e to wait for him to speak any longer, Rhett tilted her head and asked.
But the duke could not bring himself to speak.
After hesitating for a long time, the duke sighed and got up from his seat as if he had given up on what he had initially wanted to say.
“I owe a lot to the Leonid couple for their help on the battlefield.”
Standing, he looked down at Rhett with a grim gaze.
“Now, it is my turn to pay my due.”
Rhett could only stare at Winfried.
“And I mean it.”
With an intense gaze, the Duke of Winfried stared at Rhett.
“Miss Irina Leonid, I wish for your happiness.”
He wished for her happiness.
There were some who wished her well when they greeted her but this was her first time hearing someone tell her that.
That was why she had not noticed at first.
“… My name.”
He had just called her Irina Leonid.
She realised that that was her name a little late.
“Is that my name?”
The Duke of Winfried nodded.
“Irina Leonid, that is your name.”
Not knowing how to react or what to reply, Rhett’s expression hardened.
Her name, that was her name.
I also have a name!
A real name, one that was not given because of a rat!
She covered her mouth just in case she screamed.
“Irina means peace.”
The Duke of Winfried stretched his hand out to Irina.
“Live your life in peace as your name calls for and be as happy as I wish you to be for.”
He pressed his lips upon her sullied hands.
“From the bottom of my heart.”
As he loomed over her hand, the Duke of Winfried smiled gently.
“You may remain in my mansion until you are happy.
Please do not hold yourself back from receiving all of my help.”
She felt as though she should say something in response but she couldn’t because she was choking on her emotions.
The most she could do was to nod.
The Duke of Winfried, who pulled the corners of his lips to a smile once again, straightened his back.
“Get some rest.”
Heading towards the door, the Duke of Winfried then turned as though he was just reminded of something.
“Welcome to the Winfried Duchy, Daughter of Count Leonid, Miss Irina Leonid.”
The door closed.
Even after she was left alone, Irina stared at the door blankly.
And it was only after some time passed did she register the fortune she had been blessed with a joyful cheer.
What the Duke of Winfried had been hesitating to say earlier had already been pushed to the back of her mind.
In a teahouse in the capital.
Sitting in the seat he had been guided towards, Viscount Ventlen fidgeted with his lapel without much reason.
He continued to remove and put on his gloves as he could not stop his hands from sweating.
‘How long has it been?’
He could not remember how many years had passed since he was last in the capital.
It might have been the first time he travelled to the city since he last visited for that silver mine.
Was that a couple years back?
As he scoured through his vague memories, Viscount Ventlen glanced around his surroundings.
‘I was told that this was a luxury teahouse that even only a handful of the central nobles use and that does seem to be the case.’
Every customer he could see sitting in that teahouse was someone whose name he had heard at least once before.
They were famous for their businesses, outstanding contributions to the country or had made a name for themselves in high society.
There were people here whom ordinary aristocrats would not be able to easily strike up conversation with.
He had hailed from Count Leonid as well but although he had been granted an entrance pass to the Imperial Palace, this was a high-end teahouse that even that pass could not grant entry to.
Looking around the teahouse, Viscount Ventlen clenched the fists he had rested atop the table.
He too could have belonged to such a scene.
If only he had not been deprived of opportunity because he was the second choice, he would have belonged here a long time ago.
Crack, Viscount Ventlen ground his teeth.
‘How much was I discriminated against, how much humiliation had I been subjected to for only being the second son?’
Obviously, he had lost all of his parents’ love to that bastard, Azen.
His house’s support had also been monopolised by him.
Didn’t he struggle in the academy because everyone only knew him as ‘Azen’s little brother?’
There was also that time.
“Let Azen become Count Leonid.”
“What? Father, what about me?”
“Kovin, you shall be granted the title ‘Viscount Ventlen.’”
“… You’re only granting me a viscounty?”
“The Viscounty of Ventlen is also in a good location.
Doesn’t it also house the small but reliable Lowell estate? Their wheat fields are sizeable and there are many who lived there for a while, you will not find it difficult to collect taxes from them.”
Hadn’t the title of ‘Count Leonid’ also been taken away by Azen?
Just because he was the second son!
‘Skill-wise, I am much better than him.’
If he had been granted the title, Count Leonid would have long moved from the western country into the city.
He could have erased the fact that the Leonid house was weak and only had honour to their name from history!
‘This is all his fault…’
That moron who laughed like a fool was more interested in wielding his sword and following his ideals than ruling the county.
He was so foolish that he had bought into the vain idea that he could extinguish the flames of war and threw himself into the said flames.
To think he would jump into those flames on his own.
And place his daughter in Ventlen’s hands.
Those were the two best things Azen had ever done with his life.
When Azen died, when the sole heir had passed, didn’t those cronies, like Baron and Baroness Kerrick, lose hope and leave the county one after the other in despair?
“Just a little more now.’
If he just hung on for a little while more, he would be able to swallow all of Leonid County and finally become Count Leonid.
Then, he would be one of the elites who could sit here.
He had no need to fret.
Still, he thought he needed to become more vigilant in case of any unexpected variables.
“I’m not late, am I?”
That wretched thing the war hero was searching for.
Looking up to face the Duke of Winfried, Viscount Ventlen flashed a broad smile.
“I had just reached as well.”
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