Translator: Latte Editor: Sasha
‘They’ve been living in this land, yet they condoned such abusive acts?’
Elody clenched her fists and headed for the orphanage. Therion, who was currently in charge of the Knights, stood in front of the carriage.
“Sir Therion, will you go there directly by horse?” Elody asked, then added, “You don’t have to do this.”
“It’s alright, for my most important duty is to protect Your Grace.”
Therion looked as solemn as the knights on a battlefield.
“…I see, thank you.”
Elody took Therion’s hand and stepped onto the carriage. Marie followed after her.
Subsequently, Sir Therion mounted his horse and accompanied them all the way to their destination.
Marie moved closer and whispered into Elody’s ear.
“Sir Therion seems to like you,” she started to giggle.
“Marie, he’s a young knight with a bright future!”
“But the way he looks at you… isn’t it suspicious?” she smirked.
Elody shot her a stern look, and when Marie met her gaze, she pouted.
“I mean… you’re beautiful, smart, hard-working, and you manage the land alone,” she told her bluntly. “Well, you are married, but your husband has gone to war so…”
“What I’m saying is… he’s very suspicious.” Marie let out a mischievous smile. “His imploring eyes were fixed on you with greedy expectations.”
“Suspicious and greedy…? That’s a bit frightening,” Elody replied, not able to comprehend her words.
Marie sighed in exasperation.
“I have no time for this, I need to strengthen the army and make sure that the mansion is secure.”
“Yes, yes. Whatever you say.” Marie said, disappointed at Elody’s clueless self.
On the way to the orphanage, Elody tried to work on the documents she had packed, but the road was so bumpy that she could not concentrate.
Fortunately, Marie was there to ease her boredom. Then, they stopped by an inn and spent the rest of the night there.
Two days later…
Elody had finally arrived at the orphanage.
“Are you here to adopt a child?”
“Yes. I’d like to see the children first.”
“…Come this way.”
The staff member that guided Elody was an old man. His breath smelled like alcohol, and dirt was smeared across his cheek and forehead. Plus, the way he talked to Elody was impolite.
‘She looks like a noble lady, but why would she come to the slums to adopt a child?’
The staff member glowered at Elody in incredulity.
Afterward, the staff showed the children of the orphanage, and Elody was rendered speechless.
“Did you not feed them? Why is everyone so skinny and frail?”
“Ha! Listen lady, this is the slums. It’d be weirder if the kids were chubby.”
Elody’s eyes had warped into a miserable black. She was furious.
“Where’s the director? Bring him here!”
“You have a pretty short temper… Please wait here for a moment.”
After a while, the director of the orphanage finally showed herself.
Elody’s eyes and mouth were frozen wide open in an expression of stunned surprise.
The director was a chubby old woman. She seemed like a lavish spender with an opulent lifestyle.
Wearing a bright, luxurious dress and expensive jewelry, she flaunted her riches in every possible way.
Elody was speechless, even more so than before!
“Thank you for coming to our orphanage. What kind of child are you looking for? A boy or a girl? How old do you want them to be?”
The woman fired questions at her nonstop.
Elody, who had enough of her nonsense, stopped her endless questions.
“About ten years ago,” she spoke, quite bluntly. “There was a seven-year-old boy, who was very thin, had dark hair and pink eyes. He was much smaller than his peers and he looked like a five-year-old.”
“Hmm… Well, young lady. There are a lot of kids like that here.”
“You locked him up in a dark room and often abused him. Slapping, trampling, swearing… Can’t you remember more than one or two children?”
The orphanage director shrugged. Her attitude was impudent and rude, showing that she didn’t care much for what was said.
“My lady, I don’t know what you’ve heard. but I think you’ve mistaken us for another orphanage….”
“No, I’m sure this is the place.”
Elody unfolded an old paper that she had kept within her hands.
The paper was something she had treasured ever since she was young. It was a rough sketch of the evil people that she drew with Caville.
In short, it was her murder list.
“You there! The man with big-nose!”
The man sitting next to the orphanage director shriveled with surprise. He seemed to be the husband of the director.
“This is you, right? You’re the one who assaulted Caville the most!” She growled in anger.
“Wh-what…?! No, I didn’t!”
Elody made a gesture to Therion, who was waiting beside her. He immediately drew his sword and pressed it against the man’s neck.
Elody spoke, “You’ve committed a treacherous crime within the duchy. I would’ve tried to be merciful and let you live, but…”
“I’m afraid you’ll do the same thing again, even if you were deported. So, your punishment shall be death!”
“No! My Lady! It’s just a misunderstanding! Rather than that, I had the right to discipline him because I was the director!”
“…And he was the child of the former duke.”
“The one you’d been abusing was the Duke of Cernoir himself!”
They didn’t seem to know that the child they abused had become the acting lord of the land.
This area was located the furthest within the duchy, but fortunately, it was located nearby one of the vassal’s territory.
Suddenly, Marie barged into the room and shouted, “Madame, they’ve arrived!”
‘Just in time.’
Elody mischievously smiled.
Behind Marie, a row of armed soldiers came infiltrating the orphanage.
They were Baron Vendos’ guards.
“What on earth is happening?! Who do you think you are?!”
“We are here under the order of the duchess!”
The director tried to run away, but it was to no avail.
On the other hand, the director’s husband and the alcoholic staff kept denying their crimes.
Elody ordered the captives to be taken away.
Before coming here, Elody had sent a letter to Baroness Vendos, who lived on the edge of the duchy.
The duke’s mansion was so far away that many might attempt to flee during the transfer, which is why the criminals would be locked inside an underground prison in the Vendos’ territory instead.
The Baroness accepted her offer, enclosing a letter stating that she had not been able to greet the duke in person because there was no time to empty the manor.
Elody had also refused her invitation before, so they did not harbor any bad feelings toward each other.
“Madame, what about the children?”
“When the carriage arrives, take them all to the land. Petria will send them to one of the orphanages she manages.”
“Madame, that’s wonderful news!”
Elody ordered the soldiers to pick up the carriage from the baron’s mansion.
She also ordered them to buy a lot of food supplies at a nearby market.
Elody gave the food to the children, and when she saw them eating so whole-heartedly, she let out a genuine smile.
“Once the children are full, we shall go back to the mansion.”
“Yes, Your Grace.”
After a while, several carriages arrived. The soldiers loaded the children into the carriage.
At first, Elody was worried that some children might feel scared or didn’t want to be taken away. But fortunately, all their expressions were bright. They seemed content to leave the orphanage behind.
As Elody was leaving, Therion came up to her after calling for their carriage and helped her in.
“Madame, you are very kind,” Therion said, blush searing right through his cheeks.
Elody stared into his eyes. It didn’t look as suspicious and greedy as Marie said. Rather, his eyes were clear.
“…Y-Your Grace?” Therion flushed, embarrassed at Elody staring so intensely into his eyes.
“Nothing,” Elody replied with a blank expression.
She climbed onto the carriage, and Marie followed.
“Marie, I don’t think Sir Therion is suspicious. His eyes were quite clear.”
Marie shook her head and let out a sigh.
Ever since she was a child, Elody had always been different.
Unlike ordinary girls, she did not blush while watching the knights train, and she did not show interest in popular romance novels.
One time, Marie recommended a romance novel to Elody, but her answer was cold.
“Those aren’t my cup of tea. Romance novels have repetitive plots.”
The maids had nothing to say about it.
She was such a smart lady.
Strangely enough, she was tactless when it came to love. Or maybe, she was just not interested?
Even though the knights gawked at her with admiration, Elody’s expression was indifferent.
Her eyes would only sparkle once in a while.
First, it was whenever she saw the duke.
Second, it was when she studied.
And third, it was when she earned a lot of money.
Marie stared at Elody with worried eyes.
If a person harbored feelings for Elody, she would only realize it after he confessed.
Marie was worried about Elody. How would she be able to handle such situations when she was so dense? Furthermore, it seemed that the number of her admirers had increased a lot.
* * *
Elody had finally gotten revenge for Caville.
But in truth, Caville had already forgotten all those people that had abused him.
At the age of 17, his trauma had disappeared entirely.
On the other hand, all Caville could think about was Elody’s words, which gave him strength.
In fear that her tender voice and friendly words might be forgotten, Caville thought of her every day.
Four years on the battlefield were enough to turn a boy into a young man.
Caville was now 17 years old.
The boy, who worried about Elody because he was much smaller than his age indicated, became unrecognizable.
“Your Grace, it seems like the meeting is getting longer again,” Brien reported while bowing.
Ren, who stood beside him, sighed in disappointment.
“It’s just meaningless banter.”
“How many years has it been? If they keep provoking the Imperial Army, then the empire will soon have an internal dispute.”
Brien nudged Ren’s shoulder as if telling him to take a hint.
“Ren, be quiet.” Brien scowled.
The Imperial Army and the temple were unable to narrow down their differences.
The emperor wanted to advance and seize the Empire of Urta, but the temple wanted to retreat as far back as possible.
Of course, both sides wanted to destroy the Empire of Urta.
However, the temple did not want their priests and paladins to be wounded. They wanted the Imperial Knights to take the lead and suffer injuries in their stead.
But logically, paladins of the temples had to stand in the front. This was because the steel shields of the Urta warriors could only be pierced with divine power.
Caville silently wiped the blood from his sword. Brien and Ren shared nervous glances.
The knights, including Brien and Ren, were terrified. Caville’s face was emotionless, his eyes were completely empty, but they showed malevolence under his unbrushed, jet black hair.
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