It’s been three months since I last saw Hessen.
He often brought his men for reconnaissance to spy on the Veronis territory, but he had never acted as tyrannous as he was being today.
That’s because if he was to make a fuss while being in another noble’s territory, complications would surely arise.

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I’m not sure what, but there must have been something that offended Hessen today.
If that’s not the case… Then he might have finally become such a mess that he couldn’t even see anything in front of his nose.

If it’s Hessen, it makes sense.

“What are you looking at? Do you want to die?!”

He growled at the bystanders crowding around him.
They were probably wondering what was going on with Hessen—his glare was so hideous that it was not strange to think that he would kill someone right away.

I squeezed in between those who faltered and retreated, confronting Hessen.
I asked one of the men who was standing still.

“Excuse me, may I ask what’s going on?”

“This…”

But the same moment the man was about to answer, Hessen glared towards this side and yelled.

“How dare you swear at the Everett family in front of me?”

…Sure enough, I could finally understand what happened.

These days, the tone in which the people of Veronis talked about Everett had changed.
They still swore at Everett but compared to the past when their words would be filled with scorn, recently there had become many cases of mocking and laughing at Everett while satirizing them.

And because Hessen had such a fiery personality, he wouldn’t be able to endure such insults.
I’m sure that’s why he got so angry.

Shiiing. Hessen pulled his sword out of its scabbard.
At that moment, not only the villagers but also Hessen’s men faltered in shock.
…It seemed like this was snowballing into a bigger issue.
I watched the situation with trepidation.

“I’ll give you guys a choice.
Your neck or your tongue—which one will be cut off? It’s either one or the other.
So, what do you want to do?”

Hessen asked as he stared at the three men standing in front of him.
His eyes were livid with madness.
He originally wasn’t normal already, but he seemed to have gotten even crazier in the few months I hadn’t seen him.

“W-Why must you cut our tongues or our necks? Our lives depend on our territory’s lord!”

“Right! Milord is the only one who can punish us!”

“And did we say something wrong? Everett is a den of demons, even a dog passing by knows this…”

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Then, an old man stepped up and began to stop the three men.
The old man seemed to have noticed Hessen’s hair and eye color. That man’s hair color… he whispered to the others.

“……!”

The three men who listened to the old man turned blue at the face.
Soon, everyone else around Hessen became engulfed in fear.
One of the men stuttered and spoke.

“Y-Young Lord Everett…”

Scowling, Hessen grabbed the sword.

“I can’t believe you just noticed after seeing this silver hair, maybe because you’re all insects.”

Certainly, the Everett family’s silver hair was a rare hair color that couldn’t be easily found.
Silver hair with a blue tinge was not common anywhere, and it was the same with indigo eyes.
The combination of these two colors was typically a known attribute of the Everetts.

Nevertheless, the reason why these three men couldn’t recognize Hessen was because… The only explanation was that they were townspeople who had never traveled outside of this village in their lifetime.

In fact, this kind of thing happened a lot.
Rural people who had never left their birthplaces often met only their own territory’s lords and had no chance to meet other nobles.

So, how would anyone be able to tell what Hessen Everett looked like? Even if he had silver-blue hair and indigo eyes, they’d just say, ‘He’s got a bit of an unusual appearance,’ and move on.

‘Besides that, it would be harder to recognize him while he’s wearing common clothes for this reconnaissance.’

While wearing a white shirt and black pants, Hessen came this way with his sword.
His relaxed stride was like a beast’s gait while hunting its prey.

The men were now trembling as they glanced around, wondering if anyone would help.
However, just the usual, no one stepped up to help them.

“Your neck? Your tongue? Which one do you want gone? You, the one standing on the far left—tell me.”

Usually, the act of insulting or mocking a nobleman would be punished with the label of an ‘act of insolence’.

However, punishment for this was the ‘right of the lord’.
In other words, it’s obvious that Hessen was abusing his power right now.

If this issue were to be escalated to Valentino later, Everett would be in a tight position.

But Hessen didn’t seem to be thinking about the consequences at all.
In his gaze, it seemed like there was nothing that could stop him.
He pointed towards the man on the far with his sword and spoke.

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“Are you mute? Why have you shut your mouth when you could speak so well just a while ago? If you can’t decide, I’ll do it for you.
Stick out your tongue.”

“……!”

Fortunately, it didn’t seem like he wanted to commit murder in Veronis.
Hessen can’t keep going wild like this.
Even if it was something like swearing at a noble, it’s too much of a punishment to cut someone’s tongue.
It’s been a long time since such an evil law was abolished.
Of course, Everett’s demons still often do even worse than just this.

I took a quiet, deep breath and wordlessly stepped forward.

“……? Who are you?”

“…….”

As I shielded the three men behind me, Hessen raised his eyebrows as he scowled at me.
Instead of answering right away, I bowed my head as politely as possible.
I knew better than anyone else how to deal with Hessen.
When he was acting like such a lunatic, it was best to listen to whatever he wanted rather than inciting him more.
I quietly opened my lips and spoke.

“I am Leah, a maid working in the Valentino estate.
As a humble maid, I apologize very much for blocking the presence of an esteemed individual such as Your Lordship.
However, I would sincerely like to apologize on behalf of these people, so please listen with a generous heart.”

“Hoooh…?”

Hessen reacted with interest.
It was strange that a maid had perfect etiquette.
He looked at me as if I was a dog performing a trick.
I continued to speak with a low voice.

“These people here have not gotten to their senses because they lack the proper education.
They have also been attacked by monsters over the past year and a half.
Since madmen only speak nonsense while they are in pain, I humbly ask you not to be incensed by them—instead, please pity them and forgive them with generosity.”

“…….”

Hessen, who lowered the sword a little, stared at me as if he was contemplating.
I waited quietly, still gauging Hessen’s reaction as my head was down.

After a while, Hessen seemed to be smiling and moved the sword towards my neck.
I heard people swallowing their breath.
I trembled a little on purpose, wondering if I should show a bigger reaction of fearing the edge of a sharp sword.

“How bold, this maid.”

“…….”

“Considering what you should have learned while working in a castle, it seems like your etiquette is also excellent.”

“Thank you, Young Lord.”

When I answered with a shaky voice, Hessen barked out a laugh as if he was dying of fun.
The eyes looking at me were glinting in a different sense than before.

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…Truthfully, I already knew that this would happen.
It was like drawing the attention of a wildcat that couldn’t overcome its temper by throwing a new toy at it.

Hessen’s gaze was filled with cruel interest as he looked at me.
While he was distracted, I wanted the men behind me to run away, but they just continued to hesitate as though they had yet to gather their wits about them.

As I was wondering how I could signal to them, Hessen put the sword back in its scabbard and suddenly pulled my arm.
His face came close.
I could see that familiar madness, that impulse in those indigo eyes.

“What is this? Your new hobby?”

The whisper gave me goosebumps.
The question just now was asked towards not the maid Leah, but towards Lily Everett.
…I can’t believe it, but Hessen seemed to have noticed who I was.

But how?

‘The transformation magic tool should be perfect…?’

Hessen grabbed my arm and began to drag me somewhere.
People screamed in anew, regardless of what happened.

Looking back, the three men were sitting on the floor staring blankly at me and Hessen.
Seeing that, I inwardly swallowed a sigh.

Shouting at his men to get lost, Hessen took me to a deserted place.

After confirming that there were no people around us, he approached closer and pushed me against the wooden wall of an old cabin.

He recklessly grasped my chin.
Then, he looked at me up and down, then back again to my face.

His grip was so rough that I felt a little dizzy.

Only after a while, Hessen let me go and said with an arrogant look on his face.

“What’s with this ugly appearance.
Change back to your face right away.”

“…….”

He spoke with a commanding tone.
After sighing a little, I touched the magic tool and released my transformation.
My clothes remained to be a maid’s attire, but a conspicuous glow appeared as I returned to my original appearance before Hessen’s eyes.

He took a couple of steps back, slowly looked up and down at me, and suddenly clenched his hand into a fist.

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When I glanced up at him, the tips of his ears were a little red.

“Why are you walking around like a maid? You’re a duchess now.”

“It just happened.”

“Ha…”

I was going to let Hessen go after dealing with him reasonably.
However, the look in his eyes suddenly changed.
He abruptly approached me and grabbed my wrist once again.

Hessen took something like a thin string out of his pocket and began to tie it to my wrist.
Startled, I asked.

“What are you doing?”

“Hey, you… Do you really want to remarry that dog-like bastard, Lennon Chester?”

“Why do you care?”

“Shit, why shouldn’t I?!”

Hessen yelled and began to drag me to the place where a horse was staying.
I knew, it seemed to have become more of a lunatic than before.

Hessen tried to lift me atop the horse, and I only stared at him with a disgusted and tired look.

At that moment, from somewhere afar, an angry voice burst out.

“Stop!”

Riding a black horse with a fine mane, that person galloped speedily towards this way.

As the distance between us narrowed, that person’s appearance became clearer.
His black hair was being blown by the fierce wind and his dignified face was distorted as if he was angry.

And his blue eyes seemed to have gone ablaze.

I was taken aback.
In a daze, I muttered that person’s name.

“Theodore…”

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