Chapter 74

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Cedric, who was left behind, sat for a while without saying anything.

Lysia stood up from her seat, not knowing what to do.

Cedric asked her.

“What did I do wrong?”

“I don’t know.”

He didn’t know how many times this was.

Cedric didn’t seem to have spoken properly with Artizea these days.

Is it because she has a lady-in-waiting to be left behind? Cedric thought, rubbing his eyebrows with his index finger.

Or, did he say something that had disappointed her without knowing?

Lysia said.

“Wouldn’t it be nice to follow after her, instead of worrying about it?”

“I should.”

Cedric stood up.

Lysia briefly wondered if it was because of her.

“Surely.”

No matter how much she thought about it, there was nothing to be misunderstood about her relationship with Cedric. She thought the idea was too self-centered and she forgot it.

***

Artizea was in the library.

It was true that she had several documents to write. She wanted to get her plans in order before the winter was over.

She thought it was a decent break, but it wasn’t. She had so many things to do as she went back, but her mind was irritated.

She had no craving appetite. She’s got a few sweet pieces of cookies, and even that didn’t go down well. Artizea knew that she couldn’t eat anything, and she put it down.

In Artizea’s mind, she has begun to picture some specific details after all of her work is over.

If she luckily doesn’t die, she’d better build a villa somewhere in the eastern, quiet countryside.

How about buying all the books she wants to have and putting them together? It would be nice if she walked every day, read books, and wrote letters she couldn’t send.

She was thinking about that when the door opened.

Rize said cautiously.

“Madam, the Master….”

Cedric came through the door without permission and stood there asking.

“Am I interrupting?”

“I didn’t tell you that.”

Artizea sighed a little and sat back.

Cedric knew that she had allowed his entry and stepped inside.

“Tia.”

“Do you have anything to say?”

“If I don’t have anything to say, can’t I join your tea time?”

“You don’t have to do that.”

“Tia.”

“If you have nothing to say, I have to do my job.”

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“Tia.”

He called in a stern voice. Artizea raised her eyes.

Cedric thought that it had been a long time since his and her eyes made contact.

But even if he matched her eyes like this, there wasn’t much difference from when it wasn’t.

Her eyes, which had always had a deep color, were now as emotionless as blue jewels.

Artizea put her eyes down again.

“If you have any business, please tell me. I will listen.”

Cedric finally sighed.

“I just wanted to talk to you.”

“Do it later when I have time. You don’t have to make me spoiled. Lysia is taking good care of the snacks these days.”

If she said this while turning away, Cedric couldn’t speak any more.

“Okay, I won’t disturb you anymore.”

“Sorry.”

“I’m going to the hunt early tomorrow morning.”

“Yes, I know. You said it was like a New Year’s event.”

Winter hunting has been around since the time when food was scarce in the middle of winter. It is for an intermediate replenishment of food.

However, winter hunting is dangerous, so when there is a place where a lot of knights gather, there is a custom of going out hunting together.

Naturally, it was immediately after the New Year’s banquet. Again, for unity, a hunting plan was scheduled for several days.

“Maybe it will be about 5 days to a week. It could be longer if the weather conditions are good.”

Artizea nodded at Cedric’s words.

“It seems to be very dangerous because it is right after it snows, please be careful.”

“Tia.”

“Although I think the knights know much better than me.”

Cedric reached out. However, his hand could not reach Artizea. This is because Artizea preemptively avoided his hand.

“…..Do you have anything else to say?”

Cedric asked.

There was no way there would be, but Artizea did not know.

Cedric looked at her fingertips. So Artizea held her hand together and hid her cold fingertips.

“Okay.”

“Yes.”

“I’m leaving tomorrow early in the morning, so I probably won’t have time to say hello. It’s going to be a few days away, so please take care.”

“Yes, don’t worry about it, have a safe trip.”

Cedric eventually couldn’t hold her hand or kiss the back of her hand.

He turned his back and went outside.

Artizea looked at his back for a while, then lowered her head when the door closed.

***

It was fussing at dawn. The butler tried to quietly lead the hunting procession away, but that couldn’t be done.

The excited dog barked, and the knights shouted as they lined up the soldiers.

Artizea barely slept that night.

Her heart was restless. She heard the sound of a cold wind as if she had a hole deep in her heart by an awl.

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She kept thinking of the hand that Cedric had stretched out.

She knew that his heart was inclined quite a bit to her. She knows that if she reaches out her hand, he may hold her.

That was the most painful. She thinks she’ll fall for the temptation.

But it shouldn’t have been.

Artizea came down from bed. She tucked her feet into the fluffy fur slippers on the floor and found her gown.

“Huh? Madam?”

Alice, crouched asleep on the couch, spoke sleepily, but she was startled and tried to get up.

Artizea shook her head.

“It’s okay.”

“Shall I get you water? Or…”

“Just sleep.”

Looking for a gown over her pajamas, she opened the door to Cedric’s bedroom.

Cedric never locked the door on his side. If Artizea wanted to open it, she could open it anytime.

It’s been a long time since the owner of the bedroom had already left, so the room was bleak. It was after the servants finished all tidying up.

Still, it wasn’t without human traces. Artizea briefly looked around the room and sat down on the bed.

She heard the sound of a horn in the distance.

Artizea stood up and approached the window. When she opened the shutter slightly, the torch of the hunting procession was already far away.

The wind was so cold she quickly closed the window. And she came back to her room.

What if she had opened this door when he was there?

It’s meaningless even if she thinks about it.

She was a vicious woman. She was generally as vicious to everyone, but she was more vicious to Evron.

She shouldn’t forget that. Artizea locked the door again. And she crawled back into bed.

In the meantime, her hands and feet were sore as if her body temperature had dropped. She covered the blanket all the way to the end of her head, but her breath formed like dew on her limbs and made it colder.

Artizea suddenly realized that she was still wearing the diamond bracelet.

‘This….’

She had been wearing it from the time she was proposed, so she forgot.

She pulled it out and put it down on the side table.

Her sleep was unlikely to come again.

***

It was two days later that a guest came.

“From the South Sea, a leather dealer?”

At the words of the treasurer in charge, Artizea was quite surprised.

“Yes, it’s said to be a small business of the Eimmel Kingdom. It took so long to check the identity card, that’s why I’ve only got to post it now.”

Said the treasurer with a regretful face.

“In this season?”

“They didn’t know that the sea would be frozen, so they came up, but I guess their feet were tied up. Sometimes fishing boats from the mainland do the same.”

“Where are they staying now?”

“At first, they stayed at an inn, but in winter, the inn also closed its business…. Now it seems that the temple is taking care of them. There are many empty rooms.”

It wasn’t common, but it wasn’t something that had never happened before, so the treasurer said without doubt.

“It’s been said that Evron leather was being received through the business of the mainland so far. Middleman traders have raised the price unacceptably, and now they want to trade directly.”

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“I see.”

“Previously, when Her Grace’s secretary was negotiating with the leather dealer, it didn’t go well. They said that they want to meet in person.”

“Okay. I think it’s possible. Let’s meet.”

Artizea nodded her head. It was an opportunity to see how much profiteering the middleman traders had been making.

There was nothing to delay, so the merchants were called in that very afternoon.

Artizea decided to meet them in the reception room of the Grand Duchy.

Privately, Cedric entrusted her with full power. However, she did not want to give the impression that she had just married and that the Grand Duchess took over the official office.

Lysia sits by her side, and Alphonse stands behind her. Four financiers took seats on the left and right.

The entrance to the reception room was bustling.

Merchants who had been called entered the reception room.

“I heard that everyone is a sailor, but the physique is quite…..”

One of the treasurers mumbled.

Artizea wasn’t listening to that.

She stood up in astonishment when she saw the red-haired man who came in at the forefront.

“Ah…!”

But she couldn’t put the name out of her mouth.

It was because at this point in time, as a normal person, she didn’t know.

The man laughed.

“It’s been a long time, Marchioness Rosan. How long has it been? You probably haven’t forgotten me already?”

The eyes and expression were bright.

Then, she realized that he already knew her.

“His Majesty Cadriol of Eimmel.”

“I’m relieved you remember. My head is still tingling after I got hit by you.”

Alphonse felt a strange hint and moved.

However, Cadriol’s men were faster.

A man spit out a knife thinner than a finger from his mouth. And with it, he poked his companion’s belly next to him and pulled out a round object from his stomach.

Alphonse, who noticed the strange feeling, was already running at him.

Lysia screamed.

“No, Sir Alphonse! Her Grace’s side!”

But both were already late.

The smoke bomb exploded and the room was filled with sticky purple smoke.

The smoke bomb was a melee weapon that Eimmel’s navy was proud of.

All of Cadriol’s subordinates were elite among the elite of the Eimmel Kingdom, and through the smoke, they could see ahead like in broad daylight.

However, there was only one Alphonse from the Evron Knight.

The guards plunged into the room, but couldn’t find their direction in the dark smoke.

Cadriol ran to Artizea and snatched her.

Alphonse ran after him with his senses alone. Six blades blocked his way.

He broke the blade in his way and cut the neck of his opponent.

However, he did not get Artizea back from Cadriol’s hand.

Lysia went out by touching the wall.

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Smoke bombs exploded in succession. Soon the hall was full of smoke.

“Call the knights! Close all doors of the stronghold! “

Lysia shouted out loud.

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