The Duke's Weaknesses (2)
“…You want to see the annexe?”
Leonhart raised his gaze from the document and looked forward.
Dooha, dressed in a bright yellow dress, was standing at the desk, smiling.
The Duke, whose workload had increased due to the recent increase in the appearance of monsters, had long stopped visiting the bedroom.
It was the first time that the two faced each other alone since the morning the Duke woke up with a hangover.
Perhaps that’s why…
Leonhart couldn’t look Dooha straight in the eye like before and was looking at a subtly misaligned spot.
Like someone who wanted to avoid eye contact.
“Yes, I want to see the annexe.”
“Why do you want to look around there all of a sudden?”
“I’ve looked around everywhere else, but I haven’t looked around there.”
He shook his head firmly, signifying that it was not worth reconsidering Dooha’s question.
“It’s a place where there’s nothing to see, so don’t worry about it.”
“For a place that you say ‘there’s nothing to see’, there’s been a lot of talk among the people.”
Leonhart put down the pen he held in his hand.
His eyes darkened before he knew it.
“I thought I said I didn’t like to say things twice.”
“Is there any reason why I can’t see the annexe?”
Dooha continued, her hands neatly folded over her stomach.
“Or are you hiding something there that I can’t see?”
“…What do you mean?”
“Literally what I said.”
“I don’t know how to understand this situation now.”
Leonhart looked as though he was in trouble.
He stared at Dooha with keen eyes.
“Even if I had something to hide there, I wouldn’t be obliged to tell you.”
Due to the response that was more sensitive than expected, Dooha also stared back at him.
That’s why I’m asking.
If there was something, I want to know why you’re keeping it a secret.”
Dooha’s answer made the Duke pause for a moment before he opened his mouth again.
“…There’s no reason.”
He spoke in a serious voice as if he had no scruples.
“But there’s nothing to worry about, so let’s not talk about the annexe anymore.”
‘You don’t want to talk.’
Dooha’s face was slightly shaded.
It seemed to all have been an illusion—seeing the Duke’s defenceless appearance while they were in the bar and her thinking that she had grown closer to him.
“Alright, if you say so.”
Dooha, who did not hear the answer she wanted, turned her back without any regrets.
If she couldn’t get an answer from him, that was enough reason for her to find it herself.
There was a restricted area in the Esbaden fortress where no one but the Duke could enter.
Located near the Duke’s main castle, it was called the “Annexe” and was guarded by 30 knights.
The fence of the annexe, where knights stood on guard at regular intervals, was tangled with thorny vines, so it was impossible to look inside from the outside.
It was like a castle where a princess who was cursed and had fallen asleep forever lived.
Claude, the Duke of Esbaden’s lieutenant, yawned as he stood at the door of the annexe.
The Duke entrusted the security of the annexe to the only two knights he had complete trust in, one of whom was Baron and the other Claude.
Today was the day Claude was assigned to guard the annexe.
‘Ah, I want to go hunting for monsters too.
It hurts to stand still.’
Claude scratched his cheek with a bored face.
He always enjoyed moving his body, so he didn’t like to stand still in one place.
“Sir Claude, there was a suspicious person nearby but we have captured her.”
“A suspicious person?”
Claude frowned at the knight’s words.
There was not a single person in the Duke’s castle who didn’t know that nothing good was going to come out of hanging around the annexe.
But who dared to?
“Really! I didn’t know I shouldn’t be here!”
It was a clear, high-pitched tone.
Claude squinted his eyes.
She was a woman with dark hair and an oddly exotic look.
From the look of her outfit, she seemed to be a maid working in the duchy.
But why did she look familiar?
Claude recalled a hazy memory when he saw the woman who was caught and annoyed by the knights.
‘I’m sure it was the woman next to the Duchess on the Duke’s wedding day.’
“I’m not a suspicious person! I’m the Duchess’s maid!”
“Let go of her.”
The knights looked curiously at his command and eventually relaxed their arms.
No matter what, the boss’ orders were absolute.
Meanwhile, the woman who was treated as a suspicious person grumbled, shaking her sleeve.
“I’ve told you several times that I’m not suspicious, but you’re annoying me.”
“Ugh, don’t call me that.
I’m getting goosebumps.”
For Claude, it was polite, but the opponent shook as if it were terrible.
Please call me Layla.”
He was embarrassed by the attitude of the woman, who he now knew was named Layla, but cleared his voice and continued.
“Layla, this is a place where no one but the Duke can enter.
Please go back now.”
“…I can’t tell you why.”
Claude replied with an expressionless face but not long after she burst into laughter.
It was somehow an unpleasant sensation and he raised one eyebrow.
“Why are you laughing?”
“Oh, it’s nothing.
I just thought that all the men and women in the empire had similar personalities.”
“What do you mean…?”
It was when Claude was about to ask back.
He heard something moving inside the fence.
A competent knight like Claude couldn’t miss such signals.
It was at that moment, when he was about to quickly turn into the doorway,
“Oh, I’m dying! Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!”
Layla, who seemed perfectly fine until a moment ago, suddenly rolled around in her spot screaming.
“What are you doing all of a sudden…?”
“Oh, my stomach hurts so much! I’m dying of pain! Crying! Help me!”
Layla fell down in front of the bewildered Claude, clutching at the hem of his trousers.
She was shedding tears as if she were really ill.
Claude was not a very nice man to any woman.
No, you could even say that there was no woman who was approaching him because he was feisty in nature and had a sharp way of speaking.
Thanks to this, he had been more popular with men than with women.
He was a tough-mouthed, loyal and compassionate man.
But just because he didn’t get close to any woman, he was perceived as a mean guy who would ignore a woman in trouble and walk past her.
Anyway, he was still a knight who swore an oath of chivalry.
“Hey! Wake up!”
“Ugh! Help! Help! Help me…”
Layla grabbed him by the collar, trying to lift herself up from her collapse, and gave him a wistful look.
Claude lifted her up at once and stood up from the seat as she seemed to be out of breath.
After a brief verbal abuse, he left a threatening request to the knights standing behind him.
“Knights, keep the annexe safe while I’m gone! If you let even a rat in, I’ll kill you!”
“Yes, Sir Claude!”
The knights who followed him looked vainly at his back disappearing further away.
“You could have just called your attendant and asked them to take her…”
With an alternative that someone belatedly brought up.
“You saved my life, Layla.”
Dooha sighed with relief at the noise coming from over the fence.
She crouched down in front of a charming ambush at her feet.
“You scared me, boy.”
It was a cat with reddish-brown fur and bright yellow eyes.
For a cat, its drowsy eyes and flat nose showed off its strange charm.
He was enjoying a lazy sunbathing at the area where Dooha was originally going to land over the fence.
If she hadn’t turned at the moment she fell, she might have stepped on this little being.
“It’s dangerous to be in a place like this.”
Dooha put her finger on the cat’s pink nose.
He sniffed familiarly and sat down snorting.
Dooha burst into laughter when she saw it.
“You’re a haughty fellow.”
“Is your master the one who lives here?”
Half of it was a joke, but the cat stared at her as if he understood what Dooha was saying.
He then jumped up and walked somewhere.
There was no way a cat could understand a human being.
But why did she feel like she could find the answer she wanted if she followed the cat.
It was her who sneaked into the forbidden place without the Duke’s permission.
There was no time to fool around as an uninvited guest.
Before the Duke returned, she had to identify the owner of this place.
Of course, it could be a place with no owner.
She has to keep all the possibilities open.
“Come with me, kitty.”
Dooha carefully followed the cat that was walking ahead.
Her steps made no noise, contrary to her mistakes when she crossed the fence.
She walked as if she was walking on wind.
Dooha hid behind the wall and waited for the maids to pass.
The maids in black walked away without a word of conversation.
‘I think there are too few maids for such a large building.’
The annexe was a fairly large building.
Although not as large as the introspection with nature or Kreuz, it was still as large as a library.
However, the number of maids Dooha had spotted so far was only five.
Even if they were the ones who couldn’t speak, as Layla had said.
They communicated briefly in sign language, not in words.
The more she looked at it, the more strange it was.
The cat, who was guiding Dooha, jumped into an open window on the first floor.
She also followed the cat into the building through the window.
Carefully landing in the corridor, she quickly looked left and right.
The cat walked unsteadily towards the stairs leading to the second floor.
Dooha tried to follow the cat, but she covered her mouth.
This was because the cat was popular on the side of the stairs.
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