As Elody expected, the number of crops rose tremendously the following year.
The public welfare turned for the better. The new farming technology implementation had helped reduce poverty and raised income for the fief and its citizens. Stability came as the prices in the markets remained low and stable, and more people moved into the land.
Elody also invested a considerable amount of money in nurturing the knights and improving the quality of their weapons and armor.
And after several seasons had passed…
Caville was finally 12 years old and his height was now quite similar to boys his age.
Elody on the other hand, turned 18 this year. She grew up to be a beautiful girl. With pink hair and noble bearing, she waltzed on every room with an effortless saunter and her head held high. The knights’ eyes were drawn to her and they could not help but blush at the sight of her beauty.
However, there was only a year left before Caville had to leave for war.
* * *
“Madame, madame! I found a new type of plant!” Anna said as she burst into Elody’s lab which was located next to the greenhouse.
“Really? Again?” Elody asked while tying her waist-length hair into a ponytail with a thick ribbon.
Right now, she was working on her newest research.
“Yes! Look at this, madame! Unique, isn’t it?”
“What is this?”
Elody stared at the grass that Anna brought.
New, unusual plants would grow in the greenhouse as it evolved.
Anna was knowledgeable regarding plants, but she couldn’t recognize this one.
Elody didn’t know most of the time either, but there were some plants that she could recognize as she had seen them in her previous life. At times like that, Elody felt grateful to be able to take advantage of her modern life knowledge.
“I don’t know what this is…,” Elody said.
“Then shall we pull out to the roots? I’ve only plucked the grass…”
“Well… let’s do it later. I need some rest,” Elody replied as she put down the blade of grass and rubbed her sore neck.
She was tired because she’d been focusing on her research for several days.
In addition to the painkillers, she also had to study various medicines.
Elody was in a rush because there was not much time left until Caville had to leave for war.
The drugs she developed were hemostatic agents and ointments for wounds.
Although they had already existed, the drugs Elody made worked faster than those in the market.
“Ah! What about Caville? Is he still in training?” Elody asked.
“Yes, madame. He’s been training with the knights.”
“I see, then please arrange a dinner for us when he gets back.”
“Yes, madame,” Anna said as she bowed her head and left the lab.
Over the past four years, the Duke and Duchess of Cernoir had fulfilled lots of achievements in the territory.
First of all, the farmlands had greatly changed.
As Elody said, the adjustments in farming methods led to a sharp increase in its production.
‘I actually read it from a history book.’
Elody was proud when she saw the success of the Norfolk four-course system.
With the revival of agriculture, the lives of the people living in the region became prosperous, and naturally, the population also increased.
Elody’s medicine also played a huge factor in raising the dukedom’s economy.
If this continues, the dukedom will develop into an unforeseeable height.
But the one who changed the most was Caville.
Caville grew taller. He was almost the same height as Elody when she was his age.
‘I’m actually considered quite short, but….’
Since three years ago, Elody had no longer needed to attend Caville’s sword lessons.
Despite Brien’s ardent complaints, the one who suggested it was Caville himself.
“Wife, I shall take my leave for it is time for me to train with Sir Brien,” he said formally.
After hearing from the butler that married couples use formal speech to one another, Caville started speaking formally to Elody.
When Caville spoke in such manner for the first time, he said, ‘My dear wife, it is time for our meal.’
Elody thought that he was so cute and she almost fainted!
Despite the change in his way of speaking, Elody still treated Caville like her little brother.
‘Shall I take a look at his training?’
She thought momentarily but ended up shaking her head.
‘I shouldn’t visit him anymore…’
Elody felt a bit bitter but it was tolerable. She was even more dejected when Caville told her not to attend his classes anymore.
‘How did he grow up so fast? I guess Brien’s presence doesn’t scare him anymore.’
Of course, Elody understood the reason behind Caville’s request.
Sword training was something that would inevitably get more intense as his skills improved.
Elody would always watch his lessons with fear that he might get hurt. She would interfere every time she thought the training was too rough.
So instead of helping him develop his skills, her worries became a hindrance instead.
‘Is this what it feels like to send your son to school for the first time?’
The decision was not easy to make, nonetheless, she still did it because she wanted him to improve. She held back her sadness to secure his future.
* * *
Elody sipped her tea as she waited for Caville’s training to end.
While waiting, she looked at a newsletter Marie brought from the market.
The newsletter was issued to publish information about the political situation of the capital and the borderlands.
Elody’s face instantly hardened when she read one of the articles in the newsletter.
‘The temple is about to take part in the war….’
The Heklos Empire was the largest empire within the Friar continent.
And the war, in which Caville participated, was against the Urta Empire from the east.
The land on the east was smaller than the west, and various empires clustered together.
But one day, the Urta Empire began to conquer the small countries which scattered throughout the east and began to invade the rest of the continent.
“Those barbaric people…’
The Urtans were barbarians who enjoyed hunting humans.
They disdained Thyssers, the religion which most populations in the Friar Continent believed in.
Throughout the war, the Urtans also massacred the priests and mages, branding them as heresy.
They insisted that their emperor was the only one and true God. All the priests and mages they found would be tortured and played with as if their lives were nothing but toys.
They claimed that the mages they killed were sacrifices and that their mana would give more power to their God. Though it was clearly false.
“Madame, what’s wrong?” Marie asked, worried about Elody’s sudden frown.
“No, nothing…,” she sighed.
Marie, who was pouring tea, glanced at the newsletter and asked, “Will the imperial government be holding a formal meeting with the Temple of Thysser?”
“Yes, because they now have a common goal.”
The temple and the imperial government opposed each other. On the surface, they looked as if they had a cooperative relationship. But truthfully, the emperor wanted the temple to be placed under the empire’s orders, and of course, they rejected it.
The emperor wanted war with the Urta Empire, who had been bothering those in the western border.
But every time the emperor suggested it, the temple would always oppose the idea.
Fortunately for the emperor, the situation had changed.
The Urtans had gone out of line by continuously killing innocent mages and priests.
Therefore, the imperial government and the temple came to an agreement. They decided to work together to push back the enemy, the Urtans, back to the east. The agreement came despite their poor relationship with one another.
“Marie, have you heard the news about the kidnapped priests?”
“Yes, I heard that the Urtans brutally killed them. It’s terrible.”
“Exactly, and that is why the temple joined forces with the imperial government.”
The war will begin in a year.
At first, the emperor thought that he’d have a higher chance of winning the war because of the additional troops from the temple. Unfortunately, that was not how it turned out.
At first glance, the temple would seem as if they were the ones leading the war, but upon closer inspection, one would see that their troops were actually hiding behind the imperial army. With how the war progressed, it was inevitable that an internal dispute took place.
‘In the midst of war, the knights divided over political strife. How pathetic….’
However, in the middle of the internal conflict, Caville arrived and united the troops, leading their side to victory.
Suddenly, a familiar voice called out to her.
“Wife,” Caville said.
Caville, who finished his training, had just taken a shower. Elody could see him donning a semi-formal attire as he approached the dining table
“Caville, did you train well?” Elody smiled.
“Yes I did, I hope I haven’t kept you waiting very long,” he replied.
“No, not long.” Elody said as she reassured him, “Now, let’s go and eat.”
Elody stretched her hand to Caville and intertwined it as her long and thin fingers, fixed perfectly in his.
Though he was still young, Caville had grown more and more handsome each time she saw him.
‘I can’t help but smile at his dazzling features!’.
“Caville, you have to eat the vegetables…,” Elody said as she noticed Caville pushing away the carrots from his plate.
Caville pouted his mouth at Elody’s gentle rebuke and reluctantly put a slice of carrot in his mouth.
Suddenly, Elody could feel her heartbeat pounding in her chest. She felt great pressure, it was a horrible pressure. Maybe it was because she had just read that newsletter, but It had finally dawned on her that there was not much time left to spend with Caville.
She had only intended to raise Caville well, yet as time went by, she couldn’t help but feel attached to him.
In him, she found a family and relationship which neither of them had ever experienced. Without his eyes to light up her day, she would be left with nothing but emptiness in her heart.
Elody smiled gently at Caville’s pouting figure. Even when Caville was eating she kept up her smile, she knew that as soon as her smile faded away, bitter tears would roll down her cheeks as if to accompany her aching heart.
* * *
As Caville physically grew taller, he had also become emotionally mature.
This was because of Elody’s encouragement. Every day, she would tell him about how pretty, nice, and cool he was and how much she loved him. His previous fear was replaced by calmness and assured poise. He no longer feared horses as he could ride them by himself.
However, he has now feared something else….
In the past, whenever Elody held his hand or stroked his head, it would’ve been enough to get rid of all his fears away.
But this time, the fear he held, wasn’t the fear of falling from the horses, nor the fear of an adult. This time it was bigger than any fear he had ever faced. It was something that neither her hug nor kisses could pacify.
Caville was scared since Elody had always talked as if they were going to separate.
Whenever they walked around the mansion, Elody would say strange things that would unnerve him.
‘Caville, if anything happens to the empire, you have to protect the people. That way, the people of the empire will protect you too.’
‘Caville, you have to take responsibility for you’re the only one who can protect them.’
‘You can do it, Caville. You don’t need to be afraid of anything.’
Elody tried her best to prepare Caville for the upcoming war.
All the warnings were to keep Caville from being shocked by the sudden news that would arrive within the next few months.
Her words, however, made the little boy feel uneasy…
Caville and Elody retired to their bedroom.
The two still slept together in their king-sized bed. But as they grew bigger, rather than hugging one another as they would do in the past. The two would instead fall asleep while holding each other’s hands.
His palm caressed her cheeks as he edged his hand toward hers ever so slightly, and when she felt his fingertips brushing her hand. She would unfurl her fingers and let his slip around hers so she could feel the heat of her palm pressed against his own.
Intertwining their hands together, Caville shut his eyes and slowly fell into a deep slumber, praying for the future.
He had only one wish….
‘Please don’t separate me from my wife….’
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