Chapter 96

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Artizea arrived near the capital at the end of February, and it was about March.

It was about a month and a half journey.

It was possible to shorten the period a little more than originally expected. This is because Artizea reduced the load to move quickly.

She moved by buying all of the necessary items, giving away or throwing away what was no longer needed.

Evron was still covered in snow, but the capital was already warm. It was completely spring to those who live in the North.

Artizea did not enter the capital immediately. She rented a whole inn in a nearby town and stopped for now.

Before she went to the capital, she wanted to know what was going on.

Upon receiving the call, Freil and Ansgar headed straight there.

It was Hayley who greeted the two.

“No, Dame Hayley.”

Freil was startled and called her. Hayley shrugged her shoulders.

“It’s been a while. And it’s not ‘Dame’ anymore. Have you not heard the news?”

Freil tilted his head. Hayley sighed.

“Well, the Grand Duke is in his estate, but it wasn’t important enough to send a messenger to the capital to inform it. Did you hear about the war?”

“Yes, I know that well. Because there was a report in the palace. Is it true that Karam made a siege weapon?”

“Yes. I’ll tell you more about it later. It’s not that serious.”

“Isn’t Dame Hayley coming here because it’s a serious situation?”

Ansgar said to Freil’s question.

“I think Dame Hayley came as the Madam’s lady-in-waiting.”

He knew that Artizea was planning to choose her lady-in-waiting from among the vassals of the Grand Duchy.

“Yes, that’s what it is.”

“Her Grace has a vision to see people. I’ve always been thinking that Dame Hayley is not just someone who will only end up as an administrator.”

Freil said. Hayley was one of the few who communicated well in the stuffy and uptight stronghold.

“But you managed to be convinced. You don’t want to deal with complicated affairs.”

“There was a situation where I had no choice but to do so. Go to the parlor first. Her Grace is taking a bath right now, so she will come out a little later.”

Freil and Ansgar looked at each other.

They knew Artizea is not someone who keeps people waiting that way.

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That meant they had to hear about the stronghold from Hayley before greeting her.

All three were the ones who could notice it.

Hayley led the two to the room where it was used as the parlor. And she gave a brief summary of the news of the stronghold.

The two lamented at the news of the Jordyn family.

In Ansgar’s case, he had seen Aubrey since birth. He even wiped away tears lightly.

Freil didn’t know Aubrey well because he wasn’t from the stronghold.

The last time he saw her was 3 years ago, at the time Aubrey was 15 years old. He thought she was an immature little girl.

He simply felt sorry for the Jordyn family and the circumstances.

But apart from that regret, Freil said calmly.

“It was time for a generational change. Dame Mel took over at the right time. Evron is also about to change.”

“For the sake of Her Grace?”

“Do you know what I’m talking about, Dame Hayley? Just by showing loyalty and following quietly, it’s hard to survive.”

Said Freil. Having been on a mission to collect information in the capital, he fully understood the urgency of the situation.

“Sir Aaron and Margaret are also faithful and capable, but just hearing the name of the imperial family, they tend to shrink their body. Dame Mel is highly knowledgeable and conservative, but she is younger and more flexible than Sir Aaron. In addition, Dame Mel will be more comfortable for His Grace the Grand Duke.”

“Yes. I think it was right for my father to retire first. My father has never had any other intentions, and also showed unchanging trust to the Grand Duchy, but it is to the credit of his predecessors he got to sit firmly. It’s not always a comfortable existence.”

“Besides, Sir Aaron and Margaret, both of them tended to feel like they were supposed to take care of the Grand Duke and the other children…”

Ansgar muttered to himself. He was no exception.

Freil said.

“When it comes to serving Her Grace, it is not enough to be loyal because the Grand Duchess has chosen you.”

“I’m not thinking that far yet. I’m a lady-in-waiting, but in reality it’s close to being a hostage.”

“Dame Hayley…”

“Jordyn has a betrayal history. It is natural that Her Grace wants to be prepared just in case.”

Hayley said so, added.

“And I’m going to see now whether the Grand Duchess is a loyal person.”

In her view, Cedric was an emotional idealist.

He had nothing wrong with his ideals, but it was unrealistic. As Grand Duke Evron, he could maintain the status quo, but anything more than that was difficult.

Hayley thought that was also possible because Evron Grand Duchy stood in a special position.

Hayley loved her family and wanted to make the Grand Duchy a good place. However, the trust in Cedric was partial.

She had loyalty, but her loyalty was not personal and passionate, but more of a childlike instinctive level of affection for the land to which she belonged.

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In short, if the security of the Grand Duchy and the safety of her family are at odds, she will choose her family without hesitation. It was completely different from the loyalty of Mel or the other knights.

But Artizea was a little different. What she demanded was to think and move beyond the boundaries of what is called Evron Grand Duchy.

The mutual trust to the Grand Duchy, that was as blind as what a child felt, was broken. Cedric seemed to be starting to see reality as well.

Hayley thought it was better. Unless the goal was only to survive while remaining subordinate to the mainland forever.

There is no better means than self-preservation to let them touch and rely on their wounds to make them feel attached to each other.

If they stayed as they were, they would have held each other and sank without any change or development.

Hayley was giving up Evron. That is why the junior administrators were satisfied without any objection.

But if it could be different, there was no reason not to change.

Freil smiled. He could fully understand Hayley’s mind.

Both Freil and Hayley were aware of the problems of Evron Grand Duchy.

However, he wasn’t enough to get ahead and change Evron. Even if his status was a little higher, it would have been the same.

In the end, the only thing that can make Evron different is Grand Duke Evron.

“Anyway, Dame Hayley is here, so I’m reassured.”

“’Dame’ doesn’t fit her status anymore.”

“Then, should I call you Miss Hayley now? Or Lady Hayley?”

“At this age, Lady is a little too…”

Hayley had an embarrassed face.

While having such a conversation, Artizea came in. Lysia followed after her.

The three stood up from their seats. Freil and Ansgar politely knelt on one knee to greet them.

Artizea gave Lysia and the others time to greet for a moment.

She sat down at the top and offered everyone a seat.

“Sit comfortably.”

“You had a hard time traveling a long way.”

“It wasn’t a very hard road. The Grand Duchy was a good place. Loyal.”

At Artizea’s words, Ansgar bowed his head.

He had already heard the story from Hayley, so it was enough to read the meaning behind her words.

He felt sorry.

“I want to hear about the situation in the capital city. What happened all winter. First, let’s hear from Ansgar. How is the Grand Duke’s mansion?”

“Without Your Graces, what else is there? The renovation work was completed successfully. The garden landscaping was done as you wanted.”

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“I will trust Ansgar.”

The design was made by Artizea herself, and the manager was Ansgar.

The purpose of the construction itself will not be hidden.

However, she took the pieces and left the work be done little by little to prevent anyone from seeing the whole concept. It would not be possible to find the location of the new equipment.

The landscaping had no problem as the gardener was brought in directly from Evron Grand Duchy.

“The villas are also going to be renovated step by step.”

“Okay, I’ll leave it all to you.”

Artizea said softly. Hayley looked at her with a slightly surprised face.

Although Artizea was generally gentle and generous to the people of the Grand Duchy, she never lowered her position or spoke humbly.

Except for Cedric, he was only so gentle and respectful to Ansgar.

‘It’s not that he doesn’t deserve such treatment, but……’

Ansgar was Cedric’s caretaker, one of the oldest and most reliable butlers, he was also a respectable person for all people in the Grand Duchy.

However, Artizea was the one who would not easily open up to the maids who attended right by her side.

This kind of kindness to Ansgar felt a little modest to Hayley’s opinion.

Well, if she thought about it, it’s not like there wasn’t a person like that at all. There were exceptions such as Lysia.

Artizea looked at Freil this time.

“Let’s talk about you, too.”

Freil took turns looking at Ansgar and Lysia for a moment. Hayley didn’t know about it, but he didn’t think Lysia was the right person to hear this story.

However, since Artizea asked here, she must have decided that there is no reason to exclude a person.

“Countess Martha has opened a salon.”

Hayley thought for a moment and then remembered who Countess Marta was.

It was thanks to Artizea having her memorize the influential figures of the capital while on the way here.

“Her Majesty’s lady-in-waiting, you mean?”

“Yes, Her Majesty gave space in the Empress’ Palace.”

It took the form of giving a space, but in fact there was no doubt that the salon was operating according to the Empress’ will.

“It’s been more than three months since the Empress’ palace was opened, but the only people Her Majesty has met during that time were the poor and old wives of those who didn’t belong to any faction, except for young ladies who made their debut this year.”

Freil pulled out a list. Artizea, herself, confirmed it.

There was no name to keep in mind. All of them were just people who were so insignificant that they could not belong to any faction somewhere.

Even when Artizea thinks of the future, none of them has distinguished themselves.

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She could say that the Empress was in a very opposite direction of what she usually behaves.

She opened the door of the Empress’ palace and showed that she was alive and that she could meet people at any time, but she was actually living a life that is unresolved of anything.

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