Kneel, Your Grace!

Chapter 9

Duke Burke was also a workaholic.

For a regular soldier, it wouldnt matter much whether he was a workaholic or not. But Chloe was Duke Burkes aide. If Duke Burke didnt leave work, Chloe couldnt leave work either.

After experiencing a week of nonstop overtime without a single day off, Chloe finally understood why there was a bed in the aide’s office.

“I should have run away the moment I saw that bed!”

Unfortunately, there were even more disqualifying factors. His obsessive-compulsive disorder combined with the insane overtime schedule was just a tiny fraction of the diverse reasons why the royal guard posted a notice seeking an aide even down to the distant south navy.

The Royal Guard was said to be composed of only the stiffest-necked individuals. And at the top of this group was Duke Burke.

Duke Burke was both remarkably unroyal and very much like royalty. The unroyal part, as mentioned, was coming to work at dawn and leaving at midnight.

So, what made him royal?

He was incredibly harsh on those who made mistakes or didnt perform well.

Chloe had never seen anyone with such a diverse repertoire of punishments.

“One months pay cut.”

“Get down and give me twenty.”

“Initiate service inspection.”

If something went wrong, it was either extra drills or a pay cut. Most of the Royal Guard members were nobles or of noble descent, given its direct royal affiliation. But Duke Burke paid no mind to this and provided his subordinates with a variety of exasperating and experiential punishments.

Among these, the worst in Chloes opinion was the pay cut.

“I joined for the steady paycheck, but now theres a pay cut!”

Incidentally, overtime and weekend pay were provided consistently. But Chloe didnt consider that a perk. Getting paid for work done was only natural, not a benefit.

“I want to leave the service….”

It took Chloe only two weeks to start using the common phrase among the Royal Guard members.

If Duke Burke had been harsh but incompetent, the Royal Guard would have scattered like mist long ago.

However, being his aide, his competence wasnt necessarily a good thing.

A workaholic who was good at his job meant constantly finding work, even inventing tasks that didnt exist before.

Since Duke Burke was a war hero, it was common for him to handle everything from mundane tasks to national secrets.

The schedule was brutal, leaving on time was a distant dream, and when they finally caught a breath, they were punished with extra drills.

The previous aides before Chloe had all requested transfers to other units shortly after their assignments. More often than not, they were dismissed due to Duke Burkes harsh orders and difficult nature.

It was no secret that the constant turnover of Duke Burkes aides was a headache for the higher-ups. Even though he was a problem the king had thrust upon them, they couldnt just leave his side unfilled.

So, the first action taken was to block any transfer requests from the aides. They mandated that one had to complete at least three years of service before being eligible for a transfer. When that didnt work, aides began filing for discharge. If blocked, they seemed ready to desert.

In response, the higher-ups offered incentives. But it was too late. The rumors had spread through the army like wildfire. Eventually, they had to extend the recruitment call to the navy.

Thats where Chloe Ambroise got caught.

Due to the nineteen aides who had fled before her, the service contract Chloe received was laden with numerous binding clauses. It mostly consisted of stern warnings that if she attempted to flee, neither the king, Grand Marshal Victor, nor the gods of Ivane would forgive her.

Chloe was prepared, or so she thought.

“With great pay comes great responsibility.”

She signed the contract and began her duties. After all, the pay was four times what she earned in the navy.

Some might criticize her as foolish, prioritizing money over health.

“But that’s something only people without dependents can afford to say.”

…Or so she thought. After three months, she seriously considered whether it would be better to become a national criminal by assassinating Ivanes hero or to jump off the top of Ivanes outer wall.

Now, however, she had an opportunity.

A chance to avenge all those painful days.

***

To be clear, Chloe Ambroise was quite thrilled.

“Kneel? To you?”

“Yes.”

She was firm in her answer to Curtis’s narrowed eyes.

The perfect war hero who couldnt swim and got seasick. Knowing this made the duke seem more approachable.

Seeing his usually cold and handsome face scrunched up in frustration was another reason for her excitement.

If she had been a little more excited, she might have said, “Why not kneel tomorrow morning, in front of everyone on the summer parade ground?”

But something felt off.

I see. Genuine actions, indeed.

Despite hearing Chloes excited words, Curtis merely stroked his chin thoughtfully and nodded.

Alright. Lets do it.

“…What?”

Chloe couldn’t believe her ears. What? Did he just agree to kneel that easily?

‘This isn’t right.’

Your Grace, do you understand what I just said…?

I understand. But it seems there’s one necessary step we skipped.

Pardon?

A necessary step?

While Chloe tilted her head in confusion, Curtis pulled something from his desk drawer. Then, without giving her a chance to speak, he walked swiftly over to where she was sitting.

His strides were so fast that Chloe didn’t have time to react. Before she knew it, Curtis was standing in front of her, looking down.

And Chloe was overwhelmed.

‘This is insane…’

He had been the tallest and strongest of the three princes since childhood. A soldier who had spent six years on the battlefield. Chloe had forgotten what kind of man he was, possibly due to being worn out from three months of constant overtime.

The pressure emanating from Curtis as he stood before her was immense. His inhumanly beautiful face, combined with his cold expression, added to the effect.

Suddenly, Chloe found herself reflecting on her actions.

‘…Did I overstep?’

It was clear that she held the upper hand in this situation. But telling him to kneel and beg was perhaps too much. Looking up at the expressionless duke, Chloe started to feel afraid.

Should she apologize now? Or perhaps say it was just a joke?

But Curtis didn’t wait for Chloe’s repentance or apology.

“Lieutenant Angboise.”

“Yes…?”

Her eyes automatically turned to Curtiss hand. Surely he hadnt pulled out a gun from that drawer, right? Was she about to be summarily executed for disrespecting royalty? A whirlwind of thoughts spun through her mind. Cold sweat soaked her palms.

Then, a gust of wind blew. Chloe instinctively closed and opened her eyes.

Right after, an astonishing sight unfolded before her.

Incredibly, Curtis Shan Berch knelt on one knee in front of her, adopting a formal posture.

But unfortunately, it was far from the picture Chloe had envisioned.

“This is the ring my mother received from the late king when he proposed to her.”

What? A ring?

As if answering Chloes confusion, Curtis opened a luxurious ring box in his hand. Inside was an enormous amethyst ring, sparkling magnificently. Just like its owner, it was beautiful and dazzling.

“Marry me.”

Dazzle.

Chloe was at a loss.

It wasn’t because the man before her was too beautiful.

It was because she couldnt figure out where it all went wrong.

***

At this point, its necessary to delve into Curtis Shan Berchs thoughts.

In truth, Curtis Shan Berch actually had a rather favorable opinion of his lieutenant, Chloe Angboise. This was partly because he had a better understanding of himself than he let on.

A personality so fastidious that the guards called him a madman or a demon, his obsessive-compulsive disorder, and his workaholism. The last part was mainly because he buried himself in work to forget the irritation of being demoted to the royal guard, but it created a harsh environment for any aide.

However, Chloe had managed to work under him for three months.

There were aspects that didnt fully satisfy him, but considering she came from the chaotic navy, her work was clean and efficient.

Compared to previous aides who were overwhelmed by the workload, leaving their desks and tasks in disarray, Chloe was a stark contrast.

There were aides who wouldnt bathe for two days, even though they werent on the battlefield, and those who made frequent mistakes under pressure, whom Curtis promptly dismissed.

But Chloe was different. He was quite pleased with her. She always tied her hair neatly in a ponytail and kept her surroundings organized. Naturally, she made very few mistakes.

Of course, Chloe had reasons for her meticulousness, having taken care of three younger siblings for a long time, but whether Curtis knew this or not, he was quite satisfied.

Reports of her being a penny-pincher and occasionally winning substantial amounts from gambling with colleagues didnt concern Curtis. The fact that she worked overtime without complaint because of her frugality was commendable, and if she won money from gambling, it was the losers fault for being foolish.

It was true. He was pleased enough that he didnt mind her calling him a madmanbehind his back.

Comment

  1. Suckerforshipping says:

    thank you for the translations!!

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