HAPPILY EVER AFTER(11)
Sometime after dinner was over, Fabian came to the ducal residence. While he was waiting for his master, the mistress, and the young masters to finish their meal, Fabian had gone to visit Jerome and his family in the outbuilding.
After Jerome got married, Fabian felt like a heavy burden had been lifted off his back. He didn’t say anything, but he had been worried to see Jerome only caring about taking care of the ducal house and not thinking about marriage, even when he was past thirty.
Now, Fabian was both happy and envious to see Jerome happy as the head of a decent family.
It was already envious enough that Jerome got to marry a young woman despite their big age difference, but she was also extremely beautiful. After Fabian relentlessly pestered them to tell him about their love story, Olga answered him with a blush.
[I fell for him and chased after him.]
Fabian couldn’t understand. Why in the world? What part of him did she fall for? It was the biggest mystery of his life.
When he saw Jerome and his wife acting coy and bashful even after having two kids, he felt like something was crawling on his skin, so he quickly left for the main house.
Hugo told Damian and Bruno that the report of the observations from today’s meeting would be pushed to tomorrow then he went to his office with Fabian. Fabian turned in his report and verbally reported the most essential thing.
“News of Philip’s death came.”
Hugo, who was about to open the report, paused. He looked at the death certificate attached to the first page of the report for a while.
‘What a tenacious old turd.’
Seven years ago, Hugo ordered for Philip to be dragged to the dungeon in the north after his tongue was cut off and his ankle tendon severed. He left him in charge of treating vicious criminals in the underground prison where no sunlight ever came in. According to the occasional news he got, the old man silently devoted himself to treating prisoners. Hugo wondered how long he could endure in that grim underground dungeon despite his old age, and he finally died after seven years.
While he was searching for Philip’s family records, he also found the training camp for women to continue the Taran bloodline. It was actually in the capital. It was disguised as an orphanage and the women who were fed the mugwort(ssamyupsuk) herb were isolated and cared for as if they had a special illness.
Hugo wanted to kill them all, but he thought of his daughter and endured it. He didn’t want to stain his daughter’s birth with the spilling of blood and resentment.
The women didn’t know why their bodies became like that or for what purpose it was made like it. They were all given the cure and only after their menstruation came back and it was confirmed that they were normal again, were they released. This work actually took quite some time and only finished some years ago.
“How is a prisoner’s corpse dealt with?”
“If their family doesn’t collect their bodies then in the summer, every day, because the bodies rot easily, and in the winter, every few days. The bodies are all cremated at once.”
Philip had no family to hold his funeral. At this rate, he would be cremated with the corpses of other criminals and eventually, not even a chip of his bones would be found.
“There’s a burial ground for the family doctor. Take steps to have him buried there. No need to take care of a separate funeral.”
“Yes, Your Grace.”
His resentment towards Philip hadn’t disappeared. Philip’s death didn’t make his crime go away. He was obsessed with a fruitless pretext, schemed, and threatened his master. Even if his body was torn to pieces while he was alive, his crime was deserving of it.
When he learned from Philip’s records that Philip had put a woman in his bedroom, he couldn’t believe it. He was so angry that he felt like steam was rising from his head. The reason why Hugo left Philip alive was because of his cold-hearted desire for Philip to be tormented for a long time instead of suffering a short death.
However, Philip saved his brother’s life. He brought Damian who resembled his brother to Hugo. And it was also because of his scheme that Hugo got his daughter, Evangeline.
Not all the results of Philip’s actions were bad. Strictly speaking, Philip didn’t do all that to gratify his self-interest. Philip was also a victim of his family’s shackles and he could never get free.
‘I have changed indeed.’
Just like Philip told him a long time ago, Hugo thought that he had changed. To think he was feeling pity for a criminal who deserved his death. If it were the past him, he would have dragged out even the old man’s corpse, ordered them to chop it to pieces and fed him to beasts.
However, despite feeling this change in himself, Hugo was happy. He felt like he wasn’t just the Hugo imitating his late brother, but actually his own person.
With Philip’s death, everything was now over. No one outside the family knew his family’s secret. He thought it would be relaxing to know but he merely felt strange. The heavy weight on his body was still there. But this weight was not the terrible type he wanted to escape from, but a responsibility he ought to bear.
He realized that unless he tossed everything aside and ran away, he had to share his fate with the Taran family until he died. And for him now, abandoning his family was no longer an option.
The Taran house would protect his family, and he would protect the Taran house.
Philip’s death served as a force to free Hugo from being trapped in his late brother’s shadow. Henceforth, Hugo acknowledged that both Hue and Hugo were the same person. The young Hue who was mercenary slave and the lord of the north, Hugo Taran, were both himself.
“The other news that came from the north is about Sir. Krotin.”
Irritation flashed across Hugo’s eyes. Who knew where the guy had dug himself, not even his shadow could be found. So much manpower and time had been spent on trying to find him. Some time ago, he even ordered his knights that if Roy was found, he should be bound like a prisoner and dragged over here.
Two years ago, the Duke of Ramis passed away and his son, Robin, succeeded him. And about a year ago, Hugo negotiated with the king and the new Duke Ramis about reinstating Roy and succeeded.
Roy was no longer a heinous criminal. Since he had already been ‘killed’ as a death row prisoner, it would be difficult to have him conspicuously in the capital, but he could be reinstated into the northern knights with no issue at all.
The problem was Roy’s whereabouts. Shortly after he went to the north disguised as a death row prisoner, Roy could not be found and the last news of him was from a witness who saw him going into the barbarian territory. Hugo thought Roy would return soon but when nearly a year passed with no news from Roy, his knights entered the barbarian land to search for Roy. Dean had participated in the search party back then and was able to meet Roy in the span of a few days.
[I prefer going unnoticed, anyway. It’s comfortable here. You know I’m not the kind of guy to die easily, right? Don’t worry about me and don’t look for me. I’ll be staying here for a while.]
When Hugo heard of this, he told them to leave him alone. Roy was like a wild horse anyways, he couldn’t be reined. However, when Roy was reinstated a year ago, Hugo ordered them to call him in, but he couldn’t be found.
The barbarian land was very large. But because he couldn’t exactly gather a huge search party for Roy due to circumstances, it had been a year since only a handful of people began to search for Roy.
“Did you find him?”
Hugo ground his teeth. If the guy was brought before him, he would definitely beat him up first before talking.
“Rather than finding him…we got news from him.”
Fabian nervously continued speaking.
“A boy appeared before the knights and gave them a letter from Sir. Krotin. And…according to the letter, the boy is Sir. Krotin’s son. It’s at the back of the report.”
Hugo immediately turned to the back of the letter.
<< My lord. My son said he’ll pay the debts I owe you. He wants to be a knight so I taught him and if he’s useful, give him something to do, otherwise, you can chase him out. But you know, I taught the brat personally so he’s pretty good. I hear you’ve been trying to find me lately? I’ll come and see you when I want later, my lord. For now, I’ll live like this. >>
Hugo was speechless and forced a laugh. Even in the past, it was impossible to know what this guy would do but this time, he really struck him in the back of the head.
“His name is Khali. He’s eight years old this year.”
Hugo felt like he was about to have a headache and massaged his temples. If the boy was eight years old then it meant that Roy had caused an accident a few months after he was sent to the north.
“And from the looks of it, the child’s mother is very likely a barbarian.”
“…he’s doing all sorts of things.”
As far as Hugo knew, Roy didn’t treat barbarians like people of the same species. They were preys to be hunted.
In addition, although Roy didn’t really kill the women and children, he didn’t think like a knight, but as a true hunter looking for strong prey; in other words, he was a crazy bastard. If there was a reason to kill a woman, he would; he didn’t do things that would lead to future troubles.
Now they were saying that such a Roy had a child with a barbarian woman. Before Hugo could even be surprised about, he found it hard to believe.
“Are you sure it’s Roy’s child?”
“According to Sir. Heba…they are very similar.”
Hugo flipped to the report before Roy’s letter and found the attachment written by Dean. As he read Dean’s report, Hugo’s expression gradually grew askew.
From beginning to end, Dean was pouring compliments on Roy’s young son. In conclusion, Dean was saying he was a very talented boy who might very well bring the knights’ name to new heights, so he wanted to take him in and cultivate him as a knight.
‘If the boy is left to Dean and taught from a young age, he won’t act as recklessly as his father. Well, certainly if he’s Roy’s son, he will be talented.’
If his skills were as good as Dean claimed, he might consider bringing the boy to the capital later. A skilled knight was needed for when Evangeline grew up and debuted in the social circle, so this was a good opportunity.
“Tell the search team looking for Roy to withdraw, and have Dean be in charge of teaching Roy’s son.”
“Yes, Your Grace.”
Afterwards was just minor reports.