I heard a heavy, metallic sound echo. I saw a chunk of scrap metal strapped to my tiny hand when I looked down. Naturally, my eyes turned toward Dr. Mars.
“Ah! I see you’re startled by what’s tied to your hand but don’t worry, it’s no big deal. When you utter a lie, these feathers attached to the front will flutter and tickle you, but it won’t harm your life.”
Haha! Dr. Mars chuckled with a friendly smile.
Tickle me? Slowly, I turned my face to look at Edmund beside me. Even his nonchalant posture against the wall was strangely perfect. The raging energy had subsided naturally.
‘Yeah, well, why would I die?’
With that thought, I relaxed my stiff body.
“Well then, shall we begin the examination?”
After Dr. Mars’ perfunctory question, a long examination continued for a while. It was accompanied by the occasional screams and breathless laughter from Chloen.
* * *
To describe my mood in the moment, I felt as if I were in the eye of a calm storm; it was so peaceful that it almost felt suspicious.
‘Yes, the night I died was strangely uneventful, too.’
I thought about it for a moment, and my brow furrowed. The reason was simple. It was the damned hunk of scrap metal that was tied to my hand just moments before.
It seemed that every time I told a lie, it would invariably tickle me. If this continued, it was only a matter of time before it became obvious that I was not the real Chloen.
“I need a different plan.”
“What kind of plan? Are you trying to deceive His Grace again and escape from the mansion, or something like that?”
Suddenly, Sasha appeared by my side, speaking in a low voice. My narrowed lavender irises turned to Sasha.
First of all, it was better to put this talkative maid in her place. Her light mouth could be quite useful if used properly.
“What have you been reporting to Edmund?”
“It seems you’ve been faithfully reporting my story to Edmund. Isn’t that right, Sasha?”
“Well, that’s… all for the sake of your peaceful married life…”
“That’s okay. Everyone tends to shrink in front of power.”
‘Well, I was like that, too, you know? Oh well.’
As Sasha began to make excuses, I clicked my tongue. Of course, I quietly swallowed the last part of my thoughts.
“Thank you for understanding, madam. But if there’s anything that bothers you, I think His Grace should be informed. After all, not telling him about it when you’ve lost your memory is really unreasonable, don’t you think? That’s also the reason His Grace appointed me as your maid at such a young age.”
‘Hmm… You’ve been quite good at snitching and reporting from a young age. That’s a wise move for a power worker.’
I nodded at Sasha as she spoke proudly. Perhaps embarrassed by my docile reaction, Sasha looked at me with big eyes.
“I thought you would be angry with me, Madam.”
“Well, we all have to make a living, don’t we?”
I scratched my still-sensitized right arm and replied grimly.
‘If I told her I possessed this body, I’d be hunted down as a witch.’
Now that I was in my first crisis, I had to think of a good way to save my life if Edmund ever found out about this nonsense.
“Oh, right! I brought some tea that’s good for memory recovery. You should try to recover those forgotten memories quickly… No, it’s better if you just forget them. After all, you’ll try to leave the mansion again.”
“Unfortunately, I have no intention of leaving, Sasha.”
“Is that really true? You really won’t leave? You won’t break the mansion’s door and steal a carriage again? My goodness, can I finally live in peace? I knew you’d come to your senses one day.”
Sasha smiled broadly and held my hands.
“Of course. This is my home, and my husband is here. Why would I leave?”
I nailed it in. This was also said with the calculation that it would be relayed to Edmund.
“Phew, I’m really relieved. Oh! Please have what I brought for you before it gets cold. I’ll go prepare lunch now.”
Cheers of joy continued for a while. Just as Sasha was about to leave the room, something flashed through my mind.
“Wait! I have amnesia right now, right?! I have absolutely no memory, don’t I?”
“Yes? Yes… that’s right.”
“Doesn’t that mean it’s okay for me to do anything?”
“Madam, what’s wrong with you all of a sudden? You’re scaring me.”
While Sasha stammered, my face glowed.
“To make a sound, you need to slap your palms together. And you need to see each other’s faces often to develop an attachment. Why didn’t I think of this?”
“What are you doing? Why aren’t you guiding me?”
“What on earth are you talking about, madam?”
“Well, my husband. Let’s go to Edmund!”
“What?! Ha, but! Madam! Madam!!”
* * *
“I’ll ask you again. What do you think, Dr. Mars?”
Mars’ hunched shoulders involuntarily shuddered. Duke Randolph was known for his cruelty and ruthlessness. It would be impossible to leave this place alive if he were provoked with unnecessary words.
‘I wouldn’t have come even if they offered me five times my hourly wage…’
Mars held his trembling hands together and forced an awkward smile.
“W-well, luckily, it seems there’s nothing wrong with her body.”
“So in the quack’s eyes, that looks like someone who’s alright.”
Edmund’s red pupils flickered toward the middle-aged man. Ehem. Mars cleared his dry throat and briefly recalled the incident a moment ago.
The Duchess’ examination had indeed been a shocking turn of events that defied expectations. Things didn’t go smoothly from the very first question.
“Are you Chloen Randolph?”
It was one of the most basic questions. However, the Duchess answered with a screaming laugh, and similar results followed with subsequent questions.
After hesitating for a long time about how to explain this situation, he spoke courageously.
“It seems that the Duchess has lost her memory.”
“Those are interesting words. Are you saying that despite being healthy, her memories just disappeared?”
Edmund wiped the teacup in front of him with his fingertips and spoke.
“That’s because… When I asked the Duchess if she remembered the day she boarded the carriage, the magical device reacted as soon as she answered yes. The fact that the device reacted means she’s lying…”
Dr. Mars glanced at Edmund, then continued with his next point.
“When in fact, she tried to run away… If this isn’t due to memory loss, then it can’t be explained.”
“That damn piece of scrap metal might be broken.”
“It’s one of the items highly regarded in the Astan Empire for catching criminals. Its performance is beyond doubt.”
Mars stifled a dry chuckle under the Duke’s cold gaze. Edmund stood up and began to fiddle with the hilt of his sword.
“Or maybe that woman teamed up with the old doctor.”
“Oh, dear! Why would I dare do such a dreadful thing… hahaha…”
Mars waved his hands and protested.
“This is the same woman who went to such lengths to get away from me. Manipulating her memories is probably nothing to her.”
Edmund’s pupils flickered briefly. The corners of his mouth turned down in silent mockery.
In those three long years, she had never stood by him. She hadn’t even given him the smallest smile, like a withered flower.
On their wedding anniversary, she threw divorce papers at him and left. Was there any reason to trust her?
She must have something up her sleeve. She’d catch him off guard, and then she’ll disappear again.
Suddenly, the hilt of his sword trembled.
A tiny tear droplet formed in the corner of Mars’ eyes as he observed that slight action.
“Hahaha! W-well, it’s not entirely impossible, Duke Randolph. Even in Persia, where the war ended not long ago, there are sometimes people who claim to have lost their memories. It mostly happens after significant shocks or accidents. And… well, the Duchess experienced a major accident when her carriage overturned, so it’s not entirely impossible!”
“Post-traumatic… stress. Is that what you mean?”
“Yes, exactly! As expected, Your Grace knows a lot. They call it that way in the distant continent, too.”
“If you take good care of her and help her regain her strength… the Duchess will probably recover her memory soon. Mostly, it’s a mental issue…”
Mars murmured, glancing at Edmund’s back.
Please let me get out of here alive as soon as possible.
Contrary to his wishes, a heavy silence hung in the air for a while.
Time passed, and before he knew it, it was approaching noon. It was while he struggled to hold onto his scattered mental strength.
A cheerful knock came from beyond the closed door.