The Chamberlains. They were an unrivaled family full of money-gathering talents, starting with mining. By succeeding in business one after another, they were able to exert absolute influence in the empire solely with capital power.
It was difficult to accept that Lady Amber, who had nothing but debt, was protected by such a great family. Lucas, however, mumbled to himself in a voice that seemed to linger in the past.
“It turned out that Claudia has changed beyond recognition because of her…….”
In fact, it was so different that he thought she was someone else who had changed their appearance with magic.
However, Benjamin, who pulled out a new cigarette, did not let it end there and brought up a more shocking story.
“Your Highness may have guessed why Depallacion was standing up for her.”
“It’s probably because of the Crown Princess’s seat. I’ve had enough of their bizarre obsession to get that spot.”
“Then, did you know that Lady Depallacion has something to do with this?”
“What? That can’t be true. Erica will never do anything unless the Duke instructs her to do it.”
“Do you really think so?”
Benjamin asked, holding a cigarette in his mouth and an artifact in his left hand.
Then, a small flame arose over the flickering red jewel.
Lucas stared blankly at the end of the cigarette that burned from the magically lit fire.
Then he suddenly realized something and narrowed his eyebrows.
“No way…… No, it can’t be.”
“There’s nothing impossible in the world. You have to be mindful of all the possibilities.”
So Irene Amber made Erica, Depallacion’s puppet, move on her own?
Lady Amber’s influence over a powerful figure like Depallacion was as difficult as meeting with the emperor directly.
But Irene was clever enough to know that the Duke was the only one who reacted sensitively.
And that, it was Erica who would one day become the empress.
Duke Depallacion had no intentions of raising his own power. He only had his eyes on the Empress’s seat. If he felt that this was being threatened, he would not care if there was fire or water1.
In other words, through Erica, Irene made them aware that she was indispensable.
It meant that from now on, Irene Amber was not someone they could touch carelessly.
Huh. At this point, Lucas couldn’t help but admire it.
It was quite impressive. Despite giving her many opportunities, she ignored all his orders and warnings and instead made a presumptuous counterattack.
He didn’t even think that such a minor existence would elicit such anger.
“Sometimes, someone will be born with such talent.”
“Is that a talent? Is it a talent to stick to others?”
Lucas did not want to acknowledge Irene’s power until the end.
However, he wasn’t going to discount and underestimate her value.
“Even if it’s not a big deal, as long as it touches the heart and causes the heart to beat, it will become the driving force of action.”
Benjamin said, casually brushing the ashes off the leather sofa.
“The ability to embrace and tolerate failure and frustration, along with faith, are great talents.”
“You speak such disgusting emotional words.”
Lucas frowned and murmured.
Then Benjamin said with a deep smile as he drew in a breath of smoke.
“If you stimulate emotion, not reason, it makes humans easier to deal with. They won’t mind dying for you. I use it often.”
“……yes, I knew you’d say that.”
Lucas laughed sarcastically, making it clear that he knew where Duke Lamberg2 was going.
And he was reminded of why he was so reluctant to do the same.
There was a big difference between recognizing other people as tools and toys and treating other people as personalities.
“The difference between Lady Amber and me is that she is sincere every moment. Who in the world would refuse a person who truly cares for them?”
Some say that they spent half their fortune just to obtain such a person as a friend. And this person wasn’t supposed to pretend to do so.
Benjamin accepted that fact with his head, but even if he communicated with others for a hundred days, he couldn’t relate at all. Moreover, just pretending to communicate would be discovered one day.
That was why he sincerely envied her ability and admired her.
“That’s called a gemstone.”
“You look excited.”
“Sometimes, I feel great when I find a gemstone.”
He would make it have a weakness, shake it, play with it, and kill it.
Lucas was able to quickly grasp what that expression meant. He hated to admit it, but they both had similar thinking patterns.
The only difference was that one side would run away without guilt if necessary, and the other side didn’t and just created such a situation for fun.
It was the difference between ‘breaking it or not’ and ‘breaking it’.
One way or another, it was the same thing that neither could sympathize with other people’s feelings at all.
“Looking at the gemstone makes me want to do what I want and break it before it gets into someone else’s hand.”
Benjamin spat out his appreciation for the discovery of the gemstone and revealed his preference without filtering.
“You have great taste.”
“Please respect me. I respect you too.”
“Who are you to tell me, the prince, to respect someone?”
He couldn’t believe such a madman was before him.
Whether Lucas was embarrassed or not, Benjamin swept his chin and was lost in thought.
“But I know I can’t afford to enjoy my hobby. I’m afraid it’s quite a nuisance for me right now, so I’ll have to clean it up.”
Lucas realized, belatedly, while kicking his tongue. The enemy’s enemy was an ally.
Now that they had a common enemy, he could just have a friendly chat with Duke Lamberg, who currently didn’t want to be involved.
He shuddered at the thought of having such a long conversation with the duke.
“You’ve got a lot of work to worry about, so you’re going to back down?”
However, when Benjamin heard that, there was no way he would leave.
“I thought of an interesting plan. Would you like to hear it?”
“Why the hell should I listen to your plan?”
“You have to be straightforward for me to understand. Do you mean you won’t cooperate with me?”
At that moment, Lucas made an unpleasant expression as if he had chewed on poop.
No, Benjamin was not asking because he didn’t know. He was asking because he wanted to know if Lucas would cooperate with him.
“Have you given up on Claudia?”
“No way. I will do anything to get her. I have a suggestion for that.”
That meant he was going to do something extreme, and he needed Lucas’s help.
Duke Lamberg’s involvement itself was very uncomfortable and unpleasant, but the situation was very serious so he was tempted by the offer.
Claudia had ignored not only Lucas and Benjamin but also Constantine, who was considered as another competitor.
Although it hurt his pride, he had to admit what was true. It was a well-known fact that she chose Irene.
Claudia cherished Irene as if she was half of her soul, and from the moment the two left the banquet, there was no room for anyone to intervene.
He made a decision based on his gut feeling that if he did not clean it up now, he would be in trouble.
But maybe it was because he underestimated her too much. The back of Lucas’s head still tingled with the thought that Irene Amber was more unusual than he imagined.
Now that things were all twisted, he had to deal with Depallacion.
It was already a chaotic time over the future3, so his ankles were already tied.
Of course, if he stayed still, he would naturally become the emperor.
However, if his underlying power did not have a strong foundation, he would not be able to counteract any of Depallacion’s plans.
He was already turning Chamberlain into an enemy because of that damn Irene Amber.
Then Benjamin whispered sweetly.
“There is a way to solve everything neatly all at once.”
That was what Lucas wanted to hear the most.
Lucas threw Benjamin a suspicious look, who had said words that resonated with his desires, but Benjamin just shrugged.
He seemed to be saying that they were in the same situation, so there was no reason for him to lie.
Benjamin smiled lazily at the dubious question. He then brought out the words that sounded like a cliché.
“Isn’t it fascinating how human emotions work? If you touch it a little bit, it will drive itself to ruin.”
* * *
Some would say it was a miracle to borrow the power of Depallacion. However, since I knew it would be like this, I prepared for the last banquet without much thought.
Today, I entered the banquet hall wearing the dress selected by Felix.
Cherry blossoms were embroidered all over the dress, and as it reached the hem of the skirt, the material was naturally lighter, so it looked like the cherry blossoms were floating gently.
It was a dress with strong spring energy, so it didn’t match the current season.
However, the perfect siblings continuously exclaimed that it was “pretty and lovely,” and so I became a person with nothing to fear since they had constantly satisfied my self-esteem.
People were afraid of evaluating the results, not the results.
However, if the standard for that were firm, then nothing would hurt.
The perfect siblings set the standard with their affection. They did whatever they wanted to do.
“I can’t get angry because you’re cute.”
At that time, the first contributor who made me a part of the group kept grumbling beside me. Her sulky expression seemed to be protesting for me to know.
I decided to surrender myself to find the light4 before there was a conflict with her.
“I’m sorry I didn’t tell you in advance.”
But there were more than one or two things that I didn’t tell Claudia beforehand.
“Tell me first next time. I was worried.”
I answered back, saying, “Yes.”
But I couldn’t bear to meet her gaze because my conscience was pricked5.
This was a very difficult problem.
If I wanted to reveal the secret, I could sit with Claudia and chat for days and days. But what a shock she’d have. It hadn’t even happened yet, and she was already acting this way.
I was seriously troubled.
Claudia asked me seriously with a similar look.
“But are you closer to me?”
In fact, wasn’t it the greatest tragedy for her to say I had someone else I was closer to?
* * *
1. This plays on the phrase ‘(to) go through fire and water’ which means to face many challenges in the process of doing/accomplishing something.↩
2. In case you forgot (like me), Duke Lamberg = Benjamin :’)↩
3. This is making reference to the chaotic moments before each replacement of imperial power as the emperor is sick. It’s briefly mentioned in chapter 30.↩
4. This plays on the phrase “to see the light” which means to understand or realize something they didn’t before. In this case, Irene is trying to figure out what Claudia is upset about.↩
5. If someone’s conscience is ‘pricked’ they feel guilty or ashamed.↩
* * *
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