A few hours before the match—
After the war of nerves with Cassion, David headed straight towards the fourth knight order’s quarters, not the training grounds.
Taking long strides, he soon reached the door of a certain person’s room.
Bang, bang, bang.
His hand had absolutely no hesitation.
On the wall next to the door, the sign that said 〈 Zobel 〉 shook.
Soon, the door creaked open and a skinny young man appeared.
David’s brows crumpled as the man stammered and called his name.
Along with the command, David slammed the door fully open.
He bulldozed into the room, leaving the thin young man stumbling back.
As he sauntered in, David sat on the small sofa with practiced ease.
Zobel, the owner of this room, closed the door and stood still.
An uncomfortable silence settled over the space, and carrot-colored eyes furtively glanced sideways to gauge David’s mood.
The thin young man looked around like a rabbit for a long time, then he quietly spoke.
“You must be busy preparing for the match…”
However, the pitiful attempt at conversation was for naught.
Just as if he had chopped a carrot in half, David cut off Zobel mid-sentence.
‘If you were just gonna cut me off, then at least talk first…’
Zobel muttered inwardly, but outwardly, there was a smile on his lips.
“You must be busy, you didn’t need to come here in person.
I was going to deliver it to you.”
“If I had left it to a slowpoke like you and waited, the match would have already ended.”
Straightaway, the sharp words held not a single ounce of consideration.
Nevertheless, Zobel kept his mouth shut and just faltered like a fool.
He knew very well how painful it was to get hit by David’s huge fist.
David soon approached the desk and leaned down.
Zobel was the son of a doctor who was also a pharmacist, and he went together to the academy with David.
He knew a lot about medicines like his father, and he learned how to make prescriptions from herbs and also minored in medicine in the academy.
Originally, there were always some people among the knights who would dabble in case a war breaks out, and Zobel was one of them.
However, what’s unfortunate was that his skills as a pharmacist were much better than his skills as a knight.
However, his dream was to become a knight who’s skilled in the medical arts, so he needed to enter the knighthood.
David was someone who noticed Zobel’s talent.
Since his way of thinking was crooked in the first place, David planned from the very start to use Zobel to ensure victory in his matches.
As a fellow academy student, he was well aware of his skills.
And so too was David aware of Zobel’s timid nature.
After bringing Zobel into submission by using brute force, he became David’s pawn in an instant.
Zobel tried to refuse at first.
He said that he couldn’t do such a thing—he couldn’t throw away his conscience.
Until the pot lid-like hands beat him until he gave the answer David wanted.
When the bruises on his body couldn’t possibly increase any longer, when his thighs turned black and blue from all the beatings, that was the point when Zobel started to constantly stutter in front of David.
In the end, Zobel was the one who surrendered.
And his surrender continued to this day.
For more than two years now, he secretly served David as a personal pharmacist and pawn.
He always had a hand in David’s matches.
Two years had already passed like that, but every time he did this, his conscience continued to be prickled.
However, he had no choice but to help in this way, and so he turned a blind eye to his conscience as he had nightmares of David beating him up every night.
Thanks to this, Zobel grew emaciated, and his eyes always had dark circles around them.
The other people in the knight order also slowly started to avoid Zobel.
David was pleased with this fact.
The more isolated and distant he was from other people, the better.
This ensured that Zobel’s aid would remain a secret.
The loneliness and torment that Zobel felt were nowhere near the trouble David brought him.
“Um… D…David, thanks to the herb that you supplied… it wa…wasn’t hard to make the medicine.
As Zobel murmured his thanks, he rummaged through the bottles of medicine on the desk for a long time.
David was sitting back on the sofa while letting out angry huffs, but he soon smirked at this.
How hilarious was it that someone who’s trembling like a scared rabbit was saying such sugar-coated words.
Ever since he saw the detestable face of that ‘street rat’, he felt a little better.
David nodded as he answered.
“Yeah, I had to take action because of your useless incompetence.”
It was a few weeks ago that David ordered Zobel to make ‘a perfect drug that no one would notice’.
It was the same day that David had been appointed as Cassion’s opponent.
After thinking about it for a long time, Zobel finally found a good formulation for the drug.
However, there was a problem.
There was one particular ingredient needed for it, but it was something that not just anyone could acquire.
With a great deal of hesitation in case he might strike a nerve, Zobel carefully asked David.
‘I’ve heard rumors about a g…guild, and I think they can supply this ingredient.
B…But, it’s just, the guild doesn’t accept requests from s…someone like me.
Is it alright if y…you help with this Since y…you’re a member of House Valentine’s b…branch family.’
It was a very troublesome request.
But then again, did he have a choice
The perfect formulation of course needed such an ingredient, and that ingredient was being supplied by that guild.
This punk was so useless that he couldn’t even get his hands on it himself.
David soon signed and stamped the request form from Zobel.
‘Done You take care of it from here.
Don’t bother me with that anymore.’
And of course, he didn’t forget to speak harshly.
Zobel, as he usually did, only nodded with that foolish smile on his lips.
Recalling what happened a few weeks ago, David raised his leg and brought it down to the table.
The heavy sound made Zobel’s shoulders flinch.
The sight of the young man was hilarious once again, and David laughed. Hahaha.
The emaciated man couldn’t utter a word of complaint at this.
The only sound after that was bottles of medicine that he made clinking against each other.
The unpleasant guest’s guffaws filled the room.
Zobel, all of a sudden, felt suffocated by that laughter.
Neither able to smile nor cry, Zobel’s face distorted strangely as he turned his back on David.
After about ten minutes.
Zobel finally presented the finished product to David.
At the end of the day, it was still Zobel’s job to poison the opponent’s food, so David nodded after only roughly checking the bottle.
Well, even this action was just for show.
In fact, even if David knew anything about formulating, how much exactly would he know
All he did was nod a couple times and act as if he knew what he was looking at.
Zobel’s formulations had been working properly for two years now, so there’s nothing for him to worry about.
The two left the room one after another a few moments apart.
Zobel walked with the bottle in his pocket, and David followed from a distance.
Soon, Zobel arrived at the training grounds where Maxwell was practicing a sword dance.
David hid himself behind a column and watched the two.
Zobel naturally knocked over Maxwell’s water bottle.
He bowed his head in apology, and in response, Maxwell waved his hand as though it’s alright.
Nevertheless, the thin man’s back continued to bow down, then very consciously handed over a bottle from his own pocket to the other man.
Without any questions asked, Maxwell accepted it.
And to reassure Zobel, he drank the bottle’s contents in front of him.
‘…I got you now.’
As he hid and watched everything, David smirked insidiously.
As the adam’s apple of that man bobbed up and down while he drank the water, it felt as if the anxiety lodged in David’s heart was being washed away.
With a refreshed mood, David turned his back on the two.
The steps he took as he walked away were light.
As if he was about to soar through the air.
‘Yeah, victory is mine.’
The position as the ducal princess’ escort knight, honor, prestige, and even a place next to the young lady as her spouse.
All of these were his.
The rewards that would follow his victory were listed one after another in his mind.
Unable to push down the urge, a smile curled up on his lips.
It was the face of a man entirely consumed by greed.
* * *
And, back to the present.
As David recalled that bobbing adam’s apple, he smiled once more.
It was a smile that would make anyone question whether or not he’d lost his senses because of the scorching heat.
“…Did he go crazy”
Cassion murmured to himself.
It was a sincere question that even came from his core.
Then again, whether it’s true or not.
David still continued to let out a snicker as he wiped the sweat from his forehead.
“The match has been decided anyway.
That’s why, don’t be ashamed, why don’t you just surrender now”
He brushed off his sweat-stained sleeves as he said this.
His voice was full of derision and arrogance.
‘Apparently, his specialty is relying on underhanded tricks, but…’
His black eyes glanced sideways.
Towards the balcony surrounded with ivory marble.
Over there, sitting with impeccable posture, was the silver-haired woman.
She was sitting beneath the shade, yet despite being covered by that dark shadow, his gaze momentarily met those golden eyes at once.
Even though there was quite a distance between them, he could see that the corners of that woman’s red lips were tugged up into a smile.
Her hair fluttered as she fanned herself, and those red lips moved to utter a few words.
Amazingly enough, her words were clear.
Receiving this silent reinforcement, Cassion ran forward with no hesitation.
No matter what kind of underhanded trick his opponent would throw at him, he wasn’t worried.
Rosetta said that he shouldn’t worry, that he would win.
Has she ever said something that didn’t come true
Not at all.