TWB (Novel) Chapter 132

C132

"Even if you ask the Blanchefort family, it will be difficult to provide reinforcements," Bianca shook her head.

"My father and my brother are now protecting the Crown Prince Albert. Even though Jacob is here, I cannot guarantee that he hasn't laid his hands on the Crown Prince. If we go to war prematurely and something happens to the Crown Prince, Sevran's future will be in danger. I can't see that person wearing a crown."

"Still..."

"I also sent a message. Once I receive a response to that, we can request reinforcements."

Although she said that, Bianca felt anxious. It was because she hadn't received a response from Odelli yet. It's fine if it's just a delay. But if something goes wrong...

"Fire!"

Amidst the clamor of war unfolding on the walls, a cry resonated clearly within the castle grounds. Lost in her thoughts, Bianca raised her head.

Smoke was rising from within the castle's interior. And not just from one place. Vincent shouted with a flushed face.

"Find the source of the fire and put it out right away!"

The place where the fire started was near the wooden building, and of course, it was forbidden to light a fire there in case of a fire. Bianca's forehead furrowed at the unknown fire.

"...Fire at a time like this?"

Moreover, they were in the midst of winter with snow. According to the weather, it was very unlikely for the fire to spread easily. It was a dubious situation, and Bianca's instinct never failed. Bianca called for Yvonne.

"Yvonne. Ask the servants if they have seen any suspicious person near the fire."

"Do you think someone deliberately set the fire?"

"Yes. They shouldn't have had a chance to bribe a resident, so focus on the outsiders. We need to do it secretly before they destroy the evidence and escape. Can you do it?"

"Of course."

Yvonne immediately moved away. In no time, she disappeared into the crowd. Bianca looked towards the castle with an anxious gaze. Although she knew nothing about war, it's not like she knew nothing about tactics.

If it wasn't easy to open a securely closed door from outside the castle, you could open it from the inside. Or confuse the interior of the castle and destroy it from the inside out. Measures like bribing a soldier or infiltrating spies in advance were used for that purpose.

And if Jacob had infiltrated a spy, it wouldn't end with just a fire. The fire must be a trick, and if there really was something more... They had to catch the spy as quickly as possible.

At that moment, the servants, who had been boiling a pot of water on Bianca's orders, approached her.

"Madam, the water is ready. Where should we send it?"

"Send it to the southwest. And divide the people boiling water in half so that one side supports the fire. Understood?"

Everyone nodded in response to Bianca's order. The first thing they had to do was prevent the chaos within the castle from spreading to the walls and calm the situation as quickly as possible.

-----

The fire was extinguished, and Vincent and the others returned to their positions. Everyone was in a hurry, so it was resolved sooner than expected.

At that moment, Bianca thought that Yvonne would have identified the suspect to some extent, so she took a moment and descended from the wall.

The territory was bustling due to the people who had gathered in large numbers to protect it. A small, slender young woman like Bianca could easily be swept away.

Fortunately, that didn't happen. Those who recognized Bianca made way for her. The young woman, with her back and head held high, quickened her steps, looking ahead.

Then, a commotion was heard somewhere.

"Hey, why are you doing this? I'm just a merchant who got caught up in misfortune!"

"If you hear something unfortunate, you'll stay silent. Why are you poking around and acting suspiciously? Shut up and come here!"

One man was begging, and the other man was shouting loudly. Bianca moved towards them. The people surrounding them, as soon as they spotted Bianca, parted like waves, one by one. It didn't take Bianca long to reach the center of the commotion.

There, a soldier was holding a small man by the collar. The clothes, which initially seemed quite plausible, were dirty with mud and soot.

Yvonne, who was standing beside him, looking at the man being held by the collar with a terrifying expression, was startled by Bianca's appearance.

"Madam, why did you come to such a dangerous place?"

"We're at war now. Is there any place that's not dangerous?"

Bianca shrugged slightly.

The merchant, rolling his eyes and gauging the atmosphere, noticed who Bianca was. The merchant immediately raised both hands and pleaded.

"Oh, madam. Please save me. I'm a textile merchant from Grandche. There must have been a misunderstanding; I'm innocent..."

The merchant seemed genuinely bewildered. The crowd roared and seemed to sympathize with the merchant's injustice. Bianca sighed and asked.

"A textile merchant?"

"Yes."

"That's strange... Every textile merchant who enters our castle meets with Yvonne to choose my clothes. But Yvonne... It seems like she has never seen you before?"

"I sell affordable garments for commoners! No, it's not surprising that the madam doesn't know me."

"That's also strange. I tend to be particular about my clothes and the curtains in my room, so all the women on our estate do the weaving when it comes to it, and there are many weavers. It should be a particularly advantageous place for textile merchants to come."

Even if they buy some things, it's not easy to do it consistently. Before learning to weave with Bianca, the women of Arno had to work hard to create a fabric that suited Bianca's taste.

As a result, everyone could easily make any kind of fabric, and textile merchants who arrived at Arno Castle mainly brought luxury items.

The merchant seemed worried when all his excuses were blocked. He didn't think it would be so meticulous, so he stumbled with his words.

Bianca turned her head towards Yvonne as if she didn't have anything to hear.

"Where is this man's cargo?"

"Here it is."

One of the soldiers who assisted Yvonne arrived with the merchant's cart. Opening the cover on the cart revealed its contents.

Next to the fabric was a container of oil. Even if it was a pyromaniac, it was an item that didn't match a textile vendor.

Yvonne quickly tapped the oil tank. Many of them were already empty. The situation became increasingly unfavorable for the merchant.

"What is this oil in your cargo?"

"It's f-for the wheels of the carriage..."

"Enough. Your actions are clearly questionable in this situation."

Bianca waved her hand. They were still at war, and everyone was on edge. It was right to discard things that could be suspicious.

"Lock him up for now, and... wait a moment. There's a strange sound."

"What?"

Bianca's gaze turned towards the carriage. She frowned, concentrating on the sound reaching her ears. A sound of something being torn. As soon as she thought, "No way," Bianca shouted.

"Open all the lids! Look inside the luggage too!"

Upon Bianca's order, Yvonne raised her arms and stepped forward. Yvonne, who had opened one lid and was rummaging through the cotton fabrics, suddenly fell on her backside in surprise when she found something.

"Oh my, Madam!"

Yvonne startled and pointed inside the carriage.

"R-rats! It's filled with rats!"

Among the cotton fabrics, she could see a rat contained in a cage with thin bars. Dull fur and a thin, repugnant tail. Several rats the size of a forearm with sharp front teeth were locked inside the cage.

Bianca asked urgently.

"Were you bitten, Yvonne?"

"No, no. It didn't even touch a strand of my hair."

Yvonne calmed her startled heart and responded.

Why in the world was the cotton merchant carrying rats?

Everyone was startled and looked at the merchant in astonishment.

There were no more excuses. The merchant realized it was all over and tightly closed his eyes.

Bianca also slowly turned her gaze towards the merchant. The pale green eyes silently burning with fury as they stared at the merchant.

It was the worst of the worst to release contaminated rats and spread an epidemic. Infectious diseases spread from the weakest. Children, the elderly, the wounded... Indiscriminately killing those who aren't part of the army was closer to committing a massacre than a war...

"Of course. It's a stratagem that could only come from that man."

-------

Bianca's lips twisted. If these rats had been released on the estate, something terrible would have happened.

After the arson, it seemed that he had intended to release the rats and disturb the castle on both sides, but he wouldn't have known that the existence of a spy would be quickly discovered. Thanks to Yvonne, this disaster was avoided.

The lively eyes of the surrounding servants shot towards the merchant. Some energetic individuals even raised their voices.

"We should slit his throat with a knife right now! How dare he set the castle on fire and release rats?!"

"A rat with an owner must be returned to its owner."

Bianca said quietly, lifting the tip of her chin. As soon as Bianca's words fell, everyone held their breath and listened to her next words.

She wanted to tell them to throw those rats over the wall, but beyond the wall was Arno's property. Even though there were currently enemies, if an epidemic spread for no reason, they would be the ones to suffer in the future. Bianca, unable to do what she wanted, clicked her tongue.

"Throw it over the wall."

"Madam, please save me, Madam! I'll tell you everything I know!"

The merchant desperately cried out, but Bianca pretended not to hear. What information could Jacob have given to someone who tried to spread a secret when caught? It was simply useless anyway.

Bianca waved her hand as if she didn't need to listen. The soldiers picked up the struggling merchant and dragged him against the wall. The merchant looked back desperately and shouted at Bianca.

"Madam! Madam!"

"Make sure the rats don't spread the disease."

With the merchant's voice still ringing behind her, Bianca spoke firmly to the other soldiers. The faces of the soldiers who were looking at the rats hardened as they realized it would have been a truly serious problem if it hadn't been handled properly.

Bianca, who felt relieved, sighed and relaxed her body. She didn't show it, but she was tense because she worried that things might go wrong.

Fearful that her slender body might waver a bit, Yvonne quickly approached and held her. Yvonne looked into Bianca's eyes and asked.

"Did you know he was going to release the rats?"

"No. But I thought something else might happen."

Bianca smiled slightly and shook her head. Bianca and Yvonne returned to the wall. All the people of the territory looked at Bianca with astonishment and cleared the way.

"It's all thanks to you. Later, when the war is over, I will have to reward you."

"I don't need a reward, I just hope the war ends soon, Madam."

"I think the same. Well, now there's no time to rest. Let's go back, Yvonne."

Bianca and Yvonne had a light conversation and hastened their steps.

Although she managed to avert a crisis, she couldn't remain immersed in the joy of victory forever. The crisis continued.

In such a precarious situation that it seemed it would collapse as soon as she relaxed even a little, Bianca kept her mind firm, took a deep breath, and looked ahead.

One and a half months. Zachary's return was still very far away.

-----------

The war intensified in an instant.

Later, Jacob began throwing stones at the castle walls with a catapult.

It would have been fine if he only threw stones with the catapult. Occasionally, they threw together corpses or dead animals. It wasn't pleasant to see a body thrown into the sky, falling onto the stone floor and exploding with a disgusting sound.

It was also unhygienic. As if they were trying to get rid of the rats, Arno's army was quite annoyed by Jacob's army's behavior.

While the catapults continued to launch projectiles from the sky, unarmed people like Bianca and Yvonne quickly found themselves in danger.

Gaspard urgently shouted.

"Madam, please enter the castle for now!"

"Alright."

Realizing that this was not the time to be stubborn, Bianca turned around without saying a word.

But the projectiles falling in front of her blocked her way. That being said, she couldn't just stand still. Unable to do this or that, Bianca bit her lip.

"Madam, this way!"

It was Yvonne who had the courage to step forward first. She gestured to Bianca, clearing the path one step ahead of Bianca.

As Bianca lifted her heavy feet to follow Yvonne, she saw a stone fall from the sky right above Yvonne's head. If she were hit, she would suffer instant death.

"No!"

Bianca exclaimed involuntarily. Her feet, which had been motionless before, moved freely, not knowing what to do. The vibration she felt as she rushed to the ground resonated in her ears.

A master risking his life for his maid. If she had heard that in the past, she would have mocked it as inappropriate. She never dreamed she would do this. However, Bianca couldn't just sit and watch Yvonne's death.

Bianca approached Yvonne with a distorted face.

If she pulls her towards her, even just a little.

"Yvonne!"

Yvonne, who had not yet grasped the situation, looked at her without understanding. Her bewilderment was revealed on her face when she suddenly saw her mistress running hurriedly, shouting her name.

Bianca gritted her teeth and pulled Yvonne's hand with a jerk. Yvonne's body, about a palm and a half taller than hers, wobbled and leaned toward Bianca.

But it was too late. A small piece of stone flew over Bianca's cheek. The rock that slowly flew through the air was aimed directly at them.

No, it just seemed slow. Like lightning. Bianca instinctively knew she couldn't avoid it.

Yvonne, realizing the situation too late, panicked and embraced Bianca in her arms. The strength of her grip, strengthened by her work as a servant, held Bianca so tightly that she couldn't even move. And so, Yvonne crouched on the ground and wrapped her arms around Bianca.

"Yvonne!"

"Kyaack!"

Yvonne's scream echoed in Bianca's ears. Yvonne, who was stoned, was bleeding from her head. She is holding Bianca tightly with her hands now, but sooner or later her hands will lose strength and fall to the ground...

It was disappointing to have to wait helplessly for a terrible future to arrive. Bianca bit her lips hard, and blood began to flow from her mouth.

However, Yvonne's grip remained strong. Her rough breath tickling Bianca's ear was the same.

It was at that moment that she felt something strange.

Huh...?

Bianca slowly raised her head and only then did she know what had happened.

A huge shadow covered their bodies.

The sunlight shining behind the silver armor pierced her eyes and covered her opponent's face. But there was no way she couldn't identify such a large figure....

"Gaspard!!"

"A-are you alright, madam...?"

It was Gaspard who saved Bianca and Yvonne from the rocks. The relief that Yvonne had been saved didn't last long. Despite wearing armor, he had taken a heavy stone that fell from the sky, so there was no way he was fine. Bianca asked urgently.

"I'm fine. And you? Are you alright?"

"Please... Go inside, madam. Yvonne, take the madam inside."

Without raising an eyebrow, he urged Yvonne with his usual expression. But his complexion was definitely not good. The voice that leaked out somewhere was different from his usual heaviness, as if his lungs had been filled with air by inhaling too much at once.

Tears welled up in Yvonne's eyes, but instead of expressing her pain, Yvonne pulled Bianca's arm.

"Let's go inside, madam."

"Sir Gaspard, we need to check your injuries now."

Blanca insisted. She knew Yvonne was most concerned about Gaspard, but in this situation, she couldn't escape alone with the weight of the battlefield responsibility weighing on him.

"I am a knight who protects the castle, and now I am at war. I cannot leave the ranks for an injury like this."

Gaspard, who said that, stifled a groan. But still, his face remained expressionless. Gaspard took a deep breath and once again, slowly but urgently, persuaded Bianca.

"If you end up injured, I will have no face to see the Count. Please, go inside!"

Yvonne, unable to wait, jumped from her spot. And pulling Bianca's shoulder, she dragged her inside the castle.

"Sir Gaspard is right. Go inside, madam."

Her voice trembled as she struggled to hold back tears. Bianca was forced to move. In this situation, she was tired of her own helplessness, where the only thing it allowed her to do to help was to do nothing.

Gaspard watched Yvonne take Bianca into the castle before returning to the front.

When Gaspard turned around, blood began to flow over his forehead.

It was a relief that the blood didn't flow in front of Bianca and Yvonne earlier. Not only would it add another worry to Yvonne, but it would have been more insistent, saying that he needed treatment. Gaspard sighed in relief.

His whole body throbbed, but it wasn't painful considering what he had done.

This time, he was able to protect Yvonne with his own hands.

When Bianca and Yvonne were alone, Jacob hit Yvonne, and she fell seriously ill. Just thinking about it made his blood boil.

As long as he kept his eyes open, he had sworn not to let Yvonne be hurt again, so now his heart was filled with unparalleled satisfaction and a sense of achievement.

Gaspard encouraged the soldiers by wiping the blood from his forehead with the back of his hand.

"Looking at the bodies thrown together, it seems they are running out of stones to throw! Hold on a little longer!"

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