Herace made another excuse out of embarrassment, but she had hoped Ezekiel would realize the truth.
What came back was a cold rebuke.
“Can’t you act right?”
At his unexpected response, Herace looked at Ezekiel, her eyes wide open.
“The Duchess has a handkerchief like this… It’s so precious she keeps it in her sleeve.
Anyone who sees it would have misunderstood that you have a man.”
His words and tone were close to being slanderous.
Taken aback, Herace raised her voice in disappointment.
“This is ridiculous! This is what I made.
I made it just for myself…”
As Herace got upset, Ezekiel cut her off.
Stunned by his answer, she looked at him with a puzzled expression.
“I know it’s your work.”
“The others don’t know.”
She grew more despondent.
Herace was unable to respond to Ezekiel’s argument.
But her ordeal had just begun.
Ezekiel stared down at her with a cold face and twisted his mouth.
A horrifying clear malice was directed towards Herace.
“I don’t want there to be rumors that my wife has feelings for another man.
I would be at a loss.
I was the one who brought you here, what would I look like if you went around like that?”
“The world is going to call me an idiot.
The opportunity given by the Emperor was wasted because of such a frivolous woman.”
His harsh laugh was the same as it had been a few weeks ago.
At the end of Ezekiel’s words, which was painful to hear, Herace shed tears.
What was wrong with him?
‘Why is he doing this to me?’
Ezekiel softly comforted the crying Herace.
He wiped her tears away, sweeping the corners of her eyes with his thumb.
His touch felt more chilling than it was a few months ago.
“Even if you show tears like this every time, nothing will be resolved.”
His actions and other nasty words still remain.
Ezekiel wiped Herace’s face and took the handkerchief from her hand.
Herace made a belated slight protest, but she couldn’t reach him because he was much taller than her.
He took a step back after taking it from Herace.
The handkerchief, which fluttered in the wind passing by, couldn’t have seemed more desolate.
“W-Why are you taking that?”
Herace’s trembling hands and red eyes represented her sorrow.
As if pleased, Ezekiel ran his fingers over the area near the Globe Amaranth embroidery a couple of times and strode to the nearby fireplace.
Her eyes alternated between the handkerchief in Ezekiel’s hand and a blazing fire.
“Isn’t it obvious? Something that could be misunderstood…”
The handkerchief fluttered down and made contact with the fire.
Herace watched the scene, without even blinking her eyes that were not dried yet.
“… We need to burn it right away.”
A red fire started from where she had embroidered it herself, and soon after a few seconds, gray ash bloomed.
Some of the ash blown by the wind crumbled and went into Herace’s eyes.
Her cloudy blue eyes overflowed with sorrow again.
‘It’s worth checking.’
Anna walked carefully with her hands clasped tightly.
Pacing the training ground, she was looking for someone to tell her the truth.
‘My master told me to watch my mouth…’
“John, I’m not asking you anything big.’”
Herace had been seven months pregnant.
With her heavy belly, she couldn’t even move properly.
But her gaze was focused on someone other than the struggling Duchess.
“You said she was eight months pregnant when she got here, didn’t you?”
“It’s been over a year now…”
The master has firmly warned you.”
“All right, all right, you can go now, John.”
Oddly enough, Ezekiel’s mistress Charlotte still hasn’t had her baby.
In terms of the number of months, it had already been over a year.
Everyone kept their mouths shut because they were afraid of Ezekiel, but rumors spread that it was too late to give birth.
‘Yes, I’ve been thinking it’s weird.
When she got pregnant, the Lord and the Lady were on good terms.’
A year ago, no, until the Duke left for the last subjugation, the Duke and the Duchess were living happily.
It was even embarrassing to admit how good the relationship was between the two of them.
But all of a sudden, a full-term pregnant mistress appeared.
If Ezekiel had ever attracted a woman at least once, there would have been a backstory, but none of those who followed him had ever said such a thing.
Rather, they heard over and over again about a woman who was found in the barracks.
How proud Anna was to hear that the woman was beaten outside on a cold day and that the knights who guarded the barracks were punished greatly.
Anna couldn’t be more proud of the fact that her Lady was the only one for the Lord.
Anna, recalling Herace lying with a pale complexion, vowed to find out what was bothering her.
Others used to say that the Duke was fed up with his wife, but Anna, who was closest to her, noticed something strange about Ezekiel.
“I don’t know if there’s any misunderstanding between you two…”
She saw Paul who was not too far away.
Not long ago, he became an official knight and confessed to Anna several times that he liked her.
Anna waved her hands with twinkling eyes.
As soon as Paul saw Anna, his face hardened and he looked away.
There were signs of avoidance.
He must have something to hide.
When she saw it, Anna’s eyes were even brighter and she quickly approached him.
“Long time no see.”
“What? You hate me now? You don’t even want to see my face?”
“What? Absolutely not! Anna, how can I hate you? I’m just… ”
Paul’s mouth shut.
But he wasn’t one to give up easily.
She dragged Paul with her arms folded and dragged him into a corner.
Paul, who was led by Anna’s hand to the back of the barn near the training ground, looked around.
“What are you so scared of? Who’s coming for you?”
“I guess you really don’t like me anymore.
I heard guys change their minds easily.
All right, I’ll go.”
“No! No, Anna…”
As Anna turned around with a coy face, Paul stuttered and grabbed her arm.
“It’s not like that, Anna.
So, don’t look like that.
You know it too.
How much I like you.”
Paul scratched the back of his head and blushed, but Anna’s face showed no sign of being appeased.
With a cold expression on her face with her head turned all the way, she looked like frost in the middle of winter.
In the end, the stunned Paul raised his hand.
“Anna… Don’t do this.
What should I do? Whatever you ask, I’ll….”
Anna raised her eyebrows as if to say she was right.
She took a step closer to Paul, lifted her head and stood close to him.
Paul nodded slowly, with a scruffy face, at the close distance.
“Anything? Then, answer my questions.”
“If I… If I know…”
“Tell me about the last time you went to war with the Lord.
What happened then?”
At Anna’s question, Paul’s face stiffened.
He looked elsewhere, away from Anna’s eyes.
He stuttered, his words failing to come out smoothly.
“Oh… N-nothing happened?”
“R-really! Nothing… nothing happened.”
As her previous methods did not seem to work, Anna changed her strategy.
She asked in her most earnest voice as she held Paul’s hands tightly.
“Paul, let me ask you this.
You know that.
How hard it is for the Duchess these days.
She used to be a person with a weak body, but when that woman comes in near her … I’m upset.”
“There seems to be a misunderstanding between the Lord and his wife….
“…I think something must have happened during the last war… From then on, you and the rest of the knights have been silent, what do you know? Please let me know even if it’s a small thing.
Paul’s eyes shook in hesitation.
He seemed to be thinking, glancing sideways at Anna’s face and then, he bowed his head.
“T-The Lord, that woman’s belly… her belly…”
“Shh! Shut up, Paul.”
“… You didn’t hear anything.
This never happened.
“It’s for you.
If you don’t watch your mouth… I can’t guarantee your life.”
Edgar had told him to shut his mouth no matter what, but Paul was so concerned about it.
Night after night.
The nightmares he suffered and the atmosphere between the knights were unbearable.
He wanted to tell someone about it.
He wanted to confirm what he saw.
Anna’s face that came before him was like a temptation.
Paul’s lips slowly opened.
“Paul, what are you doing there?”
But as he was about to open his mouth, Edgar’s voice was heard behind them.
Surprised, Paul quickly came to his senses.
“I can’t believe you’re away from training.
Do you want to be punished?”
“Then, go back quickly.”
Paul disappeared afterwards.
Anna bit her lip and made an angry face.
What she wanted to know was right in front of her! In her anger, she called for Edgar.
Edgar appeared as if he knew that Anna would call him.
He walked forward, facing Anna.
With his height, he was a person who exuded pressure just by standing in front of him.
But Anna looked straight into his gray eyes, not frightened at all.
“What’s going on?”
You’re always with your master, so no matter what…”
Edgar cut off Anna’s words by saying her last name.
Anna’s face changed when he mentioned Sherbot.
Sherbot was one of the noble families that disappeared with the fall of Devone.
Her venomous brown eyes shot Edgar a sharp look.
“Did you forget that the Duke told you to watch your mouth?”
“It’s none of your business.”
“This will make it more difficult for my lady.
Aren’t you her most cherished maid?”
Anna’s hand, which had been clenched tightly, loosened when Herace was mentioned.
Edgar bowed briefly to pay his respects, then turned away.
However, he stopped after walking a few steps.
His head turned slightly and he murmured in a low voice, barely audible to Anna.
“Please take care of yourself… ”
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