“There’s less than half an hour left, but you don’t have to worry.
This forest is a hunting ground owned by the imperial family, and there’s a lodging that His Majesty used in the vicinity.
It is now empty, but I was told that it’s alright for the Grand Duke to use it.”
The Grand Duke’s face brightened.
He quickly ordered his knights to follow the guidance of the Imperial Knights.
“Have you ever been there, Sid” Apollonia asked Sid in a low voice.
He had been away for a while due to his wife’s worsening health, but he managed to return to the capital in time for the hunting competition.
Now he stood next to her as her escort.
“I’ve been there with His Majesty the Emperor a long time ago.
Just as that knight said, there is a small mansion owned by the imperial family, but I’m worried that it’s a little old.”
“Did you meet Uriel before we departed”
“I told him to stay in the palace to watch the situation.
Formally, he needs to stay in the palace as he is the Grand Duke’s vassal now as well as the winner of the hunting competition.”
They arrived at the log building hidden in the forest just as they expected.
The building in front of them looked clean even though it had not been used for a long time, and the structure also looked strong.
It looked crude at first glance, but it was made of high-quality wood which accentuated its antique look, and the delicately carved imperial patterns could be seen in every nook and cranny.
“It’s bigger than I thought.”
“It’s a place that His Majesty used to visit.
So it has room for escorts.”
As she entered the building, Apollonia turned her head in Caelion’s direction.
They hadn’t had a proper conversation since the competition ended.
She was aware that Caelion had been looking at her all day and waiting for eye contact.
He looked her way several times with a mixed look of gratitude for saving him from the monster and shame that he had fallen into Petra’s trap after disregarding her advice.
But Apollonia kept avoiding his gaze.
She was helping them out because of pity and a sense of solidarity, but she had yet to determine whether to keep the Evinharts as her ally or not.
It was common in history for a coalition to break after joining hands to combat a common enemy.
Furthermore, Caelion provoked her the first time they met, and he did not follow her advice to the end.
‘It will be nice if there is a way to make you obey me completely!’
She admired Caelion’s talent.
He was gifted with both martial arts and graciousness.
Above all, his similar appearance to the previous emperor itself was symbolic.
However, now was not the time to think about that.
“Please go in, Your Highness.”
While Apollonia was lost in thought, they arrived at her room.
“I’ll be in the next room.”
“Wait, let’s talk for a moment,” Apollonia called her knight as he was about to turn around.
“What are you…”
“You’ve been avoiding me since we came back from Lishan.” She casually sat on the bed.
But as soon as he heard that, Sid turned his gaze away.
“You must rest for today and tell me tomorrow.”
“You must have already guessed what I’m going to say.” Apollonia beckoned him to come closer and continued to talk.
“You must retire after we return to the palace, Sid.”
Sid’s face twitched, but Apollonia was indifferent about it.
“You should live for your own family now.”
“…I told you that this is my calling”
“It’s an order, Sid.”
Sid’s face was horribly distorted.
There was nothing but sadness in those pine-colored eyes that once made the enemy and the allies tremble in fear.
“I can’t leave Your Highness alone.”
“Your wife is in critical condition, and you have a son my age.
You shouldn’t leave those people alone.
Furthermore, there’s Uriel now.
He’s enough to play the role of an escort.”
“Sid.” To the man who suddenly seemed to have aged for about ten years, she smiled as gently as possible.
“Who helped me to escape from the deceased emperor’s bedroom to my room undetected when I was nine years old”
“When Gareth pushed me into the water at the age of twelve, who got me out of the water, slapped him on the cheek, and got punished for three days”
It would have been better if I had killed him then.”
“You are my father and teacher.
That will never change.”
“Until now, you have been managing the royal villa, but it’ll become my duty from now on.
Now that we already set the foundation, you’ve already finished your job.”
She was clearly saying that she didn’t need him anymore.
His frown deepened.