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IBHD Chapter 10

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Just a moment ago, inside the carriage heading back to the Grand Duchy.

‘I’m exhausted.’

The Grand Duke brushed his hair roughly as he gazed out the window at the scenery. 

Going around a large territory and looking at many of the territorial residents was normal.  The most difficult part was having to travel from the manor to inspect the parts of the estate one by one. 

Sitting in a carriage all day was extremely boring.

So, once he patrol the estate, even if it took some time, he tends to look around all at once.

But this time, because of that child, he went to and from the estate twice.

He entered the mansion and as soon as he arrived, he thought that a hot bath would relieve his dreadful fatigue.

However, the atmosphere was unusual.

He didn’t see the servants who always lined up in front of the front door to greet him when he returned from his outing.

Something that had not occurred in decades. With a puzzled expression, the Grand Duke directly opened the front door.

But…

‘…What exactly is going on here?’

The residence, which had always been neatly organized, had been turned upside down, as if a thief had broken in.

But that wasn’t all.

“She’s not in the garden!”

“I can’t even see her from the second floor terrace.”

“Recheck the room in case she returns!”

The workers ran around the house in panic until they saw him.  It was when the befuddled Grand Duke was watching them from afar. 

Martin saw him in a distance and dashed over to him.

“Martin, what is this…”

The Grand Duke attempted to question Martin, but Martin was quicker.

“Something has happened, Your Highness!”

“What’s the big deal? What’s going on?”

“The lady is gone!”

“…What?”

The emotionless Grand Duke’s eyes were unusually wide open.

In his mansion, there was only one child who could be called a lady.

“What do you mean she disappeared?”

“She disappeared right after her maid’s brief absence. No matter how much we searched the mansion, we couldn’t find her! What are we supposed to do with this…!”

The Grand Duke shifted his gaze to the window after silently staring at Martin’s trembling.

His attention was drawn to the darkened sky. The sun had already set, and there was no moon visible because it was obscured by thick clouds. It was extremely dark.

“Damn it.” 

His chest collapsed. 

‘Where did that child go?’

He hurriedly ran outside. When he imagined the child who was so scared and crying, he could not stop his feet.

But no matter how much he search, he can’t even get a glimpse of the child’s hair.

The Grand Duke couldn’t stand the irritation and shouted.

“What the hell can you do when you couldn’t even protect that little child!”

“I have sinned to death, Your Highness.”

Martin, who had been following him with his old body, struggled to bow his head like a criminal.

The Grand Duke’s anger diminished due to the pitiful appearance of the old butler. 

Instead, he rubbed his chin and swallowed his frustration.

“Martin.”

“…Yes, Your Highness.”

“Have you ever looked there?”

“Yes? Where are you talking about…”

Martin, who had turned his head to follow the Grand Duke’s gaze, looked him in the eyes and stood tall.

The pine forest that surrounds the mansion, where tall trees do not receive much sunlight even during the day.

A very dark forest.

It was a place with nothing to see, so it had become a den of wild animals when management was neglected. For that reason, even the family members of the Grand Duke did not dare to go there especially at night.

“Oh, no. But would she ever get there? It’s quite far from the mansion…”

“But after searching both inside and outside the mansion, there is only one place left.”

The Grand Duke took his steps quickly. 

And when he heard a wolf howl, he got an ominous feeling. 

After a while of wandering through the forest, he came across something and came to a halt.

“You’re here.”

The Grand Duke exhaled a sigh of relief when he noticed the blonde hair shining brightly in the dark.

But then… 

“Daddy!”

For the first time in his life, he heard such a title.  A title he’d never heard of, not even from his own bloodline, Ahin.

But a child who had nothing to do with him was addressing him as such.

“Waaa, Daddy!”

The Grand Duke was very upset. Still, he could not scold her because of her distressing appearance. Her hair was tangled up in a mess and her dress was ripped to shreds.

In addition…

“Why is your face like this?” 

The small face was swollen to the size of a full moon, with small protrusions up and down like a bump.

He would never have recognized her as that child if it hadn’t been for her blonde hair and peridot eyes.

Ariel, who was clinging to the Grand Duke’s leg like a cicada, began to complain about the injustice she experienced.

“Hic, bee! Bird, black bird!”

The Grand Duke gently picked up the crying child and embraced her so that no one could see her bizarre state.

Then Ariel returned to the mansion in the arms of the Grand Duke.

While the doctor pulled the stinger out of her face, Ariel eagerly described what she had been through today.

After hearing it, the people in the residence are holding their stomach and tried to hold back their laugh.

Ariel wrinkled her forehead.

“Why are you laughing? It’s extremely dangerous! You never know when they’ll return. You must be prepared!”

As Ariel looked around and yelled, Jane and Martin, who quickly held back their laughter, comforted Ariel.

“Yeah, don’t worry, I’ll make sure that nasty crows and bees won’t come in, just like you said.”

“Yes, if the knights of the Grand Duke are firmly on guard, they will never come in. Isn’t that right, Your Highness?”

Martin is telling him to hurry up and play along. So he turned to face the little girl. He nodded and smiled while his hand was covering his face.

“What are you doing? Hurry up and make sure the bees and crows don’t come in.”

“Yes, my lord.”

“I will risk my life so that not a single bee enters.” 

Even though the knights responded with trembling voices and already left the room, Ariel still appeared uneasy, as if she was not relieved.

“Don’t worry, aren’t my knights capable? No one has ever been here without my permission, and they couldn’t even set foot in here.”

Ariel swept the worry from her chest with the Grand Duke’s confident words.

‘It hasn’t been long since we’ve been together, but seeing this human makes me feel better.’

Only then did Ariel sigh in relief.

“Your Highness, all the stingers has been removed. However, I believe I still need to apply the ointment every day until it is completely gone.”

“Well done, Kyle.”

The Grand Duke stood up after praising the doctor.

“It’s already late, and it must have been difficult for you today because you were fighting tough opponents, so let’s head upstairs and rest.”“

“Come on, miss. I’ll accompany you to your room.”

Jane, who quickly got up following the Grand Duke, spread her arms. But Ariel grabbed the Grand Duke’s trousers instead.

“Miss…?”

“It seems like you were very surprised.”

The Grand Duke stopped Jane from trying to take Ariel.

“I’ll take her to her room, so you can all go back to yours…”

The Grand Duke strode upstairs with Ariel in his grasp. Ariel was about to send him away after placing her on a fluffy bed.

Squaak. Squaak.

“Ahh!”

Ariel’s face turned white. It was clearly the cry of the bird that attacked her.

“Didn’t you say we’re well guarded? How in the world did this happen? “

The Grand Duke’s lips opened slowly as Ariel rolled her eyes.

“Don’t worry, they’ll never get in here. Isn’t the window closed tightly?”

“But I can still see that bird! That vicious things might broke in!”

As if frustrated, Ariel slammed his chest with her cotton-like fists, then shook her head slowly.

“I can’t help it. I can’t relax.”

The kid who was so desperate because of one crow and the Grand Duke made eye contact, then Ariel asked.

“How can I set your mind free?”

At best, he thought she would beg him to stay by her side until she fall asleep.

But, 

“Sleep here.”

The child’s words were far more shocking than he had anticipated.

“…Here?”

“What if it break in through the window?  So stay here and guard me.”

“…But aren’t I too large to be here?”

The Grand Duke asked, his voice trembling, as he looked down at Ariel’s bed.

The child’s bed was very small. For a child, it would be a bed large enough to roll around, but to him, it was a narrow bed that he had to crumple his legs to fit in.

To sleep here…

It was complete nonsense. Instead, he attempted to offer to stay by her side until she fell asleep.

However…

“It’s alright, okay? Come on now, lie down next to me! “

When Ariel yelled, he dug into the small bed without realizing it.

Ariel, who looked at him with satisfaction as he lay crouched on the narrow bed, then held the Grand Duke’s hand tightly to prevent him from leaving the bed while she was sleeping.

And that night, Ariel had a dream. 

She dreamt about exacting vengeance on the bees and beaststhat bird that made her their prey. Ariel swung her arms and legs against the swarm of bees and bird in her dream. 

“Ugh, uh, uh.”

It was unusual to  hear a groan from the bees and a bird, but Ariel paid little attention to it.

‘It’s all a dream anyway! ‘

Ariel groaned, pointing at them as they rolled around on the floor.

“Are you now aware of your sins?”

The vile bird and bees knelt and begged for forgiveness. Ariel smiled happily as she stepped on them until the end. 

Without awareness of it, the groans that she heard was actually from the Grand Duke, who was beaten by her little limbs.


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