Author: alyalia

Arensis felt a surge of emotions as his heart, which had been empty all along, seemed to be filled now. However, those affectionate eyes were only for a moment. Not knowing what else to say, an awkward atmosphere was created.

 

“Your Highness, I’ve brought the person you spoke of.”

 

Hailey knocked on the door just in time. Charelize immediately smiled. Arensis went into the bookshelf next to it.

 

“…Bring her in.”

 

The woman, who entered with Charelize’s permission, had her face covered, just like what she had already heard.

 

“Before I hear the purpose of meeting me to the point that you put the knights of Duke Marsetta to sleep… I want to see your face first.”

 

When asked to identify herself, the woman paused for a moment. She then removed the cloth covering her face as if she had made up her mind.

 

“Greetings to the little Duchess. May Goddess Resina’s blessing reach you.”

 

She had perfect manners, just like noble ladies had.

 

“Hmm? Which family are you from?”

 

“The adopted daughter of Baron Cliff… My name is Ezela de Cliff, Your Highness.”

 

“That name. I think I’ve heard of it somewhere… If it’s Ezela…”

 

“I have served Her Royal Highness Crown Princess Elizabeth.”

 

“No way… You worked as her apprentice maid but were kicked out of the palace for taking care of her death anniversary.”

 

“Yes, that’s right.”

 

Charelize, hearing her name, quickly recognized who she was because her mother had told her about this news before.

 

“I didn’t expect that the emperor… would have kept Lady alive. With his temper, I knew he was pretending to be generous to avoid people’s eyes.”

 

“It’s been a long time since I’ve been kicked out from the Cliff family, so I’d appreciate it if Your Highness could just call me by my first name.”

 

“It’s not difficult. Well then, Ezela.

 

“Please speak, Your Highness.”

 

“I pretty much know what your sleep incense is made of. Since you’re the one who served the crown princess, I think you know how Katerias is treated in this empire.”

 

“…Of course, I know,” said Ezela, chewing her lips, perhaps recalling when the bloody tragedy occurred. She even squeezed her hand with force. From that alone, Charelize could grasp how faithfully she had served the deceased crown princess.

 

“Do you know a disease called Liref… is?”

 

“Liref?”

 

“Sometimes they see hallucinations, and when it gets worse, they get hyperventilated. Red hives all over their bodies, which made them live a day not knowing when they would die.”

 

Ezela immediately rolled up her sleeves. She must have suffered from the disease she just mentioned, and her wrists were marked by strong red hives.

 

“Since being kicked out from Baron Cliff, I’ve been living in a little-known cabin where no one has ever walked. Katerias are blooming around it. I… couldn’t handle the pain, so I ate it…”

 

“That means…”

 

“Yes, I haven’t had a single relapse since then.”

 

“…”

 

“Crown Princess Elizabeth tried to cure me with Katerias.” Ezela immediately knelt down and dropped her head down.

 

“Was that the reason she was secretly smuggling Katerias?”

 

“…I had to leave the imperial palace if I was discovered suffering from Liref. In the first place, I wandered on the street, and thanks to Her Royal Highness, I became Baron Cliff’s adopted daughter.”

 

“How did… Crown Princess Elizabeth knows that Katerias could cure Liref?”

 

“Given over the position of successor to the emperor… She prepared to go to the Faculty of Medicine of the Eralpier Academy. She was always interested in that area. She said she wanted to see the sick get up, live their lives, and become a doctor who can make it happen… That’s what she often said.”

 

“Is that really true?”

 

At Charelize’s question, Ezela bowed so deeply that her forehead almost touched the floor.

 

“If you prepared this much to speak, what do you really want to say?” Charelize raised Ezela and asked why she had come to the Marsetta Duchy.

 

“He didn’t sympathize with the crown princess… He didn’t let me live just because he regretted his past mistakes. Your Highness, all of this was his preparation to make Royal Princess Veloche the next emperor.”

 

“…Preparation? Please tell me in detail.”

 

“If he spends time in the Garden of Light because he feels pity for the crown princess who died from doing something forbidden, his bad reputation will improve a little…”

 

“…”

 

“The reason he didn’t kill me… is because before the official coronation of Royal Princess Veloche, everyone misses the crown princess… So he fears public opinion about his daughter won’t be good.”

 

Since Ezela, who everyone thought would die, was spared by his generosity, it had been said that he had to kill his sister because of the unavoidable situation.  Also, if that continued, the possibility that he would appoint Royal Princess Veloche as his successor increased without even the emperor’s seal.

 

Harbert IV didn’t reflect. Far from regretting it, it was all a thoroughly calculated performance.

 

“Because of being the only imperial descendant, Royal Princess Veloche is one step ahead of others in the line of succession… But looking around me, there are more forces supporting Your Highness.”

 

“There are more forces… supporting me?”

 

“The one who knows that best is the current emperor. I just want to tell Your Highness that you need to be careful.”

 

“Thank you for your concern. I’ll be careful. Ah, I heard the emperor has something that’s poisonous but not poisonous. Maybe he will use it on me.”

 

“Right now… I’m not sure what that means. However, I know someone who has learned to specialize in poison and makes a living from it. Do you mind if I ask that person?”

 

Ezela, who had been pondering, brought up her acquaintance and asked for her permission.

 

“As long as you’re careful enough not to get it into the emperor’s ear.”

 

“That’s… Don’t worry, Your Highness. Then… I’m going to leave. And… thank you… for the permission to meet you.”

 

Arensis got out shortly after Ezela left.

 

“She must be the maid of honor of Crown Princess Elizabeth.”

 

“…I didn’t know the situation would reach like this. I already found out what was hidden in the meantime… But my heart feels so heavy.”

 

“Lize.”

 

As Charelize’s complexion darkened, Arensis dropped his shoulders.

 

“If it is proven that Katerias can cure the disease called Liref that Ezela talked about… This should be able to completely clear the name of the crown princess. Furthermore, it could be a fatal blow to the emperor and maybe even dethrone him on the spot.”

 

“Wherever you go. Whatever you do.”

 

“…”

 

“I’ll be following you. So, Lize, do what you want this time. What you want to achieve. And achieve everything.”

 

“Will you… protect me?”

 

Until now, she had lived a meaningless time in which she wanted to protect others and receive recognition. Having never lived a life of doing something because she wanted to, Charelize awkwardly followed what he said.

 

“Yes, Lize.” Arensis took Charelize’s hand to his forehead and answered in a low voice.

 

“…The feeling is not bad. That there is someone who protects me. It was the first time I knew… that being protected made me feel this way.”

 

Charelize knew for the first time that she had such a soft personality. When she heard it from Jeremy, it was obviously annoying. But it made her heart tickled when she heard it from him.

 

She was glad she had someone to share something within a space where she had always been alone. If Arensis had disappeared instantly after saying that, nothing would be more awkward and sad than that.

 

* * *

From time to time, Charelize researched a disease called Liref in detail and searched for information. She was able to discover that Katerias contained something that could heal the pain caused by Liref. As soon as she found out about it, she headed to Rael Viscounty to meet with Baron Alec to discuss it.

 

“Baron Alec.”

 

“Greetings, little Duchess. I’ve heard from Viscount Rale that you’re looking for me.”

 

Charelize, who had been waiting in the parlor and drinking tea, rose up and greeted him.

 

“Baron Alec, could it be… you know… a disease called Liref?”

 

“So far, I know that there are only medicines that can lessen the pain caused by that disease, and there is no way to cure it completely.”

 

“If there is anything that can cure it completely… What are you going to do?”

 

“Of course, I’ll report it to the medical community immediately… Your Highness, excuse me, but do you know how to cure Liref?” Baron Alec tensed, and his hands trembled.

 

“Katerias.”

 

“…”

 

“I know a person who consumed it and was cured. In addition, the fact that the medicines being said to only relieve the pain and Katerias having similar composition.”

 

Hearing Charelize’s words, Baron Alec acted busily. He went back and forth for a while and soon opened his mouth as if he had made up his mind.

 

“Your Highness.”

 

“Yes?”

 

“Are you trying… to find out that Katerias is not something dangerous, but that it can cure disease?” Baron Alec, who caught what Charelize wanted, asked a sharp question.

 

“That’s right.”

 

“My close friend’s son… is actually suffering from Liref. Many doctors follow that close friend, so if things go well…”

 

“I… intend to clear the false accusation of the deceased crown princess.”

 

“I dare to ask Your Highness what you’re going to do next.”

 

To do something against the will of Harbert IV meant treason in a broad sense.

 

“The time has come for us to return to our respective seats. Maybe, we’ll see blood in the process. When I think of my mother… this is what I have to do… I think this is something we have to go through. Baron Alec, since you have a family, I will respect your choice.”

 

“…The day I informed Your Highness that madam passed away unjustly, I decided to risk my all and follow you.”

 

“Baron Alec.”

 

“It’s… been a long time since I walked down the same path as Your Highness.”

 

Baron Alec got down on one knee and offered Charelize the salute to the supreme sun.

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