Chapter 1. Harsh season (1)
“Who’s that woman?
Frederick stopped for a moment, unable to answer about his father’s disgrace with his own mouth, but eventually gave an awkward cough and then opened his mouth.
“It’s…….my father asked me to bury her with him.….She’s become a martyr.”
A brief silence followed.
A cold sneer appeared on Killian’s face as he stared at him.
Frederick’s wife, Segnitia, interrupted her husband, who was having trouble keeping up appearances, changing his words to reflect his expression.
“Frederick was acquainted with that woman. He’s not feeling good.”
Cassarius’s second son did not answer, but turned away, his expression hardening.
Segnitia continued on talking, making excuses.
“He was not the one to leave a will that required taking an innocent person along with him…. ……. As one would expect, a temptress is a temptress.”
Although Cassarius’s will forced them to follow it, Segnitia secretly appealed that it was not something they were happily doing.
Frederick stopped his wife.
“It’s my father’s funeral, so we’ll keep our thoughts to ourselves.”
“Yes, I understand.”
Segnitia bowed her head and retreated.
Frederick breathed a sigh of relief and inwardly praised his wise wife.
It was good enough. He was embarrassed in a position where he showed impeccable scenes, but he avoided it effectively.
Frederick lifted his gaze to study Axias’s expression. Then he was a little startled.
The people nearby looked at him, unsure of what to make of his expression.
But Frederick remembered the rumors about Killian’s fondness for women.
Grand Duke of Axias, “East Annex”.
Of all the people who were angry that he was a lunatic who followed a harem that only the emperor could have. How many of them honestly do not envy him?
It was said that he would take the ladies everywhere he went, but today there was no woman with him.
The Grand Duke of Axias continued to laugh, tilting his head.
“Everyone here seems to feel sorry for her, but I have yet to receive my payment from Cassarius. If I took her instead of the debt, everyone would be happier.”
The Sevitas family stared at Killian with their eyes wide opened at the unexpected proposal.
“What do you think?”
Frederick’s mouth dropped open involuntarily.
“Are you serious? How much do I owe you? Are you saying that you will write off the entire debt…?
Frederick said, stuttering.
Killian assured him without blinking.
“I’m going to take the last companion of the dead. Shouldn’t that be enough? If there’s a difference, use it for incense.”
Frederick swallowed a cough and glanced at Rietta.
It was an unexpected windfall.
He could get that tremendous debt written off by offering someone who was going to be a corpse anyway.
But he couldn’t be too happy about it, because he had a reputation to uphold, so he pretended to be hesitant.
Killian lifted one side of his mouth in a coy smile.
“Ah, I suppose I can’t go against my father’s last wishes after all. I’ll pretend I never heard of it.”
Once again, the people’s expressions suddenly changed.
Segnitia turned her head around to look at Frederick.
You would never know when the Grand Duke of Axias would change his mind.
This was not the time to hesitate, worrying about his dignity.
Frederick clenched his fist nervously.
The decision was changed quickly.
“Bring the woman.”
This time the others turned suddenly to the side to look at him.
“No, My Lord.”
The eyes of the people turned to Cedric Cavalam, the loyal servant of the dead Cassarius.
Confused by the cold stares of the mourners who suddenly gathered, Cedric quickly bowed his head.
“It’s already the week …… all the preparations are done, and it’s his last will and testament. I cannot betray the will of the former lord Casarius this way……!”
Frederick glared coldly at his airheaded subordinate.
“Then do you have a way to take responsibility for my father’s debt of twenty million gold?”
It was not acceptable to play tricks on the Grand Duke of Axias.
Rather, Frederick, who knew that being frank was the only way to avoid going against his mood, told him in straightforward terms. Suddenly, flustered by the arrow aimed at him, Cavalam began to stutter.
“It’s all because of the money. Are you going to betray your father’s last hope because of a mere piece of money? I’ve even finished the wedding for his soul! Rietta Tristy will serve Lord Cassarius forever in the afterlife……!”
“That’s a touching sentiment.”
Killian suddenly drew his sword.
The people’s complexion instantly changed. Even the knights couldn’t respond for a moment.
Killian tilted his head and smiled sweetly.
“Yes……. I don’t have any particular gift that I’ve prepared for Cassarius’s last journey…..How about it? How about you go and serve Cassarius forever. Being a loyal servant forever would be the best present.”
A gentle gaze of his red eyes slowly made its way through the sword blade.
“Wouldn’t that be a beautiful story?”
When the red eyes with a relaxed smile lifted towards Cedric, Cedric’s face turned pale.
“‘Cassarius will be pleased to see you.”
Frozen in place, Cedric retreated with a trot. Cold sweat ran down his face like rain, sliding down the monocle on his nose.
Killian smiled and fell flat on his face.
A sweet voice fell upon his head like a death sentence.
The moment Killian drew his sword down and took a step forward.
Cedric’s knees collapsed on the floor.
“I, I was out of line! Please forgive me!”
The procession stopped immediately as the Sevitas family and Grand Duke Axias seemed to be talking about something.
The words were conveyed to the maidservants through the knights that were near Frederick.
As the maids came and went, they exchanged inaudible words, and then supported Rietta’s body and turned her back.
Rietta was led toward the family of Sevitas, and the crowd, who couldn’t hear what they said, began to murmur in confusion.
“What is it? What’s the matter?”
“I don’t know…….”
Rietta, who couldn’t understand what was going on, moved her feet at the guidance of the maidens with stunned eyes.
The beautiful widow, on her way to death, was brought back before the Grand Duke of Axias.
The maids tried to greet the Grand Duke politely.
In a daze of consciousness, not knowing what she was doing, Rietta bowed awkwardly with unfocused eyes.
The knights, and even Frederick, had been unable to retreat from the sword from Killian’s hand, shaking nervously.
Killian nonchalantly extended his sword toward Rietta and lifted the black veil that covered her face with the tip of his sword.
When the veil was removed, the face of a beautiful pale woman without a single expression was revealed.
Her unfocused sky-blue eyes blinked slowly.
Killian’s cold, subdued red eyes swept through the woman.
A cold smile appeared on his face, one side of his mouth raised casually.
Killian Axias chuckled and tilted his head.
Then, like a fierce beast in the spring sun, he gave a sweet greeting.
Killian walked into his special guest room, which was set up in the Sevitas mansion, and unexpectedly found someone had already occupied his bed.
Rietta, with her loose beautiful blond hair and wearing a transparent white slip, was sitting on the bed with a dazed expression on her face, but when she spotted him, she stood up and bowed her head.
A voice was cracked and faint without power.
“Thank you for saving my life… I will serve you with all my heart.”
She meant to give him a happy night. Killian looked dumbfounded.
The soulless voice seemed to be reading the words, apparently in the form of mumbling.
“I don’t know if I saved you…..”
The woman stood dumbfounded, her eyes downcast, unable to smile at the joke that pointed out her attitude.
When Killian saw her during the day, he was told that she had taken an alucino sedative.
It seemed that she still hadn’t come to her senses.
Killian approached and lifted the woman’s chin.
Her hazy, light blue eyes were unfocused and empty.
“It looks like someone who’s already dead.”
A moment later, a stupid reply came from the expressionless face.
“…… I’m sorry.”
Killian clicked his tongue, looked at the woman, and said.
“Go back now. I don’t have a hobby taking in a woman at a funeral.”
The woman stood absentmindedly without a single refusal, she just gave her greetings and stepped down.
Killian liked that the woman didn’t talk much. But it was unsettling to see her retreat so gracefully, as if she’d been waiting for this moment for a long time.
Killian only glanced at the woman and asked,
“You. What’s your name?”
A dull reply came back slowly from her expressionless face.
“I’m Rietta ……Tristy.”
Killian scanned her up and down.
Although she was a rare beauty in the countryside, what fun would there be to hold a dead, expressionless woman in bed?
“Yeah. Rietta. Go outside and call Leonard.”
Killian turned away and took off his coat as Rietta walked out the door.
No matter how much Federick wanted to resolve his debt, the act of pushing the woman into Killian’s room on the day of his father’s funeral was outrageous.
That was also the woman who was supposed to be sharing his father’s path.
Killian snickered tastelessly.
Cassarius did a great job of raising his children. (Sarcasm).
“You asked to see me?”
Leonard, Killian’s knight, asked,
Killian nodded casually, started undressing.
“What’s happened to that woman?”
Leonard began to recite as if he had waited.
“She is an ordinary widow. I heard they were a happy couple.”
“You’ve already figured that out ……?
Leonard nodded briefly.
“Of course. I have to find out what kind of woman who can enter
the bedchamber of the Grand Duke.”
“It was four months after her husband died of a disease, Count Cassarius tried to make her his concubine. But when she refused, the Count took her three-year-old daughter and sold her to a slave dealer.”
Killian, who was listening silently, sat on the sofa and spit it out with a blank face.
“That’s a dirty story. Well done.”
“What else do you have?”
“I’m not sure but there’s something suspicious about her husband’s death. I heard he died from the plague.”
Killian glanced at Leonard.
“…Didn’t you say it was four months ago that her husband died?”
“Yes. It’s a time when the plague hasn’t spread in Sevitas. The timing doesn’t match. There seems to be a rumor that Count Cassarius, who was greedy for Rietta, killed her husband in disguise of the plague. Isn’t it the curse of her dead husband that Cassarius has a real plague?”
People love stories like that.
Leonard’s words followed.
“Cassarius was staying in an ordinary mansion, so the fortification spell would not have the same effect as a fortress. However, a count would have been protected by a castle spell by his immediate priest, so it is unusual that the plague was able to break through it and enter.”
Leonard held out a piece of paper in the form of a brief summary report.
It was a quick summary of the dates of Cassarius’s plague onset and death.
“In fact, he was one of the first people in Sevitas contracted the plague, and the progression of his life to critical condition was unusually fast. Shall I find out more?”
“That’s enough. You did a great job. Go back.”
Killian did not care more than that.
Leonard bowed and left the room.
Killian nodded, uninterested, and lay back on the couch.
He was just passing by Sevitas, and decided to pay Cassarius a visit. But he was dead.
Killian wasn’t interested in collecting the dead man’s debts from his children.
It wasn’t much money to him anyway.
Frederick’s attitude of being frank and polite wasn’t bad either.
Nor did he expect him to be a very great sorcerer.
What the nobles were doing was funny, and it was just a boring once-in-a-lifetime entertainment.
Killian crossed his legs, tossed the piece of paper Leonard had given him on the table, and opened his book.
He quickly forgot about her, moved to the bed and fell asleep.
“You won’t be staying any longer?”
Segnitia greeted Killian with a regretful look.
Killian replied with a plain face.
He had an indifferent attitude, but it was interesting to see this ruthless man treating them like a gentleman.
Still, Frederick and Segnitia were more than a little disappointed to see him leave.
It was a rare occasion when a man of great influence in the empire, both in terms of wealth and military power, stayed at their home. It was a person who would surely be useful for a long time if they could establish a positive relationship.
Even when it was discovered that Frederick was about to make a mistake, it turned out to be unexpectedly harmonious, and despite his initial nervousness, the Grand Duke was not a difficult person.
Furthermore, Duke’s willingness to write off their debt so easily made an impression on them.
However, Killian was not a man he could catch even if he tried, nor was he in a position where Sevitas would dare to pester him.
Unfortunately, Frederick had to content himself with serving the Grand Duke and his knights with the utmost hospitality, beautified the woman, and provided her a top notch carriage to ride in.
The Grand Duke of Axias and his party were ready when Rietta, beautifully dressed in a plain and elegant black and purple dress made of the finest fabrics, stepped into the carriage with a deadpan expression on her face.
Killian turned to casually glance at the woman he had paid a high price for with a disinterested attitude.
Frederick, a little bewildered by the momentary farewell, looked at the back of the man and gave him a last look.
“I hope you have a comfortable journey.”
Without looking back, Killian Axias lifted one hand to respond to Frederick’s greeting and drove off.