Author: alyalia

Perhaps it was because the knights had been sent out in advance. The surroundings were quiet. It was similar to the atmosphere on the day Charelize died. The only thing that changed was the person who was imprisoned.

 

In the meantime, Lillian became skinnier.

 

“Lillian.”

 

“What else… you have… to say?”

 

Lillian, who flinched her shoulders at the presence, laughed in vain.

 

“I won’t call you sister anymore. You may not know, but I was born two months earlier than you. After all, it was something I should have heard… but I’m relieved to say it now.”

 

Lillian shook her head slightly. It seemed like her words were meant to surprise her, but since Charelize had known it for a long time, she wasn’t particularly surprised.

 

Lillian, who behaved immaturely and called her as sister, passed through her mind. Though she might now know much else, when it came to audacity, there was no one who could rival her.

 

“Even if you say that, I don’t feel any sympathy.”

 

“…Why?”

 

“As a condition of registering you, that man killed my mother. But should I forgive you? If you were me, would you get me out of here?”

 

“It’s annoying, really. I’m more annoyed with your right words. You’re so… annoying.”

 

Lillian raised her hands and grabbed her hair strongly. A piece of hair the same color as that person fell to the floor.

 

“Me too. I’m annoyed with you.”

 

“…Spare me. I don’t want to die. I hate living here. Get me out, and I will live quietly. Like you said… you don’t care about me… Just treat me as if I didn’t exist…”

 

“Do you still want to live?”

 

“What…?”

 

“I don’t know why you’re being so pathetic. You said that if you were in the same situation as me, you would choose to die yourself.”

 

Charelize bent her knees and met her gaze, just as Lillian had done.

 

“I… I… When did I say…”

 

“Lillian, I thought you were so pretty. You did a good job of getting father’s attention and living with you made me feel like I have a family for the first time.”

 

Charelize put down the heavy tone she used as the ‘little Duchess’.

 

“…”

 

“The day you lost the brooch I gave you for your 19th birthday, I went to your room to tell you not to worry, and I was worried because you weren’t there. I had the servants search for you… My hands were freezing, but I didn’t care, and I found you struggling in the snow field. We couldn’t find the brooch in the end, but I was just thankful you were safe.”

 

“…”

 

“Ah, I wanted to cure your illness, so I recklessly put off my paperwork for several weeks and sought advice from several professors at the Eralpier Academy. I wish I could be of any help. I was afraid you would die.”

 

“…”

 

“Even though rumors spread about me catching your weakness… I thought there must have been some misunderstanding. Until the morning, you greeted me with a smile, so… You know, I offered my villa for you to take a break. Even though you, the person involved, didn’t remember, you were a more precious person than my life. But you kept saying I drove you out to the cold north.”

 

Lillian didn’t understand what Charelize was talking about. It was all events starting from her 19th birthday, things she had no knowledge of. However, Charelize’s eyes looked so sad. She spoke as if recalling something she had truly experienced.

 

“Initially… I thought it was between the maids who poisoned the lipecha tea you drank… I even doubted my own people. Even though I knew it was your own play, I wanted to deny it because you were so precious to me.”

 

“…”

 

“Did you hate me from the beginning? Was I the only one who was happy to have a family that called me by name?”

 

She was tired of speaking roundabout. Because Charelize was curious about that, she eagerly awaited Lillian’s answer.

 

“Hate you? You hate me first, and what you said doesn’t make sense. Don’t pretend to be nice because it’s disgusting.”

 

“…Right.”

 

Lillian then and Lillian now were completely different people, and Charelize felt like she was asking a useless question. Judging that she could no longer hear the answer to the question, Charelize rose up with no more lingering feelings.

 

“I don’t know if you have already heard it. Baron Buzz and his wife have abandoned you. After today, you will go to the trial in the Luang Kingdom and go to Ribelv. You will probably live there for the rest of your life.”

 

“Ri-Ribelv? Why Ribelv! I’d rather be here… no…. no… Why are you doing this to me? I don’t know your resentment, but I didn’t do anything to you. All I did was drink the poison. But why…”

 

Lillian, who heard the word Ribelv, held onto the bars and shook them violently. Soon, she cried with a weeping voice.

 

“You have to pay for everything you’ve done. Just a moment ago, I thought it was annoying that you couldn’t remember… But it’s a relief that you feel unfairness and frustration.”

 

“You’d better kill me! If you’re going to do this, kill me!”

 

“No.”

 

“…”

 

“I won’t kill you. You better not think about dying from biting your tongue. I’ll save you no matter what. But if you lose the ability to speak, that won’t do, right? So, just stay still. There’s nothing you can do.”

 

Shocked, Lillian collapsed backward. Charelize clicked her tongue briefly, called the doctor through the knights, and left.

 

* * *

Since lipecha was grown in Nebti, the capital of Luang Kingdom, the result of Lillian’s trial came out with a pretty heavy price.

 

The punishment was handed down to pay compensation at the same price as two villas to Duke Marsetta. For Lillian, who had nothing, she had to pay for it for the rest of her life. However, there was another problem. Because Lillian was imprisoned in Ribelv, instead of repaying the compensation, her debt kept piling up.

 

After thinking about it for a few days, Charelize paid for it instead. It wasn’t because she felt sorry for Lillian. Although Lillian was expelled from the family register, she committed a crime when she was Princess Marsetta at that time. That’s why Charelize had no choice but to continue with the business related to lipecha. She didn’t want to create a complicated problem by considering her relationship with the Luang Kingdom. That was all Charelize could do for Lillian.

 

Charelize threw the letter from Lillian into the fireplace without opening it.

 

“Master.”

 

The butler, who was quietly watching the scene, called her.

 

“…What’s going on?”

 

“His Majesty Akan I of the Peschte Empire—”

 

“Wait.”

 

Charelize saw Shishi pecking at the window, so she interrupted the butler. She then took Shishi to inside. The butler, who saw Shishi trembling as if it was cold, quickly brought a blanket.

 

As Shishi sat before the fireplace and brushed its fur, it put out one of its feet. Charelize’s expression gradually hardened as she unwrapped it.

 

[To Lize.

His Majesty Father… passed away, Lize. Can you come pick me up?]

 

“Butler.”

 

“Please speak, Master.”

 

“His Majesty the Emperor of the Peschte Empire—”

 

“Yes.”

 

“Are you going to tell me that he’s passed away?”

 

“… That’s right.”

 

Upon hearing the butler’s confirmation, Charelize headed straight to the Peschte Empire. No matter how much she looked around, she couldn’t find Arensis. That’s why she went to his palace. She passed through the garden and came to the flower garden.

 

“Lize…? Why, are you… here…”

 

“You asked me to pick you up.”

 

As expected, Arensis was there. As soon as he saw Charelize, he hugged her.

 

“…Lize.”

 

“Yes.”

 

“Really, really… He was a selfish man until the end. Do you know what he said to me before his end?”

 

Arensis buried her face in Charelize’s shoulder.

 

“He misses, my mom.”

 

The moment she heard those words, Charelize felt suffocating. She didn’t know what she should do for Arensis. She only patted him on the back without saying a word as Arensis stood there crying for a long time. He cried sadly like a boy who missed his mother, blamed his father, and grieved over the death of his parents.

 

Charelize wasn’t familiar with those emotions. She had erased her ‘father’ from the world, so both Charelize and Arensis were in a situation that could be considered as orphans.

 

“…I will give you the surname of Marsetta.”

 

“…”

 

“Now, live as Marsetta, not as Peschte.”

 

“I… always… wanted to be by your side as a real family and stay with you for the rest of my life. Thank you so much, Lize,” said Arensis with a bright smile.

 

The corners of Arensis’s mouth rose spontaneously. Charelize’s pat on his back was so comfortable and reassuring that she couldn’t help but smile. Whether he erased her memory or not, Charelize was always the same person.

 

* * *

As soon as Akan I’s funeral was over, it was a very hot topic about who would be the next emperor. He died without deciding on his successor, drawing attention from all over the world.

 

It was only natural that Royal Princess Casilla, the firstborn and the imperial family, would ascend to the throne. Still, opinions differed on the grounds that she was born from the same womb with Royal Princess Ioella, who poisoned Akan I. They were divided into those who supported Royal Princess Casilla and Arensis.

 

Arensis, who decided to leave for Duchy Marsetta, faced Royal Princess Casilla after a long time.

 

“Our rebellion… succeeded. At last, I’m glad he didn’t die at someone else’s hands. You may ascend to the throne if you wish.”

 

“…I don’t want to rule the Peschte Empire. It’s always like a place where they put shackles on my ankles, and honestly, I hope it’s ruined.”

 

“There are quite a few nobles who supported you.”

 

“It’s not because of my power. They supported me because of Sister’s shortcomings. They must be thinking that I can be manipulated, right?”

 

“I heard you’re going to marry little Duchess Marsetta. Are you really willing to give up the authority of the imperial family?”

 

“Yes.”

 

It was a natural concern for Royal Princess Casilla, who didn’t know everything that had happened between Charelize and Arensis. She was worried that her younger brother, who had just passed his coming-of-age ceremony, would give up everything only for his fleeting feelings.

 

All her life, Royal Princess Casilla thought her father would only love her own mother. Still, when she saw her father, who brought a pregnant woman, she couldn’t believe in love anymore. In her eyes, Arensis was still like a boy.

 

“Arensis, you won’t regret it… won’t you? Of course… you didn’t have good memories of Peschte, but you can’t go back once you choose it. You have to be careful.”

 

As he grew older, Arensis, who had never told his story to Royal Princess Casilla, understood her.

 

“Even if you divorce the little duchess… you will never be able to live as a Pescthe again. Do you know what I mean?”

 

“Older Sister.”

 

“Tell me.”

 

“…It was very hard. It wasn’t like I wanted to be born, and it was unfair. Still, it’s not that I don’t have good memories at all. I remember the day I first met Lize here and had fun with her. They are all withered. I still have the wreath Older Sister made for me.”

 

Royal Princess Casilla couldn’t keep her mouth shut. It was because Arensis was smiling comfortably, talking about his memories from a long time ago.

 

“Older Sister, I…”

 

After taking a breath, Arensis slowly continued.

 

“I’m no longer a child crying over a fall.”

 

“…”

 

“Even though I said I won’t hold back forcibly wiping away my flowing tears.”

 

“…”

 

“Like Older Sister said, even if it doesn’t turn out well… Now I can take responsibility for the choices I make. I want to stop running away and giving up because I’m afraid of the future.”

 

Her younger brother, whom he thought was like a boy, had grown up and become an adult before she knew it. 

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