“Ah, Your Grace.”
Mel, who felt her presence, stepped back and knelt down in a hurry.
Artizea had met Mel when she had just come here. It was when she was greeted by everyone on the trail.
At that time, Mel looked majestic as a knight captain with one hundred knights under her control.
After the Knighthood, she was supposed to serve in the fortress of Thold Gate. And, after gaining experience as a commander in another region, she would have succeeded Aaron in the future as Countess Jordyn, a vassal in the Grand Duchy.
The black clad captain was no different from the other knights who attended the funeral today.
The status of all of Count Jordyn household was forfeited. However, a trained knight is a skill that cannot be abandoned.
Just because the punishment is applied, it is not possible to bring about an immediate power decline.
For that reason, Mel had her epaulets covered with white cloth.
She served as a knight, but lost her post and was demoted to a commoner.
Even now, instead of kneeling on only one knee and saluting, Mel knelt down on both of her knees and bowed.
It is in accordance with the tradition of the common people greeting the Grand Duchess.
Artizea said in a split voice.
Mel stood up with her head down. It was a quiet and calm attitude.
“If I met someone, I thought I would see Margaret or Aaron….”
“My father went out on patrol. My mother is sick.”
“At the age of Sir Aaron, patrolling would be difficult.”
“He volunteered. He wanted to pay at least a little bit for teaching his child wrong…..”
“Is that so?”
Having said that, Artizea looked at the coffin silently for a moment.
“Aubrey wouldn’t be pleased about my visit, but I came because I thought it was right to send her.”
Mel lowered her head.
“Thank you. It wasn’t an honorable death….. She was Your Grace’s lady-in-waiting for a while, so if Your Grace would forgive her, that would wipe out Aubrey’s disgrace a little.”
Mel stepped aside.
Artizea approached Aubrey’s coffin and placed a white silk flower next to the mistletoe fruit.
And she silenced for a moment. It wasn’t pure condolences that caught her heart. Rather, it was a complex tangled dark emotion.
Eventually Artizea said.
She didn’t intend to make it this far, and she won’t make such an excuse.
She has done countless things even worse than this, and she has never looked back on those deaths.
She couldn’t make excuses just because she was feeling sentimental.
There’s no reason for Aubrey’s life to be heavier than someone else’s.
“Aubrey is a disgrace to Count Jordyn.”
“My parents and I… raised her wrong.”
Mel put her gaze down.
“It may sound only as an excuse, but Aubrey is a child born prematurely on the day we heard that the Grand Duke was purged.”
“At the time, Evron was having a hard time and both of my parents had suffered a lot… and felt a lot of guilt.”
“On the day she was born, I knew they were worried about just covering her head with a blanket. At that time, everything was opaque. I heard they thought it would be a burden to have a newborn child in the Jordyn family if there was a war with the imperial family. So it would be nice to just die when she doesn’t know anything.”
“You did a good thing by saying sorry. You don’t behave like the wives of the capital do, they wear pretty clothes, do what they want to do…… As if to make amends for what happened then.”
Mel said she didn’t make amends, but was trying to make amends.
“One day, I realized Aubrey wasn’t just immature, she was thinking of herself as the Grand Duke’s Lady. I realized that it shouldn’t be, but it was too late.”
“Regardless of how their parents raise them, people live by their very nature.”
Artizea replied in a low voice. Mel replied.
“Yes. Some people don’t change no matter how they were taught. Still, I regret it.”
“She might have been a different child.”
Mel shed tears.
“His Grace the Grand Duke had his first battle on his sixteenth, and so did my father. So, if Aubrey was armed and posted on the fortress walls of Thold Gate, she might have understood why Evron was loyal…. I’m sorry.”
She apologized to Artizea by bending her back. Her tears fell on the stone floor of the temple.
Artizea sighed a long sigh.
“Dame was a good older sister. You don’t have to doubt that.”
If she regretted it, she wouldn’t put Aubrey up as the lady-in-waiting, but Aubrey’s blood was buried in Mel’s hand.
Aubrey’s words of envy pushed down her throat.
Aubrey had everything she wanted.
Artizea knew that if she had been in Aubrey’s position, there would be nothing else she wanted to have or wanted to do in the world.
She had loving parents and good older sisters, so just enjoying that happiness would have been enough for her life.
Artizea sighed again.
Aubrey’s life is far more expensive than Artizea’s if she considers the sadness of the remaining people to be worth her life.
However, in reality, several people died to save Artizea, and Aubrey is buried in a wooden coffin that cannot even soothe her parents’ sorrow.
When she thought about it, everything was in vain. The world was unfair and evil.
Leaving Mel in her place and coming out, there was someone waiting for her.
“Did you finish saying goodbye to the lady-in-waiting?”
Although she had seen his face, she had never spoken with him in person.
Artizea bowed her head and greeted the priest. The priest said in a low voice.
“I have something to tell you for a moment. Please come over here.”
The priest beckoned her to follow him.
“Soon the other priests will be returning from the funeral. I want to say something before that, Your Grace.”
Artizea was somewhat surprised.
There was no reason for the priest to find her in such a hurry. Even more so, if he’s a regular priest.
Of course, the ranks of priests were different from those of ordinary people. Even noblemen usually treated priests with sufficient courtesy.
Even people who have no faith at all, their speech spontaneously increased in front of the priest.
The same was true of Artizea.
So, there is no law that says to not speak to her just because he is a regular priest.
But Artizea was the Grand Duchess. Whenever they came to pray in a formal way, the bishop greeted them or at least a high-ranking priest greeted them.
So, as they had no close acquaintance, she wasn’t in the position to come and follow him.
What’s more, he has something to tell her when there are no other priests.
The priest’s body smelled like dirt and dust, as if he had come back in a hurry. His shoes also had mud on it.
From the main entrance of the stronghold to the burial site, all roadwalks are paved with stone.
The presence of mud means that he sneaked out through the back door. Or running down the side road.
What was he trying to talk about?
Artizea nodded lightly. And she followed the priest.
Alphonse followed Artizea without a word.
The place the priest guided her to was his residence.
“Please wait here.”
Artizea said to Alphonse at the door.
“Your Grace can regard me as a dead man.”
He had already assumed that his life was nothing. As Cedric said, he was only here because there is more use of him, and in reality there is no more competent escort.
He remained determined to be with Artizea as a sword until the next moment he had to give his life.
But Artizea shook her head.
“Stay here. The priest is scared.”
That was true.
Even to Alphonse’s eyes, the priest was trembling.
“I will be at the door.”
Artizea nodded her head.
Then she went into the priest’s room.
The room was very small. There was only one bed that could barely be laid down, one furnace, and a small desk with a candlestick.
The priest recommended that Artizea sit down by turning the desk chair.
And he himself sat down on the bed. The room was so small that it was only possible to maintain a polite sense of distance.
Looking at each other like this, she could see the priest sweating cold under the dim light.
“Your Grace, I’m sorry to be asking for such rudeness. I have found some important facts, but there is no one else to discuss with but you. As I see it, you’re the only one that is not from Evron….”
The priest wiped his forehead with his sleeves.
“As Your Grace may have already felt…. In the North, the ties between the local people and the priests are so strong that they are worried about burying such a serious matter. So I had no choice, but to be a priest first.”
“Tell me what’s going on first.”
“Yesterday I was confessed by a farmer.”
The priest clenched his nervous hand.
Disclosure of confession to others is prohibited in any case, but this was too serious.
“It is said that the reason the war broke out this time was because they tried to cultivate the devil crop.”
Once the priest had spoken, he poured out his words as if he had been relieved.
“It looks like it’s called the Karam crop among farmers.”
“Is that such a big problem?”
Artizea asked, as if she did not understand anything.
“I knew that sometimes poor farmers sow seeds on the field and then pick fruit or dig up the roots when they are famished. This kind of behavior can be forgiven once or twice.”
The priest said, shaking his hand.
“The same goes for trading with Karam. It’s what fools do to survive in a place out of the reach of God.”
“But this is a different problem. It is said that a village on the north side of the Thold Gate was systematically researching the devil crop. It seems that some of the vassals of the Grand Duchy were involved.”
Artizea looked at him, dimming her blue eyes.
It seemed that there would be less than a day where she could be emotional.