Chapter 34.
Someone’s intention.


“It’s-… It’s not that I’m afraid of you…the thing is…”

As Nadia sweated profusely, wondering if she was being too obvious, Prince Orca’s eyes sparked a sharp glint.
But soon they crinkled and he burst into laughter.

“It’s a joke.
You seemed too nervous, so I just made a little joke.”

“A-a joke?”

“I know that there are many people who feel uncomfortable because I am the prince.
But I hate being authoritative…Please treat me comfortably.”

Com-comfortable he says…

Would there ever come a day when she could feel comfortable with Orca? Seeing the mysterious smile on Orca’s face, she laughed awkwardly along.
Before long, the surroundings became noisy.

“That way!”

The urgent voice of Countess Gillan, who had always been calm, was heard first, followed by people’s hasty footsteps.

“Are you all right, Baroness? I’ve called for someone…”

The countess, who had brought her armed knights, rushed in without delay to check on Nadia.
Obviously Nadia couldn’t even shoot the arrow properly, so the countess seemed to wonder how the bear died like that.
At that, Nadia smiled slightly, soothing the surprised countess.

“I’m fine.
Coincidentally, His Highness was passing by this place and found me, so he helped me.”

“Oh my, His Highness?”

When the Countess’s eyes widened and she turned to look at Prince Orca, he grinned and gave a slight nod in return.
She hurriedly bowed her head to Nadia, looking very embarrassed that the prince had discovered this incident.

“It’s my fault, baroness.
I didn’t check the bows that the guests would use properly… I never thought that there would be defective products like that.”

The Countess sighed as she looked at Nadia’s bow on the ground.
All the tools needed for the hunt were prepared by the organizers, but the Countess seemed to think that the poor quality was the cause of Nadia’s arrow falling to the ground.

Rather, I don’t think it’s possible for a person to shoot an arrow this terribly…

Nadia had heard that most of them were good warriors because the east side faced the border with other countries and was an area where various monsters appeared.
Even the noble ladies took such things for granted.
She was embarrassed by her own skills and felt guilty at the countess’s apology, so she broke out in a cold sweat.

“For now, you’d better change since your clothes are dirty.”

The countess offered sadly, looking at the clothes that had become dirty from sitting on the ground.
Since she was obviously a mess, Nadia obediently agreed to the offer.


“I think I have some spare clothes in the carriage.”

“That’s a relief.
I’ve set up a small tent, so I think you can change there… The baroness’ maids are waiting near the awning, so I’ll tell them to prepare your clothes.”

“Thank you for your consideration, madame.”

“What are you saying? I’m the one who should apologise for my lack of preparation.
You must have been very staggered, so please go rest in the tent first.
The tent isn’t far from here, so I’ll guide you…”

Just as the countess was about to accompany her, an old maid next to her cautiously intervened.

“Madame, it is not good for the host to be away for a long time, so I will escort the baroness to the tent.”

If a lady-in-waiting could confidently give advice to a noble lady, she would have been a loyalist who had served by the countess’ side for a long time.
It wasn’t that her lady-in-waiting was wrong, but that the Countess looked at Nadia with an apologetic face.

“Um … baroness…”

“It’s okay.
Since you are the host, you should look out for other people as well.”

Nadia hurried to relieve the countess of her heavy heart, and threw a quick glance at the maid.
The then maid quickly came to Nadia’s side and bowed her head.
Before going, following the maid’s guidance, she bowed to Orca once again.

“And Your Highness, thank you for your help.”

“Don’t worry about it, anyone would have done that.”

On Orca’s grinning face, there was no hint of the piercing eyes she had seen just moments before.
His face looked so warm and kind that Nadia wondered if the gaze she saw back then was an illusion.

I’m afraid of people that I can’t read what they’re thinking.

From her viewpoint, Altair, who had a rather terrifying impression, was better.

“Then Baroness, I shall guide you there.”

At that, Nadia tried to shake off Orca’s uneasy gaze and followed the maid’s guidance.
As she moved forward, the presence of the people who had gathered in a small commotion gradually dispersed.
The scent of the forest was thick and the surroundings were quiet, so her heart, which had been thumping wild from the confrontation with the bear, gradually calmed down.
However, the tent, which was said to be not far away, did not show up even after her heart had regained its calm as usual.

Somehow, the surrounding scenery also seems a little dark…

It felt like her body was trembling from the gloomy atmosphere.


“Excuse me…”

Just as she was about to ask if they had gone astray, the maid stopped.

“This way, Baroness.”

Indeed, as she said, there was a small tent in front of them.
Seeing it calmed Nadia’s anxiety.

“If you go in and rest, the maids will bring your clothes in no time.”

Phew.
I can’t believe I doubted an old maid!

Nadia silently apologised for doubting her momentarily and nodded gently.
When she entered the tent, she was greeted with a very cozy atmosphere.
It was chilly in the forest, but the inside was warm, so her tense shoulders got to relax.
Nadia sat down on a chair in the tent, waiting for Marie to arrive.
It was hard to endure the boredom, but luckily, she felt a presence at the tent’s entrance before a long time could pass.

Huh?

She thought the visitor must be Marie, but as soon as she got up from the chair, she saw an unexpected person standing at the entrance.

“…Lord Balhail?”

It was Balhail, a relative of Altair.
When Nadia called his name, he grinned and stepped inside.

“You remembered my name.”

“Since you are a relative of His Lord, you are also my family.
Of course I have to remember.”

“As expected, madame does have some common sense.
You don’t fit with that insolent Altair.”

Upong saying that, Balhail moved closer to Nadia with a smirk.
She stepped back little by little and clasped her hands tightly.

“I think you misunderstood something.
His Lord…Altair is… not an insolent person.”

“It seems that you do not know Altair well.
Everyone knows how rude he is.
Too bad you don’t know that.”

Balhail stopped walking and kicked his tongue.
Nadia was pushed back to the wall while avoiding him.
The moment when her eyes wandered here and there with an ominous feeling, contemplating which direction to escape from him, Balhail reached out and caressed her cheek.
Nadia was so startled that she immediately slapped Balhail’s hand out by reflex.
At that, anger flashed through his eyes.

“So you hit people too.
You seem to have learned this disrespect from Altair.”

Nadia became afraid at the threatening glare, her body was shaking.
Still, she felt like she had to say something.


“It’s-, it’s you who are rude and disrespectful.”

“What?”

“Now I understand why Altair told me not to get involved with you.
If you’re a relative of Altair, if you really consider yourself his family, you’d never do stuff like this-…Ah!”

With all the mustered up courage, Nadia shouted with her head lowered.
But then, Balhail grabbed her shoulder forcefully.

“Humph! I tried to be kind to you, but it seems like you really have a knack for annoying people.”

“L-let go!”

Nadia tried to escape Balhail’s grasp, but it was impossible to overcome the strength of a man.
The more she struggled, the more Balhail smiled amusedly.

“Yes, yes.
Rather than taming the obedient, this would be more fun.”

“Ugh!”

Balhail, having grabbed her by the shoulder, pulled her hard toward him.

“Everything Altair has is mine.
The title, territory, and…”

Nadia got goosebumps at the sight of Balhail smirking right before her, scanning her body up and down.

“I’m quite envious over his wife, too.”

“S-s-stop spouting nonsense!”

“Nonsense? Wouldn’t it be good for you to board with me too? If that guy dies, I’ll be Alesford’s successor after all.”

Nadia knew that Altair wanted a child because of succession issues.
But she had never thought that it was because such a douche that he had to protect his title so urgently.
This was not Altair’s personal problem.
If the title went to such an eccentric person, the future of Aylesford would quickly fall into ruin.

And what did he mean by ‘if Altair dies’?

She couldn’t stand Balhail’s pouring out ominous words from his filthy mouth any longer.
She bit her lip and stared straight at Balhail.

“S-something like that would never happen-…”

“Ha.
Says who? Hasn’t it already happened?”


But Balhail snorted and laughed at her before she could finish her sentence.

“By now, Altair’s body must be getting cold already.”

“W-wh-what does that mean…”

“Isn’t it common for people to be attacked and injured by animals while hunting? Even if the wound was big, it must have just been bad luck, no?”

It sounded like he was going to hurt Altair under the guise of an accident.
No, that was definitely the case.

“Did you forget? Who was the one who brought you here? It was the countess’s maid.”

“…!”

“Humans are so easy to grasp.
Anybody can be bought if you give them money.
I had to spend a rather large amount of money, but if Aylesford became mine anyway… That much is nothing.”

When Nadia didn’t respond and just trembled, Balhail burst into laughter as if excited.

“Be grateful.
Actually, I was thinking of getting rid of you, but I changed my mind because of the rare beauty you possess.
From now on, you just have to act cute and wait for me.
Well, thinking that Altair must have gotten his hands on you makes my appetite a bit off…”

Balhail licked his lips and lightly tapped her cheek with his finger.

“But I guess it still tastes good in its own way.”

T/n: Ew- *gag* disgusting!

In an instant, Balhail’s demeanor changed.
He shoved Nadia as if tossing her onto a camp bed, his eyes sparked fiercely.
She couldn’t resist and was pushed on the bed.
Since she was momentarily free from his grasp, Nadia was thinking of running away quickly, but before she could even get the chance to, Balhail climbed on top of her and grabbed her neck with his hands.

“Ugh!”

“If you rebel, won’t you be the only one having a hard time? Huh?”

As if warning, the grip on her neck became tighter.
Suffocated, Nadia’s eyes widened.
The moment she reached out to try pushing his hand away…

“Geesh, you are not even in this room alone, so be quiet!”

Someone’s voice rang out from under the bed.
The voice came from an unexpected place, and Nadia, as well as Balhail, were startled and stopped moving all at once.
The fact that the owner of the voice was someone familiar soothed her heart.

Cain!

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