Dwayne rubbed his temples and took a deep breath.
Fortunately, most nobles on the list have a high probability of hitting rock-bottom.
So it wouldnt be strange if they suddenly died.
“What am I A garbage disposer!” Dwayne complained.
As the grand dukes aide started talking to himself, Tristan shifted his gaze towards Aria who kept staring at him.
“What” The grand duke asked.
Aria quickly rummaged through her bag, took out a card, and wrote on it.
[Father, thank you.]
‘You mean, thank you for killing someone!‘ Dwayne thought.
The more he observed Aria, the more he realized something.
‘Shes perfect for His Highness…
Dwayne couldnt believe that she thanked him for killing someone.
She was the perfect match for the Grand Prince of Valentine!
‘I guess Im the only normal person here in the palace… he cried inside.
And as the grand duke read the card, a similar thought came to his mind.
‘Is this something to say thank you for
The grand duke was surprised.
He thought that this time, Aria would finally lose it and burst into tears.
But contrary to his expectations, the little girl was grateful to him.
‘I guess Im quite glad.
The grand duke unconsciously laid his hand over her head and stroked her.
Unfortunately, his hand had so much strength that Aria had trouble raising her head.
‘What am I doing
The grand duke slanted his head.
Aria too, had the same thoughts.
‘Why is he patting me She thought, puzzled by his bizarre actions.
After a while, he finally removed his hand from the childs head.
However, his question that day remained unanswered for all eternity.
* * *
After that incident, Aria went to visit the grand duke every day.
As she usually stayed for a long time, the offices furniture started to increase one by one.
Starting from childrens sofas, there were endless things like flowers, books, toys, and dolls.
‘Why did I even buy all of these
Tristan, the Grand Duke of Valentine could not understand.
At first, he only noticed that Aria kept on getting buried beneath the wolves while she was sleeping, and it somehow looked uncomfortable.
‘The hounds have soft fur, but theyre quite muscular and have thick bones.
So before he knew it, he had bought a soft and fluffy sofa for babies.
[Father, thank you.]
Moreover, he had never forgotten to take the card from the child who had always smiled brightly and expressed gratitude whenever she could.
But as time passed, Tristan noticed something else.
Aria tended to be in a daze and stared blankly at the windows.
‘She must be bored.
All she did in his office was petting the wolves and staring out of the window before falling asleep.
“I think the lady is fond of flowers.”
Because of the maids words, the grand duke decorated his office with vases of flowers.
[Father, youre the best!]
Aria was delighted as she kept staring at the flowers all day long.
‘She either looks out of the windows or gazes at the flowers.
The grand duke thought that there was nothing interesting in staring at flowers, so he allowed her access to the library.
Surprisingly, Aria reacted more intensely than he thought she would.
[Father, you are the coolest person in the entire world!]
She held the card tightly with both hands and ran away with a big smile plastered on her face.
Aria was a child who was very calm when her father sold her as a sacrifice.
But this was the first time he saw her express such joy.
After that day, Aria often borrowed books from the library and read it in his office to pass time.
‘She just reads books all day long…
It started from the window to the flowers, and now from the flowers to the books.
To Tristan, Aria still needed something more.
So he bought the most popular toy store in the capital for her.
Truthfully, even Tristan himself thought that his actions were a bit over the top.
‘I dont think she likes it very much.
Was it all for naught
Instead of working, the grand duke stared at the giant teddy bear that boasted a tremendous presence.
But when he saw Aria walk and lean in front of the teddy bear, his tenability just collapsed.
He couldnt think rationally anymore, so he ended up buying a whole toy store and didnt even think of it as a bad decision.
“Somethings missing,” Tristan said.
“Huh What else” Dwayne replied.
Was this an office or a playground
Dwayne had a lot to say.
But Tristan was serious.
Then, he bit a cigarette in his mouth and spoke, “Just light this up.”
As he snapped his fingers at Dwayne, he paused and glanced at Aria.
Afterwards, Arias half-closed eyes suddenly widened.
She rummaged around and gave Tristan a jar full of small, colorful candies.
[Ill give you this.]
And as she stared up at him, her eyes glistened like pink sapphires.
Was it a gift
“What is this”
[Its star candy.]
He alternated between the jar and Aria.
Her expression was like a stray cat asking to be praised after coming back with a mouse.
“You want me to eat it”
The grand duke threw the cigarette he was holding into his desk and popped a chunk of candy into his mouth.
It tasted like sugar.
‘Whats the point of this
Suddenly, he stared at the jar and remembered that Aria had always carried it in her arms whenever she came to the office.
It seemed that the candies were her most cherished and precious possession.
Kids loved dessert.
Tristan finally realized what that missing thing was.
The grand duke gave a happy smile.
He packed the jar along with the card, and strode right out of the room.
He was thinking of ordering the chef to cook different kinds of desserts every day.
Everything was going so well.
“The grand prince gave us the same orders, but… the lady is unable to eat anything other than soup.”
The chef told this to him with a troubled face.
“No desserts, except for a few types of drinks and candies…”
Tristans face sank.
* * *
“So” The Grand Duke of Valentine spoke with a cigarette on his hand.
“Speak, Ill listen to you.”
“Well, Your Grace.
The lady is clearly malnourished though there is nothing wrong with her health.
However, her body seems to refuse the food tha…”
“Get to the point.”
The doctor broke out in a cold sweat.
He might have to write a resignation letter soon…
“She has an eating disorder caused by psychological trauma.”
Doctor Cuirre was in charge of taking care of Aria, however, he felt a bit discontented.
There were more than ten doctors here in the palace, but none of them specialized in trauma-focused therapy.
The Valentines were cold-blooded people.
If they found something or someone that they didnt like and caused them harm, then they would just remove them from the face of the earth.
Whether they were knights or normal civilians, they would not hesitate to erase them from everyones memories.
‘But that would never help the young lady heal from her mental illness.
She has been suffering from psychological trauma ever since childhood, the pain could only be fixed from her heart.
He didnt have the confidence to heal Aria.
He was a doctor, not a psychologist.
The wounds on the body and mind were completely different things!
“The concept ofpsychological therapy has not been established yet in the scientific world… I have heard of multiple research studies likecognitive behavioral therapy that have demonstrated effective outcomes.
Its a common type of psychotherapy where you talk with a mental health counselor to overcome negative thoughts.
Unfortunately, Aria was not willing to talk in every session.
She seemed reluctant to talk about herself.
“The lady isnt able to consume food because she has devoured something else.”
“Emotions; anxiety, depression, anger, frustration… and it can even be a lot more.”
The grand duke casually brushed off his cigarette ash on the carpet with an expression of uncertainty. Translation from moonstonetranslation.com dont read anywhere else.
He was truly insensitive.
The grand duke was an unrivaled monster in every aspect, but he couldnt escape being an inferior student when it came to empathy.
“She had suppressed so many emotions that once her heart was full, there was no more room for her to consume food.
The stressful life events she had experienced caused her to…”
Just speak in simpler terms.”
“…It means that she cant laugh and cry whenever she wants to.”
“If she doesnt vomit, she cannot feel better,” Doctor Cuirre explained in the simplest possible way.
“You sure know your stuff.”
“Its a hypothesis, though its probably accurate…”
“You know that, yet you still havent found her a cure”
Doctors Cuirres pupils dilated in shock as he fell flat to the floor.
Then, the Grand Duke of Valentine stubbed out his cigarette with the doctors lab coat and gave him a twisted expression.
As he heard the sound of the burning fabric, adrenaline rushed in his veins like a carp through a river, but he couldnt move a muscle, nor let out a scream.
The grand duke leaned slowly to the sofa and said, “Take care of him.”
“Y-Your Grace! P-please! Spare me!”
Then, the Black Falcons suddenly moved in unison and arrested the doctor.
Cuirre screamed desperately as he was dragged out of the room.
Watching the atrocious scene, Dwayne whispered into Tristans ear.
“He was the only doctor to find out that the cause of her eating disorders was because of psychological reasons.”
“Psychology is still an unfamiliar field.
Do you really think that killing the doctor would benefit us It might even be harder for Aria to receive treatment because you arrested the only notable doctor alive.”
Tristan was silent.
He lit up another cigarette, puffed out a haze of smoke with a sigh, and spoke, “…Bring him back.”
And so, the Black Falcons quietly dragged the doctor back.
“Doctor Cuirre might have failed to heal her heart, but maybe Your Grace can” Dwayne smiled.
Everyone in the room stared at Dwayne with bedazzled expressions.
The person concerned even questioned if he was still sane.
“Yes, didnt the lady open her heart to Your Grace She even gave you her precious star candies.”
“The little girl thinks that she is alone in this vast world.
But you can certainly help her.
What does Your Grace think of this arrangement”
It was definitely possible.
The grand duke recalled the cards he had received from Aria.
Not only did the child say that her father was the best, she also said that he was the coolest in the world.
‘She said she was happy just by standing next to me.
He was sure that she needed someone to depend on.
“Its almost time for the kid to come soon.”
He got up and left the basement leisurely, as if all of his work was finally finished.
Cuirre, who had just escaped death, patted his chest out of relief.