Translator: Latte Editor: Sasha
Iris snarled at the three in front of her.
Tessa, Iris’s maid, was surprised when she saw Princess Larissa before her eyes.
She carefully whispered into Iris’s ear, “Milady, she is Princess Larissa of the Dayev Empire…”
At Tessa’s words, Iris immediately changed her expression. She lifted the hem of her dress and dropped into a curtsy.
“This is the first time Iris has met a princess in real life! Iris has only heard about them in fairy tales! It is very nice to meet you, Your Highness,” Iris smiled.
Iris introduced herself as the granddaughter of Baron Bernard and Baron Vendos, the duke’s vassals.
Princess Larissa gave her a friendly smile.
“A pleasure to meet you as well, Lady Iris.’
”Yes, of course. Speaking of which, why did you ruin Iris’s roses? The roses must’ve been in great pain…”
Iris took the rose from Larissa’s hand.
Larissa was embarrassed by her spoiled behavior, but she didn’t lose her signature smile.
“How dare she take Her Highness’s things…?!”
Carolina glared daggers at Iris, trembling with rage.
“This rose belongs to Iris!” Iris shouted at Carolina.
“I’m sorry, Lady Iris, but… this is the duke’s residence. Doesn’t the garden belong to the duchess?” Larissa said with a worried expression.
“Still, she’s being ridiculous. How dare you act so rudely in front of the princess…?! Our princess is His Majesty the Emperor’s niece!” Carolina yelled as if she was carrying a heavy load.
She was frustrated because the duke’s servants weren’t as hospitable as she thought they would be.
Of course, the servants were kind but not as kind as what Carolina wanted. She expected Princess Larissa to get the best treatment. Better than the duchess herself!
Carolina knew that she was being unnecessarily emotional. But she couldn’t help it because she knew what it was like to be looked down upon by other people.
As a maid of the imperial palace, Carolina used to be bullied because she wasn’t originally from the capital. But when Larissa chose her as her personal maid, the attitudes of the other servants changed drastically. Carolina was forever grateful to the princess and had been blindly following her ever since. She thought that Princess Larissa was kinder and more beautiful than anyone else.
Carolina did not doubt that the Duke of Cernoir would fall in love with Princess Larissa.
But to think that the granddaughter of a mere baron would dare to belittle her princess…!
Iris observed Princess Larissa from head to toe with her hand on her chin.
“The duchess gave Iris her permission! She gave all the roses in this garden to Iris! That’s why these roses are mine!”
Princess Larissa laughed at Iris, who was acting like a child, she genuinely thought of her as cute. It seemed that she had grown up receiving tremendous love from her grandfathers.
Except for her mother, Larissa had never been loved by those of her own blood. She unexpectedly felt a little jealous as Iris had grown up surrounded with so much love, whereas she did not.
“I apologize, Lady Iris. It seems as though I’ve made a mistake,” Larissa said.
“…Apology accepted, Your Highness,” Iris smiled as if she was never angry.
On the other hand, Tessa breathed a sigh of relief as she wiped the sweat off her forehead.
Then, the minute she saw Olivia, her heart stopped.
During the month of her stay at the castle, Tessa, Iris’s maid, began to fear the servants of the mansion.
It was midnight that day, and she had accidentally listened to their conversations.
One of them said, “Threaten him with a knife.”
“Choke his neck with one arm… you’ll get information as long as you act tough…”
The conversation was scary and suspicious! Tessa believed that they would have killed her if they ever found out that she was eavesdropping on them.
The servants were actually looking for information about the people that tried to bribe them. However, Tessa didn’t know that. She simply imagined that they were involved with an underground criminal gang.
Suddenly, a shadow appeared from behind her…
It was Olivia.
Tessa was so surprised that she fell to her butt. Afterward, Olivia threatened her to stay shut. If she ever broke that promise, she would not hesitate to use coercion on her.
Tessa was terrified. She used to think of Olivia as a timid and shy maid. However, she turned out to be the most frightening maid amongst all the others!
“Why does Your Highness have to apologize?!” Carolina chastised.
She was becoming both frustrated and angry. She couldn’t understand why the princess had to succumb to that so-called baron’s granddaughter.
Nevertheless, the princess just laughed it off. Then, she went back to the mansion whilst trying to calm her maid down.
Before Olivia followed the two back to the mansion, she didn’t forget to glare into Tessa’s eyes, staring deep into her soul.
‘If you dare say one word. You shall never come back alive.’
Tessa gulped and crossed her fingers. She was so petrified that tears started welling up in her eyes. She wanted to go home with her lady as soon as possible, but unfortunately, Iris seemed to have no intention of doing so…
All of a sudden, Iris broke into a fit of laughter.
“Haha! Iris thought that the princess would be full of dignity, but I guess not. As expected! Iris is much more beautiful than the princess, right?” Iris grinned in satisfaction.
Not minding the silence. Iris continued to hum while admiring the beautiful pink flowers.
She did not like the duchess; however, she had to give Elody credit as she did give her the whole garden.
Not long ago, Iris was strolling around the garden with the company of her grandparents. She asked the barons if it were possible for them to plant these pink roses at home.
Suddenly, they bumped into the duchess who was also taking a walk.
Elody, being the kind person she is, heard of the story and promised to give it to her as a gift for when she returned to her residence.
Iris was ecstatic. However, the two barons just bowed their heads and kept averting the duchess’ gaze.
At that moment, Iris wondered if something had happened between them as her grandfathers were acting quite odd.
She wanted to ask them, but she was distracted with the joy she felt after receiving the roses, and well… she eventually forgot about it.
Anyhow, after meeting Elody, Iris was now looking for her first love.
In all her life, she had never seen such a unique hair color that was beautiful as the duchess’, except for the young man she met from when she was a little girl.
Once she remembered her first love, it occurred to her that he could be related to the duke’s wife. In fact, in the beginning, she wondered if the duchess might have actually been that young man herself. However, the duchess should have been much younger than him at that time.
‘Then, he might be related to the duchess!’
As soon as she thought of that, Iris came to her grandparents and asked them to find out more about Count McClaire’s children, for she definitely wanted to meet her first love.
‘When we meet again, he’ll fall in love with Iris once he sees how beautiful Iris has grown!’
Iris couldn’t care less about not becoming the duchess. The duke treated her like crap anyways. So, of course, she didn’t want to waste her time on someone who’s clearly not interested in her.
A few days ago, when she met the duke, she turned her face before him first!
‘…And it honestly felt great!’
Of course, Caville didn’t notice at all, but… Iris was convinced that she had won.
Looking at the duke, she somehow felt very sorry for the duchess.
Even if he was a very handsome man, nothing mattered because her husband was very cold.
‘Hmph! Love is not all about physical appearance. Iris’s partner has to have a nice personality and be very kind to Iris.’
Her first love was so much cooler than the duke.
She thought that it would be much better to find her first love than to be the second wife of the duke, who was still married.
Iris had already visited the duke’s mansion and the duchess even gifted her the roses in the garden! What more could she ask for? All of this was enough to show off to the other noble girls.
“Milady, do you know that the princess came here because she wants to marry the duke?” Tessa asked as she wiped the tears in her eyes.
“Pfft! The duke and the princess? He didn’t even fall in love with Iris! How could he ever fall in love with the princess?” She snorted.
“That’s true. No one could ever come to par with Lady Iris’s beauty.”
However, Tessa believed that the princess and Duke of Cernoir could end up marrying each other.
Tessa was sad. She had hoped that Iris could capture the duke’s heart, but she guessed that wish wouldn’t come true.
* * *
The Temple’s entourage had been stopping at a few temples when going on their way to the Duchy of Cernoir. This was the last stop, and so they hurried to embark on their journey again. Awaiting to arrive at their final destination. The Duchy of Cernoir.
Theodore, the commander of the Paladins of Thysser, got on his horse and spoke, “We leave tonight. We shall proceed to the Duchy of Cernoir without any delays.”
With blonde hair and green eyes, the young man was greatly respected by the other paladins.
After the previous commander retired, the next commander of the paladins was chosen solely because of his ability.
Theodore was an excellent man, both in appearance and in sword fighting skills. Thanks to that, he was always the center of gossip in the capital.
His curls were golden, and his eyes were the glimmering color of emerald, sparkling in the light like a fresh sheen of morning dew, framed by graceful brows. He was kind and diligent. Plus, he had a mystical aura that seemed to be able to captivate every woman near him.
“Do you know why the ladies in the capital come to the temple every day? It’s not because of their faith, rather… It’s because they want to see the commander of the paladins!”
Was what the rumors said.
Paladins don’t usually marry, but it certainly wasn’t forbidden.
Theodore was still single at the early age of 28.
Thus, it was understandable as to why many aristocratic women wanted to have his hand in marriage.
However, recently, the person that was the center of all topics in the capital was the Duke of Cernoir, not Theodore.
Divorcés are usually looked down upon by other people. However, that did not apply to the Duke of Cernoir.
The duke had become a war hero! It was undoubtedly better to become his second wife than to marry a man who had nothing at all.
Had the Duke of Cernoir visited the capital, the civilians would have gone nuts. Caville Cernoir was a young and handsome man who turned the war to victory. Thus, his popularity had earned him the attention of numerous women of marriageable age. And although he wasn’t single, he was married at a very early age, and the two were separated for seven years. Hence, everyone thought that he would at most certainly divorce his wife soon.
As long as someone was able to capture his heart, even an ordinary country girl could become the duchess. His power at present was that great.
Though, if the Duke of Cernoir had visited the capital, the nobles would have compared him to Theodore, the commander of the paladins.
There was even a poll to see who, between the two, was more popular! Many young women wanted to see them both at the banquet.
Unfortunately, the Duke of Cernoir immediately returned to his territory, and the commander of the paladins, too, had to go to the Duchy of Cernoir.
The Temple of Cernoir had been empty for a long time. Thus, the Great Temple decided to dispatch new priests and paladins to maintain close relations with the Duke of Cernoir.
Of course, there was no need for the commander of the paladins to come, but Theodore volunteered to go there himself.
Nobody knew the exact reason.
On the battlefield, the Duke of Cernoir and the commander of the paladins did not have a good relationship with one another. They had no idea why Theodore chose to go there.
The paladins and priests who accompanied him also tried to guess the reason. His men had asked him about it many times, but Theodore had never given them an accurate answer. He had always beaten around the bush or diverted the topic itself. That’s why no one knew the answer to those questions.
However, little did they know that his true purpose… was to pursue Elody McClair, the Duchess of Cernoir.