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The bottle that Damia handed to Cesare was not black perfume. Instead, she held out the bottle Heinrich had given her for self-defense.
Inside of it was a potent sleeping gas.
Cesare would have never guessed that she held such a weapon on her person. Because he had struck Damia first, he had been overconfident.
Having defeated him because of this, she quickly covered her nose and mouth with her sleeves. She tried not to breathe in the sleeping gas, but her hands and feet had already grown numb from how powerful its medicinal properties were.
It was a mistake that she dropped the handkerchief wrapped around her face while fighting Cesare earlier. Damia tried to give strength to her increasingly dull fingertips and, in the end, even dropped her lamp.
When her lamp fell, her vision went dark. She had to leave the warehouse quickly, but even keeping focus was challenging.
If she also fell because of the gas, there was a high probability that Cesare, who was a strong man, would wake up first. Then she and Hemish would be in danger.
‘If I can’t make it out and ask for help… … .’
Damia desperately searched for the door, fumbling in the dark against the warehouse wall, where she couldn’t see an inch ahead of herself. But strength was sapped out of her legs, and she collapsed on the spot.
Slam-!! [sfx: of her falling]
Now, she was dizzy and blind. Unable to figure out which direction to crawl towards, Damia despaired inwardly.
‘Is this the end for me?’
Just at that very moment when Damia succumbed to the sleeping gas and started to close her eyes—Miraculously, the door slammed open in the distance, and a bright light burst in like an explosion.
“Dami!! Are you here?”
At the unexpected voice that shouldn’t have been here, she was slightly startled out of her oncoming slumber.
“Sir Akkard… … ?”
Damia called him in a faint voice, in doubt. Even though her weak voice seemed like a breeze would extinguish it, Akkard seemed to have heard it.
“Oh my God, Damia!!”
Seeing her crumpled on the floor, Akkard screamed and ran toward her. When she felt his grip and familiar body temperature, she was reassured that she hadn’t hallucinated.
She didn’t know how he got here, but she had to admit one thing: Akkard Valerian had a talent for showing up when she needed help.
“What the hell happened? Are you okay, huh?”
he asked breathlessly as he held Damia in his arms. She didn’t know if she imagined things, but the sound of his voice ringing in her ear sounded like he was crying right now.
“I’m alright, ah,”
Damia automatically answered. She wasn’t really okay, but Akkard seemed more frightened than she was.
But she was now at her limit. Before losing her mind, Damia gathered her last strength and whispered,
“Inside—there’s Cesare… … catch… … .”
Before she could finish speaking, her consciousness rapidly clouded and grew dark. Damia could feel her own limp head hit his chest.
His heart was beating like crazy in his chest. That was Damia’s last thought.
* * *
The reason Akkard could appear at the inn promptly was simple. It was because he had done a background check on Damia.
Of course, it was not his initial intention, but it had been Heinrich who unexpectedly initiated this assignment.
“The high-ranking priests of the High Temple heading south have almost arrived. The Saint is not moving much at the moment, but we still need to keep an eye on her.”
“And the whereabouts of Cesare, who has been kicked out of the Primula family, is now unknown. He was originally reported to be with a group of priests heading south, but disappeared along the way.”
Akkard’s eyebrows were furrowed while he was briefing Heinrich, who was evidently still engrossed in his thoughts.
“Your Highness, are you listening?”
Akkard, whose patience had reached the limit, frowned and asked. But this time, the only thing that came back was an irritating moan.
“Urgh… … .”
“If you keep doing that, I will go.”
Akkard, who bowed, stood up to go. Then, Heinrich took a deep breath and explained,
“Yes, it’s better for the lord to go.”
Are you kidding me now? Unfortunately, Akkard’s foul mood was about to get worse.
“Go and help Miss Damia. Because I have a bad feeling for some reason,”
Heinrich explained soon after. When that name came out of his mouth, Akkard’s nerves went in high alert.
“What do you mean? Did something happen to Damia?”
Immediately, Akkard’s glare grew sharp, urging him to answer his questions. Then Heinrich inquired, seemingly surprised:
“Huh? Haven’t you heard anything?”
He thought Lessid, the informant, or Damia, the direct party involved, would have told him.
Heinrich, who was about to ask, belatedly recalled Akkard’s broken interpersonal relationships. And inwardly, he clicked his tongue in disapproval.
‘Right, I want to live a comfortable life.’
Akkard was not a subordinate who would let his superiors idly indulge themselves at his expense. Impatient from the moment Damia’s name came up, he inquired snappily:
“Tell me. Where is Damia now?”
“Perhaps at the largest inn in the capital? But I don’t know when she’s planning to go through with it.”
Heinrich replied with a grimace.
He thought highly of Damia’s offer to steal some black perfume. Naturally, therefore, he found out the date Primula’s caravan crossed the border.
Through this, they could roughly estimate the arrival date at the inn. However, since it is only an ‘estimation,’ there were probably off by two or three days.
Nothing was certain in life. At least, that was the only certainity in this era. Therefore, as a ruler, Heinrich had to foresee and prepare for all dangers in advance.
‘Will this plan be successful?’