< — The Beginning and the End — > (4)
If the Duchess were to get pregnant, the Duke would suspect that there was a high chance of an affair.
The Duke did not believe in people. He knew that he could not have a child without special methods, so he would be unable to believe that the Duchess was bearing his child.
With this, the ducal couple’s relationship would become estranged, and the Duchess, who was suspected of infidelity, would neglect her child.
And at this point, he could look for an opportunity. That was Philip’s vague outline of a plan.
However, there was a very slim possibility. It was a possibility that Philip did not want to happen, but just in case, the Duke truly gave his heart to the Duchess and trusted her, Philip left a word behind with the Duke.
The reason Philip was even offering his medical services at the northern border was because he thought that it was only a matter of time before the Duke came to subjugate barbarians.
Even when he was suddenly captured by the Duke’s knight, loaded onto a carriage and dragged somewhere, Philip thought there was no way.
Philip always wished for the Duke to let go of his vain anger towards his family and truly accept his position as the lord of the north. However, he could never accept the Duke becoming soft because he had fallen for a woman.
‘That cannot happen.’
Philip’s family and Philip himself had made sacrifices for the prosperity of the Taran family! The Duke was betraying the blood and tears of many people.
“Let this old man take a guess at what you want to know.” (Philip)
Philip quickly drew a plan in his head. It was not a plan that he had thought up just now. Philip always made a variety of plans, assuming numerous situations. And whenever he was faced with a situation, he fleshed out his plan according to the circumstances.
“A bride gives birth to a son that continues the bloodline but there is no record of the mother of the bride in the Taran family secret room. You only pay attention to the existence of the half-sisters; you are normally not interested in what happens to the women that gives birth to them.”(Philip)
Philip watched Hugo’s red eyes flare up as if they were on fire and licked his dry lips. Then he gave a modest thin smile, no different from usual, and said:
“‘Will the Madam be okay after giving birth to the little miss?’. Did you not call me because you wanted to know that?” (Philip)
Hugo wanted to chop off the insidious old man’s head this instant.
‘What a sly old man.’
He was so wrapped up in his obsession and wouldn’t hesitate to lie for his own purposes. Hugo ground his teeth, deeply regretting his laughable act of charity in sparring Philip’s life. When he was cleaning up the other bastards, he should have gotten rid off the old man as well.
It was better to kill him now, at least, and shut his mouth forever before his tongue started wagging. That was the conclusion Hugo calmly discerned. If Philip’s tricks concerned his own well-being, Hugo would have sneered and gone ahead, without any hesitation. However. Hugo could not gamble with her life.
Just like Philip said, Hugo was suspicious about whether his wife would be okay after giving birth to a child. An ordinary woman could not bear a Taran family child unless her body was prepared in a certain way. It was not a normal pregnancy.
Taran’s unusual bloodline always made Hugo have questions about his identity. Hugo always couldn’t shake off the question, ‘am I really human?’. What’s worse was that he couldn’t be sure if his weak wife would be okay after raising a non-human-like life inside of her and giving birth to it.
The only person that could answer Hugo’s question was Philip. So Hugo tried to sound Philip out but Philip discovered Hugo’s intention instead.
From the moment Hugo asked his knights to get Philip, his intentions were already read. If Hugo was not worried about his wife, he would not be concerned about what Philip meant by those words and there would be no need for him to call Philip and ask him what he meant.
Seeing that the Duke was just staring at him and not swinging the sword in his hand, Philip confirmed that the Duchess had become the weakness of the Duke.
Philip felt a strange sense of loss. It was despair brought about by witnessing the tragedy of a perfect existence becoming humanized.
‘The young master is perfect. Why are you trying to scratch that perfection?’
The Duke was the best masterpiece made from the Taran lineage, the only nobility descent of the ancient era. The birth of the twins and the eventual death of one of them were processes that contributed to the making of the current Duke. It was a noble sacrifice. That was how Philip thought of it.
Unlike the others of Taran blood, the late Hugo was weak and feeble-minded. And the young master Damian who inherited that blood was imperfect.
If young master Damian was combined with the daughter of young master Hugh, a perfect descendant would be born yet again and the Taran lineage would continue.
Philip painted such a future in his head. If his health held up, he could live long enough to see it, and even if he died without seeing it, it didn’t matter. Philip was merely doing everything he could do right now in the situation given to him.
Philip felt regretful that he couldn’t take part in the Duke’s choice to abandon his perfection and chose a woman. No matter what he said, the Duke would close his ears to it.
Things in the world were like the front and back of a coin. Good things usually came after the bad things had arrived. The Duke’s change was a bad thing, but that was how he got hold of an opportunity.
“The Madam may, or may not, be fine.” (Philip)
“This bastard seriously.”
Hugo clenched his teeth. The raging anger in his heart cried out for him to slay the bastard on the spot. His hand gripping the sword shook slightly.
But he could not. It was fine even if he got caught up in Philip’s shallow tricks. As long as she was safe, he could put up with it.
“Even if I were to tell you something, would you believe it?”
“So I have to offer a token of trust first. The Madam will experience an unbearable abdominal pain around when her stomach begins to swell.”
Philip’s medication mixed with headache medicine was an incomplete drug, born in the process of going to the final state. Therefore, there were side effects.
According to the records, the pregnant women suffered from severe abdominal pain every time the uterus expanded as the fetus grew. It said the pain was torturous enough to make them hold their stomachs, roll around and cry in agony.
It was not a complication caused by the pregnant woman or something going wrong with the fetus. It was only that during the term of pregnancy, the pregnant woman would feel intense pain every time the child grew bigger. However, Philip did not reveal such details.
“I will give you a prescription. When the Madam feels pain in her stomach, give her a medicine according to the prescription and her abdominal pain will settle.”
Philip’s ancestors discovered the drug that relieved the side effects experienced by pregnant women, through further research. The drug that Philip was using today was made after much trials and error.
“How do I trust that you didn’t pull anything with the drug?”
“If you don’t believe me, don’t use it.”
Hugo gave a fake laugh. This was not the Philip that Hugo had previously known. This Philip was confronting Hugo without any hesitation or regard for his safety.
Hugo felt strained, as if his stomach was flipped upside down. He wondered what the old bastard believed in to be acting this way. Was the old man so confident that he would be entangled in his tricks? Is that why he was taking him so lightly?
It had taken almost ten years before Hugo saw Philip again after forcing him out. In that meantime, Hugo became Duke, swept through the battlefield, distinguished himself in war and faced cunning politicians.
He was not the person that he was when the late, previous Duke took his brother’s life as collateral and seizing him by the neck, restricting his movement.
Hugo calmed his anger. He raised his evaluation of the old bastard by a few steps. He didn’t see him as ‘nothing but a doctor’ but as a seasoned politician whom he was making a fierce deal with. He recreated the feeling he had when he faced the Duke of Ramis in order to save Roy.
His head was cool but on the outside, he displayed an appropriate amount of anger. He seemed like he was being completely drawn in by Philip’s words.
“If she has abdominal pain like you say. What is the reason?”
“Just as you have guessed.”
“Guessed? Are you claiming to know what I’m thinking?”
“You always called it a monster. Then isn’t the Madam raising a monster in her stomach?”
Hugo swung the sword in his hand and struck Philip’s head.
Philip’s scream could be heard at the same time as a dull sound. Due to the sudden blow to his head, Philip’s surrounding was spinning, forcing him to drop his head and close his eyes. Something flowed from his forehead, dropping onto his knee. Philip watched the dripping red blood sink into his clothes.
“I want to pull out that sickening tongue of yours one day.” (Hugo)
As he listened to the voice overflowing with blood thirst, Philip wrinkled his forehead because of the throbbing pain and lifted his head. Philip stared at the piercing red eyes that looked like they would tear him to death at any time.
Philip knew of the Duke’s violent and cruel personality. He confirmed once again that his life was being spared in front of the Duke despite the Duke’s anger. The Duchess was the absolute weakness of the Duke.
Outwardly, Hugo seemed to be suppressing his raging anger, but in actuality, he was analyzing Philip’s words.
The word ‘monster’ referred to Hugo himself and the Taran family and every time Hugo said that word, Philip hated it. However, Philip himself said that word and provoked Hugo.
‘He’s trying to make me angry and gain the initiative in the conversation.’
“Old man. Just as you say, the cursed Taran bloodlines are monsters. Do you think I have any attachment towards a child with this family’s cursed blood that isn’t even born yet?”
Seeing the Duke behaving as though all he had to do was get rid of the child, Philip made an expression like he expected it.
“I’m sure that’s what you believe. But it would be better for you not to. If you don’t want to lose the Madam, I mean.”
“The Taran blood has very strong vitality. They have a strong instinct to protect themselves from the moment they are in the womb. Trying to abort with drugs would only hurt the mother instead. What I am saying is a fact. I can’t do anything if you don’t believe me, but can you take such a risk when you don’t know if the Madam might be in danger?”
He couldn’t. He couldn’t take the risk. It felt dreary as if the support beneath his feet disappeared.
Hugo once again reevaluated his relationship with Philip. It was not equal. Currently, Hugo was thoroughly in a weaker position. Hugo had no information at all while Philip knew everything.
This was the first time since his brother’s death that he was making a deal in such an overwhelmingly disadvantageous position.
‘I need information.’
The records Philip had in his hands had to have been passed down in his family for generations. But how were they passed down? When Hugo had just become Duke, he searched everywhere but could not find it.
The child was gradually growing, and the day of delivery was drawing nearer, so the time he had was limited. He couldn’t figure out where he could find the records.
Hugo stood up. If he were to continue taking with Philip, all he would be doing was revealing all the cards he had in his hands.
As he turned around, there was a grim look in his eyes. His knuckles turned white as he clenched his sword tighter. He wanted to draw his sword right now and blow off the old man’s head. If Philip had called out to stop Hugo from behind, he might have done so.
Upon receiving the signal, those outside opened the stone door. Hugo walked out of the door, unable to get his seething anger under control, and stood there for a while as if frozen.
The knights held their breaths at the sight of their master’s threatening countenance.
“Yes, my lord.”
“Go in. Get the prescription the old man is talking about and bring it to me. Keep a thorough eye on him. Do not let anyone but me get into contact with that bastard.”
As he listened to his knights reply, Hugo climbed up the stairs that led above ground. It was as though masses of iron were tied to his ankle; every step was terribly heavy. He breathed heavily, suppressing his urge to scream like crazy.
Anger towards something vague soared within him. It was anger towards his fate, and at the heavens looking down at him and mocking him.
*I literally gagged while translating this. Philip…*shudder*