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After I didn’t say anything for a while, the chief priestess called me out as if wondering.
But at this moment, I couldn’t hear anyone’s voice. A strangely strong conviction squeezed my heart so that I couldn’t look away. I’m pretty sure I’m missing something.
Then I heard a voice in my head.
‘You guys get out of here!’
That was my voice.
The scream I let out like an explosion, tired of the shouts of the clowns and the sound of the trumpets.
Then another voice came to mind.
‘Do not come!’
It was a scream that I unknowingly uttered, frightened by the nightmare I had witnessed in the mouth of the approaching lizard.
What happened after that?
When I opened my eyes, I remembered the tower of clowns that had collapsed like a broken toy castle.
It reminded me of the lizard that had turned upside down as if it had bumped into a wall.
What had only been a vague sense of certainty became a little more real. It looked like I could hold it in my hand if it had a little more shape. If only it were a little harder…
“Saintess Irene? Are you alright? It looks like you’re very sick.”
The chief priest’s worried voice was heard once more.
“I understand why the commander asked me to visit Saintess Irene’s bedroom tonight.”
“… … Yes? What did you say?”
When I was lost in my own thoughts, the word “Ian” brought me back to reality.
“What did Sir Ian do?”
“He ordered me to examine Saintess Irene.”
“Co-Commander Ian, I…”
I slowly creased my forehead.
Ian is obviously trying to hide the truth about me in a strange way these days. It’s weird to think about our relationship, which is just a business deal.
“Thank you for examining me, priest.”
I jumped up from my seat.
“Saintes Irene, please take the medicine. I don’t know the cause, but your throat is pretty hurt.”
“Yes, I’ll come back. But for now, excuse me.”
It seemed that this suspicion should be dispelled right away.
The chief priestess didn’t catch me anymore.
After leaving the healing room, I strode down the hallway. Dame Joan was right behind me and kept up with my quick steps.
“Dame Joan. Where will Ian be at this time?”
“… He will usually be in the office.”
When Dame Joan replied, her voice was a little strange.
I took a quick look back at Dame Joan. Dame Joan was also there when the clowns got into trouble. Maybe she knows something about me as well.
‘No. For now, I have to ask Ian first.’
Even if Dame Joan knew something, it’s likely that Ian knew more. I was sure of it.
I moved without hesitation towards Ian’s office.
A room in the west building that is at the end of this floor. I walked right into the room, where people who didn’t have anything to do with the entry were kept out.
The knights who were guarding the door of the office looked at me and immediately straightened their posture.
Just then, the door opened with a squeaking sound. Lucian, who was walking out of it, spotted me and opened his eyes wide.
“Saintess Irene! What are you doing here?”
“I need to talk to Ian about something.”
“Since you came all the way here, it looks like you have something important to do. The captain is in a meeting right now, but…”
As if embarrassed, Lucian looked back at the office, blurting his words.
Then, from inside, a voice was heard.
“Bring her in.”
It was Ian’s voice.
The knights guarding the front quickly retreated to the sides and bowed politely to me.
Stepping inside, I had to swallow my surprise into the moment.
There were already many guests inside. All of them were dressed like knights.
Ian, who was sitting in the seat of honour, stood up. The knights who had been looking up at me with a startled look at my sudden appearance also stood up and politely ignored me.
“Let’s call an end to the meeting for today.”
At Ian’s words, the knights looked up at him in bewilderment.
“Go back. I will send a message within the night, so please wait.”
The knights bowed their heads and followed the order without asking further questions.
One by one, the knights got up from their seats, bowed to me, and left. As soon as the last knight left and the door closed, Ian and I were the only ones left in the office.
Ian strode towards me.
The blue eyes that glowed even deeper in the afternoon sunlight looked directly at me.
“Is there a problem? Irene.”
I pursed my lips.
There was no hesitation when I decided to come here. It was clear that Ian was hiding something from me, and I was determined to find out about it somehow.
But when I looked at this person, I didn’t know where to start.
Ian cocked his head as he looked down at me in silence.
“Why do you do that, Madam? What kind of accident did you have this time?”
“… What do you mean by having an accident?”
“It must have been a pretty bad accident. Is that why you can’t speak?”
What the hell is this guy talking about?
Furious at the remarks that openly treated me as a troublemaker, I opened my mouth.
“You have to tell me what happened first so I can sort things out—”
“I came to ask you a question. Sir Ian.”
“… What did you say?”
Ian frowned. I kept speaking to his face in a clear way.
“You’re trying to hide something from me, aren’t you?”
“… Is that the story again?”
“Yes. That’s the story again. I’ll have to get an answer for sure this time.”
“Of course there are many. What I am hiding from you.”
Ian spoke in a calm tone.
“I have as many secrets as a mountain, and you mustn’t find out about any of them. Don’t you feel the same way? Why do you keep coming back to that part?”
Ian said exactly what I was thinking.
Yeah. Ian and I were just contract partners who took an oath together under the Stone of Immutable Contract.
There was no reason to reveal the truth without hiding it from each other, as long as the obligation to faithfully fulfil the contract was fulfilled.
It’s a relationship that started like that from the beginning, and its essence will not change until it ends.
“…or not. Were you that burdened? What worries me about you.”
Ian’s blue eyes darkened like crystals that had hardened.
“Is feeding and protecting healthy food a burden enough for you to brush me off from yesterday?”
“You knew that I was sick.”
I got to the point without further procrastination.
Ian’s eyes widened instantly.
“…What did you say?”
“I went to the healing room. That’s what the chief priest said, you ordered her to check on me. If I hadn’t stopped by the healing room with a sore throat-“
“Did you say you were sick?”
He asked me after he cut off my words.
I stopped talking and looked up at Ian, a little confused.
“Does it hurt a lot in your throat? Since when did it happen? Have you endured it all this time?”
Ian, who walked right up to me, asked a lot of questions.
I just looked up at him blankly as he fired question after question at me like a rapid-fire cannon. Ian seemed very worried about me since he reacted this way to a single word of pain.
There’s something wrong.
Doubt reared my head again. I looked up at Ian in silence, and then a moment later I spoke up.
“As expected, you knew.”
“What do you mean? Answer my question first.”
“I’m not surprised that I’m sick, but you asked me ‘a lot’ if I’m sick.”
I showed Ian the line that he had asked about a while ago. Ian’s eyes got bigger for a second.
“Do you know the reason for this pain?”
“… Irene. You seem to be getting something wrong.”
“I think you know. That’s what my gut says.”
I stared at Ian.
I didn’t even know I had a sore throat until an hour ago. I worried about reflux esophagitis for no reason.
But Ian knew more about my health than I did. He even asked the chief priestess to help me get better.
It showed that he knew how bad my sore throat was.
“It’s my body, so why do I feel like Sir Ian knows more about me than I do?”
“What do you have to hide? To me.”
Ian shut his mouth tight.
The moment I looked into his eyes, I knew. That Ian had no intention of revealing anything to me right now.
As soon as I opened my mouth to try to convince Ian, he started talking.
“Why do you think you’re right?”
The voice was so cold that it made me tense up right away.
Ian looked at me with eyes that were emotionless, as if he were looking at something made of stone.
“Because if you get sick, it will mess up our contract. That’s why I cared.”
“The imperial family will soon have the harvest festival. You must come as my wife, of course. But wouldn’t it be better for you to be sick?”
“That’s why you were worried?”
No, if that’s the only reason, it’s probably more about “management” than worry.”
It’s just to protect one of his chess pieces, which is that his contract partner is not sick.
Ian narrowed his forehead.
“I see what you mean. I understood.”
One thing I knew for sure. There is no information I can glean from the man in front of me.
There was nothing to be upset about now. Ian was right about everything he said. I didn’t have to be the one to tell him what he didn’t want to say. Because that obligation wasn’t in the contract.
‘Fine. Do whatever you want.’
I balled up my hands.
I had no intention of asking someone who didn’t want to talk.
I glared at Ian with wide eyes.
“Thank you for your time. It was nice to talk to you.”
“Irene. Let’s talk. Please give me a minute to put my thoughts together.”
“I’m sorry, but I’m going to be a bit busy from now on. If you want to say something, ask me at dinner time.”
Leaving those words alone, I turned around and walked away.
I heard Ian’s voice grab me, but I didn’t turn around. It was also a little bit about getting even.
‘What misunderstanding are you talking about? It’s just that if the contract partner gets sick, there will be a setback, so I’m just worried.’
That’s not necessary to say. You suck. The same cold-hearted person…!
Inside, I’m upset about Ian. I opened the office door.
If Ian didn’t tell me why my neck was like this, I was going to find out on my own.
“I need to look after my body. Or it will be taken care of by someone else.’
I thought I heard a heavy sigh come from behind the closed door, but I didn’t turn around.