Author: alyalia

“Your Excellency, I’m here! Haha!” Hendrik returned to Edward, bringing along a man dressed in robes adorned with the leaf emblem of Servenia.

 

“It’s an honor to have you visit this modest place, Grand Duke Lindeman. I’m Baron Indes of Aeroven, the aide of Marquis Kasel di Servenia. I’ve been informed of the situation by Viscount Cloden. It would be best to move to the castle first.”

 

“Thank you for the welcome.”

 

The knight order headed toward Servenia Castle. Luize, puzzled, mulled over Baron Aeroven’s words. “Viscount Cloden?”

 

Ah, that’s my name,” Hendrik casually approached Luize and explained.

 

“You were a noble, Hendrik?” “Yes, precisely Hendrik di Cloden. I’m a noble in name only, without any land to speak of.”

 

“Unbelievable. I had no idea.”

 

“Aside from the captain and the vice-captain, I’m one of the few nobles in the order. Please, just treat me casually.”

 

Luize’s face showed even more confusion. “…Vice captain? You mean Maxion?”

 

“Yes? You didn’t know?” Hendrik looked incredulous at Luize’s change of expression. “The vice-captain is the sole heir of Kalliod!”

 

“Kalliod?”

 

The three great families of the North: Lindeman, Kalliod, and Beoden.

 

Among them, the Lindeman, owning the wealthiest territory in the North, naturally saw their title passed on to the crown prince after the sole heir of the Lindeman ascended to the position of the empress and bore a prince. That was also why the only surname Edward retained was ‘Lindeman.’

 

Next was Kalliod. Unlike Lindeman’s territory, which was the first to appear after crossing the wide wilderness that separated the North and the South, Kalliod’s territory was situated in a higher location and was known for owning a larger expanse in the North. It was famous for its predominantly seafaring population, mainly engaged in fishing. However…

 

“Maxion doesn’t eat rye bread or herring. Isn’t Kalliod especially famous for its herring dishes?”

 

“I found that peculiar as well, but he said he got sick of it from eating too much of it when he was young.”

 

“My goodness.”

 

“I thought everyone in high society knew about it. It was quite a scandal.”

 

Luize laughed awkwardly. To Hendrik and the other members who didn’t partake in high society, Luize might have seemed like a well-known figure, but in reality, she was just a shadow overshadowed by Reiad.

 

No one wanted to engage in conversation with her, so naturally, no one would have informed her of such stories except for Maxion or Edward. Even if Edward found it difficult to bring up since it wasn’t his story, Luize felt somewhat disappointed that Maxion hadn’t told her.

 

“I thought I knew Maxion better than anyone… Apparently not.”

 

Haha, sometimes, the more someone means to us, the more our pasts we wish to hide from them. Perhaps the vice-captain had such feelings. It might be best to hear the detailed story directly from him once he wakes up.”

 

“Yes, I should do that.” Luize nodded with a complex expression.

 

The knightly order soon arrived at the castle. Servenia’s castle was smaller than expected for its fame. It was a modest castle that emphasized practicality in every aspect, from the surrounding walls to the interior walls, doors, and structures, all designed for immediate response in case of an enemy invasion.

 

Baron Aeroven guided the members to the annex and Edward with Maxion to the main castle.

 

“Hendrik. Take care of the members.”

 

“Yes.”

 

Meanwhile, Edward stopped Luize, who was naturally heading to the annex with the other members. “Miss Luize, do you have your father’s brooch with you?”

 

Ah, yes. I’ve been carrying it in my pocket since we set out.”

 

“Then it might be a good idea to meet right away. On our way here, I heard that the current lord, Count Kasel di Servenia, is ill, and his mother is managing the estate as his proxy.”

 

“His mother, would that make her my aunt?”

 

“Yes. Servenia was very close to the imperial family in the past, and I’ve met her a few times. She’s a very strict person. It might be difficult for Miss Luize to meet her alone at first.”

 

“Thank you. Let’s go together. A strict aunt… I feel like I’ve heard of her before.”

 

While Luize pondered, Servenia’s servants brought a stretcher to transfer Maxion from the wagon. Despite his large frame spilling over the stretcher, the servants moved him with composed faces.

 

Edward, Luize, and Baron Aeroven entered the main gate of the castle. There, as Edward mentioned, stood a middle-aged woman whose strictness was evident on her face. With platinum hair and dark green eyes, her perfectly noble posture was evident even in her silent stance.

 

“Welcome, Your Excellency Edward E. von Lindeman.”

 

“My respects, Madam Lorein di Servenia.”

 

“…”

 

The dignified speech was clouded by an unwelcoming atmosphere. Lorein’s gaze shifted to Luize. “Pleased to meet you.”

 

“G-Greetings. My name is Luize di Servenia.”

 

“Servenia?”

 

“Yes. I heard from His Excellency that my father was once the lord of Servenia. Allen di Servenia.”

 

She took out a brooch from her pocket. The silver brooch, the size of a palm, had the Servenia family’s leaf emblem embossed in the center.

 

“Luize… Could it be that Luize?” Lorein asked with widened eyes.

 

“Do you know me?”

 

“My goodness. Your father might not have told you about me. I’m Lorein di Servenia, your father’s classmate from the Servenia Healer Academy in the capital. Feel free to call me aunt.”

 

Lorein’s voice, filled with unhidden joy, was accompanied by a broad smile.

 

Luize finally remembered and spoke, “Ah, right. Aunt Lorein, who adores little girls.”

 

“Did your father say that?”

 

“Yes. He also mentioned you were the only family member who knew of my existence.”

 

“It’s not entirely wrong. That man never pleased me till the end. But Luize, do you know how much I wanted to see you?” Lorein approached Luize with a bright face.

 

“I guess I was worried for no reason,” Edward commented in a low voice as he watched them.

 

* * *

The trio moved to a sunny parlor on the second floor. With a long sofa facing each other, Edward and Luize sat on one side, and Lorein sat alone on the opposite sofa. Luize smiled comfortably, feeling the soft velvet of the sofa.

 

Cough, I’ve been too informal. This brooch definitely belongs to Allen di Servenia.”

 

Lorein placed the brooch on the table with a straight posture. She then glared at Edward with discontent.

 

“Your Excellency, using such tricks.”

 

“It’s not a trick.” Edward smiled at Luize. “I prefer to call situations like this fate or destiny.”

 

“It looks more like a hostage to me.”

 

“Aunt, no. Edward is my close…”

 

“Close?”

 

Luize hesitated. Given the aunt’s overt hostility towards Edward but warm behavior towards her, emphasizing their close relationship might make the aunt view Edward more favorably.

 

Luize looked at Lorein with pleading eyes and carefully spoke, “…friend like a lover.”

 

“Lover?”

 

Lorein turned her gaze to Edward. Edward momentarily looked surprised, then composed himself and smiled interestingly.

 

“That’s how it turned out.”

 

Sigh.” Lorein’s face crumpled instantly. She glared at Edward as if seeing the worst of scoundrels. “So, Your Excellency wishes to obtain Servenia by exploiting an innocent child?”

 

Um, it seems there’s a misunderstanding. My intentions towards Miss Luize are sincere, regardless of Servenia.”

 

Edward casually wrapped an arm around Luize’s shoulder. Luize startled and glanced at his face. Edward looked straight ahead with an unflinching smile.

 

“Before resolving any misunderstandings, it’s best to address the important matters first. The atmosphere in the territory seems much changed from before.”

 

“Changing the subject, I see. But you’re correct.”

 

Lorein’s expression turned serious.

 

“An epidemic started spreading about half a year ago. People suddenly fall into a sleep they cannot wake from. The cause is unknown, and other than waiting for a miraculous awakening, there’s no other solution. It’s embarrassing for a family of healers that we couldn’t find any commonality among those affected.”

 

“A sleep from which they cannot wake…” Luize murmured, thinking of Maxion.

 

“Perhaps that’s why the vice-captain hasn’t woken up. We’ve been calling it the sleeping sickness.”

 

“Is the lord’s illness that sleeping sickness?”

 

“Yes.”

 

“It seems more like black magic than a disease.”

 

At Edward’s words, Lorein’s eyes widened in shock. “Black magic? Who would have the audacity to… Well, our family has made many enemies.”

 

“Servenia has enemies?” Luize asked, surprised.

 

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