He turned his head as if he had completed his task without delay. Scheuer, who had been rolling her eyes and looking around, tilted her head playfully and asked,
“I didn’t hear that properly. You didn’t call me ‘Scheuer,’ did you?”
“Would such a nickname be well-received?”
His strength was in his quick response, but he remained silent, gazing straight ahead. More precisely, he was observing Leilda, who was half-lying in his chair and watching them with the curiosity of a bystander.
Leilda observed them with mischievous eyes as if he had seen all kinds of spectacles in his long life. Raygraine’s sharp voice cut through the subtle atmosphere.
“Yes, Your Grace.”
“This marriage isn’t for the union of our families. Don’t expect any involvement from the Netri family in our punitive operations; it’s best to abandon any unnecessary hope.”
It was a fairly sharp piece of advice. The boundary between the two originally unpleasant families was firmly drawn.
If it’s not for the union of the families, what could be the reason? Raygraine wouldn’t marry based on affection. Questions arose, but first, Ater Marquis quickly offered an apology.
“No, Sch-Scheuer, I apologize. I’ve never had any contact with central nobility before, and this is the first time I’ve met a lady from a prestigious family that I’ve only heard about…”
“It’s okay. There’s no way news from the South would have reached this far.”
Seeing that she was someone who had never been mentioned in the original work, it seemed that she couldn’t make her way to the center. It could be something that she couldn’t know. Thanks to that, she even got to hear Raygraine call her name. Scheuer wondered how she could hear that voice more than once.
While she was contemplating this, Leilda, who had been quietly observing the situation, suddenly chimed in,
“It seems like you weren’t kidnapped. What have you been doing all this time without holding a wedding ceremony?”
“Recently, there have been unusual movements among the monsters, and it seems to be because of that.”
Chetron Marquis responded to Leilda’s grumbling.
In response, Ater Marquis actively spoke, perhaps trying to make up for his previous mistake.
“In the current situation, wouldn’t it be difficult to get help from other territories?”
Leilda interrupted him before his words were even finished.
“Of course. There’s no way these other nobodies could accomplish what His Grace hasn’t.”
Chetron Marquis then cautiously corrected his statement.
“Many fear the overwhelming swordsmanship and power of the Blenga family. With the weakened as they are now, some might consider it a relief.”
Doubting these words, Scheuer asked,
“Is that so?”
“Oh, dear. This must be the first time Lady Scheuer is hearing this story.”
Seemingly thinking he had upset her, the Marquis looked uncomfortable and used a handkerchief to wipe his sweat. Shuer, on the other hand, smiled faintly and asked,
“Will you poke me about it later?”
“W-what do you mean?”
“Oh, you know. The list. The list of names.”
She playfully winked and whispered,
“We’ll keep it a secret the Marquis told me. I’ll just be quiet about it by myself.”
Scheuer raised her thumb to her throat. Her golden eyes revealed a spark of mischief. She may have seemed like a carefree noblewoman, but the rumors of her being a Netri family’s wild card weren’t just for show.
Chetron Marquis stroked his beard and cleared his throat. It seemed he found Scheuer’s intense gaze somewhat uncomfortable and quickly changed the subject.
“Your Majesty, due to your inability to use swordsmanship, you haven’t been able to go on punitive missions for over a year. Leaving the North as it is now for any longer… It’s a precarious situation…”
At this point, Ater Marquis hastily added,
“Yes, Your Majesty, Marquis Chetron is correct. Even in our Marquisate, the number of deaths caused by monsters is increasing every month. If it’s reached our territory to this extent, isn’t it only a matter of time before it spreads beyond the central region to the entire continent?”
Finally, Leilda let out a small sigh.
“Ah, those darn monsters. Since His Grace didn’t go on those punitive missions he used to declare every month, the numbers must have increased. Annoying.”
To this, Chetron Marquis replied.
“Isn’t it still difficult for you to go out? What if you hear about it from the Central Expedition Unit regarding the increase in monsters?”
Leilda quickly retorted,
“No. Those central folks are too proud and have bad luck. What good will it do even if we leave it to them? Will the monsters listen to them? They’ll just disturb my daytime sleep.”
But Scheuer had a similar view. Even in the southern Netri family, it was difficult to get information about the North. They hadn’t even heard that Raygraine had died. It wasn’t until the monsters invaded the central region that Erina and the Crown Prince were dispatched as a punitive squad, and this was due to a lack of knowledge about the Northern region. Scheuer subtly reinforced Leilda’s opinion.
“Central has been hands-off when it comes to the North for over a century. Even if an expedition is sent, they wouldn’t know the region better than His Grace.”
“Right. So that’s why the other families pretend they don’t know. Wait, why are you so casually joining in?” Leilda questioned, suddenly sitting up and widening his eyes.
Scheuer responded with a bright smile,
“The Netri family mainly operates in the central region. I just wanted to share some information.”
Central’s lack of knowledge about the North was one thing, but there was something even more important.
‘If interactions increase with the central region, Erina might come too.’
She thought it was a good plan, as she could not imagine Erina staying away, especially if she became the commander of the Knights.
Even in the original work, didn’t Raygraine feel emotions when he saw her? After experiencing Erina firsthand, her thinking changed. She was afraid she might shake him up, even if she didn’t want to.
More than anything, if they were to organize a punitive squad, there would be more time spent in the mansion than out in the field. Scheuer was certain of that.
Listening quietly to the conversation, Raygraine finally spoke with a dry expression.
“So, I plan to postpone the matters that have been deferred for a while.”
If it’s postponed matters… Scheuer, with enlarged eyes, asked in a bewildered tone
“Are you going back to the expedition?”
Scheuer asked, and everyone, except Leilda, was surprised and held their breath. Raygraine continued to face forward and replied,
“Don’t worry, I’ll send the bouquet all at once.”
As if Raygraine’s words were true, Charton hurriedly explained,
“The bouquet you requested is ready. It will be delivered to Lady Shuer today.”
She couldn’t decide whether to laugh or cry. The corners of her mouth trembled involuntarily. Looking at her uncertain expression, Leilda, who had been sitting forward, leaned back and said defiantly,
“It will be about time to submit the report when we finish a year’s worth in a few days.”
Scheuer couldn’t decide whether to laugh or cry. Her mouth trembled involuntarily. She looked at Leilda’s ambiguous expression and spoke sharply,
“It’s going to take months to finish a year’s worth of work, so please file the reports as soon as the expedition is completed.”
“The schedule is changing. It’s fine if the wedding is a little delayed,”
Raygraine replied, turning his head after only looking forward.
Leilda, who was looking at her tearful face, narrowed his eyes.
“The person sitting next to you doesn’t seem to think the same way.”
Only then did Raygraine, who had been looking straight ahead, turn his head. He narrowed his eyes as he looked at her tearful, wistful face, and he asked with a tightened brow,
“There’s no need to cancel it. You’re getting what you want, so what’s the problem?”
Scheuer raised her head with a pained look in her eyes. She was trying her best to interpret her expression, but it was an entirely new look to her. She tilted her head as if she couldn’t fully grasp her emotions. In response, Raygraine also lowered his head.
Delaying the wedding wasn’t a big issue, but the thought of spending less time with him bothered her. It wasn’t the delay in the wedding but the extended period without seeing him that unsettled her.
She couldn’t gauge how much of her emotions she had already given him. She tilted her head, unable to read his emotions. Raygraine, however, just wiped his face with a tired expression.
Leilda narrowed his eyes, looking at Scheuer’s distressed expression. He asked in a mocking tone,
“What’s going on? This is the first time I’ve seen the Duke so tired.”
Scheuer was raising her eyes silently at Raygraine, who was looking at her, and he was wiping his face as if he were tired. Leilda, however, was mocking him as he gave Scheuer a pointed look.