My thoughts were not so different from those of Aiden and Daisy.
John’s situation was pitiful, but it was better to be careful about my actions.
‘I greeted you because I was happy to see you, but I feel troubled now…’
I tried to soothe the crying child.
“Is your mother very ill”
“That… hiiik… She was in a carriage accident while working, so she can’t walk well.
She couldn’t get proper treatment… And the income was cut off…”
The boy rambled while looking at me tearfully.
It must have been that his family situation got worse after his mother’s accident.
‘Even if I can’t intervene in a family’s affairs, wouldn’t it be okay to pay for the child’s meal’ I quickly took the money out of my pocket and handed it to the boy.
At that moment, the book appeared.
―Tiling, please sympathize with the boy’s pain.
The child’s mother is in an emergency.
Please protect this child’s precious parents.
‘What’ I looked at the cheerful guide.
The guide continued.
―If the case is rejected, the child’s mother will die, and the child will also be beaten to death by his older brother.
I was speechless.
The damn original was going to make me progress by taking even good people hostage now
‘Is ‘the unexpected accident’ I saw in the preview related to John’
Even if I refused this case, I didn’t know what kind of event the original would tie me to later.
‘It’s dangerous to be penalized for things that aren’t related to Lexion’s death.
The more it accumulates, the worse it will get…’
‘If I reject this case, I will be penalized, and there is a high probability that it will adversely affect Lexion who is in the subjugation… I should reduce penalization as much as possible.’
After making my mind, I took a deep breath.
I held out a handkerchief to John and asked,
“Where is your home”
“Miss!” Daisy was startled and tried to stop me.
She must have thought it was too much to go to his home.
Aiden also objected to my decision.
“I don’t know what you’re thinking, but it’ll be difficult, Miss.”
“I’m just going to check the condition of this child’s mother for a bit.”
“But if His Grace finds out…”
“It will be okay if I go there secretly.”
“There will be no danger if Sir Aiden is by my side.”
Aiden looked at Daisy at my stubborn response.
She sighed and shook her head.
She must know it would be difficult to break my stubbornness.
Soon after, Aiden added in a low tone as if he had given up.
“You’ll just go to see for only a moment.”
“Yes! Then, let’s go, John.”
I said and reached out to John.
He crouched for a moment, then grabbed my hand.
I put the child in our wagon and headed to his house.
―Enter the unlucky child case.
As I followed the will of the book, the book named this new event in a plain tone.
Just by hearing the title, I could tell how dreadful this poor child’s life was.
* * *
In the western forest, something like a black haze floated low.
It was the evil dragon’s devilish energy.* The lord, who was passing by at the same time, did not see it and stepped on it.
At that moment, black fog clung to the Lord’s feet, and he stumbled heavily.
The Lord, who fell down, started rolling down.
He managed to stop it with his sleeves caught in a branch, but it was already too late.
While the knights were coming down, the evil thoughts that had entangled the Lord permeated his body.
He started to shake as if having a seizure.
At that time, a knight who came close to him tried to call his Lord.
“Are you all right, my Lord!”
He looked at the knight with blurry eyes.
A black mist flickered in his eyes for a moment, then disappeared.
Shortly thereafter, the man got up by himself, his eyes were clear as if nothing had happened.
“It’s ugly to see me like this in front of my subordinates.
Heh heh heh.”
When the man laughed, the knights sighed in relief.
“I am glad that you are okay.”
The communication tool broke when I fell.”
At that time, the Lord showed displeasure when he saw that the communication tool in his pocket had been smashed.
The knight asked him.
“What should I do Shall we change the communication channel and come back”
Just finish the hunt.
Either way, I think we’re almost done.”
“But didn’t you agree to call every hour to report”
“We will do it when we return.”
“Is the commander of this subjugation team Duke Lexion Sparrow! Stop complaining and just follow me!”
“I- I’m sorry, my Lord.”
The knight bowed his head as the man shouted furiously.
An invisible dark energy lurked around the Lord, who was slowly walking up to his original position.
However, it was so subtle that the knights didn’t notice it.
* * *
Lexion looked at the hunt’s progress at the center of the forest.
They were already returning home after completing the first hunt in the east and only waiting for the rest of the area.
The number of beasts wasn’t as many as he had expected.
Of course, it was easy for them to deal with them since they were the Black Knights, after all.
Lexion was puzzled, the level of control in the area did not match the number of demon beasts he had seen.
He just waited for the rest of the team to return home.
Chris Martin, who had just volunteered to go South, returned to the barracks.
After completing the first hunt, he came to Lexion’s side and said after finishing the report,
“I think the subjugation will end easier than I thought.”
“Don’t let your guard down until night comes.
The evil dragon likes the night.”
Lexion answered calmly while looking at a map.
The place and time when the demon beasts appeared were written on that map.
Chris, wiping the beast’s blood from his sword, spoke once again.
“The Imperial Capital doesn’t seem to have any intention of sending a support team at all.”
There was poison in his words, but Lexion pretended not to know and replied sternly.
“Because they can’t predict if the evil dragon will appear in the capital again.”
It was unusual for the dragon to directly break into the capital.
As a result, the borders of the capital were strengthened, and troops were concentrated there.
In such a situation, even if Hakun, a nearby area, requested support, there was no way to send it.
Especially for the high-ranked nobles, they wouldn’t have any interest outside the capital.
They would think that as long as the Imperial Capital, the heart of the Empire, is safe, that’s enough.
Chris said with a grim face to see if he knew this inner story as well.
“Nevertheless, it is fortunate that we are located in a passing area.
Otherwise, Hakun would have suffered a lot of damage.”
“How many purification stones are left”
“Considering the rate of appearance of demon beasts so far, I could say rather plenty.”
“Use as little as possible.
You have to be prepared for the unexpected.”
Chris took the command.
The purification stones were a magic tool made to use against the evil dragon.
Since the evil dragon was a dragon that fed on malice and hostility, they had to purify the evil energy that lurked everywhere to weaken its power.
At that time, Chris asked Lexion with a look of wonder.
“By the way, Sir, how did you know that you had to prepare purification stones in advance”
Like a person who knew that evil dragon would go rampant, Lexion packed plenty of purifying stones and set off for the south.
Thanks to that, the subjugation became easier.
Without them, Lexion’s journey might have been delayed even more than it was now.
Disposing of the remains of the evil dragon without a purification stone is like pouring water into a bottomless kettle.
Lexion ignored Chris’ words with an indifferent face and changed the subject.
“So what was the southern forest like”
It meant that he had no intention of answering.
Realizing that much, Chris replied tactfully.
“In the south, rather than demonic beasts, the animals are the ones going berserk after being in contact with evil energy.
We purified as much as possible without killing them.”
“Have you not forgotten to plant a purification stone in the ground, right”
“Of course,” Chris answered with a confident face.
Lexion added another mark on the map after Chris reported.
Lexion was very calm about this situation.
Chris hesitated for a while and complained in a sighing tone.
“The evil dragon seems to be getting too far.
What if we get called back to the capital as soon as we head back to the north…”
“If we plant plenty of purifying stones along the way, they will be fine for a while.”
“I mean, I think the imperial family should take care of this!”
Chris raised his voice when Lexion responded to his complaints as if it was nothing.
At this, Lexion stopped what he was doing and looked at Chris, so he continued.
“Honestly, I don’t like being driven back to the North, it’s as if we’re being kicked out.”
“It’s better than being held captive, isn’t it”
Lexion smiled and answered indifferently.
Chris raised his voice at Lexion’s carefree attitude.
“Don’t you have pride! You protected the capital, but didn’t the Imperial Family take all the credit Seeing them chanting loudly after appearing late trying to fix the situation made my stomach churn!”
“Chris, don’t get too riled up.”
“It’s because I’m all frustrated.
Why are you bowing down so easily, it’s so unlike you!”
Chris showed a sign of dissatisfaction with Lexion’s passive attitude.
It was Lexion who drove out the evil dragon, but the Imperial Family got the praise for it.
On top of that, he was returning back North as if being chased out.
Chris was very upset that the Duke didn’t even protest and left without hesitation.
Lexion, looking at Chris, asked a question.
“Chris, do you think I have lost”
“Isn’t that so”
When Chris asked with a puzzled face, Lexion replied with a light tone.
“It was more important to me to go back to the North than to be praised as a hero in the capital.”
“So, even if the Imperial Family takes all the credit, it doesn’t matter.”
Lexion declared determinedly.
His tone was as if he was talking about something meaningless, like a piece of paper.
‘Has the Duke ever reacted so pessimistically in front of the Imperial Family’
Chris suddenly questioned his reaction, but since he could no longer protest, he stepped back and left.
* This devilish energy, also translated as evil thoughts -or just thoughts-, it’s basically the dragon’s darkest desires that can influence people’s minds.
I’m adding this since some of you asked me about this, it wasn’t quite clear how the dragon’s ‘thoughts’ worked on others.