* * *
Theon sat up on the bed and greeted the bright morning.
It was the bed where Leila used to lie, where she had made love with him.
The warm warmth of that time had disappeared from all over the place. A terrible chill struck as if hurrying him to get up.
Theon looked down at the ring in his hand.
‘Today’s schedule is….’
He recently purchased a mine, but there seemed to be many complications with the location.
In this regard, he was scheduled to hold a meeting with the nobles involved in the matter this morning.
It’s already dawn. He has to get up now and go home to get ready.
Theon covered his eyes with his arms and laid back down on the bed. He was tired from wandering through the past all night. He wanted to fall asleep just like this.
If only she’d be around at times like this. If she was, I would’ve cheered up and gotten up quickly.
But Leila is no longer here.
He still couldn’t figure out how to accept this fact.
* * *
It was when he entered the meeting room that Theon came to his senses.
The outcome of the discussions were unsatisfactory, and there was no conclusion either. So, he would have to take the time to meet them again later.
Nevertheless, thanks to his sense of mind, he was able to deal with the matter as usual without making a fuss.
‘Should she be considered missing?’
The same was true about Leila.
He was stunned by the unbelievable possibility until he left her house.
But after the meeting, by the time he returned home to deal with the backlog documents, his mind’s wheels began to turn.
‘I’ll have to find a way to get in touch with the slave traders.’
If Leila had been involved in an accident, it would likely be human trafficking that was on the rise these days.
It was necessary to contact them and check if there was a woman with a similar description to Leila.
It would be easier to post ‘wanted’ leaflets, but he didn’t want to do that.
It would be considered funny that he, a marquis, had lost only a mere mistress and was making a fuss, but there was also the fact that he didn’t want the world and heavens alike to know that Leila was his mistress.
‘If you went of your own accord…’
He didn’t even want to think about it. But if so, where should he start looking for her?
“I heard some interesting news.”
Someone appeared in front of Theon, who was working through his many worries.
It was a woman with red hair in a tight dress.
Her hair was already rich in color, but even the dress was red, so his eyes hurt when he stared at her.
“You’re half and half handsome. You must not do anything right?
She laughed merrily with sarcasm as if she was having fun. Theon wrinkled his eyebrows and opened his mouth at the sight,
“What do you want to say?”
He was already feeling annoyed, but when faced with a person he didn’t want to see, an aggressive voice came out on its own.
She said, taking a step forward.
“I heard you lost it.”
Then she pressed her face so close that it touched his nose and giggled.
Theon frowned openly at the unpleasant face and words that filled his eyes.
Come to think of it, he didn’t send the servant and coachman back when he was dazed at the sight og Leila’s house.
Furthermore, the servant even witnessed Leila’s disappearance along with Theon and even saw Theon wandering around the house.
Was there anything this woman did not know about the house? Well, she was a capable woman.
Theon answered casually, thinking about how to deal with the servant who carelessly opened his mouth.
“And? I came here to comfort my heartbroken husband as his wife.”
The Marchioness of Karsha shrugged her shoulders and stepped back.
He didn’t express his emotions, but Theon’s stomach turned.
“Don’t be too discouraged. There’s no one who can compete with her, but if you keep your eyes down a little, you’ll find that you’ve got yourself a pretty good woman, right?”
“If you’re done with what you’re saying…….”
“I fully understand your disappointment.”
Marchioness Karsha crossed her arms and shook her head as if she couldn’t hear Theon.
“I was also disappointed to see Harsian change so strangely. He was a man I looked forward to seeing grown up.”
“………don’t block the way and go back.”
“I’m not done yet.”
The Marchioness rolled her eyes and tilted her head. Her big, exaggerated eyes and gestures were grotesque to the point of disgust.
“I told you not to waste your time doing useless things and just take care of yourself, did I not?”
Theon closed his eyes in annoyance and walked forward.
“What a joke! You’re greedy and pretentious.”
He heard the Marchioness’ screech behind him.
“How was the result of being greedy for something you couldn’t have? Hm?”
As the distance grew farther away, so did the voice.
Nevertheless, her ridicule pierced through Theon’s ears as if she were speaking right next to him.
The giggling vulgar laughter, too.
Leila tried not to express herself, but she would inadvertently mention the Marchioness. It was a kind of jealousy.
Every time that happened, Theon felt it was ridiculous.
If she listened to society just a little, she would realize how terrible the relationship between him and his wife was, so he wondered why she cared.
It was pretty famous. Even if she asked her maid, she would have found out.
No, she already knew it, so she must have just asked him for no reason.
It wasn’t at a difficult level, so he just regarded it as cute whining and moved on.
‘That’s not the reason, is it?’
Theon, who entered the office and sat at his desk, laughed at the thought.
She left because she was jealous about his relationship with his wife? No, that couldn’t be true. There was no way she didn’t know.
He even told her to keep waiting until his mouth was worn out.
It was more reasonable to think she had been kidnapped.
* * *
It was the end of lunch break that Theon returned to his office.
He just proceeded through the urgent documents and had a meal that was both late lunch and early dinner, and before he knew it, the sky was turning scarlet.
The Vermillion color, which was swirling through the clouds, crossed the office window and illuminated Theon’s desk.
Theon checked the time and moved his quill pen on the blank paper.
He was writing an instruction to move the human trafficker who’d been detained in the capital to his territory.
The emperor, who was busy day and night, gave no specific orders on this. He was afraid the sinner’s colleagues might appear and interfere in the process of moving him.
But it was necessary to investigate the traffickers to find out Leila’s whereabouts.
The traffickers in custody would be his guides.
After completing the paperwork, Theon rubbed his eyes with his hands for a moment.
It would be nice if he could sleep even a little, but his appointment time was not far. It would be best not to break this promise if possible.
It was a place where leaders of powerful families, led by the current crown prince, met regularly.
Even the Marquis of Karsha, who was revered by other nobles, was no more or less a child here.
Those with legitimate bloodlines like Harsian even, had to crawl on their own here, much less an illegitimate child like Theon.
I can’t help it because I have a lot to gain from there.
The words exchanged there were not funny chattering among drunken old men. It was information, money.
If they were in a good mood, he would gain a cash cow on his own, so he had to attend even if their ranking was low.
Theon, who had been rubbing his eyes for a long time, prepared to leave his seat.
He thought of Leila the whole time he was in the carriage.
A crystal ball used for magic. I’m sure that’s what she was talking about.
Yesterday, he couldn’t think of anything because of the ring, but when he recalled the maid’s words, that was all he could think of.
There’s no way magic was being used in human trafficking.
Magic was a valuable resource everywhere in the world, so it was subject to state control.
Not only wizards, but also magic spells, objects and small tools used in magic.
There was no way that the mid-day traffickers could do magic.
Then there was only one hypothesis left.
Either the maid misread, lied, or a much larger organization was involved in this.
I’m going to have to meet the royal magician.
Magic supplies are only available for purchase at the Imperial Magistrates’ Department. It was possible only when documents were presented to the imperial court and permission was obtained.
The Ministry of Magic keeps the purchase history carefully in case of an unexpected event.
If he could see the history of the purchases, wouldn’t it be possible to catch the kidnapper’s tail since only a few people would have bought a magic ball in this time period?
Theon uttered swear word in a low voice. He already had a lot of things to do, but more and more stuff kept getting added.
How much time and money did he have to spend in order to get in touch with people from the magic department and secretly see the purchase history?
And what if it wasn’t obtained from the Imperial Magic Department? What if it’d been smuggled in from another court?
Then investigation could be done. Theon knew quite a few smugglers.
He could catch it if he wanted, but how much time would the process take?
It was impossible for a while. This week’s schedule was already full, so he couldn’t make time for it.
“Where the hell did you go?”
Theon lamented, pressing down on his temple due to a incoming headache.
No matter how much he thought about it, they couldn’t have kidnapped Leila just to get her ring.
However, he could not believe that she had just left.
Not only was there no sign of it, but there was no significant event that could that could change her mind like this.
If there was, he would’ve known even if she didn’t say it.
To think of something like that, her strange expression and all she experienced at the park came to mind.
But that’s what made her leave him?
No, it costs money even if you want to leave. When did Leila have any money?
Theon’s hand, which was pressing on his temple, stopped.
She asked me to find her mother’s belongings.
When was it? I think it was two months ago. No, about three months ago. I don’t remember it in detail, but it wasn’t that far back.
Theon didn’t know what the belongings were, he hadn’t checked.
All he did was pay the bank clerks to take the goods to Leila so she wouldn’t bother him.
If there were any valuable items among them, she could have prepared enough money to go on the journey.
However, traveling was not all about money.
It was dangerous for a woman to go on a trip alone, especially someone like Leila, who looked like a lady at first glance.
There’s no way Leila doesn’t know that.
If there was a helper…
What if someone helped Leila leave? But was there anyone who would help Leila?
He picked her up when she was left all alone.
No. Maybe there was. He might have helped Leila.
Theon called to the coachman by opening the window of the carriage connected to him, soon the carriage slowed down.
“How long until we arrive?”
“We’ll be there in about 20 minutes.”
Theon checked the time. There were about 40 minutes left until the appointment, he would be late if he were to turn around and go back to check.
“What shall I do? Do you wish to go somewhere else?”
“……No. Keep going.”
Theon closed the window, and the carriage ran toward its destination.
not really liking this painting of the wife as an evil woman when she was the who got cheated on but ahem anyways