As it turned out, Diello had only taken a few bites of cookie since tea time began. Even when Redias gave him a strange look after eating his third cookie, I quietly distanced myself from Diello.
That was when Diello turned to look at me.
Eventually, I reached out my hand to him, trying to approach him.
“Redias knows about us, right?”
So, we didn’t need to act, right? Diello naturally nodded in response.
“Yes, he knows.”
“But do we have to act?”
He remained silent for a moment upon hearing my question. Then, he smiled beautifully, his eyes shimmering with a blue light.
“The more natural, the better, right?”
Well, that was true, but… strangely, I felt a peculiar excitement. I pretended to drink tea, lowering my head.
Despite the fact that I definitely lowered my head, his intense gaze seemed to linger above my head, unwilling to leave.
* * *
“The more natural, the better, right?”
Diello Argenta, with a faint smile, seemed like a different person. That smile was different from when he was acting as the ‘gentle Diello Argenta’ and the ‘real Diello Argenta.’
Redius Argenta felt like he was dreaming.
Was this the person he knew? Was he like this when he was younger?
He briefly recalled Diello’s childhood. However, from then until now, Diello Argenta had never shown such intense interest in anyone before… No, it was more like he was seeking attention rather than giving it. Above all, those blue eyes.
Redias Argenta was already aware that his lord’s emotional outbursts had long been resolved.
Their eyes met, and the piercing blue gaze sent a chill down his spine. It was a different, cold gaze compared to when he looked at Krua.
That was the gaze of the ‘real Diello Argenta’ that Redias knew.
‘Don’t say a word.’
That was how his gaze seemed to command Redias.
Unable to tell the truth, Redias turned his gaze back to Diello, who smiled at Krua. It was clear that he was intentionally pretending to be on an outburst.
Redius Argenta swallowed his admiration. Truly, his lord has fallen deeply in love.
The problem was Krua Argenta, who was receiving Diello’s attention while pretending to be a sweet newlyweds. She accepted his courtship, believing it was just ‘sweet newlywed acting.’
Would it really be okay for his lord to give his heart so easily?
That was when it happened.
“My lord, I have an urgent report.”
As a hurried voice was heard from outside the door, Diello narrowed his eyes.
They knew it was tea time, so it seemed to be something urgent. Krua glanced at the door and then at Diello.
“Excuse me for a moment.”
In the end, Diello left with an apologetic expression, leaving his seat along with a gentle smile directed only at Krua.
The door closed, and Redias brightened. It was a good opportunity.
It was a daring act, but it was something he must do.
…Testing the Madam.
He stared at Krua.
* * *
While Diello was away, Redias unexpectedly brought up the issue of the knights. Fortunately, they were not issues on which I couldn’t provide input.
I wondered why he brought this up to me in particular.
“Argenta’s knights are individually talented, but I heard they struggle when it comes to command.”
More precisely, there was a large variation in leadership skills among the commanders.
I listened to his concerns.
“Yes. That’s why on the field…”
As I watched Redias listing out the problems, I quickly caught on. This person was testing me… testing whether I understood the characteristics of Argenta’s forces and whether I was capable of being entrusted with Argenta people’s lives as the Madam.
Though Redias appeared nonchalant on the surface, he was also Argenta.
The way he treated Argenta and those who were not Argenta was distinctly different. If I could prove to this person that I was not Argenta’s enemy and that I could be a helpful person, it would be beneficial even after leaving Argenta.
“Well, about this issue—”
I was about to answer when an urgent voice interrupted.
“My lord, Madam!”
“What’s the matter?”
Did no one know that Diello had left? Was there a misunderstanding? However, the next words from the knight made all my doubts vanish.
“The Shadow supply ship has been attacked.”
I widened my eyes.
The knight bowed his head and quickly reported.
“According to the survivors who barely escaped the attack, the assailants appeared to be bandits. However…”
“Ordinary bandits wouldn’t dare to target Argenta.”
I furrowed my eyebrows.
The Shadow supply ship was a crucial supply for Argenta, providing essential provisions to the individuals and families who risked their lives for Argenta. The escort was entrusted to proven Argenta people with skills and verified identities. They should not have fallen prey to mere bandits.
“Yes. They don’t seem like ordinary bandits.”
Just when Cartiel became quiet, trouble arose from elsewhere.
“It seems there might be a problem with the herb supply.”
The knight continued his report, and I paused.
“Wait, the herbs?”
While it was indeed important to determine who dared to attack the Shadow supply ship, the mention of herbs indicated a bigger problem.
“What about the supplies sent to the northwest?”
Argenta’s northwest, bordering the seventh zone of the endless sea, was where many individuals in need of specialized herbs resided.
They were mostly retired or injured individuals who chose to remain in the northwest, desiring to protect the sea until the end. They were special even in Argenta’s eyes, and I couldn’t help but feel attached to them as I handled their documents multiple times.
Still, if there were problems with the herb supply, it would be a fatal issue for those regularly receiving medicinal herbs and painkillers.
“While it might be possible to secure some of the supply routes, not all of them…”
The knight bowed his head, indicating that the quantity might be insufficient.
“For now, explain the situation to those in other regions who receive the Shadow supply and redirect the herbs to the northwest. In return, increase the provision of food in the other regions.”
I quickly spoke while standing up. The next moment, I turned my gaze to the knight, looking at the map of Argenta hanging on the wall.
“And as for the bandits—”
I was about to continue speaking when I narrowed my eyes. What were the chances that the bandits attacked at this time? How likely was it that they were real bandits?
“The bandits didn’t take all the goods, right?”
The knight’s words gave me confidence. If they were genuine bandits, their intention would be to seize the goods for their own benefit. Why would they leave behind the supplies? To show mercy and help them survive? Where can you find such compassionate bandits?
“Where are those supplies?”
“After confirming that there were no issues, they were distributed.”
The knight bowed his head at my words.
“Yes. The supply had already been distributed.”
Of course, it should be fine.
But why do I feel uneasy like this? Suddenly, I thought of those cunning individuals who had subtly poisoned my dress.
“Are there any remaining supplies?”
The knight hesitated at my question.
“Yes. There are still some that haven’t been sent―”
“Lead the way.”
As I stood up from my seat, the knight seemed slightly flustered.
Redias was the same.
“I need to make sure.”
I wondered if those disguised bandits had left behind something.