5.2 The Winter Hunt and the Knight
The younger princes, whom were boasted as vital parts of Fashitar, in Dia’s eyes, weren’t good at running the kingdom.
They didn’t have what it takes to become King.
Richardo, on the other hand, although he’s outwardly gentle, intelligent, and amiable, he can quickly grasp the entire situation, and can be cunning and ruthless when required.
That explained the swiftness with which Richardo made his next move after Dia became poisoned a second time.
He immediately asked Dia for an explanation regarding the exotic wine she had drank just before, and quickly made a report that stated the herbs used for the wine’s fragrance weren’t suited for the constitution of the people of that kingdom.
The results of the analysis didn’t lie, however there was no doubt the wine that Dia drank contained poison from snow daffodils.
Most people couldn’t see it. Most people didn’t even know the characteristic of its smell—
—only I know.
Dia was taught by Noin that it was due to the difference in magical prowess.
For most inhabitants of Fashitar, who possessed little to no magical prowess, the poison would stay tasteless and odorless. The same didn’t apply to Dia, who possessed magical prowess to a certain degree. She could smell the sweet scent.
From the lingering traces of magic, because she had spent her time together with him as his fiancée, she immediately knew it was him who arranged for the poison.
“Milady Diarashe, His Highness Richardo’s knight will come to pick you up soon.”
“Since this clothing is so warm, I’m ready to go out at any moment.”
If she smiled, the maids would also smile and nod at her.
They were all good women, albeit Dia knew they wouldn’t specifically try to befriend her or try to keep away.
“Fufu, it’s as if His Highness Richardo can’t separate from his cute Diarashe… Lady Diarashe also thinks the same, right? Of course you wouldn’t want to be separated from your older brother!”
“That’s true. His Highness is gentle and serious. The two of you grew up together. I remember you being completely spoiled by him!”
“Ever since Lady Diarashe was small, Richardo and the Queen wouldn’t leave your side no matter what, even though we offered to take care of you.”
“Ara, I’m not saying that he’ll stop doing that from now on, you know. Lady Marietta is a very understanding woman, as such, His Highness will be very likely to visit you again.”
“Lady Marietta also has a younger brother and a younger sister…”
The maids were chating happily—
—they weren’t aware that such ‘intimacy’ stemmed deliberately from their desire to keep the only survivor of the Gillasfi family unaware of everything.
Not only that, Richardo made sure to put on a display of affection to make everyone believe they were inseparable. As a result, the new Duke of Gillasfi didn’t dare take Dia away from the royal family.
Once the King and the Queen were convinced that Dia was clueless of anything, they were relieved. They started to treat her like their real daughter.
…due to the King and Richardo’s domineering ‘displays of affection’, the other princes and princess started imitating them. As such, they’re always around me, making sure I have limited access to others…
The other princes and princess seemed to feel that they were obliged to take care of Dia, whom had lost her entire family. They also felt the need to follow the example from their brother and parents.
Dia had always been cherished by them like a younger sister, because she was originally a kind-tempered child.
But, if their affections went beyond a certain threshold, and started becoming into attachment instead, Richardo would immediately take Dia home.
Everyone laughed it off, acting like Richardo had a sister-complex.
However, Dia knew of his skillfulness. He wanted to adjust the affection and attachment his family had towards Dia.
Dia was just a ghost kept in the royal palace.
…But, I never regretted knowing the actual truth…
Surrounded by the maids’ warm conversation, Dia recalled Richardo’s cold voice, which she heard one day in the past—
—the night was dark, even more so because it was raining, and it was also autumn.
It was the night when Dia finally started to let go of her own family and wanted to try her utmost to start loving her new one.
She tried to visit the First Prince’s room, she wanted him to read her a book, for him to pat her head…
“…if everything goes well, we’ll find the perfect moment to kill her someday. I don’t know who, or why they would mistakenly deliver her here, but she still inherited the Gillasfi’s blood. …at the very least, for now, Dia shall play the role that meets our expectation.”
It was muttered by Richardo, by his cold voice which shattered her heart.
Dia could not bear to hear anything more and returned to her own room, carrying the picture book she wanted him to read.
She truly felt sad—it turned out she wasn’t allowed to live. That night, she reflected a lot upon herself.
That dark, long, night felt horribly lonely, she recalled many times of the Prince she had encountered at the ball.
It turned out even that Prince wasn’t out to save Dia.
“I’m sorry, I’ll be careful to not fall off the horse.”
“Arara, well, well, try your best not to fall! Well, the knight is here.”
The Fashitar’s knight attire was a brilliant, blue-green, scheme.
Many of the knights of the Imperial City were silver-haired and were appointed due to their bloodlines.
Standing in front of the door was a beautiful knight, one who let strands of his silver locks drape over his temple.
It should be noted how all the maids swooned simultaneously.
In the event of an emergency, he would usually be equipped in a glorious silver armor made from a meteorite that fell on a rainy day. But today, since it was merely a hunt, he came wearing a cape made of silver wolf fur. The fur could be seen embroidering the collar.
The guardian knight of Richardo who came to fetch Dia was a handsome man. He was quite famous in the Royal Palace.
“I came to pick you up, Lady Diarashe. Today, I shall accompany you.”
“Joel… you’ve come.”
“Well, who else is capable enough to protect you other than me, Lady Diarashe?”
Dia sighed towards Joel, who had gracefully bowed with his hand on his chest.
The maids, who knew the knight was serious, had trouble speaking and left with a laugh.
Dia and Joel were in a sort of mentor-student relationship. Therefore, the maids used to laugh in a friendly manner when they saw such an exchange between them.
“…I’ll make sure to not fall from the horse this time.”
“I wonder why even a light shake can cause you to fall off your horse…”
“There’s no helping it. It’s exactly because the horse shakes.”
“It’s normal to not fall from that, you know?”
“Mugu… I don’t know about other people or how it ordinarily goes… that’s just how it is with me, honestly.”
“I’m merely stating the fact… and eat something before you go hunting. What’s with this lightness?”
“…r, release me! Aren’t ladies creatures that should be lifted gently—!?”
“You, who can easily fall whether or not you’re on horseback, certainly aren’t a lady.”
The angry Dia started flailing around, but her opponent was a knight. The difference in their strength was vast.
She was lifted by one hand like a child and somehow was dropped on a chaise lounge.
“…Aren’t we going to the hunt?”
“You have to take your meal first. Last night, you had rabbit… what about this morning and afternoon?”
Dia started threatening Noin, who couldn’t read the atmosphere. She didn’t want anyone to notice them.
She recalled this was how the Knights of Moriban won when dealing with the forest’s creatures. As such, she tried to imitate that knight.
Although this being was slightly different than a Mukmugris, and was a humanoid, it was definitely a creature of the same forest…
The sound of a meat dumplings being boiled in creamy sauce bubbled. The dish were served on the table in front of the chaise longue.
The cream sauce had the flavor of the distilled essence of forest grapes, the specialty of Fashitar. It was served with sticky black bread along with blackcurrant jam.
In addition, there was also a serving of pickled red radish and snow ginseng next to the main dish.
Dia was amazed by their astonishing colors.
Looking up at Noin, Dia quickly picked up the bread.
Joel’s figure stood on the side with his hands on his hips, saying nothing.
Dia continued to lift the spoon, glancing at the food being served.
Dia then muttered silently.
The black bread was lightly baked and the part glazed with melted butter was delicious.
From the first day they met, Noin had often cooked for Dia.
The dishes that Noin made were akin to homemade cooking. Dia had never eaten such, but the deliciousness always swept her off her feet.
“…yareyare, if you eat like that, you’ll soon explode, you know.”
“Mugu… is there more bread?”
“If you like bread that much, then you don’t need the tart, right?”
Dia switched to the strawberry tart, drank the tea that had been prepared, and bowed to Noin, who had prepared all the meal.
“Noin, thank you for the delicious meal, the price is—“
What he meant by that was, she had to participate in the winter hunt and wander through the snowy forest for two hours.
The problem wasn’t in the winter hunt itself, but in the fact that she couldn’t wander by foot—but by horseback, instead.
She furrowed her eyebrows, protesting in silence. In the meantime, Noin picked up the jug in Dia’s room and sniffed the water.
Why is he frowning?
“…you aren’t planning on not paying the price, right? Other than that, you didn’t drink this water, right?”
“I haven’t. But I didn’t notice anything today.”
“It seems that the doses have been cut down significantly. It’ll probably only slow down your judgment.”
Is that why Richardo came to my room today?
She glanced outside and gazed at the color of the deep forest that spread beyond the royal palace grounds.
There, the nobles of the Fashitar, including the First Prince, were participating in the winter hunt. They were probably happily riding horses while dressed in hunting attire.
Once Dia participates there, what kind of face should she make?
She would like to reduce contact with the outside world in that situation as much as possible, but Richardo might resort to something more extreme once he realized something was amiss.
…and that would be troublesome.
Suddenly, Dia stood up.
However… she also wished the nonhuman knight standing next to her wouldn’t nonchalantly prepare snacks for her to eat once she returned.
After all, it was a hunt organized by the person who planned to kill Dia in the near future, not an excursion…
***T/N: GODDAMMIT I WANT A MINION–A DEMON–OR ANYTHING–THAT WOULD COOK FOR ME TOO