Crown Prince Nigel’s office is not that large.
This is because it was not originally designed to accommodate an extra person.
The current office is somewhat larger than the one in the palace, which has been in use since the crown prince was crowned, but the range of use has not changed much as there is an increased number of table sets instead.
Nigel glances over to the corner where the table set is.
It was a corner set aside for Arthirea.
He had it set up when he moved to the rear palace because she insisted on having meals with him and sometimes came in and out of his office with food.
The table set, with the different grains of the wood creating beautiful patterns, was chosen for Arthirea. As a lover of beautiful crafts, she would pay attention to even one small embroidery on a napkin and praise the work, so the chamberlains had been struggling to select it in the furniture warehouse.
The first time he sat down to breakfast at the table, Arthirea had complimented on the carefully cared-for candy color and the fact that it looked good without standing out in the office.
While most people prefer newer items, Arthirea is rather pleased with older items that have been used with great care.
In Dardinia, there has been a remarkable industrialization in some areas. Of course, this has been under the leadership of the government and under the supervision of the university, but in the last few years, ceramics and miscellaneous household items have been mass-produced by a combination of machinery and by hand. Recently machine-woven cloth and other items have begun to dominate the market.
Eventually, human-made items will become luxury goods and mass-produced items will become consumables.
Arthirea’s tastes were retrograde in a sense, but Nigel found it more favorable.
Nigel had no such interest or concern at all.
Tools were good enough as long as they were useful, and whatever was appropriate to his status. Nigel has no preferences or preferences at all.
He thinks about at least choosing a gift for Arthirea himself, but since he can’t always pick and choose, he often leaves it to those who are good at it, deciding only on the colors and conditions.
With a sigh, he looks at the table set again.
There are two figures on that table set dedicated to Arthirea.
One is the Duke of Grachie and the other is the Duchess.
They were the first guests who were welcomed in this office besides Arthirea.
He exhaled softly so they wouldn’t hear him.
A thin cry that shivered the air with a whisper.
The Duchess had been crying since her visit and did not even accept the Duke’s comfort.
Nigel sighs again.
If it’s a marital matter, I wish they could take care of it on their own…
Everyone knows that the Duke of Grachie loves his wife very much.
The stern and honest old Duke is a suitably strict master to his subordinates and servants. And even more so, he is strict with his children and grandchildren. While it is said that a lion will drop his own children into a thousand valleys, it is said that the Duke will not push his down a valley, but the depths of hell.
The only thing the Duke is sweet on is the Duchess. The Duchess, who married from the Dukes of Elzevert, could be said to be the only weakness of the old Duke.
The Duke takes care of the various things the duchess does without saying a word, and bows his head in apology for her naivety.
Nigel has never seen the Duke bow down to anything that the Duchess is not involved in.
…Unbelievable, but, well, I suppose you could say that he’s in love.
To be honest, he’d like to tell them that instead of making the same kind of mistakes over and over again, just speak to each other and reflect on them. But he always keeps his mouth shut, saying that it is out of his control.
Of course, it was probably out of consideration for the elder Duke of Grachie.
“…I’m sorry, Duke. I had some urgent business to attend to.”
He plopped down the stack of paperwork he had finished to the point of crispness and stood up.
“…No, thank you for allowing me to visit you on such short notice.”
The old lord gently patted his wife on the back.
“Elaine, stop crying and speak to His Highness.”
Gently wiping her eyes with an unknowable number of handkerchiefs, Princess Elaine opened her mouth.
“…I understand the story. So, after escaping and wandering underground out of the royal palace, Arthirea collapsed and you went back to the mansion to call for help.
“…Yes…On the way there, with the help of some kind children, I was able to get a carriage and return to the residence. Then I returned with my son, who was in the mansion, to the shrine where I left the princess, but she was not there…
Duchess Elaine sobbed and clung to her husband at her side.
“Do you still have people around there, Duke?”
“Yes, Your Highness. However, if they find out that Her Highness is outside, there may be some people would be up to no good, so I’m sending a secret search party to find her.”
There is no mistaking that decision.
Nigel sorted through the latest information given to him by the Duchess in his mind. Out of his usual habit, his fingertips took on a small rhythm.
Arthirea must return to the royal palace without incident.
There should be no such thing as being missing.
She is someone who rarely comes out of the area given to her in the first place. It will not be so difficult to conceal her absence if the surrounding maids and ladies-in-waiting cooperate.
“…Yes, Your Royal Highness the Crown Prince.
Blue eyes, wet with tears, look up at Nigel.
Even though the color of her hair, which has turned white, is different, her eyes are a miraculous blue, unique to the Elzevert. He asked while remembering that Arthirea and the Duchess were related by blood.
“As for what you said earlier, is it true that you were attacked underground as well?”
“Do you have any idea what that means?”
“These are the latest threats I’ve received.”
The duke has kept a copy, and stacked several of the originals.
Nigel randomly picked up the top one and looked it over.
“…Is it two years ago again?”
“What do you mean again?”
“Claude had something in his possession the other day that was two years old.”
“Isn’t that natural if you’re the same person?”
No, the handwriting is different here. And the ink and paper are different…Well, it’s probably not a lone offender, but a multiple offender, so it’s not surprising…”
“But why the Duchess?”
“People think your Duchess’ carelessness caused the disease to spread.”
“…But that’s not true.”
“Oh, yes. It’s not true. But it seems that it was rumored to be true at the time. In fact, even Alfred thought that the Duchess had insisted and moved the sick traveler to a villa.”
“…I gave you permission to move it. I can’t blame you for spreading the disease because of that.”
“But it’s not reasonable to be resented for it…What I’m wondering is, why now in the first place?”
‘It’s not a good time to start getting revenge now, is it?’ Nigel tilted his head.
If it was a grudge from that incident, Then why is this happening two years later?
“I suppose it’s true that grudges don’t fade away…”
‘But it is something I must take care of,’ the Duchess told him, wiping away her tears.
“I know you have always been supportive of me, but I am responsible for this matter. Since this matter is my responsibility…Your Highness, the Crown Prince, I will accept the punishment. So please, settle the matter with me alone.”
It was not an angry voice…but more of a scream.
“…Duchess, this one will not be handled publicly…because there are no victims.”
“The Princess is now baking sweets in her room…and you have never set foot in the underground.”
When I reminded her that it was good, Princess Elaine opened her eyes wide and then burst into tears.
“…Your Highness, please don’t say such things. How dare I…Your Highness.”
Large tears flowed one after another.”
“Don’t worry. Arthirea is safe.”
“But, Your Highness…”
“I will take care of Arthirea. As for the Duke, run over those who are still loose. They won’t know what Arthirea looks like anyway.”
‘Arthirea doesn’t know them either,’ said Nigel, looking slightly into the distance.
“Arthirea doesn’t know them either…It’s impossible to find Arthirea with them.”
‘That girl is very cautious,’ he said with a small smile.
“I’ll let my handlers do the searching.”
“As you wish.”
The Duke bowed his head reverently.
“Arthirea is a smart girl. She’s probably trying to get in touch with us somehow by now.”
Nigel added, as if a thought had suddenly occurred to him.
“Is that so?”
She’s a little girl who has rarely left the royal palace. If she spent her time not crying, that alone would be considered good.
“You can rest assured. Arthirea will definitely return to me before the Founding Festival.”
“Your Highness…you believe in her, don’t you?”
Queen Elaine asked with a face that wiped away tears.
“I don’t believe…I just know.”
“…That girl would not leave me alone.”
Nigel knows all of Luthia’s efforts to stand beside him.
All of that time and care spent on the luncheon menu…and all of Arthirea, who never boasted out loud.
And all of that effort expended just for the dance of the evening party for only one brief moment…He’s not going to be so fleeting that Nigel doesn’t know it’s for himself.
Luthia’s home was none other than in Nigel’s arms, and it was the same for Nigel.
When he thought about that, his impatience mysteriously disappeared, and he could even smile.
But that doesn’t mean I have any intention of forgiving the criminals though…
“Duke, I want you to take the westbound route back home.”
“We’ll be following the trail. If anything goes wrong, go underground.”
He ordered the two, who bowed deeply, to leave and returned to his desk.
Phil comes out quietly from the next room.
“…Don’t leave a single one of those who have turned their blades against Luthia.”
“I’d like to say that, but I don’t think they know that the princess was involved.”
“It doesn’t matter if they knew it or not. Facts are everything.”
“Of course…Even if there’s a reason, I will never forgive it.” (***lmao, Nigel is definitely mad)
He hands Nigel a small piece of paper.
“A child who looks like the princess was found in an orphanage. I’m in a hurry to confirm it now.”
Hearing this, he slowly opened his fists, which had been clenched for quite some time.
‘I hope she’s okay.’ he said a prayer in his mind. Nigel went a little crazy when he realized he still had the desire to pray and pray in his heart for her to be safe.
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