Carlisle’s room was far away from Elena’s. Elena and Mirabelle’s quarters were in the most secluded and scenic area of the palace, whereas the place Elena was now was closest to the training site for soldiers.
Elena’s sudden arrival caused a crease to appear between Carlisle’s brows.
“What are you doing here?”
“The day is still on my mind. What happened?”
Instead of answering Elena’s question first, Carlisle barked an order towards the servant.
“Thank you. Go.”
“Yes, Your Highness.”
With a bow, the servant left the pair of them.
At last they were alone. Carlisle spoke in a low voice as soon as he confirmed that the servant had disappeared.
“Even though we’re in my palace, there are spies planted everywhere. You should be careful where you go.”
“That’s why I came at this late hour.”
Carlisle’s stiff expression loosened for a moment, and he let out a sigh.
“You say dangerous things. If you and I find ourselves alone in this room, what do you think other people will imagine?”
“I know. There is no doubt about it.”
Carlisle’s gaze darkened.
“…You lack self-awareness.”
There was a sudden shift in the atmosphere, but Elena was more concerned with what had happened earlier in the day.
“There’s only the two of us now, so tell me. Did something dangerous happen to Sir Kasha?”
Carlisle responded naturally, as if he had no intention of hiding it from the beginning.
“One of the men you captured at Flower Bridge confessed that the Empress was behind its attempted destruction. But since she is the suspect…testimony is not enough. She’s so good at hiding her trail that it was difficult to find any solid proof, so I ordered Kuhn to infiltrate the Empress’ palace and manipulate some evidence.”
Elena wanted to say, “Isn’t that too dangerous?” but she held back. Carlisle ordered it for a reason, and Kuhn accepted the mission. She spoke calmly.
“And now the whereabouts of Kuhn, who infiltrated the Empress’ palace, are unknown.”
Her face darkened. There were only a few possibilities.
“…There’s a good chance he was captured or killed.”
“If he’s alive, I’m going to save him the best I can before he dies. I’m ready to move as soon as I know where he is.”
Elena realized that while she was enjoying her time with Mirabelle, Carlisle had been busy searching for Kuhn. Although Elena wasn’t extremely fond of the bodyguard, they had a smooth working relationship, and the thought of his death did not cheer her. Furthermore, if Carlisle gave such a grave mission to Kuhn, it was proof he had some trust in him. She didn’t want to lose anyone who benefited Carlisle.
“…Please prepare armor for me.”
Carlisle frowned at her words.
Before Mirabelle changed into her nightwear, she wanted to soak herself in the bathtub, which had warm water and spices and fragrance and red petals. Her legs were a little sore from walking all day as well. Elena had been careful that Mirabelle wouldn’t overdo it, but because of her condition Mirabelle couldn’t help but feel winded. When she saw the warm water in the bathtub, naturally she couldn’t pass it by.
“You don’t have to prepare me. I can take a bath alone.”
“Yes, My Lady.”
Mirabelle ordered the maids to wait outside. While she comfortably allowed herself to be bathed by the maids back at home, it was awkward to take off her clothes in front of strangers. She also realized from experience that she would rather bathe alone if they did not know how to touch her carefully.
She began humming pleasantly to herself as she started to undress.
There was a loud noise from the direction of the bathroom window. Mirabelle, wondering what could it be in the imperial palace, moved slowly towards the sound. Suddenly, the window opened and a person fell inside. The smell of blood overwhelmed her before she could process what she saw with her eyes.
Mirabelle’s scream brought the maids running towards the door. They turned the door handle roughly, but Mirabelle had already locked it.
“M-My Lady, what’s going on?”
The urgency of the voice brought Mirabelle to her senses. The man who suddenly appeared before her was seriously injured. And…he had a head of familiar dark blue hair.
Kuhn lifted his head at the sound of her voice.
Their eyes met in midair.
Mirabelle knew at once he was the man she had met on the way to the capital and who looked like the keepsake her mother had left her. She hadn’t been able to find him no matter how hard she looked, but now he was suddenly in front of Mirabelle.
“My Lady, what’s going on–”
“N-nothing! A bug appeared and I yelled because I was surprised. It flew out the window and I’m fine now.”
“Thank goodness. If you need us, call us right away.”
“Yes, thank you.”
Mirabelle stepped away from the door where she was talking to the maids and approached Kuhn. She didn’t know where or how he got hurt, but there was a copious amount of blood coming from his side.
“Are you alright?”
Kuhn blinked his eyes hazily at the question. He couldn’t muster the energy to even speak.
“How on earth did you–”
Before Mirabelle could finish, there was another loud voice from her door.
“We’re from the Empress’s palace. We’ve seen the man we’re looking for around here. Let us in to search for a moment.”
“Th-this is the Crown Prince’s palace…”
Mirabelle heard the screams of the maids from outside.
‘Who they’re looking for now is probably…’
Mirabelle’s trembling eyes turned towards Kuhn.
There were booming knocks on the bathroom door.
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