As the work was coming to an end, when Asralda came out after changing her clothes, everyone was already doing the final cleanup.
She awkwardly touched her messy hair and got on the carriage with Ophelia, who whispered behind her back.
“Listen carefully. The carriage will run for half a day before it stops. Our destination is the trading post on the trade route to Lacro, and when the carriage stops there, we will get off and switch to another carriage.”
A sound of horses neighing was heard from the corner. Finally, the carriage began to move with a jolt.
Asralda looked around while hugging herself on one side. The carriage, which was filled with necessities when they entered the castle, was now full of servants.
Perhaps because they had been working hard since early in the morning, some of them started to doze off, and some were almost lying down.
After running for a while, Asralda glanced at Ophelia, who was sitting next to her.
She was the only one who had not fallen asleep yet and was staring wide-eyed.
She must have been exhausted all morning, lost many items, and the carriage must have been cozy and the road long. Normally, it would be difficult to resist temptation at this point, but she was stubbornly holding on.
However, her head had been slightly nodding up and down since earlier.
After hitting her head against the wall several times, Ophelia finally succumbed to the temptation of sleep completely. Her head fell completely down, and she didn’t even blink.
Asralda gently shook her hand over her face. Fortunately, she seemed to have fallen deeply asleep after holding out for a long time.
After making sure of this, Asralda quickly stood up.
She couldn’t be sure if Marinda’s purpose was really pure in helping her escape, but…
‘Even so, I’ve been through too much to believe it.’
No, even if Marinda’s goal is really to help her escape, it doesn’t matter.
‘Anyway, my goal was to leave the castle and get out of Aiden’s sight.’
Besides, they had been running for quite a long time, so it was unlikely that Aiden would find them easily.
Asralda carefully headed towards the front of the carriage so as not to accidentally step on the sleeping servants.
Meanwhile, the horses seemed tired and the speed had slowed down considerably compared to when they first started.
Asralda lifted the cloth that was wrapped around the carriage and peeked inside. The carriage was running through the forest.
Asralda grabbed the carriage railing and stepped on it with her other foot. Then she looked down.
She was startled without realizing it.
The dirt road directly beneath her looked like a stream of water after the rain, rapidly curving.
Even though the speed had slowed down, it was dizzying to see it with her own eyes.
Asralda, who had been frozen for a moment, firmly held onto the railing as if she had made up her mind and climbed up.
Then she closed her eyes tightly and took a deep breath.
As soon as she let go of the railing and jumped down, her body rolled on the ground several times.
With a dull sound of her body hitting the ground, her knees were scraped and her elbows hurt as they hit the ground.
However, Asralda didn’t hesitate and quickly got up, biting her lip.
As a result of the rough roll, her entire body was covered in dirt, and her right sleeve was torn halfway.
When she turned around, the carriage was still moving away without knowing anything.
There was no time to waste. Asralda stood up straight and ran into the forest without looking back.
Meanwhile, shortly after Asralda escaped from the castle, someone urgently knocked on Aiden’s office door.
Aiden, who had been working for a while, did not even look up casually.
But Aiden’s expression became seriously scary as he confirmed the face of the person who entered the room.
“What’s the problem?”
The man who entered the room was one of those who were planted to watch Asralda. He was usually a servant, but in reality, he was a mercenary hired directly by Aiden.
“Um, I haven’t seen him since after lunch time.”
At those words, Aiden froze like ice. But it was only for a moment, Aiden immediately threw his pen and documents and got up from his seat. Then he quickly put on his armor.
He spoke in a low voice.
“Report accurately. Can’t you see her from the dining hall?”
“No. After having a meal with Lieutenant Kyle at the restaurant, he went to the separate building and hasn’t been seen since then. One of the servants brought in by the merchants saw him helping to carry things down to the food storage room in the basement… “
“A meal with Lieutenant Kyle?”
“I kept watching, but he didn’t come out no matter how long I waited, so I went down to check and… somehow he disappeared. It’s certain that there’s only one entrance and exit, but when did he escape…”
“Enough. I think I have a rough idea.”
The mercenary looked surprised at Aiden’s appearance as he prepared to go out.
“Are you going out yourself? We…”
“You guys move separately. I’ll take the knights and leave.”
“What? Are you really going to push it to the knights? Isn’t it risky if they find out that the rookie has escaped?”
“It doesn’t matter.”
“Finding him is a priority. It’s not clear whether he made it to his destination or if he escaped halfway. We have to mobilize the knights to search every corner of that road as quickly as possible.”
Although his words were urgent, his expression was even more so. He put on his armor and rushed out of the room, then came back quickly to grab his sword.
“Your orders are to find him as quickly as possible…”
Aiden headed towards the door with his sword in hand. He seemed to have no time to even button up his armor. Instead of answering the mercenary’s question, he gave a quick command.
“There is an exchange station on the road from Ashard Castle to Lacro. You guys search every corner of the road from that exchange station to Lacro. If possible, search all the way to the border.”
Then he left without looking back.
His usual attitude was to give orders with an arrogant face without showing any emotion, but this time it was different.
‘Wait… come to think of it, a few days ago…’
He had been similar when he heard that a rookie who was supposed to be in the dormitory had disappeared. He had been sitting calmly watching the match, but suddenly turned pale and searched the entire castle without saying a word.
What kind of rookie was he?
The mercenary, who didn’t know the details, shook his head and quickly left the room.
The news had also reached Marinda, but it was well past early evening.
“What? Who’s missing?”
This damn woman!
Marinda was scared to hear the news. Then she got up from her seat and started to pace around the sofa anxiously.
“I can’t believe she was planning to escape in the middle of the journey. I underestimated her.”
I was too complacent. It was my clear mistake to let my guard down. I had always been ignorant and shallow.
Meanwhile, Ophelia was on her knees in front of Marinda, crying and blaming herself.
“It’s okay, Ophelia. You don’t have to cry. You didn’t let her escape like a criminal.”
“But it’s all my fault for falling asleep…”
“If she was planning on escaping from the beginning, she would have found a way to do it even if you didn’t fall asleep. So get up.”
Then she smiled as if she had been acting anxious all along and helped Ophelia up.
“Don’t worry, we have plenty of opportunities with the garage overflowing.”
Ophelia didn’t know what that meant, but she was happy to be comforted and wiped away her tears.
Since a few days ago, Marinda had become completely different and frighteningly cold. She acted normally in front of her father, Duke Owen, but she was ruthless towards other servants.
But for some reason, she treated Ophelia with great care.
Although her sudden change of attitude was strange, Ophelia believed that Marinda had finally recognized her as ‘my person’ completely.
When she was a young girl and became an orphan, Marinda saved her from being taken away and sold to a local baron. Since that day, Ophelia had decided to devote her life to serving Marinda.
But now Marinda, who had always been gentle and affectionate on the surface, was a person who was completely dry and unyielding on the inside. No matter how long she showed her sincerity, there was no way to touch her heart.
But now she was comforting Ophelia with her own hands and wiping away her tears with a handkerchief.
Marinda, who had changed so much in just a few days, murmured as she headed towards her desk.
“Okay, the key is who finds Asralda first.”
She sat down in her office chair and took out a pen from the pen holder.
“Ophelia, send a letter to the watchdog. Prepare the parchment.”
Marinda quickly wrote down the letter to be delivered. And at the end of the letter, she added this note.
— Don’t capture her alive. Kill her.