How to Survive as the Wife of the Monster Duke - Chapter 128
“Don’t let your guard down,” he said sternly.
“There is no sign of anything around us,” a knight replied.
“We’ll be at our destination soon.”
The knights of Delrose, well trained, moved with speed and precision even in the absence of their master. Emil moved aside a corner of the cloak draped around the lamp he’d received from the Mistress. The fire was still clear and strong. He had to get it onto firewood quickly.
They didn’t have much – only what they could bring on their horses without sacrificing speed. But from what Emil knew of the Everlasting Fire, the amount of wood didn’t matter. He may have spent his time on the training ground, but he knew the secret of the mansion’s fireplace.
“Stop,” he said. “No sign yet of the Yesters.”
He called the group to halt just at the entrance to the valley. If the Yesters truly were going to use this path as a shortcut to Elo, then this was the place to stop them. Here, at the closest point to Elo. Further up the path, and the Yesters might try to hurry back and around the valley. They had to make sure the Yesters found them as late as possible.
“Place the firewood,” he said, waving his people forward. Etra moved up beside him as the wood was being placed.
“I’ll go straight to the Elo’s territory the moment the Yesters come.”
Emil couldn’t understand how she could believe in the foresight with such certainty.
“What do you…,” he started to ask about the foresight, but couldn’t bring himself to give voice to doubt. He shifted the question instead.
“What do you think about ma’am?”
Etra met his eyes, studied him for asking such a random question.
“She’s the Mistress of Delrose.”
That wasn’t the answer he’d been looking for. He started to say something else, but Etra continued.
“She’d be the first one to die for another Delrose.”
He and Etra had been close when she had been a Delrose knight. He knew her well, knew that her loyalty was as firm and straight as a blade. She spoke in the language of a warrior – strong and straightforward as a sword thrust.
“She would never bring Delrose to peril over nothing.”
That settled it for him. Whatever misgivings he might have about foresight, he would trust in the Mistress. She may be a person from the warm region, but she was also now one of the winter region. A warm winter region person.
Beside him Etra bowed to him in respect. Then she bowed again, this time toward the distant mansion. Toward Ilyin.
The 7th floor maids watched and listened with rapt attention. Of course, they did so discreetly, making sure the important person inside didn’t notice.
Beyond Ilyin’s room, the Delrose area on the 7th floor carried a dour atmosphere like a frost. It wasn’t the Duke of Winter that brought this cold in, but Delrose’s doctor, Ves.
“If she shows any symptoms, insist that she immediately stop using the divine power. Do you understand?” He lectured a nearby maid.
Ves was worried about the weak Mistress from the warm region. He might spend most of her time in the lab as a doctor, but even he knew the atmosphere of the mansion.
It had changed much since the Mistress came. The formerly sharp atmosphere (that had reflected Aden) had dulled a bit. The 7th floor had become a place of rest for Delrose, and even Ves had seen it clearly.
“Yes!” the maid answered loudly, earning a look of rebuke from Ves.
Ves shook her head, remembering how the Master had avoided looking at her when she had told him not to bother the Mistress so much at night, that the delicate woman of the warm region needed her rest.
He had done a poor job hiding his smile. The warm region that had come to the mansion had done more than just change the mood of the 7th floor. It had changed something else – something which likely did even more to change Delrose.
Aden de Biflten was considered by many to be not only the strongest Duke of Winter, but the coldest as well. But Ves knew that, even to the Master, the warmth had come in. Much like what the maids sent to the warm region described – a very bright, yellow, and lovely light.
Ilyin took a deep breath. She could hold on for a while yet. She wasn’t trying to lift the fire, or make it dance. With something to burn, maintaining it was less strain than she thought.
Even so, the sensation of maintaining it wasn’t pleasant. She thought she felt a cold sweat on her forehead. She moved her hand to wipe it away, and the hand that touched her skin was cold.
“Ma’am, are you alright?”
It was Mary, one of the 7th floor maids, who spoke. She studied Ilyin’s face carefully. Ilyin smiled at her concern.
“Yes, Mary,” she said. “I’m fine.”
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