ered the annex, he continued to stay by Margaret’s side. 

 

The physicians and the healing wizard’s report caused his beautiful face to darken.  

 

“Are you still unable to determine the cause?”

 

At the duke’s chilly voice, the physician bowed his head and tried his best to make excuses flusteredly.

 

“T—that’s because the previous Duchess is afflicted with a mental illness, so her body would also be affected by her mental state.
That’s why I had mentioned that she required complete rest, but how did it become like this…”

 

“So you’re saying that there’s nothing we can do about it?”

 

“No! She can recover immediately with Claudene.”

 

Claudene was a precious herb known as ‘small miracle’ that could cure most illnesses, other than external injuries, and grew only on the highest of cliffs.

 

“If such a herb exists, why are you wasting your time here instead of looking for it immediately?”

 

“That’s…”

 

Just as the physician was about to speak, a menacing bolt of lightning flashed past outside the window. 

 

Rumble, swoosh—

 

The rain which had started drizzling down since early evening, had unknowingly turned into a raging thunderstorm. 

 

The weather was so bad that visibility couldn’t be secured just by casually glancing out of the window. 

 

“Even if it’s an outstanding herbalist or mountaineer, it’s likely that they would die if they tried to scale a cliff on a day like this.
Someone will be sent to locate the medicinal herb as soon as the sky clears up.”

 

“I’ll go.”

 

“No, you mustn’t!”

 

Leonhart was about to leave unhesitatingly, but he was stopped by his lieutenants.

 

It was Claude and Baron.

 

“Absolutely not, my Lord.
I would much rather the journey be made amongst ourselves.” 

 

Claude obstructed the duke’s path and spoke in a resolute voice.

 

“The Lord is the head of the Esbaden family.
You can’t risk your life for something as trivial as this.”

 

“Did you think of the things I do for my grandmother as something as trivial as this, you?”

 

The duke’s frigid voice, which seemed to freeze his surroundings, caused Claude to swallow hard.  

 

However, Claude wasn’t fazed and knelt down on a knee. 

 

“Is the Lord aware that the bedriddened previous Duchess isn’t the only life that he’s shouldering?”

 

The members of the Esbaden family, the numerous vassals that followed the Esbaden family, and the citizens of the Empire that lived in the Esbaden family’s territory. 

 

They all lived while relying on a single man, the Duke of Esbaden.

 

“Please do not forget the oath that the Lord swore when you inherited the position of Duke.”

 

Leonhart fell silent at his lieutenant’s words.

 

It’s because he was well aware that his lieutenant’s words were right.

 

When his parents passed away, didn’t he swear an oath, when he succeeded the position of duke after several near-death experiences?

 

He would become a person that would fit the position of the Duke of Esbaden more than anyone.

 

“My Lord, Claude and I will gather some men and head towards the location where the medicinal herbs would grow.
As long as visibility can be secured through the rainstorm, we will scale up the cliff even if it decreases.” 

 

Then, Baron, who had remained silent, opened his mouth and said solemnly.

 

“We will make a trip in your stead, so please leave it to us.”

 

The duke looked at him for a moment and turned his head.

 

“…Alright.”

 

At the short yet certain response, the two saluted with discipline and rushed out hastily.  

 

They wouldn’t have any time to spare, as they had to gather physicians that could distinguish herbs and attendants that could serve as guides. 

 

“Then, I’ll bring some more medicine that can reduce temperatures.”

 

After the wizard and the physician left, the only people that remained in the room were Leonhart and two maids that couldn’t speak.

 

Leonhart tried to hold his grandmother’s withered hands, which were limp on the bed, but soon withdrew his hand.

 

He looked at his roughened hands somberly.

 

He thought that he could have anything and protect anything if he became the Duke of Esbaden.

 

But he couldn’t even do that. 

 

If he knew that the position of duke would restrict him from doing a single thing for the person that raised him like he was her own child, he wouldn’t have tried so hard. 

 

Rumble—

 

As the lightning struck the ground with a flash of light, the reflection of Duke Esbaden’s pale face appeared and disappeared repeatedly on the window.

 

***

 

Swoosh!

 

“Madam, you mustn’t! Even if it’s Madam, it will be dangerous!” 

 

Layla shouted through the rainstorm while wearing a hood.

 

“Madam, absolutely not! How can you climb a cliff in such weather!”

 

“Let go of this, Layla.”

 

“The Duke will send the knights, even if the Madam doesn’t go! Why on earth are you doing this?”

 

Her one and only master, Dooha, climbed onto a horse while wearing a hood like her.

 

“It would be too late when those people have departed.
I have to go right now.”

 

“What do you mean head out when you don’t even know the way!”

 

“I know the way.
There’s only a single place nearby with a cliff that Claudene can grow at.” 

 

“Hiik, I’m not letting go! I’m definitely not letting go!”

 

“Let go, Layla!”

 

“Ack, did you think that I went to the annex at the risk of my life just to see something like this?”

 

Layla infiltrated the annex to find out Margaret’s condition and the medicine needed for treatment at Dooha’s request.

 

Claudene, a medicinal herb that only grows atop cliffs, was a panacea for all illnesses. 

 

Dooha was also familiar with the medicinal herb that was also valued in Bashal.

 

“There’s no guarantee that you’ll find it even if you set out now! In any case, Claudene is…!”

 

“I can find it!”

 

“Stop being so stubborn—!”

 

Rumble—

 

The instant Layla’s grip faltered as she was surprised by the sound of thunder.

 

Dooha kicked the stirrups with her feet and controlled the reins without hesitation.

 

“Princess, please don’t go! Princess—!”

 

Dooha raced at full speed into the rain, leaving behind the anxious cries of her handmaiden.

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