Chapter 83

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Artizea was watching from outside the door at the urgent operation.

Lysia grabbed her hand and dragged it. Artizea knew that she was trembling.

The village chief had the bathroom ready. Lysia immersed her first in lukewarm water to prevent frostbite.

The maids poured hot water little by little and melted her frozen body.

“Ho, how ……?”

Her lips were also trembling, so the words that came out were only that much.

Lysia replied.

“There was a report yesterday morning that some of Karam’s small troops were found.”

“Beyond Thold…..?”

The Thold Mountains are grim.

Except for the canyon called the Thold Gate, there is no way for the military to move.

So, for hundreds of years, the war with Karam has been centered around the Thold Gate.

As far as Artizea knows, it was.

Lysia said.

“It’s not impossible to cross the mountain range at all. Hunters and herbalists are quite frequent, the traders and the slash-and-burn farmers are also going around. In the case of personal crossing, we turn a blind eye.”

It was more like an agreement between Karam and Evron.

Trade is also taking place in that way. It is impossible to act as a spy anyway, because of the lack of communication and appearance.

However, it was never before that a group of close to 40 Karam personally crossed the mountain range.

That’s why Cedric initially fired a threatening shot.

From the beginning, the guns, the knights had, were only a secondary armament with a short range and weak firepower. As long as it didn’t hit the vital spot, it wasn’t a threat to Karam.

Still, he fired it in order to hear the gunshot and see Karam react.

And instead of scattering, the Karams lowered themselves and came running.

All of them must be on the rank of warriors.

“We sent out scout troops in various places. Then I was worried about the Grand Duchess. It was impossible to escape if the Grand Duchess’ carriage encountered Karam, and all the equipment that the Grand Duke took were all hunting equipment.”

When fighting a few people, that was enough. However, if Karam is the opponent, they must be equipped with a minimum amount of armament.

Artizea’s complexion returned to her face. Lysia made her come out of the water.

The maids wiped Artizea’s body and wrapped her hair. Cotton trousers and tops were put on.

Lysia rested and sighed.

“I care about the clothes you’re wearing and the carriage you’re riding on…”

“You didn’t have to.”

“I should.”

Lysia struggled with her smile. She was struggling to control her emotions.

Even Artizea wasn’t at peace with her mind. How many people have died?

Downstairs there was still a repressive scream. It was the sound of a knight with an injured leg being treated.

Then Artizea was guided to a room where the fire was warmly lit.

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The only proper house was the village chief’s house, so Cedric and the commander of the reinforcements and several knights also came here.

“Tia, are you hurt?”

Cedric saw Artizea and asked. Artizea shook her head.

“I’m fine. More than that……”

She carefully looked at the people. A solemn atmosphere hung among the knights.

“Six dead and seven are injured, two of which are seriously injured. Sir Ned will be fine. He’s not someone to lie down for a long time with a cut in his thigh.”

Cedric said. Considering that they faced twice as many Karam with 20 people without proper equipment, it was worth saying that they did well.

Artizea couldn’t ask if Collin was okay, so she looked down at her toes.

“Thank you for the timely support. If it had been a little late, we would have been in trouble.”

“Thanks to Baron Morten. Most of the scouts were already moving towards where the Karam troops were seen. They heard the sound of a fight while they were moving with the carriage and clothes to meet the Grand Duchess.”

“Good job, Lysia.”

“Of course, it’s something I have to do.”

Lysia replied briefly.

“Why does the warrior class wander around this place?”

“I’m looking into it now.”

Cedric pondered for a moment.

Artizea was dizzy in her head.

As she remembers there is no war this year.

Changes in the situation inside the empire must have affected the Karam. There is no one who could communicate that closely with Karam.

Artizea only first found out about that possibility when she came to Evron. It would be right to think that people in other regions don’t know.

“It’s better to take a break today first. You all go back and take a rest. The sun has set.”

“Yes.”

The footsteps of the knights retreating rumbled.

Lysia also turned around.

The door is closed.

Cedric stayed there for a while, covering his face with both hands. He was overwhelmed with emotions.

Artizea stood still on the spot.

When she started the war, and when she killed his people, did he have a face like this?

It must have been. Countless times.

When she thought about it, her heart fluttered and it became difficult to breathe.

Every time she exhaled, it was hot like she was burned in the chest. She couldn’t even keep her eyes open.

So, as she stood still with her eyes closed, Cedric approached her.

“Ah.”

Artizea was startled and stepped back. Cedric grabbed her arm and pulled her into his embrace.

“Wait a minute, stay like this.”

He stayed there for a long time without saying anything. Artizea stiffened her body.

It would be great if she could hug him face to face. Someone who can do that had to be here.

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But all Artizea could do was to touch Cedric’s hair with care and anxiety.

Sticky dirt smeared his hair, as if he had wiped blood from only his face and hands.

“Do you think I’m right?”

“What?”

“I wiped, kissed and comforted the injured… Every time I do something like that, I feel like an evil hypocrite and it’s hard to bear.”

“Why……. do you think so?”

There are many people in the world who think of the lives of soldiers like chess pieces made of paper.

There weren’t many people who thought it was a waste to decrease as they deal with troop numbers.

On the other hand, why is Cedric a hypocrite who remembers each and every person and takes care of their wounds?

Artizea knew that he would not forget that he had treated Collin here.

He will take care of Collin’s family, and he will take care of Collin’s life to the end. He was such a person.

“It was just that I brought Sir Collin to this place to fight.”

“It was Sir Collin who decided to follow Lord Cedric. The knight has given all their loyalty, so you can honor him as a Knight.”

Cedric said with dark eyes.

“Yes, I am loyal.”

“Lord Cedric….”

“The better I do, the more the soldiers will die for me.”

“It’s not a hypocritical act to gain loyalty, you do it from the heart.”

“But the results are the same. Sometimes I feel that I………am telling the soldiers to die for me.”

Artizea couldn’t say anything.

“Do you think there is value in goodwill that leads to unfortunate consequences? Is there any value in a righteous process that leaves nothing but sacrifice?”

“Lord Cedric….”

“Wouldn’t it be better to let go of it all? Is it worth the sacrifice of someone else to me?”

Cedric asked Artizea, but it didn’t seem like he was hoping for an answer.

He was silent again.

She gently stroked his face with her trembling hands. There were no tears around her eyes, but it almost seemed like there was.

“It’s hard to explain, but….”

“Tia.”

“I think that those who have no doubt, will have no regrets to die for Lord Cedric as well.”

Cedric bit his mouth.

‘You think like that because you don’t know a real hypocrite or a real evil.’

Artizea couldn’t say that. Instead, she gently hugged his head.

She didn’t dare to give strength to her arm in this embrace.

***

In the early morning of that day, Cedric covered the bodies of the dead knights with a handcrafted white cloth.

“The people from the stronghold will come separately.”

“Yes.”

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The village chief bowed his head.

A short condolence ended with silence and salute. A proper funeral will later be held in the stronghold afterward.

Four beacons of fire and smoke erupted into the dawn sky in the distance. It was a signal from the fortress at the Thold Gate.

“At the end of the day, there was a problem in Thold too.”

The knight said so.

“I have to go.”

Cedric sighed.

One beacon signifies the border, two beacons signify a local conflict, and three beacons signify that a large army of Karam is coming.

And the four beacons mean that decision makers’ instructions are needed right now.

“Is it a war?”

Asked Artizea. Cedric replied.

“I’m not sure. Rather, I think there is a high possibility that there may be a problem inside Karam. If so, then it won’t be possible to come with an all-out war to our side either.”

“From the inside?”

“There are several forces inside Karam, so there is a conflict. I know that for the past few years, there have been those who have held the dominant power…”

Cedric said so, and gently patted Artizea’s cheek.

“Don’t worry too much. It doesn’t mean that the war has erupted yet. Go to the stronghold. I’ve only taken a temporary measure, so please take care of it.”

“Yes.”

“I have to go to the Thold Gate.”

“Yes…”

“You can leave military matters to Agate himself.”

Artizea nodded her head.

Cedric called Lysia this time.

“Lysia.”

“Yes.”

“I believe in you. Stay with Tia.”

Lysia bent her knees and raised a salute.

“Morten’s daughter will take the order.”

Cedric finally put his hands on Artizea’s shoulders. Then he bent his head to meet her eyes.

It was as if he was trying to engrave her gaze in his eyes.

“Tia, I trust you, so you trust me too.”

“Lord Cedric….”

“Everything you do is my responsibility. Don’t forget.”

She heard it before. However, the weight was different from when she heard at that time.

The heavy addition seemed to fall over her heart

“We’ll be able to find the right way when we go together.”

Artizea did not nod her head. She couldn’t.

Cedric hugged her once and let her go.

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“I’ll be back.”

He said so and put his hat on. And climbed onto the horse.

Five knights followed him on horseback. Six horses ran toward the north like a flurry.

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