Author: Niks





Surprised, Astel almost listened to it without realizing it.


‘What? I don’t think the Duke just said… cute? Am I hearing things?’


Fortunately, the Duke took the initiative first.


“I don’t really like babies.”


As he put down the bent knife he was holding, he heard a creaking sound.


“I think I might like this child.”


…It was the most dreadful look, not showing a single ounce of sincerity.


‘I guess that means you’re still trying… right?’


Astel smiled awkwardly and nodded.


“Thank you for helping my friend’s child into the Duke’s Castle.”


The Duke of Anais nodded.


“As a token of my gratitude… I’d like to give a present to Duke Anais.”


Earlier, I was too embarrassed to hide it, but at this point I’ve decided that it was time to give the present.


The Duke stared at Astel, holding his chin.


He seemed to be looking forward to what kind of gift it would be.


Astell took out a well-dried preserved flower hidden under the table and handed it to the Duke


When I tried to hand over the bouquet, complicated and subtle emotions continued to spring up.


I brainwashed myself, struggling to pull myself together, saying,


‘It’s just a bribe and I never put my heart into it… No need to tremble or worry.’


“Please take this flower.”


Duke Anais was speechless. He was simply observing the bouquet of flowers intently.


“This… is it for me?”


“Of course! It’s a little shabby, but… Congratulations on your return.”


He would have received all kinds of gifts from the capital.


As a result, all kinds of worries, such as whether it was somewhat shabby or not, floated in my head while giving the gift.


However, the Duke’s reaction was a little different from Astel’s guess.


The hand that was handed the bouquet was trembling slightly.


“I…” ᴬⁿᵃᶦˢ




“I’ve never seen a gift like this before, so I’m happy.” ᴬⁿᵃᶦˢ


Astel blinked. It was because the Duke’s eyes seemed a little red.


But the tears in his reddened eyes disappeared like a midsummer night’s dream.


Astel recalled what the florist had said,


‘I heard that this flower has a nice flower language meaning. What was it?’


〈Congratulations and thanks.〉


“The blossoms are white magnolias!


“The flower is a white magnolia! The flower language also contains the words I want to give to the duke. Look it up later!” ᴬˢᵗᵉˡ


The consideration given by the Duke of Anais to her, as his imprint, was overflowing with gratitude.


However, when I tried to say it, I felt a little embarrassed and handed it to him and told him to do it himself.


“The flower language, I’ll find out.”


Taking the bouquet of white magnolias, he whispered with a low smile.


“Once upon a time, a friend of mine said…”




A friend? Maybe it’s the story of the friend he talked about in the past.


I groaned slightly as I recalled the drops of blood dripping from the steak served from that day’s meal.


Unlike then, the Duke is smelling the bouquet now, but…


“I don’t know, in my life… Happiness and misfortune come together. That’s why life is bittersweet.”


When I heard that, my head throbbed a bit.


Astel squeezed her temples and listened to him.


“That’s exactly what I feel today.”


Duke Anais’ gaze turned to the child playing alone, then disappeared.


He was small for two or three years old, and the boy, who looked like the size of a pea for the Duke’s size, was playing, tapping the tableware.


Astel thought as she lifted her handkerchief and rubbed the mouth of the child covered with sauce.


‘Happiness and misfortune come together in life…’


Astel agreed with that statement.


However, a question popped up in her mind.


And she muttered softly, “Is there any misfortune for someone as strong as the Duke?”


At her honest question, the Duke slowly closed his eyes and opened them.


“There’s something that makes me sad. Of course, happiness comes with it.”


As soon as he finished speaking, he pressed the chime next to the centerpiece.


“If happiness comes, you have to take the variables that come with it. It’s not ‘that‘ that matters.”


Why did the Duke look at the child while using the designation ‘that’?


But there was no time to wonder. I don’t know if he rang the bell just now.


Because the door opened and people who I saw for the first time started to rush in, dragging something.


When I looked, they were all carrying colorful chocolates.


“Well, what’s all that?”


Looking at the terrified Astel, Duke Anais smiled brightly for the first time today.




“We’ve taken over all the chocolate shops in the capital, and we’ve brought in chocolatiers as well.”


“Did I hear it wrong?” ᴬˢᵗᵉˡ


“Unfortunately not.”


“You bought all the chocolate shops in the capital?” ᴬˢᵗᵉˡ




So what’s going on with the capital now?


Have all the dessert shops selling chocolate disappeared?


Seeing Astell in deep confusion, Duke Anais asked, “Please say I did well.”


“Thank you for that, but I don’t need that many chocolate shops. There’s nothing I can do for that…”


“Why not?”


He replied with a languid look in his eyes.


“Please you can compliment me.”


The dazzling smile was a bonus as he requested.


Astel’s mouth opened without realizing it.


“Well, uhm… Well done, no, ah, thank you…?”


She replied obediently, as docile as a well-bred beast.


“That’s enough.”


Looking at all the chocolates and store takeover documents that were soon on the table, Astel felt her brain bleaching white.


“On ‘Castle’s Freak Day,’ which I just made, there’s a rule that the imprint gives a surprise gift.”


It was a sly excuse. Even though I know it can’t be, I was deceived!


I was worried that the Duke’s attitude was a little excessive because of kindness.


The startled child opened his tiny mouth next to Astel and shouted, sticking out his short tongue like the tip of a gum.


“Oh a lot!”


“Yeah, a lot.”


At the child’s exclamation, Duke Anais gave a triumphant look and smiled.


On the other hand, Astel’s confused mind rarely returned.


‘Is it because there are too many incidents today?’


I haven’t tasted anything yet, but I felt drunk on the sweetness.





It wasn’t just chocolate.


After all the gift attacks that followed, I finally came back to the Delphinium Room


I was left alone with the child.


No, not just the two of us…


Aside from the ones I received earlier, there were a huge amount of gifts in the room.


“There was so much going on today.”


To clear my jumbled thoughts, I sat down at the table, pulled out the brooch artifact, placed it on top, and grabbed a small piece of parchment and a quill.


First and foremost, the issue about the artifact.


‘What will happen if the Duke is the final villain?’


If he’s the final villain, someday we’ll clash into each other.


The final villain will unconditionally kill us as soon as he realize that the bloodline of Count Vietry has survived.


So if he’s the villain, I have to kill him.


Astel bit her lip hard at the thought.


The Duke, who launched gifts to me today, just seemed to like giving to others, and don’t seem as a person who wanted to annihilate other families by framing them.


My head was tangled like a thread.


If so, then should I check the other possibility?


There were only two Dukes in the empire.


One was the Duke of Anais, and the other was the Duke of Conwell in the capital.


‘First of all, should I catch the next spy, and then find out about the Duke of Conwell?’


What should I do?


‘To find out about the Duke of Conwell right now, I must go to the capital.’


I tapped on the table with the quill pen.


ㅡ’It looks like there’s someone behind it, but I’ve destroyed all the connections within the artifact. Only this ability remains.’


As I shook my head with the hint Warret gave me, I put the artifact back in my pocket and got up, and cleaned the tabletop.


At that moment, I noticed a small bookcase.


On the bookshelf was ‘Astel’s Happiness Diary’, which was a gift from her brother, including a book on principles such as 『Theory of Revenge』.


My eyes stopped at 《Astel’s Happiness Diary》.


Warret, a competent artifact appraiser, seemed quite interested in this diary.


‘What’s the point of having this?’


I slowly unfolded from the beginning of the diary.


The front cover of the diary I started writing when I was about ten years old has darkened.


As I turned the cover, on the inside were my daily stories written in the crooked handwriting of when my brother first bought me the diary.


And it was dense only in the beginning, but when I passed a few pages, it only continued to be blank.


“Not much…”


At that moment, I felt like my head was splitting.


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