Author: alyalia

“Yes, that’s right.”


“My goodness. In this preliminary round?”




Sigh…” Edward touched his forehead with a troubled face. “Competing in the match in person?”


“Of course.”


“…When is it?”


Luize pointed to the last day on the tournament bracket that Edward held out.


“It’s on this day.”


“If it’s the last day, then…”


The competitors that day were a rumored masked swordsman and Carlo, the leader of a famous mercenary group near the capital. The masked swordsman was one thing, but Carlo was a handsome man with fiery red hair and tanned skin, having a substantial fan base. Moreover, he was notorious for his scandalous personal life. There were daily anonymous interviews in gossip magazines from women claiming to have spent a night with him.


Edward, who kept up with both newspapers and gossip magazines to stay informed about the empire, was well aware of Carlo’s infamy. Moreover, it was said that Carlo had a belligerent personality, picking fights with anyone regardless of age or gender, especially when drunk, and he had never had a lover for more than a month.


But Luize, who had endured with Reiad for several years, seemed more than capable of handling it. Unfortunately, the newly appointed official lover was such a disagreeable and scandalous man!


“Could it be that the other person is Carlo?”




“That’s not good.”




“Sorry, but Miss Luize. I must make it clear that I oppose this.”


Luize’s eyes trembled. As expected, he disliked it. Edward probably thought she had been playing with him. After all, she had secretly entered the tournament despite promising to be his swordsmanship teacher and help him win…


With an uncomfortable expression, she began to speak. “I knew you would be uncomfortable. I wasn’t trying to deceive you.”


“It’s not about deceiving me now, is it? You knew, didn’t you?”


“I had a guess that Edward would be angry. I’m sorry. There were reasons.”


“It’s not me you should be apologizing to. That man will surely hurt you, Luize.  Why, when I’m here…!”


“Edward, you’re ignoring me again. Just like when we first crossed swords.” Luize replied sharply. She was angry that Edward seemed so sure she would get hurt without even fighting.


Luize should have realized something was off when he kept reconfirming her participation in the tournament and asking if she was competing herself. Even though she hadn’t told him about her secret participation, dismissing her swordsmanship skills was another matter.


Luize had already finished analyzing Carlo, who she would face on the last day of the preliminaries, by watching his other matches. He used a wide and massive long sword based on his strong power. His weight class and swordsmanship style were the opposite of hers, but she had plenty of experience fighting larger, stronger opponents.


Although she didn’t have much experience in dueling with people, her skills were more than enough to give her a fighting chance. Luize hated when others underestimated her swordsmanship skills based on her gender or appearance. Her swordsmanship was a precious inheritance from her mother, her pride and dignity.


Why did she participate when he was there? Because she thought it was right to compete fairly with the same goal and win what she wanted.


“It’s not that. It’s just that…” Edward trailed off.


Right, maybe Luize would take it the wrong way. In the first place, it was strange for him to interfere in Luize’s personal life. He was only a fake lover and somewhat of a student of hers. No matter how close they were, it was something to be upset about, especially since their relationship was still ambiguous.


Edward sighed with a troubled face. But no matter how he thought about it, he couldn’t fully accept her choice and cheer her on happily. How could he, who didn’t even understand why she would bring a real lover, especially when the man was so rude?


Luize continued sharply. “I’m sorry for doing that even though I was supposed to help you. But I wish Edward hadn’t seen me that way. I can take care of myself. I thought we were together because you trusted me.”


“I’m sorry, Miss Luize. I trust you, but I can’t just cheer for this.”


Shocked, Luize’s eyes widened. He was apologizing. By apologizing, Edward had acknowledged he underestimated her skills. So, had he always seen her as a weak person? That meant he had been mocking her while pretending to be a diligent student learning from her.


Disappointed, Luize turned away. “I’ll let Maxion take care of watching the preliminaries with you. The same goes for the upcoming matches.”




“Then, I’ll take my leave.” She left with an unresolved expression.


* * *

Outside Edward’s room, the servants lingered with troubled faces. Maxion, who had finished training and was freshly dressed, noticed something was wrong. He knocked on the door, and a voice inside told him to enter. At least it wasn’t the worst case since he got an immediate response.


Maxion sighed as he opened the door. Edward was sitting at the tea table, resting his forehead with both hands lowered his head. He looked serious.


Edward turned his head slightly and met Maxion’s eyes. Maxion’s black eyes trembled.


“I’ve made a mistake.”


“What mistake, if I may ask…?”


“I need to apologize to Miss Luize right away.” Edward stood up.


“Would it be alright to ask what kind of mistake?”


“I can’t talk about it because it’s Miss Luize’s private life.”


“I see.”


“Do you think it would be a good idea to buy some flowers? No, she might want flowers from someone else, so maybe a well-sharpened sword would be better.”


Edward frowned briefly, then relaxed. He walked across the room to where his coat was hanging.


Following him, Maxion spoke up. “I know how to reconcile with Luize. It would be counterproductive for you to go now.”


Edward stopped. “A way to reconcile?”


“Because I’m her childhood friend.”


Edward’s stiff expression softened. He patted Maxion’s shoulder. “As expected, it was good to have a capable aide. Would you sit for a while?”


“Of course.”


They headed to the tea table near the window.


“So, what’s the method?”


“The way to reconcile with Luize is…” Maxion answered Edward’s question seriously.


* * *

Luize continued practicing at the training ground for tournament participants and watched the preliminaries. She couldn’t see Edward anywhere in the audience. He wouldn’t miss important matches over an emotional issue, so he must be in the box seats.


Tomorrow was her match. Edward hadn’t contacted her since he was upset about it. It was frustrating not to see or hear from someone you see every day for almost a week.


Luize sighed in front of a rose with more than half its leaves gone. The rose had lost half its leaves even though she diligently caught caterpillars.


“There were still some I missed.”


She found a plump caterpillar, grabbed it with a tong, and put it in a jar. There must be more than one caterpillar for the petals to be damaged. The gardener said that once caterpillars appear, it’s hard to get rid of them without using pesticides.


Luize looked at the caterpillar wriggling in the jar. Even though she caught them for the rose’s sake, she would always release them in the bushes outside the city when she went out.


“Maybe I should have talked more.” Luize looked at the caterpillar and sighed.


“I’m sorry, Miss Luize. I trust you, but I can’t just cheer for this.”


Remembering Edward’s apology made her grip the tong so tightly they bent. It was one thing to be grateful for his concern, but she couldn’t accept that he hadn’t believed in her skills and had been learning swordsmanship from her all this time.


Edward didn’t seem like someone who would play with people like that. But then again, she hadn’t known Reiad was that kind of person when she married him. So, she should just accept it as a mistake in judging people and move on. But why was it bothering her so much?


“No need to worry about a student who disrespects their teacher.”


She resumed searching for caterpillars. Sadly, she didn’t find anymore that day.


And so, the last day of the preliminaries arrived.

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