Translator: Latte Editor: Sasha
Elody left her office. The princess gave her quite the headache. Thus, she decided to go to the greenhouse to get some fresh air.
As she was about to go down the stairs, she collided with someone.
“Apologies, is Your Grace alright?”
She lifted her head to see the man’s face.
It was Theodore, the commander of the paladins.
“I’m alright,” she replied.
Without uttering another word, Elody proceeded to go down the stairs after giving him a slight bow.
Theodore stared at her back for a long time.
He had wanted to see her, but it was tough for him to strike up a conversation.
For the past seven years, Theodore had been holding onto the letters that the messenger sent to him. Under the direct orders of the high priest, Theodore was instructed to examine the documents that were sent to the battlefield for reasons.
At first, he didn’t think of anything when he read the letters. But as the amount piled up even as the duke had never given back a reply. The letters still came, and it never stopped. And it wasn’t just the letters! She also sent numerous supplies such as painkillers, medicine, and even winter garments.
The Temple had long known that Elody was a mage. Thus, the high priest had also told him to confiscate everything that she had sent.
‘Is it really alright for me to be doing this…?’
Theodore felt uneasy.
The duchess had written the letters with her heart and soul, so it was only fair for the duke to read them. And as he kept reading the contents, his guilt grew bigger and bigger.
However, it would be difficult for him to deliver the letters to the duke without being caught by his supervisors, more so because he was the commander of the paladins who drew the attention of all high ranking officials.
Still, his heart felt heavy.
The letters were very personal, so he thought that he shouldn’t show it to anyone else. Yet, every time a new one arrived, he would not hesitate to read them.
‘Will another letter come…?’
Unknowingly, Theodore began anticipating the arrival of Elody’s letters.
It was strange. He felt guilty and burdened, yet, whenever he read those letters. It felt as if she had sent these letters of everlasting affection solely for him. However, he knew what the truth was… and the truth was that she cared for the Duke of Cernoir… not him.
As time passed by, he started thinking about Elody. What kind of person was she? Why did she care so much about the duke? Why did he keep anticipating the arrival of her letters? What was this feeling?
And after a while, he realized what it was…
‘I shouldn’t have done this…’
It was envy.
He was jealous.
He was downright envious of her love for the duke.
Theodore recalled his past…
When he was young, he had never had a happy childhood.
Those memories were only filled with feelings of envy towards his older brother. And the only thing he could recall about his family was the cold glares they gave him. It was as if they looked down on him. As if they had never loved him.
Theodore knew that reading the letters any further would only make him remember things that he didn’t want. But he still had to read the letters because it was an order from the Temple.
Thus, he tried to get a grip on himself and read the letters without involving personal feelings or emotions. Or at least… he tried to.
He tried really hard to suppress his feelings while reading each and every word.
—Elody will be waiting for you.
—Elody’s cheering for you, always.
—Elody loves you.
As he kept reading and reading. He couldn’t deny it any longer.
Yes, it was true. He was insanely jealous.
He envied him so much.
Who was this person that she cared for so much? How could she keep sending letters to him knowing that he had never replied?
Theodore had always thought that eternal love could only exist between a parent and their child… and this belief was formed when he saw how great his parents’ love was for his older brother. Therefore, he believed that love was something he could never have for his entire lifetime.
However, when he saw how someone could be loved so intensely by someone other than his parents. He was bewildered…
‘How can I get this kind of affection?’
In this world filled with so much life, Theodore was lonely.
His heart was empty.
There was a void inside him that he couldn’t seem to fill, and the more he perused her letters, the deeper that emptiness grew.
Consequently, he started to imagine what it would be like if he were the receiver of the letters. He began hoping for affection as well from someone named Elody, who he had never even seen his entire life.
‘What am I thinking?’
Theodore was disgusted with himself. It was not right for him to feel this way. He only read the letters under the orders of the high priest. It wouldn’t be right if he were to develop feelings only because of this!
He already felt bad enough for the duke and the duchess, he didn’t want to feel any guiltier than this.
Thus, with that in mind. Theodore vowed to apologize to the ducal couple himself when he met them face to face in the duchy.
However, he suddenly heard a strange rumor.
“It seems that the emperor plans to arrange a marriage between the Duke of Cernoir and Princess Larissa!”
Theodore was confused.
‘Why would he do that when the duke already has a wife?’
Even if the ducal couple had not received the marriage approval seal from the Temple. It was evident that they were still married.
Nevertheless, the gossip and rumors about their divorce spread throughout the capital like wildfire.
Everyone seemed to believe that the duke was going to divorce the duchess to marry the princess.
And he also heard that the duke regarded her as his sister rather than a wife.
Though, in all honesty, he had already guessed that was the case from reading her letters. But… the two were undoubtedly not real siblings. That was why he was so surprised to see such affection from someone who wasn’t even family.
Then, he heard another rumor. It was said that the duchess was a cold woman who had never even sent a single letter to her husband for seven years.
When he heard about that, Theodore felt an immense amount of guilt.
To atone for his sins, he pleaded to the high priest to let him go to the duchy to return the duchess’s letters and supplies. And to no one’s surprise, the Temple allowed him to go as they wanted to get a hold of the duke’s power as well.
Thus, Theodore left the capital for the duchy. He intended to apologize to the ducal couple from the bottom of his heart.
But on the other hand, Theodore kept thinking about what would happen if the duke really intended to divorce his wife.
Would he have a chance?
He held onto that little bit of hope as he left for the Duchy of Cernoir.
* * *
At the training grounds of the Mansion of Cernoir…
After training, the knights went back to their lodgings to rest.
That is, except for Therion, who had been sitting absent-mindedly on a chair, thinking about god knows what.
“Sir Therion, are you thinking of something?” Solar asked with Ren by her side.
“N-nothing…” Therion said, finally snapped out of his daydream.
Embarrassed, the knight stood up and left the training grounds.
“What’s up with him? He’s been in a daze all day long. Does this have anything to do with why he was late yesterday?” Ren asked.
“Maybe he saw something strange in the Forest of Death?” Solar replied.
“Is that so…?”
The two eventually dismissed the thought and went back to their daily lives.
* * *
The knights who had left the training grounds were currently gathered in the lounge. Some drank beer, while others bet on each other with a game of poker.
Amongst the noisy chatters, a loud voice could be heard.
“So… is the duke still gonna marry the princess?”
Everyone had been gossiping about the duke and duchess for days.
Heinz, who was sitting in a corner, grunted, “Should he? The duchess had sent so many letters and supplies to him. If he ignores that and still chooses to marry the princess, then it would mean that our leader has no heart.”
“What’s wrong with Sir Heinz?” Someone whispered.
Everyone was startled by Heinz’s sudden change in attitude.
“Since when did you start supporting the madame?” Therion, who had been silent the whole time, snorted.
At that sharp remark, Heinz glared daggers at Therion.
“Ooh! Are you two gonna start a fight again? Then, how about we make a bet?” A knight exclaimed.
“A bet about the duke’s marriage? Are you guys mad?!” Heinz shouted.
Unfortunately, the knights cheered as they would never back down from a bet.
“Those who think that the duke will marry the princess, raise your hands!”
“Me! I bet on the princess!”
Heinz’s knights and a few of Solar’s knights raised their hands.
“Then, those that think he won’t divorce the duchess. Raise your hands!”
“Of course, he won’t!”
A lot more knights raised their hands than before.
Naturally, some didn’t raise their hands to both as well.
Heinz was in a horrible mood.
‘Those idiots don’t know anything!’
“Tsk!” He clicked his tongue while glaring at the knights.
Suddenly, the topic changed to Princess Larissa’s beauty.
“Honestly, though… Isn’t Princess Larissa really beautiful? If I were the duke, I would have fallen in love with her at first sight!”
“Yeah, and her stunning silver hair…!”
Heinz was furious when he heard the knights endlessly praising the princess.
But before he could burst out of anger, a knight spoke for him as if he had read his mind.
“What’s so attractive about her? Our madame is far more beautiful than the princess! I mean, truthfully, isn’t she weird? Why would she try to marry the duke if she knows that he already has a wife?”
“That’s right! Someone eventually has to rat out the princess! She isn’t as innocent as everyone claims her to be!”
At the end of the knight’s words. Heinz’s men had a dark expression.
“No matter how hard you try to praise the princess. We will never acknowledge her because she is with those imperial bastards! Isn’t she part of the imperial family anyway?”
Two days ago, after the banquet was over, the knights who had seen the duchess’s supplies had fully taken her side.
Heinz as well, had wholeheartedly changed his stance. He was now one of the duchess’s supporters and would no longer praise the princess.
Suddenly, an unexpected person backed the princess up.
“Why is everyone blaming the princess?”
The knights’ gazes turned to Heinz since he used to be the one who vouched for her the most. But surprisingly, Heinz had never opened his mouth.
Hence, their line of sight moved again, and it finally stopped when it reached…
“It’s funny how you guys criticize the princess when you’ve only criticized the duchess just a few days before.”
Silence filled the room.
Therion continued, “What sin has the princess ever made? She must have come to the duchy without any knowledge whatsoever. I mean, if you ask me. I think that the duke is the heartless one! Seducing a naive person like her then treating her as if she were invisible after she came all the way to the…”
Before Therion could finish his words.
Heinz, who had been trying to calm himself, finally burst into anger. He jumped up from his seat, ran towards Therion.
“You f*cking traitor!”
Then, he balled his fists and punched him square in the face.