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“Your Excellency.”

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A voice stopped Calix as he walked slowly toward Ryzen.

His red eyes went to the bloodstained hand that gripped the sleeves of his uniform.

His gaze traveled from her thin wrist, which seemed to break even by the slightest tough, to her round shoulders that trembled anxiously, and then to her slender neckline.

Asella shook her head with a pale look on her face.

“This is the kind of wound that heals quickly, so…”

“Where are you, Sister?”

“Mariel!”

Asella was startled by the child’s voice coming from the side.

Not having much time to spare, she had forgotten that she still had the blanket on Mariel. She quickly took the blanket off and spoke to her sister.

“I’m sorry. It was stuffy, wasn’t it?”

“No, I’m fine! It wasn’t stuffy at all!”

Asella quickly covered her arm with the blanket so the child would not notice her wounds.

Watching the sight in front of him, Calix remained silent for a moment.

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It wouldn’t be good to perform this type of punishment in front of a child. He knew better than anyone that the punishment, in his own way, did not look very presentable to anyone, child or not.

His brow furrowed for a moment, then he pulled back the sword he had drawn.

Even with all that was happening around him, Ryzen kept his head bowed, waiting for the punishment to come, when his master’s words fell on his ears.

“There won’t be a second time.”

Ryzen raised his head with a puzzled look on his face.

He also heard what the Grand Duchess said, trying to appease his master’s anger and defend him at the same time. But he did not expect that his lord would actually do what she asked.

The Grand Duke was not tolerant of the mistakes of his subordinates, and he was a ruthless master who had never made any exceptions until now.

“Bring some medicine.”

But Ryzen was quick to grasp that the exception had just been made.

He immediately rushed over and brought the entire bag that the doctor was using, and his master gave another order.

“Take the child with you and take care of her.”

Asella, who was listening, hastily tightened her grip on his sleeves and spoke in a low tone. 

“Your Excellency, there might be some beasts outside…”

She did not want to send her sister outside where the corpses of the demonic beasts were laid. It would have been better for Mariel to stay with them, even if it meant Mariel would have had to watch the shocking state of her arm while she received treatment.

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“They should have finished cleaning things outside by now.”

“But…”

“There is absolutely nothing for you to worry about. I promise.”

Hesitantly, Asella finally nodded.

Moments later, the two of them were left alone inside the half-destroyed carriage.

Calix started by taking out the necessary items from the doctor’s bag, which contained all kinds of tools and supplies. When one of the knights brought steaming clean water and pieces of cloth, all preparations were complete.

When the cloth, soaked with warm water, covered the top of the wound, Asella let out a short cry reflectively.

“Ah!”

“Does it hurt?”

“Not really; I was just a little startled… I’m sorry.”

“You don’t have to be sorry.”

Calix, who responded briefly, concentrated on his work again.

It was strange for Asella to see him wiping her arms, the back of her hands, and even between her fingers with that warm cloth.

He even picked a needle and heated it up to pick the fine shards of wood that penetrated the palm of her hands, but before he began, he said.

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“I can give you some numbing elixir if you want.” 

“No need, I’ll be fine.”

“I don’t know about you, but I think the wound will probably hurt like hell when I have to disinfect it. Are you sure you don’t mind?”

Asella missed the timing to answer again.

It was hard to understand his behavior since a while ago.

If he didn’t think she could handle it by herself, he should have let someone else do it. She couldn’t understand why he would go to the trouble of doing it himself.

She told herself, ‘Do not interpret his action in any way; you must not fall for his act.’

This was not a kindness based on love. The Grand Duke was not a man to do favors for no reason.

‘He might be trying to kill us after we let our guard down, so don’t get too relaxed.’

Asella reflected many times, but she ended with the same conclusion. She must not forget the fact that the Grand Duke was trying to kill her and Mariel just because he showed some fake acts of kindness.

“Do tell me if it hurts. Don’t hold back.”

Calix used a heated needle and started to remove the wooden shards from her wound. As soon as her palms cleared up, the tingling pain she felt with the slightest movement disappeared too.

“This will sting a bit.”

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As soon as he opened the lid of the bottle containing the disinfectant, the strong smell of it filled his nose, making him frown at the unpleasant scent. 

As he soaked a clean cloth full of disinfectant and patted the wound with light touches, Asella’s eyes widened in surprise.

‘Hurt like hell?’

Contrary to his words, the pain was not nearly as bad as one might have thought.

It was a special solution produced by a wizard to reduce pain. But since Philip had never permitted the use of any high-end medicine to Asella, this was the first time she had ever been exposed to them.

The wound was disinfected in a matter of seconds.

Asella was amused and gently brushed her arm and the back of her hand.

“Does it hurt?”

“No.”

“Then is there any discomfort? I’m sure I took out all the shards.”

“It’s not like that…”

She mumbled the words, unsure if she could answer frankly.

But she hesitated and opened her mouth when she saw the man’s gaze on her as he silently awaited an answer.

“It’s just that you seem familiar with things like this.”

Their eyes met…

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