< — The Beginning and the End — > (4)
Dean was back. It had been a month since Hugo gave him the order to capture Philip. He had gone to the village that Hugo had asked him to, but because it had been a little while since Philip left, he had to search around and that took time. Dean explained that fortunately, he found Philip somewhere not too far from the village and was able to bring him in.
“I took him to the safe house.”
An old mansion, located at the outskirts of the capital, was currently being used as the Taran Information Division’s safe house. The old mansion gave off a time-worn, somber atmosphere and was surrounded by a considerably large courtyard, masking any possibility of knowing what was going on within the walls. There were only rumors that a cranky old man that did not go outside, was the owner of the mansion.
The entrance to the safe house used a secret passage that was a little distance away from the mansion so externally, only a few servants frequently visited to manage the place.
Hugo left for the safe house late at night in order to avoid being seen by others.
The inside of the seemingly old mansion was reinforced with soundproofing. Especially down in the basement, there was no chance of any noise or racket spreading outside.
The knights standing guard in front of the room, bowed their heads when Hugo appeared. Even after the heavy stone doors were completely opened, Hugo momentarily remained still.
“Do not follow me inside.”
Hugo was about enter the room then he stopped. He looked at Dean and extended a hand.
Dean immediately removed the sword strapped to his waist and handed it to Hugo. As Hugo held the sword and walked in, the door quickly closed behind him.
The room he entered had stone walls on all sides and it was not very spacious. The soundproofing was so thorough that one couldn’t hear any sound from the inside once the door was closed.
There were two chairs in the middle of the room, facing each other. In one of them, sat Philip, with his hands tied behind his back and to the chair. And the chair, made of iron, was tightly bolted to the floor. Since thorough safety measures had been taken, the knights obediently obeyed when Hugo ordered that he would be going into the room alone.
Hugo sat down on the opposite chair. He stared at Philip, who had his head hanging low.
Philip’s complexion was haggard as he slowly lifted his head. He was not hurt anywhere but he had been loaded onto a carriage, unable to rest properly the entire time, and was at the limit of his physical strength. He had a lot of endurance, but age wasn’t something that could be deceived. Philip smiled faintly when he saw the cold red eyes facing him.
“It has been a long time.”
“Cut the crap.”
Even though Hugo’s response was cold, Philip didn’t care. Despite being in a situation where he was suddenly dragged away and bound up, Philip’s expression was no different from usual.
Hugo knew the old man was this type of person. He expected that even moments before his neck was cut off, the old man would still look calm. Today of all days, that expression of his was very annoying.
“I’m sure you know why you’re here, you bastard.”
“I will know when you tell me.”
Hugo pressed down his surging murderous urge to wrench off the old man’s neck this instant.
“You told me to come, didn’t you? Or are you saying that you blabbered all that meaninglessly?”
“No. However, there are many reasons for young master to come find me. Do you need treatment for the Madam? Or, has the Madam gotten pregnant?”
Seeing Hugo’s forehead twitch, Philip’s eyes grew bigger.
“…So she has gotten pregnant.”
Just as Philip expected, the heavens did not abandon him. Even though he had mixed the drug into the Duchess’ headache medicine, Philip was not sure of its success.
There were many variables. He could not guarantee that the Madam would take that headache medicine consistently, and because the drug’s efficacy was weakened, not only was the neutralization of mugwort slower, the probability of conception was extremely low. However, it succeeded, and she was pregnant in two years.
Philip’s congratulatory words were not desirable at all. Hugo squeezed the sword in his hand and held in his desire to draw his sword without mercy.
“Like I thought, you did this. Blood, you said? When you looked down on me, you must have thrown away your desire to live.”
“Why are you so sure I lied? Maybe the Madam had a child with another ma…”
Feeling the cold blade under his neck, Philip shut his mouth. It only took an instant. Hugo stood up, drew his sword and pointed it at Philip’s throat. The tip of the sword was digging into Philip’s skin as if it would pierce through the moment Philip said a single word.
“Just one more bullshit out of you.”
Philip looked up at Hugo and nodded his head, marginally. A frosty expression, a gaze filled with bloodthirst and a subdued voice.
Philip realized that Hugo was extremely angry. He, who didn’t get nervous easily, had chills at his back. When the sword was withdrawn, he sucked in a breath.
“It was the vision of my family. I had no choice but to lie.”
“Even if I ask you now, I’m sure you won’t tell me.”
“Would you believe it if I told you?”
“I couldn’t care less about the vision. It will be buried along with you when you die anyways, old man.”
“You’re not someone that would bring me here because you were annoyed by a lie I said in the past.”
“Enough with the nonsense. I need to know what trick you pulled.”
Hugo could not stand the fact that there was a gap in the protection around his wife.
“It was the headache medicine.”
Philip obediently confessed. He didn’t plan on acting innocent anyways.
Hugo repeated for emphasis then he forced a laugh. He had to find out exactly what happened, once he got back. His first goal for capturing Philip was achieved.
“Tell me why you wanted to see me.”
Philip stared blankly at Hugo.
“Why are you so curious about what I have to say?”
“Don’t get any ideas. You won’t be able to leave this room alive.”
“Kill me. What regrets does an old man like me have? I’ve lived long enough. But you will not kill me. Afterall, there is something you want to know from me.”
When he saw Hugo’s red eyes waver, Philip sighed.
‘How can this be.’
He had thought the probability was extremely low. When the Duke showed an unusual reaction to the Duchess in Roam, Philip had a sliver of suspicious, but he believed it wasn’t possible. And he hoped it was not the case.
A man in the high position of the lord of the North and the Taran family, should not do something like holding a woman in his heart and creating a weakness for himself.
Philip had come to realize the truth from his long years alive; that things in the world did not always go as planned. A man’s plan was inferior to the order of the great world. He learnt that it was best for him to use all of his efforts to cling to the opportunity before him right now, rather than planning.
And that is why Philip clung to the Duchess’ pregnancy. At the time, it was the only opportunity. It was not because he had a grand plan afterwards, but because there had to be a child first before he could plan for the future.