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103 Cecil Faus

 Silver Eagle Duchy, City of the Undying Spark, the Ducal Palace.

As one of the three client states of the Valla Empire, the Silver Eagle Duke Horan Faust never went out of line, constantly tip-toeing on eggshells as he followed the unquestionable orders of the emperor.

He knew that governing over the Silver Eagle Duchy was the extent of his power and he didn't wish for more, but he also knew of the fear the Valla royal family had towards him.

In particular, after Valla Empire waged war against the Grand Duchy of Rominos and subsequently faced a crushing defeat, the resentment those royals had towards the dukes of the empire only increased. If it weren't for the fact that all three dukes were descendants of the empire's founding fathers and had some form of protection from the law, the royal family would have already demoted them to your average noble.

Good thing the various churches in the Valla Empire had treaties protecting them from each other, starting a war with the Grand Duchy of Rominos was already the limit of the emperor's abilities, at least Horan wouldn't have to worry about the Holy Corps knocking on his front door.

But that didn't mean there weren't other things keeping him up at night.

In reality, there were far more dangers and troubles than Horan had expected, just the letter he had received this morning left him in a sour mood, even now he still hadn't fully recovered.

"Father, you called for me?"

A clear knock came from the door, following that, a dashing young man entered the room, bowing to the old duke with an air of nobility and grace before asking.

He was Horan Faust's eldest son, Cecil Faust.

He had a head of curly golden hair, his face was chiseled, yet his skin made even daughters born into nobility jealous. His eyes were deep pools of sapphire and his toned, graceful body warned others that he could best them in duels of more than wealth, that his sword wasn't just for decoration. People say he perfectly inherited the noble genes from his father's side.

He was also the son Horan Faust was proudest of.

Although he currently wasn't in any position of nobility, as Horan's only child who stayed in the Ducal Palace, he was almost destined to inherit his father's title, becoming the new Silver Eagle Duke.

"Yes, we recently received bad news from Anurad." The old duke stared at his son and slowly continued, "Bandits, have killed your brother."

"What!"

Cecil was shocked, the furrow in his brow showed the duke his son's disbelief, but tears didn't fall from his eyes. He gathered himself, but sorrow had already crept into his voice. "Just two months ago we were laughing and talking right here in this very palace, but now..."

Horan seemed to be pleased with his son's reaction and gently nodded his head.

Although he was the one to send his other sons away to govern over other areas-kicking them out by some stretch of the term, this didn't mean the old duke didn't care about his sons.

He had only wanted to do so to protect his children, and yet, Edmund still met with an untimely death.

It didn't matter that Horan was already jaded from years of dealing with the schemings and backstabbings that came with frequent interaction with the nobles, losing a child would always cause their parents to feel an unbearable amount of pain. He had been suffering in the pain since the early morning, yet he could not show his troubles in front of his retainers.

He couldn't hold in his grief any longer, that was why he called for his son- hoping he could help share some of the pain.

And his eldest son complied as always. Although he was saddened by his brother's passing, he wasn't too distraught. After all, the duke knew the two brothers didn't share the strongest of relationships, he would be more disappointed if his eldest had been in complete hysteria.

"Father, I will handle the details regarding Angora's ceremony, you should stay at home and rest, after all, you are the true lifeblood of our duchy."

"What about Angora?" The old duke questioned.

"Isn't he..." Cecil looked a bit lost, perhaps he had misunderstood.

"Angora's doing fine, he just wrote to me two days ago, apparently his little town is doing great," Horan said solemnly, "Edmund was the one who was killed!"

"My apologies." Cecil immediately dipped his head.

"It's fine." The old duke sighed. "You can go."

Cecil bowed and promptly left the study.

After returning to his room, Cecil hurriedly took out a mirror hidden beneath the floorboards.

He pricked his finger and dripped a drop of his own blood on the mirror, the glass absorbing the crimson liquid like a sponge.

A moment later, a dark-robed figure appeared on the other side of the mirror, its face still obscured.

"What troubles the future duke?" The figure spoke with a raspy voice, sounding unlike any other human.

"Is this how the Society of the Secret Eye operates?! Why is Angora fine, yet Edmund died?"

Cecil's handsome face was shrouded in shadow as he coldly asked.

"Mr. Edmund's death was an accident, but I'm certain you have no interest in that sort of thing, so I'll get straight to what concerns you. In Anurad, that is, near the Valley of the Tragic Dead, an unknown force appeared. They plundered Grey Fjord Port and killed the pawn we had set in place... The poor pawn hadn't even figured out who the enemy or what their motives were before he was ended," the robed-figure said slowly, "As for the attack on your little brother Angora, although we can't be certain, we hypothesized that that force was behind that as well. Their goals may be similar to yours, to gain the Faust family's..."

"Divine Blessing." Cecil's eyes were colder than ice. "That is mine, I will never give it up."

"That's right, ever mysterious, before you told us, even our Society of the Secret Eye hadn't noticed your precious treasure. Right now, the only person who could have possibly known of this treasure was your bastard brother, Angora Faust." The figure seemed to be explaining something, slowly telling Cecil the intel they had gathered. "Be at ease. You have given us your money, so our society will naturally uphold its end of the bargain. As soon as the other sectors free up, we will mobilize our members to help rid you of your meddling little brother."

"Hmph." Cecil stood up with a small grunt and slowly walked towards the door, flinging it open once he got there.

Outside was a poor startled maid.

"What did you hear?" He asked coldly

"What do you mean? Sir, you..."

Before the maid could finish, the cold steel of Cecil's rapier pierced through her skull, killing her instantly!

"I hope you mean what you say," Cecil growled, flinging off the remaining brain matter on his rapier.