Chapter 1 - Prologue
His fingers reach over her soft cheek. Her eyes roll quietly over and look down at his fingers touching her skin.
He slowly stroked her round cheeks. Seria’s face was warm. The redness around her eyes oozed out of her cheeks, and she could feel it vividly against Lesche’s fingers. Most importantly, his fingers were touching her lips softly…
In this spacious and beautiful room, there were just the two of them. She could feel the presence of someone outside the door, but it didn’t seem to matter to Lesche. It was difficult for him to take his eyes off the person in front of him. Temporary, but his own wife, Seria…
No, it didn’t make sense.
Why would she be his temporary wife when Lesche himself had never given any thought to welcoming another wife besides Seria? Lesche lightly pushed away the reason why he was supposed to marry Seria, the primordial causality, the fact that it was to save Stern. That was not what was important now.
Suddenly at that time.
There was a small sound coming from outside. It wasn’t much different for Lesche, but Seria was different. She could notice the sign of a person holding her breath outside the door, so she moved her head as if she had come to her senses at the small sound heard outside.
“Is there anyone outside?”
Lesche felt incredibly disappointed, so he answered honestly.
“They’ve been here for about three days.”
“Seeing they can’t get in, I’m guessing it’s the servants.”
Seria said and took a step to pull the rope and lightly stumbled. Lesche clicked his tongue and held Seria right into his arms.
“Are those shoes people wear?”
“To be honest, they actually look like a weapon.”
Seria continued with an embarrassed look on her face.
“It’s hard to walk in them.”
“Sit down. I’d better call the maidservant to bring you some new shoes.”
Lesche set Seria down on the sofa. After kneeling one one knee in front of her, he rolled up the hem of her dress and grasped Seria’s ankle in his hand. Then he observed her feet. There weren’t any signs of strain, and the shoes were really the problem.
“I see the tops of the first Young Lord’s feet were about to become a beehive.” (First young lord =Cassius)
“Even a beehive wouldn’t be enough. I was very angry.” (Seria)
“I must be careful not to make you angry.” (Lesche)
“I can’t avoid making mistakes while dancing.”
“If my wife makes mistakes, I have to accept them all.”
“The tops of your feet will become a beehive then.”
(*They are talking about the pointy heels of Seria’s shoes. If she steps on people’s feet, it will leave holes like a honeycomb.)
Just after Lesche lowered his head and laughed.
There was a thump sound at the door.
The outside of the door, which had been quiet for a long time. Hearing the knocking sound, the Kellyden’s family must have arrived.
Knock, knock. The knocking sound was repeated once more.
“Lesche, have we been here long?”
“…about twenty minutes.”
“That’s enough time for everyone in this castle to fret.”
Seria furrowed her brow and then looked at Lesche. He smiled at her.
“Shall we get up?”
Lesche put Seria’s foot down. But that was all. Then he grabbed her hand again. Seria blinked. Lesche opened his mouth in that position.
The door opened cautiously as soon as permission was granted. Quite a few people were seen through the open door. All of them were Kellyden’s vassals.
Especially the ones standing at the front of the door was none other than the Marquis of Kellyden and his wife. As soon as they came upon Seria, who was sitting on the sofa and Lesche, who was kneeling in front of her, they were rendered speechless. The gentle way he was holding her hand seemed to be very shocking.
The main vassals were completely rigid, and some of the servants even stopped like their hearts had stopped beating, and they averted their gaze a moment later.
It was only Lesche who didn’t care. He immediately averted his gaze from them ans looked at Seria again. Then, he asked in an indifferent voice.
“What’s going on?”
Clearing his throat, the Marquis of Kellyden continued to speak.
“I’ve brought the doctor. Seria, are you all right? Let the doctor have a quick look at you.”
The doctor approached fearfully, as if the Grand Duke was scary and difficult. As for the others, they had no intention of stopping the doctor. Lesche let go of Seria’s hand and stood up. Only then did the doctor rush to Seria’s side.
As the Marquis was about to walked over to Seria, Lesche, whose
had somehow disappeared, took a long stride and stopped in front of the Marquis, who was still standing at the entrance. The Marchioness spoke to him in a skillful manner.
“I am very surprised at your sudden arrival. I hope your trip was not too uncomfortable for Your Highness.”
Lesche did not answer.
He just looked down at the Marchioness with a blank expression on his face.
The longer the awkward silence lasted, the weaker she smiled.
The cold silence did not last long. Lesche walked straight past the Marquis and his wife, and out of the room without looking back. A small rustling sound filled the corridor quietly, but Lesche didn’t pay any attention to it.
“Look at that. It’s really the Grand Duke Berg.”
“What about the Young Lady?”
“I heard she collapsed.”
All eyes were on Lesche as he entered the banquet hall.
Suddenly, the Grand Duke of Berg appeared and took the infamous Seria Stern in his arms and walked away. It was a story that had already caused a stir in the entire banquet hall.
There were also a great many nobles who were seeing Lesche Berg for the first time today. The Grand Duke they actually saw was a much more attractive and wonderful man than they thought. While his red eyes were cold, there was a dangerous charm in them, and many of the nobles could not take their eyes off him.
The soft music that the Marchioness had ordered to be played to change the atmosphere of the boisterous banquet hall was now just a deafening noise.
There were people approaching Lesche quickly, as if they had been waiting.
It was Alliot and the other knights of Berg. Lesche had them follow Seria on her journey. They seemed to have been informed to some extent of the scandal that had occurred in the banquet hall. Their expressions were uniformly hardened and they remained very tense.
They came in with the anticipation of being punished, whether it would be some kind of extreme training until they collapsed in the training hall, or they would be willing to take a beating.
“Go and take care of the Grand Duchess.”
But it was a more finite order than they thought. Abigail, who had been looking around for Seria, rushed into the lounge with almost wind-like speed. The Berg Knights quickly followed. Alliot was an exception. Because he saw Lesche stare at one spot and follow him as he walked.
The place where Lesche was headed was where Cassius was sitting. Cassius, who was sitting with a pale face in a chair set up against the wall, looked at Lesche walking towards him, even if he didn’t have much room to spare. It was only natural, since he was the man who currently had the full attention of most of the people in the banquet hall.
Immediately, Cassius got up and gave a slight silent bow.
At that moment Cassius didn’t even know what he had hit.
After a moment, he saw a white cloth on the floor. It was a glove.
Cassius slowly raised his head. The problem was the next one. That glove was not the end.
Removing the glove twice from his pocket, Lesche threw it at Cassius’ cheek. Throwing gloves in aristocratic society meant a duel. As if to disprove that it was not a mistake, Lesche did not hesitate.
“Let’s do it briefly. The location is next to the lake behind the castle. Time is right now.”
Cassius’ eyes hardened to stone at the mention of the lake.
So did the old butler who kept him calm at Cassius’ side. In the residence of such a high-class nobleman, there was a place that could be used as a dueling ground. Otherwise, dueling between nobles usually took place in the garden.
The butler was very surprised, but he dared not say anything to the Grand Duke Berg and was at a loss.
Cassius gritted his teeth.
“Your Highness. I cannot accept these gloves.”
Lesche smiled grimly.
“Because I’d rather declare a territorial war than to have a duel like this.”
It was a clear word: territorial war. The faces of the western nobles who had their ears pinned up went blank. Some of them were completely frozen.
Berg was not only the only Grand Duke of the empire, but also the family with the most powerful power. They could tell from just one word that Berg, the master of that order, had no mercy in his hands.
Cassius refuted slowly.
“Without good reason, territorial warfare is considered barbaric.”
“Barbaric? It wouldn’t be something to talk about with your mouth.”
Cassius’ body froze at the words. It seemed that the Grand Duke knew about what happened between him (Cassius) and Seria.
“You’re also brazenly good at saying there’s no reason. It seems satisfying to see you spit out on your own mouth.”
Cassius’ jaws tightened. His pride was hurt at the thought of being insulted, but it was his previous words that were the problem.
Territorial war. Lesche wasn’t trying to scared him. In Grand Duke Berg’s devilish eyes, Cassius read the clear truth.
Cassius gritted his teeth and bit his hip. He slowly bent down and picked up the gloves.
“I accept the duel.”