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With a low sigh, Calix lowered himself and approached Asella. She was startled and jerked back as if struck by lightning, to which he replied, “You don’t need to be so afraid. I’m just trying to take you to the barracks.”

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He heard a gasp for breath and looked at her face; her blue eyes that were afraid of him pierced right through him.

Calix, who had never had a single regret in his life, felt something close to that feeling at this moment for the first time.

Back at the wedding, he might’ve done things to threaten or intimidate her, just a little bit.

“You can’t even stand up, let alone walk. I’ll just take you there right away; just bear with it for a moment.”

It was also the first time he looked back on something that had already happened… a decision he had already made.

A thing that he never thought necessary.

He regretted that he had added fear to his wife, who was already afraid of him anyway.

“Then… please do.”

A few moments later, the affirmative answer flowed in a calm, quiet voice that sounded like a sigh.

Calix felt a faint sense of relief the moment he held the petite woman in his arms.

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But the feeling, which surfaced, was way too faint to be noticed, even by him.

* * *

At the Grand Duke’s barrack, Ryzen, as usual, was making tea.

It was a black tea with a rich texture that ordinary people would feel unpleasant just by looking at it.

And as usual, Calix gulped it in a sip.

“There is no way that so many demonic beasts could have appeared out of the blue. There must have been some intervention by someone.”

“I’m sure there was.”

“But who would do something like this…”

“I wonder who it could be.”

Calix leaned back, resting his weight on the back of the chair. His face appeared casual and expressionless, but his slightly twisted mouth reflected a sharp cold smile.

“You mean the Emperor, sir? But it’s so obvious? Why do such a thing then?”

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Ryzen shook his head as if he couldn’t understand.

There were mixed interests between the lord and the Emperor. Especially since the Emperor needed Benvito’s strength, he would not dare to soil the relationship between them.

“He seems impatient. Poor man.”

The expression on Calix’s face showed no sign of pity for anyone.

“What are you going to do about it?”

It was time for Ryzen to carefully assess his master’s feelings and inquire about his intentions.

“My Lord! It’s Zeke!”

A powerful voice was heard outside the tent. Simultaneously, Ryzen’s face crumpled.

The voice’s owner was his sworn enemy. To be precise, though, it was more like a one-sided relationship, with Ryzen unilaterally nagging at the other.

Nevertheless, the loud voice calling Calix did not stop.

“My Lord! I am here, My lord!”

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“…”

“Is he not here? Did he go to see Her Highness?”

“Come in.”

Ryzen rubbed his forehead in silence.

He was a noisy guy anyway, with a lot of unnecessary chatter.

Soon a fiery young man with flaming red hair entered the tent. He had probably just turned 20 years old. He had a young face, a sturdy build, and a messy appearance that made him look like a criminal at first glance.

Ryzen almost started nagging, forgetting that he was in front of the Calix.

“It has been a long time, my lord! I hear a swarm of beasts has appeared. Are you hurt?”

“As you can see.”

“Pathetic! The knights outside are a bunch of weaklings; if My Lord swung his sword… ugh!”

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Ryzen mercilessly elbowed Zeke in his ribs. It was a clear sign not to make a slip of the tongue.

Zeke winked as a sign that he understood and quickly changed the subject.

“By the way, how’s Her Highness? I heard the carriage was destroyed. Is everything all right? No, what in the world was she guilty of that they sent a swarm of beasts to hunt her down?”

Ryzen, who was listening next to him, closed his eyes.

Ryzen didn’t think Zeke would change the topic to that of all things! Honestly, he really wanted to zip that damned mouth shut and hang him on the wall.

‘If he keeps that up, I’ll strike him again.’

He could feel his master’s mood sinking rapidly. Even though it was midday, the temperature in the vicinity had dropped considerably.

But even with Calix’s expression growing as cold as a glacier, Zeke’s thoughtless words continued.

“Isn’t that why I mentioned it to you before, My Lord?! We should just behead the Emperor!”

“Zeke!”

Ryzen stopped Zeke’s words without delay, but it was too late; the water had already been spilled.

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