The deep dawn before the break of dawn.
In the Duke’s bedroom, shrouded in darkness, only the sound of Cordelia’s breathing could be heard, tinged with various colors.
Looking at Cordelia, who had fallen asleep as if unconscious, Duke Calix smirked. He had been constantly tormenting her, but to see her faint like this…
He pulled the thick blanket up, covering her neck, and stepped out of the bed.
As he stood by the window, he could see the wind swirling. The fierce wind made the window rattle noisily, and fairly large snowflakes scattered about.
Duke Calix stared outside the window. He had a completely different expression than when he looked at Cordelia. The golden aura that shone brightly had turned cold, and the malicious expression that mocked Cordelia had disappeared, replaced by a chilling, stern face.
‘Have all my knights perished?’
The Duke’s gaze reached the towering snow-covered mountain. Despite the pitch-black darkness, the mountain gleamed with a bright whiteness, covered in snow and ice.
A month ago, the Duke had been on that mountain. And his memories ended there.
The Martians’ tribe had appeared at the borders of Calix’s territory once again. It was another invasion. It was not surprising that they continued their relentless attacks, but the timing was too soon.
A massive campaign had been carried out a few months ago, inflicting severe damage on the Martians tribe. Only a few dozen survivors remained among the ranks. Yet here they were, attacking once again.
With a sense of puzzlement, Calix and his group headed towards the northern border of Calix’s territory, where the invaders were located.
As expected, the number of attacking Martian tribe members was insignificant. Only a few dozen individuals dared to confront the elite knights of Duke Calix.
‘No need to exert much force,’ he thought.
The Duke Calix threw the sword he was holding into the air and spun it lightly in a circle, contemplating.
The Duke and his knights swiftly defeated the Martian tribe. Only a few individuals remained.
As they attempted to cut off the survivors’ escape, they started fleeing towards the mountain.
The mountain was covered in snow and ice, with cliffs and deep pits that could cause fatal falls scattered throughout.
The Martians’ tribe was agile and skilled at traversing cliffs like beasts, but Duke Calix’s army was not. With Hinyas’ guidance, there was no risk of taking the wrong path or getting injured. However, Duke Calix thought to himself why they had to go through such trouble for just a few individuals.
“We must ensure they never think of invading again,” said Duke Calix.
At the Duke’s command, the knights headed towards the treacherous mountain. Due to the secretive nature of the Martian tribe, it took time to search as the darkness fell.
The Duke’s knights began pitching tents on a flat surface. Descending the mountain after dark was risky. They could never predict when an avalanche might occur, and they could be struck by large falling blocks of ice if they made a wrong move.
Duke Calix entered the tent that the knights had set up. Inside the makeshift camp, they had even managed to create a cozy atmosphere.
As the warmth enveloped him, fatigue overwhelmed him. Although he hadn’t fought with all his might, it was still a battle after all.
Duke Calix lay down on the makeshift bed and quickly fell into a deep sleep.
The strange sensation came when a loud gust of wind shook the tent, waking him from sleep.
In the pitch-black darkness, he saw a figure approaching.
The sound of sharp claws brushing against the ground, eyes shining crimson. It was a member of the Martian tribe.
Duke Calix drew a dagger from his waist. He pretended to still be asleep, closing his eyes while remaining alert to the movements of the intruder.
The approaching footsteps were precise. The consistent sound of footsteps, devoid of any signs of haste or emotional fluctuations, felt familiar.
He opened his eyes and directed the question toward the figure.
At that moment, the person swiftly rushed forward and stabbed Duke Calix in the chest with a sharp blade.
The sound of flesh tearing and blood gushing like a fountain resounded. However, it wasn’t the Duke who fell but the attacker. The dagger thrown by Duke Calix was lodged in the person’s throat.
Duke Calix approached the fallen figure, blood dripping, and spoke.
“It was you?”
Duke Calix’s lips twisted upon seeing the fallen figure on the ground.
The person emitting painful groans was Hinyas, once the leader of the Martian tribe.
The Duke gripped his throat, from which blood was spurting.
“Who are you?”
Matching his chilling tone with Hinyas’ agonized red eyes and gaze, he asked.
Hinyas, filled with anger, let out a chuckle in response to the Duke’s question.
“Haven’t you already figured it out? Your brother’s doing.”
He knew it. Although Hinyas was once the leader of the Martian tribe, he had now become an ally, and the only person who could buy him out was his brother, Ronald.
Nevertheless, there was no doubt in his mind.
Hinyas was the leader of the Martian tribe. While Duke Calix appeared and carried out the massacre of the Martian tribe, Hinyas stood at the forefront, fighting against him. However, he couldn’t withstand the deranged slaughterer that the Duke was. He fought like a man with no tomorrow. With ferocity in swinging his sword, as if his desire to survive had intensified, Martian tribe members fell one after another. If this continued, they would not only fail to reclaim their territory but risk extinction as a tribe.
Amid this ongoing crisis, the leader, Hinyas, made a decision. To surrender to Duke Calix. And to negotiate with him.
The negotiation ended relatively simply. As long as the Martian tribe didn’t overstep the boundaries of the Calix territory, the Duke, and his knights would no longer bother the Martian tribe.
However, not all members of the Martian tribe obeyed Hinyas’ orders just because they were Martian tribe members. Forces opposing Hinyas, bowing their heads before Duke Calix, appeared, and they continued to invade the Calix territory.
The Martians tribe members opposing Hinyas united among themselves, growing their forces. They established a new leader and began to eliminate the Martian tribe members who opposed their intentions. Thus, the Martian tribe was divided into two factions. The opposition faction’s influence grew day by day, and Hinyas, along with his followers, found themselves cornered.
In the dire situation, Hinyas decided to assist the Duke. With his innate agility, exceptional sense, and perception, he aided Duke Calix in eliminating the opposing faction of the Martian tribe. It was thanks to Hinyas’ help that the Duke and his party safely entered the snowy mountains today.
Despite Hinyas following him and obeying him, Duke Calix did not trust him. He believed that, like ordinary humans, Hinyas could change his attitude at any moment if the situation were to change.
Moreover, Hinyas was a member of the Martian tribe. They had a humanoid appearance but belonged to a race closer to beasts, born with the blood of cunning Martian creatures. It wouldn’t be strange for Hinyas to stab a knife into Duke Calix’s back at any time.
Hinyas’ betrayal was not surprising, but Duke Calix was curious. He wondered what had tempted Hinyas, who had humbled himself before humans, whom he considered inferior creatures, to prevent the annihilation of his own tribe and reclaim the glory of the past.
“… Do you know what my dream is?”
Hinyas opened his mouth while groaning in pain.
“To reclaim the Calix territory someday and regain the glory of the past.”
“And did my brother promise to make that happen?”
“… He did. He made a pact that he would hand over all of Calix if only you were killed.”
“You believed that? Did you think it was possible?”
As Duke tightened his grip on Hinyas’s throat, he struggled to breathe and gasped for air.
“… He acts as if the purpose of his life is to get rid of you, so he’ll return the fiefdom. If he doesn’t give it back, I can take it away. So I need you to die.”
“With this, the pact is broken, and if you fail, your tribe will face annihilation. And yet, you make this choice.”
Duke Calix laughed as if he was amused.
“Acting as if you’re willing to endure anything for the sake of your tribe, but in the end, you’re the one severing the tribe’s name with your own hands?”
“It’s for the sake of the Martians tribe.”
Hinyas replied with a resolute face against the Duke’s criticism.
“For the sake? Don’t make me laugh. It’s your own greed. The desire to reclaim the Calix territory and become the great leader of the Martians’ tribe again—an impossible desire.”
“Is that so…?”
Hinyas struggled to continue his words, speaking slowly as if it was difficult.
“I will die, but you will die too, Duke.”
When Duke Calix takes his last breath, he believed that the Martian tribe would be able to reclaim the territory.
Die? Maybe. But do you think my knights will go down so easily?”
In response to the Duke’s words, Hinyas suddenly chuckled, his red eyes gleaming.
“You didn’t lay a hand on my knights, did you?”
Now that he thought about it, something seemed off. By this time, the knights should have sensed something strange and rushed into the tent, but they were nowhere to be seen.
“They went to the Valley of Apologies. I lured them there with the one who escaped earlier.”
The Duke tightened his grip on Hinyas’ throat as he continued his words. In response, Hinyas screamed and writhed in agony.
“… I’m curious, Duke. Will you survive this time as well? Please, don’t. For the sake of our Martians tribe.”
Hinyas barely managed to speak before he convulsed and vomited blood, trembling violently. His body, shaking as if in seizures, gradually went limp.
The Duke of Calix looked at Hinyas, whose breath had ceased, with a disdainful gaze. He had been captivated by the belief of sacrificing everything for the sake of his tribe, just like his own mother, who had taken her life for his sake.
He made an effort to erase the overwhelming thoughts and tended to the wounds on his chest. Blood was flowing from the deeply engraved wounds.
The Duke tore a piece from the hem of his own clothes and began to bandage the wounds.
The Valley of Apologies. The graveyard of the living.
Those who entered that place found it difficult to survive. And if they fell into the tricks of the Martian tribe, it became even more challenging.
Duke of Calix, his wounds wrapped and bound in cloth, stepped out of the tent.
The blood did not stop flowing despite the bandages. With each step the Duke took, blood dripped onto the floor.
His vision kept blurring, and his legs grew weak. However, the Duke regained his composure and walked through the snow-covered mountains. Puddles of blood formed wherever he walked. The red blood that fell on the white snow was vivid and fiery.
The Duke, exerting all his strength to walk, coughed up blood.
Blood was pouring out from the wound on his chest. The blood flowing out in a frightening amount stained the Duke’s body.
Even in his blood-soaked armor, the Duke continued to walk.
Step by step.
It was an absurd situation to be walking, but he carried on as if nothing were amiss.
As he took each step… When he woke up, he found himself in his own bedroom, the Duke’s chambers.
The knights probably did not survive. The place they went to was a location consisting of thousands of deep precipices. No matter how cautious one was, it was a place where they would eventually be trapped in the icy valley and meet their demise.
The Duke, who had been gazing at the sky outside the window, opened it.
As a fierce wind blew in, the curtains hanging by the bed swayed and knocked over the lit candles, causing a flickering sound.
Duke Calix whistled and called out for Karpa.
Karpa was a gift from Hinyas, a bird belonging to the Martian tribe. Resembling a hawk, the bird had red eyes like those of the Martian tribe.
With its exceptional sense of smell, Karpa could track down any target once it caught its scent. The possibility was slim, but the plan was to have Karpa search for the knights.
As they gazed into the air, a black object approached. Flapping its wings and sporting horns, a large black bird landed.
Karpa perched on the Duke’s arm as if it were familiar with it. The bird with its red eyes gleaming waited for a command.
“Find the knights and deliver the message that I have awakened.”
Karpa seemed to understand the words and nodded its head before swiftly taking flight.
Its large wings flapped, quickly carrying it away.
A small voice could be heard.
Cordelia was huddled up, her body curling due to the cold breeze that came in.
The Duke closed the window. As he shut the casement, the noisy sound of the wind subsided.
Duke Calix approached the bed. When he gently smoothed out the faint crease on Cordelia’s forehead caused by the sudden chill, she emitted colorful breaths once again.
‘What am I doing right now?’
The Duke chuckled.
He couldn’t understand why he was concerned about Cordelia.
He had gained a reputation for engaging with multiple women overnight, but in reality, he had little interest in such matters. Forcing himself upon women was even further from his preferences.
Yet, he had embraced Cordelia, pressuring her subtly. The woman who had seduced him at the behest of his younger brother, Ronald.
Duke Calix regained his senses during the twilight hours.
Lost in a hazy and dizzy state of mind, he heard a mournful sob.
As I listened carefully, I could hear a woman’s voice.
<I have committed a grave sin… Please don’t forgive me.>
I didn’t catch every word, but I could understand the gist of what she was trying to say. The woman was sobbing sorrowfully, pleading for forgiveness.
‘Who is she? What sin has she committed?’
Lost in such thoughts, I lost consciousness again.
Once again, I regained consciousness on the day the emperor’s envoy arrived.
At that time, I was more conscious. Although I lost consciousness intermittently, the periods of wakefulness were longer.
I heard the harsh voice of a woman named the head maid. And following her commands, Cordelia’s voice echoed as she simulated moans.
Cordelia undressed and caressed her body, emitting sounds of pleasure. Then she positioned herself on top of me, simulating intimate acts.
I was bewildered. I had no idea what was happening.
And I felt disgusted. Tied and restrained against my will, with my arms and legs, my body moved involuntarily, engaging in false passion and exploiting me.
But as Cordelia moved her body, my senses were stimulated.
Her body scent was sweet, like the fragrance of flowers. The touch of Cordelia’s skin brushing against mine was soft and smooth, and her clumsy gestures provided a peculiar stimulation. However, I had no desire to indulge in it. Instead, I needed to understand why I was in such a state, and how this situation had come about.
The day I fully regained consciousness was incredibly difficult to endure.
Her mouth was filled with a sweet fragrance as her tongue, soft and pliable, skillfully sucked on his tongue. The naked bodies pressed against each other, and the gentle breasts against his firm chest molded like dough. Cordelia’s body felt smooth, as if gliding, even more, velvety than the finest silk.
Unable to regain his senses due to the softness of her feminine form, Cordelia opened her lips and pushed her soft breast into his mouth. The overwhelming softness of her breast entering his mouth made it impossible for the Duke to regain his composure. And when Cordelia began to shake her breast, his mind grew hazy.
As Cordelia straddled his body and moved her hips, he nearly let out a moan. His own belonging touched the depths of Cordelia’s fiery and secret place. With each intensified movement, their connection grew stronger. By that point, it became difficult to resist. Despite his tremendous effort to hold onto his sanity, his lower body gradually swelled.
He ran his hand along Cordelia’s back and waist to signal his awakened state. It was because he couldn’t bear to wait any longer, fearing that he would die if he didn’t enter her immediately.
The woman trembled and begged for her life as she saw her awakened self. She was beautiful. Her innocent face, which didn’t seem like it had engaged in such acts just moments ago, was now trembling and pleading for mercy.
As their swollen lower bodies came together, Cordelia blushed all the way to her ears and froze. After engaging in various actions moments ago, she now seemed unaware and shy, trembling with embarrassment.
Their bodies clung together in that gap. Unable to bear it any longer, he swallowed her lips and sucked on her breast.
When he continued to suck and touched Cordelia’s intimate place, she frowned and jerked away.
As she pleaded, asking why he was doing this and begging him to stop, he replied that if he were to repay her actions, he would continue his actions.
Cordelia’s eyes trembled with anticipation and sensitivity as he touched her intimate place, feeling the stimulation.
She tightly sealed her lips, trying not to feel the stimulation he was giving. In vain, she twisted her body and tried to escape from his embrace. However, his body became even more aroused by her actions. He wanted to enter her immediately.
But when she pleaded with him to stop, her eyes turned red. Seeing Cordelia’s reddened eyes, a mixture of desire and displeasure surged within him.
Unable to embrace a woman who refused and even cried, he withdrew himself because he had no intention of forcing her. As he did, her eyes shook with confusion. She looked at him with a serious expression, stating that she didn’t dislike it, and asked him to continue.
He retorted as if he wasn’t inclined to comply with Cordelia’s words. But then he saw her pleading eyes.
It became impossible to resist that gaze any longer.
He hastily kissed her lips and embraced her. Cordelia’s intoxicated body felt even better than he had imagined. He wanted to bury his nose in her soft skin over and over again. The velvety texture never bored him, no matter how much he sucked.
When he opened her intimate place and entered, his mind was shocked. It swallowed him up as if it could barely contain his own belonging. It was so narrow that he couldn’t fully devour himself.
As he looked at Cordelia’s pained expression, he wondered if it was her first time. Despite her shy and frozen appearance, she moved her body skillfully as he entered her. He hadn’t expected her to have no experience.
To alleviate Cordelia’s pain, even though he wasn’t particularly gentle in his demeanor, he sucked on that place with care.
When he skillfully penetrated and entered, the Duke of Calix tasted ecstasy. Cordelia’s awkward and inexperienced movements were not a problem. Her place completely swallowed and enveloped the Duke’s belonging.
An overwhelming pleasure surged, making it impossible to regain his senses. Thus, even knowing that Cordelia was a virgin, he couldn’t control himself and plunged forward.
The thought of being in this situation with this woman crossed his mind for a moment, but it was fleeting. Her body didn’t allow him to entertain such thoughts.
‘Am I going crazy?’
Even after that day, whenever there was an opportunity, he embraced her. Despite knowing that it was not right.
Cordelia’s hesitant gestures in reluctant compliance were stimulating. Her tearful eyes filled with shame were pleasing to look at, and the expression on her face as she involuntarily trembled and writhed in pleasure, despite the unwanted relationship, was worth seeing.
And her blue eyes, shining with determination to survive, were impressive. The foolish determination to survive and save her younger sister created both pity and curiosity.
It wouldn’t be right to kill Cordelia immediately. After all, she had been tempted and seduced by the Duke on the orders of Ronald. But he was still paying attention to Cordelia, which was absurd.
‘Because she is still necessary.’
It was difficult for the Duke of Calix to handle everything alone in this situation. If it was revealed that he had regained consciousness, it would become dangerous in an instant.
If he wanted to regain control of his future without revealing that he had regained his senses, he needed Cordelia. So he had to keep her by his side.
The reason he was overly concerned about Cordelia was probably because he had spent his time without any interest in women. It was probably a temporary phenomenon that arose from not indulging in women despite being in the prime of his life.
First, he would do as he was drawn to, and if she became bothersome later, he would get rid of her. Now was not the time to focus on trivial emotions. He had to resolve this situation.
The Duke of Calix erased his complicated emotions regarding Cordelia. Then, he sternly glared and began to formulate a plan.
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