Author: alyalia

“Because of that… Siael has disappeared. How can she… do it twice…”

 

“Your Grace…”

 

“If only that child hadn’t been born, I would have been able to get out of this hell even now.”

 

Charelize was 7 years old. She missed her father’s arms, that’s why she went directly to his office.

 

“Prove your worth.”

 

“…”

 

“To be honest, I don’t know why I have to make you my successor.”

 

It was when she was 11 years old. They had a conversation like that in the carriage before she went to study abroad.

 

“Don’t let go of the arrow from your hand. Why doesn’t Princess know that you will be stabbed in the back when you lose your guard?”

 

She was 15 years old at that time. Even though her palms were torn and bleeding, her mother told her not to let go of the arrows.

 

Charelize’s head was throbbing. Listening to the sound from the music box, she strangely remembered her own childhood. It felt as if she was going back to that time. She even felt her emotions of that time vividly.

 

“…No.”

 

Her breathing was short. She felt stuffy as if something had been put on her chest.

 

“I didn’t do it!”

 

“…Your Highness!”

 

“…”

 

“I-I’m sorry, Your Highness. No matter how many times I call, there is no answer… And suddenly, there was a loud noise…”

 

It was Lari. Charelize looked around her with a puzzled expression. The vase was broken, and she could see sharp shards. There were blood stains on the papers she was checking out. It seemed to be caused by the fact she threw something on her desk without her knowledge. She was stabbed by the fragment and was unaware that her blood was dripping.

 

The way she couldn’t control herself was pathetic. If Harbert IV had seen this, he would have laughed at her. Duke Marsetta would have clicked his tongue, turned around, and left.

 

“I’m… not crazy.”

 

Charelize, hypnotized herself, soothed herself like that.

 

“Your Highness…”

 

Lari looked at her with a worried face. “Where are you feeling hurt?”

 

“…I’m okay.”

 

“However…”

 

“What is it, Lari?”

 

Charelize stroked Lari’s hair, and she asked what was going on.

 

“Ah… that, there is an invitation to a tea party from predecessor Grand Duchess  Innovestin.”

 

Lari hesitated and handed over what was in her hand.

 

“Who… sent it?”

 

“It looks like the predecessor Grand Duchess sent it.”

 

[To the little Duchess Marsetta.

I’m inviting you to the tea party that will be held in three days, so please attend. There is a precious child I want to introduce to the little Duchess.

-Riet Shanet von Innvoestin.]

 

Its content, to put it mildly, was concise, without any rhetoric attached. Conversely, there was too little sincerity. The sender’s name was the name of the predecessor Grand Duchess Innovestin.

 

“To end her secluded life and even hold a tea party… What is she thinking?”

 

Charelize read the two sentences over and over, trying to figure out her intentions.

 

“Send the reply that I’m attending.”

 

“Yes, Your Highness.”

 

However, since it was impossible to know without meeting her in person, Charelize decided to attend it for now.

 

“Where is Lillian now?”

 

“After seeing off Baron and Baroness Buzz, it seems like she is still in her room.”

 

“By now… Would she have realized that she had lost something?”

 

Charelize turned to the drawer where the bottle she had received from Yohan was placed.

 

Come to think of it, the predecessor grand duchess treated her one and only son so ruthlessly. She felt that the behavior of predecessor Grand Duchess Innovestin, who shed tears when she saw Lillian, whom she would never have met, was strange. She wondered if the precious child the predecessor grand duchess would introduce to her was Lillian.

 

Charelize had something to be said about Baron and Baroness Buzz and what had happened in the Garden of Light. After applying the medicine to her wound and wrapping it with a bandage, she put on her glove to cover it. She also took a pill for her headache, then headed to Lillian’s room.

 

“Greetings, little Duchess.”

 

“You. While I haven’t seen you…”

 

“Yes?”

 

“Your neck has become quite light.”

 

Chenia, who became Lillian’s exclusive maid, replaced the greeting by slightly bowing her head.

 

“Y-Your Highness, I… I will do my best.”

 

“Viscount Ainen asked me to deliver to Your Highness instead.”

 

“Where are you going, Your Highness? Shall I call the coachman?”

 

Charelize burst into laughter as she remembered the past when Chenia had sworn too much loyalty to own a favor.

 

“May the blessings of Goddess Resina reach you, little Duchess.”

 

“May you… be protected too.”

 

“…”

 

She became Lillian’s exclusive maid, and it bothered Charelize that she had a different attitude than before.

 

“At dawn… I saw Chenia wrap her whole body and go outside…”

 

“Lari, you. Could it be that you followed Chenia?”

 

“How far did you follow her, Lari?”

 

“To the entrance of the village of Rivier. I’m telling the truth!”

 

Charelize recalled what she had heard from Lari. It was certainly suspicious that she went out to the village alone at dawn when everyone was asleep. However, since it could be Lari’s simple suspicion, Charelize turned around and said her words.

 

“Where is your master?”

 

“She… She’s inside. I will tell her that Your Highness is here.”

 

Embarrassed, Chenia stammered her words and quickly disappeared. Soon after, she returned and led Charelize to Lillian’s room.

 

“…You’re here, Your Highness.”

 

Lillian was waiting with two cups of steaming hot tea ready. Charelize had no intention of sharing the sweet talk with her or sharing refreshments with her.

 

“Baron and Baroness Buzz… Lillian, did you call for them?”

 

“N-no! Before the butler told me… I really, really didn’t know!”

 

Charelize took her seat and expressed her displeasure by commenting on Baron and Baroness Buzz’s visit. Lillian immediately replied that she didn’t know and insisted that she was innocent.

 

“It was so unpleasant. I would have twisted their necks if it wasn’t for the butler.”

 

“…”

 

“How dare they insult my mother.”

 

Charelize spoke her honest feelings. For her, her mother was someone that shouldn’t be dared touch by anyone.

 

“Since you say you didn’t know, I’ll leave the Baron, and Baroness Buzz slide this time.”

 

“…Thank you.”

 

“However, considering the family’s prestige, you should be punished for what happened in the palace.”

 

“Please… say it.”

 

“Keep a low profile in your room for two days.”

 

The only punishment Charelize could give to Lillian was probation. It was inevitable since Empress Lireet and Yohan didn’t protest formally about it. However, it was very different from the last time Lillian tried to slap Lari, who begged on her knees. Even if Lillian smiled hearing it, it was the reaction Charelize thought about since Lillian still didn’t know her sin.

 

“I’ll do that.”

 

“…”

 

“I’m sorry for troubling you, Your Highness.”

 

Lillian nodded politely and apologized for causing concern. Other than this, she didn’t say anything else. The sudden change of her attitude was suspicious. But she won’t be going around for a while, so Charelize had to be content with that.

 

“The tea, my share. Just drink all of them.”

 

With those words, Charelize rose from her seat. It reminded her of how, in her previous life, Lillian drank poisoned tea herself and framed Charelize. To Lillian, who didn’t remember anything, Charelize might just sound hostile.

 

* * *

“…nia, Chenia!”

 

“Y-you called me, Princess Lillian.”

 

“I’ll have to write a letter saying that I won’t be able to make it for an appointment tomorrow.”

 

As Charelize’s footsteps got farther away from her room, Lillian hurriedly called Chenia.

 

“For whom are you talking about…?”

 

“How frustrating! Of course, the predecessor grand duchess. Who else could it be?”

 

Lillian responded nervously at the sight of Chenia looking dumbfounded.

 

“I-I’m sorry, Princess.”

 

“You haven’t heard from my aunt yet, have you?”

 

“Yes, yes. I will let Princess know as soon as it arrives.”

 

“That’s enough. Get out of here.”

 

This should not be done, that should not be done. Lillian was annoyed at her for giving advice without knowing her subject. It seemed that Dina, who had been diligent about work and understood her words well, was expelled for nothing.

 

“It was the same thing as making fun of my parents… In addition to that, she’s going to have a good time. I can’t afford to suffer like this.” Lillian murmured in an inaudible voice, biting her nails.

 

* * *

Meanwhile, Charelize, out of her way, strolled through the garden. Looking at the withered petals that fell to the ground, she could clearly feel spring had really passed.

 

“Your Highness!”

 

“…”

 

“Little Duchess!”

 

“Hailey?”

 

After some time passed, Charelize found Hailey running and calling for her.

 

“Did something happen?”

 

“It’s not like that, but what you said then… I found information about Marquis Pasimello.”

 

“Already?”

 

The last time Charelize asked about Marquis Pasimello, she was told that he had just inherited the title. So, it was surprising that Hailey came with the information sooner than she thought.

 

“Actually, there’s not much information about him… So I have been digging about him tenaciously.”

 

“And then?”

 

“I just went out and bumped into a guy, and he told me this… I thought I should tell Your Highness right away…”

 

Hailey breathed hastily, calming her startled chest.

 

“First, take a deep breath, then continue. You’re going to run out of breath.”

 

“He told me to try to find out about Sir Dian.”

 

“Dian…?”

 

“I’m not sure, but it seems to be another identity of Marquis Pasimello.”

 

“Other… identity…”

 

Charelize looked surprised at Hailey’s words, which made her ponder. 

 

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