It was Daniel.
“What about the witch?”
“I just came to see you after leaving her in the nanny’s private room.”
He nodded, and Daniel opened the parchment rolls in his hand one by one and began to report.
“The launching ceremony is scheduled to be held in the imperial palace at 10:00 in the morning after three days…”
After the final report on the matters that were going on within the Grand Duke’s house while Elliott was gone, a report on the next day’s campaign followed.
“Daniel, you must be having a lot of trouble, but please take good care of things while I am gone.”
“Please come safely.”
“It’s a pity that we can’t fight side by side this time. But thanks to you, I think I’ll be a little less worried there.”
“Please take care of yourself.”
Subjugating monsters was dangerous. Daniel felt regretful and worried about not being able to follow and protect his superior and best friend. But Elliot, as usual, didn’t show the slightest hint of concern for his life and asked lightly.
“So, do you have anything to report about the witch?”
“Well, as always, she’s cunning and doesn’t communicate.”
It was not said that the children followed the witch like ducklings followed their mother duck.
That was a story everyone in the Grand Duchy knew unless they were blind or deaf.
“Any suspicious movements?”
“There was nothing suspicious, but there was movement.”
According to Daniel’s report, on the second day since she came there, during the nap time of the children, the witch went to the shopping mall near the Grand Duke’s residence. She was tailed but nothing special happened. It’s just that she bought a lot of children’s things.
“Wait, isn’t that the day you paid her salary?”
To give back the wages paid for hard labor to the children who made the labor hard… Besides, those children were not poor, since they were rich enough to never spend all their lives.
“She’s a really incomprehensible person…”
“She seems to be dazzling people with a friendly and likable appearance, so you should be careful.”
It was the most absurd thing he had ever heard.
“Why would I be attracted to that witch?”
“Isn’t it what everyone thinks, that she tries to catch you off guard? You know, the number of servants favoring the witch is increasing one by one already.”
That’s a serious problem. It was just as he was about to instruct the butler and the head maid to firmly train servants when someone knocked on the door.
“Who is it?”
“Your Highness, I…”
The moment the door slid open, Elliot remembered an old adage of witches.
‘If you name a witch, she will appear.’
The witch peeked into his office through the crack in the door and made an apologetic face when her eyes met Daniel, who was carrying a bunch of papers. Her expression was unsuitable for a witch who was known for being evil.
“Sorry. You’re busy, and I seem to have interrupted you. I’ll come back later… ”
“No, the captain of the guards was about to leave. So come in.”
Elliott, wondering what the business was, sent Daniel away. Daniel gave her a suspicious look before closing the door, but he was worrying for nothing. He wasn’t the kind of person who was obsessed with appearances. If he had been fooled by a kind smile or an alluring look, he would have been assassinated long ago.
“Miss Hazel, what’s going on?”
He asked softly on purpose, and she strode over to his desk and put a thing in his hand. It was a wooden box the size of her witch’s palm.
Elliot stared at it for a moment and asked.
“What is this?”
“Originally, with my first salary, I buy gifts for people I am grateful for.”
Elliot tilted his head. Because he had never heard of such a custom.
“So you’re saying this is Miss Hazel’s ‘thank you’?”
She is also difficult to understand. ‘Thank you’ for thinking of him as a bad parent who abused, neglected, and confined his siblings all at once? In addition, she even made strange excuses to give gifts that she didn’t have to give?
‘Maybe it’s not a gift.’
Elliot carefully opened the box.
Inside the box lined with white velvet was a silver necklace. In the middle was a locket, a hinged pendant that could hold a small object or picture.
“I chose silver because it seemed to go well with Her Highness’s silver hair. I never bought it with silver and not gold, to save money.”
The witch made an excuse he didn’t even ask and laughed. Judging by the way she clasped her hands together and then grabbed her apron, she seemed both excited and nervous. It was suspicious in his eyes. In fact, she looked suspicious in Elliot’s eyes no matter what the witch did.
“It was an excellent choice. I prefer silver.”
She laughed as innocently as a child.
It was true that Elliot preferred silver jewelry to gold. Because silver could detect poison.
‘It’s not like it’s poisoned.’
The locket and necklace were gleaming with their unique new luster without a single discolored corner. He took it out and touched it, but he didn’t feel any suspicious energy at all.
‘Didn’t she use magic?’
The witch suddenly approached Elliot, who was carefully examining the necklace.
“Open it, Your Highness. The real gift is inside that locket.”
It was a rather excited voice.
It was a fairly simple device, but he deliberately pretended not to know how to open it. It wasn’t a curse or poison, but something inside could have harmed him when it was unsealed.
She bowed her head surprised. Elliot looked up, startled. Her face was too close. He could clearly see the tiny dot on her lower lip. In addition, when the smell of the fresh and sweet sauce of the sandwich and the fresh soap stimulated his sensitive sense of smell, Elliot pulled his body back like someone burned.
“What trick is it?”
He narrowed his eyes and stared at her, and he saw the witch tilt her head. Elliot couldn’t take his eyes off her round eyes. Only now did the color of the witch’s eyes come into his eyes. He heard that it was originally a cloudy gray color, but now it was a subtle green color resembling an emerald. She certainly had a look that people would find universally likable. Even so, she couldn’t get his favor.
“I’m just trying to open it?”
Eliot’s eyes narrowed even more when the witch answered innocently.
“Why did you come so close when you can take this necklace with the snap of a finger?”
In the cave, the teacup was taken away like that.
“Do not approach me without warning or permission.”
Then, as if the witch had made a mistake, she took a step back.
“Ah… right. Are you afraid of me? You don’t have to feel that way.”
“I’m not scared… it’s…”
Elliot rubbed his face with one of his hands. The witch’s words turned him into a cowardly Grand Duke. She wasn’t sarcastic, she said it from the bottom of her heart, and she stirred up his pride even more.
“I will be careful from now on.”
There was no ‘next time’ between him and the witch. Because she was the one who would leave the Grand Duchy as soon as he returned from defeating monsters.
The witch snapped her fingertips together, and the necklace disappeared from Elliot’s palm.
“There is something you can’t do. Oh, of course you can’t even have a calm conversation with Luna for more than three words.”
She laughed and spoke softly, secretly criticizing him under the guise of compliments. At this point, Elliot didn’t even feel the will to be upset, and he just laughed.
The Witch snapped her fingers again, and a wide-open locket appeared in his palm.
Elliott was unknowingly amazed when his gaze reached into it. Inside the oval-shaped rocket, Luna and Luca were smiling brightly at him.
“Did you draw it yourself?”
“Yeah, I used to do painting as well.”
The portrait, which seemed to be drawn with a thin brush on fine parchment, was quite good.
It would be difficult to express the characteristics of children so well on a canvas the size of a thumb. The dark-haired girl who smiled brightly and exuded a strangely haughty aura was Luna. And what about Luka, who has big eyes and a wide smile that shows his tiny front teeth? On top of that, on the side of Luca’s face, with light brown hair clumped together even Lulu was there.
‘Looks like it’s going to move at any moment.’
He had to admit that she was a witch with many talents.
Unknowingly, Elliot, who smiled affectionately at the children in the picture, raised his gaze and looked at the witch.
“You drew it well.”
“I thought you made these guys smaller and put them in the rocket because you were too lazy to take care of them. It was a joke.”
“I’m not bothered!”
The witch questioned him, widening her eyes. It was a joke, but it was quite serious to be funny.
“I just drew it because I was afraid you might miss the children while you are away.”
“Thank you for the thoughtful gift. Thanks to that, even on the battlefield, I can vividly recall Luna’s chirping and Luca’s babbling.”
Elliot smiled heartily at her eyes and gladly put the necklace around his neck.
“This is actually a bribe.”
He was watching it one last time before closing the locket, but the witch made an unexpected noise.
“I want to get along well with Your Highness.”
The smile slowly faded from Elliot’s face.
Hello there! This is RJR. Thank you very much for reading! 😀
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