Her face turned crimson when she thought of that, until Abel pulled her out of her thoughts.
“Oh, I am sorry. By chance are you… from Aether?” Erna asked.
“No, madam. Why do you think so?”
“Nothing. It’s no big deal. You can go now.”
The embarrassment of having pointlessly compared someone from far away and thinking of Kalion made Erna rush him out.
After Abel left, she hastily began gathering the things that’d been pushed back over the past few days.
She counted the days on her fingers how many times she’d gotten to rest for a long time after becoming the grand duchess. In the past when she had serious menstrual pains she had insisted on bringing documents to the bedroom and processing them, even when lying down.
But that is impossible this time. She had blacked out for a long time, and even Kalion had helped her so she couldn’t look at the papers for a while…
“I was incredibly busy,” she muttered under her breath. She resented Kalion as she signed the papers frantically.
Time had gone by, and it was lunchtime, but Erna still couldn’t get up from her seat. Orpé eventually brought in her meals, and after setting the table, she told her “Eat after the next page” as she grabbed Erna and sat her down.
Orpé pleaded, “Please eat something. What’s going to happen if you faint again?”
“Do I look like I’m going to faint?”
“N-no… right now you look healthy, madam… still, you must not get sick again! Chairman Vanessa also asked me to do so.”
When Vanessa’s name was mentioned, Erna sighed and sat on the sofa. Oblivious to Erna’s frustration, Orpé was so elated about Erna’s decision to eat that she continued to push food in front of her.
“Speaking of Chairman Vanessa, it must be loud over there today,” said Orpé.
Clueless, Erna asked, “Why?”
“Why what? I don’t think you’ve looked at the document yet… The new delegates from Haband have been requesting some pretty annoying things.”
“Haband? What kind of requests?” Despite it being her country, Erna frowned every time the name ‘Haband’ was mentioned.
“Hold on, let’s see…” Orpé found a hunk of papers after rummaging through Erna’s desk drawers. “These are Haband’s requests…”
“Crazy bastards. Seriously.” A deep sigh came from Erna’s mouth as soon as she saw the thickness of the papers. At first glance, it had to be dozens. How could all of those be Haband’s requests? “They must think Hessenguard is their slave.”
Orphe smiled bitterly when Erna muttered in a disdainful voice. As a native of Haband, it was ironic how she was perfectly angry on Hessenguard’s behalf.
“I don’t know who the new messenger is, but I’ll break his leg this time. No, that’s not enough. Because you can still work with a broken leg. Well, this time I can’t work properly for some reas…”
At that moment, Erna realized that Haband’s delegates had never once moved from Hessenguard. Before she had come to Hessenguard, the royal members that had been sent here had been assassinated.
After that, when she arrived a plague had broken out and everyone had had to leave. Since then, the long war in Haband had continued. As soon as the delegates came back here, the representative had been stung by a bee and fallen down, so their work couldn’t be done properly.
With Erna now deep in thought after realizing that fact, Orpé, sitting next to her going through papers, scowled.
“My word! They say they want to stay in the Grand Castle’s main building. And they want me to replace all the walls, furniture, and bedding with new ones because of the plague from ten years ago?” Orpé sucked her teeth as if flabbergasted. “How many people died of the disease ten years ago?”
Erna felt weird at Orpé’s mumbling. They said that the plague from ten years ago had completely swept across Hessenguard. The stench of burnt corpses had permeated not only the city but the Grand Castle, and delegates of Haband and Aether, unable to withstand it, had fled, leaving behind the young duke they had brought.
Orpé, however, was talking like that wasn’t anything too special.
“The plague wasn’t a big issue ten years ago? I heard that quite a lot of people died…” said Erna.
“I, too, thought that at first, but at that time many more people died from the war than the plague. They say that it’s still going around, but almost no one has caught it. And many people who caught it have recovered. So we just said amongst each other, ‘Isn’t the rumor too big?’”
Erna shut her mouth at Orpé’s explanation. She remembered well what’d happened at that time. Because she had been shivering alone, not knowing when she’d catch the plague.
At that time, Erna remembered the person who had delivered the news about the plague to Marquess Canavan.
It was Vanessa who had reported the number of bodies burned every day, not only in the capital but also in the entire Hessenguard area.
Then, a familiar voice entered along with a knock.
“Duchess. It’s me, Vanessa. May I enter?”
Normally this would be a welcomed visit, but Erna had to stare at the door, unable to answer and frozen in her seat.