Grace raised her head and looked around her.
She could hear his voice, but she couldn’t find him anywhere.
“What’s wrong, Your Ladyship?”
Seeing Grace look around suddenly with stiff movements, Jaime asked her cautiously.
Grace hesitated and scoured her surroundings again, wondering if she just heard it wrong.
However, no matter how much she looked, she couldn’t see even Lucas’ shadow.
I don’t think I heard it wrong… What’s going on?
With her head tilted to the side, she asked, equally cautious.
“By any chance, is His Excellency nearby? Strangely, I keep hearing his voice.”
Jaime was shocked.
“What? Your Ladyship can hear His Excellency’s voice?”
“Yes. It’s strange, isn’t it? Perhaps it’s some form of auditory hallucination?”
Grace was perplexed, but Jaime could only gulp dryly.
The butler also froze where he was, his back straight. And besides the two, the black horse was also looking at her while huffing out through its mouth.
At the ensuing silence, Grace smiled awkwardly.
“But I can’t hear him now. I must have misheard it. Maybe it’s the sound of the wind?”
“Uh, w-what did you hear him say?”
“Ah. Um… ‘idiot’, ‘can’t even take care of’, ‘had to apologize’… and ‘might have gotten hurt’. But I’m not sure if I understood him correctly because I heard only bits and pieces.”
When Grace recounted what she heard, even she thought it was really strange.
But the words were too clear to assume that it was the howling of the wind, yet such remarks were also too out of the blue to definitely say it was him.
Jaime promptly glanced sideways at the black horse.
The blue eyes of said horse were wide open.
Inwardly, Jaime was quite shocked as well.
Those reactions were genuine.
‘So you said that I’m an idiot, and that you’re worried that Lady Grace’s hand might have gotten injured?’
Jaime sighed, and he could do nothing but swipe a hand over his face for a while.
He couldn’t deny it because it was very much like Lucas to say that.
Jaime had been serving this family ever since he was born, but he had never heard of a situation like this before.
Grace watched as Jaime’s expression became even more crumpled, and she caught on to what was happening.
“…Is the voice I heard earlier really His Excellency’s voice?”
At that moment, once again, that same voice flowed into Grace’s mind.
—…Can you truly hear me?
Shocked, Grace raised her head at once. Her eyes widened as she heard the voice more vividly than before.
“Just now, again!”
“I-I heard it just a second ago again. This time, I’m certain that it really is His Excellency’s voice. He asked if I truly can hear him.”
The black huffed in incredulity.
And when Jaime saw this reaction, he turned to the butler. He couldn’t help but laugh.
Hm. The butler hummed to himself as he organized his thoughts for a while. Then, he quietly spoke.
“In my opinion, I believe something has changed because the pattern has been transferred over to Lady Grace. The circumstances have changed.”
The circumstances have changed, he said. What change? And what in the world was this pattern anyway?
Grace looked down at the pattern on the back of her hand, which was shimmering softly.
She was astonished at first, but she didn’t feel any danger from it because it didn’t hurt.
However, as time passed by, the anxiety that she was trying to press down grew in size.
“Jaime, what on earth is this?”
Jaime bit down on his lower lip, looking down at the riding crop in his other hand.
Letters of the archaic language should have been inscribed here.
It never occurred to him that the inscription could be transferred elsewhere.
It’s only natural to think that way.
This riding crop had been with House Black for about 750 years.
Even in the family records that had been kept for the longest time, there was not a single line about the transference of the pattern to a person.
Something unexpected happened so suddenly.
Why? How come?
Jaime wanted to ask all these questions, but he couldn’t do that in front of Grace.
And he himself wasn’t in a position to speak about these things.
“I apologize, Lady Grace. Truthfully, I’m not someone who can talk about matters related to this. I know that you must be feeling uncomfortable and anxious, but would it be alright for you to wait for His Excellency?”
Grace took in Jaime’s troubled expression.
After a while, she nodded and smiled tenderly.
“Okay, I understand. But, Jaime…”
Her voice was as soft as her smile.
However, the words she spoke were firm and resolute.
“Since a strange pattern has been transferred to my arm, I believe I also have a right to know about those ‘matters’. Above all, it’s become something that’s related to me personally.”
Grace O’Ellin was a very delicate woman.
With small shoulders slanting at just the right angles, with a slender physique accentuating her bone structure, and with gentle eyes that slightly drooped at the sides.
Everything about her highlighted how slim and fragile she was.
On top of all that, when Jaime found out that she even got hit by his older brother, Norman, a certain notion started to form in his mind—that Grace was ‘a weak being to protect’ or ‘a weak woman who could break with even just the slightest touch’.
That’s why Jaime snorted when he heard Lucas say that her eyes were full of tenacity.
No matter how strong-minded she could be, it couldn’t be all that different from the intrinsic strength that’s obvious from her demeanor.
“This happened to my body, but if I’m left in the dark about this and something bad happens because of my ignorance, what then? Of course, I know that His Excellency the Duke would not allow that to happen. But it’s different from knowing how I can take care of myself.”
However, as Jaime watched Grace smiling while decisively claiming her rights, he somehow came to understand what Lucas said, even if only a little.
“So, if there are any important aspects related to this matter, or if there’s something about this that could be dangerous which I do not know, please share it with me.”
She was not as soft as she seemed.
“Be sure to tell me.”
“…Yes, we will keep that in mind.”
After saying so, Jaime nearly let the word ‘Madam’ slip through his mouth.
Panicking a little, he had to bite his lower lip to stop himself from saying that.
Just why did this unstoppable mouth keep trying to move on its own?
“Thank you. It’s late out, so let’s talk about the rest after the sun has risen and once it’s bright. I’m feeling quite drowsy, so I’ll go up first.”
Grace turned, smiling as gracefully as her name suggested, and Jaime followed after her retreating figure with his gaze.
Unlike the three frantic people left there, the small giant was kept resolute by herself.
It’s too early to say that it’s late.
The three men, with rather emotional eyes, watched Grace until she disappeared into the shadows of the dark dawn.
* * *
“Norman’s hurt?! Just how hurt is he!”
Marquis Kafrenn O’Ellin hurried back home as soon as the sun broke through the horizon that day.
He received the butler’s telegram even before dawn, and it forced him to return to the capital without even saying goodbye to his longtime friend.
Marquis Kafrenn O’Ellin’s roaring voice reverberated throughout the mansion.
“It’s only been a day since I left the house, but something like this happens while I’m gone? Whoever it is, tell me in detail. This instant!”
In front of the furious marquis, the butler gave his account of what happened at dawn.
A giant black horse suddenly appeared through the rain.
Then, it hit the pillars of the mansion to the extent that it caused serious damage, and as soon as it saw Norman, it rushed right into him.
It tackled Norman and flung him in the air. But even after that, the horse hovered around him as if what it did wasn’t enough to relieve its anger. It huffed greatly through its nostrils.
Its ferocious spirit made it look like a violent monster—like an untamed mountain beast.
“A black horse like that appeared out of nowhere?”
“Yes. It appeared out of nowhere at dawn.”
“Then why did it hit Norman?”
“I… I do not know, sir.”
“Ridiculous! All of a sudden? Hah! It’s not even a ghost!”
“Head Maid Alia, witnessed it as well, sir. And when the Young Master wakes up, he will also say the same thing if you ask him directly. I’ve told not a single lie, Milord.”
When the butler mentioned her, Head Maid Alia lowered her eyes and also told what she saw in detail.
Her testimony was no different from what the butler said.
“How dare, how dare… What kind of horse breaks down House O’Ellin’s fence and attacks the household’s successor!”
The marquis’ long beard shook along with his twitching mouth.
He immediately stomped the floor and gave an order to the butler.
“Put a bounty on it. Be sure to find the black horse and the owner of that black horse! This instant!”
The marquis gnashed his teeth.
For a mythical creature-like horse to appear out of nowhere like that, it must have an owner.
And the owner of that horse must undoubtedly be holding a grudge against Kafrenn O’Ellin.
“Excuse me, Milord. There’s one more thing I must tell you.”
The butler spoke even more politely and cautiously this time as the household head was practically fuming now.
Marquis Kafrenn O’Ellin sharply retorted.
Feeling the sharp wrath of the marquis’ glare, the butler’s head bowed even further.
“Lady Grace had been invited to the Blacke Duchy’s residence, however we were notified that she hurt her leg due to the Duke’s mistake.”
“What did you say?”
The marquis gritted his teeth loudly, and though he didn’t say it, his disposition replied with, ‘So what?’
The marquis showed no signs of caring for the lady’s wellbeing, and this was already something that the butler was expecting.
He continued calmly.
“As a result, House Blacke sent word that they would take responsibility and will take care of the Lady until she’s fully recovered. They also said that they will support her wholly and will take full responsibility, so there is nothing for you to worry about.”
“Grace, that dim-witted thing. She went there and got her own leg injured?”
This was the problem with women.
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