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Chapter 6: Encounter

“Surely it should be around here…”

Having cried and released her emotions, Eva, feeling refreshed, entered the forest behind the mansion to search for wild strawberries.

Since Nick and Annie had expressed their anger on her behalf, Eva had no choice but to play the role of a strong person, assuring them that she was okay.

Roger knew that Eva was not good at relying on others or seeking help, which is probably why he let her cry like that. As a gesture of gratitude, Eva decided to pick wild strawberries to make Roger’s favorite strawberry pie.

A bit away from the forest path, there should be a cluster of wild strawberries near the slope…

“There it is!”

Beyond the bushes, Eva could see bright red wild strawberries like ruby gems.

Pushing through the bushes, she emerged by the side of a small pond. In an open space by the pond, she could see numerous wild strawberries hanging in abundance.

“Not just enough for strawberry pie, but I could probably make jam too. I hope Roger will be pleased.”

Lost in thought while picking strawberries and placing them in a basket, Eva heard rustling sounds from the direction of the path.

perhaps a rabbit. Or maybe… a beast?

The weighty footsteps echoed, and Eva could sense something approaching her.

This might be a fairly large beast.

The distance from here to the mansion was considerable. Being in the open space with the low bushes of wild strawberries, there were no tall trees to escape to.

(This is not a situation where I can escape.)

She gently touched the short dagger she wore for self-defense over her clothes to confirm its location. Then, she picked up the bow hanging from her shoulder and, taking an arrow from the quiver at her waist, she loaded it.

Eva calmed her breathing and sharpened her senses.

(Where is it coming from?)

With the bow drawn, ready to shoot an arrow at any moment, she focused her gaze on the rustling bushes where the sound seemed to be coming from. At the moment she thought the bushes had moved, she saw a large, dark figure running towards her.

It looked like a wild boar.

Aiming for its forehead, Eva drew the bow. The released arrow flew straight and hit the boar’s forehead. Nevertheless, the boar’s legs didn’t stop. It continued to approach Eva.

(Next is the eye.)

She released the next arrow she had loaded, hitting the right eye. Finally, the boar’s speed slowed down, and it staggered, but it still showed signs of coming towards Eva.

(To the other side now.)

As she was about to release another arrow, she saw a shining object behind the boar. It turned out that someone was slashing at the boar from behind.

Looking at the person who appeared from behind the boar, now just a lump on the ground, Eva gasped.

A young man with long, golden hair tied back as if capturing the sunlight and a handsome face with burning red eyes emerged, his black cloak billowing. He shook the blood off his sword a few times and sheathed it. Coming towards Eva, he licked the blood off his lips with his well-shaped mouth.

Eva was momentarily captivated by the young man’s alluring gestures.

The approaching young man, with sharp, unforgiving almond-shaped eyes, stared at Eva without diverting his gaze.

“Are you injured?”

Finally coming to her senses with the young man’s words, Eva lowered the bow she had been holding.

(Who could he be? Judging from his hair color, he doesn’t seem to be from this country.)

“Yes, I’m fine. Excuse me, but who are you?” I called out, keeping in mind that I could use my dagger for self-defense at any time.

The young man stopped a little away from Eva and responded.

“I am a guard escorting a trading caravan from the Dacia Empire. We were on our way to the capital when a beast appeared, and I chased it to eliminate the threat. I apologize for startling you. I have no intention of harming you.”

His voice was deep and pleasant to the ears.

At this moment, Eva didn’t sense any strange auras from the young man. She observed him once again.

Despite his role as a guard, his demeanor suggested a noble status. His features were like fine art, with a well-defined face, smooth porcelain-like white skin, and a keen pair of almond-shaped red eyes. His long golden hair, tied neatly at the back, shimmered like sunlight.

“I apologize as well. Thank you for helping me. I am Eva, a member of the local lord’s family responsible for this territory. I express my gratitude on behalf of the lord.”

Hesitating whether to reveal her identity to the unfamiliar young man, Eva decided to trust her instincts. Besides, she was the one being rescued.


Upon hearing Eva’s status, the young man seemed momentarily taken aback but quickly continued.

“My name is Lucas. If you would, could you meet my master? We were just about to visit the residence of the border count.”

Having heard that much, Eva couldn’t refuse to greet the young man’s master.

“Yes, of course. Could you wait for a moment? I’ll go get my belongings.”

Seeing Lucas nod, Eva went to retrieve the basket containing the picked wild strawberries. She discreetly moved her self-defense dagger to a more accessible position, just in case.

“I appreciate your patience.”

As she approached the young man, Eva noticed that he was significantly taller than her. Being a guard, he had a slender yet well-built physique.

What was immediately held out in front of Eva were the two arrows she had shot at the boar earlier.

Taking the arrows, Eva looked up at Lucas. She noticed that there was still boar blood on his face.

“Oh… please wait a moment.”

From the basket, Eva took out a handkerchief and dampened it at the edge of the pond. She then offered it to Lucas.

“Your face still has some blood on it. Please use this.”

He hesitated for a moment, but seeing that Eva didn’t retract her hand, he murmured, “Thank you,” and took the handkerchief to wipe his face. While Lucas wiped his face, Eva glanced around and noticed a part of the ground where the color of the soil had changed. It seemed like he had buried the boar.

During this brief moment of surprise at Lucas’s quick work, he finished wiping his face and looked at Eva.

“I’ll thank you properly for this handkerchief later.”

Looking up at the young man, who spoke in a firm tone, Eva saw that there was still some splattered blood.

(Oh… you missed a spot.)

Inadvertently, she grabbed the handkerchief Lucas had and, stretching as much as she could, gently wiped away the remaining blood from his cheek to his neck.

(It’s clean now. There shouldn’t be anything left.)

To make sure there were no spots left, she moved her gaze, and to her surprise, she found Lucas’s face with a frozen expression nearby.

(Oh no! My body moved on its own as if I were doing it for the children in the territory.)

“Ah, I apologize! There was still a bit of blood left on your face, so I wiped it without permission.”

Apologizing hastily, she took a step back.

“Oh… no… thank you,” Lucas said, covering his mouth with one hand and his ears turning red.

Trying to conceal her embarrassment, Eva spoke, “So, shall we go?”

“Oh… Have you not brought a lady-in-waiting or someone with you?” Lucas asked, seeming to have just realized.

“Yes, I came alone.”

Upon hearing this, Lucas appeared briefly surprised, perhaps pondering something, but then his expression returned to an emotionless state. “I see. Well then,” he said, and he started walking.

Nervously, Eva followed him from behind.

A short distance away from the mansion, in the opposite direction of the path, a group of about ten people on horseback was waiting. Lucas’s master, with porcelain-like white skin, shining golden hair, and red eyes, appeared to be around thirty years old.

(Their facial features are quite similar. Could they be relatives?)

Both had elegant and refined faces, resembling works of art. While the young man had a sharpness that kept others at a distance, the master had a more expressive face and a gentle demeanor.

The master seemed surprised when the young man returned with an unfamiliar girl, but upon Eva’s introduction, he responded with a friendly smile.

“I am Viscount Raymond Coquinos. I am also a merchant from the Dacian Empire. I was on my way to the capital of this country for business negotiations. If it’s not too much trouble, could you guide us to the residence of Marquise Stahl?”

“Certainly. I welcome you as a representative of Marquise Stahl. If everyone is ready, I will guide you to the mansion.”

“Thank you very much.”

Having heard that Eva had arrived, Raymond insisted, “Miss, please ride on my horse,” and somewhat forcefully helped Eva onto his horse.

Holding the reins, Raymond started walking.

Glancing around, Eva could see the young man from earlier. He seemed to be on high alert, with sharp eyes surveying the surroundings.

“I hope it’s not too much to ask, but is Miss Eva’s mother the lady of the former Marquise Stahl?”


Riding on the horse towards the mansion, Eva was surprised by Raymond’s unexpected words.

“You resemble her ladyship quite a lot.”

“Does Viscount Coquinos know my mother?”

Staring at Raymond, her beautiful red eyes met his.

“Please call me Raymond. In fact, when I visited this place before, I had the opportunity to greet the former Lord and Lady. They treated me well.”

“I see. My parents passed away in a carriage accident seven years ago.”

“I heard the rumors. It’s unfortunate since they were both good people.”

“Thank you for saying that.”

“However… It surprised me that the daughter of the Marquise ventures into the forest alone without attendants or maids, armed with a bow and arrows. Truly worthy of the Marquise’s daughter.”

“Well… My father taught me for self-defense.”

Glancing at the bow and arrows that Eva held, Raymond found it amusing. He laughed, and Eva felt relieved that there was no mockery in his tone.

“Is the current Marquise Stahl your uncle?”


“I see.”

Eva discreetly observed Raymond from her horse.

Remembering her parents, she couldn’t help but wonder if she might learn something new from Raymond, who had memories of them.





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