ia fell backwards due to being hit on the chin by Matilda’s outstretched palm.

“Shut your rotten mouth.”

“This… You crazy wretch!”

With blood dripping from her mouth, Cordelia swung her dagger at Matilda.

Matilda hurriedly stood up and dodged sideways, but she didn’t have much space to avoid it in such a small room.

Shing—!

Matilda suffered no fatal wounds, but the number of cuts on her body continued to grow.

She was forced to escape to the hallway, but Cordelia’s sharp attacks didn’t allow it, and Matilda was quickly driven into a corner.

‘Damnit…!’

It was at that moment when the lantern entered Matilda’s sight.

Snatch—!

Matilda, whose body moved before her mind, picked up the lantern, and Cordelia’s eyes widened as she saw it.

‘There’s no way?!’

Matilda threw the lantern on the floor without hesitation.

Clang—!

Fwoom—!

“Ugh?!”

As flames engulfed the oil that spread across the floor, Cordelia retreated, covering her face with her arms.

Not missing the opportunity, Matilda stepped on the shelf and jumped over the fire, kicking Cordelia.

Wham—!!

Clatter—!

Cordelia’s dagger slipped out of her hand and rolled down into the hallway.
Matilda quickly extinguished the fire on her clothes and tried to get on top of the fallen Cordelia.

However, after a few back-and-forths, the struggle between the two of them ended in Cordelia’s victory.

“Die!!”

Cordelia sat on top of Matilda and strangled her with her hands.

“Keugh… Heuk…!!”

Squeeze—!

As Cordelia’s hands strangled her neck even more strongly, Matilda’s eyelids fluttered, eyes rolling to the back of her head.

The moment when the strength in Matilda’s hand drained away as she struggled against Cordelia.

Click—

“…?!”

There was a faint but clear sound of a pistol being reloaded.

The moment Cordelia raised her head, surprised.

Bang—!

Thud—!

With that one shot, Cordelia’s head was thrown backwards, and blood splashed across Matilda’s face.

“…?!”

Cordelia fell helplessly on top of Matilda, her eyes wide open.

Thwump—

“…Keuk! Cough! Khak, khak!”

Matilda took Cordelia’s hand off her neck and breathed heavily.

Step— Step—

The sound of footsteps approached Matilda.

“…”

Claudia pushed Cordelia’s body as it laid on Matilda with her feet and looked down at Matilda as she held her gunpowder-smelling pistol.

“Can you stand up?”

* * *

“Hmm.”

Ashmia looked at the half-burnt wireless telegraph.

“I don’t think it’s a common model.”

“It’s adapted for military use.
We often use something similar to this on the Northern Front.”

“It’s for the military… so I was very careful.
Did you find anything on Cordelia?”

“There was nothing.
Except for her being a trained person.”

Cordelia’s dagger, which Claudia was holding, had a matte finish on the blade.

It was for either military use or assassination.

Ashmia licked her lips.

‘She seems to be a former soldier or a mercenary.’

But since she was dead, there was no other way to get more information.

Ashmia handed the wireless telegraph to Vanessa.

“Now, shall we hear your story?”

Ashmia’s gaze turned to Matilda.

But at that moment, Claudia quietly raised her hand.

“Miss Ashmia.
Before that, can I say something?”

“Okay.
What is it?”

“I want to apologize.
Hiring a maid is my job as a butler.
Cordelia was also a child I hired myself two years ago.
I thought I had done enough research, but because of my negligence, Lady Ashmia almost suffered.
So, please punish me first.”

Vanessa and Matilda both looked surprised at those words, but Ashmia silently smoothed her lips.

“I will not deny your words.
But we’re not sure if Cordelia was a spy from the beginning.
It’s possible that we came into contact without our knowledge during that time.
So, I don’t think you can conclude that this is your responsibility.”

“However—”

“Okay.
Then, I’ll think about that a bit more, but let’s hear from Matilda first.”

“…Alright.”

Ashmia turned her gaze back to Matilda.

“Should I say thank you first? Thanks to you, we caught a rat that we couldn’t find.”

“There’s no need.”

“Then, how did you know that Cordelia was a spy?”

Matilda hesitated for a moment before she answered.

“It was… a hunch.”

“A hunch…?!”

Vanessa made a face.

“Hey! If something wrong happened because of you, the lady could’ve been in danger!”

It was fortunate that the flames were extinguished quickly, but the fire that engulfed the warehouse could have spread if it was even a little later.

“Think more carefully and answer!”

“Vanessa.”

Ashmia stopped Vanessa.

“So, you trusted your instincts and even bought a gun because of it?”

“Yes…”

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