seems that you still can’t manage on your own, the same as before… no, you were able to move at this stage, so that means you’ve made some progress.
Oh, and I won’t apologize for the pendant.”

Alejandro then dropped his lips to Natalia’s cheek.

“…so long, my little princess.
I wish I could have stayed with you forever, but this is goodbye.”

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Rembrandt and his team rode their horses to Alejandro’s hideout, which they had identified through information from the shadow guards.

There was no change in the weather in the center of the capital city, but it seemed to have rained on the outskirts of the city.

It seemed to have ended shortly and the roads were not so muddy.
In fact, this level of muddiness made it easier for them because there was no dust.

The destination was a small wooden house quietly built near the border of the capital, further into the forest behind the villa where Alejandro lives.

It was late afternoon when Leopoldo, Rembrandt, a few shadow guards, and private soldiers arrived there.

The shadow guard reported that Natalia was still safe, yet Leopold’s expression was tense and stiff.

However, when they arrived at the house, they found that there was no shadow guard waiting there.

Driven by anxiety, they went inside, but the house was empty.

Neither Alejandro nor Natalia were there.

There were no signs of people anywhere, although there were signs that someone had been there and used the place, such as sleeping quarters and tables.

“…Unukan, Lestrade, search the perimeter of the house.
Nicholas, you’re on guard duty.
Leo, you and Ron will look inside the house with me.
Even if he escapes, the shadow guard must have left something behind.
We’ll find it.”

Holding Leopold’s arm as he tried to run outside in the darkness, Rembrandt gave instructions to the shadow guards and private soldiers.

“Shadow guard…?”

“Ah, I’ve put a shadow guard on that guy.
He’s the one who called us to tell us where he is.
If Alejandro and the others have moved somewhere, he must have left something somewhere to let us know.”

“…I, see.”

Leopoldo grunted, clutching his hair in frustration.

“I really… I’m no match for Rembrandt, no matter how far I go.
I hate myself for being so dumb.”

“Comparing yourself with others is futile.
Compare yourself with your past self.
Then you will see that you have changed a little.”

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“Eh?”

Leopold looked up to see Rembrandt staring straight back at him.

“I hear you did a great job on this undercover operation.
Even to the point of getting ripped to shreds as bait.”

“…no, I wasn’t aiming to be a decoy.”

“I know.”

Rembrandt chuckled at his awkward answer.

“Well, still, you did your best in your own way, didn’t you? For the sake of the woman you fell in love with.”

“Well, that’s…”

“You’re still not good enough, but you’re better than how you used to be.
That’s good.”

Leopold nodded awkwardly, and Rembrandt continued, “But.”

“If you still intend to take the girl, you need to convince your parents, not push them.
They don’t like her from the start, and now that she’s been kidnapped, she’s damaged goods.

If you can’t protect her, it’s much more loving to let her go than to get her hopes up.”

“…I’ll think about it.”

“Ah, you do that, and don’t bother me anymore.
Even if there was a reward, I would never do it again.”

Despite his coldly uttered words, his mouth is gently arched.

When Leopold’s shoulders finally relaxed, Ron, who had been searching the room, came downstairs with something wrapped in a handkerchief.

“Rembrandt-sama.
It was on the floor near the bed.”

Leopoldo saw it and turned pale quickly.

It was a shard of shattered blue glass.

It was something that Rembrandt, who handed it to Natalia as an errand boy, as well as Leopold, remembered.

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