st my balance and wobbled.

At the moment when I was about to fall forward, he wrapped his arm around my waist and gently held me.
My back touched his solid chest.

I looked up.
His blue eyes, which shone even more brilliantly in the light of dawn, were looking down at me.
I quickly stood up straight.

“It seems like it will take too long.”

I lowered the hand holding the sword handle.
My basic physical strength was not enough.
Will I be able to learn the sword during the remaining time of the year or so?

To that, he responded.

Anyway, I’ll protect you before the moment comes when you raise your sword, so it won’t matter.”


“Still, how fortunate it is.
You misunderstood that I wanted to learn swordsmanship.”

I don’t know if it’s good or bad, but I was unintentionally learning swordsmanship every day.

Insincerely, he knocked on the straw mats set up by the knights of the gymnasium.

Every time the sword was raised, crumbs from the straw fluttered in the sky.

Suren, who was sitting in the snow and watching the scraps flying in the air, opened her mouth.

“As far as I can see, Lady will never be able to escape.”


“Where do you think you’re going with that stamina?”

Well… I agree with that, too.

I stopped swinging my sword and looked around at the haystack.

I lifted the chin that was presumed to be the face of the haystack with my sword.

It looked somewhat like a human.

“Suren, let’s just assume we’re done fighting.
Let’s move this thing.”


“If the Duke asks where the haystack went…say it was torn to shreds by mistake with a rapier.”

“Surely…no way, right?”

That “surely” is correct.

As a long silence followed, Suren’s face twisted.

“Your Highness, please take me with you instead.
Then I’ll think about cooperating.
I came here because I couldn’t get a job at another mansion due to my ethnic features being too pronounced!”


“Why not?”

“To take you with me, I’d need two hot stones for warmth.”

I put the sword into the scabbard.

“Is it your wish to freeze to death?”

“Even a young lady who is weaker than me crosses over!”

Well, of course, if I stay here, I’m destined to die.

“Anyway, even if we escape, it’s not going to happen right away.
We’re planning to wait for about a year before starting a rebellion, so don’t worry.”

“Are you waiting for the weather to improve?”

Suren sniffled.

“The weather? I’m waiting for that…and just waiting for the right timing.”

I looked up at the sky.

The first time I looked up at the sky when I came here, it wasn’t this clear.

I must have gotten used to it.

It has been four months since Leoni came to the Duke’s residence.

It’s already been three months since I woke up here.

I wiped away the sweat that was trickling down.

Behind Suren, who was wrapping the hay with a blanket, Deon, Viter, and Edan appeared.

“Who is coming?”

“It must be a birthday procession.”


“Yes, it’s almost the Duke’s birthday.
It’s going to be bigger than last year.
I heard that the Duke’s status has grown even more after winning the last battle.
He’ll soon be recognized as an official prince.
We’re lining up early, you know.”

“… Were there no guests on his birthday originally?”

“They did come… but there were very few.
This is the first time we’ve had so many enemies.
There are also many gifts.
They must all be bribes.”

A cool breeze blew by, and the red hair fluttered and tickled the cheek.

Below the hill, there was a long line of wagons in front of the castle gate.
It was the first long procession I had seen since waking up here.

When I pulled my hair, that was flowing like a curtain, I saw Deon.

He was inspecting the cart that had entered the gate.
When the blanket covering the cart was removed, a colorful object was revealed.

I didn’t look at it for long, but Deon quickly lifted his head and looked at me, as if he had been waiting for me.

For a brief moment, our eyes met.

His gaze was directed toward me.


He called my name.

I approached him as he strode along on long legs.

I shouldn’t reveal the identity of the straw I barely managed to get.

Suren was whimpering behind me, wrapping the straw with a blanket.

Fortunately, it seemed he didn’t notice.
He didn’t pay attention to Suren and looked at me.

“There’s going to be a party soon.
Many outsiders will come.”

“Yes, I heard.
Guests are coming.”

“The employees will be busy preparing for the party.
You are also listed as a participant.”

I nodded my head.

After staring at me for a while, Deon spoke up.

“There probably won’t be anyone asking about your identity, but if anyone does, answer that you’re a member of the pro-Duke faction who entered as a civil servant like Viter.”

And then, he unusually gave me a warning.

“Be careful, Leonie.”

“I got it.
Don’t worry.
I’ll be careful not to get caught.”

“That’s not what I meant…”

Deon hesitated, opening and closing his lips several times before finally speaking.


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