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Gilded Cage By butterfly_effect Characters: 6218

Updated: 2018-12-17 17:01


"How can I help you?"

A weathered middle age woman greeted the two men in front of the door of her house reverently. She knew just from their appearance that they were people of importance. People she dared not offend. The two men held themselves with pride, their clothes were made from the best material. The swords they carried were no doubt crafted by the most skillful master.

Among the two men, the man in gray asked, "Is someone living you, madam?"

The weathered woman quickly shook her head. "No, sir. No one is living with me. My husband was long gone. Lost his life fighting in some scramble."

"You're living alone in such a large place yourself?" the man in gray asked, narrowing his eyes in suspicion.

It was indeed a large place to live in. There were at least two courtyards inside the bricked wall. It was a living place for families with some money. It was not a surprise the gentlemen grew suspicious, the woman in front of them wore an old, weathered cotton dress. Not a single piece of jewelry adorned her hair.

The weathered woman must have realized that and she quickly added, "My husband left this to me. He came from a modest family. I can't bear to leave the only thing my husband left me." She added in a sob for good measure.

This seemed to clear the confusion the man in gray had. He nodded sympathetically at the old woman. This place was situated in a farming village, it must be hard to find a job not related to farming at this place. No wonder she seemed so poor.

"Madam, is there a young woman who has recently moved to this village? Around this tall." His hand moved to around his shoulder.

"A young woman? Not that I know of."

"I see. Thank you for your help, Madam." The man in gray eyed the man next to him carefully. The man in gray hung down his head dutifully and stood silently.

The woman understood instantly. The man in gray was working under the man in blue. The man in blue was the master. The master, however, was not looking at either his servant nor the middle age woman. He was admiring the courtyard in front of him. He looked like a nobleman on a field trip to the countryside.

Finally the master's attention returned to the woman standing reverently in front of him.

"Madam, you have a beautiful home." The man in blue smiled. "Especially that peach tree." The top of the tree he was referring to peeked above the walls. The tree's blossoms flutter around in a magnificent way.

"Oh yes, that tree has been around forever, " the woman replied in pride. "It's the best in this village. No, around this area."

"Do you mind letting me take a closer look? It has been awhile since I saw peach blossoms this beautiful." The man in blue smiled innocently.

Liar, the man in gray thought. Master had a huge peach tree in his courtyard.

"Well..." the woman in front of them stuttered for the first time since they met her. She avoided their glances for a moment, but that was enough. She looked as if she had something to hide. "Well, that's not very convenient, sir. See I'm just a woman living alone. That's not go

od for my reputation, letting random people inside my house."

"A ribbon, " the man in blue said softly.

"Pardon?"

"A ribbon is floating at the top of your tree. Madam, don't tell me you climbed up there and tied it yourself." The man in blue was still smiling gently, but something sharp hid behind his eyes.

"That's... my nephew. What a naughty boy. It must be that time when my sister over the next village brought my nephew here." She laughed boisterously, but something was off. It sounded fake.

That was then a sound echoed from inside the house. The woman froze.

"Madam, you said you lived alone. Maybe a thief sneaked inside your house. Let Janus here take a look for you."

The man in gray, Janus, nodded once and walked towards the front door.

"No!." The woman placed herself in front of the door.

"Don't worry, Madam. I will explain for you. There might be a thief in your house." The master's smile remained innocent and gentle, but then it changed to something else. "Or are you hiding something? Someone? A fugitive maybe?"

"No, that's not it, sir." She shook her head vigorously.

"Then why are you declining our help, Madam? You're acting very weird. That's quite a huge noise."

"It's just the wind! Must be the wind!" Then the same noise echoed out again. The woman's face turned visibly whiter.

"That didn't sound like the wind. More like someone pulling on a chain." All smile disappeared from his face.

The woman's face turned ashen.

"If you don't move away, Janus will use force."

"Sir, it's... it's just my niece. She... she is not quite right in her head. I'm really not hiding a fugitive."

"You're a retired servant from Ivory Manor. You have no family member left, your husband who worked under Ivory Manor was killed on a mission. You don't have a sister, let alone a niece."

The woman, Joanne, began to shake in fright. "Who... who are you?"

"This is Lord Carlisle of Ivory Manor." Janus showed Joanne a jade plaque with the ensign of Ivory Manor. "So I suggest you to say the truth."

Joanne once worked for Ivory Manor, so she recognized the ensign at an instant. She also knew that the higher the status one was within the Manor, the more precious the plaque was made of.

"Lord?" she widens her eyes in shock. "Lord Carlisle? Please accept my apologies, my lord. I don't mean any offend."

"Who are you hiding?"

Joanne knew she shouldn't say anything, especially the truth of who she was hiding. But, this is Lord Carlisle, the next Duke of Cregan.

"I ask you one last time, Joanne." Carlisle smiled coldly. "Who are you hiding?"

Rumors of the brutalities of Lord Carlisle flashed in her mind. She gave in in the end.

"A... a member of Ivory Manor. She really is not right in the head, my lord."

"Her name, " Carlisle demanded through clenched teeth.

"Arina."

Carlisle had already stopped listening. He walked past Joanne and disappeared into the depth of the courtyard.

After searching the whole kingdom for half a year, Lord Carlisle of Ivory Manor finally found who he was searching for.

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