Author: alyalia

“All expenses incurred so far will be paid by Duke Marsetta.”

 

In the situation where she still had something to hide from him, Charelize felt sorry for receiving unexpected help.

 

“…It’s okay. It was a small sum of money.”

 

Marquess Pasimello refused, frowning as if he didn’t like something.

 

“By the way, I found conclusive evidence that Lillian is the daughter of Duke Marsetta’s brother. Having recently settled in Baron Buzz…”

 

“Recently? I heard from Baron and Baroness Buzz last time that they had known each other since her childhood?”

 

“What?”

 

Marquis Pasimello crumpled his face as if he had heard something shocking. “Lillian was less than a year old when she was brought to Baron Buzz.”

 

Soon, Charelize let out a laugh in vain, as if she was dumbfounded. “Is that… true?”

 

“Barone Buzz’s aide said that. Baron Buzz accepted Lillian as his adopted daughter because the man who had often visited Lillian’s mother seemed to be His Grace the Duke, so he tried to establish a connection with him.”

 

“…Before my mother passed away, His Grace stayed in the Principality of Moden for quite a while. It’s quite a distance from Baron Buzz’s territory.”

 

“Yes. It was probably his brother, not the duke.”

 

“Is there any reason you think so?”

 

“The grandmother, who lives next door, said that although she couldn’t hear the details because of her ears problem, she remembered his face clearly.”

 

“Face?”

 

“He had bright red eyes, a mole on his left cheek, and was a little shorter than the duke…”

 

“…”

 

“He was certainly a different person than the duke, who was present on the day of Duchess Marsetta’s funeral.”

 

“…”

 

“Actually, when I took a picture from my father and showed it to her, she said he was the one she saw.”

 

When Charelize saw that Marquis Pasimello accurately described Raya’s appearance, she remembered the day she met Baron and Baroness Buzz. When asked how they knew of Lillian’s existence, Baron Buzz shut up his wife and said that the duke had come often from before.

 

It was true that Duke Marsetta made frequent outings. Thanks to that, Charelize took on things she didn’t have to do and handled them.

 

However, when he heard a clue of her whereabouts, he found where Siael was. Not only did it not match the timing, but all of them, including the Principality of Moden, were far from Baron Buzz’s territory. Furthermore, Lillian was not needed in Baron Buzz’s territory.

 

Duke Marsetta didn’t even attend his wife’s funeral. He was a person who didn’t care about the eyes of the people around him enough to bring Lillian the next day. So he didn’t have to repeat the arduous journey to Baron Buzz.

 

“She said… he looked like her family. The woman who always looked sad only smiled when that man came…”

 

“…Do you know my uncle’s whereabouts?”

 

The woman he was talking about was Siael, and the fact that he looked like her family meant that she and Raya weren’t just friends.

 

“Since the woman fell ill and died, his where about were unknown… Once he showed up, he didn’t see Lillian in person, but only left a message to take care of her daughter well, and hadn’t been seen since then.”

 

“…Thank you for letting me know.”

 

Charelize, who kept shaking her head the whole time listening to the story, met eyes with Marquis Pasimello to thank him.

 

“Marquis. Are you okay?”

 

He twisted his body a bit strangely and didn’t hold up well.

 

“I think I should stop drinking. I’m okay, so don’t worry.”

 

“It looks like you’re in pain somewhere.”

 

She looked anxious at Marquis Pasimello, whose face flushed red.

 

“Your Highness.” Hailey, who was outside, came in just as she tried to touch his forehead to measure the heat. “The banquet is going to start soon, so you should come out soon.”

 

“I get it.”

 

“I think it would be better for Marquis to come out a little later after Her Highness left.”

 

“If you’re not feeling well, you’d better take a break early, Marquis.”

 

“…Go ahead, Your Highness.” Marquis Pasimello bowed down and saw Charelize off.

 

“Little Duchess.”

 

Waiting for Charelize to come out was the servant who was announcing her arrival earlier.

 

“What’s going on?”

 

“Is the woman named Lari, your exclusive maid? Brown hair and eyes…”

 

“… That’s right.”

 

“She’s waiting at the entrance now. She said she had something to deliver.”

 

Hearing that Lari was here, Charelize quickly hardened her expression.

 

“Hailey.”

 

“…Yes, Your Highness.”

 

“I think she came to deliver the necklace. Go get it from Lari… Send her back so she doesn’t run into the marquis.”

 

“I understand, Your Highness. Don’t worry too much. I’ll come back after seeing Lari back.”

 

Nothing was certain yet, but Charelize couldn’t even understand why she was so anxious. As she struggled to clear her complicated mind, she returned to where she was.

 

“The Father of Elioter Empire, the Brilliant Sun, His Majesty the Emperor, is entering!”

 

“The shining star of the Elioter Empire, Her Royal Highness Princess Veloche, is entering!”

 

Just in time, Harbert IV and Royal Princess Veloche appeared. Just like the succession ceremony of Grand Duke Innovestin, it was strange that Royal Princess Veloche’s biological mother, Queen Salome, wasn’t there.

 

Royal Princess Veloche had a small scratch around her eye. She didn’t enter holding the hand of Harbert IV, and her eyes were red as if she had cried once. The nobles who saw them noticed that their atmosphere wasn’t good today.

 

“I-in just a few months, Her Royal Highness will also be celebrating her coming of age. Congratulations.”

 

“I’ll look forward to that day, Her Royal Highness.”

 

They quickly said congratulations to Royal Princess Veloche and smiled awkwardly. Of course, they knew why her birthday banquet was postponed, so they didn’t say it directly.

 

If it was the usual Harbert IV, it was normal for him to show his affection to Royal Princess Veloche, but he didn’t do anything. He only flinched awkwardly. He wasn’t even looking properly into the Royal Princess Veloche’s eyes.

 

“Little… Duchess?”

 

Harbert IV was greatly agitated upon discovering Charelize. He soon turned his head, but it was clear from a glance that he was quite taken aback.

 

“Thank you for coming to my daughter’s birthday banquet. I hope everyone has a good time.”

 

At the end of that remark, Harbert IV and Royal Princess Veloche sat in the upper seats. The nobles approached them one by one, offered gifts, and congratulated them.

 

The stopped performance resumed, and some watched and danced again. While waiting for Hailey, it was very funny as Charelize thought about Harbert IV, whom she had seen earlier.

 

“It’s been a while, Your Highness.”

 

Charelize stood there, struggling to swallow her laughter, and turned to the familiar voice.

 

“…Lady Luxen?”

 

It was Iris. Charelize was dumbfounded at the thought of her poisoning Charelize.

 

“Now… I would appreciate it if you could call me Marchioness Luxen, Your Highness.”

 

“It looks like you’ve officially inherited the title of marchioness.”

 

“Yes, that’s right.”

 

Her innocent smile, as if she did nothing, reminded her of Lillian. Instantly displeased, Charelize tried to walk past Iris.

 

“Your Highness.”

 

“?”

 

“I heard that hallucinations make it impossible to tell who is who. Even if it’s your parent or your enemy.”

 

“What do you mean?”

 

“I’m saying this because I think I’ve seen someone who is not in their right mind. Please take care of yourself, Your Highness.”

 

She wondered if Iris wanted her to respond by grabbing her hair in a place where there were many people.  It was very annoying that she said meaningful words while pretending not to.

 

“Have you met your parents’ enemies? It looks like the insane person is right in front of me.” After letting out a deep sigh, Charelize laughed incredulously.

 

“It could be.”

 

Iris did not deny it.

 

“Do you know why I covered up the fact that I was poisoned?”

 

“I don’t know.”

 

“Because you resemble Lillian.”

 

Charelize returned and added in a low voice that only Iris could hear.

 

“Since when have I resembled Lillian? It’s just—”

 

“No. I mean, it was funny that you were trying so hard without knowing you would die. Lillian did it often.”

 

“…”

 

“But Lillian has been quiet and boring lately, so could I miss that good sight? I didn’t say anything because I thought of playing with her as much as I wanted until I got tired.”

 

“…”

 

“However, I can only forgive someone once. I can watch you bark, but you can’t show me your teeth or bite, so please know your subject.”

 

Even with her smile, Iris pressed her fingernails against her skin hard enough to make her bleed.

 

“If it was the duke who poisoned my mother and the one who provided it was the dog that bit me… I would slit their throat to make sure they never did it again.”

 

Charelize knew that the guest who came to her mother was Iris. Right now, Duke Marsetta was the most likely culprit, and it seemed that Iris was the one who had given him the Valentium flower. Iris grew up as the daughter of an old couple of pharmacists, and she even made a poison that wasn’t known yet in the world. Charelize’s hypothesis made sense enough.

 

“Before I slit their throat… There’s still a lot to do, so look forward to it.”

 

And if her hypothesis was right, Charelize never meant to let Iris go.

 

“I wonder how someone who is about to die will slit the neck of a living person.” Iris put on a look that she didn’t know and smiled.

 

“Well, that’s something you don’t know unless you get to the end.”

 

“I have someone to meet, so I think I have to go first. Your Highness, please forgive my rudeness.” Iris raised the hem of the dress slightly, asking for forgiveness.

 

“It’s something you have been doing since the beginning. Even if you add it once more, I don’t feel anything. Didn’t I tell you?”

 

“…What?”

 

“I can always come and see you around the time when you start barking.”

 

Seeing Iris avoid her eyes, Charelize raised one corner of her mouth. Iris turned around and left without answering. 

 

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