* * *
The doctor handed over the medicine and left. Although there was no proper cure for the rare illness, there was a medicine that could slow down its progression.
Monica was currently by Michael’s side, guarding Robert.
“You won’t take it?”
Remembering the doctor’s words about its severity, Michael extended the medicine along with water. However, Robert only glanced at his hand without any intention of taking it.
“You just vomited blood. Don’t be stubborn and take it.”
“It won’t mwake a diffewence.”
“You should at least take this to delay the disease.”
“It won’t cwange anything.”
In an instant, Michael, who was determined to force the medicine down, found himself unable to speak. A faint red glow was leaking from Robert’s hand, who was clutching his heart.
There was no need for an explanation; it was not difficult to guess what he had just done. The problem was that it was hard to believe even after witnessing it firsthand.
Looking at Robert’s improved complexion, Michael asked with a surprised expression.
“What did you just do?”
“You stopped the progression of Krug with mana?”
“How? Even the researchers at Magic Tower couldn’t do it.”
“Because they’we idiots.”
To think that this young child could make the so-called scholars of the Empire look like fools with just a few words. What was even more astonishing was the fact that this child might actually be smarter than them. Michael didn’t want to admit it, but he had no choice but to ask.
“Are you a genius?”
However, Robert, as if he didn’t have time to waste on pointless questions, got up from the bed and took out a rolled-up piece of paper from the desk drawer. It was a world map that noble families usually kept at least one copy of for geography studies.
Robert spread the map on the table and pointed to Souvri, located in the southern part of the Barcan Empire.
“Tell me evewything you know.”
He was asking about the progress of Izeline’s search. Using the information gathered from the butlers, maids, and soldiers who had dropped clues, Michael organized what he knew.
“It seems like Izeline and a child named Camry went missing together.”
Upon hearing those words, Robert’s body trembled. Not noticing his slight reaction, Michael continued.
“The butler gathered all the nearby painters and had them draw their faces, which they distributed everywhere. They even offered a tremendous reward for anyone who finds them.”
It was only natural that trouble would come to Heint, as not only had a child under the patronage of Duke Brioche disappeared, but also the daughter of Duke Armanty’s knight.
“We’re currently searching the city meticulously. They’re checking every single building…”
Robert pointed to a specific spot on the map with his index finger.
“Since they’we searching Souvri, let’s go here.”
“What? But that place…”
Michael’s gaze wavered.
“Wait a second….”
There was no way they would allow Michael and Robert, the sole heir of Duke Brioche and the son of his close aide, to go out, even when the child who caught the attention of Duke Brioche had disappeared. Not to mention the fact that Heint would be in bigger trouble.
“Let’s trust the master and wait.”
“I can go alone.”
Seeing Robert leaving without a second thought, Michael bit his lower lip tightly. Nevertheless, it didn’t take long for him to chase after Robert.
“How are we going to get out? The soldiers are guarding the doors.”
Michael didn’t think there was any viable solution, but he followed anyway. As they reached a secluded area, he looked around anxiously. In his imagination, there should have been at least one tall tree near the wall that they could climb over.
When Michael saw Robert crawling into the bushes, his expression became strange.
Why did his father’s words flash through his mind at that moment?
“Some crazy fool made a hole in the Duke’s wall.”
The image of his father, who had been agonizing over finding the culprit, vividly appeared before him as if he had just seen it.
As they pushed through the bushes, a well-hidden gap revealed itself behind them.
When Robert spread his palm and used mana, the hole grew slightly larger, enough for a six-year-old child to pass through.
Michael’s voice, filled with despair, leaked out.
“…Did you make this hole?”
Robert didn’t have time to waste, and he quickly crawled out. Frozen for a moment due to the shock, Michael shook his head to regain his composure and clumsily passed through the hole.
“This is unbelievable…”
A faint smile appeared on Michael’s face as he looked at Robert’s back.
* * *
Toulouse was one of the major cities in the southern part of the empire, with a population close to three hundred thousand. It was a place where travelers and merchants flocked from all over. It was a two-day journey from Souvri, but Robert and Michael ended up taking an extra day because they secretly obtained a carriage to ride.
“We’ll be in trouble if they don’t find us at the mansion.”
Michael glanced sideways at Robert, who was crouched beside him on the rattling carriage.
“They were probably in an uproar searching for us.”
“We’ll swolve it when we get back…”
Robert avoided Michael’s gaze.
Although they had managed to escape, Michael was uneasy about coming this far without permission. He had never gone this far secretly before, so he was nervous.
Michael let out a deep sigh.
“There’s nothing we can do now. It had already been done.”
“Izel should be here…”
“If you’re unsure at this point, what are we going to do?”
When he raised an eyebrow, Robert stubbornly closed his mouth. Even without Michael mentioning it, they both knew that this choice was the best one they had.
“If it was a swudden abduction, it mwight be a kidnapping.”
“Who would kidnap a child?”
“Could it be… slave traders?”
Robert nodded, and Michael swallowed his saliva. If Izeline were to be sold elsewhere, it would be a big problem. It would be nearly impossible to search the entire empire with a child’s body.
“I’ve heard that swave auctions are held in Toulouse.”
Even though Michael didn’t mention it, it was a well-known fact.
Toulouse was the closest major city to Souvri, which was why Robert thought Izeline might be there. Slave traders usually operated in large cities because the demand for slaves was more active there. In small towns where everyone knew each other, buying a tied-up slave with money was considered inhumane.
However, things were different in large cities.
They competed with each other by buying healthy slaves at high prices to show off their wealth and power. These traded slaves were usually assigned to household chores or sent to labor sites, but occasionally, there were powerful individuals who sent servants to various places for the perverted purpose of collecting young boys.
“We’re here. Get off.”
As they entered the bustling city, Robert skillfully jumped off the moving carriage. Michael also landed smoothly on the well-paved street.
The unfamiliar smell of the city enveloped the two children.
“If you gwet caught by slave traders, just play along.”
Michael raised his index finger, pointing to himself, and Robert casually replied.
“You pwetend to be a mute.”
An uneasy feeling crept in. Unlike the boy who blindly followed them, Robert seemed to have a plan. A plan to push Michael into slavery…
“Wandering awound near the slave auction house, we might get caught.”
“Check if there’s Izel inside and give a signal.”
“Isn’t that too much? Let’s just rush in together.”
“You can’t even piewce mithril, can you?”
Michael was about to say something, but he closed his mouth in agreement with Robert’s following words.
“If we just rush in, Izeline can be saved.”
“Let’s capture a hostage and make threats.”
Michael thought carefully as if examining what could happen when he gets caught by slave traders. When no answer came quickly, Robert, impatiently, said anxiously.
“If you’re scawed, should I go?”
Michael grabbed him as he was about to start walking.
“They have to take off your clothes and inspect your body.”
They often went through such procedures to grade slaves, checking for any blemishes, skills they possessed, and whether they had any illnesses.
Robert would be immediately exposed.
Robert bit his lower lip tightly.
Watching him with a calm face, Michael placed his hand on his shoulder.
“If I feel like something bad will happen to me, you have to rescue me immediately.”
It was an agreement to comply with the plan.
Robert looked up and stared at him.
“Don’t abandon me.”
“They won’t sell you anyway.”
Michael’s Adam apple gulped at the joking remark. This was not the time for such silly jokes. The two children roamed the bustling streets like squirrels, struggling to find the location of the auction house.