Chapter 76

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The beacon has risen.

Seeing it, Cedric returned home urgently that evening after sunset.

Knights and soldiers who had left for the hunting ground flocked into the stronghold without disarming.

The sound of military boots trampled the castle, and the red shadow cast by the torch shrouded the stronghold even more.

The inhabitants of the stronghold died in their post without even thinking of opening the gates.

Dead bodies were laid on the stone floor of the hall. There were 14 guards killed by swords and 4 strangers from the South Sea.

Cedric put a sheet with Evron’s crest on the body of the guards. After identification, the body of the South Sea people was tied with a rope and pulled out.

And Cedric sat on the upper seat of the Grand Hall with his sword on, without even loosening the winter cape strap over his coat.

Alphonse knelt in front of Cedric. He couldn’t even erase the blood stains he had during the day.

He lowered his sword, removed the insignia from his chest, and placed it in front of Cedric.

“I will pay you back with death, the sin of failing to protect the Grand Duchess.”

Cedric responded with an angry voice to Alphonse’s words.

“Don’t put death in your mouth easily. There will be work to be done before I take your breath away from your throat.”

“Forgive me.”

The situation was grasped.

A group of South Sea people came in last month and stayed at the temple for nearly a month. It was just before the port was frozen.

Aubrey, who met them at the temple, drew in detail the structure of the stronghold.

The South Sea people, who had passed through the passage of the Saint statue, went down to the estuary from the river, in a small boat that had been waiting.

The ship was said to have been modified to run on ice like a sled. The merchant who had lent the warehouse to store the ship bowed down and lamented that he was guilty of death.

“The one who remodeled the ship is also those South Sea people. There were some damages, so they came in and out to repair it themselves, but there was no doubt about it at all.”

When the South Sea people contacted Aubrey, the servant who watched her and all of their family, were also found dead.

Cadriol held their family hostage to prevent words leaking from their mouths, then killed them before leaving.

Cedric ordered coldly.

“Close the temple, arrest and investigate all residents who have had any interactions with them. Make sure that the secret passages are destroyed and blocked. Since it is known to the outsider, it should be made so that it cannot be used again.”

“Yes.”

“What about the port?”

“Once the beacons were lit, a complete shutdown order was issued.”

“If you can go down the river by attaching a sled under a boat, it will also be possible in the sea. Do not neglect cracking down on the supply warehouse just because it is frozen. No matter how great the ship of the South Sea people is, they will not be able to go out to the ocean without any supply.”

“Yes.”

Cedric said only then.

“Bring Aubrey.”

Soon Aubrey was brought. She was caught in the temple room without knowing the situation.

Aubrey wasn’t surprised to see the ugly atmosphere of the stronghold. She asked with a cool smile, as if she was delighted.

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“That woman, did she run away too?”

“Aubrey Jordyn. Did you inform the South Sea people of the structure of the stronghold?”

Cedric asked in a cold voice.

“What? Oh, yes.”

Only then Aubrey’s shoulders shrunk. It was because she knew it was wrong.

“He said he must meet her. Uh, do you know that she abandoned her lover that she originally intended to marry and married Your Grace instead?”

Cadriol never said that. But within Aubrey’s head, the story was already so transformed.

“I’ve known that for a long time. That’s what cheap women do.”

“….”

“Don’t be so sad. She is a woman who is not worthy of Your Grace’s heart.”

Aubrey approached Cedric.

She wanted to comfort him. How sad and betrayed he must have felt.

He was so nice to the lowly woman whose father is not known, and gave her the status of the Grand Duchess, then she betrayed him and ran away with another man.

Aubrey thought Artizea was a really funny woman. Whether she has a changed heart or for other reasons, shouldn’t she first ask Cedric for divorce and ask for forgiveness.

However, she guessed it from the time Cadriol spoke that they would be running away. She must have committed a great sin that she couldn’t say.

Even though he became angry, Aubrey was deeply satisfied, and with this, Cedric also knew Artizea’s true color.

As Aubrey thought, Cedric was angry with sadness and betrayal.

However, the reality was different that the person who did the betrayal was Aubrey, not Artizea.

Aubrey’s rude remarks froze the air in the Grand Hall.

Margaret, who was terrified, ran out crying and hugged Aubrey and fell to the floor.

“Just her life……… Please spare her life!”

Aubrey said annoyingly.

“Oh, mom. What’s the matter? She’s gone so she’s gone, it’s done now. She’s a woman who’s not worth scolding.”

Aaron pounded both hands on the floor. It was because he couldn’t even dare to ask for a life.

Following Aaron, the daughters of Count Jordyn came forward and knelt.

The eldest daughter, serving as the knight, unwrapped her sword and took off her cloak. The second daughter and third daughter, who serve as officials, also took off their hat and the insignia indicating their identity.

Following that, all of the lineages of Jordyn’s knelt on their knees.

Aubrey then realized that the situation was completely different from what she thought.

Cedric lamented in front of her as he looked around.

“I can’t believe it. This happened in my castle.”

“Your Grace….”

“When I came back to this place a few days ago, the Grand Duchess advised me. People can betray me for unforeseen reasons, so she wants me to be more careful. Do you know what I answered at that time?”

“Your Grace….”

Aaron called him in a trembling voice.

“I laughed it off! It’s all right, it’s safe in my estate! I trusted you! I never thought there would be any betrayal in my castle! So I said she’d be safe, too!”

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Cedric jumped up with anger.

“I was always worried about getting pierced from the outside! I was worried about being wiped out by Karam, and I was worried about the imperial conspiracy! I was afraid of winter approaching, and I thought of fighting and death. But I was able to sleep with confidence only in my house, my castle! Because I trusted you!”

The knights and officials could not handle the anger and knelt on the floor at once.

“Aubrey Jordyn! I’ll give you one chance to make just one excuse, looking at your parent’s side. Why did you do that?”

“You, Your Grace..…”

Aubrey, terrified, muttered tearfully.

“Because Your Grace is looking only at her, an, and ……I yearn for Your Grace……”

She couldn’t stop saying that.

Clang!

Cedric drew the sword from his waist and threw it in front of Margaret.

“It’s hard to forgive all of the crimes of treason against the Grand Duchess, the treachery of leaking the secret of the stronghold through a communication with the enemy, and the high crimes against Evron.”

“Please, please, spare…”

“It is deserving to destroy the whole family, but considering the achievements of Jordyn, I will give you the opportunity to rid the shame of the family by yourself.”

It became irreversible.

Margaret cried endlessly, hugging Aubrey’s head.

Aubrey looked up at Cedric blankly. And said “Huh? Huh?” and looked around with a face that couldn’t figure out the situation.

No one sided with her.

Aaron couldn’t dare say that he would cut his daughter’s throat on his own, and did not move his face up.

Instead, the eldest daughter stood up and picked up Cedric’s sword.

Subsequently, the second daughter and the third daughter ran. The two captured Margaret and pulled her out.

“I, I will die instead! I will die!”

As Margaret was pulled out, her cries echoed from outside.

Slash!

Without a scream, her blood gushed.

Lysia turned her head.

Cedric continued.

“I hereby order that Aaron Jordyn and Margaret Jordyn be deprived of their titles and to serve as a servant at the Thold Gate. After a three-years probation, after confirming their loyalty, I will decide on future punishment.

Tears dripped from Aaron’s eyes.

“Viscount Agate.”

“Yes.”

“Temporarily take over the management of the stronghold. I will track down the invader with the military.”

Cedric ordered that and turned around with his cloak.

“Where are you going? We’ve already delivered a search order to the port, so we’ll have news tomorrow afternoon.”

“I’m going.”

He headed out with a determined step.

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The knights rushed out after him.

It was midnight, and snow was piled up. It was unreasonable to run horses all night even for northerners who were used to the cold.

However, Cedric did not hesitate.

The South Sea people were said to use a boat that was converted into a sled. He couldn’t even guess where it would go in a day, or where the real ship would have been put on the frozen sea.

‘It’s my fault.’

He thought.

Just because it was his castle doesn’t mean he was safe.

It would have been better if he had followed Artizea’s warnings enough. He should have been properly escorted without being relieved, even if it was in his stronghold.

It is arrogance to believe that the hearts of the servants will be the same as his own.

It was a mistake to believe that everyone would respect her and treat her like him because she was his chosen companion.

Aubrey should have been kicked out earlier as well.

He already knew that Aubrey was disrespectful. However, he didn’t deliberately interfere because he believed it was Artizea’s job to rule her lady-in-waiting.

However, Artizea was softened by the thought of his relationship with the Jordyn family, and that was one of the reasons for this incident.

He found it difficult to forgive himself.

She had to be by his side.

Only regrets remained.

“Your Grace!”

Lysia ran out in a hurry.

Cedric said, pulling the horse’s reins.

“Don’t worry, nothing will happen to Tia.”

It was more like a word to himself.

“That’s not it. This….”

Lysia politely raised the diamond bracelet to him with her two hands.

Cedric looked down at it vaguely.

“It was lying next to Her Grace’s bed. She always wore it …… Please give it back to her.”

“Yes.”

Cedric took it and put it in his arms.

And he sped up the horse. A group of knights followed him.

——-

Notes:

The talk about betraying is in Chapter 61.

Aaaa, this is one of the most exciting chapters I tl-ed to date! (Thus, I dare to write this long thoughts.)

This chapter really shows Cedric in his element, usually it’s Artizea being cool and him being a sweet cutiepie. But on the other hand I’m quite sad that Cedric learnt his lesson this way. Like for a child to experience a cut to not play with sharp objects anymore.

What will happen to Cedric in the future tho? One of his good points is that he’s down-to-earth, someone just beyond grasp, and he believes in these people he thought was his family.

But with this, will he lose trust in them? Be more wary? Since it’s really shown how hurt he was by the incident.

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