“Lord Cedric, you can have a little more pride in yourself.”
“What you create is not the authority that follows the title of Grand Duke Evron or the long honor that the Empire bore, but Lord Cedric himself.”
“It is said that a place makes a man, but just because everyone is in the same place does not produce the same result.”
If so, it wouldn’t matter who became the emperor. Artizea thought of it and smiled a little.
“If you had forced them to sacrifice with power, the Western Army would not have followed Lord Cedric. You said there were many people who wanted to follow you? If Lord Cedric accepted, the soldiers would have moved to barren land with their families on their backs. Do you think that’s something anyone can do?”
“You know that? Oh, Freil said that.”
“Lord Cedric was treated as a hero not because of the size of your authority, but because you were able to give such faith and hope.”
If he only thought of Evron, he would be right to accept it. It was a way to solve the population growth rate hitting the wall and the ever-threatening military power at once.
But Cedric didn’t.
There was also an internal situation of Evron Grand Duchy. Rather, it was because he was concerned that civilians would see a lot of damage in the next monster wave by pulling out the trained troops from the west.
“There are as many common people who believe in Lord Cedric as there are countless numbers of people in the armed forces. You have to trust yourself.”
Cedric’s face was brightly colored. Artizea twinkled.
“I’m one of them.”
Cedric turned away from Artizea.
“You sometimes embarrass me too much.”
“I didn’t say anything that wasn’t true.”
There were many times he had heard sincere praise.
However, Artizea’s words were unusually swaying in his heart.
His chest swelled, just like when listening to the cheers of the soldiers who survived after a tough fight. He was proud of himself, proud of his opponents, and more than anything else, he was happy.
He was embarrassed.
Cedric shook his head once to shake off his feelings.
“Now let’s stop talking about this.The food will get cold.”
Cedric broke a piece of bread in half. The white pastry was torn and the steam fluttered.
He handed the bread to Artizea.
“Be careful because it’s hot.”
“Oh, thank you.”
Artizea accepted it.
Her neck was tickling.
She knew that Cedric liked to eat simply without following the etiquette.
Even in the capital’s mansion, he often eats after bringing food to his study or living room. Even on the ship, he arranged all the food on a table in a narrow space and ate it in no order.
However, this felt overly intimate as they were sitting side by side in front of the fireplace.
When Artizea emptied all the soup, Cedric took the empty bowl and put it on the trolley.
And this time he handed her a plate and a fork with a little main dish.
“Eat it all. Try for me.”
“I’ll try my best.”
Artizea sighed. The soup was so thick that she felt like she was full.
“To keep your body warm, you have to eat well. You have to get into that habit from now on.”
“I don’t think I can take it well…..”
“Isn’t it tasteless?”
“Not like that.”
Artizea knew best that it was because of a psychological reason. Even if she knew it, it was something she couldn’t do.
“Try it a little.”
Cedric watched her eat for a moment. And he ate slowly himself, in accord with the speed of her eating slowly.
Then, at the end of Artizea’s meal, he looked at the timing and opened his mouth.
“I want to take a look at the financial situation of the estate tomorrow.”
The two spoke almost simultaneously.
Cedric flinched. Feeling as if she had intercepted his words, Artizea hesitated.
“It’s no big deal. I’m going to the family tomb tomorrow. If you’re okay, I was going to ask you to come with me.”
Artizea groaned briefly.
“I’m sorry. It’s important, but I forgot it.”
She wasn’t even thinking about it.
First of all, she was in the status of the Grand Duchess, so she was expected to pay a visit to the tomb. It was also out of courtesy to the vassals.
“Don’t think so seriously. I don’t mean to have a formal service. I came back after a long time, so at first I thought I’d just go for a walk by myself.”
Cedric stroked his cheek once to calm the heat in his face.
It was for no special purpose, but he was simply saying to go out together. It took a lot of courage.
“I thought it would be better if we went together. It’s not far away, so I think it will be a change of mood for you too……. I want to show you something.”
Artizea slowly nodded her head.
“Then, are you giving your permission?”
“An expression like permission is too grand. I have time, so I have no intention of rejecting Lord Cedric’s recommendation.”
“Then, we’ll go to the family tomb in the morning and get a report together in the afternoon.”
“Yes, let’s do that”
Then there was nothing to talk about, so the silence filled the room for a while.
Cedric became terribly shy and awkward. His heels seemed to be stinging.
He seemed to have something stuck in his throat. He had a lot to say, and he couldn’t figure out what to say.
Even when he returned from an extraordinary routine to his daily life, the world was still changed to him. When he returned to a familiar place, he realized more and more that he had changed.
Eventually he couldn’t sit there and stood up, feeling impatient.
Artizea stood up after him. Cedric removed all the bowls and put them on the trolley.
“Just leave it. The maids will do it.”
“I’ll leave it here.”
Artizea came out to the door to see him off.
Cedric sighed. He doesn’t want to be nervous, but he seldom does.
Unable to understand why Cedric was saying that, Artizea blinked.
Then Cedric laughed, making a sound in the wind.
He still feels embarrassed.
But after they talked, his mind was rather relaxed, so he could have a natural face.
“There are many things. And for listening to my story.”
His heart was so complicated that he couldn’t put it all together.
Cedric had never thought he would ever return with someone.
He has never been alone.
People like his family were always there.
The vassals cherish him. Ansgar followed him to the battlefield. There were also many who risked his life to protect him.
He was in a precarious line of fire, but a solid net of trust created by people in the same situation supported his feet.
A loving heart cannot be hidden or created by lies. Although he lost his parents at an age he couldn’t even remember their face, Cedric grew up in love as much as his parents gave him.
This entire Evron Grand Duchy was his home. That’s why he never thought he hated Evron even when he was held hostage in the capital as a child, or when he became a boy and suddenly fell under the imperial shield.
So he never thought he was lonely, but when he came back with Artizea like this, he realised he was.
The fact that her presence alone filled his heart. It was only then that he realized that there was an empty space in his life.
For Artizea, it was a marriage that was unavoidable because of necessity. Moreover, it is limited to two years. He will be just a contract partner.
But for him it was more than that.
Even if it wasn’t Artizea, he would one day marry someone. He would have had children and had a family.
However, Cedric thought that if he had done so, he would not have been as full as he is now.
He may have respected and cared for the marriage partner. She may be someone who thinks he’s attractive as a man.
But he would not have shared the respect and admiration as he now does with Artizea. He wouldn’t even have thought he was happy to be with that partner.
Cedric took a deep breath.
“Thank you for choosing me.”
“You’re saying weird things. You know from the beginning that it’s beneficial to each other.”
As Artizea turned her head a little and looked down at the floor, she said consciously coldly.
‘Don’t speak too kindly to me.’
The words echoed in her mind in many ways.
She herself was a person who did not deserve to hear such words. Even if he drew his sword and cut her neck right now.
Cedric chose her, not herself.
Cedric took her out of the dungeon. He got down on his knees and told her to make a plan for the world.
He said he needed her first.
So she decided to be the one he needed.
This time she herself got down on her knees and decided to make a plan for him.
Artizea wished Cedric could not hear the beating of her heart.
The voice sounded happy.
So Artizea momentarily forgot what conversation they were having.
She didn’t understand what Cedric was saying. Cedric reached out and grabbed Artizea’s hand.
The temperature of the two hands were different, causing Artizea’s fingers to melt ticklishly.
She couldn’t figure out what would be better. She couldn’t think of anything. She was short of breath.
Artizea paused, then barely raised her eyes and looked up at him. She then froze.
His deep and profound eyes approached. Artizea stopped breathing.
And she stared blankly as his dark lashes slither down, obscuring the sweet light in them.
Something soft touched her lips.
Artizea was astonished as if she had been beaten.
Cedric grabbed her hand tightly. Artizea could not run away. It was the hand that was caught, but as if holding her whole body.
She closed her eyes tight. Her whole body nerves become sensitive as if they were rushing to her lips.
As her body heated up, she trembled with tension. The feeling of being held over her thin pajamas revived over her skin.
The lips fell.
Cedric gently patted her cheek. And he said sweetly.
Artizea nodded her head dumbly. Cedric opened the door and went out.
The door closed.
Artizea barely breathed in her breath that stopped.
It seemed that her blood was circulating in the veins all over her body. Her cheeks were burning hot.
With her trembling legs, she stooped back and sat down on any chair.
She couldn’t figure out what had happened.