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The social world was once more in an uproar after hearing the shocking news that monsters had attacked the Duke and Duchess of Cardian.
Following the occurrence of such a situation, it was reported that Celia Cardian, whom everyone assumed would continue to reside in the Duchy of Cardian for some time, would instead be going back to the capital.
The Duke of Cardian used never to travel outside of the Duchy of Cardian during the winter months.
Even though it was early winter, the Duke of Cardian had the right to refuse up to three times, even though he was a member of the imperial family. This allowed him to avoid travelling to the capital city.
“What is the Duchess’s condition? I heard she was captured by a monster……”
“Wouldn’t that beautiful face have hurt?”
“She was traumatised, but they say she’s fine now!”
While both of their faces were hidden behind her feathered fan, the ladies exchanged glances with one another. They pondered over whether or not they would be able to stay alive in the situation where the monsters captured everyone.
“I heard that even though he was hurt, Duke Cardian came to save her……”
“They say he loves his wife a lot. He’s said to be just as obsessed as the previous Duke?”
When Celia Cardian evaded being attacked by monsters on her own, rumours began to spread that she may have used the opportunity to flee with a man and used that as an excuse.
The captain of the Imperial Knights, who was searching the area at the time, claimed to have seen the bloodstains and torn dress, which led them to wonder if it had been arranged on purpose to look that way. For the Duke of Cardian would give up on trying to win her over.
The ladies spread the rumour that the Duke of Cardian had found her and kidnapped her despite the wounds he had suffered. The absence of scars on Celia Cardian’s body served as proof.
It was clear that there was someone else who comforted Celia, who was hurt and trembling by the monster’s treatment. Because of this, she treated him in a very cold manner.
Unlike Fabian, he promised to flee with Celia.
‘Stupid Celia! If I kill the duke after they have a child, we can have everything..…!’
He couldn’t believe that Celia had put her position in danger by being so careless. People say that the Duke of Cardian himself came forward to capture Celia, so her lover must have died.
Fabian shook with fear when he thought about Celia being strangled just because she went out on the balcony alone.
‘How would Celia be treated……’
Even though she had betrayed him, Fabian was worried about it, and even though she felt that she had suffered hardship because of the Duke of Cardian, he still felt sorry for her.
‘I will never forgive you for betraying me, but…… Celia is the only one who has the authority to devote the entire Cardian duchy to me.’
Furthermore, she should have realised from this incident that she would not be freed until she caused harm to Duke Cardian and that she should have prepared herself for this possibility. If the Duke of Cardian abused Celia, he has plenty of room to burrow back into her heart.
Fabian recalled that the previous time, he had been rejected in a cold manner, and Celia did not want to see his face again but thought he had to put up a fight.
‘Even the Duke of Cardian!’
If he allows Celia to conceive a son, he will be able to use the child as an excuse to rule the Duchy of Cardian, in contrast to the current situation, in which he can never rise to a position higher than that of a marquis.
‘If that’s the case, there won’t be any reason to try to win favour with the viscount’s young lady anymore!”
Even though she was the one who embarrassed herself at the ball, his fiancee, Bianca, only blamed Fabian for their embarrassing situation. She even spoke to Fabian in a condescending manner, telling him that she was extremely embarrassed because he had left Bianca without waiting for her.
‘Who was rude and ill-mannered!”
The impoliteness and idiocy of Bianca became increasingly intolerable for Fabian to bear. If he had been with Celia at the time, such a thing never would have taken place.
The gap between Celia and Bianca’s level of sophistication and allure was on par with the gap between their respective social standings. In comparison to Celia, who is a swan, Bianca is a crow, which is a bird that is inferior to a duck.
‘How dare you not know your position……!’
When Fabian thought back to the time when he and Celia were engaged to be married, he became even more enraged. If it weren’t for Duke Cardian, everything might have turned out differently for them, but he seemed to be the one who messed everything up.
Even more so because his new fiancée seemed inferior.
Fabian swallowed his disappointment in Duke Cardian and his fiancée and waited for Celia to arrive back in the capital.
✦ ✦ ✦
The Knights who had their flags raised, could be seen approaching the Duchy of Cardian in a majestic manner from its borders. They were the Knights of the Red Lion, and among all of the Knights that served the Duke of Cardian, they were known for their ruthlessness and strength.
They used to go out to hunt monsters or fend off invasions from other kingdoms, but now they are moving to escort the Duke and Duchess of Cardian.
As they made their way to the capital, the aristocrats and lords of the surrounding areas began to cower in fear at the sight of their majestic and terrifying appearance.
The Duke of Cardian had another objective in mind when he enlisted the assistance of the Knights of the Red Lion as an escort.
The purpose was to exert pressure on the emperor.
The Duchess of Cardian was said to have escaped by taking advantage of the monster’s attack, but Phil, the second prince, had planned for the monster to attack the Duke of Cardian before that.
Even though the tower of magic and several kingdoms had already accused him, the emperor chose to punish him by demoting him from the position of prince.
He should have been expelled from the Empire if he truly wanted to abandon Phil.
The nobles were also muttering amongst themselves that the emperor, who had a soft spot for Phil, would ultimately restore him to his position. As a consequence of this, the Duke of Cardian started using his capabilities in more practical situations.
“But the opponent is ruined…… Are you going to buckle under all of this pressure?”
“However, isn’t it Duke of Cardian who is referred to as the murderer?”
There was no backlash against Duke Cardian for using excessive force. The Duke of Cardian was not the only one implicated in this case.
Hundreds of people were reported missing from the five imperial palaces, and while the imperial family remained silent, there was speculation that the number of people missing from the empire would double. The majority of the victims were from families or cities that were guarding the borders, which infuriated the lords of the territories that controlled those areas.
Many lords were of the opinion that the Duke of Cardian’s actions were appropriate because his family was the most prominent one that watched over the borders of the empire.
Even the aristocrats in the capital city, who reviled Duke Cardian as a murderer, were unable to deny this.
After the attack on the duke and the disappearance of the duchess, the other dukes in the capital decided they could no longer choose to ignore the situation.
Even the nobles of the House of Nobility were powerless to resist the demands of their superiors because the actions of Duke Cardian had the tacit support of the other five dukes.
“You stupid bastard!”
Emperor Orkan’s rage was uncontrollable. He’d heard about Phil’s tampering with the Duke of Cardian, and he knew it wouldn’t end well, but he hadn’t expected to express his displeasure in this way.
If news spread that the Knights of the Red Lion, who guard the forefront of the Duchy of Cardian, had emptied the border, the barbarians in the north might be on the rise.
Even though there was a low likelihood of an attack by barbarians, it was still a heinous crime to clear the border as a winter storm was bearing down on the northern part of the duchy.
However, the opponent was the Duke of Cardian.
Even if the real Leonis cut off Phil’s arm, Orkan knew he would not be able to kill him. He was terrified of the curse.
If he had confronted him immediately, Leonis would have tried to question why Phil was still in the imperial palace.
Orkhan rubbed his temples together as he contemplated Phil, who was beholden to Michael’s palace. He was a jerk whose actions and mind were devoid of any redeeming qualities.
‘To calm down the Duke of Cardian…… I think it would be best to use that girl.’
According to an imperial spy, the duke still takes great care of Celia. Orkhan suspected that the rumors were false, but if they were, he had no choice but to utilise Celia in order to relieve the pressure that Leonis was putting on him.
When it came to moving Marquis Montague and making use of his wife, there had to be limitations.
This time, the Second Empress was only able to skillfully coax the Marquis into moving. Orkhan was annoyed, and he thought of killing the Duke of Cardian as well.
If Lady Montague was carrying Leonis’ child, he was the one who was willing to put an end to him. Rather, it was an opponent that had to be killed and eliminated even because his influence had increased.
“……Make sure that the Duke and Duchess of Cardian stay in the imperial palace during this banquet. They will definitely have to stay overnight.”
At the emperor’s order, his servants looked surprised, but they replied that they understood. The emperor had other thoughts.
‘If it’s only a little bit……’
There was no need to drive him completely insane. It was sufficient to use his ability of ‘Purification’ to cause a little bit of confusion in Leonis and then to administer an aphrodisiac to both him and his wife.
The task at hand would then be finished, and he would be in a position to eliminate Leonis without delay in the event that it became known that he had a child.
‘I should have done this a long time ago! Why didn’t I think of this……’
Meanwhile, he forgot to tell Leonis that they should go to sleep together, but the emperor didn’t think about it. He just decided that he could use his wife, Celia, to make the Duke and Duchess of Cardian stay for a day.