The Incident That Occurred At The Outing (4)
After returning to her bedroom, Dooha leant back against an armchair next to the fireplace and was lost in thought.
The head maid and Layla stood next to her with looks of worry.
“Madam, although there isn’t any evidence, Young Lady Pauline is an important witness to this accident.
Before the Duke returns, I think it’ll be better to detain her in the castle.”
“That’s right! Let’s call her back and give her a severe lesson!”
Layla shouted in frustration.
“Madam, do as the head maid says! Are you listening?”
After thinking for a moment, Dooha then turned to the head maid.
“Sylvia, do you know if Young Lady Pauline is suffering from any chronic illnesses?”
The sudden question caused puzzlement to appear on the head maid’s face.
“Or if she’s usually in poor health.”
The head maid frowned and shook her head.
“Not that I know of.
I heard that she’s healthy enough that she enjoys horseback riding in her daily life.”
“Is that so?”
“Is there something wrong?”
“No, it’s just that it’s a little suspicious.”
“Something suspicious, you said?”
“On the boat, Young Lady Pauline drank some sort of liquid medicine and told me that it was a nutritional supplement that she normally takes.”
Now that Dooha thought about it, the question of whether she had to take the nutritional supplement after getting on the boat arised.
‘There’s no reason for someone who’s determined to die with me to take nutritional supplements.’
It would have been more believable if she said that it was medicine for seasickness.
“Come to think of it, when I shared my breath with that Young Lady, there was a peculiar smell in her mouth!”
Dooha looked up at Layla’s sudden confession.
“A peculiar smell?”
“Yes! It was slightly tangy and had a pungent smell.
It’s my first time smelling it, so I don’t know what it is.”
Then, the eyes of the head maid, who was listening to her silently, widened as if she had some sort of clue.
“Duchess, did the liquid medicine that Young Lady Pauline drank possess a reddish hue?”
“You’re right, it was red in colour.”
Dooha looked at the head maid in surprise.
“How did you know that?”
“I know of a drug that had such a scent.”
The head maid continued with a dark face.
“It’s a powerful sleeping draught.”
Also known as the Devil’s Nap, the drug is a sleeping potion made from a medicinal herb that’s only found in the Empire, ‘Mandrake’.
“Due to its medicinal efficacy, the drug is also used as an anaesthetic.”
The head maid’s words caused Dooha’s gaze to darken.
It’s no wonder she lost consciousness so quickly.
Even if she did fall into the lake.
However, Dooha could fully understand why she drank such medicine.
If she fell asleep before dying, she could die painlessly.
“But I don’t know how Young Lady Pauline could have obtained the drug.”
The head maid continued with an uncomprehending voice.
“Mandrakes can only be cultivated within the imperial capital, and drugs containing it can’t be taken without a doctor’s prescription.”
“Perhaps she had gotten a doctor’s prescription.”
“That can’t be.
That type of drug is only used for soldiers that were seriously injured during the war, or for patients that are suffering from incurable diseases.”
In that case, though the drug taken by Young Lady Pauline was used as a sleeping potion, it wasn’t generally prescribed as the effect of the drug was so powerful that it became poisonous instead.
“Then, who was the one that secretly gave Young Lady Pauline that potion?”
Dooha’s question caused the head maid to trail off.
“Secretly distributing the Devil’s Nap is against imperial law.
Upon discovery, the minimum punishment is a fine, and offenders could even face deportation.”
“Is that matter so serious?”
“Yes, actually, the Devil’s Nap has another effect.”
With a gloomy face, the head maid recited in a low voice.
“When this type of drug is consumed in small amounts, they’ll instantly experience the highest of pleasures.”
But after the pleasure comes the devil’s curse.
“However, it is very addictive and is known to cause madness when taken over a long period of time.”
Dooha lowered her eyes quietly at the head maid’s explanation.
An expensive drug that offers extreme pleasure, which cannot be obtained without a doctor’s prescription.
Most of those that wanted to get their hands on the drug were probably from highly ranked aristocratic families or the Imperial family.
Though they enjoyed many luxuries, on the contrary they were the kind that lacked even more.
Weren’t humans originally the type to pursue pleasure if they lived from hand to mouth?
But this made it even more dangerous.
When the country’s leadership is paralysed, it means that the entire country cannot function.
The head maid continued in a grave voice.
“At any rate, if the potion that Young Lady Pauline consumed is really the ‘Devil’s Nap’, we should inform the Duke before anything bigger happens…”
Just then, Dooha shook her head firmly at the head maid’s words.
“While it’s true that Young Lady Pauline drank the potion, it might not be the potion that Sylvia had mentioned.”
After hearing Dooha’s words, the head maid looked sideways in Layla’s direction.
“Sylvia, I also believe Layla’s words.
But that’s not the only drug that is red in colour and has a pungent smell.”
She had her suspicions, but she didn’t have any definite physical evidence.
Both the colour and its smell, even the point that Pauline had fainted after she consumed the drug and fell into the lake.
In fact, it was probably harder to believe that that drug is a nutritional supplement.
However, if the drug that Pauline had consumed was really only a nutritional supplement like she’d mentioned, if she interrogated it for nothing, it would only result in criticism directed towards the Duke of Esbaden.
Furthermore, Pauline was a young lady of a family that followed the Duke’s archrival, Sir Nate.
In an Empire that considers suicide to be the greatest sin, ganging up on an aristocratic young lady without concrete evidence could lead to an issue of ethics.
This was unrelated to the fact that Pauline tried to kill the Duchess.
“Isn’t that right, Sylvia?”
“That’s true, but…”
“I’ll meet with Young Lady Pauline and have a chat with her.
Until then, please don’t tell the Duke about the potion.”
After briefly thanking her, Dooha stretched her legs out towards the fire.
‘Come to think of it, I didn’t even say a word of thanks for saving my life.’
Her brows furrowed at the thought of a kind but sly handsome young man.
‘But how did Daniel know about it and showed up?’
He said that he happened to stop by, but she didn’t know if that was what had actually happened.
‘There’s too many parts that were doubtful.’
Both the appearance of a monster in the Ducal castle’s lake, the fact that Young Lady Pauline tried to assassinate her then, as well as how Countess Jive tried to defend that young lady.
This incident truly had too many dubious aspects.
‘As well as how Daniel happened to appear at the lake.’
He might know something about this incident?
‘Since he’s a wizard, he would probably know about that potion.’
She should be doubtful of things that were suspicious, and be grateful about the things she should be grateful for.
Dooha thought that she should meet with Daniel again in order to express her gratitude and ask about this incident.
No matter what, she owes her life to him anyways.
“Layla, do you perhaps…”
Just as she was about to speak to her handmaiden.
The door opened with a loud noise and a heavily armed man entered.
It was the duke who had left to subjugate the monsters, Leonhart von Esbaden.
* * *
“Goodness, Duke! How did you return so quickly? It takes more than half a day’s travel from the subjugation location to here…”
The astonished head maid shouted, but the duke didn’t budge.
He’d only approached the chair that Dooha was seated on.
Dooha was also as surprised as her.
Why is the person that’s supposed to arrive tomorrow already in the ducal castle?
She stared blankly at Leonhart, who wasn’t able to wash off the monster’s blood and had a grubby appearance.
From the looks of his dishevelled hair, he seemed to have had an exceptionally rough ride on the horse.
As he breathed heavily, his gaze was kept trained on Dooha.
His darkly subdued eyes swept past every inch of her body like he was examining her, before they returned to their original blue colour.
“…It doesn’t look like you’ve been hurt anywhere.”
Dooha couldn’t help but nod, and her brows furrowed.
“Did you receive news about it?”
“Did you think that news of a monster appearing within the ground of the ducal castle wouldn’t reach my ears?”
“No, that’s not true, but…”
Although it was a serious incident, it had only happened a few hours ago.
No matter how well-informed the duke was, it was almost impossible for him to reach the ducal castle from the subjugation location within the span of a few hours.
“I didn’t expect that you’d return so quickly.
I thought that you wouldn’t be back until dawn tomorrow.”
“That’s what I had planned.
If you didn’t go through that.”
Leonhart scolded Dooha with a disapproving look.
“But what are you sitting here for? Get in bed right now.”
“Ah, this place is the warmest.”
At his wife’s response, Leonhart frowned darkly and gritted his teeth at the quiet head maid.
“What in the world have you done so far, when the blanket isn’t heated? Bring a heated stone here right this instant.
And warm alcohol, no not alcohol, but milk.”
After giving the head maid terse commands, the duke reached out to Dooha.
He then pulled her, who was wrapped in a blanket, entirely into his arms.
“Wait a moment, what are you suddenly…!”
Surprised, Dooha squirmed.
But Leonhart ignored his wife’s slight resistance and carried her to bed.
Thanks to that, Dooha was rendered speechless and could only watch as he pulled the blanket up to her chin and tucked her in.
“…Are you drunk?”
“I think you’re talking too much to someone that came from catching monsters a little while ago.”
“But if you aren’t, what are you doing this…”
He wouldn’t commit such acts, like that of a married couple.
Much less in front of others.
Dooha swallowed down what she wanted to say and stared at Layla and the group of maids that were looking at them.
However, they didn’t seem to be more surprised than Dooha was.
Perhaps it was because on the day she scaled the cliff to dig up a medicinal herb, they’d also seen the duke lift her up.
Perhaps in the eyes of others, they had already appeared like a real couple?
Although the thought of it didn’t make her feel upset, it was strange.
Was it possible for two people that were only married for the sake of an alliance to live as a couple for the rest of their lives?
As Dooha leant against the bed and thought about this and that, the duke placed his hand on her forehead.
The cool sensation caused her to shiver unwittingly.
“It’s a relief that you don’t have a fever.”
“…Duke, my apologies for disappointing you, but I’ve never been ill for my entire life.”
“But you’ve also never met a monster before.”
“It’s because there aren’t any monsters in Bashal.
But how would that turn into a problem?”
Leonhart answered with a low voice.
“That’s why, do as I say.
If you don’t want to see your husband holding a funeral for his wife.”
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