“Aren’t there many places that need mages? I know that the recruitment for royal mages is always open.”

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“It’s not what they want to do.” Joseph shrugged.
“According to the information we have received, it seems that the king has also made an offer to Ingelos.
He said he was willing to pay off their huge debt to the central bank and even support their research.”

“Isn’t that deal much better than what the royal family wants with us?”

It was bittersweet to admit, but without a swordmaster, even a good and loyal knight family was not as useful as a mage family.

“However, it seems that the king intends to actively interfere with their family by ordering regular mage training and issuing essential research tasks.”

“So that was the catch…” Kaon sighed, understanding why Ingelos wanted to cooperate with Ferdinand this time.

The two families wished to choose the lesser evil, with the arranged marriage being the reason to politely decline the king’s offers.

“It seems too deceitful.”

From the king’s point of view, it would appear that the two families chose the enemy instead of cooperating with him.
Wouldn’t that provoke his ire even more?

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“It’s all in the execution.
If the reason looks plausible, he has no choice but to let it slide despite any suspicions.”

“That’s why I’m being told to be as obedient as a lamb.”

Two sacrifices would be raised on the altar, and in return, both families would get what they wanted.

Kaon began to wonder who the poor lamb from Ingelos would be.


“…What in what now?”

“You must act as if you have fallen in love with the Ingelos’ eldest daughter.”


It really was just one crazy thing after another.
Kaon ran a hand through his well-groomed hair—which would have horrified the maid who had made it so neat in the first place, but that was the least of his worries at the moment.

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“That is Lady Leonida’s second order.”

Kaon felt his good mood disappear.
Somehow, his cooperation had led him to this point, on his way to the palace, absolutely befuddled at all the plans that involved him but were made without him.

Was this why Leo hadn’t been nagging him these past few days?

“This is crazy.
Would you do something like that? Because I wouldn’t!”

“You don’t have to actually fall in love with her.
You just have to pretend that you did.”

“I know that! Still, I don’t like the idea, so I won’t do it.”

Kaon wasn’t an actor in a traveling theater group.
His pride would never allow him to do it.

“Well, my role is only to relay messages.
The one who must go back to the duchy and talk to Lady Leo is you, Young Master,” Joseph stated calmly.
“Didn’t you also worry about seeming deceitful? She is concerned about the same thing.”

“So she wants me to act like a fool? Does she think so lightly of her brother’s pride as a knight?”

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It wasn’t that he was unaware or unappreciative of Leonida’s hard work.
Kaon also wanted to help his sister for the sake of Ferdinand, which was why he accepted the command to be betrothed to an Ingelos.
He even willingly undertook the twenty-day journey with little knowledge of what he was supposed to do.

This, though, was too much.
By this point, he was almost wondering whether Leonida really thought of him as a brother.

“Does she? You know how much Lady Leo loves you, Young Master.
Besides, there is no doubt that you will become a great knight in the future.”

“Is this the usual thing that beloved little brothers are made to do?”

“But, Young Master, if you don’t do it, the young lady of Ingelos will have to do the pretending, and in that case…” Joseph looked at Kaon with ominously bright eyes.
“Won’t it hurt her fragile heart? If you, who will become a knight representing Ferdinand, do not take care of her, won’t that be a shameful act that goes against the code of chivalry?”


“Lady Leo, who has exceptional foresight, must have had that in mind, hoping that her one and only brother will walk the righteous path of a knight.”

Kaon was presented with the unusual sight of Joseph clenching his fists and speaking with fervor.

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He tilted his head and raised an eyebrow.
“How much were you supposed to get?”

“…I have no idea what you’re talking about.
As your aide, please remember that I am also always thinking about your future.
Even if Lady Leo had indeed promised a bonus, would I have dared to sell my soul for just a few gold coins?”

He definitely would have dared.
In fact, it was unlikely that there was anything left of his soul at this point.
Even though he always looked weary, his eyes shone in the presence of money.

“If it’s really difficult for you, just try asking for a dance.
Lady Leo would not have given these orders in hopes of a passionate courtship.
It would just be nice to have ideas on how to propose.”

I’m not going to do anything other than ask her to dance, so don’t expect anything big or make me do more than that.
I refuse.”

“Understood.” Joseph paused, looking at Kaon’s pensive expression, then said abruptly, “You never know, right? Perhaps the lady will be beautiful enough for you to fall in love at first sight.”

“With an Ingelos? Me? That’s ridiculous.”

The words were comforting in their own way, but they wouldn’t work on him.

‘I can’t fall in love with her, of all people… It would be like a dog eating grass.’

Kaon waved his thoughts away and kicked Joseph out of the carriage.
He just wanted to carry out his sister’s orders as soon as possible and shake off the burden placed on him.

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