Vielle nodded in agreement as if it was obvious.
“Of course. Shall I summon Sir Rick?”
It was clear that the Argenta family had no qualms about an outsider like myself controlling the intelligence department, as evidenced by her swift action in bringing in the head of the department.
Perhaps my previous experience at my first battlefield had something to do with it.
“Yes, please bring him.”
This was good news for me.
I mulled over various ways to humiliate Cartiel in my mind. Though we had managed to escape with our lives, the carefully crafted image of Diello was on the verge of crumbling.
I remembered the sight of him looking at me with shining blue eyes.
Emotional outburst was different from normal outburst. Although there was no chance of dying, the dormant power connected to the source would surely awaken. In other words, it would take a toll on his body. Cartiel would have to pay the price for taking away the peace from Diello.
Of course, the price of putting me in danger as well.
Not long after I sent Vielle, there was a knock on the door.
“It’s Rick, madam.”
Rick arrived promptly, looking like an eager and ambitious head of the intelligence department.
“Please come in.”
At my invitation, Vielle, who had come faster than Rick, pulled the veil to cover my bed.
As the veil was pulled, Rick’s figure was seen beyond the veil.
This special veil allowed one to see the outside quite clearly from the inside, though, from the outside, only a vague silhouette could be seen.
Oh, this wasn’t my office. It was my bedroom, so I guess it was natural to do so when a man from outside came. However, my outfit wasn’t revealing enough to be a source of embarrassment. It was more than enough to go back and forth outside.
Did Diello give some kind of special order? Not to let me be seen in front of a man from outside?
…Besides, why bother when the entire fourth floor of Argenta knew everything?
I turned to Vielle with a perplexed look, but she couldn’t see my gaze beyond the veil.
“Is there something you wish to command, madam?”
Rick asked with a friendly smile.
“I have something to investigate.”
In the original story, there were a few things that Cartiel obtained upon becoming a Duke. New supply routes and Cartiel’s information network spread throughout the empire. I intended to cut off some of these resources, which was a rather crucial decision.
“I heard that Cartiel’s information network has greatly expanded since he became a Duke.”
Rick bowed in response to my words.
“Yes, the increase in power is significant compared to before.”
The corners of my mouth arced at his words.
“For that to happen, of course, there must be a place in Cartiel, as well as on the continent, where they have rapidly increased in power.”
Of course, it wouldn’t be operating under the name Cartiel, just like how Argenta’s shadow business was conducted under a different name.
“But we have yet to pinpoint its exact location.
He uttered, looking troubled.
“Right, it won’t be easy to find. So what if we try a different approach?”
Rick gazed at me, unable to see my expression behind my veil.
“I had a strange feeling when I went to Tilah Heights to save Nira not too long ago.”
Only sensitive people could feel it, but I knew because I had read the original story. The power of each element becomes stronger near its source. For example, Alors’ water would be more powerful near large bodies of water, and Argenta’s power would thrive in places with intense heat or fire.
“My water manipulation ability reacted to the strong current.”
Rick hesitated, so I spoke with confidence.
“It also happened in front of the sea. I felt a similar sensation near many sources of water.”
This gave me more confidence and strength. Rick’s eyes widened at my words.
“Argenta might experience the same, like in Cartiel’s desert, for example.”
I glanced down at my hand.
‘If Cartiel knew about this…’
“If this is true, then Cartiel must have known about it from the beginning. Their power would have changed wherever the wind could easily move.”
A smile slowly spread across Rick’s face. It was clear that he wasn’t happy with constantly being attacked by Cartiel.
“We should look for a place where the wind flows well, where Cartiel’s power can easily move. It may be a place where the mercenary guild or organizations of Cartiel have suddenly gained power.”
They might have information about Cartiel there.
“It’s just a hypothesis, so we shouldn’t act on it with certainty. But if we can confirm Cartiel’s headquarters…”
I spread my hand.
“Let’s show them our way, Rick.”
My words made Rick smile brightly.
His voice sounded more sincere than ever before.
* * *
After Krua left the office, Diello resumed his work. It was several hours later that Redias Argenta entered the office.
Diello’s pen finally stopped moving.
He had spent almost several days in the office since Krua’s collapse. Otherwise, he wouldn’t have been able to bear it. It felt like he was going to burn up again, just like before she came.
“Take a break for a bit.”
She would say when he needed to rest when they spent the night together. However, even then, Diello couldn’t rest comfortably. Of course, that was natural. How could he rest comfortably in front of someone who made his heart race like crazy?
What drove him even more insane was that his wife slept soundly in his arms.
“Maybe it’s because you’re an Argenta, but when I lie down with Diello, it feels warmer.”
Did the rumors about the villainess spread because of this? It was because she could make people go crazy with her innocent expression?
If that was the case, then he didn’t mind. He liked her just the way she was. No matter if Krua was a villainess or not, when she ran her hand through his hair, despite his emotions already settling, the heat remained unchanged.
“It seems like your emotions have long subsided, and you’re still doing this?”
The calm voice of Redias Argenta resonated through the office.
As Diello looked at him, his blue eyes lost their sparkle. It meant that the light that used to radiate from his eyes was no longer due to emotional outbursts.
‘He deliberately feigned an emotional outburst.’
No one else knew, but Redias Argenta quickly caught on.
“I can’t fool my master.”
Diello’s voice echoed bleakly.
“Why are you doing this?”
Redias Argenta asked, seeming to know the answer even as he asked. He was the one who knew Diello Argenta’s true nature better than anyone on the fourth floor of Argenta.
Of course, because he had taught Diello how to hide his true nature.
“If you want to maintain the image of being weak, this is enough. Just by sending out the power crystal peacefully, the people of Cartiel will not doubt the lord.”
No matter how angry he was, he was still an indecisive lord who would reveal his true nature and end up turning assassins into power crystals to them. If it was a strategy to make Diello Argenta appear indecisive, it had already been successful.
Still, Diello had been pretending to have an emotional outburst since then, even putting light in his eyes on purpose. He silently laughed at his master’s words, his deep gaze turning to Redias Argenta.
“Because my wife wishes it.”
Diello’s voice, gentle as always, resounded.
Redias felt uncomfortable hearing it, though everyone knew Diello Argenta as a gentle person. He knew that this youth was an Argenta in itself with a fiery personality. However, he spoke in such a soft voice as if his wife was precious.
This was not acting. It was a genuine term of endearment.
“It’s because my wife wants me to be a meek lamb.”
Diello Argenta’s lips curved up slightly.
…He had gone mad. He had lost his mind.
Redias tensed as he felt the power boiling as if it would erupt at any moment.
But that was it.
“Since the gentle Diello Argenta seems to please her, I must maintain this appearance.”