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Gaju was lost in thought throughout dinner, recalling his meeting yesterday afternoon. Said the fortuneteller Muto:
‘I read the fortune telling about Lucerne. Merha committed a crime and killed the prophet of god. But there will be no family tragedy. Instead something auspicious will happen.’
‘It’s Lucerne’s son, the great… … . A child will be born who will receive the protection of the guardian spirit. Even that guardian deity is a higher level god than the shadow deity dwelling in Lord Lucerne!’
‘This is a very good thing that happened to Sir Lucerne… … . And because of the significant change!’
The same thing could have been said in a different manner.
Previously, Muto loathed Lucerne for not bribing him, so he used to talk badly of him all the time.
This time, too, he could have declared, ‘The guardian spirit will dwell in the descendants of Lucerne, that illegitimate son, so we must take action.’
Instead, Muto praised Lucerne to the high heavens until his mouth went dry.
Of course, the gifts Elisha sent were incomparable to those given by his other granddaughters-in-law. In addition, the gifts were all of Muto’s favorites, from trivial snacks to enormous gold bars. It was as if someone had long known and taken care of his tastes in detail.
Gaju couldn’t even sleep at night thinking about it.
‘Perhaps… … . If a demon of a higher level than Lucerne’s guardian deity dwells in his child….’
Even the demons, the guardian spirits of the family, had ranks. The shadow monster dwelling in Lucerne was the greatest devil he had known and used magic. It was the highest-ranking monster among the guardian deities dwelling in successive families.
‘But the guardian deity dwelling in Lucerne is not the highest in rank among the demon gods.’
Lucerne’s shadow demon was a second-ranked monster among the same line of gods. The guardian deity descended from the world of monster gods, and was second to the king of that world, the Demon.
However, there was a devil who was the first king and close to a real god. Just as the shadow has the body in reverse. The god’s name was ‘Ramun.’
Ramun was said to have the power to transcend time, space and control the world. Therefore, the one who received Ramun’s protection would indeed become the master of the family.
When Gaju heard the prophecy, his heart trembled, and he could not calm down.
‘Will a child with Ramun really be born between Lucerne and Elisha? Then our family… … . As a mysterious lineage, they will be respected and worshiped by the people of the world.’
As for the fortuitous change that occurred to Lucerne…. Needless to say, it was his marriage to Elisha.
‘Even though Elisha is maddenly wild. Compared to stupid Arien, her qualities are amazing. Lucerne is capable and competent. My other grandchildren can’t even compare. It really is a double-edged sword. An outstanding illegitimate child is the root of the family. But I am greedy and really want it.’
Carola, who had been observing the Head throughout dinner, asked gently,
“What are you thinking, my Lord?”
“Ah, I was thinking about Lucerne.”
“… … .”
“It seems that Lucerne has become a little closer to me after getting married, doesn’t it? Lucerne’s new bride seems to be doing very well. Rumors have reached my ears that she is capable of assisting him. Besides, seeing that she even sent a letter announcing her attendance at the Imperial Palace Hunting Festival this time, it seems Elisha is more sociable than she looks.”
It was an old etiquette of high-ranking aristocrats to report to the oldest member of the family before participating in an event at the imperial palace. The time when those manners were sincerely enforced was when the imperial power was stronger than now.
Once in the imperial palace, a person could do various things in the name of the family and increase the house’s reputation. Therefore, it was polite to receive permission from the head of the family before entering the palace. However, it was an etiquette that was rarely followed as high society grew more active.
Lucerne was not a hostile grandson, so there was no obligation. However, Elisha wrote a very courteous letter delivering a spring greeting to the Head and politely mentioning their attendance at the hunting festival.
In the eyes of elders, even a dutiful spring greeting was pleasing. However, Elisha did more than that.
‘She is a child who knows how to do things prettier than she looked, Elisha.’
Gaju was in an unusually happy mood for a few days. In addition, the contents of the letter strictly followed the etiquette of high-ranking nobles, so even the duke was impressed.
He took a sip of wine and clicked his tongue in distaste.
“Merha is also loathsome. Instead, Lucerne is doing well… … . Besides, he saved the life of Merha, whom he hates so much. Perhaps he is more flexible than I judged?”
A troubled smile crossed Jacob’s face. When Marco, the only candidate for the head of the family who threatened him, fell, Jacob, who thought he would naturally win and secure the position of the successor, was now being unreasonably threatened by Lucerne.
Even if Lucerne died and came back to life, he could never reign as the patriarch. The first reason was that his mother was a lowly commoner. This was the most compelling reason, and the second was that he was born out of wedlock.
But if a child were born to Lucerne, the story would change. If… … . What if the duke went mad, took Lucerne’s child, and used it? It could have been the case if Lucerne sought favor.
Jacob and Carola exchanged glances.
“But Carola… … . we’re scared when Lucerne gets angry. You seem to be angry these days. He has changed a lot. We originally recognized his nature. His nature will be virtuous and noble, befitting ducal blood,”
Carola said with a smile. She mentioned Lucerne’s anger and reminded the Head of Lucerne’s arrogant attitude from before. Moreover, the talk of the duke’s blood was nothing more than highlighting Lucerne’s identity as an illegitimate child.
Gaju understood what Carola meant. He gave no response, and she grew more anxious. Instead, the Lord muttered to himself,
“There was a property I gave to Arien… … . A flour refinery in the middle of the capital. Indeed.”
Carola’s hands trembled. Although the scale of the flour refinery was small, its annual income was quite substantial. Moreover, many people used it, so even a low-ranking noble family could live on it alone without problems.
“I must give it to Elisha.”
“My Lord! But it’s a valuable family property… … . It’s a bad thing to leak outside. Carola is worried. How much can Elisha be trusted… … . If she separates from Lucerne… … .”
Carola waited for the day to receive the refinery, but when the duke expressed his intentions, she felt as if a thunderbolt had struck her on a clear day. She finally revealed her true feelings.
“Uh, well… … . it’s not what Carola thinks. They say that men often divorce contract brides,”
Carola stuttered hesitantly. She always made excuses by conveying other people’s opinions, not her own. Gaju was annoyed.
“Carola, do you think I’m a fool? Of course, it is awarded on the condition that if Lucerne and Elisha divorce it will be returned. In a little while you will try to instruct me.”
Instead, Carola was scolded for her shallow remarks. She was devastated, for she rarely heard reapproach from the Lord.
‘Why do only bad things happen to Carola when she gets involved? It’s not fair! She should have died doing laundry. Oh, I’m so angry.’
But she held back her tongue and pressed down on her burning heart.
“Jacob, take good care of your wife. Elisha knows how to treat her elders but only your wife is spoiled.”
Jacob stood there with a bewildered expression and reproached her,
“Carola, the Lord has a reason for everything. Be careful what you say in front of the head of the household!”
“Yes, we understand. Carola was wrong… … . But the Lord seems to see only one pretty granddaughter-in-law now. So mean! We always try to show filial piety.”
Gaju felt a little relieved when Carola acted stupid and put on a sad expression as usual. No one could be seriously mad at dogs or cats. Carola knew how to make good use of that.
“Still, in rank, aren’t you the elder of Elisha’s family? You should lead her. Like a child, you are bitterly jealous.”
Carola reluctantly nodded.