Translator: Latte Editor: Sasha
The servants’ behavior was strangely different these days.
‘What’s wrong with everyone? Why did they look so… lifeless?’
The servants seemed to have no energy. Elody called Norman to ask what had happened to them.
“Norman, why does everyone look so down? Is there something that I don’t know?”
“Oh, n-no. Nothing has happened, Madame. Everyone is happy that His Grace is coming back,” Norman stuttered.
“Is that so…?” Elodie nodded.
Elody was depressed herself, so maybe that was why she thought the others looked gloomy as well.
Caville would return, she should be the happiest amongst everyone else… Yet, she was more anxious than ever.
Her sigh was softly deflating; it was as if the pressure had been lifted off her shoulders, yet it had left her with melancholy instead of relief.
The newsletter came a few days ago, so Caville should be on the road before then.
The distance between the war zone, the Catan Mountains, and the Duchy was vast.
The road through the capital was the fastest, so it would take about three months.
Until then, Elody decided to renovate the duke’s mansion.
She had already renovated the mansion before. However, more knights would return to the duchy. Thus, she had to spare more room for them.
“Madame, the renovation has been completed. I will check it on your behalf.”
“No. I’ll go see it myself,” Elodie said.
Norman followed her anxiously, fearing that she would collapse at any moment.
“Yes, I instructed them to pay close attention to sanitation and hygiene.”
“I like it,” Elody said as she scanned the newly refurbished barracks.
“Oh, I almost forgot!” Elody added. “Please replace the blankets and curtains in the guest room with new ones.”
Elody checked the rest of the rooms with Norman, and on the way back to the mansion, Sir Therion approached them with a bright expression on his face.
“Madame! What brings you here to our humble abode?”
“I was checking the renovations.”
Elody smiled, seeing his happy expression.
“Yes… Ah! The apprentices are training, would you like to see them?”
Therion’s face brightened to Elody’s positive response. On the other hand, Norman’s expression quickly darkened.
“Ah, please don’t, the madame…”
“Huh? Why not?”
“Oh no… nevermind,” Norman replied with a false smile.
Then, he followed Elodie and glared at Therion.
‘If she sees their brutal fights and collapses…’
Elody’s illness was known only to the servants of the mansion.
It was kept a secret from the knights.
Norman cursed Therion in his head and followed the two from behind.
* * *
“It’s great to see them be so lively and well.”
While watching the apprentices train, Elody had a pleasant conversation with Therion.
“They’re delighted because the Duchess has come to watch them,” Therion grinned. “By the way, the war is over, and everyone will be back soon.”
“Yes, you must miss your brother a lot.”
“Yes… I couldn’t join the army with him. I’m ashamed,” Therion said as he scratched his head.
“You should not be ashamed! You’ve done so well in leading the knights of the duchy.”
“Does Your Grace really think so?”
“Of course. The knights praised you a lot, and the apprentices respect you as well.”
Therion was one year younger than Elody. He was only 18 when the decree of the war was issued.
Only one man from each family had to join the war, so Therion’s older brother, William, went to the battlefield in his stead.
Fortunately, Therion grew up to be an outstanding knight. His extraordinary skills granted him the position of a commander.
Now, no matter what anyone said, he was the Commander of the Knights who everyone loved and respected.
Therion’s ears turned red from all of her praises.
“Thank you, Your Grace,” after a slight pause, Therion continued. “The Duke must be all grown up now.”
“I guess so…”
As he brought up Caville, Elody began to feel depressed again.
“Haa…” Elody sighed.
“I have to go now. Thank you for your time, Sir Therion.”
“Ah! I can escort you to the mansion…”
“Oh, there’s no need, really.”
Elody refused his offer and returned to the mansion with Norman.
Therion was left alone in bewilderment.
‘Could it be….’
The Duchess immediately sighed when he brought up the Duke.
He wondered what it could possibly mean.
* * *
Elody was stuck in her office, organizing documents all day without a single break.
‘Is the madame planning to go on a trip?’ Petria thought, curious.
Elody seemed tired, so Petria didn’t have the guts to ask her directly.
Once they finished organizing the documents, Petria immediately asked Norman, “Mr. Norman, is the madame going on a trip?”
“What do you mean…?”
“Isn’t she? Huh… I guess I was mistaken.” Petria replied.
“No, wait. Please tell me in detail.”
“Well, you see….”
Norman’s face turned blue after hearing her story.
‘The Duchess has been acting like someone who will be leaving soon…. Wait, does that mean that there’s not much time left?!’
Norman hastily ran to the maids’ room to find Marie.
* * *
“Your Grace won’t stop by the capital? Why?”
Caville summoned the Commander of the Cernoir Knights.
Behind Brien Vedos, the vice commander, were two elite knights.
One was Ren’s lover, Solar, and the other was a knight named Heinz.
Ren, who was next to Caville, glanced at Heinz’s abrupt question.
It’s not necessary, but Ren was Caville’s escort.
“There is no reason to stop by the capital.”
Heinz raised his eyebrow.
“But isn’t it an opportunity to impress the emperor? Your Grace saved the princess too…”
“Why do I need to impress the emperor? Every time I see his face, my urge to kill him deepens.”
“…A-alright,” Heinz replied, sulking.
Currently, the forces of the Cernoir Knights were divided into two branches.
One was Solar and her knights, all from the estate, and the other was Heinz’s troops. All of them were mercenaries that he had met on the battlefield.
Caville met Heinz and his mercenaries on the battlefield. They swore allegiance after he saved their lives. Caville also granted them the honorary knighthood.
Then, he chose Heinz as their leader, therefore promoting him to an elite knight.
Until now, they were close and never had any quarrels. But after the war ended, they began to have conflicts.
‘To think he’d refuse to stop by the capital.’
After the meeting, Heinz left the barracks with a dissatisfied expression.
The mercenaries had no hometown to return to, so of course, they planned to go to the Duchy of Cernoir with Caville.
The Cernoir Knights were the ones to take the lead on the war.
‘The Emperor promised to reward us, but he refused it… What better things could be waiting for him in the duchy?’
He was dissatisfied. Still, he had no choice but to follow Caville’s orders.
They were not the original members of the Knights of Cernoir, but their loyalty was absolute.
Heinz admired Caville to the point that he’d be worth sacrificing for.
He wanted to see Caville, who was ridiculed for being young, directly praised by the Emperor, slapping the other nobles’ faces….
It was unfortunate.
* * *
The Knights of Cernoir had a common concern. It was Caville’s cold and blunt demeanor.
Sometimes, he would seem like a person who had no emotion.
The only time he expressed himself was when he complained about the Emperor or the Temple.
He used to be a small child who worked hard and trained every day.
And now, he was a hero who saved the Empire, just like the first duke.
Caville was a well-rounded leader that all the knights were proud of. They sincerely wished for his happiness.
They thought it would be nice for him to experience love, feeling various emotions.
And Heinz thought that Caville was fated to be with the princess.
Furthermore, the princess turned out to be the emperor’s niece.
If he led the war to victory and married the emperor’s niece, there would be nothing else for him to desire…
‘The princess also seems interested in the duke…’
She often visited Caville.
There were even times where he saw her acting all coy and shy.
‘What could be better than marrying a beautiful woman with a high background?’ Heinz thought.
But there was a problem, Caville already had a wife.
‘I’m sure she’s spending all her husband’s money alone…’
She would pretend to care about him once he comes back to the mansion.
Just thinking about it left a bitter taste in his mouth.
Heinz spat on the floor with a dissatisfied look.
* * *
“Then, are we leaving right away?”
“I want to finish preparing before the sun rises.”
“Yes, I feel the same way.” Solar chuckled.
The knights who left the estate had always missed their hometown.
But Caville was the most homesick among them. He would like to fly on ifrit’s back if he could.
However, Ifrit was tired because he had used too much power. He said he was going to rest inside the artifact.
Caville was annoyed by Ifrit, who was eating away his mana without even trying to help him when he needed it.
Of course, he was of great help in the war. However, it was natural for him to do that because Caville had constantly been giving him mana.
“Princess Larissa must be sad. She thought we were going to the capital together….”
Caville glared at Brien and stayed silent.
Ren and Solar saw Caville’s response and nudged Brien.
Brien shrugged his shoulders.
He was one of those people who wanted Caville to be happy and to experience love.
A man should marry a woman who’s kind-hearted, beautiful, and loved.
And just like Heinz, Brien thought that his destined lover should be none other than Princess Larissa.
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