TWB (Novel) Chapter 122

C122

The atmosphere darkened. It was dark in front of them because they couldn't see in the right direction. At that moment, Sauveur clapped loudly and raised his voice.

"For now, let's focus on safely celebrating the Day of the Saints. If the atmosphere around us becomes brighter and more harmonious, wouldn't the anger of the two be relieved? Well, for now, there is no other way."

"Hopefully that's the case..."

Vincent murmured helplessly. Despite there being so many people, they couldn't find a significant solution.

But, as Sauveur said, there was no other way. Still, at the order of Zachary, they had prepared for a grand Day of the Saints comparable to the harvest festival of the capital, but it seemed that what they had prepared was not enough.

"We will help with all our hearts."

"I will keep checking how she feels."

Yvonne and the three commanders agreed. The dispute between Count Arno and his wife went beyond a couple's fight and became a territorial issue. Since it was not the time to step aside, everyone actively stepped forward.

Robert, who usually keeps his distance, saying that the Count will take care of these things, Yvonne, who clashes strangely against the wall when it comes to things related to Bianca, and Sauveur, who always pretends not to know anything, joined Vincent, causing the corners of their eyes to fill with tears.

There was no clear solution, but he was motivated by everyone's cooperation instead of having to fight alone. Alright, let's do this.

Vincent's eyes shone with determination.

----

Time passed day by day, and soon the Day of the Saints arrived. The splendor of this year's Day of the Saints could be guessed just by looking at the preparations, so the entire territory was filled with anticipation.

On the eve of the Day of the Saints, a large bonfire was lit to commemorate the souls of the dead and ward off demons. Despite staying up late due to the preparations, the people of the territory flocked to the castle early in the morning of the Day of the Saints, perhaps due to their anticipation for the celebration.

The splendor of the celebration, prepared on an unprecedented scale, was unparalleled. Arno family-decorated flags fluttered here and there, and in a corner, the jesters showcased their talents for today's banquet. The tables lined up in the square were so long that everyone seemed to be able to eat together.

Originally, banquets to welcome the nobles were held inside the castle, but since the Day of All Saints is a feast with the local residents, a place was prepared in an open field.

The butchers had been sacrificing fat pigs throughout the autumn for the day of the celebration. The delicious parts of the meat were taken to the cooking room, while the rest went to the place where sausages were made. The transition from autumn to winter was the perfect time to dry the sausages as there were no flies.

The dishes prepared by the chefs of Arno Castle were handed over to the servants one by one. Just thinking about what dish might be hidden under the round lid covering each large tray made their mouths water.

When the preparations for the banquet were almost complete, the count and his wife arrived at the banquet hall.

When the trumpeter announced the appearance of the count couple, the servants, who had been noisy, bowed deeply and welcomed the count couple.

Zachary's cape fluttered behind his back as he walked proudly. Even just by walking, one could feel the intimidation of a war hero.

Even the vassals who are always by his side are sometimes overwhelmed by the sense of intimidation, so how would the people of the territory react?

Zachary was a popular lord among the locals, but that didn't make him friendly. It was inevitable because he was always going to war. The servants bowed their backs, unable to move.

Still, there were those who couldn't contain their curiosity and gently raised their heads. Their shining gazes reached Bianca, who was slightly away from Zachary.

People who work in the castle or shepherds and stable caretakers living near the castle have come across her, but the common people living in the village have only heard rumors and have never seen her.

Not all lords' wives hide themselves like Bianca. It was also customary to visit the poor and give them alms and distribute bread on days like the Day of All Saints.

But Bianca had never been involved in such things before, of course, and she had never appeared on the estate for anything else. That's why there were rumors that his wife was seriously ill, that she had a bad relationship with the Count, and that she was nowhere to be seen due to a major flaw in her appearance.

However, if that were the case, not all the residents would have felt curious. The reason they were so curious about Bianca was because of the story of Bianca, who recently invented the popular "lace."

Thanks to lace, the territory was experiencing an unprecedented boom, and the inhabitants of the territory were also benefiting. There were rumors circulating that the festival had also been held thanks to Bianca.

It was said that Bianca visited the estate earlier this year, but in a way, today was the day Bianca appeared in front of everyone for the first time externally.

Vincent, who had been distributing bread on behalf of Bianca for the Day of All Saints, looked at Bianca, who was participating in the Day of All Saints for the first time, with admiration.

Zachary sat at the top, and Bianca sat beside him. The two people with cold expressions had a delicate beauty like well-made porcelain dolls, but the coldness between them was also explicit.

"All the servants are watching... What if a rumor of a dispute between the couple arises?" Vincent looked at the servants with anxious eyes. Fortunately, the servants were distracted by the splendor of the banquet, so they didn't pay much attention. Perhaps it was because they didn't have the courage to look closely enough to guess what was between the two.

"Let's fill all our cups to celebrate the Day of All Saints."

At Zachary's signal, the servants went back and forth among the people, filling the wooden cups with wine. The aroma of aged wine over a year old wafted through their nostrils.

The only wine they drank was aged wine of three to six months at most. Aged wine over a year old was only possible in the lord's cellar, and the opportunity to drink such wine was rare. Happiness shone on the faces of the servants.

"To the faithfulness of the saints and the glory of Arno!"

Under Zachary's toast, the people of the territory raised their cups. As soon as they took a sip of alcohol, their faces turned red, and a smile appeared on their lips.

At that very moment, the sound of instruments rang out, and the festival began in full swing. Excited servants gathered to dance and stretched their hands to reach the food on the table.

Then the acrobat brought out a bear. It was a baby bear, but it was as big as a human. There were exclamations everywhere at the bear's appearance. The bear, with its snout covered and a thread tied around its neck, stood on its hind legs and danced in little jumps. And beside it, another acrobat leaped onto a round ball and performed a trick.

Unlike the friendly banquet, there was still a cold wind around Bianca and Zachary. They didn't make eye contact with each other, and they didn't even speak a word.

In Vincent's eyes, it was just a struggle for pride, but in reality, it wasn't that simple. A desperate reason that cannot be bent despite the other person's plea. To protect their own beliefs and the other person's life...

"I, sir, madam..."

Just when the atmosphere seemed colder than ever, a servant bowed and approached Bianca and Zachary. He held a basket in his hand, filled with exceptionally large apples. The servant's face turned red as if he was embarrassed to have come before the lord.

"It's not much. But I'm so grateful that you prepared this banquet for us, so I wanted to give you something... I chose the most delicious ones!"

"I-I also caught a marten! It took me a little effort to handle it gently so that the fur wouldn't get damaged."

With a servant as a starting point, the people of the territory hurried forward. Since everything they brought was from the territory, it belonged to Zachary and Bianca in the first place. However, given the effort they had made to reduce working hours for these festivities, Bianca and Zachary gladly accepted their gifts.

A girl crouched down and offered Bianca a bouquet of flowers. Bianca smiled faintly and took the bouquet.

"It's a very beautiful bouquet."

It was Bianca's smile that she hadn't seen in a long time, as she had only seen her expressionless face during their cold war.

Zachary glanced at Bianca's smile while she wasn't looking.

But the sweet moment was brief.

Bianca, who received the flowers from the girl, turned her head too quickly. Fearing that Bianca would discover that he had been spying on her, Zachary quickly averted his gaze and spoke sternly, as if trying to cover up the situation.

"Thank you. Let me acknowledge your hard work."

"It's an honor, my lord!"

Upon seeing this, Vincent and the others sighed deeply. If he says something like the flowers look good on her, will thorns grow in his mouth? It would have been nice to take a step towards reconciliation by saying something pleasant to hear while she was in a good mood.

In the case of marital disputes, in many cases, covering up the cause of the fight could resolve the fight faster than trying to eliminate it. However, since both Zachary and Bianca have extreme personalities, they only sought alternative or life-or-death solutions. It was because of that that they distanced themselves from each other.

---

"A step back! The main course is served!!"

Then a huge tray appeared, carried by six servants. In the middle of the tray was a splendid sculpture of a swan, and underneath were a dozen roasted geese surrounding the sculpture.

As the order was received to ensure that the banquet was not inferior to that of the capital, many things were attempted, but it was not reasonable to sacrifice the swans from the Arno estate. Instead, the swan sculpture carved by Nicholas splendidly and solemnly illuminated the place. It was so lifelike that it seemed like it would fly away at any moment.

Bianca, who was very knowledgeable about art, gasped in admiration as soon as she saw the sculpture. Even Vincent, who was a newcomer in this regard, couldn't help but recognize Nicholas's skill.

Excellent. It wouldn't be strange to talk about this topic. Vincent secretly looked at Bianca and said.

"Why don't we send him to the capital to study? With such excellent skills, he will become an even better sculptor if he sees and learns from bigger places."

Sending Nicholas to the capital to study was something Bianca had also considered. It's not bad to keep him exclusive to the Arno territory, but if he sees the world with that level of brilliance, it will be even better. After all, Nicholas belongs to the Arno family... Bianca nodded.

"It wouldn't be a bad idea."

"Nicholas will love it too."

Vincent smiled broadly in response.
It was a very rare smile, given that he always scrutinized the territory very seriously.

The old butler's smile showed how disheartened he was by the current atmosphere.

However, the current atmosphere didn't seem bad. Vincent was going to maintain this good vibe and even get Zachary to join the conversation.

Both of them were as proud as they were stubborn. Since they're people who are not good at expressing their disappointment in front of others, it's clear that in a place where the servants are gathered, they will respond softly, even if it's a short answer, due to the eyes of others.

His plan was that if Bianca and Zachary spoke to each other, even if it was just a single word, the accumulated resentment would melt away like snow.

Vincent's eyes shone towards the vassals around him. The meaning of establishing the atmosphere with moderation was strongly conveyed. The vassals who were close to Bianca and Zachary nodded with determination.

But Bianca's following words mercilessly shattered Vincent's predictions and hopes.

"Yes. Because Nicholas is a brave child like no other. I believe he will take on a challenge without hesitation, even if it means breaking away from the world he knows."

Bianca aimed a critical arrow. It was obvious at whom the arrow was directed. A man who has more knowledge than anyone else and works hard to maintain the status quo. Everyone looked at Zachary, who was seated just to the right of Bianca.

While saying that, Bianca's head faced forward, but she never looked at Zachary. Bianca's behavior was so noble and unpretentious that it made one wonder if the person she referred to might not be Zachary.

He carefully chose the topic of conversation in case it went against Bianca, but with Bianca's words, all his intentions were shattered. Vincent's eyes darkened, and he covered his face with his disappointment-etched, wrinkled hands.

In his haste, he momentarily forgot the fact that Bianca didn't care about others. It might have been the same if he had brought up a topic other than Nicholas.

Worried that Bianca's thorny words might offend Zachary, Vincent anxiously looked at him. In a way, it was as if the man's virtues were ignored in the presence of the servants, so even if it was Bianca, Zachary might get angry.

However, Zachary's face remained calm. The face that didn't even raise an eyebrow was so composed that it seemed like Bianca's aggressive attitude was justified.

Contrary to what he thought about the topic of discussion, the atmosphere strangely flowed.

Meanwhile, the uncomfortable silence continued. It was like a game of mafia, a situation where the towel could fall behind anyone.

It was Sauveur who couldn't bear this situation.

Sauveur, looking around, clicked his tongue and deliberately raised his voice to change the atmosphere with an awkward laugh.

"Ha, ha. Who isn't brave in the Arno estate? This is where the bravest men of Sevran gather."

"I don't know about that, but I know you're being reckless."

However, Bianca's following comment caused Sauveur's shoulders to slump.

It might have been a poor choice to defend the Count... Sauveur muttered impotently, disheartened.

As the previous ones sank one after another, the courage to continue diminished. Robert, who carefully stood up from his seat, slipped into a place where the festival was in full swing. He blended in so quickly that at some point, he started dancing with others.

Yvonne also disappeared, causing a commotion as she said she would bring Bianca's favorite food. Gaspard, who remained in his seat, clenched his heavy mouth even tighter. The edge of his mouth wrinkled from the force he applied.

Robert once said he hated noisy things like festivals, and considering Bianca had few favorite foods, one could see how embarrassing his excuses were.

Vincent and Sauveur stared, hoping Zachary would do something about it. Of course, they didn't even think that Zachary was in the wrong.

However, it was clear that Zachary was the cause of this atmosphere, and Bianca was one step ahead of Zachary considering the stubbornness they had witnessed thus far.

In the end, it was clear that Zachary should be the one to bend and resolve this, so why do they keep fighting while troubling the people around them?

But their wish was in vain. As it was clear that Zachary couldn't lose to Bianca this time, he withdrew from the burning eyes of the vassals with a sullen expression.

While everyone in the Arno Territory laughed heartily, enjoying the celebration of the Day of the Saints, the Count and his surroundings were as cold as a polar wave.

The atmosphere, like the wintry wind that arrived one step before winter reached the estate, continued until winter after the festival ended.

----

The icy atmosphere persisted until the first snowfall in Arno after the Day of the Saints had passed.

The weather was cold, and the atmosphere in the castle was eerie, causing those who worked in Arno Castle to bow their bodies more than usual.

"The weather is cold, so it would be good if they stayed close and showed affection... Still, us singles have it even worse."

Sauveur murmured, crossed his arms, and made a fuss. Robert looked down on Sauveur, but he didn't specifically refute Sauveur's claim because he agreed with Sauveur's thoughts in his heart.

It had been over a decade since he followed Zachary on the battlefield. It was strange to have a long-term lover. However, until now, the three of them had fared well together, relying on each other's shoulders. They rationalized it by saying that such a free life wasn't bad and that it was better than living with bound arms like the Count.

But that delicate balance was shattered. It was because Gaspard and Yvonne had gotten engaged. After confessing their feelings at a tournament in the capital, they took some time to start dating and finally announced that they would marry next spring when dandelions began to bloom.

"Honestly, I thought I would be the first to get married."

"Have you even saved any money?"

"Anyway, I thought you would get married before Gaspard."

"I agree with that."

When he thought he was falling behind Gaspard, who was as solid as a rock, his self-confidence plummeted, and his eyes darkened.

Although he had wished Gaspard happiness in his marriage, he couldn't help but feel bitter in his heart. Robert and Sauveur squatted in front of each other and sighed simultaneously. It wasn't the image befitting an honorable knight of the Arno family.

At that moment, a horse rushed from the entrance of the outer fortress in the distance. It was a messenger from Lahoz. His face was as red as a tomato as his breath rose to the tip of his throat.

"It's urgent, it's urgent!"

Upon the messenger's call, Robert and Sauveur hardened their faces and jumped from their positions. The messenger, who saw them, managed to catch his breath while panting and said,

"Prince Gautier has died!"
-
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