Chapter 12.
Mountains Beyond Mountains


T/n: A saying anyone would’ve known, but I’ll still explain again just in case.
It means hardships after hardships, indicating one’s path is rocky.

Once we meet, I will thank him for his help first.
Thereafter, I’ll ask if he has a cold.
Lastly, I’ll apologise and promise not to cause any trouble next time, then come back quickly!

She moved cautiously and simulated the encounter with Altair several times in her head.

In order not to make mistakes, thorough visualised practice was required.

However, before such a simulation could be put into actual use, she faced an unexpected scene after a few steps.

“Uh…what are you doing here…?”

She found Blan and Cain, kneeling side by side in the hallway with their hands raised above their head.

There were a lot of people in Aylesford, so she hadn’t figured all of them out yet, but those were two people whose faces and names she definitely remembered.

“I heard that you’re awake, madame.
I’m really glad.”

“We thought that something serious was going to happen…”

Blan and Cain apologised over and over again with pale faces.

Why do the two of them feel sorry that I fell into the water?

She was puzzled and hurried to stop the knights.

“I jumped into the water by myself.
Rather, I should apologise to everyone for surprising you.
If you’re doing this because you’re sorry toward me, get up now.”

She swung her arms around to show that she was okay, but for a brief moment, her head began spinning and she staggered, barely managing to balance herself.
Blan and Cain jumped up from their seats and approached her in appall.

“Madame!”

“You need more rest!”

The two of them stomped on their feet next to her, trying to figure out what to do.
They reached out and then retracted repeatedly.

They seemed to want to help her, but were not sure whether it was okay to touch her without permission.

Somehow… I think they’re cute!

It was strange and interesting at the same time that two big men were making a fuss over such a trivial matter.
And that trivial matter was her.

There were many people in the Marquis of Vine, but they felt more solemn and rigid.

In comparison, the knights of Aylesford were a little more friendly.

Of course, the physique of the Aylesford Knights is bigger…

Still, she was not afraid and did not find it as difficult to interact with them.

In the Marquis of Vine, even when the knights approached, she was timid and startled.


“I must have been dizzy for a while after lying in bed for a long time.
I’m really fine!”

She hurriedly brought up an excuse to reassure them, but their expressions became even weirder, probably because it had the opposite effect.

“Now what did you just say?! You get dizzy because you woke up after lying down for a long time?”

“Isn’t that serious? Madame, you are too weak!”

Blan and Cain were both astonished.
The way they looked at her in disbelief made her feel confused about whether the common sense they had was wrong.

“Oh, no! I’m not particularly weak, but it’s because I’m a woman, and so I have mild anemia…”

She tried to make up excuses again, but it seemed that the two knights, who had already become solemn, could no longer pay any mind to it.

“Would you like to call a doctor as well?”

“Right.
That’s a good idea, Blan.”

The two knights turned their heads, prepared to run down the hallway immediately to call for a doctor.

Oh no!

Were they to call the doctor because she stumbled for a brief while, she would be misunderstood as a madame with severe illness.
‘She needs a doctor just for that?’ It was clear that everyone would respond in shock.

“I’m really fine!”

She quickly reached out and grabbed Blan’s and Cain’s shirts.
Pulling their shirts as hard as she could, the two men, who were about to run, stopped and looked back at her.

She smiled awkwardly, wondering if she had made a mistake.
As she was about to withdraw her hands, she heard a voice from behind her back.

“What’s going on?”

It was Altair’s voice.

Concerned that Blan and Cain might go to the doctor while she was distracted elsewhere, Nadia clutched onto their shirts tightly and turned her head to look at Altair.
It was then that she met Altair’s gaze, staring at her, displeased.

Her shoulders trembled reflexively at the menacing gaze.
At that, Altair’s gaze on her became even fiercer.

“Didn’t you hear that you need more rest? You shouldn’t be out of bed right now.”

“I heard, but…”

She was worried about Altair’s condition and wanted to check it.
Yet, not a single word came out when she faced him.

I should have done a more thorough simulation…!

She ran into Blan and Cain unexpectedly in the hallway, so she didn’t have enough time to simulate it.


Not to mention, the Altair in real life was several times more intimidating than the Altair she had built in her imagination.

While she was hesitating, Altair reached out and removed the hands that were holding the two knights’ shirts.
His sharp look turned towards Blan and Cain this time.

“I thought you were punished.
Didn’t I tell you to kneel here until midnight and keep your hands up all the while?”

Blan and Cain got up to help her.
But the two just lowered their heads without saying a word.  They thought it would be a useless excuse.

If so, she would have no choice but to be brave.

She shouted loudly, feeling her heart quivering in the cold atmosphere Altair just created.

“They-, they were helping me!”

Altair, who had been looking at Blan and Cain, turned to her again.

“Um so… the two of them were trying to help me… For that reason, were someone to be blamed, it should be me.
So you should scold me instead!”

Altair’s eyebrows twitched when she said that she would receive any punishment in their stead.

Is-, is he angry because I was being too presumptuous?

She clutched onto her skirt tightly while waiting for the upcoming rebuke, but it was surprisingly a calm tone in return.

“…helping you.
What do you mean?”

“Well, they helped me when I stumbled from a mild anemia-…kya!”

Before she could finish speaking, Altair frowned and lifted her up.

“Why did you come out like this? What do you do if you fall down again?”

“I-, I was only going to check for a second.”

“What?”

“I heard you jump into the lake to help me… and since I’m sick like this, I wondered if the Lord would be okay… I also want to say thank you and apologise for causing trouble…”

She had only done it a few times, but in her imaginary simulation, she was surely able to convey it properly.

But in reality, she was afraid of Altair’s expressionless face and just cringed with gibberish.
Perhaps she seemed ridiculous, but Altair didn’t say anything for a while.

After a long silence, a sigh escaped Altair’s mouth.

“… a useless worry.
I don’t get affected by that.”

Apparently, Altair was fine.
He didn’t look weak, and he had a good complexion.
Rather, she wondered if he was in an even better condition as he looked livelier than usual.

Thank god!

For he did not get sick because of her.


All the burden she had been carrying in her heart the whole time she lay in bed was gone, and a wave of relief came over her.
Thanks to this, even her tense body naturally became more relaxed.

Altair shuddered as if it was uncomfortable.
At once, the small movement surprised her too, and her body became tense again.
Altair made a small groan and turned to Blan and Cain.

“You guys just go back to your dorm.”

“But there is still plenty of time left until midnight.
I will meet the promised time.”

“I agree with Blan.
If we don’t endure until the end of the punishment, our heart will be heavy.”

Blan and Cain refused Altair’s order without much thought.
But Altair did not graciously accept their opinion.

“No need.
The person in question has forgiven you, so even if I punish you two, she won’t be able to rest as much as she wants knowing that you are being punished.”

At Altair’s words, Blan and Cain exchanged glances, then took a step back, bowing their heads deeply as if they had long compromised.

“…If you have said so, I and Cain shall return to our dorm.”

❈❈❈

The two left, and Altair carried Nadia back to bed.

Her claim that she could walk on her own was quickly dismissed with him saying ‘didn’t you say you almost fall over?’

Did the remark on her stumbling with mild anemia feel like a big deal to him too?

As he lay her on the bed and covered her with the blanket, she became tired again and felt drowsy.

As her heavy eyelids were slowly closing, she strived to keep herself awake.
Altair, who was leaning against the window, spoke up.

“How have you been in the capital?”

Not knowing how to answer the vague question, she looked at Altair silently.
He continued.

“I mean, what do you usually do in your free time?” 

“Reading a book or going for a walk…just normal things.”

Sure, everything was of the norm, except the ‘extreme absence of various parties due to timidity’ should have been added.
She secretly hid that fact because it was unlikely that Altair would like ‘a wife who was not good at social activities’.

She wasn’t lying, but her heart raced at the thought that she had somehow deceived Altair.

Fortunately, seeing his face as expressionless as usual, Altair didn’t seem to notice that she had deceived him.

“Right, normal…”

After thinking for a moment, he pulled out a crumpled envelope from his pocket and placed it on the table.

“It’s hunting season soon, so the Eastern Nobility Union sent us an invitation.
We’re going to attend too, so I think you should know that.”

“If it’s the Eastern Nobility Union… then do all the Eastern Nobles gather there?”


“Mostly.”

That meant she would meet a lot of people!

When she was living in the capital, she was so timid that she didn’t even attend a small tea party.

Yet, all of a sudden, she had to face such a big event where she would meet all the Eastern Nobles…!

She felt dizzy already.
But now that she had become a baroness, socialising was an essential task.
It was something that she was fully prepared for when she got married.

Perhaps the role of Altair’s expected wife included all of this!

Besides, if it’s hunting season…

Everyone would focus on hunting, so they would rarely have a social conversation.
Considering that, it was a pretty good event for social sprout like herself, and it was not bad for introductory use.

Even though it’s called hunting, the main purpose was for them to have a good time, so the targets were almost never dangerous as they were small animals like rabbits and foxes.

The problem is blood!

She was suffering from a nasty phobia that made her faint whenever she saw blood.
No matter how elegant a noble hunted, there would always be blood in the picture…

A little blood was tolerable, but seeing blood pouring out incessantly would make her pass out, just like at the wedding.

Maybe I need to train hard for blood endurance before the hunting season…!

She made up her mind and gripped the quilt tightly.

“I-, I’ll do my best!”

“You don’t have to push yourself when you get there.
Just do what you do.”

But if I do what I usually do, I will just stay in my room…

She nodded, swallowing the words she couldn’t bring up.
Altair then added as if he had suddenly remembered something.

“Ah, I heard that the third prince will also come this time, are you acquainted by any chance?”

“The…third Prince…?”

“Prince Orca.
He is weak, so he mainly goes to recuperation, but this time he seems to be staying in the East.”

Even without Altair’s explanation, she was well aware of the third Prince Orca.
There was no way she didn’t know.

Because…

Orca is the traitor who used to be Altair’s Master in the original! (mentioned in ch.1)

He was another villain in the novel!

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