< — The founding party — > (4)
Lucia returned to the party hall and mixed in with the noblewomen. She didn’t have time to think properly and because of the sudden incomprehensible sequence of events, her heart was racing, and her palms were sweaty.
But even then, she was outwardly smiling at the noblewoman who was talking to her. Her experience in the dream of socializing while wearing a fake smile till she was sick of it, was very helpful to her.
Katherine returned to the noisy party hall filled with the sound of people’s voices and music. She quickly approached Lucia without concealing her cloudy expression.
As soon as Lucia saw Katherine, her mind which had been in a state of confusion, began to regain order. This whole situation began from the moment she went to the break room after hearing the maid say that Katherine was looking for her.
“Princess. Are you…coming back from the Inner Palace?”
“You know, I just ran a fool’s errand. His Majesty was never looking for me. I am going to find out who in the world passed on this nonsense and punish them severely for this.”
Katherine furiously expressed her displeasure.
Seeing this, Lucia realized that she had been conspired against. Someone lured Katherine first with lies, and then used that to lure her to the break room.
‘Why? Who would do this?’
If not for Sir. Krotin, it would have resulted in a huge problem. Lucia thought back to the situation in the break room earlier. The man whom Sir. Krotin was holding by the throat was definitely the Count of Ramis.
‘I don’t know how this situation came about. Did Count Ramis try to harm me?’
More than anything else, Lucia’s biggest worry was what would happen to Sir. Krotin.
“Duchess. The imperial doctor is waiting for you.”
A handmaid approached them and said.
“The imperial doctor? Duchess, are you not feeling well?”
“Yes. My head is a little…”
“Oh no. You should go home and rest. I don’t think Duchess is cut out for activities that are late at night.”
Suddenly, people began to stir. In the hallway connected to the spacious party hall, the royal knights made their way through, and the sound of banging armor echoed as they moved swiftly. Realizing that the knights were headed towards the princess’ private breakroom, Lucia’s expression paled as she stiffened.
A situation that called for the collective movement of knights was extremely rare as it would ruin a party’s merry atmosphere. People began to grow noisy as they wondered what big incident had occurred.
“Go find out what’s going on.”
Katherine sent her handmaid. The sound of the knights’ banging armor grew farther away and Lucia went to the public break room to get a checkup from the imperial doctor. In the meantime, the atmosphere of the party slowly returned.
The noblewomen gathered around Katherine. A certain noblewoman spoke up.
“Please show us your break room sometime too, Princess.”
“I agree. I know not too many people can go together at once, but I feel sad that I didn’t have the honor of being invited to the first opening of the princess’ break room.”
“What do you mean by opening of my breakroom?”
“Earlier, didn’t the handmaid escort several ladies to the princess’ break room, under the princess’ instructions? We were told that Princess was holding an opening and had chosen the first visitors.”
“I never gave such instructions. So you mean to say that I now have people who I never gave permission to, inside my breakroom?”
When Katherine retorted sharply, the noblewomen were bewildered and looked at each other.
After being told by the imperial doctor that there was nothing wrong with her, Lucia returned to the party hall. And at the same time, the handmaid who Katherine had sent on an errand, came back to the party hall and whispered something to Katherine with a very stiff expression. After hearing what she said, Katherine’s expression also stiffened.
“Duchess, a minute please.”
Katherine took Lucia away from the crowd of people and went a remote area.
“Duchess. Don’t be alarmed and listen to me. I looked into what the knights were up to, and it seems like an accident has occurred. Actually, rather than calling it an accident…”
Katherine was unable to finish her sentence.
Lucia intentionally tried to look calm, but her tightly clenched fists were trembling. She had an ominous foreboding. An eerie cold chill ran up her spine.
Please. Lucia muttered to herself. Her heart rattled with worry that something bad might have happened to Sir. Krotin.
“There was a murder. The culprit is Duchess’ guard escort. Knight Krotin.”
The lord has changed.
“For the time being, we’ll use this village as our camp.” (Hugo)
“Yes, my lord.”
As he watched Boris, who was looking at their lord with sparkling eyes and yelling with his loudest voice, Dean thought this. Boris was the youngest participant among the knights of the northern subjugation this time. And he did remarkably well in the battle with the barbarians.
Although Captain Elliot wasn’t big on emotional expression, he looked satisfied at his son’s growth. And Boris’ expression was full of pride that he was participating in an important mission as a knight of the family.
Dean predicted that it wouldn’t be easy for Boris to recover from the shock of the first battle, but Boris beat that prediction. The reason for that was because their lord had changed.
During the battle with the barbarians, the lord mainly commanded them. He didn’t take just the elite knights and slaughter the barbarians indiscriminately as before. The knights who guarded the border were inducted into the ranks and participated in the war as well.
He gathered the knights, made strategies and utilized various methods of operation. The knights fighting the barbarians under the direct command of the Duke, entered battle with firm resolves, and enjoyed their proud achievements.
‘If it’s not just a temporary change…’
Dean looked at Boris, who was busily running around here and there.
‘The darkness that only the elite knights were privy to, will now disappear. Boris will be the beginning of a new generation of elite.’
Hugo proceed with the barbarian subjugation differently from the way he had done it before. The purpose was not to adequately reduce the numbers by tens of thousands, but to scatter the tribes that were beginning to gather together, reduce their forces and alienate them. He mobilized as many knights as possible and carried out various strategies. He didn’t leave any room for later troubles and dealt with it quickly. He had made his goal of returning home, his top priority.
And unlike before, Hugo didn’t feel any inclination to kill barbarians, even when they were in sight. Compared to his desire to hold his wife, the desire for slaughter and spilling blood was merely annoying.
The villages near the border were always exposed to the threats of barbarian looting, so they were very cooperative. The reason why the villagers didn’t leave their villages despite the risk, was because of their stubborn attachment to their hometowns.
By the time all the elderly people were dead and gone, the ones who left the village when they were young grew old and came back home. Like that, they stubbornly maintained the village’s existence.
In a remote village, there was always an abandoned empty house. Among those, he picked a somewhat sturdy house, roughly cleaned it up and made it their headquarters. In the first place, Hugo wasn’t the type to care for showy displays, so it was only a matter of tidying up the dust and preparing a wide desk for meetings.
While Hugo was reading a detailed report that came from various quarters, a knight came in.
“My lord, the village doctor is asking to see you.”
“He said you would know the name ‘Philip’.”
Hugo lifted his head. And he gave a forced laugh. He had thought the man was wandering around from place to place but had no idea that he was coincidentally staying here. Philip wasn’t a face that he really wanted to see, so he considered whether he should see him or not, then decided that there was no reason to avoid him.
“Let him in.”
Sometime after, the knight brought Philip in. Hugo sent the knight out. He silently watched the shabbily dressed Philip as Philip respectfully bowed his waist.
“What do you want?”
“Knowing you were nearby, I couldn’t help but come to pay my respects.”
“No need for that. There’s nothing good in seeing each other’s face so just act like you don’t know me. If that’s all, get lost.”
Philip studied Hugo carefully.
Hugo knit his brows, showing his displeasure. The only person who stared at his face so openly and directly was this old man.
“Should I ask them to drag you out?”
“The way you look at me is different from before. Before, you exuded bloodthirst like you were about to go for the kill.”
Hugo had never once felt good listening to the old man’s bullshit. But this time, when he heard his words, he thought, ‘Is that so?’. It was true that when looking at the old man now, he didn’t feel as twisted inside and nauseated as before.
Philip was a trace of all of Hugo’s nightmares. He was a medium, a reminder that he was a disgusting and terrible monster. But now, he wasn’t that terrible.
“You mustn’t change. As the true owner of the north, you have to be calm and cold hearted. Young master is the true Taran bloodline…”
Hugo lowered his gaze to the report he was reading with a sigh. As expected, the old man only spoke nonsense whenever he opened his mouth.
“…Is the Madam well?”
Hugo’s red eyes vividly deepened, turning blood red. His gaze turned murderous as he looked at Philip and fiercely bared his teeth.
“Don’t even put her in your dirty mouth. There’s no need for your concern.”
“It’s just my concern as a doctor about whether the Madam’s symptoms are still the same as before. If you still need the cure…”
“Don’t need it.”
Hugo called a knight and ordered him to drag Philip out. Holding onto the Knight’s hand, Philip continued to chatter.
“I’m planning on staying in this town for the time being. If by any chance, you need my help to treat the Madam, please call me.”
Hugo ignored him. Philip went out and left a last word.
“The day you look for me will come.”
Hugo snorted. Every time he met the old man, it never ended well. Next time, he definitely won’t see him.
“My lord. Urgent news!”
A knight entered in a haste. The small wooden container that the knight handed over, had a sign demarcating that it was news from the capital.
As Hugo’s expression stiffened, he hurriedly took out the message and read it.
After reading the short message, Hugo slammed his fist on the desk and sprang to his feet. He immediately ordered the startled knight.
“Call Callis…Sir. Elliot. Right now!”
 I have no clue what [나무통은] is. All I could find was wooden pail so I figured it’s a wood container…
 The knight he’s calling, his full name is Callis Elliot. I believe he’s the knight captain.