“What are we going to do now, Your Excellency?”
Jaime and Lucas were at a spacious drawing room on the second floor.
It was the room with the best view of the mansion’s garden, and it was also the same room that Grace had waited for a moment to watch the sunset back then before their dinner last time.
Jaime stood on the terrace beside the sleek black horse, which was looking towards the garden.
With deep, sea-colored eyes, the massive black horse was quietly watching the woman who was taking a pleasant stroll amidst the greenery.
Of course, the horse was looking at Grace.
The small but steadfast woman walked slowly through the lush garden, holding a parasol that Julie brought back for her.
The blue eyes did not leave her.
“…Excuse me, Your Excellency?”
As it continued to stare at the woman without so much as budging, Jaime tried to snap the black horse’s attention back to the present, but no answer returned to him.
While glancing surreptitiously at the horse’s disposition, Jaime was rubbing his stinging shin, which had been kicked by the horse not long ago.
If it had really been serious about kicking him with its hindleg with all its strength, Jaime might have died immediately on the spot. Fortunately, however, he was kicked only really, very, lightly. This led him to have only a few black bruises.
He’s lucky enough that he didn’t end up with any broken bones.
‘Ah, I must’ve gone crazy for a moment there, too.’
…No matter how in the moment he was a while ago, what exactly came over him that he slapped His Excellency’s behind?
Still vividly feeling the texture on his hand, chills went straight down Jaime’s spine.
If Grace hadn’t hugged Lucas’s head at that time, consoling him and saying that it’s alright, he might’ve really broken Jaime’s leg right then and there.
Momentarily breathing out a sigh of relief, Jaime suddenly rebuked himself. This was not the time to feel relieved.
The problem was not that the powerful hindleg-kick didn’t break Jaime’s bones, but rather that the horse’s hindleg was actually owned by a human being!
The situation was making Jaime so utterly nervous, but Lucas himself seemed to be at peace with it.
Well, uh, actually. Jaime just couldn’t read his expression.
Indeed… Who in the world could read a horse’s expression anyway?
He wasn’t even some kind of horse whisperer.
‘Ah gosh, I dunno.’
Since His Excellency was now involved with Lady Grace, Jaime’s sure that he’d think of a way.
“Firstly, what’s with that. To say that the Lady is injured, that it’s this household’s fault, and that we’ll take care of her. Actually, I don’t know until when we’ll be able to keep this up because it’s complete bullcrap.”
“We persuaded her to stay here since she’s now involved in the secret of the family, and we don’t know what kind of effect the pattern on her arm would bring her, but… If it becomes consistent that Your Excellency couldn’t meet her, she’ll eventually get suspicious.”
Jaime finished his report and glanced at Lucas once more.
Him, the beautiful and majestic black stallion.
His black coat was as soft as satin, and his muscles were as strong as a well-built warrior.
‘How can he look so elegant when he’s in his most primal form?’
Inwardly, Jaime was quite impressed.
Through the curse of House Blacke, he came to admire the creature called ‘horse’.
Fast, strong, free and good-natured. The only animal that was wild but, at the same time, not barbaric was the horse.
Neither the eagle, the wolf, nor the lion—which was called the king of the animal kingdom—possessed such elegance and strength at the same time.
Was there any other perfect beast such as this?
Therefore, even though he turned into an animal, Jaime was not scared or uncomfortable about Lucas at all.
Rather, it only made him feel more amazed and overwhelmed.
In all honesty, Jaime had only been able to see Lucas in this form less than five times before in his whole life.
This curse, which didn’t seem like a curse, was handed down from generation to generation to the eldest descendants of House Blacke, and it began 752 years ago when the Zeronium Kingdom was founded.
What’s surprising was this: House Blacke was not the only family that had this kind of curse.
More surprisingly was the fact that this included the royal family.
It was a very well-kept secret that only a few people knew, and it had stayed like that for over 750 years.
‘I mean, who would believe it anyway? That the founding legend of the Zeronium Kingdom is true.’
Jaime suddenly sat on a bench and looked out to the garden where Grace was. She had started reading a book.
‘The moment she learns the secret, she’s bound to marry His Excellency, right?’
Of course, they were already scheduled for a marriage of convenience, but was the lady even aware that she had practically no way out of it at this point?
As soon as the royal family were to find out that she knew the secret, their marriage would proceed very quickly.
She would have to swear before the king that she would carry this secret to the grave.
And as she would do so, she must engrave her name on a magic tool that had been handed down the royal family throughout the centuries.
Once her name was engraved there, she would not be able to talk about the secret with a person who was unrelated to the curse.
The enforced spell would automatically freeze her lips.
Even so, there were some pledgees who, very foolishly, went against and violated the maxim.
Thus activating a horribly ghastly curse upon them.
‘They lost their voice and vision, I heard?’
It was an exceptionally cruel curse where the eyes would be burned and the tongue would be sliced raw.
‘That’s how some married couples were half-forced to live together.’
This was why ‘affection’ was extremely important in all the marriages of House Blacke’s descendants.
If there was no affection and trust at the core of a marriage, the eldest sons of House Blacke did not reveal their family’s secret to their spouses.
It didn’t happen a lot, but it’s not as if it never happened at all.
Jaime was secretly worried that Lucas would fall into the minority in that regard because he had never shown any interest in women before.
However… those worries were completely shattered the moment Grace appeared in his life.
‘I’m quite certain that the Lady started having feelings for him first, but just when exactly did His Excellency begin falling so badly like this?’
Was this what first love was like?
He hadn’t had the chance to witness it many times, but he’s totally addicted to watching it.
Indeed, once His Excellency would start liking anything, he’s the kind of man who tended to be completely immersed in it. It’s only natural that he might be like that with love as well.
“…No, I mean, no matter what, shouldn’t you return to being human first before proceeding?”
Lucas’s blue eyes, which had been fixed on Grace, glanced towards Jaime once he heard the aide’s grumbling.
Now that Jaime got his attention, he brought up the pertinent topic.
“What do we do if the curse sticks to the Lady like the letters did to her arm? And what do we do now that the riding crop isn’t working? Are you going to keep being a horse like this? Huh?”
Lucas stomped his foot with a hint of annoyance.
Nevertheless, Jaime could not stop his flying yapper.
“Then are you telling me that you’re going to your wedding with the innocent Lady Grace as a horse? If His Highness catches wind of this too, won’t it become such a mess? Do you want to turn this whole country upside down? Or, well, Duke Lucas Blacke has suddenly disappeared! —Are you planning to publish a news article like that?”
Lucas turned his head and looked at Grace in the garden again.
He didn’t seem to get tired of watching her, whether it be ten minutes or an entire hour.
Then, Jaime superbly hit Lucas’s nerves squarely and right on the mark.
“Can the engagement continue if the fiancé has disappeared? The betrothal is definitely going to be called off. Yeah, I really think it would. Oh! It wouldn’t be crazy to think that Lady Grace would get married to someone else in the meantime. Right? It seems that Marquis O’Ellin is trying to sell off the Lady in the name of ‘marriage’.”
At that moment, Lucas’s blue eyes glinted with murderous intent.
Unlike before, Jaime immediately stepped back the moment he heard Lucas huff heavily.
“C-Calm down. That’s why we have to hurry up and find a solution!”
Lucas slowly approached Jaime, his blue eyes fixed on the aide.
Jaime’s throat dried up more and more as the huge black horse approached, atmosphere overbearing.
As Lucas approached while carrying a terrifying atmosphere, Jaime slowly gulped down his dry throat and shouted.
“P-Please don’t hit me!”
The yelping Jaime quickly ducked down and put both hands behind his head.
However, whether fortunate or unfortunate, he didn’t feel any pain at all.
He just felt Lucas’s presence slipping past him.
‘W-What the. You’re not going to hit me?’
Still crouching down, Jaime looked up and saw that Lucas was pointing his head towards a portrait that was hanging by the fireplace past him.
Now with his attention drawn there, Jaime jumped up and replied,
“The Elder Madam?”
It was Selena Blacke, Lucas’s mother and the former Duchess.
Lucas nodded roughly then stood on the terrace again.
The sunlight’s rays were warm, and the moderate breeze was sweet.
“You told me never to contact her as much as possible… But, oh! Indeed, the situation calls for it right now. Alright! I’ll send a letter to the Elder Madam right away!”
Jaime, who turned pale, quickly fled the room.
Lucas shook his head casually and turned to look at Grace again.
Even if a letter would be sent to his mother now, it would take a while for her to arrive at the capital.
She could also use the family’s warp gate in case of emergency, however it was still going to take a few days before that since the letter would be delivered by a hawk.
‘Now, what should I do in the meantime?’
Lucas continued to watch Grace, who was sitting on a garden bench.
She sat motionless, just reading the book spread out on her lap.
‘You must like reading.’
While pleasantly thinking whether he should introduce her to the library—
Grace’s head bobbed to the side.
She flinched back right before she fell down, but he could see her head sinking yet again.
‘No way… You’ve been dozing off all this time?’
Not knowing it himself, Lucas burst into laughter.
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