7500-chapter-68-1

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There was so much to do, so many issues to resolve, and countless matters to attend to. Yet, in the midst of all that, something was nagging at the back of her mind.

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“……”

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Was it just a fleeting feeling? But when it happened over and over, she realized it wasn’t just a whim.

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‘Why on earth…?’

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No, seriously, why?

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‘Why does Aria keep looking at me?’

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Whenever Aria got the chance, she’d gaze at Grace from a distance.

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It seemed like no one else noticed, but whenever their paths crossed or Aria had a moment to spare, her eyes would unmistakably be fixed on Grace.

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‘Does she have something to say to me?’

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Yet, every time, Aria never approached with words. She just stared and then moved on, leaving Grace feeling restless and almost going crazy with curiosity.

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Having been in this world for quite some time, Grace began to wonder if this was some sort of plot development.

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‘Is it some trope where after coming to the other world, we get to know that the main character of the original story turns out to have a bad personality or something?’

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So, when someone else gets attention, she feels unbearable irritation. Is that what it’s about?

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‘No, that can’t be right.’

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That’s how the darker side inside Grace wishes to see Aria. But in reality, Aria was genuinely a kind-hearted person.

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‘The novel did delve into Aria’s character, so thereโ€™s no denying her nature.’

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Was she trying to find fault with Ariaโ€™s character just because she couldn’t compete with her looks? Mockingly thinking that she might be trying to belittle her, Grace pressed hard between her eyebrows in frustration.

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‘I can’t let this go on.’

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If Aria was going to continue chasing her like this, Grace needed to confront her directly.

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Preferably in an informal setting.

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โ‹†โ˜…โ‹†

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‘But then again, why am I even thinking of meeting Aria…?’

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Grace draped the cloak with the perception-reducing magical device over her shoulders, a pang of guilt gnawing at her. Every time she encountered the strikingly beautiful woman, her previously calm heart would ripple with unease.

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The day she saw Benjamin and Aria standing side by side, she impulsively suggested divorce. Since then, negative thoughts would surface every time she laid eyes on Aria.

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‘It’s not exactly Aria’s fault, though.’

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The feeling was undeniably uncomfortable.

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If Grace had a reason to meet Aria, it was to validate her hypothesis that โ€˜the temple might not be the benevolent group it claims to beโ€™.

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In the novel, Aria had always been portrayed as peaceful and joyous, which made Grace overlook certain aspects of her.

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‘Ariaโ€ฆ doesn’t she lack friends?’

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If Grace’s memory served her right, Aria didn’t have any real friends. If she did, none held significant power or influence. And while she held a strong influence, she herself didnโ€™t have any noticeable power.

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The only ones who might have been considered a pillar of support for her were Sylvester and Benjamin.

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‘Am I overthinking this?’

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Grace grew increasingly anxious. She felt like she had assumed her problems were monumental, only to discover that next to her, a child she had thought to be playing in a flower garden was actually wandering in a field of fireworks.

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‘Is this enough?’

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She tightened the cloak with the magical device she had brought just in case.

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Tonight was her last night in Ardel County.

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‘And the day I can meet Aria.’

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The reason Grace wanted to meet Aria unofficially was that any public confrontation would only result in Grace being criticized.

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‘Come to think of it, Aria might be criticized elsewhere too.’

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Still, any negative rumors about Aria wouldn’t reach her ears. They’d keep it hushed among themselves, or so Grace surmised.

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The Saintess’s power was deeply intertwined with her emotions. Thus, no matter how much one might despise Aria, they wouldn’t intentionally dampen her mood.

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‘It’s tied to the empire’s safety, after all.’

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Slipping away secretly like this was against her usual habits, but Grace was confident she wouldn’t be caught.

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Stepping out from behind the tent, she heard the crackling sound of burning logs.

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‘I thought the guard on this side would be lax.’

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On the last day, they held a modest party to commemorate their efforts in completely eradicating the source of the contamination. This was the narrative in the original work. But this time around, thanks to the support materials from Duke Jarte, the scale of the party had grown significantly.

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‘Come to think of it, the knight I sent to the neighboring domain also returned safely.’

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She received a letter from the lord of that neighboring territory. It carried an apology, explaining their delayed response due to their own contaminated lands…. a typical hindsight.

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‘It feels like a hasty attempt at damage control. They probably wanted to avoid backlash for ignoring reports about Ardel County’s contamination.’

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That likelihood was high. After their belated response, they had dispatched a large number of people to assist with Ardel County’s dilapidated structures.

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‘Anyway, this isn’t my concern right now.’

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Regardless, thanks to everyone’s swift actions, the situation had been resolved smoothly. Now everyone was laughing and chatting, even those who had initially appeared somber were now mingling in high spirits.

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A few knights divide their time to patrol. But with everyone being so jubilant tonight, security had slackened.

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