Chapter 3.2

A multitude of questions swirled within my mind. But why? Why had he brought me here, not knowing the first thing about me, tending to my injuries, and granting me sanctuary within the palace?

“I was simply taken aback and let slip words when you bestowed a name upon a stranger,” the old man explained, as if he, too, shared my bewildering thoughts.

“As time passes, her memory may return. Until then, please focus on her recovery. We can contemplate our next steps once she is fully healed.” After imparting this advice to the old man, the man began to shift his position on the bed, hinting that his departure was imminent.

“Um…” In a last-ditch effort, I spoke up, and the man paused, turning back to look at me. He didn’t utter a word, but it was evident that he would exit promptly unless I continued the conversation.

“May I have the privilege of knowing who you are… or perhaps, may I address you, sir?” The pumpkin-colored irises, already inscrutable, deepened further. I had dared to inquire about the identity of the man addressed as “Your Highness,” leaving me with little to say even if met with a frosty response.

There might be consequences for probing into the identity of someone of such high rank.

“Kennard…” The moment the man uttered that name, an inexplicable tension gripped my body, causing it to instinctively stiffen.

“Kennard Den Devel, the Grand Duke.” Just the sound of the name had the power to freeze me in place, an experience entirely foreign to me. Well, I couldn’t be certain if I had ever encountered such a sensation before, given my memory loss. Nevertheless, I was convinced that this was an entirely novel and unsettling experience.

Kennard, who had halted his departure, fixed a piercing gaze upon Elena. Elena, acutely aware of his scrutiny, grew even paler, as if her already pallid complexion had drained of all color. She couldn’t muster the courage to vocalize her curiosity about the reason behind his intense scrutiny.

Instead, she buried herself deeper into the soft, plush bedding, feeling as though Kennard’s gaze could swallow her whole.

“Leto,” he called.

“Yes, Your Grace?” answered the old man.

“I entrust Elena’s care to Cura.”

“Cura, Your Grace?” Leto’s eyes widened as if they might pop out of their sockets, startled.

Kennard tilted his head slightly and redirected his gaze toward Leto. “What’s troubling you?” he inquired.

“It’s just that you mentioned assigning attendants to someone of unknown status,” Leto hesitated.

“If it’s not to your liking, would you prefer to be her attendant?” Kennard replied.

“No, no, that’s not what I meant,” Leto hurriedly clarified.

“If my words are satisfactory, please refrain from adding further interpretations,” Kennard responded firmly.

“Yes, of course. I’ll remember that,” Leto replied, bowing deeply, as if attempting to bend his aged frame even further.

Kennard shifted his attention away from Leto and departed from the room. With his exit, the oppressive heaviness that had hung in the air suddenly lifted, as if a tremendous burden had been removed.

Only after the door clicked shut did Leto slowly straighten up. Elena feigned indifference, attempting to avoid eye contact with Leto, who sighed quietly through his wrinkled lips.

“I can’t fathom what’s going through your mind,” he muttered to himself as he approached Elena.

“You appear to be fortunate,” he said, though Elena found herself at a loss for words when Leto described her as lucky, lying injured and amnesic, bereft of refuge.

As Elena discreetly averted her gaze, Leto seemed to sense her unspoken thoughts. He cleared his throat before speaking.

“We’re not known for our hospitality, and kindness is rarely extended to those who are not of our race or lack a known status. When the Devil Duke brought you here after finding you collapsed in the snowstorm, it surprised everyone.”

“Are you saying the Devil Duke saved me?” Elena asked.

“Yes,” Leto confirmed.

Elena hadn’t yet had the opportunity to ponder how she had ended up here. Her memory remained a blank canvas, devoid of any clues. All she could muster was a vague recollection of receiving help from someone, but to think that it was none other than the Grand Duke who had come to her aid.

She tried to concentrate, as if a faint glimmer of memory was emerging. However, every effort to focus was met with a throbbing ache in her head, and any fleeting recollections dissipated like smoke. No matter how diligently she strained to remember, she couldn’t piece together the events that had led to her current condition or why she had undergone such a harrowing ordeal.

“Teacher.” The door swung open once again, revealing the voice of a young girl. Her footsteps approached swiftly, and then a face emerged from beneath the bed’s canopy.

The girl, her silvery hair woven into twin braids, possessed eyes that sparkled with curiosity. She was noticeably younger than Elena, and her freckles around her nose and cheeks danced playfully as she alternated smiles between Leto and Elena.

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