“Your Grace. Are you listening to me?”
It wasn’t until Vero talked in a loud voice that Kael’s gaze turned to Zion.
“Ah. What were you saying?”
“I was saying that Count Felix is still sticking to his home.”
“Aah. I see.”
Kael nodded in understanding and sat down, straightening his posture.
However, the words Adeline had told him yesterday still floated in his head.
[That doesn’t mean I’m going to break our contract. I won’t let what you’re worried about happen. So just… Let’s not shake up this marriage until then.]
The words about not letting what he was worried about happen didn’t leave his mind at all.
‘That’s what we should do. Both me, and Adeline. But why…’
They had to move away from each other. To protect Adeline from Kael’s curse, he had to do so.
So, from Kael’s point of view, the fact that Adeline decided not to come any closer and keep her distance was clearly a good opportunity.
But the more he chewed on her words, the more his heart ached.
Kael knew better than anyone else that it was a ridiculous situation. He had hurt her several times to push her away somehow, but he was upset about her actually staying away from him.
“Your Grace. Are you alright?”
Vero looked at Kael with a worried expression as he could hardly concentrate.
“Ah. I’m fine. Go on.”
“I investigated Lady Felix as you ordered, but nothing in particular stood out to me.”
After hearing about Vanessa, Kael emptied his mind a little and focused on Vero. He remembered the contents of the brainwashing that Adeline had told him yesterday.
“Nothing at all?”
“Yes. She was just an ordinary young lady. Ah, I guess I can’t say she was ordinary. Except for lately, she was very popular in social circles.”
Even Kael, who never participated in social events, often heard of Vanessa.
“Come to think of it, she was late in getting married, compared to her reputation. A lady of that magnitude would have had a lot of marriage proposals.”
“It seemed that Count Felix looked into his sister’s marriage candidates quite carefully. It is said that he refused all marriages, perhaps because he had high standards.”
“Is that so?”
“Yes. This is my personal prediction, but perhaps…”
“I wonder if she was trying to marry Your Grace. Considering the confession she made to you in the Imperial Palace.”
At Vero’s words, he recalled what had happened in the imperial palace.
Vanessa confessed her feelings for Kael quite desperately. It didn’t touch Kael’s heart in the slightest, and he didn’t even hear what she was saying because he was worried about Adeline getting hurt, but he remembered her eager eyes.
‘I should have stopped her right then.’
Fortunately, Kael stopped her, but it was still dizzying to think that Adeline almost got stabbed by a dagger imbued with black magic.
Kael swallowed a sigh, blaming himself for letting his guard down for a moment.
“However, since there are no details about the dagger imbued with magic and the deadly poison that can kill someone as soon as they take it, we are focusing on this part.”
“Don’t miss a thing. Take a deep look. Even the smallest of clues is fine.”
“Yes, Your Grace.”
“Ah, Vero. One more thing.”
There was one more important task for Vero.
“Search everything about the deaths of Marquis and Marchioness Tien.”
“Yes, Your Grace. It happened a long time ago, so gathering information will take longer than usual.”
“Two months. Is it possible?”
“Yes, Your Grace. That should be enough.”
“The same goes here. Gather even the seemingly insignificant information. I’ll look at it and make a judgement.”
“Yes, Your Grace.”
No matter how many times he thought about it, ‘that day’ was at the beginning of all this. It was clear that the culprit who had killed Marquis Tien had also brainwashed Adeline and erased her time.
‘That person seems to be constantly targeting Adeline.’
The woman, who was already the esteemed daughter of the marquisate, had even acquired the title of grand duchess. Ordinary people wouldn’t even dare to imagine harming her. And even if they did, they would give up because of the power of her position.
‘It’s not many people. Only one person is targeting her. Someone who has a grudge against Adeline, or someone who must harass her.’
It was one person. He couldn’t tell Vero because he shouldn’t be prejudiced in the process of gathering information, but Kael was strongly convinced.
“But Your Grace.”
“Are you feeling well?”
Vero cautiously asked.
“The curse, Your Grace.”
Kael, who asked again because he didn’t understand, was greatly surprised when he realized what he meant.
It was a period of time when the curse of darkness would strike. He would slowly feel the pain in the shoulder the curse was engraved on, and a threatening mood would emanate from him more easily than usual.
He had completely forgotten about it because he was distracted with Adeline, but if he felt pain, he would have quickly thought about it and made preparations. But there was no sign.
“Didn’t you feel any energy?”
There was no answer, but Kael’s shaking eyes were enough.
“Maybe the dagger that stabbed Your Grace at that time changed the cycle. It wasn’t the usual period of time, but the curse certainly manifested then. And maybe…”
Vero blurred his words as he looked at Kael. The same person popped into their heads.
“It seems that Her Grace had an impact on your recovery. That was the first time the pain had subsided, Your Grace.”
Vero’s face revealed an unmistakable expectation. It was already amazing that a woman who could relieve the curse that was bothering Kael so much had appeared, and since it was none other than Adeline, it was like a miracle.
He seemed glad that Kael was finally trying to be a little happier.
But unlike Vero, Kael’s face turned darker.
“It wasn’t the Grand Duchess, it was the influence of the dagger. The black magic that was imbued in the dagger must have changed my cycle. And I probably don’t feel any energy yet because the cycle has changed.”
“This is more certain. You know it as well as I do, Vero. No one can relieve this curse.”
“But maybe it was just that we couldn’t find a way? If there is a salvation that even the curse holder doesn’t know, and if it’s Her Grace…”
“There is no such thing. Useless expectations are poison, so stop it.”
In fact, Vero had a point. It wasn’t nonsense.
But at least for Kael, his words had to be that absurd. He had to believe they were.
He could now see a way to release Adeline from his curse, so things would get complicated once he acknowledged that she was his only salvation.
He had to let her go. He couldn’t cling to such a woman. Kael didn’t want to increase his reasons for being greedy for Adeline even more.
“Why are you so negative? Is there some other reason I don’t know? Whether it’s about the curse or Her Grace.”
Vero was so smart and quick-witted that he often caught Kael off guard. It was the same now. He quickly realized that his master’s reaction was somewhat strange.
“No. There’s nothing.”
“Then why do you want to deny salvation?”
“Because it won’t be salvation.”
Kael answered firmly. His eyes were icy cold as well.
“I don’t want you to talk about this anymore.”
“… Yes, Your Grace. I understand.”
Vero sighed and bowed, saying that he would follow his orders. If Kael acted so decisively, there was nothing Vero could do.
Vero, who bowed politely, left the study, and Kael, who was left alone, burrowed his body deep into the chair and closed his eyes.
His head was too complicated.
While he was struggling to clear his mind somehow, Vero, who had just left, returned to the study, calling out to Kael in an urgent voice.
“It is said that His Majesty has declared he won’t hold Count Felix’s family and Lady Vanessa Felix responsible for anything.”
Kael, who had softened a bit, summoned another fierce blizzard in an instant.
“I just heard the news. He said that the Lady’s death will be the settlement.”
A fake smile formed on his cold face. It was definitely a smile, but it didn’t look like a smile at all.
It was an assassination attempt against none other but the Grand Duchess of the North. If he thought about his relationship with Kael and the mistakes the emperor had already made, he had to punish her more severely to pay the price.
However, he did not punish Vanessa, and the investigation was closed because of her suicide.
It was an act with a clear political purpose. It was like the emperor had publicly told Kael that he had no intention of repairing their relationship.
“It’s fascinating. This is how you learn.”
His lower-than-normal voice was a mixture of anger and ridicule. After smirking once more, Kael slowly got up from his seat.
“Yes, Your Grace.”
“I think it’s time to visit the East.”
If the emperor didn’t know his place and wanted to be trampled on so much, Kael was going to trample on him.
The moment to show mercy had long since passed.