Chapter 1 - Prologue
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Lesche left a little earlier. He wasn’t kidding when he said he wanted to visit the Kellyden estate with Seria, but Seria wished they would go separately. Above all, she even asked him to come a little later.
“By the way, Lesche…”
She gently lifted her heels while her lake-blue eyes stared at him. Her hair, reminiscent of early summer green, lightly touched Lesche’s shoulder, and he couldn’t help but look at her.
“How would you like to meet me at the borders of Kellyden? It would be interesting to see all of Kellyden’s vassals scolded. Can you do that for me?”
He had no idea what to make of Seria. She acted like a spectator watching a play in some ways, adhering to her life endlessly.
People who enjoy other people’s lives as if they were theater are scattered all over the place, but if it’s your life… It shouldn’t be that easy.
Lesche had his schedule blank in advance.
“Your Highness? You’re leaving today?”
Linon checked the schedule with a puzzled expression.
“If you leave now, you will arrive at Kellyden territory at least three days earlier than planned.”
“There will be some delays on the way there. It’s best to leave earlier.”
“What? The Western Road…?”
Why is the Grand Duchy of Berg often referred to by the term “Central Territory”? Of course, it was located in the center of the Glick Empire in terms of position, but it also had other symbolic meanings. One of them was that the road that led especially to it was clean and polished without any interruptions.
Even in the Glick Empire, there were often large stretches of road named “boulevards”, especially with prosperous places like the West.
So there shouldn’t be any worries about something wrong with the roads….
“Why? Why? What are you talking about?”
Linon couldn’t understand what Lesche said. He tried to dissuade Lesche because he wondered if he really needed to go there 3 days earlier, but the moment Lesche started walking at a much faster speed than usual, Linon understood.
“Yes, Your Highness…there might be some delay…..I’ll get ready right away.”
Linon was almost scolded by Susan and Ben for being tactless. That was fortunate. Linon immediately bowed his head and stepped down.
Linon, Berg’s chief aide, his prediction was not wrong. Lesche reached the Kellyden estate exactly three days earlier.
Kellyden’s knights, who were monitoring every side of the watchtower, were confused when Lesche arrived at the border of the territory. He wasn’t impressed. He just thought of something else. Most of the western nobles were gathered here for the funeral, so the other western parts were empty.
“Just one noble died.” (* He talked about Lady Magrus who died)
If he wants to start a war and hit the west, now would be a good time to do so. What on earth did the Marquis of Kellyden have in mind when they invited all the nobles of the West to come for a funeral? Lesche thought it was pathetic, but he didn’t show any sign of it. He just stared at the man who ran out to greet him.
“Grand Duke Berg….?”
Nissos Kellyden, the second son of Marquis Kellyden. He was flustered because Lesche did not announce his arrival in advance. Nissos could not believe his ears the moment he actually heard the report the Grand Duke of Berg had arrived.
The Marquis told him to stay with Seria throughout the banquet, but the unannounced arrival of Grand Duke Berg was an amazing thing that his father could understand. Nissos immediately ran out to the entrance of the castle by the lake and froze in place.
While running out in a hurry, Nissos thought there might have been some mistakes. That thought was wrong. Because the man in front of him was indeed the Grand Duke of Berg.
Nissos once saw Lesche at the imperial gatherings. The peculiarly intimidating feeling that he would never forget. The flag that was fluttering had the pattern of Berg clearly embroidered on it.
‘Why did he come all the way here? Because of Seria?’
For a while, Nissos couldn’t help but freeze his mouth as the cold expressionless face, which was the reason most nobles were wary of Lesche Berg, headed towards him.
Lesche saw the look on Nissos’s face. Any little hope he had was quickly gone. Kellyden’s second son didn’t have much resemblance to Seria. His eyes were pale, and there was nothing about him that reminded him of Seria. Lesche thought Seria’s half brother would look a lot like her, but…
Lesche was well aware of the fact that Seria and the Kellyden’s relationship was at its worst. Looking Nissos up and down with disinterested eyes, Lesche said,
“I’m here to pick up Seria.”
‘I was just asking about Seria’s whereabouts.’
“… I did not expect His Highness to come here in person.”
“Please guide me.”
Nissos looked more than a little perplexed at the words he cut short. In fact, it was the first time he had such a one-on-one conversation with Grand Duke Berg. He saw him a few times before, but that was it. To speak with the Grand Duke Berg alone was not an opportunity that came easily to him, even as a direct descendant of a famous western family.
However, Nissos didn’t know Lesche was so arrogant and stiff in his speech.
“You’ve already attached several Berg knights to my sister, Grand Duke.”
It was a nuance that was well past the point of degree. Lesche gave him an amused look at Nissos’s not-quite-provocation.
“It won’t even be enough to attach the entire Order to escort my wife. Young Lord doesn’t seem to know much.”
Nissos’s expression hardened. But he couldn’t find any particular answer to say back. There was too much difference in status.
“…Seria is in the castle banquet hall. So… I’ll bring you to her. Your Highness.”
The grand central opening bridge gave way to immediate hospitality. Lesche lifted his eyebrows lightly.
“What’s wrong, Your Highness?”
“I don’t know if the Kellyden has treated my wife with appropriate hospitality.”
For a moment, Nissos couldn’t help but flinch. Lesche had already heard that the Kellyden didn’t bother to open the central bridge for Celia when she visited the castle.
“… Seria is my sister, so I tried my best to treat her well.”
Red eyes glanced at Nissos.
“I hope that the effort that Young Lord said he made was of a pleasing standard.”
Lesche and Nissos crossed the long road-opening bridge, passed through the spacious garden, and headed straight to the annex where the banquet hall was located. When they reached the entrance, they dismounted their horses.
As they approached the banquet hall, the number of aristocrats dressed in dark and luxurious clothes began to increase exponentially.
Among them, those with relatively low status did not recognize Lesche. However, his great appearance drew enough attention. Some ladies mesmerized without even realizing it.
Does he know the deceased Lady Magrus? Although she was a direct descendant of Kellyden, she had no particular presence, so the scale of the memorial banquet, which should have been held and finished quietly and with only ceremony, had grown so big that even a Grand Duke appeared.
The Marquis of Kellyden, the owner of the estate, was already at the entrance of the banquet hall as Nissos was already dazzled. Not only the Marquis, but also Kellyden’s vassals, who held an important position, rushed out and exchanged surprised glances.
“I apologize for not being able to get in touch with you in advance. What can I do for you all of a sudden….?”
The Marquis’s polite words did not continue to the end.
“My Lord! You need to come and see!”
The chief butler shouted as he rushed out of the banquet hall. The butler couldn’t see Lesche as he tried to get past the Kellyden vassals who were standing in layers like a wall.
“Lady Seria is now…!”
Before the butler could finish his breathless report, the Marquis’ eyes grew unusually wide.
Grand Duke Berg, the man who had visited and took away all of Kellyden’s souls, strode toward the banquet hall without hesitation.
Marquis Kellyden also urgently asked on his way back to the banquet hall.
“What’s wrong with Seria!”
The banquet hall was filled with at least several hundred nobles. Somehow Lesche felt strange as he swam through the sea of frozen nobles.
It was an unpleasant sensation like when he was slaying the demons in the winter. This intuition was irritating but almost clearly matched.
It was still accurate this time. And it was annoying.
He saw Seria in the middle of the dance floor, trembling strangely.
“Seria! Come to your senses, Seria!”
Cassius, the first son of the Marquis of Kellyden, was waving Seria’s arm, which had gone pale and hardened. Still, Seria didn’t move at all. It was as if someone had driven a nail into her foot and pinned it to the floor.
At the same time, there was a loud voice coming from the opposite side of Lesche. It was Kalis.
Kalis, who was scuffling with a woman who appeared to be the Marchioness Kellyden, rushed towards Seria.
However, Kalis’s hand failed to reach Seria’s shoulder. Because just before he touched her, his hand was stopped by an unexpectedly strong force.
“Grand Duke Berg?”
Roughly releasing Kalis’s hand, Lesche did not answer him. He quickly grabbed Seria by both shoulders and pulled her back. Instantly, Lesche’s face hardened as never before.
He had never seen Seria so terribly frozen. He lifted his gaze in a seething rage.
“What did you do to my wife…..Seria?”
Lesche stopped his movements as tears trickled down Seria’s cheeks. There were only a handful of times in his life that he felt defeated.