The Grand Duke had vomited half the night, to the point where I was worried that his organs would come out of his mouth as well. Archer induced even more vomiting. That was probably safest for now. He needed to get everything out of his system. But there was hope. If it was a poison, it was a weak one. Otherwise, he wouldn’t have been able to walk up to my room and interrogate the maid with me.
Who on earth would poison him? Whoever did this didn’t do it with the intention to kill, otherwise they would have given him a stronger poison… but why? Why would someone do this? What was the motive? Who could be a suspect?
There were so many questions in my mind and Archer only responded with silence. D*mn, he was insufferable.
“This is the Glouster castle,” I said. I decided to keep talking even if this lump of silence wasn’t going to answer. “His territory. If he had fainted because of… the drug or a poison, there would be too many people around him to get away from doing something like that. Did they hope to kill him when he was passed out? But that doesn’t make sense! Who would give him such a weak drug and for what purpose? Was it to trigger an allergic reaction?”
The servant finally glanced at me. “What is an allergic reaction?”
His voice was low and hoarse as though he hadn’t spoken a word in a long, long time. Or, he must have hurt his throat somehow.
“Well… it’s something like having an abnormal reaction to a particular food.”
“My Lord had never shown such a reaction to any particular food as far as I know,” said Archer. “At least, regarding common food that is made here in Glouster.”
I liked this servant. His answers were short and precise. To the point. I realized he was the same servant who had materialized by our side in the palace gardens last time. I really needed someone as efficient as him for myself.
“Hm, then someone did this,” I said. “But why? To try to stop him from hosting the gathering? This gathering isn’t even that special. It is not like the gathering was for some kind of conspiracy.”
The servant glanced at me once more before turning back to his master. “Some would disagree,” he said. “A gathering of young nobles from promising families could be seen as a conspiracy to seize authority.”
He wasn’t wrong. The Grand Duke chose to invite young nobles from many families so that no one would think he was showing an interest in someone specific. But it could be taken as an attempt to get close to the young nobles for a purpose.
The Grand Duke of Glouster can’t be seen doing political things. My brothers had explained to me. The Grand Duke, as the King’s brother, ranked as one of the five successors to the throne. Therefore, his political actions could be seen as an attempt to take the throne for himself. Even a casual meeting with young, promising nobles could create wild speculations.
That was the reason why Glosuter had always been secluded and isolated. Even the smallest visits could make the King suspicious.
If he really organized this whole thing just to see me, he chose a very troubling way of doing so. Just a meeting in the streets of Schway or drinking tea in a public café would have been better…
No, it wouldn’t. The Queen was already trying to fish for anything to create a scandal in my name. Even a casual meeting between the Grand Duke and the young daughter of a Marquess would be blown out of proportions.
Maybe he could have visited Warwick Mansion. He is my mother’s cousin after all. He could have used that as an excuse to visit the mansion. A visit from family and relatives wasn’t frowned upon.
But that would raise so many questions, too. Mother, father and Grandfather would take an interest in our meeting. Since the Grand Duke had never visited before, the question of the sudden visit would be posed.
Why on earth is this man interested in me so much? Since Archer seemed to know him better, I almost asked if he knew the real reason but I restrained myself. That was not something you asked a servant. That wasn’t important right now.
Think. Think. Think. Dinner…
“You’re his valet, right?”
A valet was a personal servant who took care of the noble. There were so many ranks among the servants that I was surprised that I could actually remember what a valet was.
“Yes, that is right,” said Archer.
“Did he eat something specific before dinner?” I asked.
Archer thought for a while. “He drank tea.”
“Who brought it?”
“Tea is always ready in Master’s room. I brought hot water.”
Then it was something in his dinner. But everyone had the same meal. Some people did request for some side dishes but I remember that Alex and I hadn’t. Neither had the Grand Duke. We had eaten the same thing as him. But what if there was something else that I hadn’t noticed?
How can I find out which food was laid in front of him? I really didn’t know the internal structure of the Glouster castle. I didn’t know of any maid, cooks or servants here either. I wasn’t much of an investigator. I was only good at killing. This was just hard.
But there was nothing else I could do right now. I couldn’t really ask anyone about it until the Grand Duke woke up. If someone else found out that I was digging around for information, whoever did it would be on alert.
I tried to close my eyes and recall the dinner in the dining hall. I wanted to remember what else was there on the dinner table.