“Rodrigo.”

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Rodrigo and I completed a simple list for compensation.
I then called for his attention so I could explain the Dark Corps to him.
He looked back at me while handpicking a blood-free envelope.
He filed the list inside.

“This is the symbol of the Dark Corps.
I assume you are aware that the Dark Corps are Cartina’s direct knights?”

I dug my hand through one of the assassin’s dark pants to grab something.

“What are you doing?!”

Rodrigo’s eyes widened as he strode quickly towards me.
He grabbed my hand to pull it away from the man’s trousers.

What misunderstanding do you have in your head right now?

I raised my eyes at him.
A small sachet hung between my fingers.

“Yes? I was only trying to get a hold of the Dark Corp’s symbol?”

“That is enough reason to bury your hands inside men’s pants? You would have been in jail a long time ago if they were conscious.”

“They’re sleeping anyway.
The toxins that I produced are quite extraordinary.
I wasn’t even aware of how long it had held out when I left.
Even a wizard wouldn’t even realize that there was venom here, right?”

To be frank, it would depend on the wizard.

I wasn’t that deceptive.

I raised my hands in protest.
Then, I handed the sachet over to Rodrigo.

“Can you smell it?”

Naturally, he could.
A slight but unpleasant scent emanated from the sachet.
Rodrigo leaned backwards to avoid it.
I pushed the sachet closer to him.

“This fragrance is one that works to distract people.
Those that do not feel well or are anxious will habitually show symptoms when exposed to the odor even for a bit.”

I continued my explanation.

“This scent also has a relaxing effect.
That was one of the reasons why the guards were distracted.”

“Is that the basis for the peculiar aura derived from the Dark Corps?”

“That’s right.
Though the members of the Dark Cops would not be distracted.”

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“Is there an antidote?”

“I don’t believe an antidote is needed for something that is not poisonous.
Wouldn’t you agree? You just simply need to accustom yourself with the fragrance.
I will supply you with a considerable amount, so please gradually increase the dosage.
Do you understand this?”

Rodrigo nodded.

“Why are you telling me the secrets of your family?”

His gaze darkened.
My heart would sink whenever he gazed at me in such a solemn way.
I closed my mouth and returned his stare.
We gazed at each other for a long time.
It was almost as if we were trying to figure out the other party’s secrets.

It was me who turned away first.
My eyelashes trembled.
Rodrigo grabbed his kravat and wrestled with it in exasperation.

Why am I telling you everything?

To secure the lives of everyone I love, it would be more prudent to deceive him in moderation and create a chance for escape.
However, I didn’t consider any of that.

Because I…

“…because I believe in you.”

Rodrigo’s hands froze.
Something inside him seemed to have shattered.

04.
The most precious treasure in Cartina.

Tap, tap, tap

The periodic tapping distracted Devlan from his work.

“Sir, let’s do some work! Some work!”

Devlan eventually committed the atrocity of screaming at his master.

“Then work.
What is stopping you?”

Rodrigo replied in a stern manner before lowering the leg he had rested on the table.
He scrutinized the sachet that was neatly placed on his desk.

-Come to the mansion with the compensation list.

Estiya’s voice echoed in his ears.

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“Is it something of great value? You do realize you’ve been eyeing that thing all morning.
If you are feeling free, please feel free to assist with my tasks.”

He grumbled.
Devlan’s desk was overflowing with reports of the knights that passed away the night before.
Rodrigo ordered him to organize the knights’ reimbursement catalog by this afternoon.

‘Today is unpredictable.’

Devlan let out a deep sigh.
The bizarre events unfolded ever since he entered the office.
The mountain of people piled on one side of the office coupled with the smell of blood and iron.

His face distorted instantly.
The first thought that came to his mind was that the group of people were dead.
Devlan screamed out loud that it would put a lion’s roar before the sunrise to shame.
Fortunately for him, he was proven to be wrong.

‘They’re sleeping.’

Rodrigo’s gentle voice explained as if there was nothing wrong.Ultimately, all of the labor was allocated to Devlan to complete.
He smacked the knights’ buttocks awake, sent them home, identified the dead, and then turned his attention to the Dark Corps…

“Shall I discreetly get rid of them now?”

“Leave them alone.
They are all awake right now.”

One member of the Dark Corps’ fingers twitched.
During that one glance Rodrgio and Devlan both conducted, the Dark Corps left without leaving a trace.
Rodrigo had purposefully let them escape.

And now…

“I’ll be taking this to the Cartina Family.
Calculate everything properly and accurately.”

“To the Cartina Family?”

Devlan dropped his fountain pen in shock.

“What about it?”

“I thought you were dating the young lady of Cartina?”

“That’s right.”

“You favor her very much.”

Not only did Rodrigo, a person who detested any form of distraction, paid a visit to the Cartina mansion in person, he even rode in the Crown Prince’s carriage.
The same Crown Prince’s carriage which he didn’t even want to touch.
To top it all off, he remained calm throughout all of the scandals that surrounded him.

In the past, he would have prevented so much as a single line even hinting of his presence from publishing.

The only reasonable explanation for his vast change was that Rodrigo was rather fond of Estiya.

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It was a rational assumption.

“You could tell?”

Devlan freaked out in response to Rodrigo’s honest reply.

Did he just admit his feelings towards Lady Estiya? Just like that?

“Wai-wait a minute! You’re still going to claim compensation from her family? From the house of the young lady you love?”

“Am I not allowed to?”

“Of course not!”

Rodrigo agreed with Devlan’s point of view.

However, he had to.
Her family was responsible for the incident.
It’s only natural to seek compensation.

“If your lover is a beauty, shouldn’t you be more eager to do something for her? I don’t mean for you to hand over anything to the Cartina Family.
She will  without any regrets.
No, that’s not it.
Won’t you have a worse relationship then?!”

Rodrigo held his chin and calmly gazed at Devlan.

“Wh-what is it?”

The corners of Rodrigo’s lips lifted.
However, his eyes remained cold.

“You…are you interested in Lady Estiya?” 

“Never! Devlan shook his head furiously.

 Despite the warm weather, a cold wind was present.
Rodrigo folded his arms as Devlan hugged himself tightly to keep warm.

Never, a Cartina wouldn’t be fine even if they brought ten carriages!

“Devlan, have you completed the preparations?”

Rodrigo asked his aide.
He was now ready to leave.
Rodrigo stood in front of the mirror and straightened out the cufflinks that were sticking out.
A black suit with gold embroidery suited him quite well.
The tailored fit perfectly matched his figure. 

Devlan was adamant that Rodrigo would not wear any worn out clothes.
His broad shoulders and solid figure were clearly revealed.
Although Rodrigo thought it was unnecessary, he was still satisfied with his appearance.

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“We are ready.
Here are the documents.”

Rodrigo received the documents and casually glanced over it while nodding.
Devlan stood there with a proud expression on his face.

“What will you be doing with this?”

“Devlan said that if my lover is a beauty, I should do something for her.
Therefore, I will seduce her first.”

Devlan blinked.
Did he hear it wrong? It didn’t seem like he did from  Rodrigo’s expression.
Devlan’s mouth opened after a few seconds of thoughts.
Words he never imagined would leave Rodrigo’s mouth were uttered quite smoothly from him.

“I think I might have heard that wrong.
Please repeat your words, Sir.”

Rodrigo smiles widely with his red lips.

“I said I would steal the Cartina’s greatest treasure.”

Rodrigo chuckled contentedly.
Devlan, on the other hand, pondered for what could be Cartina’s treasure.
He couldn’t find an answer until Rodrigo had completed cuffing his buttons and adjusting his tie.
Belatedly, he realized the ‘treasure’ Rodrigo was speaking about was of a person associated with the Cartina Family…and that he would be seducing that person. 

He sighed heavily.

Rodrigo had never tried to win someone’s favor before.
Excluding the Emperor and the Cartina family, everyone couldn’t help but fall in love with him.
Although they kept their distance due to avoiding Cartina’s attention, they all liked him.

Women…what could he say.

The amount of proposals Devlan had rejected in Rodrigo’s stead amounted to thousands upon thousands of letters.
Devlan often witnessed strange phenomenons.
Such as women would collapse while holding their chests, or their nose would start bleeding with so much as just one gesture from Rodrigo. 

If there were many women rushing towards him because they liked him, one would think his curiosity would naturally be peaked.
Nonetheless, Rodrigo remained as heartless as ever.

There were even rumors circulating that Rodrigo preferred men.

The magazine that brought about the rumor was decimated, was still in Erhadt’s possession.
Now, Rodrigo had declared to actively seduce Estiya since it wasn’t enough to have her in his heart.

No, he said he would steal her.
What did he mean by that? Did he truly fall in love? No…that can’t be it.

Rodrigo, the owner he served, was not a person who would match the definition of the word ‘love’.
His life so far had been devastating that it would be impossible for him to disregard his many flaws and dream of a simple romantic love.
Rodrigo had never been raised with love, so a pure woman who could fill in his gaps with care would be the most suitable.

A member of the Cartina family was most certainly not that.

Devlan’s lips grimaced as if he had chewed on something unpleasant.
Devlan began to worry for his master.

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