Translator: Latte Editor: Sasha
Baron Garcia and the other vassals who did not participate in the war were anxiously worried.
It had been a few days, but no news had come from the duke’s mansion.
Also, Baron Vendos and Baron Bernard said that they were busy and could not meet them.
The vassals didn’t know if they were really busy or avoiding them by making up excuses.
‘To think I put my trust in them…’
Baron Garcia was so frustrated that he couldn’t even get a single good night’s sleep.
However, a few days later, the duke issued an edict to Baron Garcia and the rest of the vassals.
The decree said that the sin of not following the duke’s command to join the war could not be overlooked.
However, it was a compassionate judgment that he would save his life because he realized his sin and asked forgiveness.
However, since they realized their sins and asked for forgiveness, the duke decided to be merciful and spared their lives.
[Pass your title onto your child and depart to the Forest of Death as soon as possible. You must make a lifelong apology by fighting monsters there for the rest of your lives.]
Shocked and horrified, Baron Garcia fell to the floor. There was no way for him to survive this ordeal.
* * *
Caville couldn’t just forgive the vassals who did not participate in the war.
If he let them go, he would be known as a merciful duke. But he knew that if this happened again, they would probably repeat their mistakes.
Elody also agreed on his decision.
She nodded when Caville said that he would move them to the Forest of Death instead of killing them.
Furthermore, the number of monsters had increased drastically. He was worried that the forest could pose a threat to the duchy.
If the vassals go there to defeat the monsters, it will help ensure the citizens’ safety.
After seven years of war, Caville had only just returned to the land.
The punishment of the vassals was the first thing he handled after returning to the mansion.
Elody was pleased to see Caville so grown-up and mature.
Still, there were a lot of things that she wanted to tell him.
First, Elody had to teach Caville about the work he had to take care of as the duke of the duchy before the princess arrived.
* * *
Baron Bernard and Baron Vendos had been very busy lately.
When they heard that the duke’s orders weren’t just given to the two barons but also to the other vassals, they gritted their teeth.
To be in the same boat as those who did not participate in the war. The duke was unjust.
And the more they investigated the duchess, the more they felt suspicious.
The duchess had started various projects for the duchy over the past seven years.
Of course, they weren’t able to dig deeper into them because it was under the direct control of the duke.
However, she had done something that helped the two barons themselves.
It was about farming.
As advised by the duchess in the duke’s direct jurisdiction, the farming method had been changed, resulting in a significant increase in production.
Thanks to that, the estates next to them also gained information and earned numerous benefits.
It was clear that the duchess had made the duchy grow admirably.
Rather, it was only fitting for them to thank the duchess directly.
However, they felt that something was wrong.
“Is His Grace not intending to divorce his wife?”
On the battlefield, the duke always spent his time alone except in battles.
Because of that, no one knew the duke’s intentions. His personality was so cold that no one dared to ask.
However, the two barons, including the knights, had always expected that the duke would divorce his wife.
Unexpectedly, the duke who returned to the estate was not willing to divorce her at all. At least for now.
So does he have no feelings for the princess? Or is he waiting for her to come?
They had a lot of questions with no answers.
The princess was expected to arrive in the territory in about two months.
It coincided with the time when the two barons had to leave for the Forest of Death.
So before the princess came, they had to make sure that their plan worked.
The two barons planned to get the duke to fall in love with Iris.
But they couldn’t wait forever. As the date of their departure was approaching, their anxiety grew deeper.
Baron Vendos first spoke.
‘Wouldn’t it be better to stick to the duchess? My pride hurts, but… it’s better than going to the Forest of Death.’
‘…. It is. If Iris fails, let’s just leech on to the duchess. Now is not the time to consider pride.’
The two barons had a conversation with gloomy expressions.
In the end, they decided to stick to the duchess right away if Iris failed to capture the duke’s heart.
Somehow, they had to avoid being in the same position as the other vassals.
* * *
Days passed as the vassals kept trembling in fear.
Caville made several attempts to hold himself back for Elody, who could be frightened by his actions.
After the incident with the barons, Elody was noticeably uncomfortable with Caville.
It was the first time she had seen him like that, so it was natural for her to be surprised.
Elody tried not to make it obvious, but Caville could see it in her eyes.
And so, Caville visited Elody, who was filing papers in the study. He went there while carrying a rabbit doll that she made by herself. He wanted to show her his lovely side, just like when he was a child.
“My wife, are you very busy?”
“Not at all. What can I help you with?”
Elody was supplementing the data to hand over to Caville.
But when she glanced upwards to face Caville.
She stared at him, sitting on the sofa with a puzzled look on her face.
‘Why is he holding that doll?’ Elody thought, dumbfounded.
“My wife. Do you remember that time when you told me that I was as cute as a rabbit?”
“Huh?” Elody asked with a confused expression.
Caville smiled with the prettiest eyes while holding the rabbit doll.
He definitely looked lovely.
Even though he was a grown-up adult, Caville still had a lovely side.
“My wife, how do I look now? Am I as cute as a rabbit?”
Elody looked at Caville silently. It was challenging to come up with the right words.
Rabbit… He was as cute as a rabbit…
However, it was hard to say that he looked like a cute rabbit from when he was a baby with his body’s current figure…
Battle rabbit, giant rabbit, muscle rabbit…
Elody tried to erase the words that came to mind. Then she replied with a smile as genuine as possible.
“Yes, yes. You’re still as cute as a rabbit.”
Caville smiled at the awkward answer.
“Is there anything I can do to help you, wife?”
“Yes. I’ll explain it to you when all the materials are ready. It’s what you’re going to do.”
“Then I shall boil you some tea.”
Caville took the rabbit doll and went out of the study.
As soon as he opened the door and went out, Caville leaned against the wall with a disappointed expression.
A while ago, Elody answered him with an awkward expression.
Caville felt like his heart was stung by a needle.
“Yes, yes. You’re still as cute as a rabbit.”
It was definitely true.
He wanted to believe that it was true, but it was definitely a lie.
Caville pounded his head against the wall with a sad face.
‘What should I do?’
It was Caville’s biggest concern at the moment. How Elody was uncomfortable with him.
And just in time, a little puppy wandering along the hallway approached Caville.
“Why are you doing this? It’s unseemly,” Ifrit said.
Caville looked down at Ifrit with a cold expression.
The appearance of him pretending to be an ordinary puppy was undoubtedly annoying.
“Where have you been these past few days? And why did you come back now?”
“I’ve been wandering around the estate! I was just thinking of saying hello to my benefactor, but this is the first thing you say to me?”
“You? Saying hello to someone?”
“Why? Can I not do it?”
Caville grabbed Ifrit and carried him in his arms. Ifrit rebelled a little.
“Why are you doing this?! Let me go!”
Elody must have thought of Ifrit as cute when he was in the form of a small puppy.
Caville would never think of him as something cute for as long as he lived.
Sadly, however, he was able to witness just that.
“Oh, is that a puppy?”
That’s when Elody opened the door and came out.
* * *
After Caville returned, Elody asked about the Spirit of Fire.
Unfortunately, Caville just laughed awkwardly and dismissed the topic…
However, she couldn’t believe that a spirit was residing inside the artifact she found.
Elody smiled as she looked at the little puppy that could fit in both of her palms.
It was so cute to see it wagging its tail.
She had only seen village dogs, so she was amazed to see one with such gorgeous red fur.
“But benefactor, how did you save me from dying?”
Elody pondered for a moment at Ifrit’s question.
If Elody honestly said that she used an unknown item she received after she died in her previous life, would he even believe it…?
“I don’t know. But I’m glad I saved you. Thank you for protecting Caville.”
“Yes! Finally, someone who actually talks like a normal person! You’re the benefactor of the Spirit King of Fire! My benefactor! This guy never talks, so I owe Your Grace the–”
“Wife, how about you put that thing away and have a walk with me,” Caville said as he shook Elody’s arm.
In Caville’s eyes, Ifrit, who was wagging his tail and pretending to be cute, was an annoying pest.
Especially his tail. It was very irritating.
Perhaps offended by Caville’s words, Ifrit descended from Elody’s lap and slipped out of the window.
Elody, looking at the figure of the escaping spirit king, stood up and said, “I’m glad I found the artifact then.”
“Yes, it’s all thanks to my wife.”
“Well then, shall we go for a walk?”
“That’d be great.”
“Ah! How about we go downtown tomorrow? The area has changed a lot. I’m sure it’ll be a ton of fun!”
“Then, shall we go now?”
“Shall we?” Elody smiled as she left the room, along with Caville.
The maid who was waiting in front of the door slightly bowed her head.
While going down the stairs with Elody, Caville said as if noticing something wrong about the maid.
“By the way, wife, the servants don’t look too good. What happened?”
“I know, right! Did you feel it too?!” Elody replied aloud and before covering her mouth due to her eager voice.
It seemed as if they had been having a hard time…
After Caville returned, the expressions of the servants were very dark.
Marie was also different from usual.
Marie, who helped her dress up every morning, didn’t speak the whole time and had a gloomy expression on her face.
She was very different from before.
‘She used to be such a chatty person…’
When Elody asked what was going on, Marie only told her that it was nothing, so Elody thought she had a fight with Sir Vedos…
However, the other servants were also the same. Their expressions were not good.
Seeing that Caville noticed it too, she was sure that it wasn’t because of the mood alone.
“I guess there’s something we don’t know. Should I ask Norman?”
“You can ask him later after we play, wife. You’ve been too busy these days.”
Only a week or two had passed since Caville returned.
Elody, as Caville said, was busy organizing papers every day after dinner.
Because of that, she couldn’t even visit the greenhouse for a few days.
Elody thought she had to hurry and complete the research on the crop seeds she was studying before the princess returned.
Her first priority was to play with Caville, who was still a bit childish.
And, as Caville and Elody predicted, something was going on among the servants that the two had no idea about.
Inside the servants’ lounge…
A secret meeting was being held here.
“Did you take care of it?”
“Yes, I did.”
“I’m sure that we’ll be able to figure it out after we pick up a few pieces…”