The Marquis leaned against the window holding a cut cigar between his fingers.
Lia appeared from behind the angel statue after snow began to fall after a three-hour lull.
The child covered her head with both hands as she walked towards the mansion, and Betty met her at the entrance with a warm fluffy coat.
He watched Lia entering the mansion with Betty and then turned his gaze to his wife, who was reading in bed.
“If you are going to raise him as a boy, you will need to learn respect.”
Anastasia did not answer her husband as she continued to read, and the Marquis turned to her with a rigid face, “Anastasia!” The Marquis called her name while biting down on his cigar and Anastasia slowly raised her head.
“You say I punished Lia because I do not know respect”
“No, I believe your respect to be one-sided.
Lia is our child now, and slapping her is too much,” said the Marquis.
“I taught Lia her place, and since you left her education to me, leave me be.”
“Her place” He asked as his anger grew.
“I punished him for the sake of the Vale name! He will not make another mistake due to what happened today.
If he doesnt make another mistake, I wont do it again.”
The Marquis smoked his cigar while Anastasia calmed down, and he realized how blindly she loved Kieran.
She had become extremely sensitive since Canillia had come to the house, and her husband and servants all saw it.
She stood up and went to sit down in front of the dressing table to braid her hair.
“I would have punished Kieran for tarnishing the Vale name too.”
“You think Lia did that”
“Being forgiven for mistakes makes one weak.”
“You honestly believe a childs mistake will tarnish the Vale name Your words disgrace the family!” The Marquis left his trembling wife, and although it was late at night, the family butler, Anher, followed the tired Marquis.
“Did you find her yet” The Marquis inquired.
“She seems to have left town.
Some say she went away to find her child, and others say she met with an accident.”
The Marquis walked inside the cold library with an expressionless face, and the butler lit the fireplace.
He watched the flames as the butler turned the logs around before ringing the bell.
“Youll catch a cold.
I am sending for tea.”
“Anher, do you see this” The Marquis took out a small leather box from the bottom of a shelf, and the family crest said that only the family head could open the box.
Anher locked the door and stood in front of his master.
“Its what you have mentioned before.”
The Marquis opened the box, and a diamond about the size of an adult finger rested in it, “Its from a diamond mine.”
Anher examined the diamond with the loupe the Marquis gave him, and his expertise as a jeweler came in handy now.
His eyes were excited as he focused the loupe with shaking hands.
“I have never seen a finer stone, Master.”
“The same goes here.
This is why Geores King has been acting strange.”
“Did you find this in the neutral lands”
“Yes, half of which is owned by the Ihars.
If the Emperor had not made the place neutral, all of the lands would have been owned.”
The Marquis stared at the magnificent jewel, and Anher took the tea at the door without letting the maid see what was inside.
“Do you believe there will be war” The butler inquired, looking worried.
The Marquis frowned at Anhers question while sipping his herb tea, “The Geore Kingdom is already taking action, I saw their military flags even at the Del Casa Plains.”
“King Luan Sergio seems to be showing his true colors then.”
“They have been black-hearted since the previous generation.
I thought they had been pretending well.”
The north of the Empire was owned by the Ihars and touched the Behorbia Western Mountains, where war had raged for a century.
Both countries, tired of war, made a large neutral land with the Nangtwa river as the boundary.
It was a ceasefire area, and both countries now lived in precarious peace.
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Thirty years passed like that, and a year ago, Luan Sergio became the next king, and he was an unreadable man.
However, he sent his armies to the neutral lands, knowing what treasures rested in the Ihar lands.
The Duke of Ihar had been furious and had called the Marquis to look around since he had the excuse of being a merchant to be there.
“Does the Duke know of this mine” The butler asked curiously.
The land is owned by the Ihars, and its better to ask for cooperation rather than fall for greed.”
For aristocrats to maintain their power balance with the Imperial family, which had the peoples love, they needed more funds.
The only way for nobles to have equal power with the Imperial family was to maintain their funds, as power could be balanced only after the Imperial family was in debt to the aristocrats.
Such a tight balance would lead to an ideal ruler.
The Marquis looked at the transparent diamond.
Suddenly, the bell rang loud and fast, and a servant came rushing in with a fearful look on his face and shouted in panic, “Sir, young Master Kieran has fainted and is not breathing.”