Elliot locked himself in the palace and did not move. Even though the Emperor called several times a day, he rejected all calls.
There was only one thing he had to care about.
It was a trace of the spirit planted in front of the main gate of Duke Leon’s residence.
To remain inconspicuous, he carefully left only a faint trace of his presence while keeping a keen eye on the surroundings. It was then that he noticed something unusual when the hired carriages, which had a regular schedule, deviated from their usual pattern.
Although nothing overtly suspicious seemed apparent at first glance, Elliot, who had been discreetly observing the Duke’s residence for several days, recognized that the coachman driving the carriage was someone he had seen once before.
A shudder ran through his body as soon as he realized that it was the coachman of Rachel’s carriage.
However, since he was not certain, he had no choice but to take a risk.
With his spiritual essence subtly tracing the carriage, Elliot followed its swift journey towards the city. Upon reaching the bustling market area filled with various grocery stores, he felt discouraged, thinking that it might just be that one of the employees was simply running an errand.
When the carriage came to a stop, he attempted to retrieve the trace of his spiritual essence to its original position.
It was then that he overheard a familiar voice engaged in conversation.
“Master, we came to buy melon-flavored candy, right?”
His heart, which was sitting still, jumped at the insignificant voice of the shapeshifter before he closed his eyes and focused on the trace of the spirit. No one noticed the spirit moving like a black snake on the outside of the black carriage.
After the two shapeshifters got off, a little figure wearing a robe got off the carriage.
As she spoke to the coachman in a familiar manner, the coachman lowered his head and started the carriage. Even though her face was invisible, he could recognize it.
…Finally, the girl showed up.
As he suspected, it was clear that Lucian had hidden her somewhere in the mansion.
His laughter erupted uncontrollably. He had waited for this moment for so long, and now he had the perfect justification. Although he couldn’t fathom why the current Duke had sent only the girl out, one thing was clear.
If he lost her now, he would never have another chance.
While uncertain of the current Duke’s ability to deflect spirit’s power, Elliot had learned from a previous encounter that the Duke was not as vulnerable as he had initially assumed. Nevertheless, he couldn’t waste any time – this was his moment to act.
Trying not to draw attention to his strength within the palace, he made swift and determined movements. His sense of urgency was palpable.
As he went about his business, he caught sight of the Crown Prince, who had earlier visited his palace. Aware of the reason behind the commotion, he exchanged only a few words before abruptly vanishing. Then, in no time, he found himself in the city where the girl had been.
“Hmm, she’s gone…”
The trace of the spirit that had been attached to her had disappeared in the bitter wind because he had used his power for a moment. Surely one of the shapeshifters might have found it since they were more sensitive than humans.
It seemed like they still had a wild side to it.
Still, it was alright.
Since she got out of the duchy, she had given him a chance. Elliot curled his lips at the thought before he let go of the spirit of darkness. He wanted to put her in his arms as soon as possible.
“Girl, I’ve been waiting for a long time.”
Yes, it was no exaggeration to say that he became an imperial family member for her. Now, he could be rewarded for what he has endured.
Elliot’s purple eyes shone sinisterly.
* * *
I hurriedly got more things I need and went on.
“Ah! Master! My candy!”
“We’re going there now. You said the melon-flavored candy there didn’t suit your taste!”
“I want to eat the one you bought last time!”
Leaving Oscar behind, I rushed ahead.
I was certain that the place I had bought before was not some market like this but rather a cafe on the noble street, the same place I had gone with Lucian. At the same time, a thought crossed my mind. It was because I had purchased a substantial amount then, not just a small quantity…
“Oscar, aren’t you eating too much candy? I don’t think I bought less, have you already eaten all three bottles?”
As Oscar jumped up at my question, the hem of his robe fluttered every time he jumped.
“It’s because I gave one to Master’s cousin!”
I paused at his words.
Caring only for Lucian, it seemed that I had completely forgotten about Samuel. In the meanwhile, Damien hurriedly approached me as I touched my forehead in pity.
“Master, are you okay?”
“…Uh, yes, I’m okay.”
If they intended to arrest me as a traitor, it raised concerns about the safety of Samuel and the Countess, who were residing at the Duke’s residence during that time. Still, I couldn’t help but wonder why they chose to take action at the Duke’s residence. After all, it would have been better for them to remain where they were, wouldn’t it?
“…Oscar. Do you know where Samuel and the Countess are?”
“I heard they’re going to the Imperial Palace in the imperial carriage.”
They had already been captured by the Imperial Family. Well, the place where Lucian imprisoned me was inside the barrier. If it weren’t for that barrier, I might have been taken to the imperial palace along with the others since they searched so diligently for me.
My thoughts were entangled, but I continued on my way.
There was only one thing I had to think about right now.
I no longer wished for her to attain enlightenment. Her temperament was so vile. How could she ever achieve such a state? I had no intention of letting her get away with it. I would unquestionably bring Cassandra to ruin. If she dared to inflict such cruelty on those I cared about, she must face the consequences.
Just thinking about it brought up the horror and anger of that time. How surprised that innocent man was.
Looking back, I felt like I missed something. Lucian obviously asked me why I was so sleepy. My body must have been moved by Cassandra before that… and even attacked him. While receiving all the attacks, he acted as if I was awake in that body.
“…Did he know?”
Did he know my condition, or did he already know about the possessor?
There was no way I could go back and ask again just because I was curious. Even if he knew something, I have no intention of getting separated anymore.
“…I have no intention of getting separated, Luci.”
“Yes, what is it, Master?”
Oscar, who followed me brightly, asked though I only shook my head.
When we finally arrived at the cafe, there were quite a few people. In order not to be seen, I put on my robe and entered the store.
The waitress greeted me in a less friendly voice than when I came before. Since it was located on the nobly street, it seemed unavoidable to judge customers with clothes.
“I came because I wanted to buy melon-flavored candy.”
“…Let me guide you.”
The employee who guided us must have been working here for a long time. Even without considering my attire, there was no way for her to recognize my noble background.
As we followed the employee, she led us not to the table where Lucian and I sat the other day, but to a spot near a showcase. Oscar’s face lit up with joy as he rushed towards the candies displayed next to the showcase. He quickly grabbed the melon-flavored candy and exclaimed loudly in delight.
“Master, this. Buy me five of these, huh?”
With his words, I spoke to the employee.
“Five bottles of melon-flavored candies. Hurry and pack them.”
My heart was racing with anxiety.
After that, I shifted my gaze to Damien, who stood guard beside me.
“Damian, if you want something to eat, get it as well. We’re going to go right into the maze forest now.”
“Yes, I just need Master.”
The short time we were separated must have been frightening for Damien, seeing that he didn’t keep his usual distance from me. Instead of staying at a distance, he was now close enough that the slightest movement could make our shoulders touch.
Feeling sorry for him, I raised my hand and lightly tapped his shoulder.
At that moment, Oscar spoke loudly.
The other person looked surprised when Oscar suddenly pointed. It was a very slow reaction, but it was definitely so.
“What’s that? Is that lemon-flavored candy?”
“…This place has been around for a very long time… they make good candy.”
“Is the lemon good?”
“…The watermelon one tastes good, too.”
“Oh, right! There was a boy who asked me to deliver a letter to you.”
“…A boy? A letter?”
“Yes. But he said you live on the outskirts of the capital?”
“…Are you talking about Samuel?”
“Is his name Samuel? Master, what was your cousin’s name?”
I walked up to the excited Oscar and mercilessly smacked his head. It seemed like he had no idea why we were wearing robes. If he were going to stroll around so confidently, then we wouldn’t need to wear these robes at all, you rascal!
“Can you be quiet, you troublemaker.”
Oscar smiled in response to my question, seemingly realizing his mistake. The next moment, the man he was conversing with turned his attention towards me before widening his eyes. He had faded grassy hair and deep auburn eyes.
Did he happen to know me…?
I pondered for a moment, trying to recall if we had crossed paths at any past banquets. Though he didn’t seem like a high-ranking noble, considering his residence was on the outskirts of the Capital…
As I mulled over these thoughts, he called out to me slowly with a slight groan.