Author: alyalia Editor: popcorn

Cersinia stopped sweeping over her messy hair in the wind.

 

“That’s right. I thought he would never get up again…You know, there has been a lot of talk since it hasn’t been long since he didn’t have much time left.”

 

The two women continued to talk, perhaps unaware there was a person behind them. The more it went on, the more Cersinia’s mind became a mess. 

 

‘What does all of this mean?’

 

‘Are they really talking about the same person I’m thinking of?’

 

“But I was surprised when he appeared at the Crown Prince’s birthday banquet, saying that he had recovered. I met him for the first time that day, and he looked a lot like the former Grand Duke Shorevarce.”

 

But soon after hearing the name, it was clear to Cersinia that the topic of their conversation was Ben. When she first heard their conversation, her mind when blank for a  moment. For Cersinia, this was all new and strange, since she never heard of that story.

 

Ben said that he lived with his mother when he was young. Then, after his mother died and he had no guardian, he met Cersinia while being a slave for several years, and then two of them stayed together ever since. But one day, Ben, who was 19 years old, suddenly disappeared and appeared three years later as a Grand Duke.

 

‘Did they make up a story?’

 

It was Cersinia’s hypothesis.

 

‘Maybe they made up a story about his past when Ben joined the Grand Duke family three years ago.’

 

Because being a slave didn’t suit the title of Grand Duke.  So, the decades of his absence may have just made up for the fact that he was sick and lying in bed. Cersinia nodded at the pretty plausible hypothesis she came up with. She was not sure, but whatever it may be, this was most likely what had happened. Otherwise, it doesn’t make any sense at all.

 

‘But then, why did he leave such a wealthy and high-ranking family and wander around with his mother in the first place?’

 

Cersinia didn’t know what the hell had happened. She came here to organize her head so she could answer Verne. But now she was feeling dizzy from all the information she had obtained and how confusing they were. 

 

“Are those rumors real?”

 

“What rumors?”

 

“There are rumors that the Grand Duke brought a woman into the Grand Duchy.”

 

While Cersinia was lost in thought for a moment, the topic of their conversation had changed. They were now talking about the rumors about her.

 

“The Grand Duke’s woman?”

 

“He even escorted her himself, asked the servants to serve her earnestly, and treated her like his fiancée.”

 

Cersinia was astonished. The power of rumors was truly amazing. Because the rumors were circulating based on facts, they did make sense. It was true that Ben brought her to the Grand Duchy and asked the servants to do so.

 

“Which family does she come from?”

 

“I don’t know about that. There were also rumors that the woman is a commoner.”

 

Cersinia’s heart felt hot. She felt guilty that all of this happened because of her.  It was easy to know how and where the rumors came from. In conclusion, there were too many holes which meant a lot of leaks. There were dozens of servants working in the Grand Duchy, and it was impossible to shut all of those mouths.

 

“Who could it be?”

 

“I know, right? I really want to see her face.”

 

Cersinia crept up from her seat. At this rate, she feared the description of her might also get revealed. Even just informations about her hair and eyes would surely draw attention and expose herSo she hurriedly left her seat.

 

“By the way, what about Lady Aronia?”

 

“She has made a fuss about liking the Grand Duke so much. It’s a shame, right?”

 

Cersinia, who had left the terrace quickly, didn’t hear the following women’s conversation.

 

“Lady Cersinia!”

 

Verne looked at Cersinia, who returned with a gloomy face. She had no tail, but she was like a puppy that had its tail between its legs. With May’s consolation, while Cersinia was away, Verne had returned quite close to normal.

 

“May, eat more.”

 

Cersinia said as she sat down. The dessert on May’s plate was still untouched.

 

“I’m okay because I ate a lot while looking around the streets. By the way, how is the terrace?”

 

May drank the remaining of her tea and put down the teacup.

 

“Do you want to look? It’s spacious and beautifully decorated, so it’s nice to look around.”

 

At Cersinia’s answer, May jumped up from her seat as if she had been waiting.

 

“I’ll be back!”

 

Then she quickly climbed the stairs without looking back. May headed to the terrace, leaving Cersinia and Verne alone. Verne seemed to blame herself too much that May hoped she and Cersinia would clear up the misunderstanding.

 

“Verne.”

 

Cersinia said, thinking that May went up to the terrace at a good time. She wanted to ask Verne about the rumors that she heard on the terrace, since Verne was currently working in the Grand Duchy. 

 

“Yes! Please speak, Lady Cersinia.”

 

Verne replied quickly. If Cersinia wanted to scold her for what happened earlier, she would listen carefully and apologize.

 

“Ben, no, I mean the Grand Duke.”

 

“Yes, master.”

 

“That’s right. Was he very ill when he was young?”

 

At the unexpected question, Verne tilted her head, puzzled. But she soon fixed her attitude and said.

 

“From what I heard, master was born with a weak body. So that being said, he never showed up in social gatherings.”

 

It was incomprehensible for Cersinia, who knew Ben’s past. But, because the rumors says he never made an appearance in society, Cersinia’s thoughts seemed to have been right.

 

They made-up a story to fill his absence.’

 

“Then, is there anyone in the mansion who has worked for the Grand Duke since he was a child?”

 

“Well, not exactly, but…”

 

Verne started but her words falter. Because she almost got hated by Cersinia for telling the unconfirmed rumors earlier.

 

“It’s okay. Just tell me everything you know, please.”

 

Feeling frustrated, Cersinia pulled the chair and stuck close to Verne.

 

“It was six months ago when the Grand Duke recovered. At that time all of the previous servants working in the Grand Duchy got replaced by new ones.”

 

“At the same time?”

 

“Yes. There were very few left, some were fired, and new servants were added.

 

‘What does this mean…?’

 

‘What must have happened…?’

 

Cersinia leaned against the backrest with her arms folded.

 

‘It’s strange.’

 

Ben disappeared three years ago, so why did he only recover from his illness six months ago and then appear in society?

 

Does that mean that he only took the successor’s class at the Grand Duchy for over two years?

 

Does that  mean that learned how to be a successor for about only two years?

 

However, the time frame between when he disappeared and the servants dismissal did not make any sense. If they didn’t want to reveal his past, they should’ve hanged the servants three years ago before he entered the Grand Duchy.

 

“Then what about the butler? Hasn’t he worked for a long time?” Cersinia urgently asked.

 

It was natural for most butlers to work for the family and its owner for a long time.

 

“Butler Murchen also came in recently. Butler Verdik, who was there before, had served the former Grand Duke, but he stepped down from his position and went to a new place.”

 

The chance of getting even with the slightest clue disappeared like dust at Verne’s answer. That means no one has worked in the mansion long enough to know. Perhaps they were trying to hide a big secret. All the people working in the mansion changed in one day. It wasn’t normal at all.

 

Cersinia felt like she was trapped in a maze with no exit. As she moves forward, the morenshe feels like she’s walking in circles. There was not even a single hint, so she was stuffed. Cersinia rolled her head, wondering if she was missing something. She focused by touching her chin with her long fingers.

 

“Archen! What about Archen!” Cersinia shouted.

 

She suddenly remembered someone who she had forgotten for a while. Archen, who was always by Ben’s side. He was obviously Ben’s closest aide.

 

“Ah! That’s right! Sir Archen is probably the person who’ve worked longest  in the Grand Duchy right now!” Verne replied with joy as she had figured out the correct answer.

 

Both of them felt a little relieved. Verne was happy that she seemed to have helped Cersinia in the slightest, and Cersinia seemed to have untied the first tangled skein.

 

“That’s right.”

 

First, she had to meet Archen. It’s also hard to see Archen’s face since Ben left the Grand Duchy. Cersinia knew that asking him about Ben was the quickest way. However, it was obvious that he would not let her know about the truth behind Ben’s wounds.

 

Even though it’s also hard to see Archen, she had to meet him. The more she heard the story, the more she couldn’t shake the suspicion that either side was lying.

 

‘It could be Ben or the rumor.’

 

So, she had to check. Cersinia had to know everything in order to survive.

 

“The sun is about to set.”

 

May, who had finished looking at the terrace, approached and said to the two of them. Cersinia stood up and silently pushed the chair.

 

“Shall we go now?”

 

“Yes, Cersinia.”

 

Verne also followed Cersinia.

 

Cersinia intended to stay in the bathtub for a long time when she returned. She had a tiring day and a long bath was much needed.

 

“Cersinia?”

 

A black figure, who was about to climb the stairs, reacted to Cersinia’s name. The black figure stared at the three leaving the door. Among them, there was a woman with red hair. The figure watched with its eerie eyes until Cersinia disappeared from sight. 

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