Translator: Latte Editor: Sasha
“All the strawberries are gone!” Ifrit shouted frantically.
Elody immediately ran to the greenhouse.
As Ifrit said, all the elemental strawberries that had been planted in the greenhouse had disappeared.
On the other hand, the ordinary strawberries remained the same.
“What’s going on?”
Elody was dumbfounded at the sight.
Of course, strawberries should grow back in a few hours, but….
Could it be that the strawberries weren’t able to?
Or did someone else steal them?
“Was the door to the greenhouse open?”
“Yes! It was open! Why didn’t you lock the door? You have no fear, do you?”
Ifrit yelled at Elody, blaming her.
Elody looked down and stared at the other crops to see if they were all right. Fortunately, the only thing that had disappeared was the elemental strawberries.
“Ifrit, are you sure you didn’t eat all of them?”
“No! I saved some for breakfast this morning!”
“What about last night? You weren’t sleeping here, were you?”
Ifrit quivered indignantly.
Ifrit was actually guarding the windows of their rooms because of Caville’s orders last night.
But Caville had told him to keep it a secret, so he couldn’t say a word.
“I don’t know! It wasn’t me! You have to find them! My precious strawberries!” He fussed as he laid on his back.
He looked like a little puppy that was surprised by the first snow.
After barely calming Ifrit, Elody returned to the lab.
She honestly thought Ifrit had eaten it all.
Unlike peaches, the elemental strawberry could not grow until at least 12 hours after all the berries had been harvested.
Elody dismissed the problem, thinking it was just Ifrit’s silly mistake.
But the next day, the strawberries had disappeared again.
And the next day again.
Ifrit, who had promised to regularly provide the Elemental Crystals, eventually declared a strike.
* * *
Caville came to Elody’s lab after work.
“A strawberry thief?”
Caville looked serious.
“Maybe it’s one of the knights.”
At Caville’s words, Elody stared at him.
“Caville, would you really suspect your own knights?”
“Well, I don’t trust anyone here but you.”
“You’re the one who taught me not to easily trust others and that I should doubt all of their intentions.”
’Why is he so good at talking?’
Elody shut her mouth because it was all true.
“So, wife, how are you going to catch the thief? Would you like me to do it for you?”
“It’s okay. I made a new magical device.”
“What does it do?”
After Ifrit declared a strike, Elody noticed that it was not his own doing.
Arriving at that conclusion, she started making tools to catch the criminal.
It was a device that fired a dart tipped with a hypodermic needle and filled with a dose of tranquilizer solution that was a sedative. The device would automatically shoot whenever it detected any activity at the plot where the elemental strawberries were planted.
In short, it was a tranquilizer gun.
However, there was a problem.
“I’m afraid that the anesthetic is too strong…”
She needed to test it on someone… But she couldn’t think of anyone deserving to be a lab rat.
“Shall I call Baron Vendors and Baron Bernard, wife?”
“…It’ll take a few days for the two to come. Furthermore, they are too old. If something goes wrong and they die…”
“That’d be great—cough!”
‘What did he say?’
Elody narrowed her eyes at Caville.
Caville blinked innocently.
“Shall I do it?”
“I’m strong, wife. I’ll be fine.”
‘How could I shoot a gun directly at Caville?’
Ifrit, who had been silent the whole time, shouted in frustration, “What do you mean no?! Aren’t you going to catch him?! Hurry up and shoot!”
Ifrit had been very sensitive for the past few days.
“Give me that!”
“Wait a minute…!”
It happened before Elody could stop him.
Ifrit quickly took the tranquilizer gun and ran with his fluffy feet.
Then, he pointed the gun at Caville.
The dart flew off straight to Carville’s shoulder.
But, it didn’t get stuck and bounced off instead.
Elody blinked and looked at Caville.
Caville muttered, “Huh. It seems that the needle is too weak.”
‘What? Is his skin made of stone or something?!’
Elody wanted to ask but held back.
Indeed, Caville was one of the best swordmasters on the continent. Having a much higher physical ability than the average person…
In the first place, Caville could not become the subject of her experiment.
In addition, he said he had more magic power after returning to the land, and he had been training every day.
Ifrit fired a few more shots at Caville, each time asking if something was wrong with the gun.
Elody’s brows crumbled and she took the tranquilizer gun from Ifrit.
“I’ll take care of the medicine myself.”
At Elody’s words, Caville answered yes, kindly. On the other hand, Ifrit complained.
“What a monster…”
That night, Elody set up a new tranquilizer gun and returned to the mansion.
* * *
The next morning, Elody got up early and headed for the greenhouse. But the criminal was not caught.
“Did he run away?”
The elemental strawberries and tranquilizer device remained the same.
‘Ifrit must be happy.’
Elody deployed the tranquilizer gun as soon as she came so that Ifrit could eat them.
After checking out the other crops, Elody headed to the lab in the next room.
And right after Elody disappeared.
The faint shadows began to move slowly.
After the shadows had eaten all the strawberries, it approached Elody with a dismal walk.
* * *
Meanwhile, meetings were still going on in the capital city of Heklasium.
It was decided that the territory of Urta on the East Continent would be shared little by little. However, the Marquis took the largest territory.
Despite the conclusion, the reason why the meeting still continued was because of the Duke of Cernois.
“Maybe it’s not the time for us to do this. But I feel uneasy about the Duke of Cernois. He acts as if he doesn’t want ownership of a certain territory, but there’s no guarantee that he’ll continue to act this way,” The Duke of Ibelin, who occupied the northern part of the continent, claimed.
“That’s right. We don’t know when he’ll claim ownership. I’m not sure about the certificate alone. Now that he has the power of the Spirit King, he may even try to get ahold of the throne,” Duke Rehos of the East said.
The emperor showed signs of discomfort.
In the emperor’s mind, if someone had the power of the spirits, that person would have sought the emperor’s seat.
“That’s what I’m saying. In the first place, the current Duchy of Cernois is the richest territory on the entire continent!”
“Yes. There’s also the Forest of Death, but it’s not far from the County of Borque.”
Although the agreement on the territory of Urta was over, they were greedy for something bigger.
It was the power of the duke’s spirit.
“Why don’t you ask the tower for help, Your Majesty?”
The emperor, who had been silent all along, snorted and said, “Have you ever seen them meddle in political affairs?”
“But… isn’t this related to spirits?”
Emperor Albrecht had a sour look on his face. In the first place, there was no need to look upon the tower.
For they were not willing to intervene in matters from the outside.
“We must join forces to ask the Duke of Cernois to return the spirit.”
“I think we need to make a treaty and take precautions.”
Emperor Albrecht remained silent at the nobles’ claims.
In the first place, the territory of Cernois was not granted by the emperor, but by the first duke himself.
It was said that all of the former Cernois were loyal to the imperial government, but that could not be guaranteed for the current Cernois.
As the Duke of Ibelin said, he may have pretended to be uninterested in power till now, but they don’t know when he would turn his back on the empire.
‘That’s why I sent Princess Larissa to him…’
The marriage of Princess Larissa and the Duke of Cernois meant that he would promise loyalty to the empire.
But Princess Larissa was kicked out…
Emperor Albrecht wanted the Duke of Cernois under his wings before the Temple by any means possible.
But if he failed…
He would have no choice but to start a war and take over his territory.
But before that, he needed a way to take away the power of the duke’s spirit.
‘The temple must also be searching for ways to do that….’
After the meeting, Emperor Albrecht ordered three of his spies that infiltrated the Temple to contact him.
And Princess Larissa, who returned to the palace, was in a significantly different position.
“How dare you let the princess stay in a room like this?”
Carolina murmured in a voice filled with indignation.
Of course, this room was as fancy as it was then, but it was much duller than the room she had in the old Crystal Palace.
When the rumor spread that Princess Larissa had been driven out of the Duchy of Cernois, the servants of the palace began to ignore her.
It was the same for Carolina, she was also ignored.
The empress, the crown prince, and even the princess began ignoring her.
‘She used to be so kind to me… She treated me as if she had found her lost family again. I can’t believe she’s treating me like this now.’
Carolina looked at Princess Larissa with a stuffy expression.
Princess Larissa still loved the Duke of Cernois.
Even though she knew she had to give up, her feelings had relentlessly grown to be bigger than before.
Thus, as the days passed by… the princess found herself to be much deeper in love than she was ever before.
* * *
A little while ago, Ifrit could be heard screaming hysterically inside the greenhouse.
Then, he ran to Elody in the lab.
Elody, who was in the middle of studying, stared at Ifrit in bewilderment.
“Not today too! Did you even catch the criminal?!” Ifrit cried.
“But I’m sure the strawberries were here before…”
“What do you mean they were here? There weren’t any! They’re gone like the wind!”
Elody muttered, “That’s impossible…,” and headed for the greenhouse.
“What in the world…?”
Who could have stolen the strawberries in such a short period of time?
Elody sighed in despair.