Lucas stiffened involuntarily when he was shouted at as soon as he opened the front door.
"Huh!? What!? Huh?"
It was an unexpected surprise.
He rolls his eyes like a cat that has been hit suddenly, and Valerie points her finger at the tip of his nose.
"Really... I thought you'd be late every day due to bad luck on the road... but you're leaving the house at this hour! No wonder that you're late!"
"C-Commander!? W-What are you doing here?"
"I'm here to pick you up!"
"Pick me up...? Besides... what's going on? What are you wearing?"
"S-Shut up! Stop staring at me!"
She is not dressed in the light armor she normally wears on duty, but in a pretty light pink dress.
Her gorgeous hair ornament looks good on her, but she is not dressed to go to the knight room, at least not yet.
"Even if I change my clothes now, I won't be ready for the morning meeting..."
"You still say that? If you leave the house at this time, you'll be late anyway. But that's okay. You're not working today. You should be thankful I filed a leave of absence for you too."
"My father wants to see you. Don't refuse!"
"I don't like it."
"I don't like it either. But you have no right to refuse."
Lucas is happy to take a rest, but when he is told that Valerie's father has summoned him, he can't help but feel hopelessly heavy.
He tried to refuse her, but she would not take his offer at all, saying, "It's no big deal+.
When he looks behind him for help, he sees his parents smiling at him behind the door.
The maids accompanying them also carrying a large number of souvenirs, so there is no doubt that their parents have been talking to each other.
In the end, Lucas is forced into the carriage and leaves the mansion.
Even though it was a luxurious carriage of the duke's family, the cabin was not so spacious.
He is alone with Valerie, who doesn't even try to hide her unhappiness. It is awkward. Too awkward. She folds her arms and doesn't say a word, and a moment of heavy silence passes.
As they passed through the Arc de Triomphe, built by the previous king, a feared war-monger, to commemorate his victory over the frontier barbarians, Lucas, finally unable to bear the silence any longer.
"Um... Commander, are you all right? Yesterday, you were absent..."
"Hmm? Yes, it was a temporary illness. I went back to my parents' house yesterday to protest against my father. I couldn't stand the way he was dragging everyone into this."
"Are you... are you okay?"
"What do you mean?"
"Well, Commander, your father seemed quite scary."
At that moment, Valerie's back teeth made a grinding sound.
Lucas involuntarily backed away from her. She looked as if she was biting down on a bitter bug as she began to talk.
"Actually... my father and I had a contest. If I win, I will go to His Majesty the King and ask him to cancel the marriage at any cost. If he win, I will serve you as your wife. Of course, there's no way I could defeat him in a swordfight. So, we'll fight bare-handed. He will fight me with his legs bound and my mother on his back, on the condition that I agree to the terms."
"If those are the only conditions, you can't lose..."
"No, it's a terrible defeat. I was almost killed because of it."
Lucas was surprised to hear this.
After all, Valerie is a swordswoman who is known as the 'War Maiden'.
As far as Lucas knows, she has never lost in the games hosted by His Majesty the King. It was rumored that there was no one in the country who could beat her in a one-on-one match.
So, what kind of a monster her father must be, to beat her under such extremely unfavorable conditions.
"A knight never lies. So, I will serve you as your wife for life but I'm not sure I'm ready yet. Forgive me."
From then on they were silent again. Valerie looked grumpy and silent, and Lucas had no idea what to say to her, so he just let the time pass.
After a while, when the sun was setting...
Lucas straightened his back involuntarily when he was suddenly called.
"We're in my territory. We'll be at my house in half a minute or so. Are you tired?"
"Yes, a little."
Although he wasn't the one who was driving the horse and he was just sitting there, he was exhausted for some reason. Mainly mentally.
It seemed like an eternity to spend the time in the small space next to Valerie, who was in a bad mood.
"What's the matter? You are so quiet. I thought you would be more reluctant."
"If I don't like it, it doesn't mean you'll give me a break, does it?"
"Of course not."
There was silence again. But after a while, Valerie opened her mouth again as if she had made up her mind.
"I am ashamed to be married to you, but now that things have come to this point, we cannot disgrace each other and tarnish the names of our two families."
"I'm ready. I accept you as my husband and will be there for you as a good wife."
These words were so unexpected that Lucas could not help but roll his eyes. But the words that followed made him despair.
"And I'll stay with you 24 hours a day, train you thoroughly, and make you a man worthy of being a nobleman and a man. You'll be pleased."
It was almost a death sentence.
Luca let out a dry laugh and looked out the window for help.
It is already dusk on the other side of the window. The green grass is rippling in the wind in the red light.
And beyond the meadow that stretched to the horizon, he saw a mansion. It seems to be the main residence of Valerie's family, the duke's family.
"This place is very remote"
"Remote? Choose your words, stupid. But, well, maybe so. This surrounding ranch is directly owned by my family. If you travel a couple more blocks south past the mansion, you'll reach a larger town. That's where most of the people live."
"What!? Wait! Wait a minute! So all this land as far as my eye can see is..."
"It's my family's private property. Although in the future the land and the 2000 livestock we own will be shared with my half-brothers. The majority of it will belong to me, the only daughter, and you, the son-in-law."
"Is it true...?"
"Yes, I'm afraid so."