by the other entrance in the audience room.
‘I was going to confirm something…’
He had been in a groggy state of mind at the time when somebody whispered in his ears, ‘Be still. I’ll come back after taking care of everything.’
The voice had been overflowing with anger. He could strongly feel the sincere determination to make the dragon pay for putting him into such bad shape. ‘Just who was it?’
Kane had not simply come by the position of knight commander. Few people could be said to stand above him in terms of martial prowess in the empire.
‘The one thing clear is that it was a woman.’
The first woman he thought of who was capable of besting him in a fight was Tania’s mother, Margrave Kaniche. She, however, was the kind of person who would give him a kick if he was found collapsed, then ask, ‘Is lying down how you got the title of knight commander?!’
‘Besides, she definitely sounded young.’
There was no doubt that the voice belonged to a woman around his age. But a woman around his age who—forget retreating in the face of a dragon—was strong enough to spare worry for him in that situation?
‘Girgantia said he didn’t know either.’
When that blasted baby dragon saw the maid for the first time, he said, ‘I think this is her?’ But when he took a second look, he changed his words. ‘Nope, she doesn’t have a bit of power in her. It’s not this one. I must’ve been mistaken since I can’t distinguish human faces.’ Because of that, Tania stepped on his tail again, telling the dragon not to be confusing.
‘I’ll have to look into it a little more.’
Something about her bothered him for some reason. Kane turned around and his feet carried him back to where he came from, every step as heavy as his heart. But as he walked along a corridor, he paused, thinking, ‘Should I just go to Miss Irene’s mansion and check?’
Kane soon shook his head. He had no time for that; there was a mountain of things regarding damages to the imperial palace that required attention as well. He could not neglect the matter of the dragon and look into something else simply because it concerned him.
‘But why does she keep hanging in my mind?’
Kane recalled the figure of the maid who had lost consciousness. She had black, sleek hair, and her bangs that reached near her brows had seemed rather cute to him. He felt it a pity that he could not see the color of her eyes as she had them closed.
‘Perhaps the shock to her mind was big.’ The image of her pale face continued to flicker before his eyes. I wonder if she’s feeling fine.
“…Huh?” Kane blinked repeatedly, startled out of his thoughts.
‘It feels like I’m remembering things a bit too clearly?’
He shook his head again, but he could not completely get rid of the blush on his cheeks. Something about that maid is strange after all. Why doesn’t she disappear from my thoughts? For a long while, Kane could not get the image of the unconscious maid out of his head.
* * *
A week had passed since the dragon appeared in the imperial palace. During that time, there was no one aside from the imperial attendants who saw Cecile. In fact, even the attendants had little chance to see her, the reason being that…
“Please let me go outside!”
Cecile turned teary at Estian’s firm reply, making Estian falter briefly, but then he shook his head. Seeing Estian so determined, Cecile swiftly wiped away her tears and turned her head to one side, muttering, “Tsk. And here I thought it would work this time.”
Her doleful face from a moment ago vanished in an instant, replaced by a look of utter vexation. Watching Cecile’s instantaneous switch of expression, Estian gave a chiding click of his tongue. “I can hear everything.”
“I’m letting you listen,” Cecile pouted as she kicked at the innocent post of her bed with her slippers.
More than a week had passed after the commotion caused by Girgantia had been settled, yet Cecile was not able to take a single step out of the empress’ palace since that day. No matter how she pleaded and got angry with the attendants, they would stop her saying, ‘It is His Majesty’s orders.’ If that were all, she might have endured somehow. She still had the heaps of books she got from Tania, after all, so she intended on having a fun time eating fruits and reading books, however…
‘Where’d all my books go?’
Cecile had approached her bookshelf in excitement, only to find it neatly emptied. The attendant who was standing behind the shocked Cecile forced herself to give an explanation. ‘Th-that is because His Majesty ordered for all the books to be put away…’
The reason, she was told, was that it was necessary to examine the books here since there might be something else wrong with them. That night, Cecile clung to Estian, crying when he returned to their bedroom, “Please return my books! I borrowed them from Tania!”
“Those books were all returned to Tania, so worry not. She’s reading and checking through them to see if there are any more abnormalities.”
It was no wonder the girl had stopped coming over, saying that she had a mission to see through. Cecile had nothing to say since the books had returned to their rightful owner.
‘And there are some other things that need to be looked into, so all your official duties are canceled until it’s clear that things are safe.’
All she could do then was nod at Estian’s resolute words, but her pseudo-imprisonment that she assumed to last several days had continued for over a week until the present. Cecile appealed to Estian to let her out, saying that she could not take the suffocation anymore, but he remained steadfast.
“I’m bored! I can’t read books, can’t talk with the attendants, and it’s not like I can meet other people either.” Cecil whined.
“But it’s only been a week?”
Cecile was rendered speechless by the look of incomprehension in Estian’s eyes. He truly looked like he wondered what was so hard about being confined for a week. “But I’m really bored.”
She had tried all kinds of things to appease her boredom, thanks to which she now knew there were 6,172 lilies drawn on one side of the palace walls, and that 815 crystals were hanging on the chandelier in the central hall. She had tried everything in looking for something to do aside from that, but she had reached her limit.
“Even you come back late in the night and go out early in the morning, Your Majesty,” she complained.
And the only highlight of the day was Estian coming back at nighttime, and even then their time together was not long.
“So you’re saying… you’re not bored when I’m here?”
Cecile nodded. Why ask the obvious?
On that day, Estian fell asleep with great joy. Of course, he did not just go to sleep, which was why Cecile had to experience an arduous all-nighter. Perhaps her grumbling had worked; the next night, Estian brought several books. As Cecile greeted him happily and tried to take the books from his hands, Estian held them high out of reach.
She gazed at him questioningly, to which he responded with a laugh. “Not yet. Their contents still haven’t been fully checked.”
“Then will you check them already, please!” Her teary entreaty brought a smile to Estian’s mouth.
“That’s what I intend on doing, but I think I’ll need a bit of your help.”
Cecile was seized by an ominous feeling.
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