Author: alyalia

“I’m familiar with Count Yoseph’s character.”

 

“So? Why did you bring up his story?”

 

“The person I was talking about… is his newly married concubine, Your Highness.”

 

“Concubine?”

 

“Yes. I found out that his concubine is in charge of the wine for this wedding. Also, since she belongs to Her Majesty Xavi’s palace, it should be relatively easy to make evidence.”

 

“…I still remember how she always treated me badly, even though she was much younger than my mother. It couldn’t have been so funny that she even asked me to treat her as my own grandmother on a subject that we didn’t even share the same drop of blood.”

 

“If it hadn’t been for the last emperor’s will, she would have been in a different situation.”

 

“She was born from the body of a second wife, so even if she didn’t learn anything, she shouldn’t have done that to my mother.”

 

Princess Ioella said she was still angry just thinking about it.

 

“Ioellla, As if it wasn’t enough to look at me and say your greeting… but what kind of attitude is that now?”

“Your Majesty Xavi!”

“…Empress?”

“Hurry up and ask Her Majesty for forgiveness, Ioella.”

“…”

“Can I assume that as you’re ignoring me, Empress?”

“It’s my fault for not teaching my child properly. Please release your anger.”

“Even the emperor regards me as his mother and treats me sincerely…”

 

Empress Sione, who took her own life after losing Prince Edenberg, left a suicide note in which she wrote the same words over and over again.

 

“Your father returned from hunting with a pregnant woman. It happened two months ago… after I found out I had you.”

“Empress Mama…”

“Even if the one born from that woman, who was lowly from her birth, was born a little earlier and became your brother. Ioella, you shouldn’t forget that he’s the enemy of the empress’s children.”

 

Empress Sione lived her life unfairly because of Arensis and his mother.

Princess Ioella wanted to forget about it, but she appeared in her dream and shed bloody tears. Every time, Princess Ioella, who had been longing for her mother, went to her mother’s palace.  But what she found was that the deceased Empress Sione hanged herself and forcibly closed her eyes. It was repeated so many times that she couldn’t even count in, and there was nothing she could do but cry.

 

“After examining it for several days, I think that concubine would be the most suitable for this one.” The maid, who knew what she was thinking, spoke as carefully as possible.

 

“You must have brought her up because she is completely different from Count Yoseph… What about their children?”

 

“They have one son. It is said to be the blood of his deceased ex-wife.”

 

“If so… isn’t there nothing to threaten?”

 

“At that time, the two were pregnant at the same time, and the number of months was similar. Only one of them is alive.”

 

“You mean… Could it be that she deliberately switched her son as the ex-wife’s son?”

 

“Yes, Your Highness.”

 

After all, swapping her child wasn’t complete nonsense. For her child’s future, she preferred him to live as a legitimate child rather than an illegitimate child.

 

“Do you have any reason to be sure?”

 

“When he was young, he hated her to the point of showing it in public events, but now he has become an adult, he is so filial to the point of making you cry.”

 

“Are you saying that there is a high probability… she told him that she is his biological mother?”

 

“There is no mother who will watch her child throw themselves into danger, and there is no mother who doesn’t like to rise to a high position.”

 

“By all means, you’re saying it’s most effective to threaten her with that son.” Princess Ioella raised one corner of her mouth as if she were satisfied.

 

“That’s right, your Highness.”

 

“By the way… I wonder why Count Yoseph remarried with his concubine as soon as his wife died. I remember his relationship with his ex-wife not looking too bad.”

 

“Shall we find out?”

 

“…No. His Majesty Father made it seem like he would only love Empress Mama… But he changed his mind quickly. Listening to it will only make me feel dirty.”

 

“Since the rough investigation has already been completed, I will try to find out what her relationship is like with Her Majesty Xavi and report it.”

 

“…You must be keeping the one Ian gave you, right?”

 

“You don’t have to worry.”

 

“I want His Majesty Father to feel half of what Empress Mama went through. How does it feel to be betrayed by someone you trusted.”

 

A shadow fell on Princess Ioella’s face, but she didn’t seem to feel guilty for Akan I.

 

* * *

Eventually, the day of the wedding came.

 

Charelize was so busy thinking about Arensis that she hadn’t slept properly for days.

 

“…Please excuse myself.”

 

It was also due to the change of bed. However, she kept thinking about the situation, and the expression Arensis was making. In order not to show her tiredness, she took a deep breath.

 

Arriving at the Castael Hall, where the ceremony was to be held, people from all over the world were busy conversing.

 

“Charel.”

 

The person who approached Charelize was Ibellin, the sixth princess of the Shische Kingdom, with whom she briefly shared a room just before her graduation.

 

Charelize regressed to a point where she had already graduated. Even in her previous life, no news was heard of how she was doing.

 

“Ibellin!”

 

“?”

 

However, she was happy to meet her again like this.

 

“…Why are you staring at me like that?”

 

“It’s because Princess, no… little Duchess’s expression was like seeing someone you hadn’t seen in years.”

 

“You’re mistaken…”

 

“Just kidding.”

 

“You can treat me the way you used to.”

 

Just because Charelize became a little Duchess, it wasn’t necessary for her, a princess, to use honorifics.

 

“Really? Then.”

 

Knowing what she was doing was a joke, Charelize suggested it first. Ibellin replied as if she had been waiting for that.

 

“I sent you a letter, but there was no reply. What happened?”

 

“I couldn’t help it because I am being kicked out of the palace.”

 

“Kicked out?”

 

“Because His Majesty Father collapsed, Sister Rosaline became the acting king. “You know my older sister’s personality,” said Ibelline, shrugging her shoulders.

 

Come to think of it, she wasn’t the type to be greatly admired by her sisters.

 

“Sister Rosaline is someone who won’t bat an eye even if I fall off a cliff. The only sisters I can rely on… are Sister Daphne and Sister Tiabel. It’s just those two.”

“What about your other sisters?”

“Sister Bonete will stand next to Sister Rosaline and wipe away her sweat, and Sister Delika will take her handkerchief to wipe her sweat.”

 

“Why does everyone hate you so much?”

“When I was young… no. If I had to pick one… because I resemble them?”

 

“…They hate you because you look like them?”

 

It was natural for sisters to look alike. Ibellin’s expression as she said that seemed so bitter, which made Charelize pretend not to see it.

 

“Strangers who don’t know would think we were born in the same womb.”

 

Among them, she had heard that Princess Rosaline especially hated Ibellin.

 

“Then, how did you get here?”

 

“My aunt on my mother’s side is the cousin of Her Majesty Lanensia Xavi. She has a bad leg, so I came here instead.”

 

“Then, how did you get here?”

 

“My aunt on my mother’s side is the cousin of Her Majesty Lanensia Xavi. I came instead because her legs were uncomfortable.”

 

“…”

 

“Ah, right. I, I will remove the surname Shische. From my name.”

 

In other words, she meant that she would give up all her right as a royal family member.

 

“Are you gonna be alright?”

 

“I wasn’t okay at first. But my aunt said that even if His Majesty Father wakes up, I will never return to the palace.”

 

As usual, Charelize knew Ibellin’s situation roughly.

 

“Did you call me by Sister Rosaline’s name?”

“Don’t you look similar?”

“No, I’m prettier.”

 

Her father had no interest in Ibellin, to the point of confusing her name.

 

“Now I live with my aunt’s family. They’re nice to me, so I’m going to be okay.”

 

“…Really?”

 

“Charel, even though I didn’t become queen, I think I’m happier now.”

 

“…”

 

Ibellin smiled brightly as if she had no regrets anymore. With that smile, Charelize recalled her memories with Ibellin.

 

That day, she didn’t know why, but when she opened her eyes, her heart ached for no reason. Her tears didn’t stop. She couldn’t remember what had happened, which made her even more frustrated.

 

Charelize had a fever and couldn’t stay focused for class, so she stayed in the dormitory with only assignments. Even though she shared a room with Ibellin, they didn’t really talk, so she covered herself with a blanket to avoid making rumors.

 

I had a fever and couldn’t take classes in my right mind, so I stayed in the dormitory with only homework.

 

“You had a fever. I brought medicine, so eat it and go to sleep.”

“I don’t need it.”

“You really…  makes me concerned…”

“…”

“…Ah, this. It’s a big deal. Did I forget the professor called for me?”

 

Seeing Charelize’s red eyes, Ibellin lied awkwardly and hurried out. It was only for a moment that she touched Charelize’s head.

 

Charelize tried to catch her, but her body was too heavy to move. Then, she fell asleep before she knew it.

 

“This…what…”

 

When she opened her eyes at the cold touch, she saw a handkerchief drenched in the water resting on her forehead.

 

“Even my breath annoyed them, so I will hold off while others take a break and rest next time.”

“What are you saying now?”

“I don’t have anyone to talk to, and even if I do, I won’t bother… not, I won’t tell anyone, so don’t worry.”

 

Where the dignity of a princess Charelize had seen so far? Ibellin said something gibberish.

 

“And, don’t suffocate yourself while crying under the blanket… If you’re having a hard time, tell me. I’m confident in listening.”

 

Ibellin was an honest person. That was her strength.

 

“…”

 

“You wake up early in the morning to become a little duchess, fall asleep late at night, study until your nose bleeds, and graduate as the top of the class… while I fell asleep at that time, skipped classes, and went out to play.”

 

“…”

 

“Actually, I recklessly said I would become the queen because I was envious of you living with a goal, but it wasn’t my aptitude.”

 

“…”

 

“You were really cool back then.”

 

“…Ibellin.”

 

“…Wait, why am I complimenting you?”

 

Just like back then, not a single thing had changed.

 

Charelize approached Ibellin and hugged her tightly.

 

“What? It tickles. Get away from me.”

 

Ibellin, unfamiliar with this situation, didn’t welcome it, but as best she could, she patted Charelize on the back.

 

“My friend. You haven’t changed at all.”

 

“They say if you change suddenly, you will die. I want to live a long life until I’m 80.”

 

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