Chapter 13.2

“I may have overindulged in the bread and stew; I’m still digesting,” Elena replied, her cheeks slightly flushed as she tried to steer the conversation away from her physical discomfort.

“Did you enjoy the venison stew?” Cura inquired.

Elena nodded. “Yes, the potatoes were delicious too, but the meat was incredibly tender.”

“The Grand Duke has been hunting a surplus of deer lately, resulting in an excess of meat. The cooks have frozen it, and there’s still plenty left. That’s why my brother has been urging even the servants to partake in deer meat.”

“The Grand Duke goes hunting?” Elena asked in surprise.

“Yes, he used to hunt occasionally, but recently, he ventures out alone every night. That’s why my brother has been so irritable about it. He’s even gone hunting during the day, so he might have reprimanded you, Elena.”

“I understand.”

“Oh, Elena, you do know what the Grand Duke left behind when he went hunting, don’t you?”

Elena swiftly regained her composure and recollected.

“He abandoned the deer he caught that day in the forest and brought only you back. My brother had to accompany the servants to retrieve it from the woods. He was incredibly cross that day as well.”

“But how can Lord Serin speak so informally about the Grand Duke? Does he act this way in front of the Grand Duke?” Elena inquired.

Cura giggled, concealing her mouth with her hand. “He does it quite often. Whenever he does, those of us who are present nearby become anxious, fearing the Grand Duke’s potential displeasure.”

“How can that be?” Elena mused, her voice tinged with disbelief. “I’ve heard the Grand Duke is a rather formidable figure.”

“That’s right,” Cura confirmed. “He’s earned himself the moniker ‘Black Wolf Who Devoured the Demon.'”

“‘Devoured the demon?'” Elena repeated.

“Yes, that’s the kind of reputation he has. Do you recall when I shared stories about him during the Terra Demorte campaign?”

Elena nodded, her curiosity piqued. She eased her arms into the robe that Cura was holding, the soft fabric enveloping her. Once Cura had artfully arranged Elena’s hair outside the robe, she resumed brushing it. The gentle strokes provided a sense of comfort in the midst of the conversation.

“Perhaps it’s because the Grand Duke has been by my brother’s side since they were young that he’s at ease with him,” Cura offered. “According to Lord Lassino, there might be only my brother and Viscount Leemid with whom the Grand Duke converses so informally.”

“Viscount Leemid?” Elena queried, her mind racing to grasp the dynamics of the Grand Duke’s relationships.

“He’s a close friend of the Grand Duke. Even when the Grand Duke becomes exceedingly irate, he doesn’t harm those two.”

Elena made an attempt to envision Serin displaying the same annoyance he had exhibited towards her when interacting with Kennard, but the image remained elusive.

“By the way, are you truly feeling well? If you experience any discomfort or dizziness, please inform me immediately.”

Cura had been vigilant, continuously scrutinizing Elena’s countenance since her return from the glasshouse.

“I’m genuinely fine. Look, nothing’s amiss,” Elena reassured Cura, raising her hands and even playfully sticking out her tongue. “Everything appears perfectly normal, doesn’t it?”

Cura’s expression relaxed, a smile of relief crossing her face. But that expression swiftly darkened as she bit her lower lip.

“It’s truly remarkable. How were you able to touch Vanaichi without any adverse effects?”

Elena sighed, her own confusion echoing in her words. “I’m just as bewildered. I had no prior knowledge of a flower called Vanaichi.”

“That’s absolutely true,” Cura remarked with a shiver, her brows furrowing. “It’s fortunate that nothing is amiss, but if that flower were indeed poisonous… Oh, the mere thought is terrifying. In any case, please exercise caution in the greenhouse, where you’ll find plants like Vanaichi. My brother will provide more details starting tomorrow, but until then, refrain from touching anything.”

“Understood,” Elena replied, eventually breaking into a warm chuckle. Seeing Cura’s maternal concern, she couldn’t help but be touched, and her smile returned.

However, before the moment could settle, the bedroom door clicked open unexpectedly. Startled, Elena turned to find Kennard standing at the entrance, clad entirely in dark attire, like a mysterious figure.

She swiftly rose and inclined her head towards him. “Your Highness, at this late hour, may I inquire…” Before she could finish her greeting, Elena realized her attire—a sheer robe, barely concealing her slender form.

Quickly adjusting the front of her robe, she raised her head, only to discover Kennard standing in close proximity.

Taken aback, she instinctively stepped back. It wasn’t just the abruptness of his appearance that surprised her; it was the intense, almost fiery, gaze in his deep, pumpkin-colored eyes. Unconsciously, she hunched her shoulders under the weight of his scrutiny.

“Your Highness,” she began once more.

Ignoring her words, Kennard grasped her wrist. As the robe’s sleeve slid down, her slender wrist was revealed.



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