‘She’s Duchess Garth?’
Craven almost fainted right then and there. His teeth were about to crash up and down. As he thought, Thierry had already fled. But he would not have gone far, he must be snooping around somewhere.
‘I’m sure Thierry doesn’t know. That’s why he acted out.’
Thierry was a severe swindler and could not control his anger well. But he was afraid Craven would snitch on him, so although he had abandoned Craven and ran away, he would not have been able to go far.
‘Thierry must not have been able to control his anger, after sneaking around for a while, he would try to get back at this woman. Father would be afraid of the consequences if he knew he did something to the duchess, he wouldn’t let Thierry go easy. If I handle this situation well, I might overtake Thierry and even become the successor.’
Craven knew that Thierry always carried a small sharp dagger with him no matter what banquet he went to. As a general rule, weapons were prohibited from banquets. And in masquerades especially, any rules pertaining to weapons were particularly strict. So in order not to be caught, Thierry would come in with a dagger hanging from his calf.
Of course, he brought a dagger with him today.
‘If Thierry points his dagger at the Duchess…’
Needless to say, he would be banished. Maybe he would get his head cut off. Furthermore, the escort knight seemed to be skillful, so the dagger would not reach the Duchess directly. It would only be an attempted act, he would not be causing any harm to their family or Craven himself.
‘Only Thierry will suffer.’
Killing two birds with one stone. Craven grinned, even forgetting his pain at the thought. Robin frowned. He wondered if the madman had finally gone crazy after getting hit.
‘Why is this bastard smiling while looking at madam?’
It was unpleasant. Robin kicked Craven’s stomach hard. Craven fainted with his eyes crinkled up and his mouth smiling.
“Then, lady, I’ll be right back.”
“We will protect her, so don’t worry, sir.”
Robin nodded at the servants’ words.
Three servants were guarding the greenhouse as it only had a single entrance door to it. The servants recognized Valia and let her in. Valia entered the glass greenhouse with a smile with the door closing behind her. Robin walked away, dragging an unconscious Craven with a firm grip on his back neck and escorting Lady Wicks with his other hand.
It was better to send a knight at Robin’s level to send out an officially invited guest.
Valia looked around the glass greenhouse. The greenhouse’s translucent walls and transparent ceiling made it a good place to enjoy fireworks, just as Schuden said.
“Madam, the greenhouse is so beautiful.”
“The gardeners worked hard on it.”
The servant who followed Valia smiled. He was worried about leaving the madam alone, so he followed her and had the other two people guard the door.
‘Did I come too early…’
Even though Valia went through a scuffle in the middle of her way here, she still arrived earlier than Schuden. Valia asked if there was anyone else in the greenhouse, to which the servants answered that there was none.
Valia realized that she had been in a hurry and felt a little embarrassed. She walked slowly into the greenhouse.
The glass greenhouse looked like a garden with it being full of ornamental garden flowers and ornamental trees. The building was so big that it could not all be seen at once. Valia walked and thought about what had happened earlier.
It was the first time she had seen a Garth knight fight in front of her, both in her past and in the present. But rather than a fight, it was more like a one-sided beating.
During the span of time in which Valia blinked her eyes, Robin had quickly and accurately snapped Craven’s arm and kicked his legs.
While still following the standard, his power and speed were unrivaled and overwhelming. To be honest, Valia was a little surprised.
‘Sir Robin is the youngest, if he is already like this, how incredible is his commander, Sir Shaun…’
Then, how strong was Schuden—the owner of the knights and the undefeated knight? Valia could not quite comprehend it.
She kept walking inside. Owning a glass greenhouse itself was a luxurious hobby, but what was more amazing was that it was made so big. In fact, everything in Garth Castle was huge.
After walking straight along the crooked white stone road, Valia would find a low staircase. After going up the staircase, she would find a tea table and chairs. Valia had been to the greenhouse a couple of times, so she roughly knew the way.
Valia was going to wait there until Schuden came. Her heart was beating so hard that she was just not able to have a peaceful viewing of the inside of the greenhouse.
Valia pulled the chair and tilted her head.
‘…What is this?’
A box was placed on the chair.
The box looked expensive even at a glance, the handwriting engraved on it also looked very luxurious.
Fortunately for Schuden, Valia did not know much about Hubert. Schuden had swept so much jewelry from the auction house that she no longer had to buy jewelry anymore. Valia had also heard the name a few times at a tea party before but she quickly forgot it.
Instead, the servant’s face brightened. He had heard of Hubert’s reputation a few times. He was a very famous jeweler.
“If it’s artisan Hubert, I’m pretty sure he’s… Hmph!”
The servant had his words cut off. Valia, who was about to lift the box, turned behind. Her faint smile died in an instant.
“Wow, as expected, I’m lucky.”
Standing behind her was Thierry, the man who still did not know of Valia’s identity. The servant was lying at his feet. It was only for a moment, but a shiver ran down her spine. Thierry approached her with an exaggerated shrug.
“I came in just in case, but there was only this man here. Looking at his clothes, he doesn’t look like a noble.”
Thierry flicked his handkerchief. The reason he could violate quite a lot of women without many rumors of him circulating was because of this powder. The moment the powder would be inhaled, the victim would lose their sense for a while. Most of the kingdoms, including Gel, prohibited the usage or the import of this powder. Thierry smuggled a small amount of this powder from a trader beforehand. It was very expensive so he did not use it very often, but he always carried it with him.
‘Thanks to it, I can use it at times like this.’
As Craven had expected, Thierry did not run far. He was worried that Craven might rat on him.
He followed Valia from a distance. And because of that, Robin—the man who intimidated him—was unable to detect his presence and left. When Valia entered the glass greenhouse, Thierry took it as a chance and hung around the building.
Thierry was a man who would get smarter every now and then. This time, he used his brain to enter the glass greenhouse.
The wealthy House of Georgia had a glass greenhouse like this. Their greenhouse was very expensive and his father was very fond of it. Thierry liked expensive things too, he often went in and out of their family’s greenhouse.
Thanks to that, he learned that there was a hole in the shape of a dog door made to draw water in. Thierry did not have the confidence to win against the servants guarding the entrance, so he searched for the hole first. Since the hole was used up until yesterday to water the shrubbery in the glasshouse, he could find it right away.
“We have to finish what we started earlier. Do you know how sad I am?”
Valia’s lips froze. She was sure there were two servants guarding outside.
“There should be people outside, but how…”
“You don’t need to be curious about that.”
Thierry mockingly drew closer to Valia. Then, he grabbed Valia’s wrist right away. As he had done to many women, he clutched her wrist. In fact, he was fidgeting to touch her.
“How does it feel when you have no one to rely on? Are you afraid of me now?”
Valia did not answer. Thierry thought she was frightened, only then was he satisfied. He was the kind of person whose pride would be bottomed out if women did not tremble in front of him.
“Now, shall we take a look at your face? The prettier your face is, the easier it will be to calculate what our relationship will be like.”
Thierry reached out to Valia’s face, only to see that Valia had put her hand in front of her face so as to get in his way. He told her it was of no use even if she wanted to rebel now. He grabbed her hand to get it out of the way. Not long after that, he screamed.
“Arghhh! My hand! My hand!”
Thierry rolled over, holding his red hand. Valia took a couple of steps back. She got caught on purpose to test his grip but he was not as strong as she thought. He had the hands of a noble man who had never even held a sword properly. With that much, Valia could have won without difficulty.
‘…I’d better get out though.’
There were guards in the yard, so although Valia did not know how he got through the servants, she thought it would be better to get out.
“I have had enough of you!”
Thierry fumed and gritted his teeth. Valia confirmed what he was holding and paused.
It would be a completely different story if her opponent had a weapon. She did not ask him how he brought a dagger to a masquerade.
He must have hidden it somewhere. Now that Thierry had taken out his dagger, he had really gone out of his mind. He had gone this far, it would only be worth it if he achieved more than his original purpose.
“If you don’t want to get hurt, stay st…, Oi! Stop there!”
Valia did not listen and ran away quickly. Those types of guys would inflict hurt even if she stayed still, so it was best to just get away. Thierry ran straight after Valia.
The glass greenhouse was unnecessarily large and spacious. The place where the tea table was located was the innermost part, so there was a considerable distance to the entrance door. She felt like Thierry could easily catch her because of her shoes.
‘These shoes are too high.’
The blue shoes Fleur designed as a set with the dress were for a ball. It was not fit for running away.
Valia thought it would be better to take off her shoes first than to fall down because of a broken heel. After measuring the distance, Valia swung to the side for now. Fortunately, she had looked around the glass greenhouse before so she was somewhat familiar with the area.
Valia quickly took off her shoes and hid between the ornamental trees.
“Where are you hiding? Huh? Where are you?”
Thierry crept around, holding his dagger. Valia got goosebumps from his deliberately hoarse voice. She swallowed her breath and rolled her eyes.
‘What do I do?’
Her opponent was a man of a sturdy build with a dagger. On top of that, Valia was wearing a puffy dress. She was lucky enough to be well hidden, but one wrong move and he could quickly hear the rustling of grass.
Running was also a problem. It was difficult to run freely due to her long and puffy dress. If she accidentally stepped on the hem of her dress and fell, it would be a big problem.
‘…Should I sacrifice my arm?’
Thierry was wielding a dagger to intimidate. If he hurt her more than he expected to, he would surely falter for a short time. It would be nice if she could take his dagger away, but running away was her top priority.
‘If I get caught, I will just let him cut my arm on purpose. And then…’
If Valia ran away while Thierry was distracted, she thought she would be able to get over to the door. Valia tried to find a way to escape, recalling all the memories she had learned while serving as an escort lady-in-waiting in the past.
‘What is this…’
At the same time, she was a little sad. She had been working hard on this for weeks to confess to Schuden.
She had been excited like a child and nervous like a fool. She held onto her nervousness all day long.
Why is this unexpected thing happening all of a sudden?
Valia felt sad. Heaven seemed to be threatening her for being greedy for a man who was out of her league.
‘Let’s go out and see first.’
Valia slid one of her shoes down out of her hiding place. While Thiery turned his eyes, she got up and ran straight the other way.
Even if she got cut, it was important to first maintain as much distance between them as possible.
Thiery came after her, screaming.
Valia ran without looking back. She had her skirts in her hands. Although the outer part of her skirt could be lifted, she could not hold the puffy inner skirt at once.
At first glance, Valia looked cute and elegant, like a princess living in a castle going down a spiral staircase. But in reality, the hem of her dress kept getting stuck on her feet, making her mad.
Despite having run quite a long way, Thierry caught up to Valia. He grabbed her by the shoulder and hurled her back. When Valia did not listen to him, he raised his dagger in anger.
Behind his rage was a great fear that Valia might run away unscathed and report him.
“I told you to stay still!”
Valia raised her arm to cover her face. She was going to let him cut her left arm, which was less useful than her right arm.
Valia frowned in reflex, anticipating the imminent pain.
But his dagger had stopped in place, for Thierry’s hand had been caught in the air.
The hand that stopped Thierry’s wrist was familiar to Valia. Whatsmore, she also saw an accessory that she had not seen in a while.
Valia stared blankly at a cufflink, fastened on a white sleeve.
It was a red ruby cufflink.
“Are you out of your mind?”
His red eyes, which were the same red ruby color, were flaming. Valia had never, ever seen Schuden look that way.
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