Present time.


“It is the oldest wooden statue in the Empire and the fourth confirmed monument of the Goddess.”


The priest spoke in a proud voice and presented the statue to Ezekiel.
His eyes stared a piece of wood.
The statue, which was about the size of an adult’s forearm, was shabby compared to the marble statue, which was the size of a person, but looked more reverent.


The smile of the Goddess permeated between the trees was benevolent, and the wings on the back, the flowing wrinkled clothes, and the fingertips placed close to the face were delicate.
When Ezekiel and Edgar couldn’t take their eyes off the statue, the priest’s shoulders rose further in pride.


However, when the priest was about to explain something again, a large hand snatched the statue from the priest.


“Huh? Sir?”


“I don’t feel anything, but…… You never know if it would work, Edgar.”


“Hey, what the hell are you doing?… Ugh!”


Edgar grabbed the priest’s arm, and overpowered the powerless priest at once, before lightly hitting on the back of his neck.
Although, the strength hitting the neck wasn’t a strong force, the priest’s body collapsed in an instant due to the skill of a skilled knight.
Edgar placed the priest against the wall of the prayer room and returned to Ezekiel.


Ezekiel was only looking at the statue, without caring if the priest collapsed or not.
He crumpled his brows, recalling someone from the statue’s benevolent smile, pulled out a small dagger and stabbed his finger.
Soon, red drops of blood rose from the man’s fingertips and flowed down.


Edgar’s expression hardened with tension as Ezekiel put his finger on the statue’s forehead.
He swallowed his dry saliva and looked at the bloodstains on the statue.
A small amount of blood permeated some of the wooden statue and flowed down with a long line.






But that was it.
They waited quite a long time, but nothing happened to the statue.
Ezekiel dropped his hand more irritable than before, almost breaking the statue with a stiff face.


“……I can’t find anything similar to that sword.”


Ezekiel said, handing over the statue to Edgar.


The object he was looking for was a kind of sacred object, but it was somewhat different from the ordinary one.
Just holding it made him feel like he was touching a piece of ice, and when he sprayed his blood, it reacted with smoke.
Ezekiel was looking for that kind of sacred object.
However, contrary to expectations, today’s visit seemed to be a waste.


“Then where will Duke go now?”


Edgar asked, wiping the bloodstains on the statue with a clean cloth.
Ezekiel frowned as if thinking of something.


“Going East.”


“But if you move the Knights like now, you’ll be resisted.
The Duke of Lepez won’t stay put.
As the Duke knows, he is quite wary of the Duke.”


The nobles were overly sensitive to Ezekiel’s actions.
However, such a reaction was natural in a way.
How much blood did he shed while wiping out the rebellion under the order of the Emperor? People couldn’t forget him, who they called ‘The butcher’.


In addition, the Eastern part of the country follows the region that lost the most of its power in the last rebellion.
It was because the mother’s house of the Marquis Pegato, the mastermind of the rebellion, lived in the East, and his power was also centered on the East.


How many Eastern local families have been wiped out by the treason, no one knows.
Those who did not participate in the rebellion also lost some of their acquaintances or relatives due to the deed of only one person.
So whenever they heard Ezekiel’s name, they trembled, saying they could be involved in it at any time.


“I don’t care.
I will write a letter to the Duke of Lepez myself.”


Even if he sent a letter, there was no way Ezekiel and his knights would be welcomed in the East.


But for Ezekiel, such a sensitive feeling of the East was unimportant.
Only one thing was important to him.
His wife.
His runaway love.
If Herace was in the East, or wherever she was, he was going to chase his wife to the end of the Earth and bring her back to his side.


Ezekiel finally gave the Goddess a sidelong glance and heard the priest waking up with a groan.
Edgar noticed Ezekiel was preparing to leave, so he reached out to put the statue in its original place.




However, Ezekiel, who turned around and thought he would get out of the temple right away, hurriedly opened his mouth as if he had found something.
Edgar, who had just put the statue in the box, turned his head with puzzled eyes.


“What’s happened?”




Even before Edgar finished speaking, Ezekael came to the altar at once.
He put his hands on the altar and his eyes trembled.


Edgar followed Ezekiel’s gaze and tried to understand the reason of his Lord’s unusual reaction.
On the altar were only a bundle of white lilies, the symbol of the temple, and a statue of the Goddess that Edgar had put in the wooden box.


Ezekiel’s hand lifted the statue.
His big eyes and calloused hands were trembling.
Edgar exclaimed, and again asked the previous question with anxious eyes.


“Duke, what happened!”


Ezekiel did not reply.
He touched the figure of the statue and put his finger under it.
Soon, the statue of the Goddess, which was lying down, rattled in a wooden box and a white cloth was revealed underneath it.
Ezekiel’s hand snatched the cloth as if snatching a precious object.




The place where the man’s crazy eyes were fixed was an embroidery located in the center of the cloth.
The man slowly stroked the temple pattern engraved with the lily pattern, held the cloth tightly, and called his wife’s name.






“Ah…… oh dear.”


Miguel sighed deeply as he sat on the couch eating cookies.
At the sound, Charlotte, who sat in front of the dressing table and looked at the newly bought necklace, turned her head.


“What’s wrong, Miguel?”


“The Duchess could be back.”


“…… what?”


Charlotte threw her necklace away and jumped up.
She ran to the couch and grabbed her son hard on the shoulder.
Her trembling pupils showed how frightened she was.


“Don’t worry, mother.
I’ll protect you for the time being.”


Miguel tapped his mother’s hand on his shoulder and said cheerfully.
But Charlotte groaned, touching her forehead as if she was shocked.




“I feel sad without my mother.
So you can stay here for a while.”


Charlotte shook off the crumbs of the cookie and raised her eyes to her son, who spoke calmly.
A sharp voice suddenly popped out as if it were a seizure.


“Shut up, you monster!”


“Oh, my.
You can’t say ‘shut up’ to your son.
You can’t say things like that.
That’s a vulgar word used by people from the bottom of the society like my mother.”


“How long are you going to play with me? Ezekiel, and you…… You, too!”


Miguel smiled at his mother’s scream and grabbed her mother’s finger pointing at him with his small hand and pulled it hard.
Then Charlotte’s body, who was standing, moved and her knees bent in an instant.
Miguel looked down at his mother kneeling down below him and whispered in her ear.


“Then leave now.”


“What? What?”


“I won’t stop you.
If you want to leave, go ahead.
As promised, my father will take care of you with a lot of gold.”


The child’s voice, which became lower, was still bright and sparkled with innocence peculiar to that age.
However, Charlotte shook her son’s hand away with a blue face as if she had heard a scary story.




With her hands wrapped around her face, she shook her head roughly. No, I don’t like that.
That’s not enough.
Why do they have to take what’s mine?


“Then what do you want me to do? My mother is too fickle.
Is this also because of that humble background?”


“No! I am a noble Duchess! Your mother!”




“I gave birth to you, the successor.
So I must have not only gold but also everything of this castle!”


Charlotte felt strangely comfortable after spitting out the injustice done on her. Yeah, I’ll take everything what’s supposed to be mine.


She buried her face in her son’s lap as the trembling body subsided.
Then Miguel picked up the same kind of cookie as before and put it down and said as if it was annoying.


“Ha… I’m tired of trying to eat the same thing again and again.
Isn’t it time to change it?”




Winter has come.
It hasn’t been long since the fallen leaves fell, but the days of snowing have become frequent.


“Try this.
One of the village believers brought it, but the jam inside is quite sweet.”


“Thank you for always taking care of me.”


“What are you thanking me for? There’s a lot left.
Erzen, you should eat a lot, too.”


Despite the cold weather, the temple life of Herace, Erzen, and Anna was smooth.
Yulina openly took care of them, and Dianna, the representative of the temple, often visited and offered firewood and food to them to pray for Goddess’s protection.
Other priestesses also adored young Erzen and gave him snacks, so the group was having a warmer winter than ever.


Of course, not everyone in the temple was kind to Herace’s party.
Wherever she went, there were times when she didn’t know why people looked at her with scornful eyes.
Especially, apprentice priestess Rizbelle.
She always looked at Herace’s party with discontented eyes.


“We already don’t have enough food, but we still have to do charity…… They have no shame.”




It was the same now.
Rizbelle murmured more irritably by Yulina’s side, looking at the bread basket.
Yulina quickly scolded her, but Erzen, who who was smiling before the words came out, hid behind Herace.


“I’m sorry.
We shouldn’t have…….”


“No, Lady Herace.
Apologise to her, Rizbelle.”


“No! Hmph! So annoying.”


“Hey, you! I’m sorry.
I’ve been raising her since she was young, so she is unusually rude.”


Yulina hurriedly apologised while looking at Rizbelle, who was disappearing with big strides, as if she was angry.
It was Yulina who took care of them in the first place.
But seeing her apologising, Herace, who was terribly sorry, shook her head in a hurry.


“No, Priestess.
We’re fine.”


“I guess it’s because it’s a sensitive time.
I’ll scold her later, so don’t keep it in mind.”


“Of course.”


“Then I’ll go.
The weather is cold, so don’t try to save too much firewood…….Erzen, don’t play outside too much.
I’m very worried that you’ll fly away because of the strong wind.”


Erzen, who had been scared, nodded at Yulina’s friendly words and stretched out his arms as if to ask Herace to hug him.
And as soon as he was in his mother’s arms, he put his little lips on Yulina’s cheek.


“Thank you, Priestess Yulina.”


Erzen, who thanked her with a kiss, hid his face in his mother’s arms as if he was embarrassed.
Yulina and Herace burst out laughing at the child’s cute behaviour and said goodbye to each other pleasantly.

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