Author: alyalia

“Now… what did you say?”

 

“There’s a record that His Grace passed through the capital, and three days ago… It is said that the servants who stood vigil saw him disappear in the middle of the night. After that, there was no news… And rumors… are spreading rapidly.”

 

Duke Marsetta was missing. After hearing that, Charelize didn’t say anything for a long time. In fact, because the butler was there, she was just holding back so as not to show off her emotion. She was trying very hard not to express her mixed emotions.

 

“…Where is the Duke now?”

 

“I don’t know either. His Grace didn’t say anything until a few days ago.”

 

It was right to say that you became calm when you were too angry and dumbfounded. The ink soaking the papers smudged, but Charelize pretended not to care.

 

“Butler.”

 

“Yes, young Master.”

 

“I still know that your true master is the Duke. But… you must not have forgotten that I’m the one who you will serve in the next generation, right? Do you really not know?”

 

“Even though His Grace has sent Lady Lillian away and might be distressed, there was no hint of such feeling visible.” It meant the butler didn’t know how it turned out like this.

 

Charelize had no choice but to enter Duke Marsetta’s office and carefully examine the inside. The framed picture of Lillian, which was always on his desk, was put in the drawer. Duke Marsetta threw Lillian away in an instant as if the amount of time spent together didn’t mean anything to him. For a brief moment, she even felt pity for Lillian. When she opened the last drawer, she realized there wasn’t the thing that should have been there, as it should have been obvious.  

 

Charelize met Harbert IV right on the way.

 

“I heard that Duke Marsetta is missing.”

 

Harbert IV looked very happy. Seeing that appearance, it seemed clear that the duke hadn’t received any help from him. Duke Marsetta, who didn’t even inform the butler, wouldn’t have spoken to Harbert IV.

 

“Your Majesty.”

 

“Tell me.”

 

“Would you like to make a deal with me?”

 

“A deal…?”

 

“I know that Your Majesty and the duke have killed my mother.”

 

Harbert IV’s pupils shook violently. He soon calmed down, but seeing that he couldn’t properly control his emotions, Charelize thought he didn’t deserve to become the emperor. It was more appropriate to say that she understood why the previous emperor didn’t recognize him until the end.

 

“If you give me the imperial knights and allow the trial to come out with the results I want, I will consider it entirely as the duke’s crime.”

 

“It doesn’t look appetizing. I demanded to marry off Lillian. I didn’t do anything more than that.”

 

“Yes, I understand. That’s why I limit it only to the duke. And I haven’t yet presented any other conditions.”

 

“…Other conditions? What is it?”

 

“Even though I’m a member of the imperial family with the right to inherit the throne, I have no intention of threatening Royal Princess Veloche with that. Of course, it’s not that I don’t have any ambition to become the emperor. However, I just can’t accept the fact of you killing my mother in order to bring in his illegitimate child. So please give me an official reason to kill the duke.”

 

“How can I believe that?”

 

“Doesn’t Your Majesty know best? I have lived my whole life to become the head of the Marsetta family.”

 

Except for the last one, there was no truth in what Charelize had said so far. All of that was a lie. Pretend to be honest while not showing everything. That was the way to fool Harbert IV. And for Harbert IV, there was no such good deal more than this. Still, Charelize already planned how to convince him who was contemplating.

 

“Also… I will help Royal Princess Veloche to become the crown princess.”

 

“…Really?”

 

“Her Royal Highness may find it difficult to take the position of crown princess because of her natural personality. If Your Majesty permits it, I will personally go to Ramiere Palace three times a week and teach politics to her.”

 

“…”

 

“Isn’t finding another teacher in the current situation difficult?”

 

Another problem was that Royal Princess Veloche entered school at a later age than her peers. She eventually withdrew from the Political Faculty of Eralpier Academy due to her health problems. She quit after 8 months, so she lacked a lot of relevant knowledge. Even if Harbert IV taught her, there was a limit.

 

The professors, who are known for their fame, refused to teach Royal Princess Veloche, who lacks proper lineage. He couldn’t bring anyone to teach her, so he just put it off. If it was the Harbert IV she knew, he would never refuse it.

 

“…Good.”

 

“Instead…”

 

“Is there anything else you want?” Then Harbert IV, who sighed, leaned back on the throne and asked.

 

“If the official results of the meeting come out… Please promise me that you will restore Crown Princess Elizabeth’s name. It’s not like the dead can come back to life… I don’t want my aunt to be judged like that in future generations. It is also my mother’s will.”

 

Hearing the words ‘my mother’s will,’ Harbert IV’s expression hardened.

 

“I will do as you say. I even received a reply from Royal Princess Casilla of Peschte Empire… I will not do anything sloppy like you think of.”

 

“Are you really going to do that?”

 

“…I swear to Goddess Resina. Is it done?”

 

“Thank you, Your Majesty.”

 

“Are you only going to teach politics to Royal Princess Veloche?”

 

“First of all… we have to make the nobles follow Her Royal Highness. If that doesn’t work, I’ll teach her how to get on top, even if it means she has to trample on them. Among the vassals of Duke Marsetta, I will create a force that supports Her Royal Highness and gradually expand it.”

 

Tsk, it would be nice if she followed even only half of your footsteps. Ah, I hope she realizes that she won’t be by my side forever. She’s so gentle and obedient…”

 

Harbert IV was the first to reveal his innermost feelings.

 

“But isn’t she a filial daughter?”

 

After saying it, he seemed to realize it was a mistake, but Charelize noticed it and passed over it gently.

 

“Veloche is… No. I’ll send you an official letter soon, so you can leave now.”

 

“Thank you again…”

 

“… What’s wrong? Are you sick? Call the Imperial Doctor…”

 

Charelize didn’t finish her words and abruptly tripped her foot slightly. She was fine, but her right leg was limp. Harbert IV didn’t miss that scene.

 

“No, it’s nothing. I’ll be on my way now.”

 

She went outside, hiding her trembling hand behind her back.

 

“Little Duchess! Are you alright…?”

 

“Your complexion is not good. Your body…”

 

“I’m… fine.”

 

Seeing she couldn’t breathe properly, the knights around her approached and became restless.

 

Charelize struggled to climb into the carriage, clutching her forehead. After confirming that she had completely left the imperial palace, she spoke softly. “This… Didn’t you say this is the symptom of drinking wine?”

 

* * *

At the same time as the official letter was issued, the imperial knights gathered at Marsetta Duchy. Duke Marsetta was charged with the crime of murdering a member of the imperial family.

 

Whatever the reason, the daughter’s accusation against her father could get a bad look. That’s why Charelize took advantage of Harbert IV. The place where Charelize went with the imperial knights was Siael’s tomb in the estate of Baron Buzz.

 

“…As expected, you’re here.”

 

After seeing the imperial knights, Duke Marsetta entered the cabin. The imperial knights, who were trying to catch him, retreated a few steps at Charelize’s gesture.

 

Charelize moved her steps into the cabin. When she went inside, Duke Marsetta served her tea. He seemed familiar to be here as if this place had been his home from the beginning.

 

“How did… you find me? I didn’t even tell the butler.”

 

“I knew it when I saw the missing handkerchief from Your Grace’s office. It was so valuable that even when you went missing, you would look for it and take it with you, right? This is the only place to bring that handkerchief.”

 

“Handkerchief…? How did you…”

 

“Was it my eighth birthday? I resented Your Grace for not showing your face until night, and… I missed you.”

 

“…”

 

“So I took Your Grace’s handkerchief. It smelled your smell. Later, I found out that the handkerchief was embroidered by Lady Luxen herself.  Fearing that my father would hate me even more, I was afraid of it and vowed never to make that mistake again. Then, naturally, I memorized what it looked like. Since then, I have seen you take it out often and put it back in the drawer many times.”

 

“…You are well aware of the situation. Now, I really don’t have any worries if I entrust Marsetta Duchy to you.”

 

“That’s what you should say when you’re the owner. Now, with the trial, you will be sentenced to life imprisonment and will spend the rest of your life in Helsen Prison.”

 

“Is it okay for you to be pointed by them as an immoral daughter who abandoned her father?”

 

Instead of getting angry, Duke Marsetta asked in a calm voice. It seemed like he was worried about her. It was unfamiliar for him to worry since he had long walked on different paths to return.

 

“Even if I get stared at or stoned… I… want to avenge my mother. No, it’s more important to wipe away my mother’s bloody tears.”

 

“To you…”

 

“…”

 

“I’m sorry I couldn’t be your father. The fact that I couldn’t love you now remains a regret. The human mind is so deceitful. I got used to you approaching me with a smile every day, so at some point, I thought it was natural. No matter how harshly I talked to you, I think I’ve gotten used to seeing you stand up immediately. Then, you talk about it for the first time. ‘If you couldn’t be a father, you shouldn’t have given birth to me,’ those words stuck in my heart. I felt bad. I wanted to wipe away your tears.”

 

“How… come…”

 

“The more time I spend with Lilian… the more I think of you. I saw the days when I never looked back on you when you were still a child.”

 

“Why are you… saying that?”

 

“You, who were just born, did nothing wrong. It was… the same with the royal princess, Yekaterina. I know that all too well… My chest feels suffocated… But since there is no person to blame, it looks like I’m going crazy. So… I released it to you when you were a child. Charelize… I’m sorry. I’m really sorry…”

 

Duke Marsetta knelt on the floor. 

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