Translator: Latte Editor: Sasha
The duke’s knights were currently separated into three factions, and they were all under Brien Vedos’ supervision.
Brien was troubled because they constantly fought and argued, but he couldn’t come up with a solution to mend their relationship.
‘Nothing big has happened yet, so I’ll just wait and see…’ Brien thought as he sighed.
But unfortunately, he spoke too soon as a bigger problem broke out.
It all started with a conversation the knights had during their break.
Although the knights were said to be divided into three groups, the truth was that they were only broken into two.
In Heinz’s brain, the knight only consisted of two groups; the pro-duchess and the anti-duchess faction.
A few of the knights under Solar who participated in the war took sides with the mercenaries even after arriving at the estate. This was because of the bond they made on the battlefield. They were proud of their accomplishments from winning the war as it boosted their already huge egos.
Fortunately, most of them chose to side with the duchess as they had been longing for their hometown.
Heinz was disappointed with them. They had fought side by side on the battlefield together, yet they changed sides so easily.
‘I mean, she sent a 13-year-old kid to war and didn’t even send a letter to him for seven years…’
However, they seemed to have their own reasons.
“I heard that the duchess had sent numerous letters and supplies, but they said it was intercepted by the temple?”
“Those bastards, seriously… I knew they’d do this!”
Heinz snorted at them.
‘How could they even know if the temple actually stole her letters? How could they believe that so easily?’
Honestly, it was a pretty good argument, but…
There was another reason as to why the knights kept praising the duchess.
The duchy, which had always been lacking in both infrastructure and economy, had been noticeably developed by Elody.
The buildings in the downtown area had changed, and several facilities were built.
It was astonishing.
However, the most substantial reason was that their families became prosperous and lived healthy lives.
Most of the duke’s knights didn’t have their own property.
As servants of the lord, they did not own any land and had to wait for the lord’s orders. Because of that, most of their families were settling in small villages near the mansion.
Unexpectedly, after they came back, their family were doing quite well. The farming production had increased tremendously, and the taxes were reduced by a lot.
And it was all thanks to the duchess.
So, even if they had ‘bonded’ with the mercenaries, they couldn’t side with them because they felt indebted to the duchess.
Sadly, these facts were completely irrelevant to Heinz and his knights because they were not originally from the duchy.
After all, the real anti-duchess faction was made up by Heinz and his knights.
He felt irritated and betrayed, but at the same time, he could understand their circumstances as well.
Nonetheless, the knights that remained in the duchy couldn’t pass with the same excuse!
They kept bragging as if they brought honor to the duchy when they didn’t even participate in war!
The knights who participated in the war were prideful.
They had been with the young duke ever since he was neglected by the other nobles. They had overcome all sorts of shame and discrimination and led the war to victory. It was only natural for them to feel proud of themselves.
However, the knights who remained in the duchy were also prideful.
During those seven years, they protected the duchy without even a single incident.
Unlike other territories, there were no monster attacks here.
The knights steadily hunted monsters, patrolling the estates diligently, and devoted themselves to training every day in case of any incidents.
They were also knights, so their families stayed in villages near the castle.
Needless to say, they received a lot of help from the duchess in the process. So it was only natural for them to praise her and to feel proud of their achievements.
However, their pride was insignificant to the knights Solar and Heinz commanded.
The fight continued with each of the knights holding their own principles and virtues.
‘I hate this… ’
After Heinz arrived at the manor, he couldn’t escape the feeling of being isolated.
Whenever his knights, who should be treated respectfully, vented about the alienation they felt, his frustration soared to the sky.
Solar’s knights also didn’t like how Therion and his knights were so bossy.
But if the topic were about the duchess, they would not hesitate to praise her along with Therion’s knights.
Whenever that happened, Heinz would feel isolated.
It seemed that Heinz and his knights were the only ones who hated the duchess.
And as the compliments increased, so did their hostility.
Heinz wanted Princess Larissa to arrive as soon as possible.
After the princess arrived, he wondered if Solar’s knights could still praise the duchess.
Heinz knew for a fact that some of Solar’s knights talked about the princess and the duke as well.
‘But now, all they do is talk about madame this, madame that…’
They were hypocrites.
At first, he was just simply irked… but now, he couldn’t hold his anger any longer.
Therion’s knights were currently bragging about their fight with monsters.
‘Tsk! Just monsters…’
While fighting the Empire of Urta, Heinz knights were inspected yet ignored by the wicked temple and the imperial government.
There was never a day where he could sleep comfortably without the anxiety of not knowing when a battle would begin.
On the other hand, Therion’s knights lived leisurely in the duchy, yet they dared to brag about fighting monsters…
“So we charged at those monsters and…!”
“Monsters are weak. Don’t spout bullsh*t… ” One of Heinz’s knights murmured, his voice purposely loud.
“…You bastard, what did you say?” Therion’s knight replied with a threatening tone.
“How dare you call my knights bastards…?!” Heinz glowered while glaring at Therion and his knights.
At that exact moment, Heinz burst out in anger.
“Fighting monsters, my ass! What can you even do? Hit it with your lousy punches? You guys can’t do sh*t!
“Hey, you assholes. While you were playing around with the duchess, we were risking our lives in war! Y’all listening? Have you ever been to a battlefield? Huh?!” Heinz raged.
Therion’s knights jumped from their seats.
Even the knights from the provinces who participated in the war started complaining, saying that it was not true at all.
They looked around and started looking for Vice Commander Brien, Solar, and Ren.
However, the three were away.
Meanwhile, Therion sat still and was cleaning his gauntlets.
“You praise the madame very much… How great she is! Oh, how beautiful she is! Yadda yadda—what a load of crap!” He ranted, “Don’t you know that the princess is coming soon? You guys will have to leave the mansion after she comes, you know?! She’ll become the new duchess, and your precious madame will finally perish!”
The moment Heinz finished speaking, Therion, who was watching silently, jumped up and ran towards Heinz.
“You son of a…”
Without hesitation, he balled his fist and struck him square on his face.
After that, a fight broke out.
But it soon ended after Brien appeared.
“You crazy bastards… Are you out of your minds?!” Brien shouted.
He approached Therion and Heinz, the first ones to use their fists.
“You guys are elite knights, and this is how you act around your subordinates?! Come with me this instant!” Brien said as he took them to his office.
Solar could only sigh at the incident and began to scold the other remaining knights.
* * *
“Explain to me why you guys fought.”
Brien clenched his fists as the two continued to keep their mouths shut.
“I will not inform this to the duke. So be honest with me.”
If Caville knew, it was obvious that things would get bigger.
Brien vowed to handle this by himself.
After returning to the estate, the duke had not been in a very good mood.
He would occasionally laugh and talk during their days on the battlefield…
But now, he had no change in facial expressions, whereas before, he would show diverse expressions about 12 times a day.
He was like a man who was suffering from manic depression.
So, Brien thought that it was best not to touch his nerves.
“Sir Heinz insulted the duchess,” Therion finally spoke.
“What?” Brien asked, shocked.
He stared at Heinz.
‘Is he crazy? Does he know who he’s insulting?’
Brien knew for sure now.
Last time, when the duchess gave him her handkerchief, he realized something.
The duke had shown an obsession with her handkerchief. Or rather, he was obsessed with the duchess herself.
Brien was sure that he had no intention to divorce the duchess.
Caville, just as he was young, still relied on his wife.
For him, the duchess was his only family.
In other words, she was someone that should never be touched.
Heinz glared daggers at Therion.
“Exactly… He said that we were playing around with the madame while they were having a hard time in the war.”
Brien was so surprised that his mouth was agape.
Therion continued to speak.
‘There’s still more?’
“He said that the princess is coming soon and we’ll have to leave the mansion. He also told us that she would replace the duchess!” Therion fumed.
A slap stung Heinz’s cheek.
Heinz glared at Brien. He felt betrayed and unjust at the same time.
Therion was also stunned.
Brien grabbed his forehead with his hand.
If this story was told to the duke…
Heinz, as well as himself, could be harmed. The fault of an elite knight was also the fault of the vice commander.
He could be kicked out of the manor and wouldn’t be able to see Marie again!
Well, he couldn’t see her now either as they were on bad terms, but…
Brien shouted at Heinz, “Heinz, I will warn you. Those kinds of words should never come out of your mouth ever again.”
“Why not?” Heinz asked, still being rebellious.
“Therion. You may leave.”
At Brien’s order, Therion bowed his head and went out of his office.
As soon as Therion left, Heinz grumbled, “Vice commander, what’s wrong with what I said? Is the duchess even that special to the duke?”
“Are you still out of your mind?!” Brien yelled in frustration.
Truthfully, Heinz was Brien’s favorite knight. That’s why he tolerated him even if he talked back.
“Never insult the duchess! Ever! Don’t think even for a sec that the duke won’t kill you. Do you understand what I mean?”
“The duke will not hesitate to kill you. I assume that you understand what I mean?” Brien repeated.
Heinz was forced to nod.
He meant that the duchess was a very important person to the duke. So she wasn’t someone he could mess around with.
Heinz’s right cheek was swollen and red. He felt that he was mistreated. How could the vice commander slap him in front of that douche, Therion?
He was outraged, but he couldn’t do anything about it.
Heinz decided to wait for Princess Larissa to come and let karma do the work.
But before that, an unexpected event had happened to him.