Every time the lukewarm liquid was handed over, his throat stung.
When Erhart couldn’t stand the discomfort and eventually furrowed his eyebrows, Leah was restless.

“Are you very uncomfortable?”

It’s a question he had heard a hundred times after waking up.
It didn’t seem like he was listening properly, so Erhart nodded his head indifferently and swallowed.
He had a sore throat, and had no appetite, and only found consciousness after a few days.
Leah was trying to feed him anything.
Erhart couldn’t help but ignore it.

‘Your Highness, can you see me? Do you know who I am?’

When he woke up a while ago, the first thing he saw were dark brown eyes with tears.

Her pale and tired face showed how badly she felt troubled in the past few days.
If he had said that he didn’t remember, it seemed like she would cry at any moment.
While thinking useless thoughts, Erhart nodded his head steadily.
Only then did Leah let out a long breath that had been holding her back for several days, and now it is.
She couldn’t calm down for a while, but now she’s slowly regaining her composure.

“I’m tired.
I need to rest.”

“You do that, Your Highness.
Isn’t that what the doctor said earlier? It’s best to rest without thinking about anything.”

A tired look appeared on Erhart’s face, so Leah quickly removed the cup she was holding and helped him lie down.
She even opened the duvet.
Normally, he would have pushed her hand away saying he would take care of it, but today he didn’t even have the energy to do that.

Leah looked back over and over again, and finally closed the door and left.
Click.
As soon as he heard the door shut, Erhart clasped his arms at an angle and fell into thought.
His blue eyes were cold with no warmth at all.

“…Three days.
Three days.”

Erhart chewed over the time he lost consciousness.
Three days.
It was long.
Leah ended up crying, saying she was worried that he didn’t wake up even though he was not in fatal danger.

He let his guard down.

He should have paid attention.
He relaxed his vigilance due to the peaceful atmosphere.
When he was still at the Imperial court, Olivia’s attention had always been on him and he hadn’t been careless like this.
So Erhart or Leah never would have thought that his tea might have been poisoned.

He was lucky this time.
Olivia had a lot of worries, and she gave him poison little by little to build up his tolerance every day.
No, was this really because of luck? Perhaps the Emperor really had no intention of killing Erhart.
What he wanted to show was a warning, or a demonstration.

For example, even if you are far away, you are still not out of my grasp.
Don’t send Olivia greetings.
Let her slowly forget.
And wait patiently for death to come.

If it had been usual, Erhart would have complied.

He was tired of the slowly approaching death, and thought that it would be better for him to take the hand of death himself.
Just like when he had slipped down the cliff a little impulsively.

“If it’s going to be like this, it’s difficult.”

But now he had a question.
Did he really have to live like this?

Should he meekly endure malice for unknown reasons? Why him? A question that had never been asked before cleared the helplessness from Erhart’s mind and filled the void with anger instead.

Maybe it was because he felt like he wanted to live sometimes.

Then what should he do? There was no need to worry.
The way to get out of threats like these was simple; it was to push the original owner out of the throne and take its place.
It wasn’t easy, but it wasn’t impossible either.

Once he made this intention clear, Olivia would help with all her heart, and the Duke of Winston, who instated Olivia to the Emperor’s annoyance, well, if they don’t help him even after seeing this, wouldn’t they be fools?

“”

“…”

On the palm of Erhart’s outstretched hand, the sphere of light created by magical power flickered repeatedly, dimming and becoming clearer.
Atmospheric mana gathered in a circle around his hand.

He soon frowned, dissipating his magic.
His body had not yet recovered, so his energy quickly ran out.
He also had to rest.
Even if he didn’t want to, the body kept asking for sleep.
Nevertheless, Erhard could not sleep and pondered another three days.

It was not the result of the same emotions as before.

Erhart’s gaze slowly turned to somewhere.
It was a closet with a door leading out.
Erhart, looking at it with troubled eyes for a while, eventually turned his back to the closet and tightly closed his eyes.
Even that was not enough, so he threw his blanket over his head.

However, the protest did not last long.
Erhart pushed the end of the blanket and gently raised his gaze, hesitating a little longer, and finally, squeezing his sagging body, put his feet under his bed.
He had been lying in bed for three days and had no energy.
He wondered if he should do something like this, but he had no choice.

He took his step cautiously, step by step, and there was a commotion outside the door.

Erhart clicked his tongue.
He only woke up today, and Leah, who was so concerned about his health, could not have allowed a fuss over anything.

Still, the noise meant that something was going on, which meant that if Leah couldn’t work it out, she might open that door and come in.

What if Leah came in and Erhart wasn’t in bed?

Leah might have collapsed on the spot.

He sighed and walked towards the door to figure out what was going on.
The barrier was heavy, but there was nothing he couldn’t hear when he listened.

“Captain.
This should be the guards’ job to drive him out, I don’t think you should bring this issue here.”

Leah’s voice was cold and nervous.
In front of him, she looked like she was just worried and guilty, but she must have been so vigilant the entire time he was unconscious.

“His appearance is unsightly, but the thing is, it’s not to the extent of driving him out.”

The captain of the guard hesitated, but said something.
What Erhart heard was only a fragment of a conversation, but in general he understood what was going on.
And the reason why was Leah was on the edge.

The handmaiden who brought him a poisoned tea committed suicide on the spot, and it was probably easy to guess who was behind the incident, but now clearly Leah was suspicious of everyone whose identities were unknown.

“Oh, he keeps looking for His Highness, and I wondered if it was someone who had a connection with His Highness.”

Erhart frowned at those words.

“His Highness has only recently come to Argen.
In the meantime, there has no one he has been in contact with.”

Leah’s reaction was no different.
Erhard had held his banquet once since coming down to Argen, but that was all.
He had no intention of continuing his exchanges with the nobility otherwise.
He didn’t know what he was going to do in the future, but even if he wanted to make acquaintances, he is only a matter of the future, not the present.

“However…”

The guard captain did not stop appealing.
But Erhart found no reason to listen further.
Leah would resolve it herself, so she wouldn’t need to come into his room.
Erhard straightened his body, leaning against her door.

“He keeps saying that His Highness will understand if I say that his name is Rayan, so I don’t know what to do.
Madam.
Please tell His Highness —”

The captain’s words were not completed.
Because Erhart, who was about to take a step in the opposite direction, opened the door immediately and went out.
The guard immediately paid respects, and Leah opened her eyes wide and opened her lips but Erhard had no time to pay attention to it.

He barely controlled his impatient heart.

“Bring the boy.”

“Y- Yes?”

“No, no.
I’ll go myself.”

In the end, Erhart couldn’t stand his impatience and hurried his steps.
He mustered his strength with every step he took, but his nerves were all over the place.
Leah, startled, followed after him, pleading with him to wait, but he did not slow down.

***

Rayan looked at the huge gate, which seemed unwilling to open to him, with green eyes stained with gloom.
The castle, which stood tall even when viewed from afar, was even larger when viewed from up close.
Of course, it wasn’t as beautiful as Atisa’s palace, but he thought for a bit that it would be quite beautiful in bright light.

But the admiration for its beauty was short-lived.

He managed to get there, and it didn’t seem that the door would ever open.
If he said he had come to see Erich, he thought they would naturally take him to him, but they were just trying to chase him away with a vigilant eye.

“Kid.
Why don’t you go now?”

Seeing him squatting with his back against the wall, a human clicked his tongue, suggesting.
Rayan shook his head wildly.

“The captain went to tell the Countess.
If you’re unlucky, you might end up in prison, you know?”

“…”

“Suit yourself.
If you’re in prison, you’re the one who will suffer.
You don’t pretend to listen even if I’m showing concern that a young child might suffer in prison.”

Rayan remained silent the whole time.
It seemed that humans were also unkind.
Rayan turned his head without saying a word.
He couldn’t even blink his eyes as if he was possessed, but soon he came to his senses and huffed.
He cleared his throat with a “hmm” and looked around.

As his gaze cleared, Rayan turned his head again and looked at the gates.
When he looked up, the round moon hanging from the spire was tilted a little further to the side.

A lot of time had passed.
The time he spent in the cave was not short, but I also had time to confront them here.
But Erich didn’t appear in front of him, so he kept getting nervous.

Would it be better to go back first?

However, it took a long time to come up here to see Erich.
He could wait in the cave every day, but that was less promising than waiting in front of this gate.

“Can I really not meet Erich?”

Rayan spoke to the man who kept pushing him away and telling him to go.
The man who had been startled and embarrassed every time he called Erich’s name wasn’t surprised anymore, and didn’t respond.
He just waved his hand.

Rayan looked at the sky one more time and counted slowly inwardly.
He was only going to count to ten and go back.
He had to go today, even if they couldn’t meet.
The time allowed on the surface was not that long.
He was already out of breath.

One, two… seven, eight.

The numbers gradually progressed.
At eight, he stopped counting and hesitated for a moment.
Then, the moment he started counting to nine again…

“Rayan.”

A voice came from on top of his head.

“… Ten.”

Rayan stretched out his hand in the direction of the sound and hugged him without hesitation.
The person who initially flinched quickly lowered himself and hugged him back.

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