Advanced Chapters ― The Poison-Loving Young Lady Wants to Get Married

Completed ― The Poison-Loving Young Lady Wants to Get Married


Synopsis:

One spring day, with her wedding just two weeks away, Ellen stumbles upon a scene where her fiancé and another young lady are exchanging words of love.

Her fiancé is in love with that young lady, and he plans to build a love nest for her and their unborn child with Ellen’s family money.

“I will absolutely avoid marrying him,” Ellen burns with anger.

Ellen is the successor to a pharmacist, a role passed down from mother to daughter over many generations. Ellen, who finds fulfillment in making medicine, aims to meet the condition of being a pharmacist’s successor, which is “to marry a man she can trust from the bottom of her heart and have children,” but it proves to be more difficult than she thought.

Ellen, who is of high status, beautiful, and from a very wealthy family, struggles to find a partner she can truly trust. This is a story about her pursuit of a marriage filled with love.


𝐂𝐡𝐚𝐩𝐭𝐞𝐫 𝟏: 𝐀𝐜𝐜𝐢𝐝𝐞𝐧𝐭𝐚𝐥𝐥𝐲 𝐩𝐚𝐬𝐬𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐛𝐲 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐬𝐜𝐞𝐧𝐞 𝐨𝐟 𝐲𝐨𝐮𝐫 𝐟𝐢𝐚𝐧𝐜𝐞’𝐬 𝐢𝐧𝐟𝐢𝐝𝐞𝐥𝐢𝐭𝐲

“Ellen-sama, you look absolutely beautiful.”

“Thank you, Hanna.”

The pure white dress is designed with layers of thin lace and a long trailing hem. The collar, which opens softly around the collarbone, is like a large flower, skillfully covering my modest chest and exuding elegance. My chestnut-colored hair is loosely styled to frame my face.

“You look like a spirit of white flowers. When Samuel-sama sees you, he will fall in love with you all over again.”

“I hope so.”

“The bouquet is mainly composed of purple violets, the same color as Ellen-sama’s eyes.”

Right now, I am checking the size of my wedding dress for the wedding ceremony in two weeks. Samuel Colrain is my fiancé, decided by our fathers, but he is a kind fiancé who loves me.

“I will be a good wife. I intend to create a happy home for Samuel.”

“Ellen-sama. I’m truly happy for you.”

My maid, Hanna, has tears in her eyes. I can’t count how many times Hanna has saved me during tough times. I sincerely thank her.

After the final size check, I changed into comfortable clothes and headed to the forest next to the mansion with Hanna and my guard, Stephan.

Observing and studying flora and fauna is my hobby, which also has practical benefits. I sketch the plants and animals living in the forest, color them, and record the date and location. I also collect samples. I probably have about forty notebooks of these records.

Furthermore, I research and record their uses, and bind them together with colored plant drawings. The collection has become a small botanical guidebook.

The creatures of the forest have developed various ways to survive and prosper. That’s what’s interesting.

It’s about time for Samuel to come. When I was healed by the forest air and plants and was about to return, I chose a path that I usually don’t take, leading to a gazebo. I remembered that the fresh green ivy entwining the gazebo should be beautiful around this time.

I noticed voices when I caught a glimpse of the gazebo. I heard a woman’s voice on the verge of tears and a man’s voice whispering, and I stopped. I turned to my guard, Stephan, and spoke in a low voice.

“Is it a quarrel?”

“It seems so. What will you do?”

“Shall we go back? It would be awkward if we met.”

If there’s a quarrel here, it must be our servants. It would only be awkward if we met. I was about to quietly turn back when the woman’s desperate voice got a little louder.

“But I’m pregnant. What should I do, Samuel-sama?”

. . . What?

I couldn’t help but listen.

“Don’t cry, Melanie. I truly love you. But my family is in a difficult situation and can’t recover without the Bowen family’s support. However, of course, you should give birth to the child without worry. I’ll prepare a sunny, comfortable room for you and the child. Let’s continue to live there, loving each other.”

My head and body were getting colder and colder.

I thought I had misheard, but it was indeed Samuel’s voice. And the other voice was Melanie’s. She’s the second daughter of a baron, a friend of my father, and stays at our house only during the social season. She’s the same age as me, twenty.

“Really, Samuel-sama?”

“Of course. I love you, Melanie.”

Something inside me snapped. I forced my weak legs to move, quietly retraced my steps, and headed home. I was pathetic and miserable, and I couldn’t look at Stephan and Hanna following behind me.

So I didn’t notice that Stephan was glaring at Samuel with strong anger in his eyes. I found out about that much later.

(Pull yourself together. Do what you have to do. It’s not the time to cry or be depressed.)

While climbing the stairs, holding onto the railing with trembling hands, I returned to my room and called for the maid, Liz.

“I’m sorry to bother you, Liz. I have something I want to ask you.”

After a short conversation with just the two of us, I changed into my outdoor dress. Hanna looked worried. I finished changing and hurriedly got into the carriage.

“Ellen-sama, where are we going?”

I answered Stephan’s question briefly.

“To the D’Anjouzes’ house.”

“Understood.”

The carriage moved forward with Hanna, Stephan, and me. I felt rushed to act quickly.

The lady of the D’Anjouzes’ house is fond of me and loves gossip. And she doesn’t get along with Samuel’s family, the Count Colrain family. If I tell the lady what I just heard, she will surely spread the story to many of her acquaintances.

My father has been a close friend of Samuel’s father since their school days. My father is kind to me, but he might prioritize his long-standing friendship over his daughter. If I’m not careful,

“𝙔𝙤𝙪 𝙨𝙝𝙤𝙪𝙡𝙙 𝙗𝙚 𝙜𝙚𝙣𝙚𝙧𝙤𝙪𝙨 𝙚𝙣𝙤𝙪𝙜𝙝 𝙩𝙤 𝙖𝙘𝙘𝙚𝙥𝙩 𝙖 𝙢𝙞𝙨𝙩𝙧𝙚𝙨𝙨. 𝙔𝙤𝙪’𝙧𝙚 𝙜𝙤𝙞𝙣𝙜 𝙩𝙤 𝙗𝙚 𝙖 𝙬𝙞𝙛𝙚.”

He might say something like that.

I can’t stand having my life ruined for my father’s friendship. There’s not much time left until the wedding. I must play all the cards I can.

My mother always told me to marry someone I can trust and love. She was happy about the good relationship between Samuel and me during our engagement.

I wonder how she would react if she knew her daughter had been thoroughly insulted and betrayed.

The most frightening person in our house is my action-oriented mother. At worst, two lives could be lost. That would be too much to bear.

While preventing my life from going to hell, I must avoid having those two killed, and also stop their plans. It’s difficult, but I hope the move I’m about to make is the best one.

It’s rude to visit the D’Anjouzes family without prior notice, but I’ll bring a gift that more than makes up for the rudeness. Anyway, I must let them know that Samuel is at fault to escape from marrying him. I’ll spread it so widely that Otou-sama can’t oppose the cancellation of the engagement. 

Even so, I can’t believe I loved such a person. I feel sick thinking that I was considering building a happy home with such a man. And I will never forgive him.

As I rack my brain to plan what order to take action in, Hanna, sitting across from me, asks a question while rubbing her hands together.

“Ojou-sama, is it okay? Even if it’s to punish Samuel-sama, if you talk to Mrs. D’Anjouzes and it becomes a rumor, won’t your honor be equally damaged?”

“Hanna, imagine if I endure this and marry Samuel. The title of a wife who had her husband stolen from her before marriage will remain with me forever. If my name is going to be tarnished anyway, I’ll choose the option that protects my life. Huh? Why are you looking so surprised?”

“I’m surprised because you seem like a different person from the always calm Ojou-sama.”

“I see. I usually laugh off most things. But this time it’s different.”

If I call off the wedding two weeks in advance, I’ll be the talk of the social world for a while. But if I marry Samuel as it is, a hell that lasts until death awaits me. I’m confident that the day will never come when I can laugh off today’s events.

I must avoid the marriage by any means necessary.

・・・

『”ᴀᴡᴇʙsᴛᴏʀɪᴇs.ᴄᴏᴍ” – ᴅɪsᴄᴏᴠᴇʀ ᴀ ᴄᴀᴘᴛɪᴠᴀᴛɪɴɢ ᴡᴏʀʟᴅ ᴏғ ʟᴏᴠᴇ, ᴘᴀssɪᴏɴ ᴀɴᴅ ᴀᴅᴠᴇɴᴛᴜʀᴇ, ᴡʜeʀᴇ ʏᴏᴜ ᴄᴀɴ ɪɴᴅᴜʟɢᴇ ɪɴ ᴀ ᴄᴏʟʟᴇᴄᴛɪᴏɴ ᴏғ ᴛʀᴀɴsʟᴀᴛᴇᴅ ɴᴏᴠᴇʟs ᴡɪᴛʜ “ᴅᴀɪʟʏ ᴜᴘᴅᴀᴛᴇs” ᴀɴᴅ ᴇxᴄʟᴜsɪᴠᴇ ᴀᴄᴄᴇss ᴛᴏ “ᴀᴅᴠᴀɴᴄᴇᴅ ᴄʜᴀᴘᴛᴇʀs”.』

・・・

𝐂𝐡𝐚𝐩𝐭𝐞𝐫 𝟐: 𝐆𝐨𝐬𝐬𝐢𝐩-𝐥𝐨𝐯𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐌𝐫𝐬. 𝐃’𝐀𝐧𝐣𝐨𝐮𝐳𝐞𝐬

While talking with Hanna, we arrived at the D’Anjouzes residence. The butler was already standing at the entrance, seeing my carriage coming in.

“Hello. I’m sorry for coming without notice. I just had something I really needed to discuss with the lady of the house.”

Upon saying this, the butler led us inside and then disappeared into the depths of the mansion. Hanna and I waited in a room next to the entrance. Soon, the lady of the house came to greet us herself.

“Oh, Ellen. What on earth is the matter? A soon-to-be bride needing to discuss something?”

Countess D’Anjouzes hugged me, but she was restless, like a hunting dog that had caught the scent of its prey. We were then led to the reception room under the guidance of the lady, and tea was served.

“So? What happened?”

When asked, I bit my lip, hesitated a bit, and then started talking.

“I saw Samuel being unfaithful, even though our wedding is just around the corner.”

“Oh my! Who is the other woman?”

I covered my face with both hands in agony, and answered while looking down.

“She is the daughter of an old friend of my father. She’s a Baron’s daughter, and she was staying at our house only during the social season because she doesn’t have a house in the capital.”

“And then?”

“If it was just a momentary lapse of judgment, I understand that it’s my duty as a wife-to-be to endure it. . .”

“It’s not just a lapse of judgment?”

“It seems that the woman is pregnant.”

“Oh my!”

The lady, having obtained a big piece of gossip, let out a truly delighted voice. She had always disliked Samuel, after all.

“Yes, the son of the Colrain family has made such a blunder. It’s really something.”

I continued to talk while covering my face.

“If we had been married for a few years, I would reflect on what I lack, but he cheated on me during our engagement, got her pregnant, and on top of that, he said he would prepare a sunny room with our money and nurture their love.”

I pretended to cry, but real tears came out. Hot tears were born one after another, running down my cheeks and dripping down.

Oh, am I sad? I wiped my tears with my finger as if it was someone else’s business. Even Countess D’Anjouzes seemed to pity me, handing me a white handkerchief and moistening her own eyes.

“So, even though he’s being helped by your family’s money, he intends to support his mistress and child with that money.”

“Yes. But even if I complain about it, my father might still tell me to marry Samuel. My mother would probably be on my side, but my father and Samuel’s father have a long, long relationship. I’d rather die than jump into such a hell.”

I cried again as I said this. I wish all my memories of Samuel would flow out with my tears. I wanted to erase all such memories from my memory without leaving a single one. Five years of engagement. There are countless happy memories. But no matter how wonderful a glass is, if it breaks, it becomes a piece of glass that hurts me.

The lady thought for a while, and then said,

“I understand. You haven’t told your parents yet, have you? Then leave it to me. I’ll help you. All we need is for the news to reach someone who can stop your marriage.”

The lady enveloped my hands in hers, full of enthusiasm. I knew she would say that, thank you, Countess D’Anjouzes.

I thanked the enthusiastic lady and handed her a small can of homemade moisturizer as I left.

“Oh, how thoughtful. I was just thinking I needed to replenish it. It absorbs quickly and leaves the skin well moisturized.”

I managed to smile through my tear-streaked face and went home. I wonder if the lady would be surprised to know that the expensive moisturizer was made from the fat extracted from a shark’s innards.

・・・

『”𝔸𝕨𝕖𝕓𝕤𝕥𝕠𝕣𝕚𝕖𝕤.𝕔𝕠𝕞” – 𝔻𝕚𝕤𝕔𝕠𝕧𝕖𝕣 𝕒 𝕔𝕒𝕡𝕥𝕚𝕧𝕒𝕥𝕚𝕟𝕘 𝕨𝕠𝕣𝕝𝕕 𝕠𝕗 𝕝𝕠𝕧𝕖, 𝕡𝕒𝕤𝕤𝕚𝕠𝕟 𝕒𝕟𝕕 𝕒𝕕𝕧𝕖𝕟𝕥𝕦𝕣𝕖, 𝕨𝕙𝕖𝕣𝕖 𝕪𝕠𝕦 𝕔𝕒𝕟 𝕚𝕟𝕕u𝕝𝕘𝕖 𝕚𝕟 𝕒 𝕔𝕠𝕝𝕝𝕖𝕔𝕥𝕚𝕠𝕟 𝕠𝕗 𝕥𝕣𝕒𝕟𝕤𝕝𝕒𝕥𝕖𝕕 𝕟𝕠𝕧𝕖𝕝𝕤 𝕨𝕚𝕥𝕙 “𝕕𝕒𝕚𝕝𝕪 𝕦𝕡𝕕𝕒𝕥𝕖𝕤” 𝕒𝕟𝕕 𝕖𝕩𝕔𝕝𝕦𝕤𝕚𝕧𝕖 𝕒𝕔𝕔𝕖𝕤𝕤 𝕥𝕠 “𝕒𝕕𝕧𝕒𝕟𝕔𝕖𝕕 𝕔𝕙𝕒𝕡𝕥𝕖𝕣𝕤”.』

・・・

I had dinner brought to my room because I was “tired from adjusting the size of the dress.”

While waiting for the messenger of justice to visit my house, I spent time in the herb management room in the annex. When I opened the door, the scent of herbs wafted through the air.

There are always dozens of types of herbs drying there. Once they’ve lost about eighty percent of their moisture, I pluck the leaves and chop the stems. Depending on the herb, I also use the roots. After chopping, I dry them further for storage.

It is often more effective to use them raw, but many are not available depending on the season. That’s why we dry them and store them in large quantities.

In the next room, several employees are grinding the dried items into powder. The things they grind into powder are finally mixed with medicinal herbs known only to my mother and me. Of course, the ratio and contents are a secret between the two of us, and this is the secret to why the Bowen family’s medicine is said to be different from others.

In the back room, a variety of poisonous snakes, frogs, and insects are kept, and only my mother, my guard Stephan, and I have the keys to the room. Otou-sama probably has never entered because he is not good with these creatures.

It’s about time for dinner to end. I heard the sound of a carriage outside. It’s already here. The messenger of justice who will save me from hell.

When I peeked outside the window, the carriage was painted with the crest of my mother’s maiden family, the Marquis Bosfeld. It must be my uncle. When I opened the door of the room a little and listened carefully, I soon heard a rustling presence passing through the corridor. It must be the voices of my father and uncle talking, the low voices of two men, I can’t make out the content, but it seems quite serious.

Soon, my uncle hurried to the carriage, and the carriage left.

Considering that he first contacted my uncle, who is a person my father can’t stand up to, it’s just like Mrs. D’Anjouzes.

After a while, another carriage arrived. It’s the Colrain family’s carriage. I wonder if it’s Samuel himself. I wonder if it’s his father. It would be convenient if it’s both. Come on, if you’re going to come, come. I will never accept this situation without protest.

Soon, there was a knock on the door.

“Ojou-sama, Danna-sama and Oku-sama are calling for you.”

Hanna came to call me.

“I’ll be right there.”

I fixed my makeup, arranged my hair, changed into a modest but expensive dress, and straightened my back. Now, let’s start the battle.

I lifted my face and headed to the reception room, knocking on the door. “Come in,” said Otou-sama’s voice.

I opened the door, greeted them with my best smile. In the reception room were my father, mother, Samuel, Samuel’s father, and me.

“Good evening, Count Colrain-sama, Samuel-sama. I’m sorry to have kept you waiting.”

𝐂𝐡𝐚𝐩𝐭𝐞𝐫 𝟑: 𝐓𝐡𝐞𝐫𝐞 𝐢𝐬 𝐥𝐨𝐯𝐞 𝐬𝐨 𝐈 𝐜𝐚𝐧 𝐨𝐯𝐞𝐫𝐜𝐨𝐦𝐞 𝐢𝐭

“Ellen, sit down. I have something important to discuss.”

“Yes, Otou-sama.”

The room is silent, and the crackling sound of the small fireplace, appropriate for spring, can be clearly heard. I sat down across from the Colrain father and son. Samuel stood up without looking at me and suddenly bowed his head.

“Ellen, I’m sorry!”

“What?”

Then Samuel’s father also stood up and bowed his head.

“Ellen, my Samuel has made a foolish mistake. I can’t apologize enough. I know it’s a lot to ask, but I hope you can forgive my foolish Samuel.”

Hmm.

Someone close to him must have informed him, as Mrs. D’Anjouzes wouldn’t directly inform Samuel’s father. I wonder how much he confessed. I wonder if he apologized for things that seemed forgivable.

“Benjamin, let’s explain to Ellen first.”

Otou-sama sternly told the Colrain father and son to sit down. When I looked at my mother, she was staring at the wall diagonally above. Her well-arranged white face had an expression as if it was written “fed up”.

On the other hand, Otou-sama looked as if he was about to announce a terminal illness to me.

“Marquis Norden came to inform us earlier, but it seems there are rumors that Samuel and Melanie are… in a very close relationship.”

“I see. But why isn’t Melanie, the person in question, here? Melanie might have something to say. She should be present.”

Then Okaa-sama, with her fed-up face, joined in with a clear voice without changing her expression.

“Rudolph, I agree with that.”

“I see. If you two wish, I will call Melanie.”

Eventually, Melanie entered the reception room with her head down. She was neither flustered nor crying. I had misjudged her.

“Melanie, sit down. We heard from outside that you and Samuel are in a very close relationship?”

Melanie glanced at Samuel, but Samuel was just looking at his hands on the table and didn’t notice her gaze. No, maybe he didn’t want to notice.

Then Melanie lifted her face sharply, shifted her gaze from Samuel to Otou-sama, and replied with a voice tinged with strength.

“Yes. Samuel-sama and I are in love. I am aware that Ellen-sama’s wedding is in two weeks. I am truly sorry. But we are in love.”

Otou-sama sighed, “Haa.” Samuel said nothing. Samuel’s father was glaring at Melanie with wide eyes.

“May I speak?”

With everyone’s consent, I started to speak.

“Actually, I happened to come across the two of them talking on my way back from the forest earlier. Samuel seems to truly love Melanie, Otou-sama.”

“Ugh!”

The one who closed his eyes and let out a regretful voice was Samuel’s father, Count Colrain. Samuel flinched, but he didn’t seem to have the courage to look me in the eye.

“First of all, Ellen, what do you want to do?”

“There’s nothing I can do. Samuel chose Melanie over me. I have no choice but to step aside, right?”

Samuel looked up at me with a surprised face. Ah, he thought I wouldn’t give up on him.

“As soon as it reaches Eric-ojiisama’s ears, the story will soon reach the ears of other nobles. I can’t become a miserable wife who was cuckolded before marriage. It would disgrace the Marquis Bowen family. I need some time to heal my emotional wounds, but it would be pitiful not to let Samuel marry Melanie soon. After all, Melanie is pregnant.”

Samuel looked down even more. Melanie smiled quietly.

“You!”

Count Colrain seemed to be unaware of the pregnancy. He suddenly grabbed Samuel by the collar and punched him in the face.

The only one who screamed was Melanie. The three of us in our family watched the parent and child with cold eyes.

“That’s how it is. It can’t be helped. The baby is innocent. Congratulations, Samuel, Melanie. Be happy together.”

“Ellen, are you really okay with this? Weren’t you two close lovers?”

“But, Samuel truly loves Melanie, and he wants to live with her and their child in a sunny room rented with the money our family provides. I think that’s a bit too much.”

“What did you say…”

Otou-sama’s voice is low. Even though he is the son of a longtime friend, there must be something he can’t stomach. I’m glad, Otou-sama thinks so too.

“Because, you never know what will happen in life, right? What if something happened to me before I could have a child if I married Samuel, throwing away my pride? All the dowry Otou-sama would give me would go to the child Melanie is going to have. That’s what it means to not rest in peace even in death.”

I take a breath there and say the most important thing.

“Besides, after hearing such a conversation, I’ve lost all desire to marry. I don’t have the slightest bit of lingering affection for Samuel.”

Upon hearing my words, Benjamin Count Colrain pleaded with my father.

“Rudolph, I’m sorry! It’s my responsibility for raising such a foolish son. But if you abandon us now, our house will go bankrupt. Please don’t abandon us!”

“Huh?”

The small mutter is Melanie. Did she not know that the Count Colrain family was in such dire straits? Didn’t Samuel say that they couldn’t stand without our family’s support? Did she miss it because she was too excited?

Otou-sama narrows his eyes and answers his longtime friend.

“Yes, I want to help you if I can. But this is no longer just a matter between you and me. It’s a problem between our Marquis Bowen family and the Count Colrain family. I won’t charge interest on the aid I’ve given to your house so far, as promised. But I’ll have you return it. As for future financial aid, I’ll cancel it since the marriage is off.”

“Ellen! Won’t you ask your father for me? The child who will be born is innocent, please continue the financial aid…”

Samuel’s voice trailed off probably because Okaa-sama slowly stood up with a smile. Okaa-sama has a fake smile on her beautiful face, but her eyes were terrifying.

“Samuel? Even a child would realize that what you’re saying is strange. You’ve committed infidelity and caused a great deal of damage to Ellen’s heart and reputation, but you still want us to be kind to the child born out of your infidelity, do you really think that’s going to work?”

Without waiting for a reply, this time I follow after Okaa-sama.

“That’s why, Melanie, you all need to work hard to repay the debt to our house while raising the child. Love will get you through. Also, seeing your face is hard for me, so could you leave this house by tomorrow morning? Otou-sama will contact your father about the details, so you can rest assured.”

“No way…”

“But, you don’t need to participate in the social world anymore, right? The story of you getting a husband and child at once should be all over by tomorrow. You don’t need to find a partner in the social world anymore, you’ve achieved your goal. Congratulations. Well then, Samuel, Melanie, good day.”

Melanie is glaring at me. She can glare all she wants. The words “ungrateful” and “shallow” are meant for you.

I greet them with the most beautiful smile I can muster, and as I’m about to leave the room, my mother stops me.

・・・

『”𝘈𝘸𝘦𝘣𝘴𝘵𝘰𝘳𝘪𝘦𝘴.𝘤𝘰𝘮” – 𝘋𝘪𝘴𝘤𝘰𝘷𝘦𝘳 𝘢 𝘤𝘢𝘱𝘵𝘪𝘷𝘢𝘵𝘪𝘯𝘨 𝘸𝘰𝘳𝘭𝘥 𝘰𝘧 𝘭𝘰𝘷𝘦, 𝘱𝘢𝘴𝘴𝘪𝘰𝘯 𝘢𝘯𝘥 𝘢𝘥𝘷𝘦𝘯𝘵𝘶𝘳𝘦, 𝘸𝘩𝘦𝘳𝘦 𝘺𝘰𝘶 𝘤𝘢𝘯 𝘪𝘯𝘥𝘶𝘭𝘨𝘦 𝘪𝘯 𝘢 𝘤𝘰𝘭𝘭𝘦𝘤𝘵𝘪𝘰𝘯 𝘰𝘧 𝘵𝘳𝘢n𝘴𝘭𝘢𝘵𝘦𝘥 𝘯𝘰𝘷𝘦𝘭𝘴 𝘸𝘪𝘵𝘩 “𝘥𝘢𝘪𝘭𝘺 𝘶𝘱𝘥𝘢𝘵𝘦𝘴” 𝘢𝘯𝘥 𝘦𝘹𝘤𝘭𝘶𝘴𝘪𝘷𝘦 𝘢𝘤𝘤𝘦𝘴𝘴 𝘵𝘰 “𝘢𝘥𝘷𝘢𝘯𝘤𝘦𝘥 𝘤𝘩𝘢𝘱𝘵𝘦𝘳𝘴”.』

・・・

𝐂𝐡𝐚𝐩𝐭𝐞𝐫 𝟒: 𝐓𝐨 𝐃𝐞𝐛𝐨𝐤 𝐌𝐨𝐮𝐧𝐭𝐚𝐢𝐧 𝐇𝐮𝐭

“Wait, Ellen. I have something to discuss with you, come to my room.”

“. . .Yes, Okaa-sama.”

I was planning to quickly return to my room, but we headed to my mother’s room together. One cannot defy the highest authority.

My mother sat down on the sofa and called out to me, who was standing.

“So? Who did you have spread the rumors?”

“. . .Mrs. D’Anjouzes.”

It was revealed that I was the source of the rumors.

“I see. Mrs. D’Anjouzes dislikes the Colrain family and has many places to spread rumors. So, what will you do from now on?”

“I’m thinking of going to the cabin in Debok for a change of pace for about a month. After that, I plan to look for a marriage partner.”

“I see. The mountains might be good for a change of pace. Ellen? Come here.”

My mother pats her knee. I used to sit there when I was younger, but now I’m bigger. So, I sat on the floor and rested my head on her knee. My mother strokes my hair.

“Are you okay?”

“It was good that it happened before the marriage.”

“That’s certainly true. I wonder if Melanie’s pregnancy is real.”

“It’s probably a lie. I checked with the maid, Liz, and Melanie had her period until ten days ago. But, that’s not the problem.”

“Sigh, it’s a bit sad as a mother that you’re so calm. It’s okay, you can lose your composure at times like this.”

I slowly shook my head.

“I don’t even have the energy to lose my composure anymore.”

My mother, who had stopped moving for a moment, began to speak as if she were talking to herself, while stroking my head and back.

“He’s the second son of the impoverished Count family, he’s gentle, and he likes you. I thought Samuel was the perfect partner for you to get married and freely research medicine, but he’s been having an affair with our money.”

My mother’s voice sounded unusually sad.

“Okaa-sama, you’re not going to kill Samuel, are you?”

“Of course not. Even without my intervention, he’s going to suffer more than death from now on. It’s my fault that I didn’t realize he was such a man. I’m sorry, Ellen.”

“It’s not something for Okaa-sama to apologize for. There must be some cause on my part too.”

“No. You’re not to blame. You shouldn’t think that way. But what should we do about Melanie?”

My mother’s hand gently strokes me.

“Just leave her alone, that’s enough.”

“Really? That’s very generous of you.”

“Melanie will probably break up with the debt-ridden Samuel, and it will be impossible for her to find a new marriage partner in society for a while. To be honest, I don’t care what happens to Melanie as long as she’s not in this house. I’m just… deeply disappointed in Samuel.”

“I see. You’re a calm and kind girl. I hope that works in your favor as a woman and as a pharmacist.”

My mother’s words sounded like a wish, but also a worry.

My mother is a top-class pharmacist.

Her lineage has been passing down knowledge and techniques of medicine through female inheritance as much as possible. Our family is particularly skilled in handling poisons. The knowledge of our ancestors is being bestowed upon me through my mother.

I am one of three sisters, and all of us have been taught basic knowledge. However, according to tradition, I am the only one who can learn deep knowledge and techniques to the end.

There were three reasons why my mother chose me, the youngest daughter. One was the strength of my interest in medicine and the depth of my understanding. Another was my high detoxification ability. The last was emotional stability.

Marle-oneesama, the second daughter, was not chosen because she was judged to have a high possibility of self-destruction if she was given knowledge of poison due to her intense emotional ups and downs. It might also be one of the reasons she was not chosen because Marle-oneesama had little interest in everyday medicines.

Herda-oneesama, the eldest daughter, was gentle and had a strong desire for knowledge, but unfortunately, her detoxification ability was lower than mine. She always suffered the most in training to build resistance to poison.

To make an antidote, you must know the properties of the poison, how to make it, and how to manage it, and you will often come into contact with poison. The ability to break down poisons and the strength of resistance to poison are conditions directly linked to life.

The medicines that people in the world actually seek are for burns and wounds, laxatives, and fever reducers, and there is hardly any opportunity for antidotes. Still, I like making antidotes. I feel a sense of accomplishment when people suffering from poison recover with my antidote.

Besides, I am fascinated by the mystery of the poison that animals and plants produce to protect themselves and the diversity of its effects. That’s why I want to protect my position as a successor who can learn deeply about poison at all costs.

“Okaa-sama, can Hanna, Stephan, and I go to the mountain hut(cabin)?”

“That’s fine. You should relax. Just increase your guards on the way there and back.”

“Yes.”

“And… Ellen, you were afraid that Otou-sama would say [you should still get married], weren’t you? That’s why you spread the rumor first, right?”

Everything was read.

“It’s not that I don’t trust Otou-sama. I’m sorry, Okaa-sama.”

“That’s okay. Your Otou-sama was also worried about endlessly indebting a friend who has no business acumen. He seemed to think it was okay for Samuel and you, but it was beyond the realm of friendship…”

I see. My father was worried too.

・・・

『”𝕬𝖜𝖊𝖇𝖘𝖙𝖔𝖗𝖎𝖊𝖘.𝖈𝖔𝖒” – 𝕯𝖎𝖘𝖈𝖔𝖛𝖊𝖗 𝖆 𝖈𝖆𝖕𝖙𝖎𝖛𝖆𝖙𝖎𝖓𝖌 𝖜𝖔𝖗𝖑𝖉 𝖔𝖋 𝖑𝖔𝖛𝖊, 𝖕𝖆𝖘𝖘𝖎𝖔𝖓 𝖆𝖓𝖉 𝖆𝖉𝖛𝖊𝖓𝖙𝖚𝖗𝖊, 𝖜𝖍𝖊𝖗𝖊 𝖞𝖔𝖚 𝖈𝖆𝖓 𝖎𝖓𝖉𝖚𝖑𝖌𝖊 𝖎𝖓 𝖆 𝖈𝖔𝖑𝖑𝖊𝖈𝖙𝖎𝖔𝖓 𝖔𝖋 𝖙𝖗𝖆𝖓𝖘𝖑a𝖙𝖊𝖉 𝖓𝖔𝖛𝖊𝖑𝖘 𝖜𝖎𝖙𝖍 “𝖉𝖆𝖎𝖑𝖞 𝖚𝖕𝖉𝖆𝖙𝖊𝖘” 𝖆𝖓𝖉 𝖊𝖝𝖈𝖑𝖚𝖘𝖎𝖛𝖊 𝖆𝖈𝖈𝖊𝖘𝖘 𝖙𝖔 “𝖆𝖉𝖛𝖆𝖓𝖈𝖊𝖉 𝖈𝖍𝖆𝖕𝖙𝖊𝖗𝖘”.』

・・・

At breakfast the next morning, my father had bags under his eyes and looked pale.

“Otou-sama, shall I serve you a recovery medicine?”

“Sigh, I’d appreciate it.”

I took out several ingredients from the medicine chest, crushed them all into powder in a medicine bowl, mixed them with honey, dissolved them in a small amount of hot water, and poured it into a cup.

“Thank you. This is easy to drink when you make it.”

Otou-sama said so and drank it all at once. It’s actually not tasty. Kind Otou-sama.

“You should relax in Debok. I’ll choose a man for the next fiancé who is definitely not a mistake.”

“Otou-sama… I want to try to find one myself this time.”

“You don’t have many acquaintances.”

“Then, why don’t you and Ellen both try to find one?”

“But…”

“You. If it gives Ellen energy, that’s fine.”

“Th, that’s right, Franca.”

𝐓𝐋: 𝐅𝐫𝐚𝐧𝐜𝐚 (𝐄𝐥𝐥𝐞𝐧’𝐬 𝐦𝐨𝐭𝐡𝐞𝐫)

My father was downcast. Melanie and Samuel are both children of my father’s friends. I wonder if he is worried because this is the result of his kindness, thinking it was for the best.

“Otou-sama, I love you no matter what happens.”

“Ellen… I’m sorry. I really did something I shouldn’t have.”

My father put his hand on his forehead and looked down.

・・・

『”𝙰𝚠𝚎𝚋𝚜𝚝𝚘𝚛𝚒𝚎𝚜.𝚌𝚘𝚖” – 𝙳𝚒𝚜𝚌𝚘𝚟𝚎𝚛 𝚊 𝚌𝚊𝚙𝚝𝚒𝚟𝚊𝚝𝚒𝚗𝚐 𝚠𝚘𝚛𝚕𝚍 𝚘𝚏 𝚕𝚘𝚟𝚎, 𝚙𝚊𝚜𝚜𝚒𝚘𝚗 𝚊𝚗𝚍 𝚊𝚍𝚟𝚎𝚗𝚝𝚞𝚛𝚎, 𝚠𝚑𝚎𝚛𝚎 𝚢𝚘𝚞 𝚌𝚊𝚗 𝚒𝚗𝚍𝚞𝚕𝚐𝚎 𝚒𝚗 𝚊 𝚌𝚘𝚕𝚕𝚎𝚌𝚝𝚒𝚘𝚗 𝚘𝚏 𝚝𝚛𝚊𝚗𝚜𝚕𝚊𝚝𝚎𝚍 𝚗𝚘𝚟𝚎𝚕𝚜 𝚠𝚒𝚝𝚑 “𝚍𝚊𝚒𝚕𝚢 𝚞𝚙𝚍𝚊𝚝𝚎𝚜” 𝚊𝚗𝚍 𝚎𝚡𝚌𝚕𝚞𝚜𝚒𝚟𝚎 𝚊𝚌𝚌𝚎𝚜𝚜 𝚝𝚘 “𝚊𝚍𝚟𝚊𝚗𝚌𝚎𝚍 𝚌𝚑𝚊𝚙𝚝𝚎𝚛𝚜”.』

・・・

Hanna and I are in a carriage now. Stephan is the coachman.

“I wonder what happened to Melanie after that.”

“She left the mansion at dawn. She seems to have headed for her parents’ house. I wonder what excuse she’s going to make when her belly gets bigger.”

I tell Hanna with a bitter smile, looking out the window.

“She’s not pregnant. She’ll probably break up with Samuel too. Samuel was deceived.”

“Eh. Is that okay with you, Ojou-sama?”

“I can’t accept Samuel anymore.”

Hanna is surprised. Stephan, who is holding the reins and facing forward, can probably hear because the small window in the partition is open, but I don’t mind because these two are like family to me.

“I see. I’m frustrated that Ojou-sama seems to have been at a loss.”

“No, I’m not at a loss. My life will surely move in a better direction because I broke up with Samuel.”

Stephan, on the other side of the small window, nodded slightly.

We arrived at the mountain cabin in Debok the next day. The cabin is built at the foot of a mountain facing the sea, with a blue sea in front and a deep forest behind, a wonderful environment. Although it’s called a cabin, the building is quite large.

It was a windy day. A large ship could be seen in the sea. The ship was sailing inside the bay to avoid the wind and high waves.

The wind gradually became stronger, and that night, we ate dinner listening to the howling of the wind.

The first to notice the noise outside was Stephan.

𝐂𝐡𝐚𝐩𝐭𝐞𝐫 𝟓: 𝐍𝐨𝐜𝐭𝐮𝐫𝐧𝐚𝐥 𝐕𝐢𝐬𝐢𝐭𝐨𝐫

In the middle of the meal, Stephan turned his palm towards me, signaling me to be quiet, and then stood up. Seeing him concentrate on his hearing, I also tried to sense the presence.

Around the cabin, shells were thickly laid on top of lined stones, making a sound when stepped on. Mixed with the sound of the wind, I heard slow footsteps, crunching, crunching.

Smoothly, Stephan drew his sword and braced himself by the door. Hanna and I headed to the back room so as not to get in the way. As I peeked out from the door of the back room, just enough to see, there was a knock on the door.

“Who is it?”

Stephan asked. I couldn’t hear the other person’s voice.

“Step away from the door.”

Stephan climbed onto a chair by the door and checked outside through the high window. He then checked outside from the high windows in three directions. The lower windows are blocked with thick boards at night. Apparently judging that there were no companions, Stephan opened the door.

The large young man who staggered in had his clothes soaked with dark blood from his right shoulder to his chest. Even while Stephan quickly checked his entire body for weapons, he was staggering.

“It’s okay.”

He called out to me, so I hurried over.

“Stephan, lay him on that daybed. Hanna, boil some water. Stephan, once he’s laid down, please check the surroundings again.”

I gave instructions to the two of them and opened the man’s shirt to check his wound. Judging from the shape of the wound, it was an arrow wound. I touched his neck to check his pulse. He had a fever and his pulse was fast. There was greasy sweat on his forehead.

Stephan returned and reported, “There’s no one.”

“Thank you. Can you hold him down? I’m going to probe inside the wound.”

I asked. The man faintly opened his eyes, so I spoke near his ear.

“I’m going to check if there’s anything left in the wound. Don’t move, even if it hurts.”

Seeing the man nod with unfocused eyes, I disinfected my fingers and tweezers. When I inserted the tweezers into the wound and probed inside, he groaned “Ugh,” but didn’t thrash about. I brought my face close to the wound and sniffed. There was a faint smell I recognized.

I spoke to the man again.

“There’s no arrowhead left. But it seems like it was coated with poison. I’m going to make a medicine now, so don’t fall asleep until you drink it. Hanna, disinfect the wound.”

I left the man to Hanna and Stephan and hurried to make the medicine. The medicine chest brought in by the carriage is about a quarter the size of the one at home, and it contains all the necessary medicines. I took out four kinds of medicine from it and ground them into powder.

“The disinfection is done.”

“Thank you.”

I kneaded half of the powdered herbs with sugar syrup. I need to make him drink it quickly.

I lifted the man’s head, which was starting to doze off from blood loss and poison, supported it with a cushion, inserted a teaspoon into his mouth, and smeared the kneaded powdered medicine on his upper jaw.

The man swallowed the sweet and bitter kneaded medicine, grimacing. I then made him drink plenty of water.

I hurried back to the kitchen, added the root of a tonic herb to the remaining medicine, and decocted it. Slowly simmer it. In the meantime, I have to undress the man. His clothes are damp and smell of the sea. Did he come up from the sea? It’s amazing that he could climb up here with this much bleeding. Maybe it’s thanks to his youth.

“Now, what should we do next?”

“We don’t know his identity, so let’s tie him up before he regains consciousness.”

“No, if he seems likely to thrash about, I’ll put him to sleep with medicine.”

Eventually, the herbs were decocted, and I woke the man up again and made him drink. Somehow, the man drank it all and finally fell asleep.

“Ellen-sama, let’s report to the security team. There’s no need for Ojou-sama to take care of him.”

“But, Stephan, corossan’s poison was used. It’s a rare poison, so I want to observe the effect of the antidote.”

Knowing that I won’t give in when it comes to poison, Stephan looks troubled. All I can do is apologize, saying I’m sorry.

Corossan poison is made from the sap of the corossan tree. It interferes with the healing of wounds, causing the wound to start rotting while still throbbing, and the rot spreads throughout the body, leading to death. It’s a poison that prolongs suffering.

However, there are no Corossan trees around here. They only grow in warmer countries. So it’s a poison that is hardly ever used around here. Is the man from a southern country? His skin is slightly dark. What could be the reason for being shot with a poisoned arrow?

・・・

『”𝐀𝐰𝐞𝐛𝐬𝐭𝐨𝐫𝐢𝐞𝐬.𝐜𝐨𝐦” – 𝐃𝐢𝐬𝐜𝐨𝐯𝐞𝐫 𝐚 𝐜𝐚𝐩𝐭𝐢𝐯𝐚𝐭𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐰𝐨𝐫𝐥𝐝 𝐨𝐟 𝐥𝐨𝐯𝐞, 𝐩𝐚𝐬𝐬𝐢𝐨𝐧 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐚𝐝𝐯𝐞𝐧𝐭𝐮𝐫𝐞, 𝐰𝐡𝐞𝐫𝐞 𝐲𝐨𝐮 𝐜𝐚𝐧 𝐢𝐧𝐝𝐮𝐥𝐠𝐞 𝐢𝐧 𝐚 𝐜𝐨𝐥𝐥𝐞𝐜𝐭𝐢𝐨𝐧 𝐨𝐟 𝐭𝐫𝐚𝐧𝐬𝐥𝐚𝐭𝐞𝐝 𝐧𝐨𝐯𝐞𝐥𝐬 𝐰𝐢𝐭𝐡 “𝐝𝐚𝐢𝐥𝐲 𝐮𝐩𝐝𝐚𝐭𝐞𝐬” 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐞𝐱𝐜𝐥𝐮𝐬𝐢𝐯𝐞 𝐚𝐜𝐜𝐞𝐬𝐬 𝐭𝐨 “𝐚𝐝𝐯𝐚𝐧𝐜𝐞𝐝 𝐜𝐡𝐚𝐩𝐭𝐞𝐫𝐬”.』

・・・

The man woke up after sleeping for a full day. The first voice to thank him was hoarse.

“I’m saved. I would have died if I had stayed like that. I will definitely thank you. I’m Cain. And you?”

“I’m Ellen. We help each other when we’re in trouble.”

The man who calls himself Cain doesn’t seem to be twenty years old yet. His hair is a bright brown, close to gold, and his eyes are ice blue like the winter sky. His face is as beautiful as a sculpture, but still has a youthful air. The clothes he was wearing were of high quality.

“Well, first, let’s have some food and medicine. Please wait a bit.”

He finished eating the chicken soup with soft boiled vegetables and mashed potatoes cooked in a light flavor.

“You might not be full, but you have to endure it for now. If you eat until you’re full, your recovery will be delayed.”

“I understand.”

Cain, who obediently agreed, gulped down the decoction served after the meal. He doesn’t show it on his face, even though it must be bitter.

“I will check your wound.”

Saying that, I removed the cloth wrapped around his shoulder. The bleeding had stopped and the wound seemed to be closing, probably due to the medicine.

I gently wipes off the medicine that is currently applied, applies the ointment again, and wraps the cloth.

“Is Ellen a doctor?”

“No. I’m a pharmacist.”

“I see. I was lucky to meet someone like you. I’m truly grateful.”

“I just did what I could. I used an antidote according to the corossan poison that was used.”

“Corossan… I see.”

“Who used the poisoned arrow?”

“…No, I don’t know. I was attacked suddenly.”

There was a slight hesitation in his eyes, but he couldn’t say it. That’s understandable. It can’t be helped. I wanted to know who used corossan.

“It will take a while until there is no worry of the wound becoming infected. Please focus on recovery until then.”

“I’m really sorry. Here, take this.”

Cain said that and tried to hand over the pendant he had taken off from his neck. It was a round ruby embedded in an oval gold base. She gently pushed it back.

“No. I don’t need payment for the treatment. But if you insist, I will lend you this place. Please help me when I’m in trouble. That’s enough.”

I probably won’t see this person again, but let’s end it with that. I can keep a record of the recovery process, and I hesitate to accept an accessory that seems to have a history.

The arrow wound was healing steadily, but if it doesn’t close from the deep part of the wound, it can easily rot from the inside. So, I checked every day while applying ointment to make sure that the skin of the wound wasn’t closing before the deep part.

Cain, perhaps being cautious, didn’t talk about anything that would reveal his identity. I didn’t ask either. Still, I could tell he was well-bred. There must have been some incident, but the person who shot the arrow must have been trying to kill this person.

“You don’t have to worry, I’ll hire a carriage to take me home.”

Cain, who insisted on saying that, only had the pendant that seemed to be worth money. I don’t know how far his home is, but that would be too inconvenient.

(Well, I’m already on board.)

About ten days later, I decided to send Cain, who had recovered considerably, to the village by carriage. When I asked Stephan for a favor,

“I thought you would do that.”

He said with a bitter smile.

Cain, who was an exemplary patient, thanked me over and over again and left the cabin.

𝐂𝐡𝐚𝐩𝐭𝐞𝐫 𝟔: 𝐒𝐭𝐞𝐩𝐡𝐚𝐧 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐇𝐚𝐧𝐧𝐚

“I have safely escorted Cain-sama to the village. Ellen-sama, I know I may be overstepping, but if you don’t limit your kindness, you may put yourself in danger.”

“I considered the possibility that Cain’s pursuers might come this far. But look, in the worst case, we have that exit. Ah, that’s right. I’ll go check if that passage hasn’t collapsed yet.”

“I will do that. Please don’t change the subject.”

“I’m sorry, Stephan. Don’t be angry. It was a great gain to be able to observe the effect and progress of corossan’s antidote. It’s a poison that we rarely encounter. But I may have exposed you and Hanna to danger, and I regret causing you extra trouble.”

“I’m not angry. I don’t mind the trouble. I’m just worried about you, Ellen-sama.”

“I understand. Thank you very much. I’ll be more careful from now on. Also, I’ll think about setting up some security traps.”

Stephan decided to check the escape route, muttering “Traps…” and leaving his nagging at that.

When you remove the floorboards under the bed in the back room, there is a passage that even a large man like Stephan can crawl through. It was made to lead to the shadow of a large tree behind the mountain hut.

The one who made this hidden passage was Madame Franca, who seems to be a person who takes precautions. She seems to have had the work done by trustworthy people brought in from afar, because it would be a problem if the secret passage was talked about.

Stephan lifted the floorboard and entered the dark, stone-built passage. It was damp, but not collapsed, and he was able to proceed smoothly. He decided to cover the board at the exit with dead leaves, moving some of the soil on top of it, as it took quite a bit of strength to lift it.

When he emerged from the passage, Ellen was already waiting there.

“Good job. That was quick.”

“Were you waiting?”

“Will you accompany me to pick some herbs?”

“Certainly.”

“Ah, you have a leaf on you.”

Ellen stretched up and gently removed the leaf from Stephan’s golden short hair.

“Thank you.”

Stephan’s ears and neck were red, but Ellen, who started walking, didn’t notice.

The two of them proceeded into the depths of the forest. Ellen was keen-eyed, picking herbs one after another and putting them in a basket. Stephan followed, keeping an eye on their surroundings.

“Stephan, the tropical shells your father bought for me the other day, they seem to have sold well as processed goods. They were made into high-end buttons and accessories.”

“My father will be pleased if they were useful. Also, if we come across any rare poisons, I’ll tell him to deliver them to you.”

“That would be helpful!”

Her face, turning back and smiling softly, was adorable.

Stephan’s father runs a small trading business, and Ellen is a valued customer. She imports unexpected items, processes them into unexpected things, and sells them in this country. The people who process and sell them are the villagers Ellen has reached out to.

Stephan respects Ellen, who cares about the villagers. When Ellen got engaged, he blessed the couple as a good match. But even now, thinking of Samuel makes his blood boil.

――What was that man dissatisfied with about Ellen-sama? Melanie is a woman who flirts with any man she sees, and I had a bad feeling when I heard she would be staying at the Bowen house for several months.

Despite being engaged to Ellen-sama for five years, Melanie stole Samuel away in just three months.

Even now, I occasionally remember the conversation I overheard when I was returning from the forest. If I could kill that scoundrel, I would choose a rusty sword with a dull edge on purpose and cut him down.――

“What’s wrong? You look scary.”

Ellen-sama, who turned around, looked worried.

“I was thinking about how to deal with a centipede.”

“Centipede bites are terribly painful. The best way is to cut it into several pieces.”

“I will definitely do that next time.”

Stephan replied with a serious face.

・・・

『”𝘼𝙬𝙚𝙗𝙨𝙩𝙤𝙧𝙞𝙚𝙨.𝙘𝙤𝙢” – 𝘿𝙞𝙨𝙘𝙤𝙫𝙚𝙧 𝙖 𝙘𝙖𝙥𝙩𝙞𝙫𝙖𝙩𝙞𝙣𝙜 𝙬𝙤𝙧𝙡𝙙 𝙤𝙛 𝙡𝙤𝙫𝙚, 𝙥𝙖𝙨𝙨𝙞𝙤𝙣 𝙖𝙣𝙙 𝙖𝙙𝙫𝙚𝙣𝙩𝙪𝙧𝙚, 𝙬𝙝𝙚𝙧𝙚 𝙮𝙤𝙪 𝙘𝙖𝙣 𝙞𝙣𝙙𝙪𝙡𝙜𝙚 𝙞𝙣 𝙖 𝙘𝙤𝙡𝙡e𝙘𝙩𝙞𝙤𝙣 𝙤𝙛 𝙩𝙧𝙖𝙣𝙨𝙡𝙖𝙩𝙚𝙙 𝙣𝙤𝙫𝙚𝙡𝙨 𝙬𝙞𝙩𝙝 “𝙙𝙖𝙞𝙡𝙮 𝙪𝙥𝙙𝙖𝙩𝙚𝙨” 𝙖𝙣𝙙 𝙚𝙭𝙘𝙡𝙪𝙨𝙞𝙫𝙚 𝙖𝙘𝙘𝙚𝙨𝙨 𝙩𝙤 “𝙖𝙙𝙫𝙖𝙣𝙘𝙚𝙙 𝙘𝙝𝙖𝙥𝙩𝙚𝙧𝙨”.』

・・・

Meanwhile, Stephan’s sister Hanna was down at the beach collecting shells. The siblings grew up by the sea, so they are skilled at collecting shells.

――In the past, when the management of my family’s trading company was not going well, Ellen-sama, who used the company every time she came to the mountain cabin, helped us. It was when Ellen-sama was still a girl.

“If the company I’m used to is gone, it will be inconvenient for me.”

She said this to Oku-sama and asked for her help.

Then Oku-sama not only invested in the company, but also hired us siblings as servants. Our parents were greatly relieved because the two of us, who were growing and eating a lot, were able to leave home and receive wages.

Normally, working in the Marquis family’s house would be a dream within a dream, but my brother and I were given beautiful uniforms as attendants to Ellen-sama, my brother was trained in swordsmanship, I was educated as a maid, and we were given enough food.

Moreover, when the company recovered, she even said, “If you want to help your parents’ work, you can quit here.” Both my brother and I immediately decided to stay here. There is no problem because the eldest brother will take over the company.

Both Oku-sama and Ellen-sama are always doing research and experiments. I thought that noble women were people who change dresses several times a day and do embroidery, but both of them are very active.

“After all, if you don’t use your body, it will gradually deteriorate.”

Oku-sama often says this.

Tonight, I will take out the meat from the shellfish and stir-fry it with basil and garlic. Ellen-sama wants to help with the cooking, but I worry that her beautiful, white, slender fingers might get hurt. Ojou-sama always laughs and says, “If I get hurt, I can check the effect of the ointment myself.”――

Satisfied with the contents of the heavy basket, Hanna climbs the hill from the beach to the mountain cabin. She decided to carry a bucket of seawater for sand removal and return home.

――My brother… he was deeply angry with that man. I hated that man too, but it hurts to think about my brother’s feelings, who is protecting Ellen-sama like a treasure.

In front of my brother, who is faithfully and devotedly serving Ellen-sama, that man whispered love to Melanie.

At that time, I was always ready to hug my brother and stop him. I was afraid that my brother might knock that man down.

However, my brother quietly followed Ellen-sama back without changing his facial expression. How frustrating it must have been.

“But what was Cain-sama, really?”

Ellen-sama didn’t approach Cain-sama except for treatment and observation of wounds, and my brother was careful that Ellen-sama and Cain-sama were not alone.

“Cain-sama had a frighteningly beautiful face. And I feel like he was fascinated by Ellen-sama when she was treating him.”

Then I shook my head vigorously to deny my own thoughts. A person who is shot with a bow and arrow is out of the question. Even that man, who seemed decent, betrayed us.

“Being shot with an arrow… I wonder what he did.”

He seemed to be a well-bred person, so he probably wasn’t a criminal. After Ellen-sama left the deeply sleeping Cain-sama, she sadly said, “The poison used on him is used when you want to torture your opponent for a long time and then kill them for sure.”

When she sees someone suffering from poison, Ojou-sama always looks like she’s about to cry.

The mountain cabin is almost there. I will make Ellen-sama’s favorite clam and basil stir-fry deliciously.――

𝐂𝐡𝐚𝐩𝐭𝐞𝐫 𝟕: 𝐂𝐚𝐢𝐧 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐅𝐚𝐭𝐡𝐞𝐫

“I was lucky.”

Cain muttered to himself in the carriage heading to his home.

Because the ship was sailing close to the shore to avoid the wind, I was able to swim to the shore, and I was lucky that there was a skilled pharmacist in the mountain hut I arrived at. If I hadn’t met her, I would have undoubtedly died.

“But why would they try to kill me even if they have to chase me?”

My mother was a princess of a southern country, and she fell in love with my father when she came to the Cryff Kingdom for study. She returned home immediately after giving birth to me.

My mother returned home and married the man her parents had chosen, and the daughter she gave birth to was already decided to be the heir. There should have been no problem even if I went to visit her grave.

I was informed that my mother had passed away a while ago, and I only went to visit the grave as an overseas trip. But I was pressured by my (maternal?) grandparents to become the successor.

I thought this would be troublesome and retreated early, but they tried to kill me by boarding their subordinates on the ship.

Did my mother’s marriage partner worry too much? I hope my half sister didn’t try to kill me.

The carriage was leisurely heading home.

“But I had a terrible experience. But, it was good to get to know the young lady of the Bowen family.”

I was sent to the village by Ellen’s guard, and there was a considerable amount of money in the leather bag handed to me saying, “It’s from Ojou-sama.” It seems to be travel expenses. She treated me, let me stay, didn’t take the treatment fee, and even gave me travel expenses for the return trip.

“How naive is Ellen Bowen? I wonder if it’s okay to be so naive.”

When I asked about Ellen of the mountain hut in the village I was sent to, all the villagers knew. The youngest daughter and heir of the Marquis Bowen family. A famous pharmacist’s lineage. She was supposed to be married by now, but it was canceled at the last minute, and so on.

“Every family has its problems.”

I was raised with care by my father and the servants in the mansion, but outside the house, I was constantly called a bastard or a foreigner’s child.

“I’m used to being insulted. But I never thought my mom’s family would want me dead.”

My face was reflected in the window glass of the carriage. There was an ugly expression of me, looking like I was crying with a smile.

・・・

『”𝐴𝑤𝑒𝑏𝑠𝑡𝑜𝑟𝑖𝑒𝑠.𝑐𝑜𝑚” – 𝐷𝑖𝑠𝑐𝑜𝑣𝑒𝑟 𝑎 𝑐𝑎𝑝𝑡𝑖𝑣𝑎𝑡𝑖𝑛𝑔 𝑤𝑜𝑟𝑙𝑑 𝑜𝑓 𝑙𝑜𝑣𝑒, 𝑝𝑎𝑠𝑠𝑖𝑜𝑛 𝑎𝑛𝑑 𝑎𝑑𝑣𝑒𝑛𝑡𝑢𝑟𝑒, 𝑤ℎ𝑒𝑟𝑒 𝑦𝑜𝑢 𝑐𝑎𝑛 𝑖𝑛𝑑𝑢𝑙𝑔𝑒 𝑖𝑛 𝑎 𝑐𝑜𝑙𝑙e𝑐𝑡𝑖𝑜𝑛 𝑜𝑓 𝑡𝑟𝑎𝑛𝑠𝑙𝑎𝑡𝑒𝑑 𝑛𝑜𝑣𝑒𝑙𝑠 𝑤𝑖𝑡ℎ “𝑑𝑎𝑖𝑙𝑦 𝑢𝑝𝑑𝑎𝑡𝑒𝑠” 𝑎𝑛𝑑 𝑒𝑥𝑐𝑙𝑢𝑠𝑖𝑣𝑒 𝑎𝑐𝑐𝑒𝑠𝑠 𝑡𝑜 “𝑎𝑑𝑣𝑎𝑛𝑐𝑒𝑑 𝑐ℎ𝑎𝑝𝑡𝑒𝑟𝑠”.』

・・・

When Cain returned home, there was a big commotion.

“What have you been doing all this time! Why weren’t you on the ship!”

His excited father questioned him. He was not on the ship he was supposed to be on, and it was said that “he probably fell into the sea on the way.” He came back just when they were about to hold a funeral. It’s no wonder there was a big commotion.

His father, Count Dirk Smith, was worn out with worry.

“A lot happened. I was seasick and stayed in the room all the time, but when I went out on the deck because we were about to arrive, I was almost killed by those people.”

“Almost killed?”

Count’s voice cracked.

“So I jumped into the sea and escaped. Dad, do you know the young lady Ellen Bowen?”

“I know her, she’s the daughter of the incredibly famous and wealthy Marquis family.”

“I was helped by that young lady.”

When Cain said this and opened his shirt to show his painful wound, Count Dirk Smith’s eyes widened.

“You were almost killed and treated by Ellen-sama? Tell me the details!”

The two of them talked for a long time after that.

As Cain ate a lot of food and told everything, his father, the Count, was furious like a raging fire, and then held his head.

“We must convey the facts to them and protest firmly. And we can’t thank Ellen-sama enough, Cain.”

“I know. She even gave me travel expenses.”

“We must immediately send a letter of thanks and a gift of gratitude. No, I should take it myself.”

The Count was walking around the living room restlessly.

“I saw Ellen for the first time. Why didn’t she appear in society?”

“She seems to dislike socializing. She was engaged before she came of age, so that was probably enough. The rumor that it was broken off was true.”

“Broken off? What kind of mistake did she make? She didn’t seem like that kind of person.”

“The one who made the mistake was the man. There’s a rumor that he was caught cheating. The man’s family is probably ruined. They have a debt they can’t repay.”

“Is the Bowen family wealthy?”

“Do you know about the special medicine for fever tremors? That medicine was created by the mother of Marquis Bowen’s wife. Now the Marquess has the rights to it. The manufacturing process is managed by the country because it is exported in large quantities, but a huge amount of money goes to the Marquess, who is the rights holder.”

“Wow, that’s amazing. Ellen was also very skilled. I only knew the name of corossan’s poison, but Ellen immediately identified the poison and made a medicine for me.”

“Ellen-sama is going to be a top-class pharmacist one day. If Ellen-sama hadn’t saved you, we would be holding your funeral by now. The medicine made by a top-class pharmacist is very expensive and hard to come by. But its effectiveness is guaranteed. You are indeed lucky.”

“Hmm. Dad, if you’re going to bring a gift, take me with you. I want to thank her again.”

“Yes, that’s a good idea. Ellen-sama is heartbroken right now. You can comfort her while thanking her… Wait, what about the incident the other day? You did take care of it, didn’t you?”

“The Baroness? But she asked me to do it. I can’t refuse a lady’s request.”

“Once people see you two alone in a bedroom, they won’t believe such an excuse. Have you forgotten that I had to apologize for your mess?”

“I do feel bad for Dad. But that was a misunderstanding.”

“It’s your fault for giving them a chance to misunderstand! I’ll send a letter and let you know when the visit is scheduled. Remember, if you offend the Bowen family’s daughter, our house could be wiped out.”

“Huh?”

“I can’t trust you, who inherited my blood the most. No, I’ve decided not to take you to the Bowen house. Don’t approach Ellen-sama.”

“But…”

“No. I still value my life.”

After that, Count Smith ordered several types of high-quality fabrics, and suddenly realized, he had them look for gifts that his wife and Ellen would be pleased with. It took a while, but they managed to find the desired items.

It might just be a rumor, but Count remembered his late father repeatedly saying, “Don’t make an enemy of that top-class pharmacist. You never know when or where you might be poisoned.”

And Count Smith still doesn’t know why Cain, who was left alone, had a sad smile on his face.

・・・

『”𝔄𝔴𝔢𝔟𝔰𝔱𝔬𝔯𝔦𝔢𝔰.𝔠𝔬𝔪” – 𝔇𝔦𝔰𝔠𝔬𝔳𝔢𝔯 𝔞 𝔠𝔞𝔭𝔱𝔦𝔳𝔞𝔱𝔦𝔫𝔤 𝔴𝔬𝔯𝔩𝔡 𝔬𝔣 𝔩𝔬𝔳𝔢, 𝔭𝔞𝔰𝔰𝔦𝔬𝔫 𝔞𝔫𝔡 𝔞𝔡𝔳𝔢𝔫𝔱𝔲𝔯𝔢, 𝔴𝔥𝔢𝔯𝔢 𝔶𝔬𝔲 𝔠𝔞𝔫 𝔦𝔫𝔡𝔲𝔩𝔤𝔢 𝔦𝔫 𝔞 𝔠𝔬𝔩𝔩𝔢𝔠𝔱𝔦𝔬𝔫 𝔬𝔣 𝔱𝔯𝔞𝔫𝔰𝔩𝔞𝔱𝔢𝔡 𝔫𝔬v𝔢𝔩𝔰 𝔴𝔦𝔱𝔥 “𝔡𝔞𝔦𝔩𝔶 𝔲𝔭𝔡𝔞𝔱𝔢𝔰” 𝔞𝔫𝔡 𝔢𝔵𝔠𝔩𝔲𝔰𝔦𝔳𝔢 𝔞𝔠𝔠𝔢𝔰𝔰 𝔱𝔬 “𝔞𝔡𝔳𝔞𝔫𝔠𝔢𝔡 𝔠𝔥𝔞𝔭𝔱𝔢𝔯𝔰”.』

・・・

𝐂𝐡𝐚𝐩𝐭𝐞𝐫 𝟖: 𝐂𝐚𝐭 𝐩𝐚𝐭𝐢𝐞𝐧𝐭

“Please, I beg you! This child is my reason for living!”

The woman appears to be wealthy, and indeed, she probably is. Our medicine is a bit more expensive than others. But it’s also more effective, so there’s demand for it.

But a cat, of all things.

What the woman is holding is a large cat. It seems to weigh as much as a small child.

“That’s a big cat.”

“Yes. It has both a wildcat and a housecat as parents. It’s usually a sturdy child, but this morning it suddenly vomited and then became lethargic.”

The woman speaks through her tears. But we don’t usually deal with animals, and we don’t know much about cats. I want to ask my mother for her opinion, but she’s not home. While I’m hesitating, the cat vomits again.

“Huh?”

A leaf I recognize comes out. It’s Trista grass. It’s a plant we give to humans when we want them to vomit.

“Did it vomit up this leaf at home too?”

“Yes. Is it a poisonous plant?”

“No, it’s a medicinal herb. I see. I’ll examine it. But could you please leave the room?”

I send the worried woman out of the room and examine the lethargic cat. If it ate a plant that induces vomiting on its own, it might have eaten something it shouldn’t have. Something it wants to vomit up but can’t.

“I guess there’s no choice. Shall we try that?”

I weigh the cat. Eight kilograms. Since I don’t know the cat’s detoxification ability, I calculate the medicine conservatively.

(I wonder if it will drink it quietly)

The cat seems to have no energy to resist, it just lets things happen. I gently open its mouth and make it drink the medicine, which I’ve reduced even more than the amount per weight. I hold its mouth closed and wait until I confirm it has swallowed.

Eventually, I confirmed that the paralytic drug had taken effect and gently put my hand into its mouth. There’s something in the back of its throat. While soothing the cat that’s about to vomit, I extend my finger, grab it, and pull it out. A normal cat’s throat wouldn’t have been able to reach this far. It’s a good thing it’s a big cat.

The paralytic drug is made from the venom of a poisonous spider. It’s a secret known only to our family, no, only to my mother and me.

“A ring?”

It’s a ring with a round moonstone set in a gold base. The cat starts to move as the effect of the medicine wears off.

“That must have been tough. It’s out now. Why did you swallow a ring? It’s not even tasty.”

“Nya.”

The cat replies with a cute voice that doesn’t match its large body.

“It’s over.”

When I call out, the woman rushes in. I show the ring to the woman who rushes to the cat and hugs it.

“This was stuck in its throat. I wonder why it swallowed it.”

“Ah.”

She seems to have an idea.

“Butter had accidentally gotten into the gold part of the base. I took it off and left it to clean later. It might have been attracted by the smell.”

Butter. That must have been an irresistible smell to the cat.

“If it had gone down to the cat’s stomach, which seems to be narrow, we might have had to open its belly to get it out. I’m glad we could remove it.”

The woman left, leaving double the amount she was billed.

But I underestimated the connection between animal lovers and cat lovers.

From the next day, people holding cats started to visit frequently, and my mother warned me, “Well, it’s fine, but you should change the examination room for cats and humans.”

Eventually, I found out that cats respond to a very small amount of medicine per weight compared to humans. It seems I’ve become quite famous among cat lovers.

Loss of appetite (which is really common), alopecia, dermatitis, runny nose, nasal congestion. All of these responded well to a very small amount of my medicine. The number of cat patients has increased so much that it’s becoming a problem.

“Maybe you should open a veterinary clinic at this rate.”

“Just make sure it doesn’t interfere with making medicine for humans.”

My mother says that, but the number of patients who come is beyond my control.

Finally, a dog came yesterday.

“Please help! You’re the only one I can rely on!”

That’s right. There are no hospitals for dogs and cats. Even though there are doctors for livestock.

The dog is small, about the size of a normal cat. It has a fever that won’t go down. Fever is a symptom that occurs for a reason, so it’s not always good to lower it.

“May I take care of it? I’ll watch it.”

I spent the night in the same room as the dog.

If the fever gets too high, I give it a little antipyretic and make it drink water. The animals listen to me well. They hardly ever bite or scratch. Well, sometimes they do.

Eventually, the dog’s fever went down, and its eyes regained their strength. It also has an appetite. I don’t know the reason, but for now, it seems to be fine.

“I’m glad. If you feel sick again, I’ll examine you.”

The dog wags its tail vigorously, opens its mouth, and looks up at me while panting. It looks like it’s smiling.

“It’s recovered, but I don’t know the cause. Ideally, you should see a doctor.”

“There’s no doctor who will look at a dog. Even though it’s an important part of my family. It’s the same as my child, no, this one is more than my son!”

No, no, you shouldn’t say that out loud.

I can only prescribe medicine, so I can’t do anything if surgery is needed. But if it can be helped with medicine, I’ll do my best.

My mother has been nagging me a lot.

“You must not neglect your main job.”

That’s true. I tend to get absorbed in things quickly.

・・・

『”𝓐𝔀𝓮𝓫𝓼𝓽𝓸𝓻𝓲𝓮𝓼.𝓬𝓸𝓶” – 𝓓𝓲𝓼𝓬𝓸𝓿𝓮𝓻 𝓪 𝓬𝓪𝓹𝓽𝓲𝓿𝓪𝓽𝓲𝓷𝓰 𝔀𝓸𝓻𝓵𝓭 𝓸𝓯 𝓵𝓸𝓿𝓮, 𝓹𝓪𝓼𝓼𝓲𝓸𝓷 𝓪𝓷𝓭 𝓪𝓭𝓿𝓮𝓷𝓽𝓾𝓻𝓮, 𝔀𝓱𝓮𝓻𝓮 𝔂𝓸𝓾 𝓬𝓪𝓷 𝓲𝓷𝓭𝓾𝓵𝓰𝓮 𝓲𝓷 𝓪 𝓬o𝓵𝓵𝓮𝓬𝓽𝓲𝓸𝓷 𝓸𝓯 𝓽𝓻𝓪𝓷𝓼𝓵𝓪𝓽𝓮𝓭 𝓷𝓸𝓿𝓮𝓵𝓼 𝔀𝓲𝓽𝓱 “𝓭𝓪𝓲𝓵𝔂 𝓾𝓹𝓭𝓪𝓽𝓮𝓼” 𝓪𝓷𝓭 𝓮𝔁𝓬𝓵𝓾𝓼𝓲𝓿𝓮 𝓪𝓬𝓬𝓮𝓼𝓼 𝓽𝓸 “𝓪𝓭𝓿𝓪𝓷𝓬𝓮𝓭 𝓬𝓱𝓪𝓹𝓽𝓮𝓻𝓼”.』

・・・

𝐂𝐡𝐚𝐩𝐭𝐞𝐫 𝟗: 𝐓𝐡𝐞 𝐜𝐨𝐧𝐭𝐞𝐧𝐭𝐬 𝐨𝐟 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐬𝐦𝐚𝐥𝐥 𝐛𝐨𝐱 𝐚𝐫𝐞

That day, after confirming that I was returning from the mountain cabin to the Marquis residence, Count Dirk Smith visited our house. Count Smith is said to be Cain’s father, and he came to “express his gratitude for the care.”

I had suspected it, but indeed, Cain was a nobleman.

“It’s very polite of the Count to come himself.”

“I am deeply grateful that my son’s life was saved by you, Ojou-sama.”

My mother offered tea with a generous smile. I sat quietly next to her.

“I heard he was poisoned with corossan. How is your son doing now?”

“Thanks to Ellen-sama, he is completely well. He wanted to accompany me today to express his gratitude, but I held him back.”

“Oh, isn’t he your famous handsome youngest son? I would have loved to meet him.”

Count Smith began to explain, wiping the cold sweat that appeared on his well-arranged face with a handkerchief.

“My son, due to the unfortunate circumstances I put him in, I ended up spoiling him. As a result, he grew up to be quite selfish, and I’m embarrassed to bring him along even though he’s already seventeen.”

My mother chuckled. I didn’t understand why she was laughing.

“Ellen, this Count Smith here, he was famous for never being without a love rumor. It seems that Cain-sama takes after his father.”

“Madam, that’s a story from a long time ago. Please let’s not talk about the follies of my youth.”

From what I could see, Count Smith indeed had a lot of the charm unique to middle-aged men. It makes sense that his son would be so beautiful, but it was surprising to hear that he was selfish, considering he was a well-behaved patient when he was in the mountain cabin.

“He was a very serious patient. Please give my regards to Cain-sama. Also, I am humbled by your excessive gratitude.”

Count Smith had brought a mountain of high-quality fabric. And a small box. I wonder what’s inside. He told me to look at it later.

“You saved the life of my precious youngest son. This is not enough to express my gratitude. I allowed him to visit his mother’s grave on a whim, and he ended up getting injured. It’s my responsibility for allowing him to visit the grave.”

“Did he get injured at your wife’s family home?”

“No, well, his mother was a princess from a southern country. She met me when she was traveling to our country…”

Upon my question, Count Smith’s eyes swam a little.

“Ellen, you shouldn’t ask such rude questions. It’s a story of the Count’s adult love.”

“Oh, I’m sorry.”

“No, no, I’m the one who should be embarrassed.”

Adult love means a woman who is not his wife. It’s a convenient phrase.

When Count Smith left, looking embarrassed, my mother picked up the small box. She smiled as she gently opened the lid.

“The Count is very thoughtful. He brought a blue scorpion. Unfortunately, it’s dead.”

“Eh! Please let me see it too.”

I eagerly took the box and looked inside to find five small scorpions of a startling blue color.

“It’s a beautiful color, isn’t it, Okaa-sama?”

“Even though it’s dead, it’s not in bad condition. I’ll extract the poison right away. I wonder if I can get a live one, I’ll ask.”

“Please do!”

My mother’s face lit up with joy.

“Ellen, you’ve finally cheered up. I’m glad. Oh, by the way, we received an invitation to an evening party. It’s tomorrow, what will you do?”

“I will attend.”

“Good. Enjoy yourself.”

When I took the card and read it, it was an invitation to an evening party hosted by a certain Count’s family.

From now on, I need to participate in social events and find a good person. I’m sure I’ll hear a lot about Samuel, but I was prepared for that from the start. I’ll keep a straight face and spend my time laughing.

When I returned to my room, my maid Hanna had prepared tea for me. Chamomile tea with warmed milk is a nightly staple.

As I sighed, Hanna started a conversation.

“Ojou-sama, if you have any worries, please let me hear them. Just talking about it can make you feel better.”

“Thank you, Hanna. I have to find the next partner. I’ll get motivated by tomorrow. I’m just letting my guard down for now.”

“Someone who will make you happy will surely appear.”

Since that day, I’ve been wondering whether or not to ask someone about something.

I decided to muster up the courage and ask Hanna. It’s something that’s been stuck in my head ever since I heard those two’s conversation.

When I was about to ask the question with determination, Hanna sensed it and tilted her head, saying, “What is it?”

“Hey Hanna, what do you think I was lacking? What did Melanie have that I didn’t? Can you tell me without holding back? I don’t want to make the same mistake again.”

“Ojou-sama…”

Seeing Hanna’s face crumple, I panic.

“No, why are you crying, Hanna?”

“I’m frustrated to think that Ojou-sama is considering such things because of those people.”

Hanna took out a handkerchief and blew her nose.

“There was nothing lacking in you, Ojou-sama! Perhaps Samuel-sama felt inferior to you. Because he felt inferior, he felt like a strong and great man when he was with Melanie-sama, who is of lower status, not particularly intelligent, has no money, and is desperate to catch a man.”

“…I see.”

“But, that’s betrayal. Oh, I’ve been impertinent. Please forgive me.”

“No, it’s okay. But if that’s the case, I wonder if the groom candidates chosen by Otou-sama will also be people who feel inferior to me.”

“However, Danna-sama and Oku-sama are happily married, even though it was an arranged marriage by both of their parents. It depends on the person, don’t you think?”

“That’s true. Otou-sama doesn’t feel inferior to Okaa-sama’s wealth or income. He’s generous, or rather, a bit off.”

“Ellen-sama, you’ll be scolded.”

“No, no, I’m not making fun of him! I love Otou-sama. I wonder if I can meet someone like him. Someone who will love me and has a big heart that won’t be servile.”

“You will surely meet him. It’s going to be okay.”

Someone who will love me, won’t be servile, won’t mind my involvement with poison, will marry into my family, and will agree to make our born daughter a pharmacist… Hmmmm. There are five.

This might be quite tough. Do I have the value to set such conditions? If I question myself, I feel like I’ll be endlessly depressed.

Oh, and also someone who doesn’t mind that his wife’s chest is modest.

Too many conditions.

𝐂𝐡𝐚𝐩𝐭𝐞𝐫 𝟏𝟎: 𝐅𝐢𝐫𝐬𝐭 𝐍𝐢𝐠𝐡𝐭 𝐆𝐚𝐭𝐡𝐞𝐫𝐢𝐧𝐠

The dress I put my spirit into is violet, the same color as my eyes, with a slim design that accentuates my figure. The skirt, layered many times over, falls straight down without puffing out. The shoes, tied with a ribbon at the ankle, are also made of the same violet fabric.

“You look beautiful, Ellen-sama.”

“Thank you, Hanna. I have to put my spirit into attending the evening party from today.”

“Do your best. I’m cheering for you.”

Stephan, who was waiting by the carriage, also had a face that seemed to say “Σ(・o・;) .”

“Don’t look at me like that. It’s embarrassing.”

“You look very beautiful today as well.”

“Thank you.”

I place my hand on the one offered to me and get into the carriage. Until now, Samuel was always with me, but from tonight, I will be alone. It’s my first evening party to attend alone.

I consciously straighten my back.

The venue for the evening party is brightly lit, with lights set up in the garden. From the open windows, the melody played by the orchestra and the murmuring of the guests overflowed.

“Oh, Ellen. I didn’t think you’d attend. Are you okay now?”

“Yes, I’m completely fine.”

“I didn’t think he would do such a thing. People can’t be judged by their appearances.”

“I’ve forgotten all about it.”

“That’s the spirit. There are still plenty of good men out there.”

“Yes, thank you.”

I was able to talk and laugh because the person who spoke to me was my childhood friend, Sophie. Thanks to her, my tension eased considerably. Friends are indeed valuable.

I was approached and sympathized with everywhere. I was prepared for it, but I gradually got tired of being seen as a “woman who was hurt but is bravely trying to recover.” It’s slowly eating away at me. I take a cold drink from a waiter and decide to go out to the terrace. I want to feel the wind.

“Oh, Ellen-sama. It must have been tough for you. If it were me, I would have been bedridden. It’s amazing that you’ve recovered so quickly and are looking for your next partner.”

“Thank you for your concern. Excuse me.”

A troublesome person has come to bother me.

This young lady once had feelings for a certain man, but when he rejected her, he brought up my name. As a result, she holds a grudge against me. It’s an undeserved misfortune.

“Would you wait? Let’s talk.”

“If it’s about Ferguson-sama, I have nothing to do with it. I’ve never even met him. My name was just used.”

“!”

I included the nuance of “He just wanted to reject you” in my words, and it seems to have gotten through. The lady, taken aback for a moment, tried to splash wine on me.

The weak lady’s movements were slow, and I was able to easily dodge them. I twisted my upper body and smoothly moved to the side. With a small sound, the red wine made a large stain on the back of a man standing diagonally behind me.

The lady who splashed the wine gasped. I felt sorry for the man’s expensive jacket, which was now ruined.

The people around us fell silent, watching with bated breath. The man slowly turned around.

“I see. It seems that it rains wine at recent evening parties. I was careless.”

“Duke-sama!”

“It’s Felix-sama.”

“Oh, how terrible.”

Duke Felix Von Howden, who is likely the guest of honor tonight, looked straight at me with a graceful smile.

“I’m glad you, the beautiful one, didn’t have to suffer.”

Ugh. He’s still saying things that make my teeth float.

“I’m sorry that my dodging caused the wine to splash on Duke-sama. I apologize.”

“It’s okay. I have a change of clothes. That young lady over there, I think it would be best if you disappeared while my guards can still hold back.”

“Eek!”

The lady let out a strange shriek and disappeared without even apologizing. I couldn’t remember her name until the end, but oh well.

“Then I’ll be going now…”

“Wait, Ellen. I think you can keep me company.”

Saying that, the Duke turned his back. Ugh. I can’t help it. Felix-sama and I are childhood friends.

“Please change your clothes first. I won’t run away. I’ll be waiting on the terrace.”

“Understood. I’ll be right back.”

The terrace was cool. I was prepared, but I was relieved to escape from the curious eyes. Soon, Duke-sama arrived.

“You didn’t run away.”

“I told you, didn’t I?

Felix-sama looks at me with an amused expression.

“What is it?”

“Most young ladies get nervous around me, but you always seem calm.”

“We’ve known each other since we were children.”

“There are many young ladies who tremble and can’t lift their faces, you know?”

“Well, I can’t imagine that.”

Felix-sama chuckles.

“Your family is wealthy, you’re beautiful, and you’re smart, so maybe that’s why you’re not nervous around me.”

“But my fiancé was taken away.”

“He’s a fool, isn’t he? Do you know what he’s doing now?”

“Stop it. I don’t want to know, so don’t say anything.”

“Hmm. So you still have feelings for him.”

“…That’s what I don’t like about you, Felix-sama. You say things you don’t need to say.”

Felix-sama gives a bitter smile.

“My mother says that’s my flaw.”

“I agree with Felix-sama’s mother. And it’s not that I still have feelings for him. I’m just not healed yet.”

Felix-sama becomes serious and apologizes, “I see. I’m sorry.”

“You haven’t changed since we were kids.”

“What part of me?”

“You’re not good at handling situations. You’re beautiful, but you don’t use it.”

“Even if you praise me that much.”

“I’m criticizing you.”

“Oh.”

We both laughed. Then we fell silent. The orchestra’s music was playing, and it was comfortable even in silence.

“If you’re having trouble finding a husband, I could take you.”

“I’m supposed to find a son-in-law. I don’t plan on getting married. And you’ll have to deal with poisonous snakes, frogs, spiders, and plants.”

𝐓𝐋: 𝐄𝐱𝐭𝐫𝐚 𝐜𝐨𝐧𝐭𝐞𝐱𝐭: 𝐄𝐥𝐥𝐞𝐧 𝐢𝐬 𝐬𝐞𝐞𝐤𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐚 𝐬𝐨𝐧-𝐢𝐧-𝐥𝐚𝐰 𝐭𝐨 𝐦𝐚𝐫𝐫𝐲 𝐢𝐧𝐭𝐨 𝐡𝐞𝐫 𝐟𝐚𝐦𝐢𝐥𝐲, 𝐛𝐮𝐭 𝐰𝐡𝐞𝐧 𝐬𝐡𝐞 𝐬𝐚𝐲𝐬 “𝐈 𝐝𝐨𝐧’𝐭 𝐩𝐥𝐚𝐧 𝐨𝐧 𝐠𝐞𝐭𝐭𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐦𝐚𝐫𝐫𝐢𝐞𝐝,” 𝐬𝐡𝐞 𝐦𝐞𝐚𝐧𝐬 𝐭𝐡𝐚𝐭 𝐢𝐟, 𝐟𝐨𝐫 𝐞𝐱𝐚𝐦𝐩𝐥𝐞, 𝐬𝐡𝐞 𝐰𝐞𝐫𝐞 𝐭𝐨 𝐦𝐚𝐫𝐫𝐲 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐃𝐮𝐤𝐞, 𝐬𝐡𝐞 𝐰𝐨𝐮𝐥𝐝 𝐥𝐨𝐬𝐞 𝐡𝐞𝐫 𝐭𝐢𝐭𝐥𝐞 𝐚𝐬 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐟𝐮𝐭𝐮𝐫𝐞 𝐦𝐚𝐫𝐪𝐮𝐞𝐬𝐬.

“Ugh, I hate all of those. I had nightmares all night after seeing that room when we were kids.”

“My mother scolded me severely for showing it to you, Felix-sama.”

We both give a bitter smile.

“Well, cheer up. Not all men are like that.”

“Yes, thank you.”

“If you can’t find anyone, I really will…”

“Yes, yes, I know. Thank you.”

There aren’t many people I can talk to so casually, so I want to stay friends. If we become lovers, the only outcome is a breakup because he’s also an heir.

“I don’t want to lose any more friends than I already have, so I want to stay friends with Felix-sama.”

“I hope you find someone good. Ellen, you’re the type to touch poisonous snakes with your bare hands, but you’re timid when it comes to people.”

“…”

“I’m sorry again. I was wrong. As an apology, can I invite you to dinner sometime soon?”

“Yes, I’ll accept that as an apology.”

After that, we continued to reminisce, and in the end, I couldn’t talk to any other men except Felix-sama.

It was fun, but my first memorable evening party was a disaster. I hope the next one will be peaceful and full of new encounters.

𝐂𝐡𝐚𝐩𝐭𝐞𝐫 𝟏𝟏: 𝐀𝐩𝐡𝐫𝐨𝐝𝐢𝐬𝐢𝐚𝐜 𝐬𝐭𝐨𝐫𝐲

Feeling down due to the lack of results from the previous night’s party, I am feeding the creatures in the annex with Stephan. And I inadvertently complained to Stephan.

“I was bothered by a young lady whose name I can’t even remember at last night’s party.”

“How did it happen?”

“It seems that Ferguson-sama used my name to reject that young lady before.”

“Ferguson…”

Stephan is deep in thought.

“He’s someone I barely remember. He used my name without my permission. Isn’t it annoying? I almost got doused with wine in retaliation.”

“Please tell me the young lady’s name. I will get back at her if I have the chance.”

“Stephan, you can’t even joke about that. Besides, I couldn’t remember her name.”

“That’s too bad.”

After finishing feeding, we locked the door, checked that it was locked, and left the annex.

“Hey, Ellen.”

A tall man was standing leaning against a garden tree.

“Felix-sama! What brings you here?”

“I was just passing by. So I came.”

[So I came,] he said.

“Would you like some tea?”

“Really? Thank you.”

Felix-sama is walking around the reception room, looking at paintings and vases. His thick red hair and reddish-brown eyes are inherited from his mother, and he once said that there are many red-haired and active people in his maternal family.

“I haven’t been here in a while, but you still don’t have any bottles of poison, do you?”

“We don’t have such things. Is that what you wanted to see?”

“But your house is famous for its poison, isn’t it?”

“No, it’s famous for its antidote. Even though you know that.”

Felix-sama walked over to the chair with large strides and sat down with a graceful movement. I watched him, thinking that his movements are as refined as ever.

“Do you still keep snakes and spiders?”

“Yes. In fact, we have more types and numbers than before. Also, I heard that there are rumors that our house makes a lot of poison and kills people with it, but we don’t poison anyone.”

“I understand. By the way, do you remember the promise we made last night?”

“What was the promise?”

“I knew it. We talked about having a meal together, didn’t we?”

・・・

『”ᴀᴡᴇʙsᴛᴏʀɪᴇs.ᴄᴏᴍ” – ᴅɪsᴄᴏᴠᴇʀ ᴀ ᴄᴀᴘᴛɪᴠᴀᴛɪɴɢ ᴡᴏʀʟᴅ ᴏғ ʟᴏᴠᴇ, ᴘᴀssɪᴏɴ ᴀɴᴅ ᴀᴅᴠᴇɴᴛᴜʀᴇ, ᴡʜᴇʀᴇ ʏᴏᴜ ᴄᴀɴ ɪɴᴅᴜʟɢᴇ ɪɴ ᴀ ᴄᴏʟʟeᴄᴛɪᴏɴ ᴏғ ᴛʀᴀɴsʟᴀᴛᴇᴅ ɴᴏᴠᴇʟs ᴡɪᴛʜ “ᴅᴀɪʟʏ ᴜᴘᴅᴀᴛᴇs” ᴀɴᴅ ᴇxᴄʟᴜsɪᴠᴇ ᴀᴄᴄᴇss ᴛᴏ “ᴀᴅᴠᴀɴᴄᴇᴅ ᴄʜᴀᴘᴛᴇʀs”.』

・・・

It was sudden, but I changed into my going-out dress and am now having lunch. I learned that if you are a Duke, you can get into popular restaurants without a reservation. This is the first time we have eaten out together.

We were led to a private room, where the floor, walls, furniture, and paintings were all wonderful.

The food served was delicate and elegant, and each piece of tableware and what seemed to be pure silver cutlery was like a work of art. As we ate slowly, the conversation started with Duke-sama’s favorite topic.

Felix-sama was very knowledgeable about recent investment trends and power relations among the nobility. As I listened with admiration, the conversation suddenly turned to aphrodisiacs. It seems that he knows someone who collapsed after drinking a poor-quality aphrodisiac. I hope it’s not him.

Ah. Maybe he invited me because he wanted to hear about aphrodisiacs.

“Do you ever make aphrodisiacs, Ellen?”

“I can make them, but the aphrodisiacs that people think of are products of imagination.”

“Is that so?”

“Yes. The story that you fall in love with the person you see right after taking the medicine is an adult fairy tale born out of desire.”

Felix-sama seems interested. 

“What are they actually like?”

“The key is smell, I suppose. The smell of the other person is imprinted in the brain as a desirable one. Strictly speaking, each person has a different body odor. People often identify individuals by smell without realizing it. Even after the effect of the medicine wears off, the memory of the imprinted smell and the thought that it was desirable does not disappear. Smell is a primitive thing.”

I laughed at that point because I could guess what Felix-sama would ask next.

“Ellen, have you ever used an aphrodisiac?”

“I’ve taken it, many times.”

When I answered with a wry smile, as I had expected, Felix-sama looked worried.

“Is it harmful to your body? Did you feel the effect?”

“At first, it was a very diluted amount, so it didn’t do anything. I gradually increased the concentration and drank the aphrodisiac many times to get my brain and body used to it, so a normal amount doesn’t affect me anymore. Also, neither Okaa-sama nor I make anything that would harm the body.”

“As expected. I’d like to try it once.”

“One dose costs two hundred gold coins.”

“What? Is it that expensive? You’re kidding, right?”

“If we don’t do that, there will be a lot of incidents. There seem to be cheap, inferior products, but please avoid them. Inferior products can cause death in some people, and in some cases, lifelong aftereffects.”

“Why does your family make such a drug?”

I signaled to the shopkeeper to refill the cooled tea. I drank the hot tea with steam rising from it and explained with the feeling of a teacher instructing a student.

“Most of the nobility are involved in political marriages, right? There are stories of marriages with people they have never seen, and even with people who are as old as their parents or grandparents. There are many cases where they have to marry for the sake of their family and their people, even if they don’t want to. It’s for those brides and grooms. At least, our family only provides the drug in such cases.”

“Huh? The person who gets the aphrodisiac drinks it themselves?”

“Yes. If you can’t avoid marriage, at least to live a good life with your partner. You drink it yourself so that you can live thinking ‘this person is desirable’. After all, giving an aphrodisiac to someone without their knowledge is a serious crime.”

“But, it’s kind of scary. Manipulating human romantic feelings. And, is it okay to tell me all this? Isn’t it a secret passed down through generations?”

Hmm. He’s surprisingly serious, or rather, innocent.

“It’s okay because it’s not something you can imitate just by hearing it. Besides, any decent pharmacist knows the basic way to make it. It’s difficult to remove the side effects and produce the effect.”

I wonder if it was bad to lie about the two hundred gold coins. But I felt like he would order an aphrodisiac out of curiosity if I didn’t say that. He’s the kind of person who acts on his ideas from childhood.

Felix-sama kept questioning me about the medicine afterwards, but when I said, “I have some business to attend to,” he kindly escorted me home.

“Can I visit your house again?”

“There may be times when I can’t accommodate you if you come suddenly.”

“Yeah, that’s fine. I’ll come suddenly when I want to see you.”

“Is that so?”

“Is it not good?”

“It doesn’t bother me.”

“I had a lot of fun today. See you later.”

Felix-sama had the same smile as when he was a child. If neither of us were heirs, we might have developed romantic feelings, but the reality is that we are just good childhood friends.

But for me, who has not been very sociable, the existence of a friend like him, whom I know well, is a blessing.

𝐂𝐡𝐚𝐩𝐭𝐞𝐫 𝟏𝟐: 𝐌𝐚𝐫𝐤𝐞𝐭 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐭𝐚𝐯𝐞𝐫𝐧

Today, I have no plans, so I have plenty of time to go to the market. I’m dressed as a town girl, but apparently, anyone who looks can tell I’m a noble’s daughter. That’s why Stephan, who has changed into casual clothes, is with me.

“I hope I can get that seaweed today.”

The seaweed I’m looking for works well for people with a certain fatigue-prone disease. The disease is difficult to diagnose because its symptoms are similar to other diseases, but I was good at distinguishing it.

We had left our carriage at the market’s carriage deposit and were walking.

On the way to the dried goods store we were aiming for, several pairs of men and women were walking happily. It’s a bit depressing. I shake off my self-deprecating thoughts, thinking, “What did I do to be so disliked, when so many people are walking together so happily?” (No, no, let’s look ahead).

Speaking of which, I wonder if Stephan, who always accompanies me, actually goes out on his days off. I try not to interfere in personal matters, but Stephan is twenty-six and single. I wonder if he has any fun on his days off. But I can’t ask because he probably doesn’t want his employer, me, to interfere.

After buying the seaweed I was looking for, I was looking around other stores. On the way, I saw Samuel drinking at a seat near the entrance of a cheap bar we passed by.

Samuel seemed quite drunk, slumping sloppily with his elbows on the table. I thought I should leave quickly, but my legs wouldn’t move as I wanted them to.

“Excuse me.”

Stephan said that and put his hand on my back, pushing me forward to walk.

“I’m sorry. I was very surprised.”

“I don’t want to sympathize with that man, but I think he wouldn’t want to be seen like that by Ojou-sama. Besides, it’s safer not to get involved.”

After walking like that for a while, I calmed down quite a bit.

Don’t be upset. Don’t feel sorry for him now. Don’t forget that I cut him off by my own will. I tell myself that as I walk.

Seeing me like this, Stephan seemed to take pity on me and spoke to me.

“Ojou-sama, there’s a shop I often go to. It’s very common, but they serve delicious food. They also have alcohol, so how about a drink for a change of mood?”

“Let’s go. I want to go. Take me there.”

The place he took me to was a small shop one block off the main street. The shop was crowded, filled with the savory smell of burning meat and fat and the sound of conversation.

Stephan chose a seat in the corner with a familiar attitude and asked me what I liked, but I decided to leave everything to Stephan. After ordering several dishes, he asked me about drinks.

“Ojou-sama, what would you like to drink?”

“Call me Ellen. I don’t want to make the people around me uncomfortable.”

“Understood. What will you drink?”

“Something strong and sweet.”

Stephan ordered two drinks from the shop.

The food was served with the drinks, bang! bang! bang! I was a little surprised, but the waiter didn’t seem to be in a bad mood.

“It’s sausage grilled over charcoal, beef tongue stew, and a chunk of lamb slowly grilled over charcoal. The lamb is said to be grilled for half a day.”

Stephan, who seemed to be a regular, was knowledgeable. Except for the sausage, it was my first time eating these dishes.

For drinks, Stephan had ale, and I was handed something like orange juice in a large, thick glass.

When I toasted and took a sip, the orange juice-like drink had plenty of distilled liquor in it and was quite strong. Stephan only sipped his ale because he was working.

I ate and drank heartily. I thought that delicious food is delicious no matter when. The sausage with a crispy burnt surface, I bit into it with a fork without cutting it, following Stephan’s example. The juice from the meat splashed out from the crispy skin and flew onto the chest of my dress.

“If my manners teacher saw this, she would faint.”

“Please keep it a secret that I brought you to this kind of shop.”

“Of course. Thank you for bringing me.”

It was my first time coming to a place like this, and my first time eating such savory and hot food. I was having so much fun that I ordered a second round of the distilled juice, which made Stephan panic.

The man at the next table worried, “Are you okay, Ojou-san? That’ll hit you later.” But the man with him teased, “Isn’t that what you’re aiming for, brother?” Stephan was laughing with a troubled face.

I appreciate the concern, but I don’t get drunk that easily. I was born with a high detoxification ability and have trained my body and brain to handle it. After all, alcohol is one type of poison to the body.

By the time I had drunk four glasses of juice in a row, the staff and other customers were watching in surprise. After finishing the fifth glass, I felt quite good. Stephan clearly looked troubled. He must regret inviting me. I’m sorry, even though you invited me for just one drink, but I’m having fun.

“I want to come here again.”

“You’re drunk. This is the first time I’ve seen you drunk.”

“I’m not drunk.”

“That’s what a drunk person would say.”

“I’m not drunk at all.”

“I understand.”

The beef tongue stew is simmered until the meat falls apart, and when alternated with cold alcohol, it seems like I could eat it endlessly. The lamb with bone may be burnt here and there on the surface, but it was so tender and juicy that the meat came off easily when I pulled the bone.

“Everything is delicious.”

“I’m glad to hear that. Your way of speaking has become childlike.”

“I’m still a child anyway. I don’t have a big chest like Melanie.”

“Are you drunk?”

“No, I’m not.”

I finished an amount of food I thought I couldn’t possibly eat, and drank six glasses of juice. I wanted to stay longer, but Stephan said, “Let’s really stop now,” so I decided to go home.

Stephan paid for me,

“I’ll take care of this.”

he said. Stephan, even though he only had one sip. Even though I drank a lot. I wonder how much the bill was. I feel bad. I’ll give him a gift later. I didn’t have any personal money today.

The staff and customers were surprised to see me walking without staggering.

“Ojou-san, come again.” “You have a good drink.”

I left the store, smiling at the voices coming from all around. I felt a little drunk while walking to the carriage, but I was in a good mood.

“Thank you. It was delicious and fun.”

“Me too. I got to see Ojou-sama drunk.”

“You can forget about that. Will you take me again?”

“If Danna-sama or Oku-sama find out, I might lose my job. I can’t promise, but is it okay if I say ‘someday’?”

“I won’t let you lose your job. You can rest assured. I’ll be looking forward to it.”

It felt like I had replenished my [fun]. I can work hard again.

Later, as a thank you for treating me, I gave Stephan a silver pendant.

𝐂𝐡𝐚𝐩𝐭𝐞𝐫 𝟏𝟑: 𝐌𝐨𝐭𝐡𝐞𝐫, 𝐭𝐨 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐭𝐞𝐫𝐫𝐢𝐭𝐨𝐫𝐲

At night, there was a loud noise and voices.

It was already midnight. Wondering what had happened, I put on a gown over my nightclothes and left my bedroom.

“Ojou-sama.”

“Stephan. What happened?”

“There was a problem in the territory. After a small landslide, there seems to be an outbreak of vomiting and diarrhea.”

“That’s terrible. Is it the water? Who is going?”

“Oku-sama and eight servants. All of them have completed their training.”

“I see, that’s reassuring.”

As Stephan and I were talking and heading towards the hall, a man covered in sweat and mud was drinking water. Next to him, Okaa-sama was giving instructions to the servants.

“Ellen, it’s good you’re here. I’m heading to Rius village. The damage may spread further.”

“I understand. Take care. I’ll take care of the house.”

“I have one important patient, so I need you to substitute for me. Ask your Otou-sama for details. Well, I’m off.”

And that’s why I’m now in the room of the second prince of the royal palace, His Highness Ehrlich, waiting for him. I believe Ehrlich-sama just got engaged recently.

Stephan is standing behind me in a white coat, unarmed, under the pretext of being an apprentice. My father insisted on this. He’s a worrier, even though there’s no need for a guard in the royal palace.

According to Otou-sama, the second prince, who is turning fourteen, is suffering from recurring headaches and stomachaches. The royal physicians have tried various treatments, but the symptoms have not improved, and it seems that the case has been passed on to our family, who is highly trusted by the queen.

After waiting for a while, His Highness Ehrlich, the second prince, finally appeared.

The fourteen-year-old prince is a slender boy with silver hair and gray eyes, and he gives a nervous impression. As soon as he saw me, he wrinkled his nose and started complaining to the old man accompanying him.

“What’s this, Rondal? This isn’t Mrs. Franca?”

“Yes. Mrs. Franca has gone to treat an epidemic. Isn’t that right, Ellen-sama?”

“Yes. There has been a large outbreak of vomiting and diarrhea in the territory, and my mother had to go there.”

“Oh. So you’re saying that the lives of commoners are more important than the life of the second prince.”

“Your Highness, with all due respect, it’s a matter of whether someone will die if left untreated, or whether someone is not in immediate danger.”

“Hmph. You’re cheeky. That’s enough! Go away!”

“…Understood. Then, I will take my leave.”

I was about to bow and leave when the old man accompanying him panicked.

“No, no, Ellen-sama, we can’t have you leave. I’ll be scolded by the queen. Please examine His Highness’s illness.”

“Rondal! Don’t say unnecessary things. There’s no way this little girl can understand my illness!”

Sigh. The troublesome nature of adolescence, compounded by power, is very troublesome. After all, he’s calling me a little girl, even though he’s much younger than me.

“I’ll tell (my regards to) Rondal-sama.”

“Please do, Ellen-sama.”

“The effectiveness of medicine for headaches and stomachaches is influenced by the state of mind. Without His Highness’s trust, the effectiveness of treatment with medicine cannot be said to be perfect. Please find another physician.”

“Ellen-sama, please don’t say that. You were chosen by the queen. His Highness has been suffering from headaches and stomachaches for over a month.”

I can’t help it…

“Then, if His Highness gives his permission.”

“Your Highness, you can’t be selfish.”

“Hmph. I can’t help it. I’ll put up with you for Rondal’s sake.”

You… put up with… It’s frustrating, but he’s royalty. I have to put up with it.

I finished the general examination and looked at the food record. But there was something that didn’t make sense.

“Your Highness, is this everything you’ve eaten and drunk?”

“That’s everything.”

“Is that so?”

I can’t help it. I’m sure it’s different, but it’s a waste to argue here. For now, I handed over a safe stomach medicine and decided to go home today. Stephan was worried on the way home in the carriage.

“Is it okay to act so… towards the prince?”

“You mean acting so assertive? It’s fine. Ever since we handed over grandmother’s medicine recipe to the royal family, it was decided that there would be no discourtesy towards our family as a reward.”

In other words, they allow us to speak without holding back.

“I see.”

“The miracle drug was used in international transactions, and the royal family has 80% of the profits. Grandmother wished for the number of patients with shaking fever to decrease more than our family’s profit. Thanks to that, the number of people dying from shaking fever in the southern countries has decreased. And the royal family is making a fortune without getting their hands dirty.”

“I see.”

“Still, he’s a troublesome patient. There were missing items in the meal record. Probably something the kitchen didn’t keep track of. Not declaring properly. I wonder if he really wants to cure his headache and stomachache.”

“Even though Ellen-sama is always gentle, you are strict with the prince.”

“I’m the youngest, you know. I’ve been trained very strictly by my older sisters. So much so, I can’t talk about it without tears. So when I see someone who’s been spoiled, I get angry. Oh? Why are you laughing, Stephan?”

“No, I’m the second son, so I know the irrationality of my older brother firsthand.”

“That prince, I smelled coffee on him. Coffee has recently become popular, but it was a different, sweet coffee smell. Like candy. Is there coffee-flavored candy circulating in the city? Coffee wasn’t written on the list of food and drink. Neither was coffee-flavored candy.”

“The common people don’t have the money to buy coffee casually, but candy flavored with the broth of brewed coffee is popular.”

“Hmm. So it’s coffee-flavored candy after all. I’ll ask about that tomorrow. Thank you. You’ve been a big help.”

So, I’ll ask the prince about the candy tomorrow. He must learn not to lie. I must teach him that a pharmacist’s nose can’t be fooled by a rebellious adolescent prince. 

That night, I compared the prince’s poor health dates with his meal content until late. As expected, I couldn’t find any food that matched the days he was unwell. Even when I broadened the time frame, I couldn’t find anything relevant.

Indeed, the cause is likely to be a food that wasn’t written down.

But if it’s coffee-flavored candy, how did the prince eat candy that commoners enjoy? There’s no way such a thing would be allowed for fear of poisoning. 

𝐂𝐡𝐚𝐩𝐭𝐞𝐫 𝟏𝟒: 𝐏𝐫𝐢𝐧𝐜𝐞’𝐬 𝐏𝐮𝐛𝐞𝐫𝐭𝐲 𝐃𝐢𝐬𝐭𝐮𝐫𝐛𝐚𝐧𝐜𝐞

“The medicine you prescribed didn’t work at all.”

As soon as he saw me, Prince Ehrlich leaned back in his chair and declared.

“That was a mild gastrointestinal medicine. Didn’t it stimulate your appetite?”

“Yes. His Highness unusually had seconds at breakfast.”

The prince made a “hmm” face, but his attendant, Rondal-san, answered with a smile.

“Don’t say unnecessary things.”

Oh, the prince blushed a little. He had such a cute side. His appetite must have been stimulated by the gastrointestinal medicine, as he is in his growing period.

“Excuse me.”

I approach the prince, take his pulse, and check his temperature. I also examine his tongue and lower eyelids. No particular abnormalities. The sweet smell of coffee is still there.

“Do you drink coffee, Your Highness?”

“I don’t drink it. I hate it.”

“But, aren’t you eating coffee-flavored candies? I’ve smelled the sweet scent of coffee yesterday and today. It’s not written in the meal record.”

The prince hastily raised his voice to the old man accompanying him, as if to interrupt my words.

“Everyone, leave the room.”

Rondal-san reluctantly leaves, and Stephan follows. The room is left with just the prince and me.

“You smell it?”

“Yes. Due to my job, I have a keen sense of smell. Your Highness, you can’t fool me with just a mouthwash. You’ve been eating coffee-flavored candies, haven’t you?”

The prince hesitated a little, but seemed to decide to confess.

“I ate them. But it’s a secret. If it’s known that I eat candies, someone important will be troubled. That person got them secretly and gave them to me.”

Well, well. What to do.

“Your Highness, do you know that there are foods that some people can’t tolerate? If you eat them, your mouth and respiratory tract may swell, and in the worst case, you may die.”

“Die? Is that true?”

“Yes. However, foods that cause such severe symptoms usually cause a reaction immediately after eating, so it’s easy to identify the cause. But, there are also foods that cause a slightly weaker reaction after several hours. It’s hard to identify the cause and it’s often overlooked.”

“Are you saying that coffee candies are like that?”

“Coffee rarely doesn’t agree with some people. Please try stopping eating coffee candies and see how it goes. If you don’t have any problems, then the cause was the coffee candies.”

Then the prince looks troubled and thinks. I wonder who the other person is. I don’t think there are many people who can secretly give food to the prince.

“I’m sorry, but could you tell the other person from your mouth? I have a difficult situation to say from me.”

His tone has become much more polite. I wonder if he has opened his heart a little.

“Understood.”

・・・

『”𝔸𝕨𝕖𝕓𝕤𝕥𝕠𝕣𝕚𝕖𝕤.𝕔𝕠𝕞” – 𝔻𝕚𝕤𝕔𝕠𝕧𝕖𝕣 𝕒 𝕔𝕒𝕡𝕥𝕚𝕧𝕒𝕥𝕚𝕟𝕘 𝕨𝕠𝕣𝕝𝕕 𝕠𝕗 𝕝𝕠𝕧𝕖, 𝕡𝕒𝕤𝕤𝕚𝕠𝕟 𝕒𝕟𝕕 𝕒𝕕𝕧𝕖𝕟𝕥𝕦𝕣𝕖, 𝕨𝕙𝕖𝕣𝕖 𝕪𝕠𝕦 𝕔𝕒𝕟 𝕚𝕟𝕕𝕦𝕝𝕘𝕖 𝕚𝕟 𝕒 𝕔𝕠𝕝𝕝e𝕔𝕥𝕚𝕠𝕟 𝕠𝕗 𝕥𝕣𝕒𝕟𝕤𝕝𝕒𝕥𝕖𝕕 𝕟𝕠𝕧𝕖𝕝𝕤 𝕨𝕚𝕥𝕙 “𝕕𝕒𝕚𝕝𝕪 𝕦𝕡𝕕𝕒𝕥𝕖𝕤” 𝕒𝕟𝕕 𝕖𝕩𝕔𝕝𝕦𝕤𝕚𝕧𝕖 𝕒𝕔𝕔𝕖𝕤𝕤 𝕥𝕠 “𝕒𝕕𝕧𝕒𝕟𝕔𝕖𝕕 𝕔𝕙𝕒𝕡𝕥𝕖𝕣𝕤”.』

・・・

The next afternoon. I am in a gazebo in the royal palace’s rose garden. Across from me are Prince Ehrlich and a lady who is as lovely as a doll.

“Freiche, this is Ellen, the pharmacist. Ellen, this lady is my fiancée, Miss Freiche.”

“Nice to meet you, I’m Ellen Bowen.”

“I’m Freiche. I heard that you have an explanation about His Highness’s condition. What is it?”

I see. The giver of the candies is this young lady. It’s certainly hard to say.

“I investigated the cause of His Highness’s headaches and stomachaches, but there was no specific thing that linked the contents of his meals and the onset of his discomfort. So, I thought that the cause of the discomfort might be the coffee candies that are not written on the record.”

“Oh my, what should I do?”

The young lady places her slender fingertips on her mouth, her bright brown eyes showing surprise.

“I heard that His Highness cannot drink coffee and is often teased by the Crown Prince. I thought that if he gradually got used to it from sweet candy, he might be able to drink coffee someday. That’s how I got used to the taste of coffee.”

“Is that so?”

“But, that candy is a favorite of the common people, shared by the maids. If it becomes known that the candy is the cause of my discomfort, wouldn’t Freiche be severely scolded?”

It’s good that no one had any ill intentions. If someone with ill intentions had been involved, it would have been a big deal and lives could have been lost.

“Let’s do this, Freiche-sama wanted His Highness, who loves delicious candy, to eat it too, so she shared it and they ate it together. And His Highness was too shy to tell the meal recorder about the candy. Isn’t that fine?

No one would scold such a loving couple. It can’t be helped, it will end.”

The two nod in agreement. 

“But Your Highness, there may be other foods that cause this discomfort. So please always report what you drink and eat to the record keeper. This time it was settled, but if it’s a condition that affects your life, someone’s life might be lost.”

“How scary. Your Highness? Please do so.”

“Freiche, there’s no need to worry. I’ll make sure to report from now on.”

“Thank you. It’s a promise.”

(How cute. I’m a little jealous.)

Of course, I didn’t voice or show these thoughts.

In this way, I was able to successfully complete my role with the good graces of His Highness and Freiche-sama.

Later, I received a report from the royal palace that “Prince Ehrlich’s discomfort has disappeared.” Was the coffee candy the cause after all?

It’s a relief that there was no need for medicine.

And just as I was thinking that, I received another summons from Prince Ehrlich. When I rushed over, I was suddenly asked,

“Ellen, can you make a weight loss medicine?”

“Who will drink it?”

“Freiche insists that she wants to lose a little more weight.”

Freiche-sama is thin. Very thin. Trying to get any thinner during growth is dangerous.

“Let me speak without considering business.”

“Ah, yes, go ahead.”

“Freiche-sama is thirteen years old, as I understand. Her body is still in the process of developing. And even now, she is quite thin.”

“I told her the same thing.”

“Your Highness, you must absolutely persuade her. If she becomes too thin during growth, the body will decide that it cannot afford to bear a child in order to protect its life, and it will switch to not conceiving.”

“What!”

“In the worst case, her menstruation may stop, and she may become unable to bear children. Even if menstruation resumes, it may become difficult to conceive. It is your duty, Your Highness, to stop Freiche-sama from losing weight. If necessary, I can tell her plenty of unfortunate real-life examples I have seen.”

“I understand. I appreciate the advice.”

After a while, a mountain of raw medicinal herbs arrived from the royal palace, and ten live blue and black scorpions each arrived from Freiche-sama’s house. It seems that our house is known to be happy with scorpions.

Both my mother and I almost jumped for joy. 

𝐂𝐡𝐚𝐩𝐭𝐞𝐫 𝟏𝟓: 𝐇𝐞𝐚𝐝𝐚𝐜𝐡𝐞 𝐰𝐨𝐦𝐚𝐧

“It’s been four years already.”

The woman lying in bed speaks weakly. I, who have come to visit, sit on a chair next to the bed and listen to her.

“Sometimes my head hurts as if it’s being squeezed.”

Headaches and stomachaches are very difficult to pinpoint the cause of. Whether it’s a problem with the brain or internal organs, the blood vessels, something psychological, or influenced by food.

“When it hurts, all I can do is lie down like this.”

Listening to the story slowly is very important, so I listen to her as long as time allows. The woman was in her forties, an age prone to health problems.

“My husband and mother-in-law just make faces like ‘not again’. I feel uncomfortable. Besides, my husband has a high position in the military, so he’s often not at home.”

“That must be hard. People can’t understand because they can’t see the pain. It’s sad on top of the pain.”

When I comfort her like this, the lady nods, shedding tears. She reaches out to me, so I wrap her hand in both of mine, signaling, “I understand, I’m on your side.”

Headaches are hard to understand. If they are chronic, healthy people tend to interpret it as “laziness” or “not again”. This can also cause new pain.

“The doctor said he couldn’t find a specific reason, right? Then we need to find out which medicine suits the lady’s pain.”

“Thank you very much.”

“I’ll give you some medicine first. I want to see how you are after you take it, so I’ll stay with you for a while.”

“Ellen-sama. How reassuring.”

The pale-faced lady weakly sat up and waited for the medicine I was preparing. I took out a pale red medicine from a small bottle and handed it to the lady, warning her, “It’s not tasty.” 

The lady slowly drank it all and continued talking, leaning her back against the cushion.

“When the headache starts, all I can do is face the pain. It becomes hard to live.”

“That’s tough. Shall we practice diverting your attention from the pain now? Can you lie on your stomach?”

“Lie on my stomach… like this?”

“Yes. Now I will massage your legs. Please concentrate on the area being massaged.”

I lifted the lady’s blanket, who was lying on her stomach, and gently massaged her white, thin calves from the ankle to the knee with warm oil in my palm.

“Oh, that feels good.”

I massaged her calves several times, sometimes pressing the soles of her feet hard with both thumbs. Then I massaged her calves again.

In less than ten minutes, the lady fell into a deep sleep. If the medicine didn’t work, she wouldn’t be able to sleep because of the pain, so it seems to be working to some extent.

I sat next to her and waited for the lady to wake up. The maid was also in the room, so I signaled her to be quiet.

After about an hour, the lady opened her eyes. She took a deep breath, exhaled, and looked at me.

“Oh. My headache is gone. I feel so refreshed. That’s amazing. I don’t know how to thank you. Ellen-sama, thank you.”

The lady, who had taken a nap, looked better and repeatedly thanked me as she turned from her stomach to her back. I was relieved that the first medicine worked. If it didn’t, I would have to try five or six different kinds of medicine.

“It seems the medicine I gave you is working. I’ll leave you three doses.”

“I’ve taken up a lot of your time. You must be busy. Thank you.”

I handed the medicine to the elderly maid who had been waiting in the corner of the room.

“Thank you. Oku-sama has been really pitiful for a long time. Thank you.”

The loyal-looking maid must understand the lady’s headaches. I taught her how to administer the medicine and how to massage, thinking she would be reliable.

On the way home in the carriage, I felt relieved. I was glad I could help someone suffering from pain.

The medicine I gave to the lady contains a very small amount of juice from a poisonous plant. The strong poison that would stop the heart if taken directly, when diluted and combined with other herbs, constricts the blood vessels that have spread too much.

Poisonous plants produce poison to protect themselves from insects and birds and to proliferate their offspring. People despise poison, but neither poison nor plants are sinful. If there is a sin, it is only in humans who misuse poison.

This time, I used a plant that blooms beautiful flowers called “Fairy’s Bell.” It’s a variety that blooms red, peach, yellow, and light blue flowers, and many of them bloom in our garden. It’s a flower that can be grown in the garden of an ordinary house.

When I got home, I had Hanna make me a coffee in the living room. I enjoyed the aroma and drank it slowly.

“Ojou-sama, I heard from my brother. Congratulations on successfully treating a difficult patient.”

“Thank you, Hanna. I don’t have any appointments today, so I think I’ll make some medicine.”

I open all the windows in the room in the detached house in the garden, put up a sign to keep people away, chop up poisonous plants, and simmer them over low heat. Once the poisonous plants are mushy, I take them out and reduce the liquid.

I think about the pain of that lady. It seems that her mental anguish is making her feel her headache more intensely. I wonder if being abandoned and run out of patience by her husband, who was supposed to be by her side, is intensifying her pain.

“Couples are originally strangers, aren’t they? I wonder if it would have been different if they were parent and child.”

“What do you mean?”

“Oh, I forgot you were here, Stephan. No, it’s about the lady earlier. I was wondering if seeing someone suffering from pain becomes annoying once you get used to it.”

“I think it depends on the person. Some people will worry no matter how many years pass, and some people will get used to it in a day.”

“I suppose so. But I wonder what the chances are of meeting such a person.”

“You seem to be feeling down. Are you okay? If there’s anything I can do to help, please don’t hesitate to ask.”

“Can you take me to that shop again?”

“Yes, I will definitely take you there someday.”

That shop was full of deliciousness and fun that you can’t find in high-end shops. I hope I can go there again. But I have to make sure I don’t cause any trouble for Stephan.

・・・

『”𝘈𝘸𝘦𝘣𝘴𝘵𝘰𝘳𝘪𝘦𝘴.𝘤𝘰𝘮” – 𝘋𝘪𝘴𝘤𝘰𝘷𝘦𝘳 𝘢 𝘤𝘢𝘱𝘵𝘪𝘷𝘢𝘵𝘪𝘯𝘨 𝘸𝘰𝘳𝘭𝘥 𝘰𝘧 𝘭𝘰𝘷𝘦, 𝘱𝘢𝘴𝘴𝘪𝘰𝘯 𝘢𝘯𝘥 𝘢𝘥𝘷𝘦𝘯𝘵𝘶𝘳𝘦, 𝘸𝘩𝘦𝘳𝘦 𝘺𝘰𝘶 𝘤𝘢𝘯 𝘪𝘯𝘥𝘶𝘭𝘨𝘦 𝘪𝘯 𝘢 𝘤𝘰𝘭𝘭𝘦𝘤𝘵𝘪𝘰𝘯 𝘰𝘧 𝘵𝘳𝘢𝘯𝘴𝘭𝘢𝘵𝘦𝘥 𝘯𝘰𝘷𝘦𝘭𝘴 𝘸𝘪𝘵𝘩 “𝘥𝘢𝘪𝘭𝘺 𝘶𝘱𝘥𝘢𝘵𝘦𝘴” 𝘢𝘯𝘥 𝘦𝘹𝘤𝘭𝘶𝘴𝘪𝘷𝘦 𝘢𝘤𝘤𝘦𝘴𝘴 𝘵𝘰 “𝘢𝘥𝘷𝘢𝘯𝘤𝘦𝘥 𝘤𝘩𝘢𝘱𝘵𝘦𝘳𝘴”.』

・・・

𝐂𝐡𝐚𝐩𝐭𝐞𝐫 𝟏𝟔: 𝐎𝐥𝐝 𝐃𝐢𝐞𝐝𝐞𝐫𝐢𝐜𝐤

“Ellen, you have been requested by the House of Duke Howden.”

My father says this at the breakfast table.

“From Felix’s family? For me? I wonder who is feeling unwell.”

“It’s Diederick-sama. He seems to be bothered by the pain in his knee due to his chronic illness. Franca has been treating him until now, but this time he wants you. Hehe.”

“Hehe? I don’t have a good feeling about this.”

・・・

『”𝕬𝖜𝖊𝖇𝖘𝖙𝖔𝖗𝖎𝖊𝖘.𝖈𝖔𝖒” – 𝕯𝖎𝖘𝖈𝖔𝖛𝖊𝖗 𝖆 𝖈𝖆𝖕𝖙𝖎𝖛𝖆𝖙𝖎𝖓𝖌 𝖜𝖔𝖗𝖑𝖉 𝖔𝖋 𝖑𝖔𝖛𝖊, 𝖕𝖆𝖘𝖘𝖎𝖔𝖓 𝖆𝖓𝖉 𝖆𝖉𝖛𝖊𝖓𝖙𝖚𝖗𝖊, 𝖜𝖍𝖊𝖗𝖊 𝖞𝖔𝖚 𝖈𝖆𝖓 𝖎𝖓𝖉𝖚𝖑𝖌𝖊 𝖎𝖓 𝖆 𝖈𝖔𝖑𝖑e𝖈𝖙𝖎𝖔𝖓 𝖔𝖋 𝖙𝖗𝖆𝖓𝖘𝖑𝖆𝖙𝖊𝖉 𝖓𝖔𝖛𝖊𝖑𝖘 𝖜𝖎𝖙𝖍 “𝖉𝖆𝖎𝖑𝖞 𝖚𝖕𝖉𝖆𝖙𝖊𝖘” 𝖆𝖓𝖉 𝖊𝖝𝖈𝖑𝖚𝖘𝖎𝖛𝖊 𝖆𝖈𝖈𝖊𝖘𝖘 𝖙𝖔 “𝖆𝖉𝖛𝖆𝖓𝖈𝖊𝖉 𝖈𝖍𝖆𝖕𝖙𝖊𝖗𝖘”.』

・・・

“Hey there, Ellen. I’m glad you came. Come this way.”

“Hello, Diederick-sama. It’s been a long time.”

The previous Duke-sama, Diederick-sama, is a lively old man, except for his knee.

“It’s been eight years. You’ve become a beautiful lady. It feels like just yesterday when you were observing plants in our garden with Felix. Time flies.”

“How is your knee?”

“Not good. If it weren’t for your mom’s medicine, I wouldn’t be able to walk by now.”

“I heard that you requested me this time. Has the medicine stopped working?”

“No, I just wanted to talk to you.”

I waited for him to explain what he meant.

“Felix doesn’t want to have a fiancée.”

“Is that so?”

“It seems he has someone he loves. He won’t say the name.”

“Hmm.”

“I wonder if it’s you.”

The last time I saw Felix was at a party eight years ago. There’s no way that could be true. As I hesitated to respond, Diederick asked another question.

𝐓𝐋: 𝐖𝐞𝐥𝐥, 𝐈’𝐦 𝐧𝐨𝐭 𝐬𝐮𝐫𝐞 𝐚𝐛𝐨𝐮𝐭 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐭𝐢𝐦𝐞 𝐥𝐢𝐧𝐞 𝐨𝐫 𝐢𝐟 𝐢𝐭’𝐬 𝐣𝐮𝐬𝐭 𝐚 𝐦𝐢𝐬𝐭𝐫𝐚𝐧𝐬𝐥𝐚𝐭𝐢𝐨𝐧 𝐨𝐫 𝐞𝐫𝐫𝐨𝐫 𝐨𝐧 𝐚𝐮𝐭𝐡𝐨𝐫’𝐬 𝐩𝐚𝐫𝐭

“What do you think of Felix, Ellen?”

“I think of him as a dear childhood friend.”

“I see. You are the heir to the Marquis family. I suppose Felix, the heir, is not in your sights.”

“I think it’s not about what I think, but rather that I’m not the one for Felix-sama. We haven’t seen each other in eight years.”

Diederick pulled up the hem of his loose trousers to reveal his knee and urged me to examine it. I continued the conversation while touching his knee.

“I am the successor to the apothecary, and the heir to the Marquis family, so I don’t think Felix-sama would think of me as more than a friend.”

His knee was slightly warm. If the inflammation has recurred, I should change the medicine. His body might have gotten used to the medicine and its effect might have dulled.

I took out a bottle of ointment from my bag, which contains a small amount of scorpion venom. I applied the green liquid to his knee, rubbing it in a little at a time. I also applied it to the back of his knee. I then placed a cloth over it and wrapped it with a bandage.

The venom of a scorpion, which paralyzes its prey, combined with medicinal herbs, can alleviate joint inflammation and pain. This is also a secret.

“I will change the ointment. The oral medication will remain the same.”

“Do you have any intention of passing on the apothecary to your sisters?”

“No.”

I answered immediately.

Being the successor to the apothecary is much more important to me than inheriting the Marquis family. It’s my raison d’être. If I were to pass it on to my sisters, what would I aim for in life?

“I see. Do you know why Felix stopped seeing you?”

“No. We stopped seeing each other when I became busy studying to be an apothecary. Was it because our schedules didn’t match?”

Diederick-sama sighed.

“He said he couldn’t bear to watch your apothecary training.”

Ah, come to think of it, back then, I was gradually diluting and ingesting poison, and chewing raw herbs to remember their taste. There were times when I vomited and had allergic reactions, but my mother’s judgment was always correct, and I never suffered for a long time.

“That was necessary study. When it comes to things that go into or are applied to patients, it’s not enough to just have knowledge from words.”

“Would you let your own child go through the same experience?”

“Yes. I didn’t leave any marks on my skin or damage my body from that study.”

“I see.”

I had to make it clear here.

“Isn’t there hardship in any job if you try to master it? Whether you’re a cook, a seamstress, or a fisherman.”

―She took out the arthritis medication from her bag. Diederick looked at the small mountain of medicine with a troubled face.

“You wouldn’t need to make such sacrifices if you were the wife of a Duke.”

“No, I would have the painful task of socializing.”

If I were good at subtly hinting at what I wanted to say, as nobles do, I would have been swimming around the sea of evening parties and making more acquaintances by now. There would have been no need to look for new encounters at this point. I’m not good at, and I hate, dealing with nobles.

“Um, does Felix-sama know about today’s matter?”

“No. It’s my own decision. I don’t want Felix to have the same regrets as me.”

“The same regrets…”

The story I heard from there was something I was hearing for the first time.

Diederick-sama had a crush on my grandmother when he was young. After my grandmother was chosen as the successor to the pharmacist, she started to distance herself from Diederick-sama.

Eventually, my grandmother married my grandfather, who was seen by the old man as a “mild-mannered but neither good nor bad as a nobleman”. Diederick-sama had long regretted not expressing his feelings to my grandmother or opposing her marriage.

No, no, no!

That’s a love story from Diederick-sama’s perspective.

I know that my grandparents loved each other. My grandfather respected my grandmother as a pharmacist, respected her work, and supported her. My grandmother didn’t choose my grandfather because he was a “man who wouldn’t interfere with the pharmacist”.

But, even if I argue with the old man in his seventies here, it would just be a futile argument.

“I’ve checked your knee condition. The medication you’re taking is fine as it is.”

“Ellen. Can’t you see Felix as a marriage partner?”

“I don’t think this is a conversation we should be having without the person in question.”

As I was responding, the door burst open. It was Felix-sama.

“I heard that Ojii-sama called for Ellen. What are you talking about?”

Felix-sama’s face was stern.

𝐂𝐡𝐚𝐩𝐭𝐞𝐫 𝟏𝟕: 𝐌𝐲 𝐩𝐫𝐢𝐨𝐫𝐢𝐭𝐲

Felix-sama, with a stern face, stormed into the room and confronted Diederick-sama.

“Ojii-sama, what did you say to Ellen? I should have repeatedly told you that I will decide about myself. Please stop doing as you please.”

“It’s because you never decide on a fiancée that I just asked Ellen how she feels.”

“How dare you involve Ellen without my permission. There’s a limit to rudeness!”

Sigh, a quarrel between grandfather and grandson has begun. I want to become invisible. I want to run away.

“Felix-sama, please calm down. Why don’t we take a walk in the garden to change our mood?”

“Ah, let’s do that. Ojii-sama, excuse me.”

As we walked through the spacious garden of the Duke’s house, Felix calmed down considerably. Seeing this side of him, who is usually cheerful, has me a bit shaken.

“I’m sorry. My grandfather shouldn’t have done that. It was rude to you.”

“I don’t mind, but if you don’t decide on a fiancée soon, it will cause concern for those around us.”

Our tone returns to how it used to be, and we speak frankly with each other.

“That’s true… I need to decide. Have you decided, Ellen?”

“Not at all. Sometimes, I even think about not getting married and raising an adopted child as my successor.”

“Isn’t that not allowed?”

“Do you think it’s possible to continue having children without fail for nearly three hundred years? I wonder if there were adopted children once or twice. I’m thinking of checking the family tree next time.”

“Hey, what’s your top priority?”

“First is improving my skills as a pharmacist. Next is raising a successor and having them inherit my knowledge and skills. Marriage comes after that.”

We sat on a bench together.

“I see… You know, I really don’t want to say the same thing as my grandfather, but am I not a candidate for your fiancé? I can support your passion for medicine from behind.”

“Felix, would everyone in the Duke family agree with that? Would they allow me to immerse myself in medicine and treatment without making connections in society? Would they allow me to teach our children how to handle poison?”

Felix is deep in thought.

“If I get married because you say you’ll support me, and then end up being asked to be a normal wife by those around me, that would be the worst scenario. It’s a story where no one becomes happy.”

“That’s true…”

“Why would you say such a thing all of a sudden when we meet for the first time in eight years? You were the one who distanced yourself from me, right? Suddenly, you stopped replying to my letters and stopped coming to my house. I was quite hurt when I was twelve. There’s no way I can respond positively to what you said after meeting for the first time in eight years.”

“Can I make an excuse for that now?”

“Go ahead. As much as you like. I’ll listen to the end.”

We sat on the bench again. Well, let’s listen. If that will satisfy you.

“The last time we met, you were training to drink diluted poison to build resistance. You were making a blue face and vomiting into a bucket. I couldn’t bear to watch. It was so painful to watch that I stopped going to your house.”

“That’s nothing. The suffering of someone who has ingested real poison is nothing like that. I just had a simulated experience with diluted poison. It’s much more dangerous to become a pharmacist without building resistance.”

“At that time, I couldn’t forgive your mother for letting her child do that.”

“You might have thought so as a child, but my mother was managing it properly. But you know, it seems that boys often can’t endure that pain, mentally. Girls seem to be able to endure it better. That’s one of the reasons why pharmacists are inherited through the female line.”

“One of them? Are there other reasons?”

“It seems that men are more likely to get involved in factional disputes. Can you imagine what would happen if someone with knowledge of poison joined a factional dispute? There are good reasons for the rules established in the long history of pharmacists.”

We got up from the bench and started walking again.

“Could you watch your cute daughter drink diluted poison and vomit?”

Felix-sama thought for a while before answering as if squeezing out the words.

“…No, probably not.”

“Right? That’s why I can’t marry you. Above all, the wife of the Duke family has a lot to do. It’s impossible for me, a pharmacist. If I marry you, I will lose both you as my husband and you as my friend.”

Felix-sama stared at me with his deep red hair and red eyes.

“When I heard you were engaged at fifteen, I thought many times that it should have been me, if I hadn’t run away from you.”

“You’re wrong, Felix. There was never a connection between the Duke family and my family from the start. My father and mother decided that it wouldn’t work with me. It was the right decision.”

“You’ve changed. You used to be more timid.”

“A lot has happened, so I’ve changed a bit. Felix, stay my friend as you were before. You are my precious childhood friend. Let’s chat like this again someday.”

“I’ll chat anytime.”

“It’s not your fault. I can’t be Duke-sama’s wife.”

“…I see.”

We both sighed.

“Marriage is difficult, isn’t it?”

“Don’t say that, you who rejected me.”

“I’m sorry.”

This time we both laughed, sat side by side on the bench, and looked up at the sky. The road to my marriage is long.

・・・

『”𝙰𝚠𝚎𝚋𝚜𝚝𝚘𝚛𝚒𝚎𝚜.𝚌𝚘𝚖” – 𝙳𝚒𝚜𝚌𝚘𝚟𝚎𝚛 𝚊 𝚌𝚊𝚙𝚝𝚒𝚟𝚊𝚝𝚒𝚗𝚐 𝚠𝚘𝚛𝚕𝚍 𝚘𝚏 𝚕𝚘𝚟𝚎, 𝚙𝚊𝚜𝚜𝚒𝚘𝚗 𝚊𝚗𝚍 𝚊𝚍𝚟𝚎𝚗𝚝𝚞𝚛𝚎, 𝚠𝚑𝚎𝚛𝚎 𝚢𝚘𝚞 𝚌𝚊𝚗 𝚒𝚗𝚍𝚞𝚕𝚐𝚎 𝚒𝚗 𝚊 𝚌𝚘𝚕𝚕e𝚌𝚝𝚒𝚘𝚗 𝚘𝚏 𝚝𝚛𝚊𝚗𝚜𝚕𝚊𝚝𝚎𝚍 𝚗𝚘𝚟𝚎𝚕𝚜 𝚠𝚒𝚝𝚑 “𝚍𝚊𝚒𝚕𝚢 𝚞𝚙𝚍𝚊𝚝𝚎𝚜” 𝚊𝚗𝚍 𝚎𝚡𝚌𝚕𝚞𝚜𝚒𝚟𝚎 𝚊𝚌𝚌𝚎𝚜𝚜 𝚝𝚘 “𝚊𝚍𝚟𝚊𝚗𝚌𝚎𝚍 𝚌𝚑𝚊𝚙𝚝𝚎𝚛𝚜”.』

・・・

After that, I attended several evening parties. I talked to a few people, but what they wanted was a wife who would protect the household, bear children, and prosper the house. Not a wife who is fascinated by poison and obsessed with making antidotes.

That’s normal. It can’t be helped.

“Do I have to get married?”

I muttered in the carriage on the way home from the party.

When I arrived home and got off the carriage, Stephan said, “You’ve worked hard.”

“I’m tired…”

I ended up being spoiled, even though I thought I shouldn’t complain. Stephan was smiling with a troubled face.

𝐂𝐡𝐚𝐩𝐭𝐞𝐫 𝟏𝟖: 𝐌𝐨𝐭𝐡𝐞𝐫’𝐬 𝐫𝐞𝐭𝐮𝐫𝐧 𝐡𝐨𝐦𝐞

My mother returned from our territory.

I was surprised to see how much she had aged in less than a month when I went to greet her.

“Okaa-sama, you seem very tired. Was the epidemic in the territory that severe?”

“That’s part of it, but Ellen, there might be a war. Several foreign reconnaissance ships have been spotted off our territory. The royal family has been notified. Since it involves our Bowen family’s territory, Otou-sama and the royal family will start discussions today.”

“A war… with which country?”

“Judging from the characteristics of the ships, it’s probably the Kingdom of Galavares in the southern sea.”

The Kingdom of Galavares is a large island nation about a week’s journey by ship from the coast of our territory.

“Is the Kingdom of Galavares strong?”

“Our country is more powerful, but in recent years, Galavares seems to have been desperate to increase its military power, so we can’t let our guard down.”

As I was brooding, night fell. When Otou-sama came home with a haggard face, he told me about the content of the discussion.

“The Kingdom of Galavares has recently undergone a change of leadership, and a young queen is now in power. It seems that the war is her father’s idea. A large number of military ships are reportedly gathering in the port of Galavares.”

Then my mother continued the conversation.

“If they land, I think it will be from the coast of our territory, so our private soldiers will fully participate in the war. Of course, Stephan too.”

“I understand.”

It’s terrifying, but if we don’t strike first in our territory, the battle will spread and other territories will be affected.

After that, I don’t remember well what I said when I retired to my room. Stephan, who has been protecting me since I was a child, will fight in the war, probably in the front line… Just imagining that made me feel weak.

“That’s right.”

Expensive medicines are put in glass bottles with metal tags. I pulled out a silver plate for that purpose, and used a small hammer and letter stick to punch in the letters.

[𝐒𝐭𝐞𝐩𝐡𝐚𝐧]

I’ll give it to him as a charm. So that even if he is injured and unconscious, he can be identified as Stephan.

I went to deliver the finished name tag to Stephan’s room, but Stephan was out, and Hanna received it instead.

“My brother went to say goodbye to his acquaintances in town. He said it might be the last time.”

I hugged Hanna, who had a tear-streaked face.

“Don’t say such unlucky things. Stephan is strong. He will definitely come back safely.”

And early the next morning, our private soldiers headed to the coast of our territory. My mother, the servants, and I continued to make medicine every day.

Wound medicine, fever reducers, hemostatic drugs, poultices for bruises. In addition to these, we also collected bandages and triangular bandages and continued to send supplies. We also collected food, dried it for preservation, divided it into small portions, and sent it.

Eventually, we received news that the war had started and enemy troops had landed on our territory. My father is also out in the territory. My mother and I have to stay strong.

・・・

『”𝐀𝐰𝐞𝐛𝐬𝐭𝐨𝐫𝐢𝐞𝐬.𝐜𝐨𝐦” – 𝐃𝐢𝐬𝐜𝐨𝐯𝐞𝐫 𝐚 𝐜𝐚𝐩𝐭𝐢𝐯𝐚𝐭𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐰𝐨𝐫𝐥𝐝 𝐨𝐟 𝐥𝐨𝐯𝐞, 𝐩𝐚𝐬𝐬𝐢𝐨𝐧 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐚𝐝𝐯𝐞𝐧𝐭𝐮𝐫𝐞, 𝐰𝐡𝐞𝐫𝐞 𝐲𝐨𝐮 𝐜𝐚𝐧 𝐢𝐧𝐝𝐮𝐥𝐠𝐞 𝐢𝐧 𝐚 𝐜𝐨𝐥𝐥𝐞𝐜𝐭𝐢𝐨𝐧 𝐨𝐟 𝐭𝐫𝐚𝐧𝐬𝐥𝐚𝐭𝐞𝐝 𝐧𝐨𝐯𝐞𝐥𝐬 𝐰𝐢𝐭𝐡 “𝐝𝐚𝐢𝐥𝐲 𝐮𝐩𝐝𝐚𝐭𝐞𝐬” 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐞𝐱𝐜𝐥𝐮𝐬𝐢𝐯𝐞 𝐚𝐜𝐜𝐞𝐬𝐬 𝐭𝐨 “𝐚𝐝𝐯𝐚𝐧𝐜𝐞𝐝 𝐜𝐡𝐚𝐩𝐭𝐞𝐫𝐬”.』

・・・

The war situation seemed to be at a stalemate, and the news that reached our home in the royal capital was sometimes good and sometimes bad. I wanted to go to the battlefield to nurse and treat the wounded, but my mother absolutely forbade it.

“Imagine if you were taken prisoner. Think about how much trouble that would cause. Direct your feelings towards making medicine.”

I can’t be a burden, but I can’t stand still. I poured all my feelings into making medicine. It seems that soldiers from neighboring territories are also fighting. The royal army is also fighting.

I wondered why the Kingdom of Galavares… I thought about it hundreds of times, but my mother told me something unexpected.

“The Kingdom of Galavares has an endemic disease called trembling fever. Until your grandmother Ellen made a special medicine, it was a poor country where many children and elderly people died every year. But thanks to the medicine, the population increased, agriculture and fishing flourished, and life became easier. As a result of having more leisure in life, they may have wanted more land.”

“I see.”

“They must be punished accordingly for their ingratitude.”

Every day, I silently made a large amount of medicine and sent it as cargo. It was a repetition of that. News of deaths in battle also arrived sporadically. Fortunately, our family has not yet received such news, but we started to hear about the deaths of soldiers from other territories and the royal army.

Even though I didn’t believe in prayer, I’ve been praying every day recently. I pray that everyone will return safely, that our country will win. I couldn’t help but pray.

One day, during such a mentally exhausting life, I received a summons from the second prince Ehrlich.

“I wonder what it is at such a busy time.”

When I arrived at the palace, slightly annoyed, Prince Ehrlich was preparing for battle.

“Your Highness, are you going too?”

“What do you mean by ‘are you going too’? My brother is also fighting. I must be useful too. So, I have a favor to ask Ellen.”

“Yes.”

“Could you visit Freiche from time to time? I want you to listen to Freiche’s stories occasionally. It seems that she relies on you.”

Oh, Your Highness. You were a kind person.

“I understand. I will visit to chat from time to time.”

“I’m counting on you.”

With that, Prince Ehrlich set off for the seaside from the royal capital with the soldiers of the third battalion. I’m sorry for thinking of you as a selfish prince. You were a noble royal.

I can’t afford to be down either. Even now, the soldiers are fighting. I will make medicine.

𝐂𝐡𝐚𝐩𝐭𝐞𝐫 𝟏𝟗: 𝐁𝐚𝐭𝐭𝐥𝐞 𝐬𝐢𝐭𝐮𝐚𝐭𝐢𝐨𝐧

The war situation seems to be in our country’s favor, but we seem to be having trouble with the Galavares Kingdom’s army, which keeps landing again and again.

Spring has ended, and it’s about time for summer to begin. The wind is strong. This country is known as the country of wind, as strong winds blow at the turn of the seasons. There must be strong winds on the battlefield as well. I wonder how Stephan is doing.

I was with Freiche-sama. Freiche-sama says she can’t sleep much because she’s worried about Prince Ehrlich.

“I only have nightmares when I sleep, so I’ve come to think it’s okay not to sleep if I can’t.”

“Freiche-sama, if you don’t sleep, your body will weaken. You will also be more susceptible to illness. Shall I give you a mild sleeping pill?”

“Will that prevent me from having nightmares?”

“Yes. You should be able to sleep soundly without dreaming.”

It’s a sleeping pill made from brown mushrooms. It calms the mind and induces natural sleep. It’s a top secret because there’s a poisonous mushroom that looks just like it. If someone tries to imitate it, there will definitely be deaths.

“Can Ellen-sama sleep?”

Actually, I can’t sleep well either. I don’t take any kind of medicine because it doesn’t work well on my body. If I drink a lot of sleeping mushroom medicine until I get sleepy, there’s a chance I won’t wake up.

“Actually, I can’t sleep well either.”

“Do you have someone you care about on the battlefield?”

Stephan’s face came to mind. Stephan has been with me since I was ten years old. Because Stephan was there, I could go to the market and go out. I could tell Stephan things I couldn’t tell my parents. So now I feel mentally insecure, as if I’ve lost an arm.

“Yes, someone close to me, like a part of my body, is on the battlefield.”

“Is it your fiancé?”

“No, it’s my bodyguard.”

“I see. A bodyguard… I’ve never thought of a bodyguard in that way, so I’m a little surprised.”

“He’s like a brother, a friend, and a teacher to me.”

“He’s an important person to you.”

“He’s an important person, indeed.”

I gave Freiche-sama the medicine and had such a conversation before I came back. An important person, huh.

That’s right. In this season, strong winds blow from the mountains to the sea during the day. I wonder if it would be useful to scatter fine powder that blinds the eyes. The kind that stings the eyes.

When I consulted with my mother, she grinned and said, “It’s worth a try.” “Our soldiers just need to choose the direction of the wind.”

My mother and I went to a separate building and looked at the stored snake venom, frog venom, and insect venom.

“I guess this is the place…”

“Frog venom, right?”

The poisonous frogs we breed at home spit venom at the eyes of their opponents from near their tear ducts when they feel threatened. They escape while the opponent is unable to open their eyes due to the burning pain.

We lined up as much frog venom as we had on the table and mixed it with flour we brought from the kitchen. We can’t knead it. It would turn into dumplings.

We put flour in the diluted venom and mixed it, then dried it. It’s difficult to make the water evaporate and leave the poison behind.

After many failures, we finally settled on a method of spraying the venom on the flour. We try to make it fly in the wind. I became the test subject. It’s not a poison that causes blindness.

“It hurts, it hurts, ouch…”

It’s very painful. I can’t open my eyes. It would be fine if I could wash it off with a lot of water, but there’s no way there would be that much water on the battlefield.

“Okaa-sama, don’t you think this could be useful?”

“I think so. It’s worth a try.”

We sent the poison powder along with the medicine.

Two weeks later.

The war situation seems to have become much more favorable. I thought it would be dismissed as a child’s toy, but it turned out to be very beneficial when used with the wind at the front line. On windy days, they even wrapped the poison powder in paper and attached it to the tips of arrows.

One day.

Our country’s warships, gathered from all over, occupied the bay, and the Galavares Kingdom’s ships were outside the bay. However, due to the continuous high waves caused by the strong wind, about half of the enemy ships sank, and we captured many crew members who were about to drown.

The news was delivered to our house immediately by a fast horse.

“I wonder if this will settle the matter.”

There was an excited atmosphere in the mansion. Even Hanna, who had been listless for a long time, was smiling. The day when the mansion’s guards and Stephan will return is near, they said.

As expected, the Galavares Kingdom’s army retreated. The country was in an uproar. The news of victory was reported to the royal palace.

However.

While the soldiers of other nobles are returning one after another, our family’s guards are not coming back easily. They seem to be patrolling around, wary of assaults and looting by defeated soldiers.

“I wonder if they can’t return yet.”

“It can’t be helped that it takes time to clean up because it’s our territory.”

Around the time I repeated such conversations many times, I received a call from Freiche-sama. I visited thinking it was a joyful announcement of Prince Ehrlich’s return, but it was the opposite.

“This is just between us, but it seems that the prince is missing. Even though the crown prince has returned.”

“Eh? I thought the royal family didn’t go to the front lines?”

“I heard the same, but it seems that there were enemies who had entered the inland and remained there while they were attacking each other.”

I don’t want to think that he encountered such enemies. In the first place, didn’t Prince Ehrlich have his own guards? There’s no way they would leave the prince alone.

Several more days passed. One of our family’s guards returned. He came back to report on the local situation.

“Ojou-sama, this.”

What the guard handed to me with difficulty was the silver pendant I gave to Stephan, and the handmade name tag I put through it. The chain of the pendant was torn.

My hand that received it was trembling.

“Where did you find this?”

“In the forest where the battle took place. The enemy army had invaded there early on and it was chaotic. We, who knew the terrain, and the kingdom’s army were fighting together to protect Prince Ehrlich, but…”

𝐂𝐡𝐚𝐩𝐭𝐞𝐫 𝟐𝟎: 𝐓𝐡𝐞𝐫𝐞 𝐢𝐬 𝐡𝐨𝐩𝐞

Right now, I am at Freiche-sama’s mansion. Freiche-sama has become bedridden, unable to eat.

Somehow, she seems to be able to consume a thin porridge like water, but her face has turned as white as paper and her cheeks have lost their flesh, becoming gaunt.

“Is His Highness safe?”

“Yes. Everyone is looking for him. I’m sure he will return and tell us many stories of his hardships.”

“I wonder how your loved one is doing.”

“He must be protecting His Highness.”

Freiche-sama smiles.

“I hope His Highness isn’t being too demanding.”

“Stephan is an adult, so he’s handling it well.”

We were both escaping from reality.

If we said something like (he might not be alive anymore), it might become reality.

Why can’t they find Prince Ehrlich and Stephan?

・・・

『”𝘼𝙬𝙚𝙗𝙨𝙩𝙤𝙧𝙞𝙚𝙨.𝙘𝙤𝙢” – 𝘿𝙞𝙨𝙘𝙤𝙫𝙚𝙧 𝙖 𝙘𝙖𝙥𝙩𝙞𝙫𝙖𝙩𝙞𝙣𝙜 𝙬𝙤𝙧𝙡𝙙 𝙤𝙛 𝙡𝙤𝙫𝙚, 𝙥𝙖𝙨𝙨𝙞𝙤𝙣 𝙖𝙣𝙙 𝙖𝙙𝙫𝙚𝙣𝙩𝙪𝙧𝙚, 𝙬𝙝𝙚𝙧𝙚 𝙮𝙤𝙪 𝙘𝙖𝙣 𝙞𝙣𝙙𝙪𝙡𝙜𝙚 𝙞𝙣 𝙖 𝙘o𝙡𝙡𝙚𝙘𝙩𝙞𝙤𝙣 𝙤𝙛 𝙩𝙧𝙖𝙣𝙨𝙡𝙖𝙩𝙚𝙙 𝙣𝙤𝙫𝙚𝙡𝙨 𝙬𝙞𝙩𝙝 “𝙙𝙖𝙞𝙡𝙮 𝙪𝙥𝙙𝙖𝙩𝙚𝙨” 𝙖𝙣𝙙 𝙚𝙭𝙘𝙡𝙪𝙨𝙞𝙫𝙚 𝙖𝙘𝙘𝙚𝙨𝙨 𝙩𝙤 “𝙖𝙙𝙫𝙖𝙣𝙘𝙚𝙙 𝙘𝙝𝙖𝙥𝙩𝙚𝙧𝙨”.』

・・・

“Okaa-sama, may I go look for Stephan?”

“Wait a little longer.”

“He might be injured and unable to move.”

“Even so. What will you do if you get caught and used as a bargaining chip? If the royal army is still searching for His Highness, you should wait here.”

I understand. I know that’s the right answer. But, I was about to shout out my complaints and ran out of the living room. Hanna followed me, worried.

I went into my room, buried my face in the bed’s futon, and cried, muffling my voice.

Hanna stroked my back as I cried. Even though Hanna herself is grieving that her brother hasn’t returned.

“Hanna, what should I do? What should I do?”

“It’s okay. It’s going to be okay.”

We hugged each other and cried. It felt like there was a huge hole in my body, thinking that we might never see each other again.

♦︎

A few days later, we received news that Prince Ehrlich had appeared in front of the royal army during their search, was protected, and returned to the royal palace.

“Prince Ehrlich has a message for you. He wishes for Ellen-sama to come to the royal palace.”

My father and I went there, as requested.

We were led to Prince Ehrlich’s room. His Highness looked thin and pale. Still, he had changed into proper clothes, sat in a chair, and bowed his head to us.

“Ellen, I’m sorry. Stephan sacrificed himself to save me.”

Sacrifice? What does he mean by sacrifice? My mind started to feel cold.

“It happened when we were heading towards the sea. A considerable number of enemy soldiers jumped out from the mountains. Our army was fighting to protect me, but the enemy didn’t back down. They gradually got closer to me.”

His Highness was speaking with a pained expression.

“Eventually, our formation broke down, and just when an enemy soldier was about to attack me, one of the private soldiers from the Bowen family, who was with me, took advantage of a small gap, grabbed my arm, and ran into the mountains. That was Stephan.”

“And then? What happened then?”

“Stephan pulled my arm and ran quite a distance, but every time I got tired and rested, the enemy got closer. We kept repeating this. Finally, when I couldn’t run anymore due to exhaustion, Stephan covered me with tree branches and fallen leaves, and hid me.”

Prince Ehrlich took a sip of water at that point.

“He hid me, gave me all his water and food, and kept watch, but the enemy still got closer. Stephan told me to ‘absolutely not move or make a sound’, then he jumped out in front of the enemy, and ran down the slope, leading the enemy away. I stayed hidden until my food ran out. A few days later, I was found by the royal army who had been searching everywhere.”

Prince Ehrlich covered his face with both hands.

“Many soldiers died because I was weak. Stephan also sacrificed himself for me. I’m sorry, Ellen.”

“Wait a minute. Your Highness, you didn’t see Stephan’s last moments, did you?”

“I didn’t see it. But, more than ten enemies chased after Stephan. There’s no way he could have…”

“Do you remember anything about the place?”

“Because it was in the forest, there was nothing specific… Ah, there was a rock shaped like a white eagle on the way as I was running away. It wasn’t very big. It was about my height. After passing it, I couldn’t run anymore, and Stephan hid me.”

My father looked down with a dark expression. But no one has seen Stephan’s end. Then he might still be alive.

“Your Highness, thank you for telling us. It gives us hope.”

“No, Ellen, but.”

“It’s okay. If the body hasn’t been found, there is hope that Stephan is alive.”

Perhaps it was painful to see me insisting on this, but no one said anything. In the awkward silence, my father and I returned to the mansion.

𝐂𝐡𝐚𝐩𝐭𝐞𝐫 𝟐𝟏: 𝐏𝐥𝐚𝐜𝐞𝐝 𝐥𝐞𝐭𝐭𝐞𝐫

[𝘖𝘵𝘰𝘶-𝘴𝘢𝘮𝘢, 𝘖𝘬𝘢𝘢-𝘴𝘢𝘮𝘢, 𝘐 𝘬𝘯𝘰𝘸 𝘺𝘰𝘶 𝘸𝘰𝘯’𝘵 𝘢𝘱𝘱𝘳𝘰𝘷𝘦. 𝘐 𝘢𝘮 𝘨𝘰𝘪𝘯𝘨 𝘵𝘰 𝘴𝘦𝘢𝘳𝘤𝘩 𝘧𝘰𝘳 𝘚𝘵𝘦𝘱𝘩𝘢𝘯. 𝘐 𝘢𝘮 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘰𝘯𝘭𝘺 𝘰𝘯𝘦 𝘸𝘩𝘰 𝘤𝘢𝘯 𝘧𝘪𝘨𝘶𝘳𝘦 𝘰𝘶𝘵 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘭𝘰𝘤𝘢𝘵𝘪𝘰𝘯 𝘧𝘳𝘰𝘮 𝘏𝘪𝘴 𝘏𝘪𝘨𝘩𝘯𝘦𝘴𝘴’𝘴 𝘴𝘵𝘰𝘳𝘺.

𝘐 𝘪𝘯𝘵𝘦𝘯𝘥 𝘵𝘰 𝘳𝘦𝘵𝘶𝘳𝘯 𝘢𝘭𝘪𝘷𝘦, 𝘣𝘶𝘵 𝘪𝘧 𝘺𝘰𝘶 𝘥𝘰𝘯’𝘵 𝘩𝘦𝘢𝘳 𝘧𝘳𝘰𝘮 𝘮𝘦 𝘪𝘯 𝘢 𝘮𝘰𝘯𝘵𝘩, 𝘱𝘭𝘦𝘢𝘴𝘦 𝘥𝘪𝘴𝘤𝘶𝘴𝘴 𝘸𝘩𝘰 𝘸𝘪𝘭𝘭 𝘣𝘦 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘴𝘶𝘤𝘤𝘦𝘴𝘴𝘰𝘳 𝘰𝘧 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘔𝘢𝘳𝘲𝘶𝘪𝘴 𝘧𝘢𝘮𝘪𝘭𝘺 𝘢𝘯𝘥 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘱𝘩𝘢𝘳𝘮𝘢𝘤𝘪𝘴𝘵 𝘸𝘪𝘵𝘩𝘰𝘶𝘵 𝘩𝘦𝘴𝘪𝘵𝘢𝘵𝘪𝘰𝘯 𝘸𝘪𝘵𝘩 𝘮𝘺 𝘴𝘪𝘴𝘵𝘦𝘳𝘴. 𝘐’𝘮 𝘰𝘧𝘧 𝘯𝘰𝘸. 

―𝘌𝘭𝘭𝘦𝘯]

Anticipating being captured by defeated soldiers or bandits, I prepared a change of clothes, some food, all the money I have, a set of medicines and poisons in a separate building without carrying anything that could identify me. I put my belongings in a backpack and hid it in the bushes before heading to the stable.

“I’m going to take a horse for a run.”

“Then I’ll call for a guard.”

“Sorry about that. Well, I’ll be waiting.”

Without waiting for the arrival of the guard, I casually walked the horse and took out my luggage from the bushes. I made an unreasonable excuse to the gatekeeper, “I’ll be back when I get there,” and quickly left, leaving the gatekeeper behind who was saying something.

“I’ll be back when I get there,” I said, but as soon as I turned the corner, I ran the horse. “Ha! Ha!” I urged the horse. My horse is young. It doesn’t get tired easily.

(Stephan, be alive. I’m coming to get you. No matter what you look like, just be alive)

After running for about an hour, I reached a river. I let the horse rest and gave it water. I also drank water.

“Phew.”

As I was sitting on the grass to rest my legs, I heard the sound of a horse’s hooves. I had a bad feeling and when I turned around, it was Baulder, the captain of my guard.

“I thought it would be something like this, Ellen-sama. Don’t make such a displeased face!”

“Go back and pretend you didn’t find me. I’m going alone. I know more about those mountains than you do.”

“I’m worried about Stephan. It’s just a coincidence that I’m going in the same direction as you. Oh, did you just click your tongue? A lady of the Marquis family.”

“I feel like clicking my tongue. If I had a guard with me, I couldn’t pretend to be a commoner if I was caught. Besides, didn’t Baulder just come back from the war? If something happens to you because of me, I won’t be able to face Baulder’s wife and children.”

“I’ve already talked to my wife and children last night. My son is already fifteen, so there’s nothing to worry about.”

“. . .”

“I’ve been serving you since you were in diapers, Ellen-sama. I can see through your thoughts. Don’t underestimate the intuition of a veteran servant.”

“Sigh. . . If I let you accompany me, I’ll be a foolish daughter who bothers her servants.”

“You should be prepared to be called a foolish daughter when you sneak out of the mansion. It’s too late now.”

“Well, I guess so. But Baulder, I’m going to search for Stephan until I’m satisfied.”

“What a coincidence. I feel the same way.”

From then on, we hurried on together. We camped out at night, wrapped in blankets. We arrived in two days on a road that would take five days by carriage.

“Is it around here?”

“There should be a rock shaped like a white eagle about the height of a person nearby. It seems that Prince Ehrlich saw it.”

From there, we walked, leading the horses. We moved forward, clearing branches for the horses. After a while, we arrived at the location of the eagle-shaped rock. I had to come here because I couldn’t explain this place in the depths of the mountains in words.

“It seems he ran down the slope a little from here.”

“Did the royal army search for Stephan?”

“They are soldiers to protect the prince, they wouldn’t do such a thing. It seems they returned to the palace as soon as they found the prince.”

When I left the palace, I checked there.

Although it has faded a lot due to rain and wind, there were traces of people passing by. It’s not just one person’s trace. As we were going down the slope for a while, Baulder spoke to me.

“Ellen-sama, you can track. That’s surprising.”

“I go mountain climbing to look for medicinal herbs and venomous snakes. It’s part of my job to distinguish the traces of mountain creatures to protect myself. Stephan taught me when I was a child.”

“I see.”

Eventually, we reached the river. Eight enemy soldiers’ bodies were scattered around. Stephan’s body was not among them. I tried not to look at the gruesome bodies as much as possible while searching.

We split into two groups to search the area near the river where there was soil. However, there were no continuing footprints on this side. It seemed that they had indeed crossed the river.

We crossed the river and passed through the sparse trees. There were more signs of people having walked here. This time, there were two sets of footprints. Moreover, one set of footprints was small. I wondered what this meant.

As we continued to follow the footprints, we smelled smoke. This meant there were people nearby.

We moved forward, relying on the intermittent smell of smoke and the direction of the wind. We proceeded carefully so as not to be discovered by the defeated soldiers who might be producing the smoke. Eventually, the smell of smoke became stronger.

There was a crumbling charcoal hut. The smoke was rising from there. Baulder and I exchanged glances and retreated back into the mountains.

Many days had passed since Prince Ehrlich said he had parted ways with Stephan.

(I won’t have excessive expectations. But I won’t give up.) I kept repeating this to myself.

・・・

『”ᴀᴡᴇʙsᴛᴏʀɪᴇs.ᴄᴏᴍ” – ᴅɪsᴄᴏᴠᴇʀ ᴀ ᴄᴀᴘᴛɪᴠᴀᴛɪɴɢ ᴡᴏʀʟᴅ ᴏғ ʟᴏᴠᴇ, ᴘᴀssɪᴏɴ ᴀɴᴅ ᴀᴅᴠᴇɴᴛᴜʀᴇ, ᴡʜᴇʀᴇ ʏᴏᴜ ᴄᴀɴ ɪɴᴅuʟɢᴇ ɪɴ ᴀ ᴄᴏʟʟᴇᴄᴛɪᴏɴ ᴏғ ᴛʀᴀɴsʟᴀᴛᴇᴅ ɴᴏᴠᴇʟs ᴡɪᴛʜ “ᴅᴀɪʟʏ ᴜᴘᴅᴀᴛᴇs” ᴀɴᴅ ᴇxᴄʟᴜsɪᴠᴇ ᴀᴄᴄᴇss ᴛᴏ “ᴀᴅᴠᴀɴᴄᴇᴅ ᴄʜᴀᴘᴛᴇʀs”.』

・・・

“That hut is drawing water from the stream. If there are enemy soldiers, we’ll put paralyzing drugs in the water at night.”

“Do you have any?”

“Who do you think I am?”

“Wow, your smile is dark.”

We kept watch on the hut.

After a while, a thin girl about ten years old came out. She was walking towards the mountains. She had a bow and arrow, so she was probably going hunting. We approached the hut after confirming that the girl was out of sight.

We got close to the window of the hut and listened carefully. There were signs of people. Maybe one or two. Baulder and I exchanged glances and headed towards the entrance.

Baulder drew his sword, forcefully opened the door, and jumped inside. No one made a fuss. So, I also peeked inside through the open door.

Stephan was lying on what looked like a crude straw bed.

𝐂𝐡𝐚𝐩𝐭𝐞𝐫 𝟐𝟐: 𝐂𝐡𝐚𝐫𝐜𝐨𝐚𝐥 𝐇𝐮𝐭 𝐑𝐞𝐬𝐢𝐝𝐞𝐧𝐭

“Stephan. You’re alive.”

I spoke in a small voice. Stephan was alive, but he was so thin and weak that he looked different. He was so weak that he couldn’t get up even when he noticed me.

I immediately examined his whole body. There was a large sword wound on his side, which was beginning to fester. This is…

“I brought medicine. I’ll treat you right away. Baulder, keep watch outside.”

“Understood.”

I took out the medicine from my backpack, put it in a wooden container I brought, and dissolved it in water.

“Lift your head a little and drink the medicine.”

For Stephan, who couldn’t use his abdominal muscles, I put my backpack behind his neck and made him drink the medicine little by little with a wooden spoon. Stephan’s lips were cracked and he was dehydrated. He didn’t even have the strength to have a high fever, his body was just slightly warm.

Even if the medicine works, his strength has decreased so much. It’s dangerous.

“I couldn’t wait until you came back, so I came looking for you.”

While feeding him the medicine with a spoon, I consciously spoke with a bright voice and expression. Stephan drank the medicine one mouthful at a time, and eventually finished it all.

“Ojou-sama.”

Stephan murmured in a voice that was barely audible, like a sigh.

“Now, I’m going to apply medicine to the wound.”

The wound, where the blood had turned dark red and hardened, was beginning to collect yellow pus. I applied a thick layer of ointment to the wound. I then covered it with oil paper and wrapped his stomach with cloth.

“Don’t worry about anything. Hanna is waiting too. You’re going home with me.”

Stephan nodded slightly.

I boiled water for Stephan, who still needed more fluids, and added honey, a little salt, dried meat, and barley. Even if he can’t eat the meat, it can serve as a broth.

Eventually, the contents of the pot started to bubble. I poured the soup into a cup and let it cool. I also fed this to him one spoonful at a time.

“Were you injured by the enemy?”

Stephan nodded.

“Did that girl help you?”

He nodded.

“Is there anyone else living in this cabin?”

He shook his head.

“Then, sleep. You need to regain your strength quickly. Thank you for being alive. Don’t forget your promise to take me to that diner again.”

Stephan smiled faintly and fell asleep immediately, perhaps relieved. Baulder spoke to me.

“Ojou-sama will wait for the girl, I will procure a carriage. Is this okay?”

“Perfect.”

“I’ll go quickly.”

Hearing my reply, Baulder gave a thumbs up and left with a grin.

・・・

『”𝔸𝕨𝕖𝕓𝕤𝕥𝕠𝕣𝕚𝕖𝕤.𝕔𝕠𝕞” – 𝔻𝕚𝕤𝕔𝕠𝕧𝕖𝕣 𝕒 𝕔𝕒𝕡𝕥𝕚𝕧𝕒𝕥𝕚𝕟𝕘 𝕨𝕠𝕣𝕝𝕕 𝕠𝕗 𝕝𝕠𝕧𝕖, 𝕡𝕒𝕤𝕤𝕚𝕠𝕟 𝕒𝕟𝕕 𝕒𝕕𝕧𝕖𝕟𝕥𝕦𝕣𝕖, 𝕨𝕙𝕖𝕣𝕖 𝕪𝕠𝕦 𝕔𝕒𝕟 𝕚𝕟𝕕𝕦𝕝𝕘𝕖 𝕚𝕟 𝕒 𝕔o𝕝𝕝𝕖𝕔𝕥𝕚𝕠𝕟 𝕠𝕗 𝕥𝕣𝕒𝕟𝕤𝕝𝕒𝕥𝕖𝕕 𝕟𝕠𝕧𝕖𝕝𝕤 𝕨𝕚𝕥𝕙 “𝕕𝕒𝕚𝕝𝕪 𝕦𝕡𝕕𝕒𝕥𝕖𝕤” 𝕒𝕟𝕕 𝕖𝕩𝕔𝕝𝕦𝕤𝕚𝕧𝕖 𝕒𝕔𝕔𝕖𝕤𝕤 𝕥𝕠 “𝕒𝕕𝕧𝕒𝕟𝕔𝕖𝕕 𝕔𝕙𝕒𝕡𝕥𝕖𝕣𝕤”.』

・・・

The girl who returned was surprised to see me, but she quickly started eating the contents of the pot and explained the situation. It seems she didn’t catch any prey today.

“My name is Norra. My house is a little further up. My dad was killed by those guys who came into our house. I escaped through the window of the back room and ran here. I found this man collapsed by the river on the way. He could still move a little at that time, so I helped him get here.”

It seems that the defeated soldiers might still be nearby.

“Did you provide the food?”

“I caught a rabbit and a bird, but this man kept getting weaker and couldn’t eat. I thought it was over…”

The girl started to tear up.

“Stephan was taken care of by you. Thank you. What about your mom?”

“She died of illness when I was a child.”

“I see. Then, Norra, I would be happy if you could come with us.”

“Is that okay?”

“Of course. You are our benefactor. I want you to stay at my house until you feel uncomfortable. Stephan is my very important person.”

Stephan himself was sleeping deeply. Baulder had gone out to secure a carriage. I want to take him home as soon as possible.

When it started to get dark, I heard a noise. I thought it was Baulder and went to greet him, but I stopped. There were multiple footsteps.

As I crouched down to observe the situation, the footsteps started coming this way. There’s no mistake, there are multiple people.

“You hide.”

I pulled Norra to the corner of the room, made her sit down, and covered her with a box for putting charcoal in. I hid in the shadow of the storage. Stephan was left as he was because he couldn’t move.

Soon, the door opened with a bang! and three men entered the room. All of them had serious injuries on their faces and arms. I put my hand in my pouch and searched inside.

The men started talking in Galavares.

“What, it’s him.”

“He was still alive.”

“He’s stubborn. I thought he was dead a long time ago.”

Saying that, they drew their swords. 

I won’t hesitate to hurt those who hurt Stephan. I swing what I’m holding in my hand several times before throwing it at the men. I repeat this two, three times.

“Ugh! What’s this?”

“Ouch! It bit me!”

“Ah! It’s a snake!”

Three venomous snakes are hissing and crawling around on the floor. The men are panicking. Two of them are holding their bitten arms and legs.

“Hey! There’s a woman!”

One of them who noticed me shouted. I stand up and slowly take out the hand I had put in my pouch. In my right hand is a writhing venomous snake.

“Ah! She’s got a venomous snake!”

“If you kill me, your comrades will die too. I’m the only one who can make the antidote.”

The two men panicked when they heard it was a venomous snake. The man who hasn’t been bitten yet is flailing around trying to crush the snake. The snake, excited, raises its head and writhes as if to pounce. I rush over to Stephan, throw the venomous snake I was holding at the man, and pull out a knife from my boot. The man is preoccupied with the snake.

I threw the knife with all my might. The knife stuck in the man’s upper arm, but was quickly pulled out.

“Ah! What the hell! I’ll kill you!.. Ah, ah?”

The man swung his sword at me, but he crumbled to the floor as if he couldn’t bear the weight of the sword. It seems the fast-acting paralytic poison I smeared on the knife worked. I used a specially concentrated scorpion venom. Thanks to Freiche-sama for giving me so many scorpions!

I use poison to protect myself. This is the correct way to use poison!

𝐂𝐡𝐚𝐩𝐭𝐞𝐫 𝟐𝟑: 𝐒𝐭𝐚𝐧𝐝𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐠𝐮𝐚𝐫𝐝 𝐢𝐧 𝐟𝐫𝐨𝐧𝐭 𝐨𝐟 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐠𝐚𝐭𝐞

“Ellen-sama, I’m back… Who are these guys?”

“Welcome back, Baulder. They are defeated soldiers. Moreover, they are the ones who did this to Stephan.”

The three men are tied up and rolled over. The snake I brought this time doesn’t have a deadly poison. Their limbs will swell and they will suffer greatly for a few days.

Baulder rode a horse and went out again to inform the locals about the capture of the defeated soldiers. I caught the four snakes and put them back in the bag.

Norra, who popped her head out of the box, was very interested.

“Are you a snake charmer?”

“No, Norra, I’m not. I’m a pharmacist. I keep snakes to collect their venom. They were attached to me, but I angered them and threw them, so they might not be attached to me for a while.”

“Won’t you get bitten?”

“I was bitten when I tried to take it out of the bag by touch.”

I show my arm. Norra’s eyes widened at the sight of the fang marks on my arm and the slightly reddened skin.

“Are you okay?”

“My body is already accustomed to the venom of these snakes.”

“That’s amazing. You’re like a wizard. This person is getting much better too.”

Indeed, Stephan was beginning to recover. Plenty of hydration, soft food, medicine, stress relief. Stephan’s body was spending all its energy on survival.

“Damn it! I’ll kill you for sure.”

The man who was tied up and rolled on the floor shouted.

“Oh really? If you make a fuss, should I inject more snake venom?”

I take a small box out of my backpack and show a syringe and a small bottle of medicine from inside.

“If you behave, you might be returned to your homeland as a prisoner. If you oppose me, you’ll be bitten by a poisonous snake and die before you become a prisoner, you know?”

The men became quiet.

Eventually, the voices of many people, the rattling sound of pulling a cart, and the neighing of horses could be heard. It was the villagers who came to take the prisoners.

・・・

『”𝘈𝘸𝘦𝘣𝘴𝘵𝘰𝘳𝘪𝘦𝘴.𝘤𝘰𝘮” – 𝘋𝘪𝘴𝘤𝘰𝘷𝘦𝘳 𝘢 𝘤𝘢𝘱𝘵𝘪𝘷𝘢𝘵𝘪𝘯𝘨 𝘸𝘰𝘳𝘭𝘥 𝘰𝘧 𝘭𝘰𝘷𝘦, 𝘱𝘢𝘴𝘴𝘪𝘰𝘯 𝘢𝘯𝘥 𝘢𝘥𝘷𝘦𝘯𝘵𝘶𝘳𝘦, 𝘸𝘩𝘦𝘳𝘦 𝘺𝘰𝘶 𝘤𝘢𝘯 𝘪𝘯𝘥𝘶𝘭𝘨𝘦 𝘪𝘯 𝘢 𝘤𝘰𝘭𝘭𝘦𝘤𝘵𝘪𝘰𝘯 𝘰𝘧 𝘵𝘳a𝘯𝘴𝘭𝘢𝘵𝘦𝘥 𝘯𝘰𝘷𝘦𝘭𝘴 𝘸𝘪𝘵𝘩 “𝘥𝘢𝘪𝘭𝘺 𝘶𝘱𝘥𝘢𝘵𝘦𝘴” 𝘢𝘯𝘥 𝘦𝘹𝘤𝘭𝘶𝘴𝘪𝘷𝘦 𝘢𝘤𝘤𝘦𝘴𝘴 𝘵𝘰 “𝘢𝘥𝘷𝘢𝘯𝘤𝘦𝘥 𝘤𝘩𝘢𝘱𝘵𝘦𝘳𝘴”.』

・・・

First, I sent a message to my house by fast horse about the discovery of Stephan. After that, considering Stephan’s condition, I moved the carriage slowly.

“Ojou-sama, I’m sorry.”

“Why are you apologizing, Stephan? You didn’t do anything wrong.”

“It’s my fault that Ojou-sama was in danger.”

“I wasn’t in danger. I managed to handle it safely, didn’t I?”

The carriage is being driven by Baulder. Inside the carriage are me, Stephan, and Norra. Although his condition is improving, Stephan’s wound is still open and we can’t let our guard down.

“Prince Ehrlich is safe. He was grateful to you.”

“I’m glad…”

With that, Stephan fell asleep again.

When we finally arrived at the gate of our house, my mother was standing like a guardian deity waiting for us. She had a very scary face. My father was desperately trying to calm her down. Next to them, Hanna was crying with joy, burying her face in both hands.

・・・

『”𝕬𝖜𝖊𝖇𝖘𝖙𝖔𝖗𝖎𝖊𝖘.𝖈𝖔𝖒” – 𝕯𝖎𝖘𝖈𝖔𝖛𝖊𝖗 𝖆 𝖈𝖆𝖕𝖙𝖎𝖛𝖆𝖙𝖎𝖓𝖌 𝖜𝖔𝖗𝖑𝖉 𝖔𝖋 𝖑𝖔𝖛𝖊, 𝖕𝖆𝖘𝖘𝖎𝖔𝖓 𝖆𝖓𝖉 𝖆𝖉𝖛𝖊𝖓𝖙𝖚𝖗𝖊, 𝖜𝖍𝖊𝖗𝖊 𝖞𝖔𝖚 𝖈𝖆𝖓 𝖎𝖓𝖉𝖚𝖑𝖌𝖊 𝖎𝖓 𝖆 𝖈𝖔𝖑𝖑e𝖈𝖙𝖎𝖔𝖓 𝖔𝖋 𝖙𝖗𝖆𝖓𝖘𝖑𝖆𝖙𝖊𝖉 𝖓𝖔𝖛𝖊𝖑𝖘 𝖜𝖎𝖙𝖍 “𝖉𝖆𝖎𝖑𝖞 𝖚𝖕𝖉𝖆𝖙𝖊𝖘” 𝖆𝖓𝖉 𝖊𝖝𝖈𝖑𝖚𝖘𝖎𝖛𝖊 𝖆𝖈𝖈𝖊𝖘𝖘 𝖙𝖔 “𝖆𝖉𝖛𝖆𝖓𝖈𝖊𝖉 𝖈𝖍𝖆𝖕𝖙𝖊𝖗𝖘”.』

・・・

“So? You decided that searching for Stephan was the top priority?”

“Yes.”

“Do you still think the same?”

“Yes. If the same thing happens, I will go to help Stephan again.”

“I see.”

If I abandon the life of a loved one, I will definitely regret it for the rest of my life. Even if I lose the position of successor, I can continue my work as a first-class pharmacist as long as I live. But Stephan’s life, once lost, can never be regained.

I couldn’t read what my mother was thinking with her expressionless face, but she examined Stephan and assured me, “It’s okay, he’s young and strong, he’ll recover.”

At night, the captains of my house’s guards came to apologize to me. They were sorry that they couldn’t help Stephan.

“You guys didn’t do anything wrong. I was able to find him because I knew the mountains in that area better than anyone. You guys had to go back because you are guards of the Marquis family. So, lift your heads.”

When the guards left, Norra sighed, “Haaa.” Norra, the lifesaver of Stephan’s life, was cleansed, dressed in a simple dress, and is now in my room. When I washed her and removed the dirt, Norra turned out to be a beautiful girl with thick blonde hair and brown eyes, although she was too thin.

“I didn’t know Ellen-sama was such a great noble. I’m sorry for calling you a snake charmer in the hut.”

“Speaking of which, Norra, you didn’t scream when you saw the snake.”

“I was raised in the mountains. Snakes won’t attack unless they are startled. But, I can’t grab them like Ellen-sama because if bitten, you could die. Ellen-sama, who threw venomous snakes at bad people, was like a goddess and wonderful!”

“You thought that was wonderful? Fufu. Norra, after you’ve calmed down a bit, would you like to study basic medicine under me? The number of dog and cat patients is increasing, and I can’t handle it all by myself anymore.”

Norra’s face brightened up instantly.

“If you would teach me, I will do my best. My father has passed away, and I was wondering how I should live from now on. I will work hard to be useful. Please teach me about medicine. Please.”

“Well, it’s settled then. I look forward to working with you, Norra. Also, let’s make an important promise.”

I held Norra’s hand, who was listening to the conversation intently, and spoke.

“Someday, when we no longer have to worry about defeated soldiers, let’s go to your house. And let’s make a grave for your father, Norra. I want you to wait until then, as we will properly mourn him.”

There’s no way Norra could forget about her murdered father. She just can’t bring it up out of consideration.

Norra nodded, her tears falling.

“Ellen-sama is indeed like a goddess.”

𝐂𝐡𝐚𝐩𝐭𝐞𝐫 𝟐𝟒: 𝐆𝐞𝐭 𝐰𝐞𝐥𝐥 𝐬𝐨𝐨𝐧

I said, “Take it easy for a while,” but Norra started helping me the next day, saying, “Being busy helps me not to think about anything.” It was convenient for me as Hanna was taking care of Stephan.

Norra was a very smart and capable girl.

―In the mansion, she was given a simple dress as an “apprentice pharmacist,” and Norra, who tied her hair tightly at the back, followed Ellen all day.

“There’s a lot to learn, so let’s take it slow.”

I said that, but Norra moved around diligently taking notes on the paper she received from the servants.

The servants of the mansion were tearfully talking about how her father was killed in front of her. And how Norra had helped Stephan, the big man, and seemed to have nursed him alone.

“How brave.” “Stephan’s benefactor is our benefactor as well.”

All the servants treated Norra with care, as if they were all trying to protect and raise her. Norra was also working sincerely.

・・・

『”𝙰𝚠𝚎𝚋𝚜𝚝𝚘𝚛𝚒𝚎𝚜.𝚌𝚘𝚖” – 𝙳𝚒𝚜𝚌𝚘𝚟𝚎𝚛 𝚊 𝚌𝚊𝚙𝚝𝚒𝚟𝚊𝚝𝚒𝚗𝚐 𝚠𝚘𝚛𝚕𝚍 𝚘𝚏 𝚕𝚘𝚟𝚎, 𝚙𝚊𝚜𝚜𝚒𝚘𝚗 𝚊𝚗𝚍 𝚊𝚍𝚟𝚎𝚗𝚝𝚞𝚛𝚎, 𝚠𝚑𝚎𝚛𝚎 𝚢𝚘𝚞 𝚌𝚊𝚗 𝚒𝚗𝚍u𝚕𝚐𝚎 𝚒𝚗 𝚊 𝚌𝚘𝚕𝚕𝚎𝚌𝚝𝚒𝚘𝚗 𝚘𝚏 𝚝𝚛𝚊𝚗𝚜𝚕𝚊𝚝𝚎𝚍 𝚗𝚘𝚟𝚎𝚕𝚜 𝚠𝚒𝚝𝚑 “𝚍𝚊𝚒𝚕𝚢 𝚞𝚙𝚍𝚊𝚝𝚎𝚜” 𝚊𝚗𝚍 𝚎𝚡𝚌𝚕𝚞𝚜𝚒𝚟𝚎 𝚊𝚌𝚌𝚎𝚜𝚜 𝚝𝚘 “𝚊𝚍𝚟𝚊𝚗𝚌𝚎𝚍 𝚌𝚑𝚊𝚙𝚝𝚎𝚛𝚜”.』

・・・

At the royal palace, two young people were whispering.

“What? Ellen said her guard was [someone important]? Really?”

“It’s true. I heard it from her.”

The second prince Ehrlich was surprised. He couldn’t imagine that the heir to the Marquis family would have feelings for a commoner’s guard.

“Yesterday, Ellen-sama came to see how I was doing, and she herself went to the sea on horseback to help the guard, fought the enemy, and brought the guard back.”

“How bold. But Freiche. I haven’t heard that story. If Stephan was alive, why didn’t Ellen tell me?”

“Maybe she was being considerate. The man was apparently severely injured by the defeated soldiers and is still bedridden.”

“That man is seriously injured. . .”

After that, the two of them whispered for a while. After seeing off Freiche, Ehrlich went straight to his mother, the queen.

“Mother!”

“What is it, Ehrlich? You’re shouting so loudly as soon as you’re feeling better.”

“I have a favor to ask.”

Queen Crabell loved this innocent second son. The other day, when he was missing in action on the battlefield, she literally went dark and collapsed. So when he returned safely to the palace, she hugged him so tightly that Ehrlich was confused and cried with joy.

“A favor? What is it?”

She smiled, ready to grant any wish of her son, whom she had once thought dead.

“When I was about to be killed by the enemy, there was someone who pulled my hand and helped me escape.”

“Yes, I’ve heard. It was a private soldier from the Bowen family, wasn’t it?”

“Yes. That man, Stephan, seems to have been found. However, he is seriously injured and is still bedridden.”

―I’ve heard the story of how he pulled my son’s hand and ran through the mountains, hid my son when he was exhausted, and danced in front of more than ten enemies. I was grateful for what he did, which was not easy.

Of course, the palace soldiers were also protecting the prince, and there were those who died in battle and those who were injured. But they were well cared for, mourned, and their families were taken care of so they wouldn’t have to worry about their livelihoods for the rest of their lives. However, this was not the case with the private soldiers.

“I thought I could never thank him enough. If he is bedridden, I would like to visit him once.”

“That’s a good idea. If it’s Mrs. Franca’s house, I’ll go with you. Let’s convey our gratitude to him from me as well.”

“Really? Thank you! If you’re with me, he’ll be happy too.”

That evening, a messenger from the royal palace came to the Bowen house and caused a commotion. The queen and the second prince were going to visit Stephan soon.

“Me? From the queen? No, that’s not necessary. I just did what was expected. It’s too much for the queen and the prince to visit me, so please, just tell them I appreciate the sentiment!”

Stephan was genuinely troubled after hearing this. However, Mrs. Franca insisted that he should accept the visit.

“Of course, I want to say the same thing. But the queen especially adores Ehrlich-sama, so I don’t think she’ll back down. She also likes you. So, as the person who saved Ehrlich-sama’s life, please accept the visit.”

“Is that so. . .”

As soon as Mrs. Franca left the room, Stephan looked up at the sky and closed his eyes.

𝐂𝐡𝐚𝐩𝐭𝐞𝐫 𝟐𝟓: 𝐑𝐞𝐰𝐚𝐫𝐝

The Bowen household had been busy for several days. This was because they were preparing to welcome the queen and the prince.

“Don’t you think this is a bit too much? Even Stephan would be troubled.”

“Ellen, you shouldn’t say such disrespectful things. It’s a great honor for Stephan.”

“But Stephan has just managed to walk without a cane. It must be hard for him to receive visitors while maintaining his posture. Why now? They could have waited a bit longer.”

“You’re such a daughter.”

Norra was excited behind Ellen. It was like a dream to have the real queen and prince in this mansion.

Accompanied by Norra, Ellen headed to the small room for animals. Today, as always, two cats have come for a check-up.

“The white cat has stones in its kidneys today. We need to make a decoction of white mugwort so it can drink a lot of water and urinate a lot.”

“You boil it down and make it into a pill, right?”

“That’s right. I’ll ask Norra to give it to them. She’s better at it than I am. Ideally, the owner should do it, but they say it’s impossible because the cat struggles too much.”

“I’m good at giving medicine to cats.”

“That’s a relief. Also, the black long-haired cat has swollen gums. We’ll have to put it to sleep with medicine and scrape off the tartar.”

“Yes, I understand. Leave it to me to give the medicine and keep the mouth open.”

As they walked down the hallway, the two discussed the procedure. Norra was so competent that Ellen felt she couldn’t manage without her.

She could make simple cold medicines and laxatives on her own in a short period of time. Ellen found Norra, who was much younger than her, adorable.

・・・

『”ᴀᴡᴇʙsᴛᴏʀɪᴇs.ᴄᴏᴍ” – ᴅɪsᴄᴏᴠᴇʀ ᴀ ᴄᴀᴘᴛɪᴠᴀᴛɪɴɢ ᴡᴏʀʟᴅ ᴏғ ʟᴏᴠᴇ, ᴘᴀssɪᴏɴ ᴀɴᴅ ᴀᴅᴠᴇɴᴛᴜʀᴇ, ᴡʜᴇʀᴇ ʏᴏᴜ ᴄᴀɴ ɪɴᴅuʟɢᴇ ɪɴ ᴀ ᴄᴏʟʟᴇᴄᴛɪᴏɴ ᴏғ ᴛʀᴀɴsʟᴀᴛᴇᴅ ɴᴏᴠᴇʟs ᴡɪᴛʜ “ᴅᴀɪʟʏ ᴜᴘᴅᴀᴛᴇs” ᴀɴᴅ ᴇxᴄʟᴜsɪᴠᴇ ᴀᴄᴄᴇss ᴛᴏ “ᴀᴅᴠᴀɴᴄᴇᴅ ᴄʜᴀᴘᴛᴇʀs”.』

・・・

When Ellen and the others left the room, Mrs. Franca took out a thick record book from the drawer of her desk.

There were two of them, and they had been filled in for three hundred years. One contained the effects, composition, and usage of medicines, and the other contained records of the medicines requested by the nobles in the country.

It used to be written on parchment, but it was copied onto paper halfway through and is now bound like a book.

If a better medicine is made or a medicine that does not have the desired effect, it is replaced with a new record. It is the role of the person who takes over as a top-class pharmacist to always record the latest information, as the use of medicines is constantly advancing.

The reason why Mrs. Franca’s medicines are so effective is that she mixes minute amounts of poison and medicinal herbs in a perfect combination based on this record book, which is a collection of experience values.

The record book, which is recorded by purchaser, is also thick. When reading the purchase history of medicines, one can sometimes see diseases that are due to the noble’s lineage. This is treated as top secret, just like the recipe for the medicine.

“Sooner or later, I’ll have to pass this on to Ellen.”

It seems that Ellen has not yet found the marriage partner she declared she would find herself. Mrs. Franca looked distant.

In Mrs. Franca’s case, there was not much trouble in marrying into Rudolph’s family, which is also a Marquis family. Rudolph was a person who sincerely devoted himself to her, and he agreed to her activities as a pharmacist and to pass on the pharmacist to her daughter.

Her husband, Rudolph, had enough income from his territory to not worry about the inheritance his wife would take over, and he was a generous person who did not envy his wife’s success.

Ellen had risked her life to go out and help her guard, Stephan, the other day.

“Stephan, huh? I wonder what to do.”

The lady thought again.

The next day, Queen Crabell and Prince Ehrlich II, protected by many guards, visited the Bowen family’s mansion.

Stephan, who was nervous in the reception room. The Marquis couple, who were smiling and attending. Ellen was also standing by.

Queen Crabell was facing Stephan with a graceful smile. Stephan was looking down, at a loss.

(Why is this happening, when all I did was what was expected of me?)

Stephan kept repeating that.

“Stephan. If you hadn’t pulled my arm and run at that time, I would be dead by now. And if you hadn’t jumped out in front of the enemy and led them away, I would be dead again. I am truly grateful for your actions.”

“Your Highness, that was only natural. Please forget about it.”

“I cannot forget. Even though death was so close, you prevented it all. I will never forget it in my lifetime.”

“Your Highness, please dedicate those words to the knights who risked their lives and fought at that time.”

Then, Queen Crabell joined the conversation.

“Those who lost their lives protecting Ehrlich will be given medals, honor, and lifetime protection for their families. Despite being a private soldier, you worked no less than the knights.”

(No, that’s why, I just did what was expected!)

In front of Stephan, who was sweating coldly and screaming in his heart, Queen Crabell elegantly presented a document.

“It’s from His Majesty.”

In the document handed to Stephan, whose hand was trembling slightly with tension, it was written in beautiful decorative letters,

“Considering your achievements during wartime, you are granted the rank of Baron as a one-generation noble.”

𝐂𝐡𝐚𝐩𝐭𝐞𝐫 𝟐𝟔: 𝐆𝐚𝐥𝐚𝐯𝐚𝐫𝐞𝐬’ 𝐧𝐞𝐰 𝐤𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐢𝐬

The victorious Cryff Kingdom demanded reparations from the Galavares Kingdom, but they also made other demands.

In addition to the reparations, they demanded the immediate abdication and confinement of the Queen of Galavares Kingdom, the confinement of her father, and the ascension of Cain Smith, a son of the Count family of Cryff Kingdom, as the new king.

・・・

『”𝔸𝕨𝕖𝕓𝕤𝕥𝕠𝕣𝕚𝕖𝕤.𝕔𝕠𝕞” – 𝔻𝕚𝕤𝕔𝕠𝕧𝕖𝕣 𝕒 𝕔𝕒𝕡𝕥𝕚𝕧𝕒𝕥𝕚𝕟𝕘 𝕨𝕠𝕣𝕝𝕕 𝕠𝕗 𝕝𝕠𝕧𝕖, 𝕡𝕒𝕤𝕤𝕚𝕠𝕟 𝕒𝕟𝕕 𝕒𝕕𝕧𝕖𝕟𝕥𝕦𝕣𝕖, 𝕨𝕙e𝕣𝕖 𝕪𝕠𝕦 𝕔𝕒𝕟 𝕚𝕟𝕕𝕦𝕝𝕘𝕖 𝕚𝕟 𝕒 𝕔𝕠𝕝𝕝𝕖𝕔𝕥𝕚𝕠𝕟 𝕠𝕗 𝕥𝕣𝕒𝕟𝕤𝕝𝕒𝕥𝕖𝕕 𝕟𝕠𝕧𝕖𝕝𝕤 𝕨𝕚𝕥𝕙 “𝕕𝕒𝕚𝕝𝕪 𝕦𝕡𝕕𝕒𝕥𝕖𝕤” 𝕒𝕟𝕕 𝕖𝕩𝕔𝕝𝕦𝕤𝕚𝕧𝕖 𝕒𝕔𝕔𝕖𝕤𝕤 𝕥𝕠 “𝕒𝕕𝕧𝕒𝕟𝕔𝕖𝕕 𝕔𝕙𝕒𝕡𝕥𝕖𝕣𝕤”.』

・・・

“Cain? The same Cain-sama I treated?”

My father explained to my surprise.

“His mother was the previous queen of the Galavares Kingdom. She was still a princess when she gave birth to Cain. The war was supposedly started by his sister, but in reality, it was his father, the husband of the previous queen. Cain has the blood of both the Cryff and Galavares Kingdoms. He’s the perfect candidate to push our country’s opinion as the new king of the defeated country. You were one of the ones who were deceived.”

“What do you mean, deceived?”

My mother explained with a smile. 

“Cain is a very skilled hypnotist. All the women who were rumored about in society were suffering from mental illnesses. Three of them were my patients. They were all people who had been suffering for a long time because the effects of the medicine were not very good.”

“And then?”

“Everyone stopped needing their medicine around the time they were rumored with Cain, and they have been well ever since. When I asked them why they recovered, they all said it was thanks to Cain.”

“That was hypnosis?”

“Maybe it was mental treatment using hypnosis. He is the third son of the Count family, born to a foreign mother who left him and returned to her country right after he was born. Whether he was self-taught or had a mentor is not clear.”

“From such an early age. . .”

“At first, he was hypnotizing women with mental illnesses in their bedrooms, which caused disputes with their husbands. But when they saw their wives recover, they seemed to understand. And the people who recovered introduced new patients.”

“But didn’t Cain’s father not appreciate Cain?”

“I think Cain was being careful. As long as he is adored by his father as the incompetent youngest child, he is safe, but if he is known to have some talent, he could be excluded by the relatives of his deceased legitimate wife.”

“Excluded?”

“Yes. Apparently, he was treated quite badly by the relatives of Count’s wife when he was young. His father, the Count, was desperately protecting him. That’s why he might have been pretending to be a fool. It’s a well-known story among doctors and pharmacists that Cain was often in danger and had to be taken to a doctor.”

“Such a past. . .”

“That’s why he might have been pretending to be a foolish son who is loose with women in front of his family.”

“Did both Okaa-sama and Otou-sama know about this?”

“When you have connections among pharmacists and nobles, these kinds of stories naturally come in.”

“But, even though Cain was shot with a poisoned arrow by someone from Galavares, he’s going to live in that country.”

“The royal family chose Cain as the new king of Galavares knowing all that. I can’t measure whether they are cruel or kind.”

Even the fragile and gentle queen knew everything and was going to make Cain the king of Galavares. . .

“Cain has agreed to live as the king of Galavares

He is going to ascend the throne. The royal family of Cryff will surround Cain with excellent people. His grandparents in that country will surely protect him. They know that if anything happens to Cain, our country won’t stay silent. But more importantly, Ellen. What are you going to do?”

“Eh? Me? What do you mean?”

“Stephan will be granted a title soon. Once he becomes a Baron, he can no longer be our family’s guard.”

“Ah.”

“Even if our family becomes Stephan’s backing, he will no longer be a servant of our house, but a young Baron who is highly regarded by the royal family. He will receive numerous marriage proposals. Although he has no territory, he will receive a substantial reward. Besides, Stephan is a handsome man. Nobles will flock to him, wanting him as a son-in-law.”

“I never thought Stephan would leave.”

I returned to my room after a brief greeting to my parents. Stephan is leaving. It was a development I never imagined.

・・・

『”𝘈𝘸𝘦𝘣𝘴𝘵𝘰𝘳𝘪𝘦𝘴.𝘤𝘰𝘮” – 𝘋𝘪𝘴𝘤𝘰𝘷𝘦𝘳 𝘢 𝘤𝘢𝘱𝘵𝘪𝘷𝘢𝘵𝘪𝘯𝘨 𝘸𝘰𝘳𝘭𝘥 𝘰𝘧 𝘭𝘰𝘷𝘦, 𝘱𝘢𝘴𝘴𝘪𝘰𝘯 𝘢𝘯𝘥 𝘢𝘥𝘷e𝘯𝘵𝘶𝘳𝘦, 𝘸𝘩𝘦𝘳𝘦 𝘺𝘰𝘶 𝘤𝘢𝘯 𝘪𝘯𝘥𝘶𝘭𝘨𝘦 𝘪𝘯 𝘢 𝘤𝘰𝘭𝘭𝘦𝘤𝘵𝘪𝘰𝘯 𝘰𝘧 𝘵𝘳𝘢𝘯𝘴𝘭𝘢𝘵𝘦𝘥 𝘯𝘰𝘷𝘦𝘭𝘴 𝘸𝘪𝘵𝘩 “𝘥𝘢𝘪𝘭𝘺 𝘶𝘱𝘥𝘢𝘵𝘦𝘴” 𝘢𝘯𝘥 𝘦𝘹𝘤𝘭𝘶𝘴𝘪𝘷𝘦 𝘢𝘤𝘤𝘦𝘴𝘴 𝘵𝘰 “𝘢𝘥𝘷𝘢𝘯𝘤𝘦𝘥 𝘤𝘩𝘢𝘱𝘵𝘦𝘳𝘴”.』

・・・

“Ellen-sama, the medicine for the cat’s rhinitis is ready for tomorrow.”

“Oh, Norra. You work quickly.”

“Ellen-sama? Is something wrong? You look pale.”

“Yes. Something surprising happened.”

“Are you okay?”

“Yes, I’m fine. May I check the medicine?”

“Yes, please.”

The medicine Norra made was properly prepared. She records everything I teach her and makes no mistakes. The medicine for cats is much weaker than for humans, but it was perfect.

That night, I stayed awake thinking about Stephan.

Stephan, who taught me self-defense when I was a child. Stephan, who always accompanied me when I picked herbs. Stephan, who comforted me when Felix suddenly stopped coming and I was crying. Stephan, who acclimated his body to poison because he wanted to be useful to me. Stephan, who invited me to the dining hall when I was suffering over Samuel.

I had assumed he would always be by my side.

When I saw Stephan in the crumbling charcoal hut, on the verge of losing his life, I wished to save Stephan at any cost. I had always turned a blind eye to the true nature of those feelings.

I had actually noticed it.

𝐂𝐡𝐚𝐩𝐭𝐞𝐫 𝟐𝟕: 𝐒𝐭𝐞𝐩𝐡𝐚𝐧 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐓𝐡𝐞 𝐌𝐚𝐫𝐪𝐮𝐢𝐬

I can’t escape from my circular thoughts.

When the defeated soldiers attacked, I pulled the prince’s hand and ran because the enemy’s blade was about to reach him. The prince is not skilled enough to fight in actual combat. When the prince ran out of strength, I attracted the enemy soldiers and ran. I kept running to separate the enemy from His Highness.

Along the way, I hid the prince, but we encountered a river and a battle ensued. I had to cut down as many as possible, so I cut down several, severely injured the remaining enemies, but I was also cut in the abdomen.

The enemy ran away, but I thought it was over. After that, I was helped by a local girl, but when my wound became infected and I gave up thinking it was hopeless, I remembered Ellen-sama’s smile.

Around the time my consciousness started to fade occasionally, that beloved person came to find me in such a place. She fought the enemy alone to protect me, who couldn’t even stand up. That was enough.

Even though I managed to survive, I have to leave the Marquis Bowen’s house. Even though I’ve been honing my sword skills to protect Ellen-sama, and getting used to snake and spider venom to be useful to Ellen-sama.

To leave Ellen-sama’s protection to someone else.

I sincerely congratulated her when she got engaged to Samuel because I wished for Ellen-sama’s happiness. I was escorting her to and from the evening parties to find a marriage partner, thinking, “Please do your best for your happiness.”

If I have to leave here, I want to kidnap Ellen-sama and run away. But even if I do that, Ellen-sama can’t be happy. She wishes to live as a pharmacist above all else.

As a one-generation Baron, I don’t match the Marquis family or a top-class pharmacist. On top of that, I can no longer stay in this mansion.

“Being promoted to a Baron, it’s unnecessary.”

When I said that out loud, there was a knock on the door.

“Yes.”

“Stephan, are you awake?”

“I’ll open it now.”

At the sound of Danna-sama’s voice, I hurriedly got up from the bed and opened the door while holding my still slightly painful abdomen.

“Danna-sama. What can I do for you?”

“I have something to talk about. Can I come in?”

It’s very awkward not only because there are two big men in a small room, but also because I was just thinking about kidnapping his daughter and running away.

“I’m sorry for the late hour. There’s something I want to ask you. Stephan, do you have a woman you’ve promised to marry in the future?”

“No, I don’t.”

“I see. That’s… good. Then, what do you think about Ellen?”

“What do you mean?”

“Do you want to marry her?”

“Eh…”

“It’s sudden, so it’s no wonder you’re surprised. Actually…”

Danna-sama crossed his arms and started talking, looking up at the ceiling.

“Ellen said she would find her own husband, but it doesn’t seem to be going well. I chose Samuel, so it can’t be helped, and I’ve been watching for a while. I think Ellen likes you. Please read this letter.”

Danna-sama said that and handed me a piece of paper. The letter contained Ellen-sama’s feelings about going out to find me, even considering death.

“Ellen, who was aiming to be a successor to the pharmacist, chose to risk her life to help you. But if you get promoted and leave this house, she might elope with you. Franca is also worried about that.”

“Elope with me… No, I don’t think that’s likely.”

“No. She’s the kind of girl who would head to a mountain where defeated soldiers are, all by herself. She’s too straightforward as a noble. More importantly, what do you think of Ellen?”

“Being married to Ellen-sama is something that is impossible for someone of my status.”

“Even if you become a Baron, if you, a guard, become the son-in-law of the Marquis family, the hardships will not be ordinary. You will be told various unpleasant things. You will have to bear seeing your own child suffer from drinking poison. It was hard for me too.”

Danna-sama suddenly closed his mouth. Now is the only time to tell the truth. I took a breath and confessed my true feelings to Danna-sama.

“Danna-sama. As a commoner’s guard, I have always kept my feelings for Ojou-sama under wraps. There is a significant difference in our social status, and above all, I thought Ellen-sama would be bothered if she knew someone like me had feelings for her. However, I have always cherished Ellen-sama since the first time I met her.”

“I see! I see. That’s fine then. I understand your character well enough. Ah, I’m relieved. No, I’m reassured. Leave the rest to me and Franca. There are some circumstances. We need to hurry your engagement.”

With that, Danna-sama cheerfully left my room. I was stunned for a while, but then I sat down heavily on the bed and wondered many times if this was really not a dream.

As I was thinking that I might still be in that hut, feverish and dreaming, the door was knocked again.

“Yes.”

When I opened the door thinking Danna-sama had returned, there stood Ellen-sama with a stern face.

“I have something I want to talk about. May I come in?”

“Please. What can I do for you?”

As soon as I offered the chair where Danna-sama had been sitting until a moment ago, Ellen-sama started talking.

“You see, Stephan. Do you have a woman you’ve decided on in your heart? If, if you don’t, there’s something I want you to hear.”

Like father, like daughter, they say the same thing… I couldn’t help but be impressed.

“I don’t have a woman I’ve decided on in my heart. Ellen-sama, it’s late tonight, so why don’t we go to the dining bar where we promised to go tomorrow? I’ll listen to your story there. Or would you prefer a more fashionable restaurant?”

“No. That restaurant! With a juice mix of distilled liquor! Ah, but you can’t drink alcohol yet.”

“Yes. I’ll have tea. Let’s order the sausage and stew that Ojou-sama liked.”

“Yes! I’m looking forward to it.”

𝐂𝐡𝐚𝐩𝐭𝐞𝐫 𝟐𝟖: 𝐀𝐭 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐜𝐚𝐟𝐞𝐭𝐞𝐫𝐢𝐚 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐢𝐳𝐚𝐤𝐚𝐲𝐚 [𝐌𝐞𝐚𝐭 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐒𝐚𝐤𝐞]’

Right now, I’m sitting face to face with Stephan.

The dining bar “Meat and Liquor” is only my second time visiting, but it’s my favorite place. I like it more than any high-end restaurant. Today, Stephan told the staff that we have an important discussion, so we were guided to a corner far from the other seats.

Stephan told me, “I have something to talk to you about.” I also have a lot to talk about. Things I thought about during the days when Stephan didn’t come back. Things I realized. As I was sitting, wondering where to start, the hot food we ordered was brought to us.

“Sorry for the wait, here are the sausages and tongue stew, and your drinks.”

“Shall we eat while it’s hot?”

“Yes, let’s.”

After we ate the hot food that almost burned our tongues, Stephan started talking.

“The other day, Danna-sama came to my room. He was worried that Ojou-sama might elope with me.”

“Cough, cough, cough!”

The one who coughed in a very unladylike manner was me. A piece of sausage I was trying to swallow went the wrong way. Stephan stood up and rubbed my back while handing me a juice mixed with distilled liquor as I was coughing heavily.

“Cough, cough, cough!”

“Please calm down, Ojou-sama.”

“But, Otou-sama, cough, cough, haah, thank you. I’ve calmed down.”

“It seems that both Danna-sama and Oku-sama are worried that you might do something like that.”

“Why would Otou-sama tell that to Stephan! Shouldn’t he tell me?”

Stephan sat back down in his chair and continued talking without looking at me.

“I intended to protect Ojou-sama for the rest of my life, but due to my recent promotion, I have to leave the Bowen family. That’s why he was worried. Danna-sama asked me if I intended to marry Ojou-sama. It’s an honor beyond my wildest dreams. But I want to know how Ojou-sama feels. What do you think about marrying a man who is nothing more than a swordsman?”

Otou-sama, already talking about that?

But of course, I’m all for it. I’m happy. But Stephan’s words bothered me.

“A man who is nothing more than a swordsman.”

Is that Stephan’s inferiority complex? Calm down, me. I can’t make a mistake this time. I have to properly and accurately convey my feelings to Stephan. I don’t want him to feel inferior.

“What a top-class pharmacist needs is to marry someone they can trust from the bottom of their heart and have children. So I’ve always wished to meet such a person. But I couldn’t find anyone like that at the social gatherings. Yet when Stephan didn’t come back, I thought I had to find him, even if it put my life in danger.”

Stephan is listening quietly.

“I wasn’t consciously aware of it, but I think for the old me, marriage was like a stepping stone to becoming a successor to the pharmacist. But when I found Stephan, who looked like he was about to die, I realized. Even if I prioritize becoming a top-class pharmacist and lose Stephan, even if I marry someone and safely become a top-class pharmacist, I would regret it for the rest of my life. I need Stephan in my life.”

Then Stephan smiled gently.

“Ojou-sama, if you’re okay with me, please let me protect you for the rest of my life. I want to be by your side forever.”

I was happy. The person I care about needs me. He says he will protect me. I felt like crying, but I held back.

“Stephan, I’m so happy, I don’t know what to say.”

When I raised my face to say that, Stephan was looking at me with the eyes of a teacher looking at a troubled student.

“Ojou-sama, were you really planning to elope?”

“Um, no, you see, you can’t elope alone, can you? I didn’t know what you thought of me.”

I’m all flustered. It’s terribly embarrassing. I’ve selfishly thought about eloping just a little bit.

“Ever since Ojou-sama came to our trading company wearing a yellow dress, I’ve always admired you. If such a Ojou-sama proposed to elope, I would follow you without hesitation, even if it caused a lot of trouble for others. Please don’t tempt me too much.”

“Since that long ago? But you never showed such an attitude…”

“Of course. I am a bodyguard. But, Ojou-sama, if you say you need me, I will stop hiding my feelings.”

With that, Stephan gently held my hand.

“I truly love you, Ojou-sama.”

Since being betrayed by Samuel, I couldn’t find any value in myself, and the hole in my heart that had been empty for so long felt like it was finally being filled. My precious person tells me he loves me. It feels like a miracle to me now. Being told I’m loved makes me feel so fulfilled.

(I’m glad. It’s not a one-way street) I thought, and started to cry. I didn’t realize how happy it is to be needed by someone. I didn’t realize how lonely I had been since that time until now.

“If you cry so much, your eyes will swell.”

“Yes.”

“I wish I could have confessed in a more fashionable place.”

“No. Here is good.”

“Now, please stop crying.”

“Yes, but Stephan. I have one concern.”

“What is it?”

I’m so happy that I can’t stop crying. I honestly expressed my anxiety while sobbing. I must be making an ugly face.

“If you marry me, your daughter will have to train to become immune to poison, right?”

“Yes, that’s right. Then let’s train together when the time comes. Let’s complain about the pain and suffering together with our daughter.”

“Suffering together?”

“Yes. We’ll laugh and overcome it while complaining with our daughter. Well, I’ve already built up resistance to most poisons because I wanted to be useful to Ojou-sama. But for my daughter’s sake, I’ll even put on a little act. It’s a good chance to raise my stock as a father.”

“Oh, that’s somehow frustrating.”

When I inadvertently laughed, Stephan gently wiped my cheek with a handkerchief, saying, “You’re busy crying and laughing.”

𝐂𝐡𝐚𝐩𝐭𝐞𝐫 𝟐𝟗: 𝐐𝐮𝐞𝐞𝐧𝐬’ 𝐧𝐞𝐩𝐡𝐞𝐰 𝐃𝐞 𝐕𝐞𝐫𝐝𝐨

Stephan and I had been talking for a long time in the dining bar [Meat and Liquor], the lady of the bar quietly approached us. I hurriedly wiped my tears and turned sideways.

“Stephan, can I talk to you for a moment?”

“Yes, it’s okay. What’s the matter?”

“You seem different than usual, is today a special day?”

“Yes, it’s a special day. A lot has happened, and I’m going to become a Baron.”

There was no reply. The lady’s mouth was moving, but no sound was coming out.

“Um, are you okay?”

When I asked her out of concern, the lady finally spoke.

“Stephan is a Baron? Really? What on earth happened?”

After that, it was tough. We were bombarded with questions by the lady and her husband. I was worried about the kitchen because both of them had come here, but they didn’t seem to care.

“Stephan, you’ve made a great career! Do your parents in the countryside know?”

“No, not yet.”

“When you came to tell us [I’m going to war, this might be the last time we see each other], I felt like you were going to die. But you came back alive, and now you’re becoming a noble.”

Ah, I see. The people Stephan came to see before he was deployed were these people.

“We felt sorry for Stephan, thinking he had no lover to tell such a thing! But you have such a wonderful lady.”

“I didn’t have one at that time. I never thought I would have such a connection.”

“But if you become a Baron, you won’t be able to come to a place like this anymore.”

“No, we will come! We will come together!

Right, Stephan?”

“Yes. Please let us come here in the future.”

It’s our favorite place we found for the first time. It’s unthinkable not to be able to come.

That night, food and drinks were brought in one after another in celebration from the lady and her husband.

It was a fun time. 

That night, for some reason, my parents, who were in a hurry, came to my room. The engagement documents were written on the spot and carried to the church in the royal capital by a servant, and the engagement was established that night.

Now Stephan can stay in our house as my fiancé.

Although things were moving strangely fast, neither Stephan nor I had any complaints.

・・・

『”𝕬𝖜𝖊𝖇𝖘𝖙𝖔𝖗𝖎𝖊𝖘.𝖈𝖔𝖒” – 𝕯𝖎𝖘𝖈𝖔𝖛𝖊𝖗 𝖆 𝖈𝖆𝖕𝖙𝖎𝖛𝖆𝖙𝖎𝖓𝖌 𝖜𝖔𝖗𝖑𝖉 𝖔𝖋 𝖑𝖔𝖛𝖊, 𝖕𝖆𝖘𝖘𝖎𝖔𝖓 𝖆𝖓𝖉 𝖆𝖉𝖛𝖊𝖓𝖙𝖚𝖗𝖊, 𝖜𝖍𝖊𝖗𝖊 𝖞𝖔𝖚 𝖈𝖆𝖓 𝖎𝖓𝖉𝖚𝖑𝖌𝖊 𝖎𝖓 𝖆 𝖈𝖔𝖑𝖑𝖊𝖈𝖙𝖎𝖔𝖓 𝖔𝖋 𝖙𝖗𝖆𝖓s𝖑𝖆𝖙𝖊𝖉 𝖓𝖔𝖛𝖊𝖑𝖘 𝖜𝖎𝖙𝖍 “𝖉𝖆𝖎𝖑𝖞 𝖚𝖕𝖉𝖆𝖙𝖊𝖘” 𝖆𝖓𝖉 𝖊𝖝𝖈𝖑𝖚𝖘𝖎𝖛𝖊 𝖆𝖈𝖈𝖊𝖘𝖘 𝖙𝖔 “𝖆𝖉𝖛𝖆𝖓𝖈𝖊𝖉 𝖈𝖍𝖆𝖕𝖙𝖊𝖗𝖘”.』

・・・

Mrs. Franca was deep in thought. The lady was one of two siblings with her brother, and there was no problem with her marrying into Rudolph’s place, which is also a Marquis family.

In contrast, the circumstances of Ellen and Stephan are completely different. After all, Stephan is a commoner and a servant of the Bowen family. But that barrier will be significantly lowered if he is ennobled.

Ellen recently risked her life to go out and help her guard, Stephan. From the letter she left behind, Ellen seems to think that Stephan is someone she should help, even if her life is in danger. 

Upon checking, Stephan also says he has feelings for Ellen. Ellen also likes Stephan. The Bowen family, which does not need a political marriage, judged this to be a good opportunity, both the lady and the Marquis.

They knew Stephan’s serious personality, and they knew he looked at Ellen with gentle eyes. Ellen didn’t seem to notice before, but since being betrayed by Samuel, she seems to have noticed Stephan’s sincerity.

“The problem is what he will say.”

From this afternoon, she was supposed to treat Queen Crabell’s shoulder pain at the palace. It was probably an early onset of frozen shoulder. Although it would naturally heal if left alone, if the pain was severe, it would be difficult to carry out daily tasks, let alone official business. She put a glass bottle filled with painkillers and poultice in her bag.

While quickly preparing for the visit, Mrs. Franca glanced at the engagement registration receipt. 

She was relieved in her heart, thinking, “I’m glad I made it in time.” Whether it was good or bad due to the royal family’s consideration, she had to rush Ellen’s marriage, which was not in a hurry due to Stephan’s knighthood.

Not only did Stephan have to leave this house, but she was also proposed to marry the queen’s nephew.

Since neutrality is the motto of the apothecary family, there is no need to choose to marry into the royal family, and they understand this. However, if it involves the queen’s nephew, it would be a bit unreasonable to use neutrality as a reason.

It would be troublesome if they are trapped and unable to escape by filling the outer moat when the two who love each other seem to get along. That’s why they hurried Ellen’s engagement. Once officially engaged, no matter if he’s the Queen’s nephew, he wouldn’t be able to do anything outrageous so easily.

“Now, I can go to treat the Queen’s shoulder without worry.”

Mrs. Franca headed to the palace.

𝐂𝐡𝐚𝐩𝐭𝐞𝐫 𝟑𝟎: 𝐂𝐨𝐧𝐬𝐮𝐥𝐭𝐚𝐭𝐢𝐨𝐧

“Ouch! As I thought, I can’t seem to raise my arm to shoulder height, Franca.”

“Is that so? If you don’t move it even if it hurts, the range of motion of your arm will gradually decrease. Please move it a little bit every day.”

Mrs. Franca said this and prepared a compress. The pain, which feels like heat, is subsiding, so she considered that it would be better to exercise without using a poultice soon.

“Hey. I heard your daughter Ellen is engaged. When did this happen?”

“It was yesterday.”

“Oh, I see. That’s a shame. I wanted to meet her at least once since we’ve been talking about it for a while.”

“I’m sorry. They seem to have confirmed their feelings for each other in this war. As a parent, I wanted my daughter, who has once had a pitiful experience, to be happy as soon as possible, so I rushed.”

“I see. That’s a shame.”

The topic of conversation here is the son of the queen’s brother, the second son of the Marquis family, De Verdo. The queen brought up the topic, which is troublesome.

While she was worrying about what to do when the topic came up, Ellen went out to help Stephan, and she gently refused after explaining the situation.

The queen did not give up and had invited her again for tea sometime. However, this young man had a history of breaking off two engagements, so even open-minded Mrs. Franca hesitated. While Ellen was away, she asked someone to investigate just in case, but both women who ended their engagement with the young man kept the reasons a secret. All she could find out was that a large amount of money was involved as long as they kept the secret.

That means there is a reason to pay a large amount of money to keep it a secret twice. It must be a big secret.

Therefore, Mrs. Franca and her husband Rudolph rushed the engagement of Stephan and Ellen so that their daughter would not be chosen as the third partner. It’s the strongest reason to refuse the queen’s nephew.

After treating the queen and having a conversation, Mrs. Franca, who had finished her work, was walking towards the exit of the palace, guided by someone. Then, a voice called out from the right-hand passage.

“Mrs. Franca. It’s been a long time.”

When she turned her face, there was De Verdo himself. He was a young man with a refreshing smile.

“Oh, it’s been a long time indeed.”

“How was the queen’s shoulder?”

“She is recovering well.”

“If you’re on your way home, it’s just right. I have something I want to consult with you.”

・・・

『”𝙰𝚠𝚎𝚋𝚜𝚝𝚘𝚛𝚒𝚎𝚜.𝚌𝚘𝚖” – 𝙳𝚒𝚜𝚌𝚘𝚟𝚎𝚛 𝚊 𝚌𝚊𝚙𝚝𝚒𝚟𝚊𝚝𝚒𝚗𝚐 𝚠𝚘𝚛𝚕𝚍 𝚘𝚏 𝚕𝚘𝚟𝚎, 𝚙𝚊𝚜𝚜𝚒𝚘𝚗 𝚊𝚗𝚍 𝚊𝚍𝚟𝚎𝚗𝚝𝚞𝚛𝚎, 𝚠𝚑𝚎𝚛𝚎 𝚢𝚘𝚞 𝚌𝚊𝚗 𝚒𝚗𝚍𝚞𝚕𝚐𝚎 𝚒𝚗 𝚊 𝚌𝚘𝚕𝚕𝚎𝚌𝚝𝚒𝚘𝚗 𝚘𝚏 𝚝𝚛𝚊𝚗𝚜𝚕𝚊𝚝𝚎𝚍 𝚗𝚘𝚟𝚎𝚕𝚜 𝚠𝚒𝚝𝚑 “𝚍𝚊𝚒𝚕𝚢 𝚞𝚙𝚍𝚊𝚝𝚎𝚜” 𝚊𝚗𝚍 𝚎𝚡𝚌𝚕𝚞𝚜𝚒𝚟𝚎 𝚊𝚌𝚌𝚎𝚜𝚜 𝚝𝚘 “𝚊𝚍𝚟𝚊𝚗𝚌𝚎𝚍 𝚌𝚑𝚊𝚙𝚝𝚎𝚛𝚜”.』

・・・

Because the consultation couldn’t be done standing up, it was decided to come to the Bowen house. Mrs. Franca has nothing but a troublesome premonition.

“So, why am I here if you have a consultation with Okaa-sama?”

“It’s crucial that you sit there with a happy face.”

“Huh? I don’t understand. . .”

While having such a conversation, they headed to the reception room. The serious-looking young man greeted Ellen skillfully and drank tea.

“I have something I want to consult with you two right away. It’s about my mother. Before I go into detail, could you promise me that you won’t tell anyone about what we discuss here? I know it’s brazen of me to ask for a consultation and then ask for this. I’m sorry.”

“Of course, we promise. If we were to blabber about other families, we couldn’t be pharmacists.”

“I’m also a pharmacist, so I promise the same as my mother.”

Hearing that, he seemed relieved and started talking. His concern was about his mother. He said his mother has a very bad drinking habit. She is usually mild-mannered and friendly, but once she starts drinking, she can’t stop and starts to abuse the people around her.

“Marquess Verde is said to be weak and has been staying away from social circles, hasn’t he?”

“Yes. But the truth is, she’s not physically weak, she just can’t be taken to places where there’s alcohol. She understands that and doesn’t participate. We don’t keep alcohol in places where my mother can see it at home. However, I can’t possibly hide it from my fiancée.”

“Does the lady get upset at meals and such?”

“Yes. The first fiancée ran out of patience once, and the second one ran out of patience the third time. My mother’s abuse is so bad because she relentlessly attacks what the other person hates the most.”

“That’s… troublesome.”

“I know it’s because of the alcohol, but my fiancée was scared when she saw how much my mother had changed, and when she was verbally abused, she just couldn’t take it anymore…”

Ellen listened in silence, feeling sympathy for both the young man and his former fiancées. The young man’s mother is still young. It’s only natural to think that it would be better to give up on a political marriage than to suffer a long-term relationship with such a person. But that would be too pitiful for the young man.

“My father has locked my mother in her room many times, but when she’s not drinking, she’s calm and cries with regret, and the worst part is that she has almost no memory of when she’s verbally abusive. Seeing my mother’s haggard appearance, my father also suffers, and when he lets her out of the room, she finds alcohol somewhere and drinks it, or goes out alone to buy and drink alcohol. It was a cycle.”

“It’s difficult. There is a medicine that makes you feel nauseous when you drink alcohol, but its effect is low if you drink alcohol first, like a seizure.”

“That’s right. The medicine of that kind is no longer effective. But I thought that maybe Mrs. Franca could come up with a good medicine.”

Mrs. Franca thought for a while, then said,

“I have an idea. But if we don’t hurry, we won’t be able to use it.”

And she began to explain her idea.

𝐂𝐡𝐚𝐩𝐭𝐞𝐫 𝟑𝟏: 𝐂𝐚𝐢𝐧’𝐬 𝐬𝐤𝐢𝐥𝐥

“Ellen. Long time no see. I really appreciate your help last time.”

Cain came to our mansion at my mother’s call. He has a casual atmosphere that doesn’t seem like someone who will soon become the king of the neighboring country.

“Cain, I’m glad to see you’re well. Taking care of the injured is a natural duty as a pharmacist.”

“Cain-sama, please take care of Okaa-sama. Now, I should prepare the medicine too. Ah, according to Cain-sama, it’s not a hangover medicine, but a regular stomach medicine.”

Following my mother’s instructions, I quickly prepare the medicine. Regular stomach medicine, not hangover medicine that causes headaches and nausea when you drink alcohol? I wonder why.

It seems that my mother has some kind of strategy.

After a while, Dorothea-sama, accompanied by Okaa-sama, arrived by carriage. Looking at her walking with Okaa-sama, she seems to be a delicate and elegant woman.

People are unpredictable. This lady starts speaking her mind as soon as she drinks alcohol. That means those words are lurking in her heart. The power of alcohol removes common sense, decency, and consideration, revealing the truth.

Speaking of which, I’ve never seen Stephan drunk. I wonder what he would say when he’s drunk.

I want to see Stephan drunk once. I want to hear his true feelings before we get married. I think it’s okay, but if Stephan has any inferiority complex or anxiety, I want to hear it.

Dorothea-sama is sitting on the long bench in my mother’s examination room, anxiously fidgeting with her hands. She must be worried about what will happen.

“Dorothea-sama, nice to meet you. I am Franca Bowen. This is my daughter, Ellen. And this is Cain Smith-sama, who we invited today.”

“I am Dorothea De Verdo. I apologize for the trouble.”

“No, no, it’s our duty to relieve those who are suffering. Please feel free to leave everything to us.”

With that, my mother signaled Cain with her eyes. Cain starts talking to Mrs. Dorothea.

“Well, usually I hypnotize with just me and the person who wants it, but it would be a problem if it became a rumor in the social world.”

Saying that, Cain gave a bitter smile.

“So, today, would it be okay if the others watch from behind Dorothea-sama?”

The lady nodded several times as if relieved and replied, “Please do that.”

My mother and I decided to quietly observe from the chairs behind Dorothea-sama.

“Let’s get started. Dorothea-sama, please lie down on the long bench, rest your head on the cushion, and relax.”

“Like this, right?”

The lady lies down on the long bench with elegant gestures. Hanna, who was by the wall, immediately puts a knee blanket on the lady.

“Now, Dorothea-sama. Please stare at my finger. That’s right. Keep your eyes on the movement of my finger. Your eyes move with my finger. Yes. Gradually, your eyes can’t leave my finger.”

Cain’s right index finger moves. Slowly, slowly.

“Your eyelids are getting heavy and falling. You can’t open your eyes anymore. You’re getting sleepier and sleepier, and you’re falling into a deep sleep. On the back of your eyelids, there should be a scene you can’t forget. What do you see?”

Huh? Is she already hypnotized? Just as I thought that, I heard the sleepy, sluggish voice of the lady.

“My husband’s mother is there. She’s looking at me and she’s angry. Over and over again. Ah, she’s so angry…”

“Did you say anything back?”

“No. If I say something, she scolds me even more.”

“It’s hard to endure, isn’t it? Did your husband help you?”

“No! No! I’m always scolded when my husband isn’t around. Even if I complain to my husband later, he just says [ignore it]. He won’t help me.”

Dorothea-sama’s voice carried a deep scent of resignation. She must have deeply realized that relying on her husband was futile.

That is… that is painful. If only someone would stand by her side, even if only in words, Dorothea-sama might have been saved. I feel a chill down my spine as if I’ve caught a glimpse of the darkness of marriage.

“Then, Dorothea-sama, let me cast a spell on you. From now on, you will take medicine every day. When you take this medicine, all you will remember when you drink alcohol are the fun times.”

“Fun times…”

“Yes. The fun times before marriage, the fun times after marriage. When you drink alcohol, you will only be able to remember the fun times. You won’t be able to recall a single painful memory.”

“Not a single one…”

“Yes. Even when you drink alcohol, you will forget the painful times. Now, I will count to three. When I count to three, you will wake up. Three, two, one.”

When Cain clapped his hands, the lady stirred.

“Oh, did I fall asleep?”

“Yes, you were sleeping soundly. Dorothea-sama, there’s no need to worry anymore. Shall we try drinking some alcohol now?”

“Eh!”

Both I and the lady let out a voice at the same time. Dorothea-sama got up with her usual elegant gesture and turned to look at us.

“I can’t drink alcohol here. I might do something rude again.”

My mother stood up smoothly and spoke soothingly to Dorothea-sama, rubbing her back.

“Dorothea-sama. First, let’s drink the medicine Ellen made. Once you drink this, you’ll be fine even if you drink alcohol.”

Cain is nodding with a smile. I put the stomach medicine I made with herbs into a cup. It’s a normal stomach medicine that is bitter but refreshes the stomach and intestines.

Dorothea-sama slowly drank a cup of the stomach medicine. Hanna, who was instructed by my mother at the right time, brought glasses of wine for everyone.

Dorothea-sama looks at my mother and me with anxiety.

“It’s okay. Now, let’s toast to the reborn Dorothea-sama’s health.”

Cain raised his wine glass with a smile.

𝐂𝐡𝐚𝐩𝐭𝐞𝐫 𝟑𝟐: 𝐃𝐨𝐫𝐨𝐭𝐡𝐞𝐚-𝐬𝐚𝐦𝐚 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐖𝐢𝐧𝐞

She must have always liked alcohol. Dorothea-sama was initially hesitant, but she drank the wine. We watched her closely.

“It’s delicious… I don’t think I’ve ever had such a delicious wine.”

Saying so, Dorothea-sama drained the wine in her glass.

“I’m glad to hear that. Now, shall we move to the tea room and continue our chat while enjoying more? Cain-sama, would you join us?”

“Yes, please allow me to.”

To put it simply, Cain’s hypnosis worked. Mrs. Dorothea was in a good mood, laughing and chatting happily while drinking wine. If I hadn’t heard the story beforehand, I wouldn’t have thought she was the sharp-tongued person who cornered her son’s fiancée.

At one point, he held Cain’s hands, holding back tears, and bowed his head repeatedly, saying,

“Thank you. Thank you.”

The son, seeing his mother’s state, also bowed his head with a troubled look. It’s true that she doesn’t remember when she’s drunk.

He spoke to his mother, holding her shoulder.

“Mom, I’m glad you enjoyed the drink. It’s all thanks to everyone.”

“Yes, yes, that’s right. It was somehow fun. I wonder if it’s okay to drink alcohol now.”

“Yes, as long as you’re taking Ellen-sama’s medicine, you can enjoy drinking.”

Cain answered with a smile. The lady enjoyed the wine calmly until the end. She didn’t get drunk. He kept repeating “I’m glad” with a relieved laugh.

Eventually, he and Mrs. Dorothea left. As he was leaving, he looked truly happy. May happiness be with that parent and child.

“Hey, Cain. I wonder if it was necessary to make my medicine a condition. If the hypnosis is working, wouldn’t it be okay not to take the stomach medicine?”

“No, the stomach medicine is necessary. Mrs. Dorothea’s emotional wounds are still in her heart. You can’t erase memories. Hypnosis is just like painting over it.”

“Paint?”

“Just like paint, hypnosis will peel off over time. It’s better for my hypnosis to activate each time you take your medicine, like repainting.”

“I see, so that’s how it is. You’re amazing, Cain. How did you learn hypnosis?”

“The mother who gave birth to me, she sent me a gift by ship once. She sent me a mountain of books. All of them were in Galavares language. From children’s books to difficult books for adults. She might have sent them on a whim. But one time, a relative who came to our house while my father was away burned them in the garden. They said Galavares books were unnecessary. It was like a big bonfire. The only book that survived the fire was a book on hypnosis. There were also many books on mathematics, literature, and medicine.”

“That’s… I’m sorry to hear that.”

“It’s okay. I hated the mother who abandoned me since I was little, but I couldn’t throw away that book. I learned Galavares language and read it over and over again. I read it until I memorized it completely. It was the first and last gift from my mother. And I sought the teachings of experts and learned the practice.”

“I see.”

“I’m going to become the king of Galavares. It’s definitely a puppet regime, and I might be targeted again, but I finally have a place where I belong. I’ll do my best to be useful to both countries.”

“Cain, I’ll make and give you all kinds of antidotes I can make. I’ll send new ones when they get old. So please live a long life and become a good king.”

“Yes, that’s the plan. Although, I hope I won’t need the antidote.”

Cain, smiling, said, “Come visit Galavares when things settle down,” and left my house holding a bundle of various antidotes. My mother was quiet.

“I pray that those antidotes will be wasted.”

“Yes, Okaa-sama. I think so too.”

While having a heartfelt conversation, my mother and I refilled our wine.

“We don’t get drunk, so it’s a waste to drink such expensive wine.”

“That’s true. But it’s delicious when you drink it.”

“I wonder if Stephan drinks wine.”

“I think he does.”

“Why don’t you have some good wine delivered and drink it together?”

・・・

『”𝐀𝐰𝐞𝐛𝐬𝐭𝐨𝐫𝐢𝐞𝐬.𝐜𝐨𝐦” – 𝐃𝐢𝐬𝐜𝐨𝐯𝐞𝐫 𝐚 𝐜𝐚p𝐭𝐢𝐯𝐚𝐭𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐰𝐨𝐫𝐥𝐝 𝐨𝐟 𝐥𝐨𝐯𝐞, 𝐩𝐚𝐬𝐬𝐢𝐨𝐧 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐚𝐝𝐯𝐞𝐧𝐭𝐮𝐫𝐞, 𝐰𝐡𝐞𝐫𝐞 𝐲𝐨𝐮 𝐜𝐚𝐧 𝐢𝐧𝐝𝐮𝐥𝐠𝐞 𝐢𝐧 𝐚 𝐜𝐨𝐥𝐥𝐞𝐜𝐭𝐢𝐨𝐧 𝐨𝐟 𝐭𝐫𝐚𝐧𝐬𝐥𝐚𝐭𝐞𝐝 𝐧𝐨𝐯𝐞𝐥𝐬 𝐰𝐢𝐭𝐡 “𝐝𝐚𝐢𝐥𝐲 𝐮𝐩𝐝𝐚𝐭𝐞𝐬” 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐞𝐱𝐜𝐥𝐮𝐬𝐢𝐯𝐞 𝐚𝐜𝐜𝐞𝐬𝐬 𝐭𝐨 “𝐚𝐝𝐯𝐚𝐧𝐜𝐞𝐝 𝐜𝐡𝐚𝐩𝐭𝐞𝐫𝐬”.』

・・・

“So, why is Ellen-sama recommending wine to me? And such a high-class one at that.”

“I just thought I’ve never seen Stephan drunk.”

“What do you intend to do by getting me drunk?”

“What to do… I wonder what will happen.”

“Nothing will happen. I might just get a little giddy. I’m not as good as Ellen-sama, but I can hold my liquor.”

“Oh, is that so? I’m both relieved and disappointed.”

I wanted to see the always serious Stephan acting giddy. We were having a late-night banquet in the dining room, just the two of us. I kept pouring wine for Stephan.

“It’s been a long time since I’ve had wine.”

“You’ve been at war for a long time and you were injured.”

We finished two bottles of wine (mostly Stephan), and when we opened the third, Stephan started to chuckle. I was excited, thinking he was getting drunk.

“Oh? I thought I heard voices. Is it you two? Can I join in?”

My father came in cheerfully. Stephan immediately straightened up.

Oh no. The atmosphere was good and Stephan was just starting to get drunk!

“Otou-sama is really easy-going.”

“What’s that? Is that a compliment or an insult?”

“I don’t know.”

Stephan was troubled by the light parent-child quarrel. I felt sorry for him.

“I’m sorry, Stephan, let’s go to that bar just the two of us next time.”

“Yes, by all means.”

“Ellen, aren’t you going to invite me?”

“…”

I think my father is really insensitive after all.

𝐂𝐡𝐚𝐩𝐭𝐞𝐫 𝟑𝟑: 𝐌𝐞𝐥𝐚𝐧𝐢𝐞’𝐬 𝐜𝐚𝐭

“I hate the Bowen family!”

“But Melanie, there’s no other place that will treat the cat, so we have no choice, do we?”

“I hate it, I really do!”

With that, Melanie stomped her feet. The cat, startled by her outburst, hid in the corner of the room and vomited again.

“Oh, Minuet, poor thing. What on earth is wrong?”

Melanie now lacks the momentum she had when she deceived Samuel and stole him from Ellen. She is just a cat lover troubled by her pet’s illness.

“That’s why. It’s too late to worry about the past now. If something is said, all we can do is bow our heads.”

“But…”

As she started to speak and looked at her pet cat, it was curled up looking unwell. It hadn’t touched anything given to it since yesterday.

“Oh, fine. I get it. I’ll go. You’re coming with me, right?”

“Of course, Melanie.”

The one who spoils Melanie like this is a plump merchant in his fifties. Melanie was kicked out of the Bowen family and returned to her parents’ home, but when they found out what had happened, they were furious and kicked her out of the house with a small amount of money. Even confessing that she wasn’t pregnant didn’t earn her forgiveness.

“From now on, you have nothing to do with our family. You’re a nuisance to your siblings. Never use our family name again.”

Melanie had no choice but to work as a barmaid to survive, but she managed to escape her hand-to-mouth existence by becoming a regular customer’s mistress.

At first, she tried to rely on Samuel, but he didn’t respond to her letters, and she heard rumors that his family, the Count family, had gone bankrupt, returned their territory and mansion to the country, and became commoners, living off their relatives.

She didn’t want to rely on the Bowen family, who had put her in this situation, but they were the only ones who could treat her cat. The cat was originally a stray, and it had been like a comrade who comforted Melanie when she was living day to day. It had become attached to Melanie after she shared her meager food with it.

“I’m sorry, Minuet. We’re going to a place you won’t like, but they might be able to cure you there. Please bear with it.”

The war was over and the city was bustling. The glamour of the royal capital, which seemed to be filled with dreams and hopes when she was the daughter of the Baron family, didn’t lift Melanie’s spirits now that she was a merchant’s mistress. She knew her life wouldn’t get any better than it was now.

Moderate luxury, a much older, fat man. If she gave up everything, it was quite comfortable. The man took good care of her. She understood that she was not in a position to demand luxury.

Eventually, the carriage arrived at the Bowen house. The man seemed to have spoken to the servants, and they were immediately guided to a separate building that seemed to have been newly built.

The cat was in Melanie’s arms. She wanted to ask the man for help, but the cat only allowed Melanie to hold it, so she had no choice but to brace herself and enter the separate building.

“Oh my.”

The one who let out a small voice was Ellen’s maid. When she realized that Melanie had entered, she put her hands on her hips and glared at her.

What should she do? Should she go home? But then, this child, as she was hesitating, Ellen came out from the back.

“Melanie…”

“I, I didn’t want to come, but this child, this child, is sick.”

“Please. I’ll examine her.”

With that, Ellen and an unfamiliar girl put Minuet on the examination table and touched her all over. Melanie was surprised that Minuet, who was shy around people, let them touch her so quietly. Maybe the cat knew they were there to help. 

After a while, the girl in the white apron returned the cat to Melanie. Ellen followed from behind, wiping her washed hands.

“What happened?”

“She’s pregnant. I think that’s why she’s been feeling unwell. She should start eating again soon.”

“Pregnant…”

Come to think of it, there was a time a while ago when she didn’t come home for two days in a row. Was it then?

“I see. So it’s not a disease.”

Melanie was relieved.

“Since she’s probably not just having one kitten, you might want to start looking for someone to take the kittens. Well then.”

Ellen told her flatly and turned around to walk away.

“Wait.”

“I’ve examined the cat properly. Is there anything else you need?”

Ellen was looking back at herself expressionlessly. That maid had been glaring at her all the time, which was annoying. But now, Melanie felt rushed to say something.

“You don’t have to say anything. At least I’m glad to know that you’re someone who cares enough to worry about a cat’s illness.”

It was frustrating to be overpowered by Ellen’s spirit. But as she hesitated, Ellen opened her mouth again.

“Stephan is going to become a Baron next time. I’m going to marry Stephan.”

“Eh.”

Stephan was the guard who had hated her from the start. He was a good-looking man, but no matter how much she smiled at him, he looked at her with a disgusted face.

“That’s right. You two are a good match. Congratulations.”

“Thank you. I wish you happiness too.”

With that, Ellen didn’t look back this time.

・・・

『”𝘼𝙬𝙚𝙗𝙨𝙩𝙤𝙧𝙞𝙚𝙨.𝙘𝙤𝙢” – 𝘿𝙞𝙨𝙘𝙤𝙫𝙚𝙧 𝙖 𝙘𝙖𝙥𝙩𝙞𝙫𝙖𝙩𝙞𝙣𝙜 𝙬𝙤𝙧𝙡𝙙 𝙤𝙛 𝙡𝙤𝙫𝙚, 𝙥𝙖𝙨𝙨𝙞𝙤𝙣 𝙖𝙣𝙙 𝙖𝙙𝙫𝙚𝙣𝙩𝙪𝙧𝙚, 𝙬𝙝𝙚𝙧𝙚 𝙮𝙤𝙪 𝙘𝙖𝙣 𝙞𝙣𝙙𝙪𝙡𝙜𝙚 𝙞𝙣 𝙖 𝙘𝙤𝙡𝙡𝙚𝙘𝙩𝙞𝙤𝙣 𝙤𝙛 𝙩𝙧𝙖𝙣s𝙡𝙖𝙩𝙚𝙙 𝙣𝙤𝙫𝙚𝙡𝙨 𝙬𝙞𝙩𝙝 “𝙙𝙖𝙞𝙡𝙮 𝙪𝙥𝙙𝙖𝙩𝙚𝙨” 𝙖𝙣𝙙 𝙚𝙭𝙘𝙡𝙪𝙨𝙞𝙫𝙚 𝙖𝙘𝙘𝙚𝙨𝙨 𝙩𝙤 “𝙖𝙙𝙫𝙖𝙣𝙘𝙚𝙙 𝙘𝙝𝙖𝙥𝙩𝙚𝙧𝙨”.』

・・・

“Haah.”

Sitting in the chair in the examination room, Ellen let out a big sigh.

“Did something happen with that person?”

“Oh, right, Norra didn’t know. That person is the one who stole my previous fiancé.”

“Eh. You’re treating that person’s cat?”

“Cats are innocent. But I’m glad. I thought she was a hopeless person, but I feel like I can forgive her somehow when I think she has feelings for the cat. It’s strange.”

“You have Stephan-sama too!”

“Fufu. That’s right. When you’re happy, you can be generous.”

Afterwards, when Stephan found out that Melanie had come, he was very angry, but

“It’s okay. I have you.”

When Ellen smiled at him, Stephan had nowhere to vent his anger.

“Ellen-sama, you are sweet. People like Melanie can sniff that out.”

“I’ve become sweet because of you, Stephan.”

Ellen felt as if the thorn that had been stuck in her heart had finally been removed. Even if you hate someone to the core, it’s easier to breathe if you don’t hate them. She took Stephan’s hand and put it on her cheek.

“When you’re happy, your feelings of hatred for others disappear.”

“I love that refreshing side of you, Ellen-sama. Although I am worried.”

Stephan said, with a troubled smile.

How happy it is to be needed and loved by someone important. Don’t forget that, don’t get used to it, Ellen thought over and over again.

𝐂𝐡𝐚𝐩𝐭𝐞𝐫 𝟑𝟒: 𝐇𝐞𝐫𝐞𝐝𝐢𝐭𝐚𝐫𝐲

Today is finally Stephan’s knighthood ceremony. My father, mother, and I are heading to the royal castle as related parties.

The set of clothes suitable for the young Baron, given by my father and mother, and the long boots I gave. Stephan, tall with broad shoulders, was breathtakingly beautiful with his blond hair and blue eyes.

Inside the carriage heading to the royal castle, Stephan, my parents, and I sat facing each other. Stephan’s face is stiff.

“It’s okay, Stephan. You will continue to live in our house as Ellen’s fiancé, so nothing much will change.”

“Danna-sama, but the room I was told to use from this morning is too luxurious for me.”

“Oh Stephan, you’re going to be Ellen’s husband, it’s not enough.”

Stephan’s room is across from my room on the third floor. He seems to be hesitant because it’s too spacious.

“Stephan, you’ll be getting a mountain of work from Otou-sama soon, so there’s no need to hold back.”

“Haah.”

The impressive Stephan was the center of attention after arriving at the royal castle. Noble daughters, who must be someone’s relatives, were whispering while looking at Stephan.

That was close. If we weren’t engaged, I’m sure marriage proposals would have come pouring in like waves. I wonder if my father and mother rushed the engagement foreseeing this.

Eventually, those to be knighted and the dignitaries in attendance lined up, and all that was left was to wait for the royal family.

“The King is entering.”

At the shout, everyone straightened their backs. His Majesty, the Queen, the Crown Prince, and the Second Prince entered, and the ceremony began.

First, the people of the royal army, then the high-ranking nobles who had achieved merits were awarded medals and rewards such as territories, and finally Stephan was knighted.

When Stephan’s name was called, His Majesty spoke to Stephan, who had stepped forward.

“I thank you for saving Ehrlich’s life.”

“It’s an honor beyond my worth.”

Then Prince Ehrlich also spoke.

“I am deeply grateful for your help.”

“I will engrave your gracious words in my heart.”

With this exchange, it was made known to everyone in the venue that Stephan was knighted for his merit in saving Prince Ehrlich.

I wonder how many nobles spoke to Stephan by the time we reached the carriage home. Especially because young women blushed and approached to introduce themselves, we couldn’t move forward easily.

By the time we finally reached the carriage, Stephan looked as tired as if he had defeated many enemies.

“Good job, Stephan. You’ve become a Baron.”

“I can’t really feel it yet.”

“Stephan, we will talk with other nobles a bit before we go home. You can go home with Ellen.”

My father, who probably was being considerate, winked at me. I wish he would stop because it’s embarrassing between a father and a daughter.

Both Stephan and I are in formal attire, so our destination is limited.

“Stephan, is there anywhere you want to go?”

“No, I can’t think of anywhere to go in this outfit.”

“Then, leave it to me!”

I told the coachman our destination and got in the carriage. After a while, we arrived at a flower field on a hill on the outskirts of the royal capital.

“It’s nostalgic.”

“You remembered? I thought you had forgotten.”

“I remember well. Ellen-sama was crying all the time, and I was at a loss as to how to comfort you.”

That was when my childhood friend Felix stopped replying to my letters, didn’t come to see me, and started refusing when I said I wanted to see him.

“At that time, I didn’t know how to comfort a twelve-year-old girl, and I was angry at my own uselessness.”

“Stephan, you didn’t say anything, you just stayed by my side until I stopped crying. I was happy.”

“Ojou-sama…”

“Call me Ellen. You’re no longer a servant. You’re my fiancé and a Baron.”

Stephan took a few deep breaths before calling my name.

“Ellen.”

“Yes.”

“The one I’ve always been protecting is now mine. I’m scared that I might have used up all my luck for a lifetime.”

“That’s an exaggeration. Eventually, you will have to manage the territory, taxes, and respond to the demands of the people, all of which will be handed down from Otou-sama. You will have a mountain of work. Let’s work hard together, including that.”

“Yes. I will do anything to walk with you.”

“Stephan. Thank you for accepting me.”

“That’s my line. I won’t make you cry.”

“I will be careful not to trouble you. Please always face me with your true feelings. Don’t hold back. Don’t hesitate.”

“Yes. Then, without hesitation.”

With that, Stephan gently hugged me from behind. Stephan is tall, and I am completely enveloped. We spent a long time like that, looking in the same direction.

“Thank you for being alive, Stephan.”

“Thank you for helping me. Ellen, even after we’re married, let’s come here just the two of us sometimes.”

“Yes, it’s a promise.”

In the carriage on the way home, we held hands the whole time. I felt happier than receiving any jewel. 

𝐂𝐡𝐚𝐩𝐭𝐞𝐫 𝟑𝟓: 𝐔𝐧𝐞𝐱𝐩𝐞𝐜𝐭𝐞𝐝 𝐁𝐞𝐧𝐞𝐟𝐢𝐭𝐬 𝐨𝐟 𝐅𝐚𝐭𝐢𝐠𝐮𝐞 𝐑𝐞𝐜𝐨𝐯𝐞𝐫𝐲 𝐌𝐞𝐝𝐢𝐜𝐢𝐧𝐞

Stephan is learning financial management under my father. I was worried that it would be tough, but it wasn’t.

“I am a merchant’s son.”

Stephan says this modestly, but not all children of merchants are suited for it. Stephan seems to have a good grasp of it, much to my father’s surprise.

“The day I can retire comfortably is not far off.”

My father says this with a satisfied look on his face.

・・・

『”𝐴𝑤𝑒𝑏𝑠𝑡𝑜𝑟𝑖𝑒𝑠.𝑐𝑜𝑚” – 𝐷𝑖𝑠𝑐𝑜𝑣𝑒𝑟 𝑎 𝑐𝑎𝑝𝑡𝑖𝑣𝑎𝑡𝑖𝑛𝑔 𝑤𝑜𝑟𝑙𝑑 𝑜𝑓 𝑙𝑜𝑣𝑒, 𝑝𝑎𝑠𝑠𝑖𝑜𝑛 𝑎𝑛𝑑 𝑎𝑑𝑣𝑒𝑛𝑡𝑢𝑟𝑒, 𝑤ℎ𝑒𝑟𝑒 𝑦𝑜𝑢 𝑐𝑎𝑛 𝑖𝑛𝑑𝑢𝑙𝑔𝑒 𝑖𝑛 𝑎 𝑐𝑜𝑙𝑙𝑒𝑐𝑡𝑖𝑜𝑛 𝑜𝑓 𝑡𝑟𝑎𝑛𝑠𝑙𝑎𝑡𝑒𝑑 𝑛𝑜𝑣𝑒𝑙𝑠 𝑤𝑖𝑡ℎ “𝑑𝑎𝑖𝑙𝑦 𝑢𝑝𝑑𝑎𝑡𝑒𝑠” 𝑎𝑛𝑑 𝑒𝑥𝑐𝑙𝑢𝑠𝑖𝑣𝑒 𝑎𝑐𝑐𝑒𝑠𝑠 𝑡𝑜 “𝑎𝑑𝑣𝑎𝑛𝑐𝑒𝑑 𝑐ℎ𝑎𝑝𝑡𝑒𝑟𝑠”.』

・・・

“Ellen, are you still experimenting with new medicines? Don’t you want to take a break?”

As I was chopping and boiling various types of bark I had collected, Stephan called out to me.

“Maybe I should take a break.”

“The head chef gave me a raspberry pie for you to eat.”

“I’ll eat it right away.”

Stephan entered the room with a chuckle. His efficient movements are like those of a large wild animal, and I think they are elegant every time I see them. When I tell him this, he gets embarrassed and says, “That’s embarrassing,” but I love his embarrassed expression.

I am currently in a period of intense infatuation. Mostly, it’s me. Stephan says, “I’m very infatuated inside,” but his appearance and attitude don’t change. Our wedding is the shortest course, just three months away, but I want to believe I’m not the only one looking forward to it.

I’ve never been so captivated by someone before. I think back to the time when I was about to get married without knowing what love was and I think, “That was close.”

Also, I think Samuel had no experience with love until he met Melanie. We were both swept away by the flow of a typical political marriage without thinking about anything.

Now, I find joy in considering Stephan’s feelings first. I want to please this person. I want to make this person happy. I want to be useful to this person. I can’t get enough of spending time and effort for the person I love.

“So, you made this, right?”

“Yes. I made it for you, who will be tired from studying. It has a moderate fatigue recovery effect. The problem is…”

I stopped talking there. In front of me is a transparent liquid. It’s made by chopping the leaves of a silver pine growing on a cliff, steaming them, applying pressure, squeezing them, and mixing in extracts from several types of medicinal herbs. One of the herbal medicines is a poisonous plant, which can cause nausea if taken in large amounts. But in small amounts, it can stimulate metabolism.

I was the first to try drinking it. I felt like it helped with fatigue recovery. But I’m still only twenty, so I’m not sure about the effectiveness. Actually, Stephan also drank it for a few days, but he had the same impression.

“I can recover from fatigue if I sleep. I’m sorry I can’t tell for sure even though you went to the trouble of making it.”

He said.

So, I had my father drink it next.

As a result, after a week, his fatigue seemed to have improved quite a bit. He said, “I think it works.” and “It’s not dramatically easier, but it feels good.” Most medicines are like that, and it’s okay because those that work dramatically usually have some side effects. But then a problem arose.

What a surprise. The brown spots on my father’s hand had “dramatically” disappeared.

My father seems to have casually applied the last few drops left at the bottom of the cup he drank from before bed to the back of his hand. What a modest action. Applying the last few drops at the bottom of the cup to his hand so as not to waste them. He seems to have been concerned about the age spots that had recently appeared on the back of his hand.

“Did they disappear?”

“They’re gone.”

My father and Stephan, two men, were impressed. I was the one who was troubled. I’ve never heard of a medicine that removes spots so dramatically. Right now, the spots are just gone, but what about in the future? It would be a problem if the pigment faded in patches and turned white if this was applied continuously.

“We should have someone experiment with this. If it’s harmless, it’s a wonderful dream medicine.”

Stephan is enthusiastic. Is it the blood of a merchant stirring? My father is also excited.

“Otou-sama, please continue to apply this.”

“Is it safe?”

“I want you to continue applying it to confirm whether it’s safe or not. Please forgive me if all the pigment falls out, since it’s just the back of your hand.”

My father blinked his eyes and murmured sadly, “You want me to be a test subject?”

“There’s no risk to your life, please.”

“Well, well, if Ellen says so, I’ll continue.”

Let’s see my father’s results first. At least two months. Then let’s have other people try it.

However, there was a problem.

The veteran maid who takes care of my father noticed that his spots had disappeared.

“Danna-sama! The spots on the back of your hand are gone! What happened? If there’s a secret, please share it with me!”

She interrogated him with a fierce intensity, and my father ended up talking. She even passionately argued that spots are a very important issue for women in their fifties.

“But, Uruela. We don’t know if it’s completely safe yet. I think it’s too early to apply it to your face.”

I gently refused, but Uruela insisted,

“Danna-sama has been applying it for three weeks now, and he says there’s no problem. Please let me try it too! If my spots disappear, I’ll stop using it, so there’s no problem.”

Oh, I see.

It’s not just about bottling it and selling it. If I apply it to the patient and confirm that the spots have disappeared, then stop applying it, the probability of side effects should drastically decrease.

Uruela even made a vow that “If I apply this medicine and have a problem with my skin, I will not file a complaint.” “I will not tell anyone else.”

Well, if something terrible happens, I intend to compensate generously. After all, it’s Uruela, who has been taking care of me since I was a child.

𝐂𝐡𝐚𝐩𝐭𝐞𝐫 𝟑𝟔: 𝐀 𝐧𝐞𝐰 𝐩𝐢𝐞𝐜𝐞

I am applying the medicine to the brown spots on Uruela’s cheeks, in addition to experimenting on my father’s hand. I am carefully applying the liquid medicine with a fine brush, but Uruela’s face is serious.

“Nothing else has worked. This is my last hope.”

“Let me know immediately if you feel any discomfort, okay?”

“Understood.”

Uruela’s determination is impressive.

It’s the twentieth day of applying the medicine with a brush.

Until the nineteenth day, there was almost no change. But now, the spots are…

“They’re getting lighter, aren’t they, Ellen-sama!”

“They are.”

“Actually, Ellen-sama.”

“What? What? Did you feel something different?”

“Last night, when I was removing my makeup before bed, I lightly rubbed the area of the spot and the skin flaked off like dead skin, making the spot much lighter all at once!”

Wow… I wonder how that works. Even I, who made it, am surprised. On the other hand, my father’s hand, which had the spot removed, showed no change even after continued application.

Is it safe to use continuously?

Can it be used as a spot remover?

That’s when I finally reported to my mother, who is a top-class pharmacist.

My father’s hand showed no signs of pigment loss even after a month of application. The spot on the back of his hand disappeared cleanly. The spot on Uruela’s cheekbone peeled off and became lighter on the twentieth day.

My mother was listening to my report while staring at the surface of her large desk for her documents, but when she finished listening to everything, she opened her mouth slightly and looked at me with a stunned expression.

“Ellen. Why have you been silent until now? This is a major discovery that should be recorded in the pharmacopoeia.”

“I was observing whether there would be any pigment loss in healthy parts. Besides, I didn’t think this medicine was that great. After all, it wasn’t made on purpose, it was originally a fatigue recovery medicine.”

“Eh? The oral medicine made mainly from pine leaves?”

“Yes. It was when Otou-sama applied a few drops of it to the spot on the back of his hand that we discovered it had a spot-removing effect.”

“Oh, it was a waste to drink it. With that much, we could have applied it quite a bit.”

“Okaa-sama?”

“Say the raw materials again.”

My mother confirms while looking at the documents I submitted.

“The main ingredients are silver fir leaves, poisonous hibiscus, white mugwort, snake tongue grass, round leaf maple, and white birch. Plus a small amount of grasshopper digestive fluid.”

“I see. The poisonous hibiscus can cause skin to fester, but this combination promotes skin metabolism. The rest are all known for their fatigue recovery properties, so the trigger to remove the spots is the poisonous hibiscus.”

“Yes, probably. Drinking the juice of the poisonous hibiscus makes the intestines work actively, and if taken alone, it causes severe diarrhea, but if the effect is weakened, it is good for cleaning the intestines, so I tried combining it. And it seems that applying this combination to the skin has the effect of peeling off only the spots.”

“I’ve been staying away from trying new combinations like that recently. It’s frustrating as a pharmacist. Maybe it’s time for me to retire and hand over the position of top-class pharmacist to you.”

“Eh… But I’m not even married yet, and I don’t have any children, so it’s not like that yet.”

“Soon. Not right now. Anyway, I think the spot-removing effect of this is amazing. Spots on the face have nothing to do with life, but they have a big impact on a person’s life. Even a small worry, if accumulated every day, can take away a person’s vitality. Vitality affects health and lifespan. A medicine that can erase that worry is valuable.”

・・・

『”𝔄𝔴𝔢𝔟𝔰𝔱𝔬𝔯𝔦𝔢𝔰.𝔠𝔬𝔪” – 𝔇𝔦𝔰𝔠𝔬𝔳𝔢𝔯 𝔞 𝔠𝔞𝔭𝔱𝔦𝔳𝔞𝔱𝔦𝔫𝔤 𝔴𝔬𝔯𝔩𝔡 𝔬𝔣 𝔩𝔬𝔳𝔢, 𝔭𝔞𝔰𝔰𝔦𝔬𝔫 𝔞𝔫𝔡 𝔞𝔡𝔳𝔢𝔫𝔱𝔲𝔯𝔢, 𝔴𝔥𝔢𝔯𝔢 𝔶𝔬𝔲 𝔠𝔞𝔫 𝔦𝔫𝔡𝔲𝔩𝔤𝔢 𝔦𝔫 𝔞 𝔠𝔬𝔩𝔩𝔢𝔠𝔱𝔦𝔬𝔫 𝔬𝔣 𝔱𝔯𝔞𝔫𝔰𝔩𝔞𝔱𝔢𝔡 𝔫𝔬𝔳𝔢𝔩𝔰 𝔴𝔦𝔱𝔥 “𝔡𝔞𝔦𝔩𝔶 𝔲𝔭𝔡a𝔱𝔢𝔰” 𝔞𝔫𝔡 𝔢𝔵𝔠𝔩𝔲𝔰𝔦𝔳𝔢 𝔞𝔠𝔠𝔢𝔰𝔰 𝔱𝔬 “𝔞𝔡𝔳𝔞𝔫𝔠𝔢𝔡 𝔠𝔥𝔞𝔭𝔱𝔢𝔯𝔰”.』

・・・

After a while, rumors spread among the nobility that “More commoners are visiting the Bowen family.” “The spots on the faces of the commoners who visit have completely disappeared.” “Only those who have connections with Mrs. Franca and Miss Ellen seem to be able to get treatment.”

In reality, most of the people gathered by the Bowen family’s servants through word of mouth saying “We are looking for people to participate in the clinical trial of the spot-removing medicine with a reward. If any harm comes to the skin, we will compensate generously.” were commoners.

Despite the fact that the majority of the subjects were commoners, the high effectiveness of the medicine spread by word of mouth, and the wives of wealthy merchants also wanted to become subjects. The rumors probably spread to the nobility from around that time.

Recently, Ellen, who has started to appear in social circles, is immediately surrounded by ladies as soon as she enters the hall. The ladies, who have heavily applied makeup to hide their blemishes, are desperate to find out how they can get a consultation.

“That medicine is still under development. Those who are currently testing it are doing so with the understanding that they may experience some side effects. Once we can confirm that it is safe, we will start selling it.”

Ellen had to explain this while breaking out in a cold sweat. She herself does not have any blemishes yet, so she is terrified by the intensity of middle-aged women seeking blemish-removing medicine.

The effect of the blemish-removing medicine is high, and there have been no subjects who have experienced side effects even after more than three months. Recently, even Stephan, who attends gatherings of male nobles with Marquis Rudolph, is bombarded with questions. Most of them are husbands who are being nagged by their wives to “somehow get the blemish-removing medicine.”

“Ellen. How are the results over there?”

“The skin color of those who have been applying it for three months has become noticeably whiter, but there is no uneven loss of pigment.”

“I’ve been applying it too, and in addition to becoming fair-skinned, my skin texture is becoming finer, like a child’s.”

“Eh. Okaa-sama, you yourself?”

“I tried it myself because it seemed safe.”

The lady, who smiles with a giggle, is satisfied with her skin reflected in the mirror.

Her grandmother amassed a huge fortune with the development of a special medicine for fever. Her daughter, Mrs. Franca, took over and focused on the stable development and improvement of the medicine. And Ellen completed a medicine that dramatically improves skin quality by removing blemishes. The world was impressed, saying, “As expected of the bloodline of a top-class pharmacist.”

In fact, it was a medicine that was started for Stephan’s fatigue recovery, but its development brought unexpected wealth to Ellen.

The blemish-removing medicine was commercialized by adjusting its concentration as a “medicine for removing blemishes” and a “whitening lotion for daily use”, and despite its high price, it became a highly sought-after product for export to other countries as well as domestically.

A new record of the medicine was soon added to the thick record book of three hundred years managed by Mrs. Franca.

𝐂𝐡𝐚𝐩𝐭𝐞𝐫 𝟑𝟕: 𝐅𝐢𝐧𝐚𝐥𝐥𝐲 𝐫𝐞𝐚𝐜𝐡𝐞𝐝 𝐦𝐚𝐫𝐫𝐢𝐚𝐠𝐞

The Bowen family’s territory faces the sea. In a cabin overlooking the sea with the mountains in the background, Ellen and Stephan were relaxing.

The wedding ceremony was held last week. Among the attendees were the second prince of Ehrlich and his fiancée, and the wedding of Ellen Bowen, the current popular pharmacist, was glamorous.

“Ellen. The wind is cold. It’s about time we went inside.”

“Thank you, Stephan. I’ll go in soon.”

I’ve loved this cabin since I was a child. It’s not as luxurious as the mansion in the royal capital, but when I come here, I can gather medicinal herbs and catch poisonous snakes and spiders.

Being obsessed with these things, I was completely out of place among the daughters of nobles. Because of the wealthy Bowen family, I wasn’t bullied, but I wasn’t included in their group either.

The only ones who treated me without prejudice were the people of the territory and the people of the small trading company I visited almost every day. They called me “the princess who loves poison,” but they spoke to me normally without prejudice, perhaps because they were used to dealing with poisonous plants and insects through my mother.

The trading company had a likable owner and his wife, a reliable and cheerful eldest son, a second son who was quiet but always watched over me with a calm gaze, and a youngest daughter who was attached to me like a little sister.

One day, the youngest daughter was not feeling well, and when I asked her what was wrong, she told me with tears in her eyes, “Our business is not going well, and my parents are discussing closing the shop.” “We might have to move to another land.”

For me, who was ten years old at the time, the simple people of the trading company, who didn’t whisper behind my back or just smile at me, were one of the few places I could rely on.

The reason I visited this cabin so much that my parents were amazed, except during the social season, was because I was seeking their conversation and sincere smiles. I wasn’t aware of it at the time, but now I understand. I was exhausted from being isolated in the society of noble children. I didn’t have the strength of heart like my mother.

I was usually a quiet daughter who didn’t ask her parents for anything, but I immediately wrote a letter to them. I asked them to help my favorite trading company, because I needed it.

The one who immediately responded to the unusual request from the youngest daughter was my mother. Not only did she provide financial support to the trading company and help them get back on their feet, but she also hired the second son and the youngest daughter to work for me.

The youngest daughter, Hanna, was hired as my maid, and the second son, Stephan, was hired as a candidate for my guard. They have always been by my side, supporting me both physically and emotionally.

Now, after many twists and turns, Stephan has become my husband and is a major force in running the Bowen family’s economy. He says, “The business I reluctantly studied as a child is useful,” but he shows his skill in managing funds, which even my father endorses, through his innate talent and effort.

The day before we came here, my mother showed me a thick ledger. The ledger, which is not easily shown even to a parent and child, is a compilation of the efforts and achievements of top-class pharmacists over three hundred years.

When I looked inside with white gloves on, there were records of medicines I knew well and medicines I had never used or made. The brand-new page was a detailed record of the spot remover I made. I was always happy to see the page with my name on it.

When I thought that one day I would take over this ledger, a joy welled up from the bottom of my heart.

・・・

『”𝙰𝚠𝚎𝚋𝚜𝚝𝚘𝚛𝚒𝚎𝚜.𝚌𝚘𝚖” – 𝙳𝚒𝚜𝚌𝚘v𝚎𝚛 𝚊 𝚌𝚊𝚙𝚝𝚒v𝚊𝚝𝚒𝚗𝚐 𝚠𝚘𝚛𝚕𝚍 𝚘𝚏 𝚕𝚘v𝚎, 𝚙𝚊𝚜𝚜𝚒𝚘𝚗 𝚊𝚗𝚍 𝚊𝚍v𝚎n𝚝𝚞𝚛𝚎, 𝚠𝚑𝚎𝚛𝚎 𝚢𝚘𝚞 𝚌𝚊𝚗 𝚒𝚗𝚍𝚞𝚕𝚐𝚎 𝚒𝚗 𝚊 𝚌𝚘𝚕𝚕𝚎𝚌𝚝𝚒𝚘𝚗 𝚘𝚏 𝚝𝚛𝚊𝚗𝚜𝚕𝚊𝚝𝚎𝚍 𝚗𝚘v𝚎𝚕𝚜 𝚠𝚒𝚝𝚑 “𝚍𝚊𝚒𝚕𝚢 𝚞𝚙𝚍𝚊𝚝𝚎𝚜” 𝚊𝚗𝚍 𝚎𝚡𝚌𝚕𝚞𝚜𝚒v𝚎 𝚊𝚌𝚌𝚎𝚜𝚜 𝚝𝚘 “𝚊𝚍v𝚊𝚗𝚌𝚎𝚍 𝚌𝚑𝚊𝚙𝚝𝚎𝚛𝚜”.』

・・・

Gently, a shawl was placed on my shoulders, and when I looked up, Stephan was looking down at me with a kind face.

“I can’t have my precious wife catching a cold. Besides, are you sure you wanted to spend our honeymoon here? We could have gone to any other country if we wanted.”

“I wanted to be here. I owe my existence to this scenery and the people who live in this land. We can go abroad anytime we want.”

In reality, traveling abroad might be a bit difficult.

My clientele is increasing day by day, and the hospital for dogs and cats is crowded. As the person in charge, I have Norra in place, but I am the one who manages the medication and makes difficult decisions.

Norra also accompanied me this time, officially closed down her turbulent house, and completed the procedures to become a resident of the royal capital. Her father’s grave has already been built, and when I come here, I accompany her and offer flowers.

Since childhood, I have always been unable to handle the company of nobles well, and I stubbornly believed that my world was only ahead on the path of a pharmacist.

But in reality, medicine requires a desire to wish for someone’s happiness. Without it, I don’t think I can make anything better. I used to only think about wanting to make wonderful medicine, but now I think that a heart that sympathizes with someone’s suffering is the core of a pharmacist.

The people of this seaside taught me that. They were the panacea for me.

“There’s been a lot, and now here we are.”

It was meant to be a monologue, but Stephan heard it and gently held my hand.

“I feel the same way. I never thought the day would come when I would become your husband. I want to tell my past self, who was suffering from an unrequited first love, that you will become this person’s husband, so don’t give up.”

When I leaned my cheek against Stephan’s large hand on my shoulder, I smelled the faint scent of the cologne that I had made and given to him. It was the scent of the flower of the poisonous plant known as Dokuyaburan. I had used the remaining liquid for cologne because it smelled so good after I had removed the poison to use it for medicine.

This cologne is also well-received, and there are many requests to “please commercialize it,” but I keep shaking my head because it is only for Stephan.

I want a child to succeed me as a future pharmacist, but that depends on God’s will. Now, we are enjoying the peaceful and relaxing life that we have finally reached together.

“Ellen-sama, I’ve collected a lot of shells!”

Hanna climbed up from the beach and called out to me. Norra was next to her, and the two of them were good friends.

“Young Oku-sama, I’ve got a lot of herbs that work for the skin disease of the cats.”

Norra is a saver, and when she comes to this land where she can pick as many herbs as she wants, she becomes engrossed in picking herbs.

“Shall I go inside and help with the cooking?”

“Then, I’ll do the same.”

“Stephan, you take it easy. You work too much all the time.”

“You’re the one who works too much, Ellen.”

We held hands and went inside from the terrace.

“Stephan, thank you for marrying me.”

Instead of replying, Stephan gently smiled and hugged me from behind.

I was finally able to reach a happy marriage where we care for each other.

―𝕿𝖍𝖊 𝕰𝖓𝖉―

𝐀𝐰𝐞𝐬𝐭𝐨𝐫𝐢𝐞𝐬: 𝐇𝐞𝐲 𝐞𝐯𝐞𝐫𝐲𝐨𝐧𝐞! 𝐈𝐟 𝐲𝐨𝐮 𝐥𝐢𝐤𝐞 𝐭𝐡𝐢𝐬 𝐭𝐫𝐚𝐧𝐬𝐥𝐚𝐭𝐞𝐝 𝐬𝐭𝐨𝐫𝐲, 𝐩𝐥𝐞𝐚𝐬𝐞 𝐜𝐨𝐧𝐭𝐢𝐧𝐮𝐞 𝐭𝐨 𝐬𝐮𝐩𝐩𝐨𝐫𝐭 𝐨𝐮𝐫 𝐯𝐞𝐫𝐲 𝐝𝐞𝐝𝐢𝐜𝐚𝐭𝐞𝐝 𝐭𝐞𝐚𝐦 𝐨𝐟 𝐩𝐞𝐨𝐩𝐥𝐞 𝐰𝐡𝐨 𝐦𝐚𝐝𝐞 𝐭𝐡𝐢𝐬 𝐩𝐥𝐚𝐭𝐟𝐨𝐫𝐦 𝐩𝐨𝐬𝐬𝐢𝐛𝐥𝐞!


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