I Reincarnated As An Evil Duchess - Chapter 15
When Min-ha, who was concentrating on cleaning, came down to the first floor to eat lunch, Noah was the only one sitting there. She glanced at the children’s book in his hand as he was rubbing his sleepy eyes.
She then asked Noah, who smiled when their eyes met.
“Oh, Noah? Were you here alone?”
She then tilted her head at the child’s answer and peered around for nothing. Seeing Min-ha like that, Noah tilted his head cutely and said as if he had something on his mind.
“My brother said he was going to work.”
“…Oh, really? I see!”
Hearing the answer, she nodded, then stroked the child’s head.
‘He’d still come to work even if he’s dying soon.’
Indeed, he seemed to have been monitoring her. Min-ha slightly wrinkled her brow when she recalled Seth’s face, which was sarcastically staring at her until a while ago.
“…Sister-in-law. I’m hungry.”
“Huh…? Oh, right. Let’s go eat lunch! If you don’t mind, why don’t we eat together?”
As Noah spoke while clutching the hem of her robe tightly, she replied with a bright smile. Then, she moved down from the chair and followed the boy, who took her hand and led her towards the door.
Still, she looked around for no reason. He thought that Seth Persen, that man, would pop out of nowhere again.
‘Hopefully, he’s not going to come here and nag me about having lunch with Noah.
‘If that’s the case, he should have promised to tell me when he would go to work…’
2 — Duke Seth Persen and Kim Min-ha
The East Annex of the Central castle of the Persen Estate.
Seth Persen, who was buried in a mountain of papers in the office decorated in dark blue and silver, which symbolizes the Persen Family, put down his pen as he signed the last document before him.
His fatigue subsided a little as he wiped his slightly red eyes with both hands. As the sunlight streaming through the dark blue curtain caught his eye, he made a slight impression.
It probably had been a few days. On that day, he decided to avoid Minase at the library for the time being, and he never left the East Annex, using the backlog of work as an excuse.
If he had a moment to spare, he would go outside, and he would head straight back when he came back. Although his body quickly became exhausted, his mind was surprisingly relaxed, making him feel rather relieved.
Certainly, the confused minds of that day must have been his misunderstanding. Her pure smile, which she had never shown to him before, must have shaken his mind for a moment.
Even so, Minase’s appearance is so beautiful that it is captivating, so it was only for a moment that his mind was disturbed by that appearance. Seth was so convinced that he sorted out the pile of books and papers as he dwelled on the thought.
“May I enter, Your Excellency?”
At that moment, Lancelot’s voice was heard with a knock on the door of the office.
Raising his head at the voice, Seth answered out the door.
When permission was granted, Lancelot opened the door, entered, and bowed down to Seth. He motioned a small beckoning to him, and Lancelot, who raised his head, came forward and presented a letter.
He glanced down at the red wax-sealed letter to confirm the sender. It had arrived from the intelligence guild, which had been dispatched to the border area, Bayen.
He ripped open the letter with the paper-knife that was on the desk in the office and said,
“I guess you finally received the reply.”
Seth, who was reading the letter quickly with his eyes, suddenly let out a cold laugh. Then, he handed the letter he was holding to Lancelot and opened his mouth again.
“As expected, Count Joaquin was secretly plotting treason.”
“Is that so?”
“Report this to the Emperor.”
“I’ll send it by the end of the day, but… are you all right, Your Excellency?”
At his word, he smiled bitterly as Lancelot spoke with a complicated gaze as he had a clouded expression on his face. But, that smile was short-lived. He soon returned to normal and spoke with cold eyes.
“In the end, Kain Joaquin, we have to take him down.”
“…We did the report on our side, so shall we report to His Majesty and leave the punishment to other knights?”
“Nonsense. Are you going to hand over the entire prey that has been cut off its breathing to someone else?”
“Of course not, but Count Joaquin is an old friend of yours, isn’t he? Someone like that…”
As Lancelot asked cautiously, Seth raised an eyebrow in displeasure and cut him off. Then, he continued, staring at him with sharp eyes.
“In war and politics, you must not forget that anyone can become an enemy the moment when they turn their back on you.”
“I understand. However, since Count Joaquin was very special to the Duke from a very young age…”
“But, from the moment he turned his back, this ending was also predestined.”
“I know what you are worried about. Kain… I was with him chasing the smell of blood on the battlefield. I know your loyalty to understand my heart to cut him down.”
Recalling the days of a mercenary who lived more fiercely than anyone else, Seth’s eyes, which had loosened slightly, shone sharply again. Turning his head from his seat, he stroked the portrait of Noah and his mother who was holding him, in the center of his desk.
“I must protect Noah, the people in my estate, and my knights. To do so, there is a path that needs to be abandoned, and there is no one that cannot be taken down. I will never again hesitate to cut someone down because I am foolishly led by affection.”
“That’s all. So, please stop giving that kind of advice. This subjugation will be done by our knights. Do you understand?”
Lancelot smiled bitterly at Seth’s cold gaze at the end of those words.
The Master, who is ten years younger than him, has an ice-cold face like this again. He hid the deepest compassion, affection, and guilt beneath that face.
People call him the Imperial Sword—the Emperor’s Lightsword made of ice and glass, but only Lancelot knew. When his Master takes someone’s life, he suffers for a long time from the weight of the life he had taken away for a long time.
Because of this, he dared to speak out even though he knew it may seem disloyal, though his Mister did not seem to have any intention of withdrawing from the war before his eyes.
Lancelot replied bitterly with a smile as if he had no choice but to answer that to Seth, who had a firm expression on his face.
“Have you thought about when would be a good time to leave?”
“It seems that we will have to go out in the next week at the earliest, or within a fortnight at the latest. We shouldn’t give the enemy time to gather troops.”
“All right. We will leave as soon as we’re ready. I’ll tell Sir Percival as well.”
There was no hesitation in Lancelot’s reply. Seth, who had a stiff face from earlier, finally sat down in a comfortable position.
Seeing that his Master’s heart had been relaxed, Lancelot smiled softly and spoke in a light tone.
“By the way, Noah would cry and cling to you, asking you to take him, too, if he finds out that Your Excellency is leaving.”
“Because Noah didn’t know much about the horrors of war. Besides, without me here, she’d be less nervous to be separated from me.”
“If you’re concerned about the former Duchess, I think you can ease your worries a little.”
Then came the topic of discussion about the ex-Duchess, Minase Persen. At that, Seth’s face, which had been released softly, hardened slightly again.
He turned to Lancelot and opened his mouth.
“…That’s a hasty conclusion for a prudent person. Don’t tell me, did she buy you as well?”
“There is no way. I’m only speaking in light of the recent acts of the Duchess.”
Seth’s expression changed as though he was a little interested. Looking at his face, Lancelot recalled the report Gawain had posted to Noah instead of him, and continued.
“It seems that she comes out at a set time every day and starts cleaning the house first, even if no one asks her to.”
“…Is that so?”
“Mrs. Pompa was also astonished at the sight of that, too. She thought that the Duchess would quit in a day or two… Though she didn’t. Furthermore…”
“She’s visiting Bediviel, who was in charge of finances, to pick up her full wage steadily every day.”
“ A daily wage?”
“Yes. When Bediviel said, ‘I will collect it at once when you need it next time,’ she replied, ‘I would like to collect the reward for the hard work I did with my own hands.’ It must have looked like the evil debtor in the old book… Pfft. Bediviel complained a fair bit.”
“Surprisingly. I thought she’d yell and insult me for giving such a small amount of money in exchange for selling her pride.
“You shouldn’t be so surprised, Your Grace. Do you know what the ex-Duchess does with that money?”
Lancelot spoke more intriguingly at the sight of his Master, who pretended not to care but actually listened carefully. And now, he even asked questions as if to arouse his interest.
Seeing this, Seth felt uncomfortable, as if he was somehow being dragged along as he wanted. Still, in the end, he stared at Lancelot as though he was curious, like he thought.
“She wanted to buy a small, two-room house.”
“Such a simple dream that doesn’t suit her.”
“Compared to the daily wage that your Excellency gives her now. So, Mrs. Wanda said that, and now, she says she will save half of it and buy snacks and gifts for Young Master Noah and the young attendants with the rest of the money.”
“So, these days, the servants are surprised that the ex-Duchess seems to have become a different person overnight. In addition, servants with children are being kind to her as well since she was nice to their children.”
“Isn’t it all acting? She knows to some extent that I’m keeping an eye on her.”
“No way. I don’t think so.”
“Why are you so sure?”
When Seth, who was denied at once, asked in a curt voice, Lancelot, without a word, pulled out a small cloth-wrapped object from the pocket of his armor and handed it to Seth.
Looking at Lancelot’s suspicious behavior urging him to untie the cloth and open it quickly.
What came out of the cloth was colorful, marble-like candy. Seth picked it up and looked around, before putting it back down and asked.
“What evidence is this?”
“It’s one of the candies that the Duchess is secretly making, saying she’s going to give it to Noah next week as a gift.”
“It’s a secret, and she’s keeping your mouth shut even from Ella, who taught her how to make the candy. This is one of the failures in the process. If she had known that Sir Gawain was monitoring her, would she have given him this?”
“…I can’t say I didn’t know this much.”
Nonetheless, despite Lancelot’s words, Seth could not remove his suspicious expression.
Lancelot thought he looked like a stubborn little boy, though he didn’t dare say it.
‘I wouldn’t have believed it myself if I hadn’t seen the actions of the former Duchess and the way she looked at Noah with my own eyes.’
Regardless, unlike himself, who was observing from a relative distance, the Duke had been betrayed by someone he had once trusted as his family. As his Master said, the possibility that it might be acting cannot be completely ruled out.
However, at least he said this because he wanted his Master to lessen his worries about his younger brother.
Lancelot thought so and chipped in.
“I am well aware of the former Duchess’s behavior, so it’s not unreasonable to doubt that. But, the former Duchess has changed. At least, not abusing Noah unfairly.”
“So, that’s my judgment that you can believe in, Your Grace.”
“Well, I’ll take my leave.”
Having said that, Lancelot gave his respects to Seth, and without hesitation, turned around and went out the door.
Left alone with the sound of the door closing, Seth stared at the door that Lancelot had shut without a word. Then, he took a deep breath and shifted his complicated gaze to the colorful candy on the desk.
‘This… She made this?’
The woman who insisted that cooking was made and dedicated for lowly things—that woman?
Once again, he grabbed the candy and gazed carefully. Certainly, the shape of the inside, filled with fruit, was not very beautiful because it wasn’t made by a professional pâtissier.
Seth, who looked at it silently, inadvertently brought the candy in his hand to his lips.
“…It’s unpleasantly sweet.”
He rolled a candy large enough to slightly inflate his cheek pockets, muttering in a blunt voice.
To be honest, he thought it would be, but it wasn’t poisonous. Nevertheless, the candy was sweet like poison. Seth was displeased with the sweetness that spread in his mouth, though he didn’t spit it out.
‘I just didn’t spit it out because there might be poison inside.’
Seth thought so, and didn’t spit until all the candy he had put in his mouth melted away