Chapter 22.1

After that, he found himself struggling to recall the sequence of events. In an instant, the life of the pack was extinguished, and he sprinted frantically toward Elena. His footsteps weighed like lead, and each stride seemed agonizingly slow.

Upon reaching the rocky terrain, the scene unfolding before him provoked Kennard’s loss of composure. He forcefully yanked the assailant away from Elena’s shoulder, hurling it skyward, while the others subdued it by biting at its muzzle.

The temptation to end their existence here and now tugged at him, yet he resisted.

Amidst the turmoil, maintaining composure became a daunting task as he sought to decipher their motives. However, upon discovering Elena lying unconscious, gripped by a severe fever and pain, he relinquished the remnants of his dwindling reason.

He dismantled them, tearing limbs from bodies in a relentless fury.

“Your Majesty!”

Serin’s urgent cry interrupted Kennard’s contemplation.

“I only left Elena alone for a moment to pursue a deer,” Kennard said.

“Why did you take her into the woods?” 

“It was an impulse.”

The truth remained locked within him, an unspeakable secret, even to someone as trusted as Serin. Kennard’s feelings toward Elena were far from warm, a sentiment he wouldn’t admit even to himself.

He couldn’t disclose the horrifying reality: that Elena had been pursued by the White Foxes, left disfigured, and had recently been the prime target of their assault.

Maintaining a façade, regardless of the closeness they shared, became paramount. Revealing his true sentiments was out of the question.

Yet, the undeniable truth lingered – Kennard had used Elena as bait, resulting in significant harm to her. The repercussions weighed heavily on him, leaving him apprehensive about repeating such a callous scheme.

“You wouldn’t even take me on a hunt, and you took Elena with you? On impulse? Your Majesty, I’ve resisted the urge to ask you several times, but—”

Knock. Before Serin could conclude his sentence, an insistent knock reverberated through the door to his office.

“Come in.” Kennard sighed, annoyed by the intrusion into his coveted solitude.

The door creaked open, revealing his butler, Lassino, who entered with an air of formality.

“Your Highness.”

Lassino’s gaze widened as he took in the disarray within the office. His eyes met Kennard’s, and he promptly closed his mouth, bowing respectfully.

“What’s going on?” asked Kennard.

“We have a visitor,” Lassino announced.



Simultaneously, Kennard and Serin echoed the inquiry, their curiosity piqued by the unexpected interruption.

Terra Demorte lay at a considerable distance from Kennard’s ancestral home of Montefiano. While Montefiano basked in the full bloom of spring, boasting its four distinct seasons, Terra Demorte, with its perennial snow-covered landscapes, clung to the grip of winter for nearly half the year.

Due to the harsh and inhospitable conditions prevailing in Terra Demorte, only a handful of Kennard’s servants accompanied him on this journey. The main estate and the capital had seen no visitors during Kennard’s stay in this remote region.

Yet, an unexpected guest?

“Who is it?”

“Miss Hazel Blade, young lady of the Duke of Blade.”


Kennard and Serin exchanged incredulous glances.

Duke Blade, Kennard’s brother and the Emperor of the Baruchella Empire, was in the midst of orchestrating a marriage with a noblewoman from that region. The revelation that a noble representative had ventured all the way to Terra Demorte without any prior communication left him genuinely surprised.

“Did you do this?” Kennard glared, and Serin waved a hand and shook his head. “No. I would not do such a thing unless I were planning to die at your hands.” Kennard resisted the urge to tell him to reconsider his usual behavior.

“Then why is she here all of a sudden?”

“Perhaps the Emperor sent her?”

Lassino, who had been standing in the doorway until then, quietly expressed his opinion.

“Perhaps, as Sir Serin said, His Majesty didn’t attend the birthday banquet, so he sent her himself.” If there was anything Serin didn’t know, Lassino was right. There was no way the Duke of Blade would voluntarily send his daughter to a place like this.

“She came alone?”

“Miss Hazel arrived with only her attendants. They’ve brought a considerable amount of luggage, suggesting she plans to stay for an extended period.”

The elderly butler maintained an unwavering composure in front of Kennard, regardless of the circumstances. Even now, he calmly elucidated the situation with an unruffled expression and tone.

“So, where is she?”

“She’s in the reception room.”

As if Kennard’s mind wasn’t already tangled with enough complexities, additional headache-inducing matters were unfolding.

“This is insane,” Kennard muttered a curse under his breath, running his hands through his dry hair.



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