Author: alyalia

“…how did you know?”

 

“I can’t help but know. There’s no way Archen would rather follow May, not you.”

 

She smiled as she looked at Ben, who was bewildered.

 

There was no way Cersinia didn’t know. Considering Archen’s personality, he would never leave Ben unless Ben ordered it.

 

“I’m going to find the two…”

 

Ben, caught with a shallow trick, tried to turn around with his droopy shoulders. But he couldn’t turn around. Far from letting go of this hand, Cersinia clasped his hand tightly.

 

“I want to be with only you now.”

 

His face flushed at once as she spoke with a slightly flushed expression. It was just that she wanted to be together, but somehow it was strangely seductive. They spent a few nights together, but the two were still shy about this.

 

“Wow, it must be really famous.”

 

Cersinia, who arrived in front of the dessert shop holding each other’s hand, was amazed. The front of the shop was full of people lining up to buy the dessert.

 

“Sit here. I will go and order it.”

 

“No, let’s go together.”

 

“Your legs will hurt. Stay here.”

 

Ben kissed her on the forehead and joined the long line. Sitting on a bench a little away from the shop, Cersinia looked at Ben in line. She could recognize him even in the midst of a huge crowd. Ben stood tall as if he had one more head than the others.

 

‘As expected, he’s handsome.’

 

While looking at his face thinking so inwardly, Cersinia was frozen for a moment.

 

“…”

 

His eyes met her, and he smiled. His dazzling smile contained emotions that couldn’t be hidden. His love for only her was so full that Cersinia could feel it without saying anything.

 

Then, a strange phenomenon occurred. There was a commotion among the people queuing with him. They’re all blushing and glancing at Ben…

 

“Ah…”

 

Only then did Cersinia understand May’s words earlier. The words about why Ben didn’t wear a hood. She would have put a hood on him if she knew this would happen.

 

It was no exaggeration to say that all the women around him were looking at him. When Cersinia feelings strange jealousy with belated regret,

 

“Huhuheung!”

 

She heard a cry from somewhere. Cersinia quickly turned her head. Not far away, a child was crying with heavy tears.

 

“What happened?”

 

Cersinia, who approached the child, bent her knees to meet the child’s eye level.

 

“My mom talked to the bad uncle… heheung!”

 

“Where is your mom now?”

 

The child sobbed and pointed with his finger. Cersinia headed straight in the direction the child was pointing. All the merchants around her were looking at one place.

 

“That’s why you should have looked straight at the contract before signing it. This bitch!”

 

There, a man was raising his voice toward a woman. The devastated woman slumped on the floor and grabbed the man’s pants with a desperate expression.

 

“I-I can’t read…”

 

“That’s your business!”

 

The man wrinkled his face as if the woman was dirty and slapped the woman’s hand. The middle-aged woman fell to the ground helplessly.

 

“Aish. Cuih!”

 

Still, as if his anger was not resolved, the large man spat on the floor with a grim face.

 

“I-I told you when I signed the contract. I said I don’t know how to read… so you read the contract, and obviously you didn’t say that at that time!”

 

“I already told you! Why are you blaming me when it’s your fault that your ears are clogged! I already said it, and you signed the contract. So bring the money now!”

 

The man waved the contract in his hand with a ferocious face and shouted at her.

 

“He-Heung…”

 

Eventually, the woman burst into tears. As if there’s no way out of this desperate situation. The merchants, who had gathered around, raised their voices one or two words at a time, looking at the pitiful woman’s tears.

 

“Y-You a little rascal…”

 

“What a complete scammer, really.”

 

Perhaps he heard the murmur, and the man turned around and screamed.

 

“What are you looking at! Were you watching? Huh? You guys should prepare yourself too! When the date comes, I will come to pick it up.”

 

The surroundings became silent as if they had been splashed with water. Everyone had a lot to say because they felt it was unfair, but they couldn’t defeat this huge man, so they kept their mouths shut.

 

After watching the situation, Cersinia snatched the contract in the man’s hand.

 

“What, you! Do you want to die?”

 

She read the contract, ignoring the buzzing next to her.

 

It was a very ordinary contract, but a strange clause stood out.

 

[In addition to monthly rent, the store must pay 40% of their monthly sales in the name of protection tax.]

 

Protection tax.

 

It was something she had never reported on. The store contract she reviewed the day before only stated monthly rent.

 

“Protection tax? What is the protection tax? I never heard of anything like this.”

 

When Cersinia asked, the man huffed and took back the contract into his hand again.

 

“It doesn’t matter. Go away. It’s a bad thing to get involved.”

 

The man looked at her with a poo-chewing look and turned to the crying shopkeeper again.

 

“The contract was reported to the Lord as well. Do you know what happens if you violate it? Bring me the protection tax by tomorrow.”

 

The man waved the contract again as if he had the absolute command.

 

It was then.

 

“Wh-What!”

 

The man jumped up and down with a flustered face and fussed. The merchants who were watching also gasped in surprise. The contract the man was holding suddenly burned, became ashes, and disappeared.

 

“Oh my. I burned it. That crappy contract.”

 

Cersinia smiled as she lowered her finger. The man blushed as he saw her smiling with no sign of surprise.

 

“You, you bitch!”

 

Then he rushed to her as if he had noticed everything. Cersinia avoided the man with ease, but the hood she was wearing came off. Her long hair, which she had been hiding all along, fell below her waist. Red hair and crimson eyes darker than the sunset were revealed in front of everyone.

 

The merchants muttered about it, but the man was nowhere to be seen. A woman much weaker and smaller than him dared to treat him like that made him feel shame.

 

“This bitch! U-Uaargh!”

 

The angry man tried to run to her, gaily like a raging bull, but he couldn’t do that. Because his pants were on fire suddenly.

 

“S-Save me! Uaargh!”

 

The man trembled and ran all over the place to put out the fire. No one stepped forward to help him. Because everyone thought that he deserved it.

 

“How about it? Do you want me to turn it off?”

 

Cersinia, who was watching the man running as if he was tap dancing, threw her words out.

 

“H-Hiik! You’re now…! Aargh!”

 

Knowing that all this was Cersinia’s work, the man rushed in loudly and was torn apart by a powerful force.

 

“Cersinia, are you okay?”

 

Ben struck the man with his foot and headed straight to Cersinia. His eyes were looking anxiously, that she might have been hurt.

 

“Yes, I’m fine.”

 

“What with this fuss!”

 

At that time, Viscount Getirom appeared after hearing of a commotion in the shopping street. He glanced over at the merchants with a haughty face. Then, he met eyes with the woman who looked down at him with her head raised. Red hair and crimson eyes that he would never forget…

 

“G-Gasp! My Lord!”

 

Viscount Getirom, who recognized Cersinia he had seen a few days ago, bowed in surprise.

 

“M-My Lord…?”

 

The man who rolled around on the ground barely extinguished the fire, became pale when he heard the word ‘Lord’ coming out of the Viscount’s mouth. Cersinia looked at the two with an ice-cold expression and uttered a single sentence.

 

“Follow me.”

 

* * *

 

“I-I’m sorry, my Lord. I’m just—”

 

“I didn’t tell you to speak to yourself.”

 

Viscount Getirom, who was making excuses at Cersinia’s words, shut his mouth. A number of contracts were spread out in front of her when she came to his office and the reception room located at the top of the shopping street. They were real contracts signed by Viscount as the agent on behalf of Cersinia, the Lord, with the tenants. They were including the ridiculous protective taxes.

 

The number of people who signed this unfair contract was more than half of the Heness shopping street. It was an unfair contract aimed at knowing that they couldn’t read.

 

“From what I know, no protection tax is reported to me.”

 

“Th-That’s…”

 

“What are you protecting them from to the point that you receive 40% of their sales? And without telling me?”

 

This was obvious embezzlement.

 

“I-I have sinned to death, Lord! P-Please, let me go just once…”

 

Viscount Getirom fell flat on the floor with a face as white as blank as a sheet of paper.

 

“M-My Lord, I’m really sorry. I don’t recognize you, so—”

 

The man, whose pants were burnt out, was also trembling beside the Viscount.

 

“Ha…”

 

Cersinia was thrilled. Viscount Getirom had been illegally stealing and embezzling merchants’ money. He brazenly told her to stop by the Heness shopping street. Holding back her rising anger, she opened her mouth, staring at the Viscount Getirom.

 

“Get the merchants here right now.”

 

“Yes, yes!”

 

At the word, Viscount and the man left the office.

 

“I was so complacent.”

 

“Don’t blame yourself. No one would have noticed because the scoundrels had a plan and copied the contract signed by the merchants.”

 

As Cersinia blamed herself with a darkened expression, Ben gently wrapped his hand around her.

 

It was just as Ben said. What was reported to her was a normal contract with no unfair provisions. It was signed as if the merchants had done it themselves. Who knew it was a copy of their signature on the unfair contract.

 

“I can’t do it like this…”

 

Cersinia muttered as if rebuking herself.

 

Some things could never be known only with paper. And the fundamental solution to this problem is…

 

“M-My Lord. I’ve brought them all in.”

 

At that time, the merchants entered the office with the Viscount.

 

“G-Greetings to the Lord…”

 

The merchants all bowed their heads in tight tension.

 

“Everyone, raise your heads.”

 

Her words made everyone squirm at each other’s countenance.

 

“Hurry.”

 

In the end, the merchants raised their heads at the irresistible command. When Cersinia confirmed that everyone was watching her, she reached out toward the table.

 

Fwoosh.

 

With the sound of fire, the contracts on the table became ashes in the blink of an eye and scattered in the air. The unfair contacts no longer exist. 

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