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Chapter 35

Tak, tak. Verdic organized the documents in his hands and calculated.

‘The budget went over a lot more than I thought.’

He didn’t know he had such a passionate side to him. He got so worked up that he spent more than what’s supposed to be the budget. As things turned out like this, the only one who’d benefit would be Fief Lord Hare.

Tch. Verdic clucked his tongue and looked over the funds that he’d be able to pull out right away.

“This is a bit too much.”

The fief lord himself bemoaned the fact, his wrinkles deepening.

“Our domain’s residents don’t need to do this much. We won’t be able to recover the principal capital that you’ll be spending.”

Even that slow-witted fief lord noticed that he got carried away. Verdic inwardly felt foolish for his own actions. Still, there was an alternative.

Although he hadn’t told Isella yet, this was a good opportunity to attract the countess’ attention. She’d be out on vacation at a place about a day away by carriage from the fief. And if a noblewoman of her level would come, then it was no different from an endorsement of Isella and Raymond’s engagement.

“What should we do about this?”

“Well… Isn’t it too early to tell?”

“What would be too early to tell when I have your permission, Your Lordship. It would be endlessly delightful. With a timely occasion such as this, wouldn’t it be great to do it together with you?”

Although it’s clear who’s acting as the guest and the host here in this situation, Verdic tried to at least ask with courtesy. Fortunately, the fief lord shook his head.

“No, it’s still too early to tell. But I wish your daughter all the best.”

“Thank you.”

As the fief lord stroked his chin, he looked over the proposal document. He didn’t have much to do with it. Ah, no, he had a symbolic role in it. The problem here was keeping up with his mood.

Even so, the fief lord already knew that he wasn’t in any position to oppose. Verdic also knew this.

Verdic placed a hand on the fief lord’s shoulder. It was quite an impertinent action considering the difference in their social status, but the fief lord did not point this out. No, he wouldn’t be able to reprimand the other man.

At this point, Verdic already held greater authority compared to the fief lord. Both men were aware of this. So, Verdic found this situation to be interesting.

“It will be alright.”

On the festival’s final day, with the fief lord’s blessing, the residents of this territory would come to know who the real ruler was.

Verdic recalled his daughter’s crying face. Then, he also recalled her smiling face.

Raymond would have to be engaged with Isella.

* * *

Isella crouched behind a tree where people wouldn’t see her, sniffling to herself. Her nose was stinging, perhaps because she had steered the horse too fast while she was riding it. Taking in a deep breath, she tried to calm herself.

“Hiic…”

It still felt like she was about to cry, but she had to keep herself together.

However, apart from feeling like this, she was also so very angry that Raymond didn’t go on horseback side by side with Isella, instead riding a carriage with Carynne.

“That bitch.”

Isella bit her lower lip. That bitch who flirted with another woman’s man. Raymond was Isella’s fiancé. Even though they still had yet to hold an official engagement ceremony, Raymond was set to be engaged to Isella, just as they had promised each other.

Just how much of his family’s debt did Isella’s father write off for Raymond? Even if their union was decided for them by the adults while they were still children, she knew that even if he didn’t express himself, he had already gotten used to her so far. He treated Isella with respect and sent gifts during her birthdays and whenever there was a special day.

He was a popular man with other people regardless of gender or age, but he left behind no scandals. This fact alone was a great comfort to Isella.

I’m the only one who’s meant to marry him.

It was alright for Isella if he wouldn’t hold her hand when there was no one else around, and if he was home from work, he wouldn’t need to seek her out especially. She reiterated that she would have no problems with anything he did for as long as he would marry her and that the only woman who would stay by his side was herself.

But why was Raymond acting so openly close with that woman, and in front of Isella?

“…It can’t be.”

Isella was in agony. Carynne Hare was evidently beautiful, even to Isella, a fellow woman. After she heard that Raymond saved Carynne while she had faced some danger, Isella couldn’t help but keep looking between them with anxious eyes.

Raymond would always smile so broadly in front of Carynne, and he did it so often, too. And strangely, he spent more time with Carynne rather than Isella.

Today, Isella put on her equestrian outfit and went on horseback just so she could ride together with Raymond instead of a carriage. But after arriving at this mansion, it bothered her so much that Raymond was spending more time with Carynne than Isella. And more than that, Raymond went by carriage with Carynne rather than going on horseback beside Isella.

Carynne seduced him, she was sure of it.

What did they talk about in the carriage? What did they do?

Isella was so worried. Various scenarios that she didn’t want to imagine kept lingering in her head.

“It will all be over within today.”

“Don’t be so sure about that. It usually takes a week to catch ‘em. You’re bluffing now, but aren’t you just being shy?”

Isella heard their voices from afar.

She wanted to jump in between them right away, but she instead hid behind the tree again because she knew just how swollen her eyes were. Then, she took a deep breath.

‘Just go embrace that stuttering fiancé of yours!’

Isella wanted to yell this at her. Wasn’t he the best guy for someone like Carynne? Why didn’t that man come with Carynne today.

Isella burst out in indignation at each and everything that’s happening.

* * *

“These traps aren’t enough, are they?”

“Please don’t come closer. It’s dangerous.”

Carynne eyed the traps as he talked to Xenon, not Raymond. Isella just continued eavesdropping behind the same tree because it was still difficult for her to come out right away.

“This trap looks too small… Will this really be enough, I wonder.”

“This is enough. As long as the ankle gets caught, we can just shoot it down after that. If the game’s too big, then the other ones would notice and won’t allow themselves to get caught.”

“Don’t forget that they will be for the ritual. You have to catch them without injuring them as much as possible.”

“Hell… I forgot about that. I’ll do my best.”

Carynne seemed to be fully engrossed in the traps. Isella wasn’t so interested in hunting, so it was strange for her to watch Carynne check each trap or gun out there.

Hunting wasn’t something women did. Isella herself was a relatively active woman, and she also enjoyed horseback riding and fox hunting, but she didn’t fully participate in a full-scale hunt.

The men would go out and catch some game, and if they would present women with the fur from their game, it would be considered as a high compliment. Or, it was also enough to have the maids prepare a meal out of the meat. However, it seemed like Carynne was interested in the hunt itself.

‘Once the territory has been turned over, should I also pay attention to that?’

Isella glanced at Carynne, who continued to ask about this and that. Right now, Carynne was acting her role as the fief lord’s daughter, but sooner or later, that responsibility would be Isella’s. It seemed like, once they had bought off the territory from the fief lord, Verdic was content just giving Isella the seat of a madam for show. But Isella thought differently.

They needed to be gradually kicked out.

The more she saw Carynne, the firmer this decision became in her mind. Carynne Hare shouldn’t be allowed to remain in this place. If a woman like that would continue to stay by Isella’s side, then the possibility of losing Raymond was high.

Even if Raymond was a man of sincerity, what kind of man wouldn’t fall for Carynne if she’d set her mind to actively seducing him?

Isella was frightened of Carynne, and that woman even kept appearing in her dreams. Was it because she’d been overcome with jealousy?

Slowly but surely, Carynne invaded her thoughts.

How unpleasant.

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