“One last check on the supplies!”
With Redias as my escort, I went down to the field where the knights were busy. There, they were attempting to move a wagon loaded with supplies.
“Just a moment.”
The knights’ eyes widened as I appeared among them.
Voices filled with surprise emerged amidst polite greetings.
“Why did you personally…”
It was only natural for them to be surprised by an unexpected visit.
“I heard that the supplies were attacked, so I came to inspect.”
“Ah, I see.”
The knights became even more respectful.
“Would you like to inspect them, then?”
The knight in charge of the scene led me.
“The goods mainly consist of dried items. It seems there are limitations in transporting fresh fruits or vegetables due to the distance.”
“That makes sense.”
It was what I had observed as well. Despite the fact that fresh items were not completely unavailable, the majority of the supplies consisted of dried and preserved food.
It was inevitable and unavoidable.
“Have you tested for poison or anything of the sort?”
The knight explained in detail.
“When the goods arrive…”
He roughly described the inspection process. First, they visually inspect for any issues and sometimes conduct experiments by consuming a portion or testing for poisonous reactions.
Suddenly, my attention was caught by a hard baguette. The end seemed to be cut off, probably for testing purposes.
“How do you usually eat that?”
The end of the baguette was slightly cut. It seemed to have been used for testing.
“We usually slice it and eat it with butter, or we can heat it separately and eat it.”
“That’s one way to eat it, but…”
I bought baguettes and meat.
The recipients of these goods were mostly patients, so it was highly likely that they would have limited mobility. If they didn’t move much, their digestion wouldn’t work properly, so the chances of them eating a thick soup or stew were high.
“They mainly combine this and this, and boil it together, right?”
I pointed at the ingredients and asked, and the knights looked at each other.
“If you mean stew, it takes time to cook, and there are also storage issues, so it’s difficult to supply it in stew form.”
“There are various types of poison more than we think.”
Not all poisons are poisons to begin with. Some things are meant to be medicinal, but in the wrong hands, they could be poisonous. In other words, something that was a medicine or has no effect on one thing could be a poison in another.
And if the ones who sent these supplies specifically intended for that purpose…
“Does anyone have water?”
In response to my question, one of the knights took out a water skin attached to his waist.
“Would this be acceptable…?”
Instead of speaking, I drew water from it.
While the amount was small, it was sufficient. I moved around the supply wagon and gathered the ingredients little by little—dried meat, bread, vegetables, and various spices commonly used in supplies.
As I separated them and put them into the water, I signaled to Redias.
“Please apply heat here.”
We couldn’t boil the stew, but applying heat in the water should be possible. It was the way people receiving supplies typically eat.
Redias, who had been watching over us, cautiously extended his hand into the water. In his hand, there was a flame.
With his power, the water in the air began to boil, and the food ingredients in it began to disintegrate. However…
“What is that…?!”
People were astonished.
I was equally surprised. It was because, from the ingredients that showed no reaction until they were put in water, something gray began to seep out and mix with the water.
“I checked the heat and water, sure enough…!”
A bewildered Argenta knight murmured.
“You didn’t test them all together, did you?”
As I asked, the knight bowed his head deeply.
“…It was a mistake.”
I stopped him from kneeling.
“No, it’s fine. From now on, just be more careful. Once you notice, it’s okay. People who make mistakes once become more cautious.”
Though more importantly… it was clear that this was not a normal reaction for food. Even without my knowledge, my expression hardened.
“Find out what that is immediately. And gather all the sent supply wagons. Right away.”
The knights began moving quickly.
* * *
Meanwhile, Rick guided Diello towards the side wing. The direction they naturally turned towards was the underground of the side wing, a place that could only be accessed by passing through a secretive device.
He scanned through the documents with a cold expression. And in front of him was Venia.
The real Ferro, Venia.
She had a tense expression on her face.
“It seems there has been progress.”
As Diello put down the documents and spoke, Rick lowered his head.
“Yes. It took time to find and compare the records of previous Ferro, and it will take more time to identify more accurate conditions.”
His voice was light, but his words were not.
Rick’s informants under Diello’s command were finding out the conditions for becoming a Ferro. It was a secret operation conducted without anyone in Argenta knowing.
“If we find the conditions for becoming a Ferro, the balance of power among the three families would be controlled by Argenta.”
Whatever happened in the process, it would be much more hopeful than having someone like Venia become a Ferro.
For several days, Rick’s anger had been fueled by her cruelty.
Countless Ferros exist within the three families. There were no inexplicable events in the world, so there must be a reason why they became Ferros. As the awakening of the Ferro was advantageous if it happened quickly, each family had developed their own methods of finding Ferro.
However, that was mostly a superstitious guess, as Ferros always appeared in unexpected places.
They couldn’t narrow down the conditions for a Ferro appearing.
Asking the Ferro themselves about the ‘conditions for another Ferro to appear’ would break the trust with the Ferro, as it could appear that they desired another Ferro. So, the families who valued their relationship with the Ferro would not disturb the Ferro’s peace of mind.
In order to be a proper family, the Ferro had to erase the lily. Nevertheless, Diello Argenta was trampling on that absolute rule as if it didn’t exist.
“Do you think treating the Ferro like this will allow proper awakening?”
Venia sneered. She was unharmed.
If someone who had been interrogated by Rick witnessed this scene, they would be overwhelmed by a sense of betrayal.
They were in a room that would be satisfactory even for a noble lady to stay in.
There weren’t any cruel tools like rumor had its executioners used. In addition, meals were served on time, three times a day. There were even fruits and snacks. And yet, there was nothing strange about those meals.
Still, it wasn’t the life Venia had dreamed of as a Ferro.
As a Ferro, she would naturally have the power and honor she should have. Regardless, there were no glamorous dresses or jewels as she imagined, and there were no servants bowing down to her.
Diello didn’t even come to see her.
Instead, it was Rick who came in with the meals and asked her various questions.
“Do you remember when you first met the Duke?”
“When was it?”
Mostly about matters related to Diello Argenta.
At that time, she speculated.
‘Of course, what am I expecting from these trivial things? Since I have to marry anyway, I should find some way to get close to him.’
So, she answered diligently… but those questions became stranger and stranger.
‘Does Diello Argenta really have interest in such trivial matters?’
And now, with Diello’s arrival, Venia understood what those questions were pointing to.
“You won’t ever become the Ferro.”
It would have been unimaginable for every Ferro.
Currently, when a Ferro dies, no one knows where the next Ferro would come from. Furthermore, the later one uses the Ferro, the later their awakening will be… so who would have thought of hurting their Ferro?
…Except for the crazy Diello Argenta.
“That would be more realistic than you welcoming me as Ferro.”
Diello’s mouth curled up as Venia’s mouth went dry.
Could it really be that way?
There was no torture, yet Diello’s attitude, which seemed like he might not spare her, made her anxious… especially the fact that when one Ferro died, the next Ferro would appear. In other words, for him to manage to create a new Ferro, Venia herself must die.
She naturally deduced this inevitable conclusion, which made her even more desperate.
“I think I understand to some extent. Investigate further and find out the decisive conditions.”
As Diello looked at the documents, he seemed to have narrowed down the ‘conditions for becoming a Ferro’ to some extent through the answers he obtained from her.
“Are you really going to refuse me?”
As Venia asked again, Diello’s gaze turned towards her.
A pure white pearl jewel dangled from her wrist, somehow more clouded than when she first arrived. Whenever she felt the presence of the pearl clearly on her wrist, Venia felt dizzy.
But more importantly, she couldn’t believe that those cold eyes belonged to Diello Argenta. Although she had heard rumors that he was emotionally unstable, she thought it was just the aftermath of his emotional outburst.
His ocean-like pupils remained calm… Diello Argenta was in his right mind.
“Why did it have to be you?”
Of course, he had found her strange since she came here. Moreover, she knew that he was more ruthless than she thought.
Well, even when his parents died, he didn’t bat an eye.
Still, she didn’t expect him to be like this. All the rumors of his gentleness were clearly fabrications, and Venia realized that it didn’t take long to figure that out.
His words were genuine.
“Are you crazy?”
Diello’s cold smile turned towards Venia.
In an instant, a drawn sword touched her neck.
It was a fast strike that Venia couldn’t even see properly. Venia managed to speak despite her stiffened body.
“…Does Krua Alors know that you are such a person?”
No, why did he marry her even though he knew she was a fake Ferro?
Seeing that he wasn’t surprised when the real Ferro appeared after their marriage, it was clear that Diello knew Krua Alors was a fake Ferro. It was a situation that Venia couldn’t understand, no matter how hard she tried.
Why would Diello willingly marry that fake Ferro?
“No, she doesn’t know. That’s why I’m worried.”
Diello narrowed his eyes after hearing her words. Then, he spoke in a relaxed voice.
“What should I do if she knows that her husband is such a b*stard?”
She shouldn’t run away.
A voice that mesmerized people resonated in the room.