Chapter Thirty-Five: His Highness Strikes Back
Once the fire circulating the residence was extinguished, a search began throughout the island for any remaining invaders.
The boat, which had been tied up to the south beach under the cover of the night prior, had already been retrieved with a man who was supposed to be on guard duty, leaving the escapees with little way to get off the island.
The search was led by Nolan’s uncle’s people, with Nolan and the others, but some volunteer islanders also participated.
The islanders, who had developed efficient search methods during Leticia’s runaway fiasco, worked quickly.
While the criminal hunt was going on, I was cleaning up the residence, which had been flooded by the firefighting efforts, with Olivia, who had heard the commotion—or rather, had been startled by the sound of the bell and rushed to the scene. Nolan had left Marco at the house in case of emergency, so his monstrous strength had enabled us to clean up the house at an astonishing speed.
After taking out all the rubbish and mopping up the puddles of water inside the house, I looked at my reflection in the window and saw that I was in terrible shape. My hair, which had been pulled back in a bun, was messy, and my clothes were covered in mud and soot. Black lines of dirt were running in all directions across my face.
“We look terrible, don’t we?”
As I looked at Olivia, stunned at her deplorable state, Olivia gave a sad nod. We both looked at our reflections in the window pane in silence before I turned to look up at the sky.
“Do we even have the money to repair this place, this house…?”
Marco had his hands held together and looked downcast and small. Nearby, Olivia muttered in an unusually dark tone, “Who would…”
I remembered the attackers who appeared in the middle of the night. One wrong move, and we would have all been killed. Ricardo was looking for a woman named Suzette Limourie, the mistress of Marquis Dortrek. She was someone who might know something about the death of the Minister of Finance. If so, it must have been the work of the Marquis Dortrek, who had sniffed out Ricardo’s activities.
My anger will not subside until we capture Rosie’s father and extract every last bit of reparations from him.
“The living room floor and wallpaper all need to be replaced.” Olivia said with a long sigh.
The fire did not spread to the second floor; the first floor burned only in places, but the living room was severely damaged. The flames discolored the wallpaper, and the lower half of the curtains had burned away. Things could have been far worse had the fire spread from the curtains to the ceiling.
—It’s so frustrating. Why do we have to go through this? Why do they have to do this to us?
Wasn’t Nolan just adding insult to injury? What had he even done by far? The fire in the house was extinguished, but the flames of anger inside me were burning brightly.
“The sun is already rising.” Olivia’s simple words made me look out the window, and sure enough, the sky in the distance was beginning to turn white.
It will soon be low tide.
There was another road connecting the island to land at low tide. This is the only way for the intruders to get off the island, even if the island gates are closed and they lost their boats. Nolan was probably on the beach right now, waiting to ambush the enemy. Feeling uneasy, I took Marco with me to check the shoreline.
Marco and I weaved through bushes higher than my height as we neared the ocean, avoiding the rocks. Just as we were about to land on the beach, Marco suddenly stopped and held out his palm to stop me.
“Shhh! I hear something.” Marco placed his index finger on his mouth and turned his eyes to our surroundings.
Perplexed, I strained my ears too, but all I could hear was the rustling of the leaves and bushes in the wind.
Marco bent down as if to hide his great bulk behind a rock. We were both mounted to our positions when I heard the faint sound of hooves in the distance. I swallowed my breath and looked in the direction of the sound.
Soon, two mounted men came galloping down the rocky slope. The impact sent countless small stones rolling down the rocky terrain.
The men with black clothes wrapped around their faces and swords belted at their waists were hardly the residents of Dahl Island. I stuck to the shade of the rock and followed them with my eyes. It seemed that boats were not the only means of entry for these invaders.
When the men landed on the shoreline, they turned the horses’ necks toward the sea and paraded along the sandy beach. They must be looking for a path leading to land.
Under a mildly brightening sky, a path of sediment could be seen from the beach. The trail was still below sea level in places, but it was definitely connected to the mainland and could already be crossed by horseback.
Just as the men regained their grip on the reins and kicked their horses’ flanks, they noticed a figure strolling along the beach. Nolan approached the men leisurely as if he were on an early morning walk.
And not far behind him was Richard. I noticed Marco’s body stiffening.
At the same time, the two men on horseback sensed Nolan’s presence, turned their horses around, and put themselves on alert.
When Nolan came within about ten paces away from the men, he stopped. Hanging from his arm was a long rope-like object. “Who are these people intruding upon my land? At least have the courtesy to say hello.”
The men drew their swords.
Without a moment’s pause, Marco jumped out of the woodwork. Realizing his movements, the men turned as Nolan released a rope from his hand toward them.
The rope, with a steel weight attached to the end, entangled the legs of the horses before them, startling the horses and causing them to raise their front legs high. The horses flayed their legs around before tumbling over.
As they fell off their backs, one man became trapped under a fallen horse, but the other got up agilely, turned around, and started dashing toward the sea.
Chasing after him were Nolan and Marco.
In a struggle, Ricardo dragged the stuck man out from under the horse. There, I joined up with him.
The legs of the moaning man still lying on the beach were hastily tied up with the rope that Nolan had tossed. I was uncomfortable tying the man’s strangely bent legs, but I ignored my guilty conscience and tried to avoid letting him get away.
Nolan and Marco, along with the fleeing man, tumbled in a narrow path that appeared on the beach. The three became soaking wet and began engaging in a brawl.
Marco grabbed the man who attempted to escape and pushed him down. Nolan then jumped on the man, causing the fugitive to fall and splash into the water. When the man emerged from the water, Nolan’s arm was already firmly around his neck. Thus, we were able to capture every last person involved, even from the escape routes created by nature.
From there, Nolan took the men to the island’s vigilante corps.
After Nolan left for the island’s center, Olivia and I began waiting in the half-destroyed mansion for him to return.
The sun was setting, and the mansion was getting cold, but we were weirdly afraid to light the fireplace. We somehow managed to get through the cold by putting on thick clothes when Nolan and Ricardo finally arrived home.
Nolan greeted me at the door, kissed me on the forehead, then took my hand with a shocked look.
“Your body is freezing. Were you waiting outside the whole time?”
“We waited inside but were afraid to light the fireplace.”
“…If you developed pneumonia, everything would be for naught.”
When the prince, who once stood at the grave of the fifth prince for a night and developed pneumonia, was the one saying so, then it’d be rather convincing.
At Nolan’s direction, a fire was lit in the fireplace, and we had dinner at the table next to the kitchen. Everyone was already exhausted, and it would be tiresome to set up a table even the shortest distance away.
I drank the hot soup and could feel the warmth finally returning to my fingertips.
Nolan, who was sitting across from me, was resting his elbows on the table unusually, munching on a piece of bread. He must have also been exhausted.
“How did looking through the mountains go?”
“We’ve captured two suspicious men. They are being held at the office of the island’s vigilante corps, along with the men we captured at home and sea.”
“Did they say why they attacked us?”
“The men who attacked us were merely throwaway pawns. They don’t possess much knowledge and simply move for money. As for the four people captured outside the mansion, with enough persuasion, I’m sure we’re bound to find out something. But for now, there is a limit to what we can do here. They will be taken to the Royal Palace tomorrow. After that, I will leave the investigation to the Kingsguard.”
The one they attacked was a prince. This must be a case in which the Kingsguard should be the one to take action.
Will they be able to uncover the mastermind behind it? I hope that we can trace it back to the evil marquis.
I realized I had been unconsciously furrowing my brows, so I calmed myself down by sipping my tea. I put the cup back in the saucer, looked up, and met my eyes with Nolan. He looked a little vulnerable.
“I can’t leave you here alone. Tomorrow you will go with me to the Royal Palace… I know it’s been hard for you.”
Laughing faintly, I shook my head from side to side, “I’m used to cleaning up messes. Don’t worry.”
But Nolan kept his eyes on me and said in a low, firm voice, “…It’s not about cleaning up. Last night, you were almost killed.”
Instantly I found my face stiffening as well. It was all I could do to keep my voice from shaking.
“I was strong too, wasn’t I…? I was at least a bit useful, wasn’t I?”
“—I’m truly glad that I have you with me.”
I turned off the light and wrapped myself in the bedding, my body trembling slightly.
I absentmindedly stared at a spot on the wall and had a thought. It’s not that I was cold. I felt like someone was about to barge into my room, and I was restless.
I was afraid.
What happened last night traumatized me.
As I heard the sound of clothing rustling, Nolan’s hand reached out from behind me and pulled me closer. I felt Nolan’s warmth on my back. He placed his hand over my shoulder and touched my hand almost to envelope it. As he did so, my body became hot as though the cold from the outside was a lie, and my frightened, nervous heart hopelessly fluttered.
We just huddled together silently, without a word.
The following day we left Dahl Island in a large group.
With the help of the vigilantes, we divided into three carriages for the journey to the Royal Palace. Those we captured were carried in separate carriages to avoid the possibility of them conspiring against us.
As we proceeded along the straight road to the Royal Capital, we encountered a large army marching toward us.
Leading the cavalry was, to our surprise, the first prince.
He was dressed in uniform as the Commander of the Royal Cavalry and had brought with him, from the Royal Capital, the members of the Kingsguard alongside some of his own men.
Nolan’s uncle must have traveled to the Royal Capital to inform him. We then parted from Dahl Island’s vigilantes who had come with us and headed for the Royal Palace with the Kingsguard.
We arrived at the palace at night, which was then followed by numerous greetings. It seemed that everyone had heard the attack on Nolan’s residence and wished to confirm his safety.
As soon as we got off the carriage and entered the building, the queen ran up to Nolan, “What happened!?”
The queen stood before Nolan’s eyes, her mouth quivering slightly. I saw the fear on her pale face at the thought of possibly losing another sone again.
But Nolan just kisses the queen’s cheek lightly and suddenly took hold of my hand, “I leave my mother to you.”
I quickly replied with a yes.
The men we had brought with us from Dahl Island were escorted out of the carriage by the Kingsguard and dragged to the back of the Royal Palace. Nolan followed, chatting with one of the Kingsguard, and disappeared with them.
I was left to deal with the queen, who was deeply worried about Nolan.
Looking for your next read while waiting for chapter updates? Visit our Instagram for recommendations on novels involving villainesses, isekais, romances, and everything in between~!