|Author: TrashyHuman||Original Source: Scribble Hub|
“HURRY UP! MAKE WAY FOR HIS EXCELLENCY THE DUKE!”
Lachersia wore a surprised expression on her face when a carriage appeared on the road she and Jennifer were walking on. She looked at Jennifer by her side and they exchanged knowing glances.
Lachersia lazily waved her hand and the horses pulling the carriage stopped gracefully right before the duo. Jennifer meanwhile turned around and waved for the twins with a benign face making them hurry with the speed of comparable to only, perhaps, their terrified heartbeats.
“What is going on?! GOD!”
The Duke pulled his head out of the carriage to question the coachman but made a scarred squeal when he saw Lachersia’s august countenance.
He has been terrified, no, traumatized, by Lachersia and now fully understood that the woman in front of him had as many means to destroy him as there were stars in the sky. Even worse, it was suspected that his children were held hostage by her too!
“Good day, Your Excellency Duke Laras! It must be Goddess of Fate herself who allowed us to cross paths on this day! How do you do? You seem to be in a hurry so please do forgive me for stopping you so suddenly but I found it necessary to greet the Lord of this fine region!”
Lachersia told the frozen head sticking out of the carriage window with a pleasant smile. Looking at this smile the Duke knew that all of his assumptions were right. Why else would this evil witch appear in his domain?
What she said was one thing but the Duke heard “How do you like my surprise, Duke? You must feel horrible. I really couldn’t resist to stop you here to see the pathetic broken expression on your face”
“La-La… Your G-Grace Lachersia, how can I, this small official, accept your apology? T-to have met your Venerated self is this little one’s fortune and honor and of absolutely of no inconvenience to my humble self! Please make yourself at home at this small official’s humble territory, Your Grace is always welcome!”
Looking at the pathetic face full of terror of the high noble who reduced his status to a “small official” Lachersia then asked
“Is that so? But it seems one of your companions seems to be in a rather difficult situation though…”
Lachersia’s tone was not at all surprised as if she was expecting that somebody would be hurt.
“This humble official is awed by Your Grace’s deep insight! This humble official’s subordinate has had an accident on the road but please rest assured that this one’s subordinate is in no danger, though this humble official thanks Your Grace for the concern!”
The Duke was now at the verge of tears but he persisted with facing Lachersia with heroic courage.
“But I believe this person still requires treatment. Human lives need to be cherished for they are fragile and short. Wouldn’t you agree?”
“You are absolutely right, Your Grace!”, Is what the Duke said, though in his mind he thought “Are you one to say it?”
The Duke quickly opened the door of the carriage and came out of it with the agility of a panther while landing in a naturally bowing pose. Following his example, Sirius and Leon, his two close friends and confidants, did exactly the same thing and landed behind the Duke not as much as a show of their respect for the Duke but as a way to shield themselves with the Duke’s body. The priest who came with them didn’t understand what was going on but understanding the situation didn’t look good he clumsily got out too and hid behind everybody pretending to be a rock and praying that nobody cared about his small existence.
“Please, Your Excellency!”
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The Duke bowed even lower, cold sweat pouring down his face in waterfalls.
All of it was observed by Lachersia and she had a face that spoke of how satisfied and amused she was with the Duke’s reaction. She spoke ever so calmly as if it was just an ordinary conversation.
“My, my, you don’t have to be so stiff in front of me, Your Excellency Laras”
“No no no, please accept this one’s respect for Your Venerable self! This one grew up listening to Your Venerable self’s magnificent deeds that have contributed to the continued survival and prosperity of all of humanity! This humble official would not dare to disrespect Your Grace!”
“Is. that. so? Oh well, we can talk about respect or whatnot later, saving people comes first. Am I right?”
This time Lachersia’s tone was cold and had a trace of mirth. She obviously referred to the last sentence the Duke spoke and reminded him about the recent treatment she has been receiving by the Duke’s faction back in the kingdom’s Capital.
What she said could be translated as “Would not dare to disrespect me, you say? You have the guts to say it in my face. Well, you wouldn’t be so timid if you didn’t have people(the twins) you needed to save. But, sure, you can grovel all you want now”
Lachersia put her hands together and muttered a prayer piously and Mark inside the carriage was enveloped in a dense layer of holy power, its intensity comparable to the healing spells of the most powerful archbishops or even the Pope of the Church of Lachesis.
Moments later, Mark’s complexion became perfectly healthy and he opened his eyes as if he woke up from a good nap.
“And he’s fine. Please do be more careful in the future. Even if it’s an accident, it can be prevented with a proper amount of caution. Be it on the road or not, our lives are full of hidden dangers, so it’s always better to know ourselves and not run towards those dangers”
At this point, Lachersia spoke in transparent threats that required no translation.
“This humble official thanks Your Excellency for the treatment and the advice! This one swears to follow it for the rest of this humble official’s life!”
At this point, the Duke had tears silently streaming down his face.
“By the way, Duke, I want to introduce you to the new apprentices I have accepted on the road. I found those pitiful things in a burned down village while travelling the kingdom with this generation’s heroine and decided to take pity on them. Besides, their talents are not bad and they may have a bright future”
How could the Duke not notice his own children standing behind Lachersia close to the little girl who was supposed to be a hero? He has been looking at them from time to time during the entire conversation. Seeing the meek heroine not daring to say a word in Lachersia’s presence he felt he understood how the little girl felt. “Stay strong, comrade,” he told her in his heart
Hearing that Lachersia has “accepted new apprentices” the Duke knew that he had no hope of getting his children back. At the same time, in his heart, a hope bloomed that perhaps if the witch is satisfied with his performance, they won’t suffer but maybe even live good lives.
After all, not just anybody would have the luxury of being the kingdom’s most powerful Grand Mage’s apprentice. It could bring them the kind of status the Duke would never be able to afford to give them.
The witch obviously knew how to break people. Now the Duke simply had no other choice but to submit and all of his potential ways of fighting back were cut off too. After all, if Lachersia did well, his children would enjoy many benefits and if she didn’t, his children would have to suffer with her.
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“Well, I won’t hold you up anymore. I’m sure as a Duke you have many important things to attend to”
If Lachersia’s speech was translated, it would become “Well, you know what to do, right? Off you go”
“Then this small official won’t take up any more of Your Excellency’s and this generation’s heroine’s precious time!”
If the Duke’s speech was translated, it would become “Your Grace, this small official understood your command, please rest assured, this small official and his faction will not get in your way anymore! Please tell your commands to this small official and he will execute them even at the cost of his life!” And maybe a few sobs in between the words. Or maybe not a few.
After getting into the carriage, the Duke and the other sped away, while Lachersia stood at the road and waved them off with a smile.
While in the carriage, the Duke was thinking about what has just happened to him.
Why would that old fossil that holed herself up in her tower before now show signs of activity?
Why would she need the hero? Why would she seek political power? What did she want?
He ultimately came to the conclusion that the reason all of it happened because The Demon Wave would begin soon. The previous Demon Wave happened several hundred years ago and few nowadays understood its terror.
Even among elves and other long-living species, there were few survivors of that nightmarish time.
But Lachersia was in the middle of that chaotic period, she stood side by side with the previous generation’s hero and was there when the Wave ended.
It must not be a coincidence that now she decided to get the power in her hands, after all, since nowadays few understood what was to come, the kingdom had many factions trying to fish in the muddy waters. For many, the wave stopped being a danger but became an opportunity to achieve their goals.
Demons, the main players of the other team of the Demon Wave were known to manipulate those in power on the side of humanity and lead the people under them to doom without fighting themselves.
It was obviously because of the nature of all the races that humanity consisted of. Be that humans, or beastkin or elves or dwarves, all of them were susceptible to avarice and put their own desires above the good of the others.
This flaw of theirs was one of the reasons that the Demon Wave was so destructive and tragic. Why so many people died and so many nations fell.
It was likely that Lachersia tried to grab all the power for herself and lead the kingdom as her own way of defending it.
Coming to that point, the Duke realized something. Why haven’t the other two Grand Mages of the kingdom stopped her?
The Royal teacher was obviously aware of what was going on in the Royal court. He should’ve seen Lachersia subtly opposing the Royal faction and even grabbing the heroine to her own team. He didn’t even lift a finger to stop her.
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Was he on board with her idea?
The more he thought, the more reasonable this explanation seemed to be.
After all, before, Lachersia had absolutely no interest in political power. She simply stayed in her tower and did magic research.
It was likely that even now, she would not act so drastically if she had the choice. It’s just that she didn’t have a choice. And the Royal teacher probably understood it too. The fact that the kingdom needed to be united and Lachersia was perfect for being the leader of the kingdom. At least for the duration of the Demon Wave.
And when the Demon Wave was over, she would likely resign and return to her previous lifestyle, restoring the royal authority…
It fit perfectly.
What about Tern Yigh Qermen? He couldn’t have not known about Lachersia’s visit to his area of influence.
Was he also in the agreement with the other two?
It seemed very likely. After all, the safety of the kingdom meant the safety of the Northern Lands. And Tern Yigh Qermen cared about these lands more than anything.
The Duke sucked in a mouthful of cold air.
“So that’s what it is”
So that was why Lachersia grabbed the heroine and established her own faction immediately after the heroine was summoned.
After all, despite everything, who were the main symbols of humanity’s fight against the Wave? It was obviously the heroes. Only the heroes had the powers to stop the Wave. Not only that, they also gathered a lot of support from the masses. If Lachersia were to grab authority, the support of the people was necessary and to get that support the heroine was crucial.
Besides, would a Grand Mage need to bother with a mere noble faction if the faction tried getting in her way? Was the reason for Lachersia’s visit so simple? Maybe by grabbing authority over Duke Laras it would be very simple for Lachersia to spread her influence over his noble faction too? If she acquired the authority over the Northern faction then the balance of power within the court would be completely tilted towards her side as many factions are already silently siding with her already. If before the rest got the wind of it, the Northern faction sided with her too…
Nobles aren’t blind and they know whom to support and where the wind blows.
By acquiring the authority over the Duke and the heroine, Lachersia has laid the foundation to silently overturning the whole kingdom. In such a short time too. Truly fearsome.
The Duke returned to his residence deep in thought
As for whether Jennifer predicted that the Duke would come to this conclusion, only she knew.
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But the conclusion that the Duke came seemed very natural because of how uncharacteristic Lachersia has been acting.
What that conclusion implied though, was that Jennifer was necessary to Lachersia and it tied their relationship in a way that would shake Lachersia’s position if they became separated. If during such troubled times Lachersia’s position was threatened, the consequences would be unimaginable.
In this way, Jennifer would become untouchable for both nobles and Lachersia, and it would take a lot of work and determination for any noble to try and separate her and Lachersia. After all, they would now not only suffer under Lachersia’s wrath, most of the nobility would oppose them too once they figured out that the whole kingdom fell into Lachersia’s hands.
As for whether Lachersia had foreseen that Jennifer might’ve predicted what the Duke would come up with, it will also be left unsaid.
But such a relationship would imply that Jennifer would not be able to free herself from Lachersia later if she ever tried.
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