HCM – 49

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If Marianne’s party had their weapons, they might have been able to resist their imprisonment, but from the moment they had entered the duke’s residence, they were ordered to leave them aside.

Indeed the Duchess had every reason to distrust them. It must have been that she had shown the utmost patience by just providing such comfortable accommodations and being confined to a dormitory rather than a dungeon.

“… … I don’t even understand why Jeremy would do such a thing— Why? He didn’t even have any grudges against the Duke of Tintalion.”

‘Right?’ Jen seemed to ask for an affirmation with a look at Marianne. Instead she sighed, unable to nod her head as usual.

“Do you know anything?”

Marianne shook her head at Ian’s question.

“Just… … it must be Jeremy’s hatred of the aristocracy. He especially hated high-ranking nobles.”

“But I didn’t think he would do such a foolish thing.”

Some agreed with Kion’s words. It was irrational and ludicrous to put a curse on the Duke of Tintalion. Didn’t the Archmage and Head of the Magic Tower also abandon him in the end?

Jeremy had no problem disparaging emperors and princes terribly, but he had never been involved with them before. There must have been a reason why the Duke of Tintalion was his target.

Trevor knew Jeremy had quarreled with Marianne before he left, but kept his silence concerning them. Instead, he examined Marianne.

She was hiding something from them. But he didn’t know what it was.

‘Why are you so enthusiastic in trying to save the Duke?’

Indeed, in other cases, Marianne was proactive and pressed that she should be involved to solve the case. Nevertheless, she harbored a strange passionate heat that was different from then.

Trevor seemed to know what it was, but he didn’t want to admit it.

“… … Anyway, we can’t be stuck here indefinitely.”

The group seemed to agree with Ian’s words. They didn’t even want to believe that Jeremy was the culprit.

Rudd believed he was the culprit, but Ian was skeptical. Whereas, Jen and Kion were sure he wasn’t the culprit.

Marianne also claimed that Jeremy wasn’t the culprit, but she knew inside:

That Jeremy was a man capable of far worse things than a curse.

“Let’s think about how to get out of here first.”

Marianne’s gaze fell on the two sword masters and the beastman.

❁ ❁ ❁

Frisia widely publicized the fact that Jeremy had been with Marianne’s party, and rumors spread that the group had come to deceive the Duke and were caught.

She didn’t know if Jeremy was wandering through the woods or wilderness, but he was bound to stop by town or city to procure necessary supplies along the way and then hear the tale.

Plus, gossip about Viscount Marianne Rowain was always the most popular in the Empire lately. It was because she was first a poor maiden from a fallen noble family that became a famous adventurer and later earned a noble title in her own right.

‘The Duchess may be criticized, but it doesn’t matter if I can lure Jeremy in.’

Now all that was left was to capture Aslei. For some reason, it seems that the Duke refused to return back on his own two feet, so she has no choice but to go catch him herself!

Frisia donned a tranquil countenance, but her stomach was actually boiling inside.

‘You say that you like me but when I’m sick, you don’t even show your face even once?!’

In fact, Aslei was afraid that he would harm her, and couldn’t get close to her, but there was no way Frisia would have known that.

After she rested her body and fully recovered, she put on a riding suit and decided to go directly into the woods. Convinced that Aslei was hiding in the nearby forest she also reduced the number of her escorts to a minimum.

Bunter jumped in opposition and protested to her taking only two knights. Elman, the commander of the 1st Knighthood, who is responsible for the security of the duke’s mansion, insisted that at least six of them be taken.

But Frisia had a different idea. It seemed that the greater the number of guards, the more likely Aslei would be reluctant to approach her.

The forest around the duke’s castle wasn’t dangerous anyway, so she insisted that two was enough, but Bunter and Elman were adamant.

“Over my dead body! If something significant happens to you too—what will happen to the dukedom?”

Ever since the impostor appeared and turned the duke’s mansion upside down, Bunter had been serving Frisia with the utmost sincerity. Even before she had earned his heartfelt respect, he had always politely attended to her.

Bunter believed it was only possible to save Aslei if Frisia was around.

‘I’m trying to make something significant happen!’

Frisia wanted to shout, but she kept her mouth shut. If they knew she was willing to risk her life to lure Aslei, both would oppose.

“Fine. Then I will compromise with four knights and instead, I will choose who will come with me.”

No matter how stubborn they were, Frisia was the Duchess, so they finally accepted her deal begrudgingly.

❁ ❁ ❁

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