The Eastern nobility meeting.
The social world was a silent battlefield.
The goal of the aristocracy had always been to exert great influence in society, and for any noble, it was natural to attend various gatherings.
Influence was not just a matter of pride or honour.
People who had a lot of influence in society naturally gather information and people for themselves.
Being at the center of society, one could enjoy more privileges than other aristocrats.
Privileges were limited and few people could enjoy them, so they didn’t mind dirty tricks and conspiracies to get their hands on the little pie.
A case in point was Balhail Aylesford*.
He was gradually expanding his influence among the Eastern nobles by making good use of the rare appearance of Altair, the Lord of Aylesford, at gatherings and his reluctance to socialise.
If anything unpleasant happened to Aylesford, the social influence that Balhail had built up so far would protect him.
The reason why Altair was invited to this meeting was also to increase his influence.
Objectively speaking, Altair was not an easy person to please.
His appearance alone had said it loud and clear enough without any necessary explanation.
His overall impression was cold along with his silent personality, so he was rather fearful than likeable.
On that account, Balhail himself could easily make Altair the bad guy if he stepped up and added one or two more words.
T/n: Despite being Altair’s cousin, it is said in a previous chapter – ch.11 – that he’s actively socialising in the position of the heir to Baron Aylesford.
Probably self-claim tho.
Besides, this time it was necessary to drag Altair and his wife out.
Only then could he target the baroness, who had not yet been dealt with before the wedding.
Aylesford Castle was one of the fortresses perfectly protected from outside intrusion.
Ordinary assassins were no match for Aylesford’s knights, who could deal with scary demons without much effort.
Were the mission to be unfavorable, it could bring the enemies to his own land.
In this sense, this society was Balhail’s home ground both in name and reality.
However, from the moment the Eastern nobility meeting began, the atmosphere had been flowing in a different direction from what Balhail had in mind.
“Did you hear? Baron Aylesford defeated a dragon that appeared in Rembrew all by himself.”
“My word! A dragon is hard to hunt down for most knights, but Baron Aylesford did it all on his own?”
“That’s what I’m saying.
The Baron’s swordmanship skills have long been famous.
Don’t you remember? It has been going around that a prodigy appeared in the east, who would shake the empire.”
Come to think of it, there truly was a rumour like that”
“The baron just hadn’t received much attention til now because he wasn’t socialising, but it’s clear that he is quite the talent.”
“Then today we can also see the Baron’s hunting skills with which he used to kill the dragon, right?”
“Oh my, I’m looking forward to it.”
Even before Altair arrived, the hunting ground was full of stories about him.
Things like a great Mana Stone Mine was discovered in Aylesford, or that he had recently acquired a great orchard, that he was already married, and that his wife was from an elite Marquis household in the capital.
The sole topic that the aristocrat gathered in groups to chat about was Aylesford.
I shouldn’t leave it like this.
Bailhail naturally intervened in the conversation of the nobles, grinding his teeth inside, but with a friendly smile on the outside.
“By the way, I heard that the Count of Gallard was bedridden.
That’s why he couldn’t make it to this meeting.”
“What about Count Gallard?”
The nobles showed interest in Balhail’s story.
He sighed in pity and glanced at the aristocrats, eyes filled with curiosity.
What mattered to them was an interesting story, not the truth.
And Balhail was a man who knew how to make good use of that.
“It is said that Baron Aylesford threatened Count Gallard, saying that he would ruin his estate if he did not give up the orchard.
He threatened to release a lot of beasts… that precious orchard…”
“What? How could a baron do such a thing when beasts don’t follow human control?”
“Baron Aylesford has long made money hunting monsters.
He knows about them better than anyone else…”
It is a little strange that whenever he needs money, the beasts appear, and it is said that they got a lot of money as a reward after defeating the dragon in the Rembrew territory, but maybe Altair…”
Balhail, who was continuing while looking at people’s reactions, suddenly waved his hand dismissively, blurring the end of his words.
I think this kind of story is a bit inappropriate.
I don’t dare to reveal my family’s secrets…”
Come to think of it, lord Balhail is a person of Aylesford.”
People exchanged glances with their eyes sparkling at the strange expression of ‘family’s secrets’.
Balhail’s words sounded as if the Aylesford family knew how to manipulate the beasts.
“It was said that only the Devil’s henchman knows how to summon them…”
When his voice came out mixed with a little fear, the nobles, who had been excitedly sharing Baron’s Aylesford’s story like a heroic tale until a while ago, shut their mouths.
There was a difference between awe and fear.
Now in people’s stories, Altair would not be a great dragon slayer, but a devil’s servant.
Balhail opened his mouth, intending to put more weight on the story.
“In fact, the death of the former baron was also caused by a mistake in using the power of the devil…”
But before his story could reach people’s ears properly, the entrance to the hunting ground became noisy.
“Oh my goodness! Look at that carriage!”
Everyone’s eyes turned to the entrance of the hunting ground due to the fuss.
There stopped a dazzling white carriage looking like it came out of a picture.
The embossed patterns were decorated with a luxurious golden colour, and the two horses leading the carriage were also beautiful white horses.
“It must be a carriage made at the Lynd workshop.”
“It’s more than 4,000 gold for the carriage, right?”
“Oh my gosh, 4,000 gold?!”
“If it’s a carriage like that… has the prince arrived?”
The participation of the third prince, Orca, who was recovering in a quiet region due to his weak body, was another hot topic of the gathering. However, contrary to the expectations of the nobles, it was not Prince Orca who got off the carriage.
The door of the white carriage opened, and a pink-haired woman dressed in a riding suit appeared with the help of a knight.
An elegant demeanor came from the woman with unblemished white face and long hair tied to one side.
In an instant, overwhelmed by the beauty and elegance, the nobles all stopped their murmur at once and took a moment to admire her.
Perhaps feeling the stares, her gaze also turned to the gathered aristocrats.
As the woman made eye contact with the nobles leisurely and put on a soft smile, the men who were escorting the nobles ladies all had their jaws dropped.
And among them was Balhail, who had been working hard to form public opinion until a while ago.
Who is that beauty?
After a while of being mesmerised, a look of greed quickly flashed through Bahail’s face.
I’ve never seen that woman before, but what kind of man is her partner, who brought her here?
The social circle was very small.
Eastern nobles knew each other’s faces and names, so the appearance of a new woman meant that she was the mistress of some wealthy noble.
A noble wealthy enough to bring a carriage like this, could it be Count Carson?
Count Carson was an old man in his 70s.
If she was the mistress of such an old man, she would just be a cheap woman blinded by money.
Balhail thought he could easily make her his.
However, in contrast to his daydreaming of seducing such a woman with joy, his thoughts collapsed at the black-haired man’s appearance next to the woman.
“Oh my, isn’t that Baron Aylesford?”
People began to buzz again in amazement.
“Then that woman…”
“She must be the wife of Baron Aylesford, who came from the capital.”
What? That woman is Altair’s wife?
Balhail’s eyes widened in shock.
He had thought that Altair’s wife would be cripplingly ugly, not such a beautiful woman.
But the Balhail’s shock didn’t last for long.
All of Altair’s belongings were going to be his anyway.
He would have the title of Baron Aylesford, and all his newly created wealth.
So that lady is mine, too.
Balhail scaned the pink-haired woman up and down with an insidious inward smile.
I was going to kill him somehow, but…
It’s a different story if it’s something this desirable.
Balhail quickly revised his thoughts and swallowed a evil laugh.
W-w-what do I do! Everyone is looking at me!
As soon as Nadia got off the carriage, everyone’s eyes turned to her.
It was too hard for a timid person like her to face so many gazes.
She could already feel her back sweating a lot.
She didn’t know where to place her eyes, so she looked around at the people gathered and gulped.
I-I can’t stay still like this! First impressions are more important than anything when you meet people!
No one spared her a smile.
Let’s just smile for now.
When you don’t know what to do, it’s best to just smile.
She managed to pull up the trembling corners of her mouth and grinned.
However, the gathered nobles’ mouths fell agape and they looked baffled as if it wasn’t a pleasant sight.
(Sob)…my first impression is ruined.
As she was smiling with tears flowing inside, an indifferent hand wrapped around Nadia’s shoulder.
When she turned her head, Altair was looking at the nobles with his signature expressionless face.
“You don’t have to be nervous.”
“I’m not nervous.
It’s just unfamiliar…”
“People always say that when they’re nervous.”
Altair smiled back at Nadia’ words but quickly hardened his face as he found a familiar face in the crowd.
He was generally expressionless most of the time, so it was very difficult to grasp his feelings with the emotions revealed on his face, but thanks to her frequent observations of his face at teatime every day, Nadia could now read Altair’s mood a little.
His face just now…
Hate? Disgust? It was a very negative emotion.
Altair was basically an indifferent person, so he rarely expressed such negative feelings toward anyone.
It was similar to when he dealt with Count Gallard before.
After the orchard was taken away, count Gallard had an aneurysm (just an expression of being overly enraged) and had to rest.
In other words, someone else made Altair like this because there was no way such a person would appear at the gathering.
Who in the world is he looking at?
As Nadia turned her head to where Altair’s gaze was directed, a man stood looking at her.
The moment she felt their eyes meet, the man smiled and bowed lightly.
The smile on the man’s lips widened as he bowed his head reflexively.
Ugh, no wonder he’s not in good mood.
When Nadia shivered with chilling goosebumps, Altair, who had been looking at the man, quickly turned to her.
“I forgot the forest could be cold.”
“It’s not because it’s cold.”
“If not, then why do you tremble? You’re too vulnerable, so it’s better to be careful in advance.”
“It’s not that I’m vulnerable…”
But Altair was already beckoning Cain and ordering him to bring a coat.
I don’t understand why he’s being so fussy.
Nadia grumbled on the inside, but she couldn’t resist the smile on her lips.
It felt really nice to have someone think that she was precious.
But before fully enjoying the feeling, she could hear a carriage approaching from afar.
When she turned her head, a black carriage decorated with golden paterns stopped behind their carriage.
People began to buzz again at the appearance of the fancy carriage.
Nadia’s heart was also in an uproar.
Oh… this carriage…
A carriage similar to the one that once appeared in the novel.
The carriage that the third prince Orca used to ride around the country under the pretext of recuperation!
Just right when she found her answer, the door of the carriage opened, and a well-groomed man stepped outside.
Silver hair and scarlet eyes.
The man smiled softly…
I’m sure it’s Prince Orca.
At the appearance of a great figure, Nadia’s shoulders shrank.
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