Chapter 56.1

“Autumn, I suppose,” Rezette muttered dryly. It was the first word that had crossed his mind since they departed Opel. Autumn, the likely date etched into the contract with Elise, the beginning of October.

“Well, Your Highness, if you can’t let go of her by then…” Ruben, who had been secretly hoping for a positive response, wore a puzzled expression. It was unclear what Rezette intended by that remark.

But before Ruben could steer the conversation further, Isaac emerged from the distance, leading the duke’s majestic black steed. The rebellious horse, which had been tossing its head defiantly, instantly recognized its owner and greeted him with exuberance.

Isaac, who had been half-dragged by the horse, suddenly lost his patience. “Ugh, Gumdoong-ah! Slow down!”

Rezette’s brow furrowed. “Gumdoong-ah? What’s that?” he inquired.

“Oh, that’s his new name,” Isaac grinned. “Gumdoong-ah, isn’t it adorable?”


“Her Highness the Princess came up with it.” Ruben replied proudly, and Rezette fell into a lengthy silence. The admonishment about giving such a moniker to the fearsome beast that had killed five horsemen had naturally etched itself into his thoughts.

“When did she give him that name?” Rezette inquired.

“He earned it the first time the Princess ventured out toward the castle. Since then, if you don’t call him Gumdoong-ah, he simply won’t heed you,” Ruben explained.

“Hmm,” Rezette mused.

“I think he grew fond of it as well. After all, it was his first name. Taming him with just a few words, Her Highness the Princess is truly exceptional,” Ruben remarked.

Despite the odd nickname, it made sense to Rezette. He vividly remembered the day he received his very first name. With that one moment etched in his memory, he had faithfully served as a loyal subordinate for nearly two decades.

“You are Galeus’s raven, aren’t you? Your lineage and abilities are too valuable to be called by such a simple nickname. I’ll give you a new name.”

“Rezette. How about Rezette? It means ‘black lightning’ in the ancient language. There couldn’t be a name that suits you better, my friend.”

The black steed that had come to a halt in front of Rezette wagged its tail. Perhaps it was the sudden rush of memories, but the horse’s black eyes seemed to gleam with anticipation, much like Rezette had when he was just nine years old.

Naturally, he had no intention of using the peculiar name “Gumdoong-ah.” When Rezette shot the steed a cold look, it playfully shuffled its hooves, and a chuckle escaped Rezette.

“Your temperament… Let’s go. We seem to be in a hurry.”

“Yes, Your Highness,” Ruben and Isaac nodded.

Rezette took the reins and mounted his horse. The knights, riding their own horses, followed their lord. Soon, the rhythmic sound of hooves pounding the ground echoed in the air.


News of the lord’s return to the castle reached Elise that evening, just as she had finished a tiresome dinner with Genovia Irrien by her side.

“His Grace is descending from the northern regions. It appears he’ll arrive before midnight,” Rebecca Petisson declared with added emphasis, paying no heed to Lady Irrien seated on her right. Her demeanor remained as stern and unyielding as ever, though inwardly, she found Lady Irrien exceptionally vexing.

“He’ll likely head straight to his bedroom. There’s no need to wait; he’ll be resting,” Petisson continued.

“Thank you for informing me,” Elise replied.

“Perhaps today, you could conclude your duties early and retire?” This time, the comment was aimed squarely at Genovia Irrien. With a graceful sweep of her apricot silk shawl, Genovia emitted a suggestive murmur.

“Well, even so, we can still spend time together, can’t we?”

“Her Highness’ complexion appears less than optimal. Ivetsa, go ahead and prepare a bath for her,” Lady Petisson ordered.

“That daily obsession with her complexion…” Genovia interjected, without affording Elise a chance to intervene.

“I apologize, Lady Petisson, but our day’s work is not yet complete. Isn’t that right, Elise?”

“Your Highness.” Lady Petisson meticulously cleared Elise’s plate, which was not entirely empty. She harbored a strong suspicion that Lady Irrien was engaged in some crafty whispering to the princess, but she dared not voice her concerns openly.

“Please retire, Your Highness,” Petisson insisted.

“Let’s continue our conversation, Elise,” Genovia urged, resting her chin on her hand and offering a sly smile. Elise, caught in the middle of these two women, glanced around in bewilderment.



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