The Evidence That Vanished (1)
Why is he suddenly bringing up the topic of boating again?
Dooha’s brows furrowed.
What kind of ordeal did she have to suffer because of this punk?
“Are you making fun of me…”
Before she could quibble over that.
Leonhart placed his hand on his wife’s forehead.
When Dooha flinched back in surprise, he removed his hand.
“I’m glad that the critical moment has passed.
Stay right where you are today and rest.”
“What do you mean by crisis?”
Dooha tilted her head like she couldn’t understand why and moved her limbs.
“I’ve never felt as refreshed as I’m feeling today.”
“I know you don’t like to be ordered around, but do as I say.”
Leonhart got out of bed and spoke while choosing his clothes.
“If the person that almost died yesterday runs about immediately and something goes wrong, I might feel the futility of nursing you all night.”
“…You nursed me?”
“Don’t tell me that you don’t remember?”
He tilted his head with his arms folded.
“My wife has no conscience.
Can the person that whined the entire night for water, hugs, and to wipe off her sweat do this?”
For hugs? Whining?
What the heck does that mean?
“Then I’ll leave first, as I’m behind on my work.”
Leonhart nodded his head lightly at Dooha.
The faint smile hanging on the corners of his lips seemed to be teasing her.
Dooha tried to stop him urgently, but the duke didn’t wait.
As Dooha stared blankly at the closed door, she slowly placed her hand onto her forehead.
It was because as soon as the duke disappeared, her memories of last night surfaced like a lie.
Bursting into mad laughter, Dooha placed both of her hands in her hair.
A few minutes later, what the maids that visited the ducal couple’s bedroom witnessed was the duchess ripping her hair out like a madwoman.
* * *
“You, it’s all because of you—!”
“And why would it be because of me?”
Pauline screamed piercingly as she looked at Countess Jive, who was seated before her rather quietly.
“Didn’t you say that I could get rid of the Duchess if I did that!”
Dressed in thin nightclothes, Young Lady Pauline’s neck turned red and she breathed heavily.
It was unbelievable that she was the same person as ‘Pauline Blair’, the daughter of a count, who attended the picnic.
“I did everything that you told me to do! I was prepared to die, and lured her to the lake! I had that expensive boat built and offered it! But—!”
Pauline brushed her hair roughly and shouted.
“Why is the Duchess alive and well?”
“That’s unfortunate, but I’m not entirely to blame for these results.”
Countess Jive covered her mouth with a fan as her eyes narrowed.
Truthfully, she had no doubt that the plan would succeed.
The plan to sow a monster’s seeds in the lake without the duke’s knowledge was perfect.
In fact, the duchess was almost killed by the monster when she fell into the water.
‘It definitely would have succeeded, if it weren’t for him.”
Countess Jive closed her eyes tightly like she had a headache.
Daniel von Esbaden, the man that would always make things hard, even for those on the same side as him.
Including the Jive couple, numerous other vassals of the anti-Duke faction tried to crown him as the new duke, but he didn’t care about that.
Just like he wasn’t interested in the position of duke, he would either enjoy being the protagonist of all kinds of love scandals, or go on a tour outside of the duke’s territory.
In any case, he was quite an elusive man.
‘Why would he unexpectedly appear by the lake?’
On the day the monster attacked the duchess, and tore apart the lakeside.
After suddenly appearing in the air, Daniel quickly defeated the monster and rescued the duchess.
‘Sir Nate’s private residence is quite a distance away from the lake.’
But that didn’t mean that Daniel was close to the duchess.
‘His reason for suddenly defending the Duchess is also unknown.’
Though he said that it’s because the duchess was his only sister-in-law, there isn’t a single person in Esbaden that wasn’t aware of the unfriendly terms that the duke and Daniel were on.
For him to help his cousin’s wife, when the two felt anxious about being unable to kill each other? It was incomprehensible.
Well, what’s so important about the reason?
The important point was that Daniel caused her plans to go awry.
“The Duchess must have told the Duke everything.
What should I do? If that happens, I, I…”
Meanwhile, Pauline was different from before and chewed on her nails with a frightened expression.
Upon witnessing that sight, Countess Jive clicked her tongue internally.
Such a pathetic and foolish person.
Pauline, who grew up with a father that’s uninterested in his daughter, received a severe shock when she lost her mother to a disease a few months ago.
And soon afterwards, even the duke that she had such an unrequited love for had gotten married.
Engulfed with betrayal and a sense of loss, Pauline’s anger was strangely directed at the new Duchess, Dooha.
‘Well, thanks to that, it was easy for me to take advantage of her, so it was my gain.’
Countess Jive fluttered her fan and opened her mouth.
“Young Lady, something like that will never happen, so please don’t worry.”
“H—how can Madam guarantee that?”
“Young Lady, do you still not know the Duke?”
Ever since he was young, the duke of Esbaden had a personality that believed in evidence and circumstances rather than in people.
Even if she was the duchess, the duke couldn’t do anything unless she could bring him evidence that Pauline was trying to kill her.
“The Duke will need to have proof if he wants to question the Young Lady, but he doesn’t have any, right? As such, we obviously wouldn’t get caught.”
Anyways, the evidence of manipulating the boat had naturally disappeared due to the monster’s rampage.
In addition, all of the minions that knew about the monster seeds within the ducal castle had already been either killed or muzzled.
“So don’t worry, stretch out your feet and rest well.
I should get going now too.
It’s almost time for my husband to return.”
Countess Jive folded her fan with a smack and rose from her seat.
“One moment, please.”
“What’s the matter, Young Lady?”
Pauline, who had been biting on her nails for a long time, looked at the countess with an anxious and earnest gaze, and asked.
“That drug, when can I get more of it?”
“Oh, that ‘nutritional supplement’?”
Countess Jive gave a faint smile when Pauline nodded urgently.
“Have you already ran out? Well, that drug has good efficacy in various ways.”
The drug, which was referred to by the two with the slang ‘nutritional supplement’, was none other than ‘Devil’s Nap’.
The Devil’s Nap, which was traded at an astronomical price amongst the Empire’s young aristocrats recently, was still an illegally traded product.
If it was discovered by the Imperial Family, not only could it result in confiscation of property, but also the death penalty in extreme cases.
“You’ll have to wait a little.
It has become so popular these days that it’s hard to obtain.”
“Then please send it to me as soon as it’s available.
I can’t calm down without it.”
Countess Jive waved her hand soothingly at Pauline.
“Even if it’s effective, don’t just drink anywhere.
You’ll get in trouble if you’re discovered by someone else.”
At her words, Pauline’s expression stiffened for a moment, but it soon returned to normal.
“I can take care of that much myself.”
Countess Jive started moving while waving her gloved hands.
“Then I’ll send someone later.”
As she walked out of the door, her mouth was curled up in a happy smile.
* * *
When one of the Duke of Esbaden’s lieutenants, Claude, found Dooha by the lakeside, he stared at her in surprise.
She was wearing a long cloak that didn’t go well with the mild weather.
‘Isn’t it hot?’
“I greet the Duchess.”
He looked sideways at Layla and the head maid, who were standing behind Dooha, and asked.
“What brings you here?”
“I heard that the knights were purging during such warm weather, so I came.”
At the news that the duke had the workers drain all the water out of the artificial lake before lunch so that the knights could purge the scene, she rushed to the scene.
With the face of a gracious lady of the house, she gestured towards Layla.
“I heard that you’ve skipped lunch to work, so I brought some snacks.
Please have some of this at least before continuing.”
Claude frowned and turned his head towards the prickly gazes he could feel aimed at his back.
The armour-clad knights that were searching the bottom of the lake in the scorching spring sunlight gave him eager looks.
“…Thank you for your kindness.”
Claude accepted her goodwill with a grim look on his face.
“Rest for ten minutes! Afterwards, continue working!”
At his command, the knights rushed over to the maids with snack filled baskets.
“Thank you very much, Duchess!”
One by one, the knights bent at the waist in Dooha’s direction and entered the makeshift tent near the lake with a snack in hand.
As she looked at their appearances, Dooha gave a pleased smile.
“Are you feeling alright?”
Then Claude asked after her.
Dooha thought that he’d usually disapproved of her, and looked at him with surprise.
“To think that Sir Claude is worried about me, I’m touched.”
“As a subordinate, it’s only natural to worry about the safety of the wife of my only Lord.”
“Thanks to you, I’m fine.”
In fact, the reason she was completely fine was all thanks to the Duke of Esbaden, who had nursed her all night, but she didn’t need to mention that.
“Anyways, is the purging proceeding smoothly?”
“Yes, as it’s something we’re familiar with.”
“Something you’re familiar with?”
“After the monster subjugation has finished, it’s also our job as the Esbaden family’s knights to purge the scene.”
For generations, the Esbaden ducal family was responsible for subjugating the monsters that appear at the border.
“That’s why the people here are used to such matters.”
Dooha listened to his words quietly and looked at the lake, where the water had been drained and the bottom visible, before opening her mouth again.
“Sir Claude, it’s currently breaktime, so wouldn’t it be better for you to rest for a moment?”
“What? Ah, I…”
Before allowing Claude to finish responding, Dooha jutted her chin at Layla.
Then, after making a look of disgust, Layla grabbed Claude’s arm like she had given up immediately.
“Stop asking back again stupidly.
That’s why you were fooled by my acting.”
Layla grabbed the bewildered Claude by the arm and entered the tent.
As Dooha watched their appearance, a corner of her lips curled upwards.
“Now that all of the disrupters have left, let’s get started.”
At her words, an anxious look appeared in the head maid’s eyes.
“Madam, do you really have to do this?”
As the head maid looked at the bottom of the wide lake, the corners of her mouth contorted like she was dizzy.
“Are you actually going to find an empty medicine bottle in such a wide mire? Isn’t this no different from looking for a needle in the desert?”
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