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  • Writer's pictureRina

Chapter 83

Tara goes head to head with the Second Prince as clock ticks down for an antidote.


This chapter is dedicated to the wonderful Sarah! Thank you for your constant support!


Disclaimer:

DO NOT publish our edit anywhere else. Especially on social media. Otherwise we may have to stop doing this. Thank you!


Episode 83. About a Year (10)


"Lady?"


Bernard dismounted from his horse, startled, and reached for me, but I pushed his hand away.


"No, I'm fine, not yet. The symptoms are just like a mild cold, but I must take the correct antidote for cold poisoning, so go inside and ask Jack where Leonard is. I need to ask him how fast we can get that antidote."


"Yes, Lady. I'll go find him right away."


"Yes, please do."


Richard, who was guarding the door, was mildly surprised as Bernard ran past him and bowed.


I followed him into the hall slowly, thinking, 'Why would he be surprised? He might not recognize me.' ....


My skirt was torn and stretched, and the black fishnet hat was long gone. My hair was disheveled, and my eyes were bloodshot.


I took another heavy step forward and the smell of beef rib stew assaulted my nostrils.


‘Ah... I haven't had beef in a long time... I want to eat, but I don't even have the energy to lift a finger. I should go and lie down...!’


But the thought didn't last long. Everything ground to a halt the moment I entered the hall.


What the hell... The Second Prince... Why was he here?


***


After about twenty minutes, Kyle tapped the armrest of his chair and stood up.


He’d chosen to hand-deliver something that could have been left to a servant mostly because he was eager to see the look on her face when she saw it. It was nothing but idle curiosity.


But with his minute-by-minute schedule, taking more than twenty minutes of his time to satisfy that kind of curiosity was excessive.


The door opened just as Kyle was rising from his seat, and a knight wielding an axe entered before stopping in his tracks in surprise at the sight of him.


"Ah..."


"Where is your Master, knight?"


"...She will be here soon. I humbly greet the future of the Empire, His Highness the Second Prince."


The knight, having quickly overcome his surprise, gave a rather solemn bow in greeting.


Another five minutes or so passed before the Third Secretary Tara Elias, who was now under his command, opened the front door and entered.


"....."


"....!"


Tara's unexpected appearance took him by surprise.


"...Well..."


It had been a long time since he had felt genuine 'surprise' at the sight of someone.


He'd had quite a few encounters with her in the past, and had become immune to most things. He also tended to be very wary of all forms of emotional imbalance. The moment you began exposing your unguarded thoughts, you were prone to becoming emotionally compromised. At which point you lost all control over the situation.


Kyle was always on guard against unwanted feelings. But today, when he saw her for the first time in about seven months, Tara Elias stirred in him the very feelings he was so wary of.


"...I... I, Tara Elias, the Third Secretary of the Imperial Military Administration humbly greet His Imperial Highness, the future of the Empire." Tara paid her respects in a thin, trembling voice. 


Her pale gray dress was torn and tattered to the thighs. Her auburn curls, more reddish in color than he remembered, were loose and falling to her waist, and her face was haggard and pale.


He had never been the kind of man who cared when other’s changed their appearance.


This situation normally wouldn't have bothered him at all, but to his surprise, Kyle realized that Tara Elias' physical transformation had shaken him.


‘… She looks… different.'


There was no need for him to care. He had seen countless beauties before and had remained unmoved.


So what was the strange emotion he felt when he first saw her?


‘During training, I've seen the physical condition of my knights change constantly and it's never bothered me. This situation isn't unfamiliar, so why do I care about this 18-year-old noblewoman being slimmer than when I last saw her...?'


It didn't take him long to figure out what was bothering him.


‘.... She’s pale.'


Aside from the apparent weight loss, her face was completely bloodless. She wasn't just paler than usual, it looked as though she had no life left in her.


"You look tired."


"... I'm fine."


"Then let's go inside."


Kyle moved casually towards the parlor, as if he was a long-time visitor who’d been here many times before.


***


Kyle and I sat across from each other with the tea Beth had brought sitting on a table in the center. We were the only ones in the room, having dismissed Beth and Kyle's knight Chris.


"...."


"I... I wasn't aware you would be visiting today, Your Highness. I never received notice."


I swallowed hard, trying to sound as normal as possible.


"....."


"I...Um...!"


Why was he moving closer all of a sudden?


Kyle got up from his chair, walked towards me in two brisk strides, and, to my shock, placed his hand on my forehead.


I flinched at the unexpected action, but he didn't seem to notice. He stayed still for a long moment. 


His hand covered my forehead, accentuating his long fingers. He acted as though he was long accustomed to doing this sort of thing.


"W... What...?”


I couldn't back away, but I couldn't stand to stay still either, so I slightly lifted my head.


"Hold still, don't move!"


His voice was so low and insistent that it was impossible to disobey.


I felt dizzy and cold sweat trickled down my spine.


"...Do you have a cold?"


"...No."


"You're unusually chilled."


Kyle removed his hand from my forehead, and grabbed one of my hands, which was resting haphazardly on my skirt. He frowned.


Kyle's face must've been only ten centimeters away from my own. I'd never been so close to him before. I was caught off guard, but he moved so casually that I felt calm as well. Or rather, I pretended I was.


But it was so strange to see his normally expressionless face furrowed into a tight frown, so I just stared at him, dumbfounded.


"....."


"Where were you?"


I hesitated for a moment, but since I had already spoken to Walter at the scene, there was no reason not to tell him.


"I went to the [Royal Durben Club - Wise Clubbing] in the local residential quarter."


"You were at the Scorpion base?"


He stared at me silently as I nodded.


"Poison? Probably cold poison."


"....!"


"You feel chilled to the bone, your body lacks energy, and you’ll die within an hour from hypothermia or respiratory distress. The initial progression is similar to that of the common cold."


As if reading the look in my eyes, he answered my unasked question.


"Cold poison is commonly used in the criminal underworld."


Of all the people I'd ever met, he understood how I thought the best. I found it fascinating, even as my body felt like it was slowly sinking.


"How many hours have passed?"


"I think it's been about 40 minutes."


"And you're not hypothermic."


"...Yes."


This whole situation felt so surreal. I hadn't expected any of this. And I certainly hadn't expected to see him again here in Durben instead of the Capital.


Nevertheless, it wasn't entirely surprising. I always seemed to encounter Prince Kyle in unexpected situations.


The wariness I’d felt as soon as I saw him had instantly disappeared the moment he mentioned the poison.


I'd expected him to be scathing. He was often cynical and sarcastic, and I'd been prepared to be criticized for my recklessness and frivolity.


‘What led to you being in this state?’ 

‘What have you gotten involved in?’

‘What are you hiding?’ 

‘Have you committed any crimes while serving as a secretary of the Military?’ 

‘Who are you working for?’


There were a million questions he could have asked me, and I had been on high alert to prepare to answer them. He'd always criticized me so coldly.


However, from the moment I'd first seen him in the hall until now, while we sat in the parlor, the Second Prince hadn't uttered a single word of criticism or cast a single scathing look towards me.


Perhaps my poisoning had triggered his compassion.


But I immediately dismissed this hypothesis on the grounds that it was utterly ridiculous.


As far as I knew, Prince Kyle had never been the kind of person who would act so considerately. He would never take pity on me.


So why was he acting like this now?


Regardless, it was a relief. I was in the worst possible state to fight him right now, and was sincerely grateful for his current behavior.


I sighed softly, realizing that I should take this opportunity to learn more.


"According to my theory, you should be having a hard time controlling your body right now, am I correct...?"


"It's not that difficult."


"Did you take a broad-spectrum antitoxin?"


"....!"


My expression asked him how he knew.


"If you had taken the correct antidote, you would be cured of the poisoning immediately. But you're still poisoned. If you hadn't administered any kind of antidote, you'd have died of hypothermia within an hour. So, if you're in this state, you must have already taken a broad-spectrum antitoxin.” Kyle answered mildly.


‘Since when was he this easy to talk to?'


"...Do you usually explain things like this?"


He shrugged as if it was no big deal.


“I only fight against opponents who are my equals. I'm not foul mannered enough to challenge someone who is clearly unable to fight back.”


Ah... So he was going to make sure I was in good shape first before he decided to really tear into me.


For a moment, my opinion of the Prince's character rose by a few points, but then my regard cooled again.


"...If you were the kind of man who fought with consideration for his enemies... Was I an equal opponent when you tried to have me whipped?"


Had the poison addled my brain entirely? Words that I would never normally say, words that should have just remained in my head, had burst their way out of my mouth. I never would have said any of it under normal circumstances.


However, Prince Kyle took it like it was nothing.


"I see you've still got some fight left in you. And, back then, you weren't my opponent, you were just a child who recklessly trespassed on my territory."


Perhaps his response gave me the courage to say what I wanted to say without a filter.


"...Oh... I'm forever grateful. So, am I...uh...an equal opponent now?"


"Huh. I never said you were my equal. Though you could be considered an opponent in some sense."


Hmm. Did he really have a softer side after all?


"Now. What are you planning to do about this?"


"I believe the head of the Black Society prepared contingencies for dealing with poison... So I plan to wait here quietly."


I had considered hiding my involvement with the Black Society from him at first.


But then I realized that since he'd come all the way here, and already knew about Scorpion, there was no way he wouldn't know that the Black Society was also involved.


Furthermore, Kyle was fully aware that I was an apprentice of the Head of the Black Society. Hiding it wouldn't help me.


"What if the arrival of the antidote is delayed?"


“I’m considering getting treatment from a local doctor... Otherwise, I have no other course of action. I have no choice but to wait. Are you going to call me reckless for that?”


"You seem to think I'm an unreasonable man. If you've exhausted all your options, I can hardly claim you're reckless for being unable to solve something out of your control."


I almost tsked at him, but managed to hold it back. 


Then, a thought crossed my mind. Did the Prince have a way to help me?


"...Are you aware of a possible cure?" I asked bluntly.


"I am."


____

Editor's Notes -

I have no notes except for screaming about how Kyle's POV is absolutely pure gold in this chapter,"Emotional imbalance" Indeed!


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3 Comments


ProMama
ProMama
Jun 06

Oh Kyle, it’s too late for you, my guy~

Like

Rina
Rina
Jun 01

Kyle right now: Hmm why do I feel so weird around her?


Like

Laralee
Laralee
May 31

Here's Tara trying desperately to survive and save her family, while Prince Kyle is slipping fast and doesn't even know it.

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