Beatrice - Chapter 32 - Small Fetish of His
Chapter 32 – Small Fetish of His
Chloe had not seen the Archduke since the first day of Howl’s treatment. Although he had come by a few times to check on the horse, Chloe had been asleep, and he had not woken her up. He must have only been interested in the horse, and rightfully so—there was no reason for him to show any interest in her.
What would he want from a slave girl like me?
When Howl was being tested earlier in the day, Evan came alone without the Archduke, who must have been busy preparing for the next day’s departure. Chloe observed Howl quietly from the back. He seemed healthier than any other horse. Moved by his recovery, Evan decided to ride Howl during the ceremonial expedition. Even though Evan’s own injuries had not healed completely, he did not let it show.
With Howl’s treatment completed, Chloe was returning to the pharmacy with spring in her steps when Trigger found her and gave her the terrible news.
“Anyhow, you have been summoned by Lord Aaron Cupihit to the Archduke’s mansion. He says you have a lot to learn today and tomorrow,” Trigger pressed Chloe, who was still in deep panic. He asked to bring her as soon as possible. Why is this girl so sluggish? He grumbled to himself and nagged her to get moving.
Am I dreaming? Trigger’s annoyed face suggested that it was all real, but she still could not comprehend the situation. She was about to go on an arduous journey with a man that she had planned to avoid as much as possible. She recalled the days on which she had pretended to be asleep rather than to face him again.
Chloe wanted to break down and cry.
Why is my life so complicated? She had a mind to grab someone and ask why. Going to his house and learning to look after him felt like being taken into a tiger’s den. Despite her usual enthusiasm at work, she felt absolutely no motivation for the coming task.
“Come on, let’s go!” Trigger hounded her, ignoring her reluctant gestures.
Once at the Archduke’s mansion, Chloe did not speak a word. Even though she usually did not talk much, this time her eyes were dull and her body was sluggish. After being passively dragged around by Trigger, she finally ended up in Aaron’s office.
Aaron greeted her with a serious countenance, and in contrast with his relaxed attitude during the bath sessions at his house, began instructing her on various matters in an extremely strict manner. Dazed by the rapid development, she did not manage to follow half of what Aaron said. Regardless, he took her to the chief maid of the Archduke’s household.
The chief maid was a fastidious-looking old lady named Sandra. She began, in a ceaseless flow of words, teaching Chloe about the Archduke’s likes and dislikes.
“…So His Grace does not like being touched. He prefers to bathe alone and sleep alone. Hey, are you listening?”
“Yes, ma’am. When I am tending to his bath, I should massage his shoulders…”
“No! If you fail, I’m the one who’s going to get in trouble. You really need to pay attention!” Sandra chided her, peering at her with fierce eyes. Her terrifyingly, dangerous gaze brought Chloe back to her senses.
Knowing that she could not escape the circumstance, she felt that she needed to try as hard as she could. If she made mistakes and infuriated the Archduke, then Aaron and Sandra would be held accountable. The prospect of putting them in danger made her uncomfortable.
“I, I apologize. I will pay attention.”
“All right. I can’t be responsible for what will happen to you if you displease His Grace. So you need to do your job perfectly. Understood?”
Chloe swallowed. She knew very well what kind of person her new master was.
“Your main responsibilities will probably include laying out his outfits each day, making his bed, cleaning his sword every day, keeping his armor in order, occasionally making him his favorite tea, drawing his bath…” Sandra’s list went on. Chloe was clearly meant to do all the annoying and boring tasks for him, from the moment he wakes to the moment he sleeps.
Even though she had assisted Anna with her baths, she had never worked as a maid, and this worried her. Sandra kept spouting off until suppertime. Chloe felt uneasy the entire day. If only they would fire me for not doing a good job.
“Don’t even think about trying to get fired on purpose,” said Sandra, as if reading Chloe’s mind. Chloe stared with her eyes wide open.
“Unless you want your throat slit.” Chloe swallowed again at Sandra’s chilling words.
How did I end up like this? Even though she found her situation unfair, Chloe collected herself at Sandra’s remarks.
Sandra offered her supper, but Chloe wanted to visit the Cupihits and say goodbye to Anna. She hadn’t yet had a chance to discuss her new position with Jorge, either. She managed to gain Sandra’s permission, and Trigger drove her to the Cupihit Mansion.
“Be careful. The Archduke is no ordinary man.”
“Yes, sir. I have been told many times,” she replied in a trance-like state, and entered Cupihit Mansion without remembering to thank Trigger.
Anna was, thankfully, in good health. Chloe explained the events of the previous week and the sudden directive for her to join the expedition. Having already heard everything from Aaron, Anna soothed Chloe, emphasizing how honorable it was to participate in the expedition.
“The entire empire is talking about the journey. I wish I could travel the continent with handsome knights. I envy you.”
Chloe didn’t know what to say.
Breaking the silence, Anna added, “But, Chloe, I’m only telling you this because you’re going as the Archduke’s personal maid. Even though he’s my brother’s master, and the empire’s hero, umm…Chloe, don’t tell anyone. This is only because I’m worried about you.”
Anna continued in a low voice, “My maid’s friend’s friend looks after Lady Clara Bandorras, and apparently, last night…”
Her voice became even softer. “His Grace assaulted Lady Clara.”
“…!” Chloe’s eyes widened. Anna was not done.
“And I hear, that he enjoys hitting women.”
Chloe inhaled sharply. Is—is it a small fetish of his?
“Shh! My brother will go ballistic if he hears us talk about this.” Anna brought a finger to her lips and, glancing at the closed door, motioned for Chloe to come closer and whispered into her ear, “Apparently, he likes fighting in wars because it satisfies his sadistic desires.”
“Be careful, Chloe.” Gazing worriedly at Chloe’s frozen face, Anna put her hands upon her shoulders.