Kalion rubbed his eyes and rose to his feet. He had a strange dream. Erna was seated next to him, but her figure looked almost translucent, similar to the Richard he saw in the ancient ruins.
But whether that Erna was a vision or a ghost, Kalion liked Erna no matter what she looked like. So he stayed still and the vision suddenly started kissing him everywhere on his face. Kalion thought it was a dream; Erna never kissed him that much.
She was always too embarrassed to initiate a kiss despite their bodies having been intertwined so many times. So it definitely was a dream. A very good dream.
Not wanting it to go to waste, Kalion decided to relax and savor his dream. However, the moment Erna whispered she would do it a thousand times, without realizing it, his lustful desire suddenly awakened and a sly question mindlessly left his lips…
[Are you crazy, you pervert!]
Erna’s accusing voice echoed in his ear after she disappeared. Kalion looked down and nodded.
I think you’re right, Erna. I guess I am a pervert. But a promise to a pervert is a promise. You promised me, so I’m going to hold you accountable.
Kalion rose from his seat and approached Cedric to wake him up, who had fallen asleep like a corpse.
“Cedric, what are you doing? I’ll go get the rest.”
“Please save me, Grand Duke… Ten more minutes…”
Cedric mumbled incoherently in between snores. Kalion looked at him pathetically. They hadn’t even defeated all of Nandes’ army yet, but they were dead beat already. Once they returned to the Grand Castle, Kalion thought everyone should train so hard that when an enemy decided to invade again, they could annihilate their army at once.
Kalion approached the knights with the sword he had laid beside him. They had successfully wiped out the majority of Kelon and Nandes’ troops. Now they must hasten to return to the capital.
There are a lot of people I need to kill.
With a vow to destroy Ruben and Aether’s army, Kalion began waking up the knights who slept as if they were dead.
The cool morning breeze slid through the open window, accompanied with the chirping of the birds nesting under the tree. Outside, the sky glowed blue as the sun peeked through the horizon. It was a joyful dayspring. but Adelaide was none like it.
“There’s a lot more left than I thought.”
At Adelaide’s grumble, the maids bowed their heads.
Adelaide gazed at the Grand Castle through the window. Numerous rooms were brightly lit in the castle. This would normally be the case, but not today. Adelaide couldn’t hide her dismay. This was not what she wanted.
“Even so, more than half remain. Did she say that she’d give more money to those who stayed?” she asked.
“I looked into it, but that wasn’t the case,” replied the maid. “Rather…”
“It is said that she gave generous consolation to those who left.”
Adelaide frowned at the maid’s words. “Then, how many people have come to us?”
“That is….” The maids bowed their heads even more and looked into each other’s eyes. They debated on who should tell the princess. In the end, the chief maid carried the burden.
“There are fourteen in total.”
“That’s all?” Adelaide asked, her tone sharp.
The chief maid couldn’t say anything. Clearly, this turn of events was unanticipated, even for the chief maid. The number of servants and maids who had left the castle for the past two days barely exceeded a hundred. It was less than they’d expected.
At the most, Adelaide estimated at least four hundred would leave their posts, but at most it was a little less than two hundred. Adelaide’s maids had tried to convince them to serve the princess for two reasons. First, they claimed that there were not enough people tending Adelaide at the guest house, and second, they wanted to show the servants of the Grand Castle serving Adelaide, rather than the grand duchess, Erna.
The maids, conscious of Adelaide’s irritation, simply bowed their heads and waited for her command.
Fortunately, Adelaide sent out the maids without further comment. As soon as her maids disappeared, she jumped to her feet, picked up a cushion from the sofa, and threw it on the floor.
Adelaide glared at the Grand Castle, unable to catch her breath from her outburst. I can’t do this. It was crucial to amass attendants from the castle to display advantage. The new servants tried to show that they recognized the princess as the new duchess, but a number less than twenty couldn’t conciliate Adelaide.
Adelaide recalled her conversation with Vanessa two days ago. The latter had told her that it wouldn’t be easy to allure the people serving in the Grand Castle, but Adelaide was very self-assured. In the end, she was humiliated.
Adelaide’s thoughts were interrupted by a commotion outside. Curious, she peered over the window and saw knights marching towards the entrance of the guest house holding a familiar flag. Below Adelaide, the members of the Council looked at the arriving knights with cold eyes.
After a while, her handmaiden rushed over to Adelaide and said, “Princess, the commander of the Haband Knights has arrived.”
“I will meet him right away,” replied Adelaide.
The soldiers sent by the king of Haband had arrived at the capital. As it was for the army of Aether, only a few authorized people seemed to have been allowed entry.
They first came to me, Adelaide smirked.
A person who knew very well where to bow his head seemed to have become the commander of the knights. Adelaide hurried down to meet that sensible commander.
“Under the glorious banner of Haband, I see Princess Adelaide,” the commander greeted.
“You have worked hard to get here. What else did you do?” asked Adelaide.
When the commander glanced around, Adelaide hastily ordered everyone to empty the room. After everyone left, Adelaide asked again.
“What has happened?”
“Grand Duke Kalion could not be found.”
Adelaide frowned, “What do you mean?”
“When we went to the Wynfield Valley, there were no Hessenguard soldiers there. Instead, we found corpses of those we believe to be Aether’s wizards.”
Adelaide bit her bottom lip. Kalion was critical to the success of her plans. Becoming the grand duchess in Hessenguard required legitimacy, and becoming Kalion’s bride would be enough.
But Kalion was nowhere to be found.
Adelaide had cold sweat running down her back. What if she was unable to capture not only the hearts of the grand castle’s servants, but also Kalion? Come to think of it, didn’t he always draw a line?
“Then…” Adelaide raised her head and looked at the Grand Castle beyond the windows. “I have no other choice.”
If there was anything she couldn’t have, then no one should have it either.