Raymond returned to the empire with riches and was delighted, but only for a moment. At the end of the war, achievements were rewarded and celebrated, wealth was shared, and titles were given.
Raymond, however, was not able to give a reward to the person he wanted to honor the most.
Shan Crixus was the hero of Valoir; he was the man who led the empire to victory. Shan was someone who fought alongside the prince and became like a brother to him.
Raymond thought that Shan should at least be given the title of count. However, the nobles already opposed Shan being deputy commander of the Imperial Army.
If he awarded Shan the title of count then all the nobles who held back then would stand up against the decision now.
After much consideration, Raymond came to the conclusion that a marriage with the House of Targayel was the only solution.
Targayel was struggling after losing their talent for the sword. To make matters worse, the count and his wife died violently, leaving their two children to struggle alone.
Since the ceremony to confer the title had not been held yet, the position of Count Targayel was officially vacant. In addition, the household once expressed their intention of giving up the title inheritance.
It was a good thing for Targayel anyway, it was an opportunity for them to rise from the ashes since Shan Crixus was admired by the people for being a hero.
The plan was perfect since the Lady of Targayel was single even though she was old. Raymond went straight ahead with his plan and so Shan Crixus and Eljenès Targayel were getting married according to the imperial order.
The teaspoon clicked and hit the teacup.
“How do you feel about your meeting with Eljenès Targayel?”
Shan whisked the tea silently for a moment after Raymond’s question. Then he put down the teaspoon and said indifferently.
“She was like someone I knew.”
Shan’s words were sincere. When he first saw Eljenès, Shan thought of a man, a man who left him with memories he will never forget and life-debts that he could never repay.
So when he first saw her, he didn’t feel very bad. It was a political marriage, but she was a better woman than all the other women Shan had ever met.
But Raymond seemed to think that Shan’s words were a funny joke.
“Like a woman you know!”
He said with a wink.
“Soon the innocent lady will fall for the bad guy.”
Innocent lady? That wasn’t true. Shan couldn’t agree with Raymond, his words weren’t even funny jokes.
Eljenès was a confident lady and he doubted whether she was from a noble family.
Shan vividly remembered her scrutinizing the terms of the contract. Unlike her pretty face, what she did was worse than when mercenaries signed contracts.
The crux of it all was when she told him not to speak informally. Shan frowned as he recalled the memory and Raymond laughed.
“Don’t divorce her. If you can, stay with her even if you don’t like her. Getting you the title is very troublesome.”
“I’ll make sure that there will be no divorce.”
There was no doubt in Shan’s reply, but Raymond predicted a rough future for Shan.
Of course Shan will behave himself, but Eljenès Targaryl was the problem. It was all the more of a problem because Raymond knew how women fell for Shan.
It was obvious that Lady Targayel would cry and cling to Shan and try to capture him, but Shan would be indifferent as usual.
But…… as far as he’s seen, women couldn’t get away from him. Perhaps Lady Targayel will hate him, but she will not give up hope until the end. It is the hope that you can win Shan’s love eventually.
Then she will join the ranks of countless women who love Shan, even though they swear that he’s the devil.
Raymond smiled and said to Shan.
“I’m looking forward to calling you Count Targayel, not Shan.”
The Targayel mansion was very big, it took a long time to reach the gates in a carriage. Elje would have loved to ride on a horse freely but she couldn’t because of the employees’ watchful eyes.
After leaving the gates of the mansion and traveling for a while, Elje stopped the carriage.
“Wait here, I’ll be back after finishing my business.”
Elje told the horseman to wait and gave him a few coins. She got off the carriage and started heading to her destination on foot because she didn’t want anyone to know where she was heading.
A short walk led her to Manuaf Square where there was a statue of a large lion with a golden crown roaring in the center. The crowned lion was the symbol of the Valoir family.
People gathered around the statue, and among them was a man holding a large picket who was shouting alone.
“A new millennium is coming! The devil born in this millennium will annihilate the whole continent! In a world where even God has deserted us, we are all heading for death!”
Elje frowned at the loud shouting. Enthusiastic fanatics seemed to be no different here than from Korea. Elje passed by his side indifferently.
A noisy market area appeared after Elje passed through the square. It was the largest market in the capital where various shops were set up. Elje moved quietly through the crowd.
No one looked at Elje since she was dressed in clothes worn by commoners.
After a long walk, Elje entered an alleyway. She walked along the dark alley and stopped in front of a shabby building.
A loud noise could be heard coming from inside of the building which had a wooden sign with dirt on it. The sign with a crude picture of a beer mug and a bed indicated that this place was both a bar and an inn.
Without hesitation, Elje opened the door and went inside.
As soon as she walked in, she heard a raspy laugh. The inside of the old bar was so dark the lanterns needed to be turned on even though it was broad daylight. There were wooden tables and chairs lined up, and there was a long bar on one side, but no employees were visible.
Only one table was occupied and there were three familiar faces sitting there. Elje called them with a big smile on her face.
“Tarkan, Rafiné, Ivanna!”
The three looked back at Elje in unison when they heard her call.
Only Ivanna rose from her seat and waved to Elje. The other two sat down and froze.
They still didn’t move even when Elje sat next to them. Elje smiled awkwardly and said to their shocked faces.
“Long time no see.”
Tarkan rose from his seat as if he had been struck by lightning then he stuttered.
“The elder sister of the leader……?”
Elje and Ivanna burst into laughter at the same time. Rafiné, who had belatedly finished figuring out the situation, muttered in an embarrassed voice.
“I thought you might be a woman, but……”
Tarkan and Rafiné could not get over the shocking news. They once thought that Elje might be a woman considering her build and voice.
However, they concluded that she could not be a woman based on her monstrous skills.
But she really was a woman!
It was fun to watch Tarkan and Rafiné struggling with the truth. Tarkan even asked if she had taken something accidentally and turned into a woman.
Elje, who now had long hair and makeup on, was completely different from what she looked like on the battlefield. It took a lot of time for Tarkan and Rafiné to adjust to the feminine Elje.
After talking about Elje’s life for a while, Elje began to talk cautiously.
“I have a confession to make to you guys.”
The unusual atmosphere drew their attention. Elje smiled awkwardly and said.
“I’m getting married.”
It was a shock to find out that she was a woman and now she’s getting married too. The three faces were indescribable.
Initially, Elje wasn’t sure if she was going to tell them the truth, but she wouldn’t be able to work as an Elijah mercenary after the marriage so she thought that she had to tell them everything.
After a long silence, Ivanna asked Elje.
“Who will you marry?”
Ivanna’s expression looked like she didn’t believe Elje. At her burning gaze, Elje broke out in a cold sweat and stammered.
“It’s…… someone you guys know……”
“Tell me quickly!”
Ivanna exclaimed, on the verge of turning the table over. Elje closed her eyes and confessed.
Maybe it would have been better for them not to know. The three people looked at Elje with their mouths wide open as Elje smiled awkwardly.