Chapter 8.2

“Return to your domain tomorrow, immediately. You claimed to despise this place, so why did you insist on following me and causing a commotion?” Kennard scoffed.

“His Highness’s territory, which you graciously bestowed upon me, is capably managed by Luota. He surpasses me in every way.”

“Very well. Luota is undeniably more skilled than you. The same goes for Cura.”

“Your Highness!”

“Alright, I concede. Just cease your prattling.”

Even as he contemplated Luota and Cura, Kennard couldn’t muster the resolve to actually eliminate Serin, so he reluctantly resigned himself to the situation.

Kennard traversed the room, settling himself into the unyielding wooden chair positioned before the hearth. It wasn’t a plush sofa; rather, it was an austere wooden seat.

The chair boasted generous dimensions, ample enough to accommodate Kennard’s substantial physique with ease. Every minor shift elicited an ominous creak, and it seemed poised to splinter at the slightest provocation.

With a pen in hand, he dipped it into the inkwell, but his heart was far from the task at hand. He merely scowled at the pristine parchment before him.

“If you abstain from attending the Emperor’s birthday celebration this year, it might genuinely incur his wrath. You’ve avoided it for several years already,” Serin cautiously broached the subject once more, fully aware that Kennard had reluctantly yielded to his tenacity. He treaded carefully, refraining from pushing Kennard’s buttons any further.

“Why should I partake in a gathering where the sole pursuits are feasting, imbibing, and gossiping about one another when there’s nothing else to occupy the time?” Kennard retorted.

“Because His Majesty’s younger brother has similarly abstained from the event for many years, and this absence only fuels the rumors,” Serin added.

“What’s the benefit of attending? It won’t alleviate my brother’s disposition either way. Whether I’m present or not, it’s an ordeal for both of us.”

“Nonetheless, you must attend this year. His Majesty is orchestrating a betrothal proposal between you and the Duchess of Blade, who will be in attendance.”

“That’s precisely why I don’t want to go.”

Kennard absently traced a lengthy scar above his right eyebrow with his fingertip before swiftly transcribing the contents onto the parchment. The missive articulated that the frequent incursions of the White Fox tribe into Terra Demorte rendered it untenable to leave the territory unattended for an extended period.

Having written just two lines, he extended the parchment to Serin.

After scanning the contents on the parchment, Serin let out a protracted sigh.

“Are you truly going to persist with this stance?”

Kennard nonchalantly waved his hand. “Do as you see fit. Send it as is, or reword it according to your preference.”

“You’ve been displaying rather unusual behavior of late, haven’t you? Tending to a woman whose identity remains a mystery, relentlessly hunting day and night…”

Kennard raised an eyebrow, his gaze fixed on Serin. “When have I ever been sane? Are you implying that I, known as the bloodthirsty wolf and the Black Wolf who Devoured the Devil, was ever in possession of sanity?”

“No, Your Highness. I merely mean that your conduct has grown even more peculiar as of late.”

“What?” Kennard’s eyebrow arched as he observed Serin intently.

“Is it rational to entrust the care of a woman devoid of identity and memory, without the faintest clue as to her origins? And to top it off, you’ve even given her a name.”

“Is that problematic?”

“Yes, it does present a quandary.”

Kennard crossed his legs and clenched his fist—a gesture that conveyed a willingness to entertain discussion while making it clear that not everything was open for debate. Nonetheless, Serin pressed on without hesitation.

“Her crimson hair and gray eyes. Where in the world do you find such a combination in any known race?”

“She may be of mixed heritage,” Kennard mused.

“That’s a possibility,” Serin concurred. “But what about those scars and old wounds? Isn’t there a significant chance that she might be a fugitive slave or a criminal?”

“That’s also a possibility.”

“Possibility? Even if you entertain that idea, how can you keep her by your side and care for her like some noble lady? And what about Cura? What are your intentions regarding her? Do you have any idea how much effort I expended to send Cura back to her homeland? How can you do this?”

“Is that a problem as well?”

“That’s a problem too.”

Kennard rose from his seat, pushing the parchment into Serin’s chest. Serin clumsily accepted the parchment with both hands, staggering back a step.

Kennard chuckled at Serin before handing him his frock coat. As he began to remove his pants after discarding the frock coat, Serin’s eyes widened in astonishment.

“No, why are you undressing?”

“Why wouldn’t I?” Kennard replied.

“Are you planning to sleep here?” Serin asked.

“I’m going hunting.”

“It’s already late at night.”

“I’m aware.”

“But if you go out like this and then have to return to change, what will you do? Not to mention the cold, and if anyone catches sight of you…”

“It doesn’t matter.”

“If it doesn’t matter to you, I won’t stop you, but can’t you give up on hunting? Your Highness, you’ve bagged far too many deer over the past few weeks, and the staff has struggled to process them. And now you’re off hunting again? At this rate, the deer population in Terra Demorte will be decimated.”

Kennard offered no reply as he headed toward the door.

“Your Highness!”

“I’m doing it because it’s vexing.”

“If you’re so vexed, why remain in Terra Demorte, a place with nothing to offer? Furthermore, why linger in this room, which was once a prison cell? Wouldn’t it be more prudent to return to Montefiano, even as soon as tomorrow?



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