SV – 7

Howell and Gerald stood in front of the forest lake with the knighthood. A majestic stream of water flowed over the Kayena statue, creating a hazy water mist.

Howell, who was informed that the portal had been activated a while ago, headed here with his son and the knights.

The place where the coordinates were created was Altera in the western part of the Principality of Edelred. And now, the master was headed here.

The Count stared at the passageway connected to the portal with a stiff countenance.

Archduke Edelred was the third person in the line of succession to the throne and one of only five Luster Sentinels on the continent. Edelred was synonymous with flawlessness itself.

Edelred, the most respected family in the empire, and the authority that even the temple could not offend. The fact that Archduke Edelred, who is called the example of nobility amongst the aristocrats, and was going to fight at a gate himself, meant that this was more to this gate.

Howell looked down at his son, who stood silently beside him and relaxed his stern expression.

“Is this your first time seeing the Archduke in person?”

“Yes.”

“Keep your manners. The Archduke is strong, but he’s also a remarkable man. He is worthy of respect.”

“But forcibly opening a portal without notice doesn’t seem like polite behavior at all.”

The Count burst into laughter at his rebellious words.

“You have a point, but in the Empire, the Imperial family and the Edelreds can use the portal without needing permission. That’s because… . You will know when you meet.”

Proudly, he stroked Gerald’s head, and raised his head at the energy flowing from the passage.

The lake in the forest oscillated.

Deep-rooted trees shook, and microscopic ripples rose over the mirror-like waters.

Howell politely greeted a group of ten men exiting the passageway. Gerald and the Knights also bowed their heads to the group with unusual energy.

“I greet His Highness, Archduke Leicester Tilbury Edelred.”

The Archduke approached Howell and smiled brightly.

“Count Howell Von Klose. It’s been a while.”

The two men, who faced each other, shook hands silently, and then embraced each other warmly, as if too overwhelmed to utter words. It was like meeting a friend after a long time.

“Gerald, say hello and introduce yourself to the Archduke of Leicester.”

“I am Gerald Von Klose.”

Gerald, who greeted him fairly plainly compared to his father, raised his head with a moderate smile. However, it was not Archduke Edelred whose glaze he met.

He was a man standing next to the Archduke and watching him. With a terribly beautiful appearance.

Between the black hair that covered his forehead and flowed down, his red eyes, like a drop of blood, were directed towards him. 

Gerald soon realized that he was the rumored Duke of Edelred, Jurgen Axel Edelred.

The gossip magnates called him the ‘Fifth Returnee’ or ‘the Shadow Prince’.

He didn’t know why he was called ‘The Fifth Regressor’, but he knew why he was called ‘The Shadow Prince.’

It was because Jurgen Axel Edelred was the only target for the Crown Prince, who dared to call him ‘Mad Dog.’ Yet the ‘dog’ lowered his tail and asked him for advice.

Gerald frowned as he recalled the rumors about Jurgen that had spread within the Sentinel Academy.

But why are you looking at me like that?

He felt uncomfortable with Jurgen’s eyes which dug into him with a strange intensity.

“This is my son, Jurgen. You too, greet the Count.”

Jurgen, who took his eyes off Gerald just then, smiled readily and became formal with Howell.

“This is Jurgen Axel Edelred.”

“A pleasure meeting you, Duke.”

Those who greeted each other left the forest lake without delay. The gentle light of the setting sun poured over the heads of those who have left the sacred realm of Kayena.

The Count’s employees lined up on the left and right side of the passage connected to the mansion to welcome guests. Everyone glanced at the guests from the West and swallowed silent exclamations. As if carved from ice, their icy elegance overwhelmed their surroundings.

“I will take you to your room first. After a little bit of rest, let’s continue the conversation at the dinner table.”

“Thank you for caring about us, who are no different then uninvited guests. Count Von Klose.”

“What do you mean, an uninvited guest? It is a great honor to serve the Archduke.”

Supervising them in the mansion was the job of the hostess, Yvon Bonkloze. Yvon, who was waiting at the entrance, approached with graceful steps.

At that, Gerald hurriedly told Howell.

“Father. Sister is not feeling well, so I don’t think she will be able to attend the dinner.”

The eyes of the two men turned to the direction of Rodrigo’s annex for a moment. Howell understood his meaning, and then nodded his head with a worried look.

“She’s not feeling well, it can’t be helped. Take good care of Dahlia.”

“I will.”

Again.

Gerald raised his head and met Jurgen’s striking eyes again. But this time it was a little different. A faint crack appeared on that ice-cold face. As Jurgen minutely narrowed his brow and for a second shed his false smile, inaudibly smirking—Gerald saw everything clearly.

He covered his mouth with his hand and smiled obliquely, A short sigh of ‘Oh…I see.’ leaks out.

Gerald, who struggled to shake off the feeling of being overwhelmed, left first. He wanted to get out of this disgusting feeling of something pressing down on his stomach. There was only one way.

Without hesitation, he went up to the second floor of the mansion and opened Dahlia’s door.

***

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