ragments of the boat that are at the bottom of the lake.”

Daniel’s eyes curved narrowly as he looked at Dooha.

“As such, may I examine the bottom of the lake, Duchess?”

Dooha looked at him blankly.

What in the world is he thinking? Didn’t Count Jive share a very close relationship with his father?

If he takes her side here, it would be akin to becoming enemies with his father. 

Though her head was full of complicated thoughts, she had no choice in order to solve the situation before her.

“In that case, please do.”

Dooha approved of his involvement with a short and concise sentence.

“Then, if you’ll excuse me for a moment.”

With the Duchess’s permission, Daniel walked to the lakeside unhesitatingly and reached out a hand.

When he murmured something, a large ripple appeared on the surface of the lake, which had calmed down, again. 

Splash—

With a single gesture, the fragments of the ship that had sunk to the bottom of the lake rose up into the air and fell onto the nearest land in an instant.

At the astounding sight, Countess Jive’s face stiffened, and Pauline’s face paled even further.

“Hurry up and search.”

The head maid ordered the surrounding servants to examine the wreckage on behalf of the Duchess.

They ran towards the rubble quickly and rummaged around.

A suffocating moment passed while they waited.

And when one of the servants finally announced the outcome.

“There weren’t any particularly strange traces that were found from the debris present.”

Dooha’s eyes widened at the servant’s words. 

“…No traces?”

“Yes, there are only traces of damage, without any sign of an artificial hole.”

That’s ridiculous.

Dooha’s eyes trembled slightly with disbelief.

On the other hand, a bright smile appeared on Countess Jive’s face.

“What a pity, Duchess.”

She looked back at Dooha and with a sincerely pitiful expression, shook her head slightly. 

“As expected, it seems that even God must have wanted to prove Young Lady Pauline’s innocence.”

Countess Jive smiled at Dooha, who still stood at her place in disbelief.

“Oh, right.
The Duchess had said that you don’t believe in the Empire’s God.”

With her hand on the shoulder of her maid that she had brought along, she approached Dooha. 

“Well, our God isn’t free enough to look after a foreigner that doesn’t have any faith.”

Intoxicated by the luck she was given, Countess Jive laughed as she brushed past Dooha.

“Well, I’ll be on my way then.
Though I look like this, I’m advanced in my years, so I’ll suffer from a cough if I’m slightly exposed to cold air.”

Countess Jive became relaxed and she vacated her seat leisurely with Young Lady Pauline, who slumped down in her position. 

 

“T—then I’ll also take my leave.”

“I’m not feeling well either, so I have to return back to my mansion.
Till the next time we meet, Duchess.”

All the other ladies read the room and left the venue with vague greetings one after another. 

The only ones that remained by the lake were Dooha, Layla, Daniel, the head maid and the servants. 

As she looked at the pieces of debris that were scattered on the muddy floor like pieces of garbage, Dooha clenched her fist slowly.

It wasn’t enough that she was bullied when her eyes were wide open, she couldn’t even retaliate. 

To think that such a situation occurred during the first outing she was hosting.

It was humiliating.

“…Madam, you have to dry yourself in order to avoid catching a cold.
Let’s go back inside now.”

The head maid and Layla approached and urged her to go inside, but she didn’t budge.

Actually, this result wasn’t completely unthinkable.

After a stir by such a huge monster, there was no guarantee that the sunken boat’s wreckage would remain intact. 

Truly, she was just unlucky.

‘But it didn’t have to occur right at this moment.’

Dooha breathed slowly in order to placate the rising resentment in her heart.  

“Madam.”

Dooha slowly moved her gaze towards the familiar voice.

Daniel was looking at her with the corners of his mouth lifted.

“Countess Jive’s luck was just a little better than yours this time.”

He seemed to deliberately reveal the sweetest smile he could manage in order to lighten up Dooha’s mood.

“As such, don’t be too upset.
Originally, the Empire believed that the wicked will receive their just desserts no matter what.”

“Don’t you know that hearing those words makes me even more annoyed?”  

“Oh, really?”

“Yes.”

Dooha stared at Daniel for a long while before sighing. 

“Then why did Daniel intervene suddenly? Didn’t you have quite a good relationship with Countess Jive?”

“My father is the one that’s close to the Countess, not me.”

“I know.
I’m saying this because I don’t think Sir Nate is the type that’ll be generous to his only son.”

“I appreciate it if you’re worried about me, but.”

Daniel quickly winked and smiled. 

“I have always been someone that moved according to my heart, and even my father has long given up on my behaviour.”

Was that something worth bragging about?

Dooha stared at his playful expression and soon let out a short laugh.

“Daniel really is quite an unconstrained man.”

“So you don’t like it?”

“It’s a compliment.”

As the joking conversation between Dooha and Daniel continued, the head maid, who couldn’t continue watching them, stepped in again.

“Madam, please go in now.
There are many eyes watching.
It will be difficult if rumours of you being with an outside man looking like this were to appear.” 

“Alright.
Daniel, well then…”

Just as Dooha turned her head to bid him farewell. 

White and elegant fingers touched her bangs.

“Then I look forward to ‘happening to’ meet you again.”

Daniel grinned as he removed the water plant that was stuck to her bangs.

“Madam.”

Soon afterward, just like usual, Daniel became a butterfly that blazed with scarlet flames and disappeared into the air.

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