he base of the numerous vassals and the nobles that followed the duke, and unfortunately, it was a place where its owner could change at any time. 

As such, there were countless people coveting the position of the Duke of Esbaden.

For example, the youthful Duke’s only uncle. 

“Now that the Lord is away, the highest-ranking person present here is the Madam.
However, if something happens to the Madam, what would happen to this castle?”

Claude bowed his head once again.

“The reason that the Duchess doesn’t have an escort up till now was because the Duke had paid that much attention.
But now…”

As a part of the territory was devastated by the attack of a high-ranking monster, the severity of the situation there wasn’t fully grasped yet. 

Therefore, they couldn’t even estimate how long the subjugation would take this time round.

“Perhaps they wouldn’t be able to return within the period of the carnival.”

The carnival will begin in about half a month’s time. 

There’s no guarantee what would happen if the owner of the castle was away for more than15 days. 

Thus, the safety of the duchess, who wielded the greatest authority following the duke, was simply a top priority.

“This is also the Lord, the Duke’s order.
As such, please do not refuse my escort, Duchess.”

“…Alright, then.”

After agonising over it for a long time, Dooha had no choice but to accept Claude’s request.

Although she was slightly bewildered at having an escort for the first time in her life, what could she do?

In any case, she intended to remain in her room due to the carnival preparations, so nothing bothersome to him would occur. 

That was definitely what she had thought.

“It’s just a simple stroll.”

“Even so, I can’t let the Duchess roam around the castle alone.”

“But…”

Dooha was sick of looking at the escort knight that was blocking her path with a solemn expression. 

It has only been two days since he began guarding her. 

Claude stood guard by Dooha’s side, whether she was in the study, heading to the bathroom, going in and out of the kitchen or the bedroom. 

She had definitely heard that he was in charge of the castle’s security, but he didn’t leave Dooha’s side to the point where she wondered when in the world would he attend to that.  

If Dooha had been an ordinary imperial noblewoman, she might have been relieved by his stalwart escort.

But before she became a duchess, she was a princess of Bashal and a warrior that learned to protect herself.

For Dooha, overprotection was nothing more than a form of restraint. 

In the first place, having to don on the Empire’s restrictive dresses and speak and act in accordance to Imperial etiquette was suffocating enough to drive her mad, but now she had to be careful of Claude’s gaze all day long. 

“Are you lying on the bare floor right now, Duchess?”

Dooha recalled Claude, who was stunned upon seeing her lying on the bare floor after being exhausted from embroidering.

‘I’d originally planned to rest comfortably with Layla when we were alone.’

Since he was always accompanying her as her guard, she couldn’t be alone with Layla.

On top of that, Layla didn’t have that good of a relationship with Claude.

The two of them were busy arguing whenever they met.

“Are you giving orders to the Duchess right now? Who are you to meddle with whether Madam lies on the floor or not?”

“As the Duchess, it’s obvious that she should maintain her dignity in front of others.
Come to think about it, how in the world are you attending to the Madam as her handmaiden? True, I’ve recognised this about you when you deceived me at the annex, you swindling woman.”

“What do you mean, swindler? In that case, are you worthy of being the Duke’s lieutenant when you’re fooled by such shoddy acting? What a relief it is that I won’t lose money wherever I go!”

“What? I’m not done talking…”

In the end, their quarrelling, which led to personal attacks against each other, always had to be mediated by Dooha.

A few days passed in an instant like that, and she could gradually forget about the duke, whom there wasn’t any news of since his departure from the ducal castle. 

Whether they were worried or not, those that remained behind were extremely busy.

Otherwise, they weren’t really worried.

‘Wasn’t there an Eastern proverb, about how no news is good news.’

Dooha embroidered without saying a word.

Almost half of the tapestry for the carnival was already completed.

Now, the item will be completed if the images of the previous ducal couple and the current ducal couple, Leonhart and Dooha, were embroidered. 

When she reluctantly took bridal classes in Bashal, she’d never done so much embroidery before. 

What’s with this marriage, making her put in effort for things that were uncharacteristic of her? 

She would occasionally doubt herself, but it only lasted for a moment. 

She was the one that chose to go to the Empire for an alliance marriage, so she had to take responsibility for her choices.

Even if she was denounced as a savage, even if her capacity to be the duchess was called into question due to trifling matters, even if she was discontented with her husband’s unpredictable attitude. 

Dooha looked at the huge bed that didn’t even possess any lingering warmth with a bitter smile. 

From the very beginning, this started as a ‘deal’ without any emotions. 

When she repeated this fact internally, the feelings of misery that appeared for some reason would abate slightly. 

Yes, all she had to do was be faithful to her duties as a married couple. 

Dooha also decided to be satisfied with just that.

She continued on with what she had to do while stepping on the slight emotion towards the duke that cautiously emerged in her heart. 

Just like that, a week has unknowingly passed since the duke left the castle without any mishaps.

And finally, a letter arrived from the Duke of Esbaden.

It was a very short and concise letter asking for reinforcements.

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