Translator: Latte Editor: Sasha
“That’s a bit…” Elody mumbled.
The ancient language was not something that anyone could learn.
Only individuals born with a strong affinity for mana could master the language.
“Do you have an affinity for mana, princess?”
Based on her knowledge from the book, Larissa was not a mage.
However, Elody’s memories had begun to fade; thus, she decided to ask her to clarify things.
“…No. Can’t I learn the language without having to be a mage?” Princess Larissa asked, frowning.
“I’m afraid that you will not be able to understand anything…”
Larissa’s expression was full of disappointment.
She somehow made Elody feel bad.
“.…I see. Then, does the duke know how to speak the ancient language as well? I’ve seen him use mana on the battlefield….”
“Yes, that is correct.”
“Ah, as expected of him.”
Princess Larissa wanted to learn ancient languages so that she could understand the contents of the paper.
‘Is there really nothing suspicious written on it?’
She also wanted to form a relationship with the Duke of Cernoir through learning the ancient language.
‘If I knew how to speak the ancient language, I would have been able to get closer to him…’
Larissa was full of regrets.
“Princess! Then you can learn from the duke!” Carolina said while side-eyeing the duchess.
She was utterly shameless, dissolute when it came to her non-existent manners. The duchess had just scolded her, yet she still dared to act so impudently.
And Princess Larissa, too, was unexpectedly surprised by the words of her maid. She then proceeded to pinch Carolina at the waist.
“You shouldn’t have said that…” Princess Larissa said, her face seemingly troubled.
Meanwhile, Elody was appalled.
‘That’s not it…’
It was not as if she didn’t want to teach her the language. It was just that the princess would never be able to learn it because she didn’t have the affinity for mana.
However, this maid spoke as if Elody refused the princess because she didn’t want to teach her, because of selfish reasons!
Even if she were to ask Caville, he wouldn’t be able to teach her either. Not in a million years!
To break the awkward atmosphere, Princess Larissa spoke, “Anyway… Thank you for showing me the greenhouse, duchess. I’ll come to see you again next time.”
“Yes, of course.”
Thus, Elody saw the two off out of courtesy.
Truth to be told, she didn’t want them to come again. She was already running out of time. She certainly didn’t want to be disturbed by anyone while doing her research.
‘…Why are they doing this?’
Princess Larissa bothered her as she acted a bit… odd.
It was weird.
* * *
As the two ladies left the greenhouse, Princess Larissa had a lot to say.
“The greenhouse was splendid.”
“Isn’t it? But that lab was so suspicious! Did Princess Larissa notice it too?”
Larissa didn’t say a single word, but she did not deny it either.
Up until now, she thought that Carolina was just too wary of her. A groundless suspicion. However…
The locked doors to the greenhouse, the broken magic tool on the table…
It was hard for her not to feel skeptical.
As a member of the imperial family, it was only her duty to investigate the duchess a little more.
To do that, he needed the help of Count DeFore, who came with her to the duchy.
On the way back to the manor, Princess Larissa looked up at the beautiful, enormous mansion.
‘I wish I could continue living here…’
In more ways than one, this place reminded her of her old home.
The Imperial Castle of Dayev.
The mansion was like a castle. It loomed proudly behind the silver gates, flanked by rows of trees crowned in green, swaying gently over the warm wind.
The servants were wonderful, and the knights were friendly, their smiles filled with only the most genuine of kindness.
But above all, Larissa loved the duchess’s greenhouse the most.
Of course, the princess dearly missed her home, but she had no thoughts of going back for the castle had already decayed. Or rather, it was destroyed by the Urtans.
The bricks had crumbled, and the windows gave in to the winds long before. Inside the rooms, the halls, the kitchens laid burnt furniture. The oak floors lay strewn with leaves, debris, and ashes, and the roof let in more rain than it kept out. In comparison, the staircase swept up toward an upper landing that had fallen away.
The place she had once called home was trampled upon, and could no longer be reconstructed. And the greenhouse she loved most… was burned without any traces of its former beauty.
Suppose she were to return to her old castle. She would only feel sadness, emptiness, and loneliness. The terror she felt when the Urtans had invaded the castle… she would only be reminded of that misery.
And so… that place had become nothing but a distant memory for the princess who longed for a place she could call home sincerely.
Therefore, this mansion was different. It made her feel safe and welcomed. It was as if she had returned to her old home…
But most of all, the Duke of Cernoir was here.
‘If possible… I would like to live in this place my whole life.’
Princess Larissa glanced at the mansion one more time before heading inside with Carolina.
* * *
“Were you crying?” Caville, who had been hiding from Elody all day, asked Heinz.
“…N-no… did leader, I-I mean, Your Grace cry as well?” Heinz, who was busy hiding his swollen eyes, also asked in surprise after seeing Caville’s face.
The two looked at each other’s puffy eyes silently.
‘Do I look as ugly as him?! I couldn’t have, could I…?’
Caville, being as nervous as he was, pulled out a palm-sized hand mirror from his pocket and stared at himself.
He had used ice that morning to reduce the puffiness. Therefore, it wasn’t as swollen as Heinz.
“Wha… why is Your Grace carrying a mirror?”
“None of your business,” Caville spoke coldly.
There were many things that Heinz wanted to say, but he simply could not say it. Or rather, he wasn’t allowed to.
“What are you still doing here? Get out.”
Heinz put down the papers he had brought on top of the table and immediately left the office.
And when he was going down the stairs…
Heinz stopped when he found the duchess passing by in the distance.
As soon as he saw the Duchess, the tears began to well up in his eyes again.
‘Argh! I’m going crazy… ‘
Heinz took out a handkerchief from his bosom. It was the handkerchief that the duchess had given to him before.
Heinz washed the handkerchief that had been stained with blood.
He had tried to return it to the duchess countless times, but he kept using it whenever he cried, so he had no opportunity to give it back.
If Caville had seen the handkerchief, he would have flipped and asked where it came from.
Heinz, who was completely unaware of the fact, pressed the edge of his eyes with the handkerchief. Then shoved it back to his bosom.
Strangely, he felt an immense amount of pity for the duchess and cried whenever he remembered her.
Heinz stood on the stairs and stared at the servants who were carrying a pile of goods.
It was a shockingly large amount.
Heinz was uncomfortable because there were so many misunderstandings he had about the duchess.
‘She must have cared for the leader a lot…’
The duchess had never forgotten the leader for the last seven years. Not even for a single moment. That’s why she sent so many supplies.
As the misunderstandings were resolved, he quickly changed sides.
Heinz wanted to apologize directly to the duchess for the horrible things he had said about her.
But he couldn’t.
‘Pardon me, duchess, no… madame. N-not long ago, I cursed at you and had a deep hatred towards you because of a misunderstanding. I’m terribly sorry.’
It was impossible to say this to her!
After witnessing the duchess vomiting blood, Heinz began to sympathize with her.
And yesterday, the moment the misunderstandings were cleared, his guilt and compassion blew up like a volcano, and his tears just poured out like a waterfall.
If anyone were the most concerned about the commander for seven years, it would have been the duchess.
‘And that was probably why…’
She noticed it too late.
So was his dead sister. His sister was more concerned about Heinz more than anyone else.
His dead sister was very caring. She was worried about him all her life and loved him more than she loved herself. That’s why she only learned about her sickness after it was too late. Thus, leaving Heinz in despair and loneliness. He could only watch his one and only sister who devoted her everything to him, as she rotted away in bed, waiting for the time when she would be taken away from him.
He could finally understand why the other knights defended the duchess so much.
‘Oh, sh*t… The tears are coming out again.’
Was his tear ducts broken?
The feelings raged out of him like a storm. He tried to pull himself together, yet he was struck with so much sadness that the tears kept coming in such generous streams.
Yesterday, after returning to his quarters, Heinz drank alcohol with his men. And unsurprisingly, he drank a lot.
“In the future, if anyone here talks badly about the duchess, I will kill you on the spot. Okay?”
“Captain, what’s wrong with you all of a sudden? Are you mad?”
“Tsk! You little… you won’t answer my question?!”
The knights replied while trembling in fear.
Their misunderstanding with the duchess had also been resolved.
However, they were still hoping that the lord would marry the princess.
On the other hand, Heinz was no longer supporting the princess.
That preposterous thought was long gone. It had disappeared without a trace as if it was never there to begin with.
‘I change my mind so quickly that I can’t even believe myself.’
Now that he knew of the duchess’s illness, he was more desperate to think that she should be happy with the leader.
‘Wouldn’t it be so pitiful if the duchess dies like this?’
Heinz fell into thought for a moment and hurried into the barracks.
And he ordered his knights to help the servants carry the boxes immediately.
* * *
Late at night that day…
Princess Larissa wore a white chemise dress and headed to the garden behind the mansion.
“Will the duke be here…?”
The reason why she went for a walk this late-night was because of Carolina’s advice.
“Princess, I grabbed a servant who was passing by and asked her about the duke! He usually walks in the garden every night.”
“Every night? Why?”
“I don’t know! Though I think it’s a perfect opportunity for you, princess!”
Carolina dressed Larissa in a sky-white chemise, braided her hair gracefully to one side, and put her on light makeup.
“Can I really see the duke?” Princess Larissa asked, blushing.
“Of course! You’ve come all the way here, so you should have a proper conversation! I’m sure that he would fall in love with you, princess!”
At her words, Princess Larissa felt confident.
It would be great if she could become lovers with the Duke of Cernoir, but she at least wanted them to be friends if that didn’t work.
‘To do that, we have to talk.’
She had never even had a chance to talk ever since she arrived. And as Carolina said, it was possible that the duchess might be interfering with her affairs.
Ever since that day at the greenhouse. Her suspicion began to grow as she kept doubting the duchess’s true intentions.
Tomorrow, she was planning to call Count DeFore to discuss it in detail.
Larissa slowly headed towards the center of the beautiful flower garden.
The garden which she saw that night was more beautiful than she could ever imagine.
The flowers were bathed in the moonlight, and the pale purple petals were wet with dew.
Princess Larissa took a flower and breathed into the fragrance slowly with an ecstatic expression. She was somehow relieved by the subtle scent.
Someone had been watching Princess Larissa.
Princess Larissa, a silver-haired princess in a white dress underneath the moonlight. She looked like a forest fairy from a fairy tale.
The man was captivated by the beautiful sight before him.