While Erna was looking around the room the servants had emptied, Orpé’s loud voice was heard from the front door. She was pretty much yelling.
Shocked, Erna urgently came out to the hallway. This place was the main building of the Grand Castle. Orpé knew better than anyone that yelling out loud was considered improper. How could she have yelled out loud as though had lost her senses? Erna suddenly felt ominous.
“What’s wrong? Why are—”
Orpé ran as fast as she could towards Erna, and with ragged breaths, she said, “There’s something terribly wrong. Lord Kalion! He’s been p-p-poisoned—”
Kalion. Poisoned. Erna’s mind went blank, as if someone had hit her in the head. Without even thinking about asking what had happened, Erna immediately bolted out of the building.
“Madam Erna! You can’t! You must stay here!” Orpé followed suit and grabbed Erna. She immediately ordered the maids also frozen in fright,“Everyone, close all of the exits! From now, entering the main building is prohibited until further instructions are given.”
Orpé’s order was warranted. In the case that a major problem occurs in the personal life of the Duke of Hessenguard, access from the outside is prohibited in the Grand Castle, including individual movement. Everyone must remain seated in one room until the problem is resolved.
But how could Kalion, one-half of the grand couple, have been poisoned? In this case, every single person remaining inside must put forward their best efforts to keep the other half safe—and that was Grand Duchess Erna.
Erna also knew the protocol more than anyone else—she had to take command of the people waiting for any piece of news, just as Orpé had said.
“Where is Kalion?” asked Erna.
“I heard he was carried away to the knights’ quarters… Madam Erna!”
While her mind knew what to do, her body didn’t move properly. Only two words filled her mind.
* * *
Erna ran to the knights’ building. Behind her, Orpé was yelling at her to stop, but her efforts were futile. So she followed behind Erna in silence.
Having arrived at the front of the knights’ building, the scene before them was pure chaos. Until today, never once had Erna seen such a commotion like this one. How dare someone behave that way in the Hessenguard’s knights’ building. Even when Kalion and Erna weren’t on good terms yet, the knights were tolerable for Erna. She merely ignored them as they were well-behaved.
Sure enough, the ones causing the commotion were Haband’s delegates.
“What is this nonsense?!”
“Let Princess Adelaide go!”
Erna stood still as she watched the clamor before her. Then, some people emerged from the crowd of knights. They were doctors. The moment they appeared, Erna, along with delegates who’d been fussing, froze in their tracks. The doctors’ clothes were stained with blood.
Without even glimpsing at the rowdy delegates, the doctors urgently ran up to her and said, “We have to make more counteractive agents!”
“Bring everything that’s left in the medicine room. And all of the herbs in the other buildings too!” said the other doctor.
“But even if we make it this wa—”
Erna jumped in front of them.
“What’s going on!? How is Kalion?”
The doctors immediately bowed their heads as soon as they realized it was Erna. Meanwhile, an elderly female doctor, who had previously tended to Erna, appeared, “I shall explain, madam.” Then, she looked at the other doctors and said, “Bring them as soon as you can, as you’re told.”
After the doctors ran out, the female doctor led Erna to the knights’ building. Haband’s delegates, who looked at the two for a moment, demanded that the knights should leave them alone, but the knights guarded the building like hawks, letting only Erna, Orpé, and the doctor in.
“What is… h-happening? What about Kalion? Is he safe?”
Erna knew she needed to grasp the situation calmly, but her voice trembled every time she spoke. The doctor grabbed her hand and spoke calmly, “Starting with the current situation now, Lord Kalion is alive.”
Erna wasn’t relieved at the word ‘alive’.
“What happened? Who was it? How did he ingest poison?”
“I shall explain that on the way. This way.” The doctor moved further into the dark hallway, while Erna and Orpé nervously trailed behind her.
Then, a servant came out holding a pile of white linen. When he saw Erna, the servant hastily bowed. Erna stared blankly at the bedsheets in his arms. They were soaked in blood just as much as the doctor’s clothes.
“Like the knights said, Lord Kalion was in a training grounds far from the knights’ building, unlike normal. And while taking a walk, Princess Adelaide passed by and offered him some water. Then, immediately after drinking it he vomited blood and passed out.”
Erna held her breath at the doctor’s words. She felt a chill all over her body as she imagined the amount of blood Kalion had vomited.