Translator: Latte Editor: Sasha
The trip took three-months, but Princess Larissa was not tired at all.
After so long, she could finally see the Duke of Cernoir again.
‘I wonder what he’s doing now…’
Princess Larissa could not forget the duke’s expression on the battlefield.
When she looked into his eyes, it was like nothing was there to behold. Nothing but an endless depth of ink, sorrow, and pain. She believed that he knew no warmth and had never shared love. That’s why she told the emperor that she needed to go to the Duchy of Cernoir.
When Princess Larissa saw the Duke of Cernoir for the first time, she thought that their meeting was fate.
It was the first time she ever felt that way. She couldn’t deny the fact that she had fallen for him at first sight.
Hence, Larissa wanted to be closer to the Duke of Cernoir.
It was true that at first, she needed his help for political reasons as well, but now it was because she desired to mend his broken heart.
But unfortunately, he was colder than the rumors.
When they met again, she hoped that they could become much closer than before.
Thus, Princess Larissa clung to her hope, leaving everything in the hands of fate and destiny.
She felt more alive than ever.
* * *
Many things had happened in the duchy before Princess Larissa arrived in the estate.
First of all, the vassals who did not participate in the war left for the Forest of Death.
They felt unjust, but there was no other escape.
Thus, they decided to grit their teeth and plan for a better future.
On the other hand, Baron Vendos and Baron Bernard handed in their homework to Caville.
For the past month, the two barons had stayed in the duke’s mansion to write their reports. Caville permitted them to stay with the condition that they would not come in the duchess’ presence.
Because of this, the two barons had to hide whenever they saw Elody.
“Do you still think that she’s unqualified to become the duchess?”
“No. Your Grace!”
“No way, Your Grace!”
The two barons said as they stared at the duke with a desperate look on their faces.
Caville glanced over the report with a satisfied expression. The report was full of gratitude to the duchess.
“Your Grace, if you could postpone our departure…”
“That’s right. I just came back… I want to be with my family for a while longer.”
Caville looked down at the two barons that were on their knees.
He remembered his wife’s words, who said that he should show mercy and give another chance to those who sincerely realized their mistakes.
When the barons said that they wanted to be with their family, Caville was a bit moved.
He knew how painful it was to be apart from his loved ones.
“Alright, I shall give you one more month.”
The two barons faces’ brightened in an instant.
They had made their decision.
Seeing the duke’s reaction to the report, it was clear what their course of actions should be.
They would have to stick to the current duchess and take her side.
Their last hope, Iris, had been staying inside the mansion for the past month.
But even Iris seemed to have no intention of capturing the duke’s heart anymore.
Instead, she kept asking them to find a man with pink hair.
She would often gaze at the pink flowers and stayed there until sunset.
Truthfully, Iris had tried to seduce the duke several times since her grandfathers did ask her to do it.
However, he treated her like an invisible person every time.
He was too proud of himself even for a duke in Iris’s eyes.
He hurt her ego.
‘Is he playing hard to get? Or is he purposely ignoring Iris? This is much worse than my first love.’
Iris began to hate the duke for his indifference.
Thus, she started ignoring him as well.
In the end, they eventually treated each other as invisible people as their relationship completely disappeared, or rather, it didn’t exist from the very start.
Nevertheless, the relationship between the two was nothing more than strangers.
* * *
As the date of the princess’ arrival approached, the servants began to worry.
To the servants, the princess was like an uninvited guest as they knew that the emperor was trying to tie up the lord with her.
Particularly, some of the maids were watching Heinz’s knights who were eager to praise the princess.
Anna continued to spy on the drivers while managing the greenhouse.
In particular, some maids kept Heinz’s knights under surveillance as they had always praised the princess.
At the same time, Anna had been spying on the knights while managing the greenhouse.
And at last! The opportunity to slap the former mercenary knights had finally come!
“Hey, Anna. Is the duchess doing well?”
Sir Therion approached Anna, hesitantly asked, “So… I was wondering if the lord is getting along well with the madame. Since they’ve been swamped with work recently…”
Anna grabbed hold of the opportunity.
“Why, of course! The duke has been taking care of her with his utmost sincerity! He goes back and forth to see his wife for at least twelve times a day, even if he’s busy!”
Heinz’s knights, who were listening to Anna’s words, snorted.
Therion nodded with a sad look on his face.
Because of the mercenaries’ constant chattering, Therion got a bit influenced and thought that the duke might choose to marry the princess as well.
‘If that happens, will the madame be alone?’
He had hoped that was true, but unlike the rumors, the lord and the madame seemed to be getting along very well.
Not long ago, there was a time when he accidentally witnessed them walking together. Both of them looked very friendly.
Therion was heartbroken but decided to move on instead.
Though it wasn’t long, Elody would forever be his first love…
* * *
The rattling sound of carriages could be heard as the princess’ entourage neared their mansion.
With hands clasped tightly in front of her stomach, Elody constantly fiddled with her knuckles, weaving her fingers in and out of each other as she stared out of the grimy window.
This was even more nerve-wracking than when she waited for Caville’s return!
‘Why am I so nervous…?’
She would meet the heroine of the original novel soon.
Her memories of the novel had faded, but a rough image remained.
One thing she remembered was that Larissa was an innocent, nice, and beautiful heroine.
She was innocent enough to keep being bullied by the villain Elody McClaire…
“Marie, isn’t this too flashy?”
“Huh? What do you mean, madame? I don’t think that it’s any different from usual.
It was completely different…
For some reason, Marie was extra sensitive today.
Elody silently watched Marie decorating her with accessories.
After she finished dressing her up, Elody went down to the first floor with Caville, who was waiting in front of her room.
Elody glanced at Caville’s face.
‘Is he looking forward to meeting the princess…?’
Caville didn’t seem tense, but he seemed eager.
The imperial cavalcade entered the city gates with mountains of gifts in its carriages.
And as the carriage came to a stop, the servants and knights welcomed the princess and the emperor’s envoy.
A maid and a young male nobleman got off from a fancy carriage, and soon Princess Larissa appeared.
The carriage steps cluttered as the princess was led down, and when the knights saw her, they couldn’t help but gawk at her gorgeous silver hair.
“…So we finally meet again, Duke of Cernoir.”
Princess Larissa approached Caville straight away. However, Caville was indifferent.
Elody stared at the two in awe.
The male lead and the heroine had finally met! They got along better than what she had expected.
“It is a pleasure to meet you, duchess,” Larissa said as she greeted Elody with an awkward smile.
“A pleasure to meet you, as well, princess.”
Ever since the Duke of Cernoir returned to the land as a war hero, he had been the center of all gossip throughout the capital. As such, his wife was also of interest.
However, little was known about the duchess.
She was known as the daughter of Count McClaire, a mage who made all sorts of magical drugs.
That was the only rumor that seemed to be correct.
The rest seemed inaccurate, saying that she was bad-tempered, extravagant, ill-mannered, and so on so forth.
Some rumors also said that her potions were made out of dirty mice and bugs, but Larissa was unsure.
In short, the nasty rumors out-weighted the good ones.
The rumors also spread around the battlefield. Caville’s knights informed Princess Larissa of two things; the duke came to the battlefield at a very young age, and it was a fact that the duchess was a very cold woman.
After hearing the story, Princess Larissa could understand why the duke’s eyes were full of loneliness and pain.
However, in reality, the duchess was a beautiful woman with gorgeous pink locks.
Elody glanced over the princess’s shoulder to inspect the carriages and asked, “If I may ask, princess. Did the priests of the Thysser Temple come along with you?”
Princess Larissa snapped back to reality and replied, “Oh, the priests stopped by another temple on the way… They said they would arrive either tomorrow or the day after.”
“Ah, I see… Well, you have come a long way, so please head inside and make yourselves comfortable.”
“Thank you for your consideration, duchess.”
Princess Larissa smiled a little and followed the maid’s guidance to the inside of the mansion.
Maid Carolina and Count DeFore glanced at Elody before following the princess inside.
They also heard rumors about the duchess in the capital.
In particular, Carolina knew of the princess’ feelings, so she investigated the duchess in great detail.
And there was one person who witnessed her eyes that were full of hostility…
‘These people dare… ‘
It was Olivia, one of the maids who cherished Elody a lot.
Olivia’s eyes were clouded with fury.
“Please guide the guests to their rooms,” Elody instructed.
* * *
Princess Larissa was guided to the best guest room they had and was resting there.
“How dare they give the princess a room as shabby as this. Right, princess?” Carolina complained.
But Princess Larissa did not hate the room.
It wasn’t as flashy as the room she spent in the imperial palace, but it was rather elegant as well.
Princess Larissa liked being here more than the imperial palace. She liked the mansion of the Duke of Cernoir because it had a more vintage feel and coziness to it.
‘This place feels homey. It reminds me of the old castle I used to live in when I was a little girl…’
Indeed, it was similar in appearance as well as the atmosphere inside it.