Translator: thursdays Editor: thursdays
Scene 7. The Villainess’s Household
Vera glanced at Cayena, who was reading a book at leisure after her brief interview with Olivia.
In her hand was a travelogue describing the northern regions of the country.
‘She could at least go and meet Sir Kedrey.’
Standing side by side at the imperial library, they matched well, like a princess and a knight from a fairy tale.
Also, it was Raphael who came to see Cayena that day. Wasn’t that a sign that he felt something for her?
But recently, Cayena had been keeping her distance.
She never talked about how cool he was like she used to do.
“The northern region has nothing more to see. It will be uncomfortable to stay there.”
She put down the travelogue and started talking about idle things.
Vera asked abruptly, “Your Highness, do you sincerely want things to go well between Miss Olivia and Sir Kedrey?”
‘Do I really want things to go well?’
Cayena tapped on the cover of the book with her hand, then opened to the first page like she had made a decision.
To be precise, she hoped to get something out of it since they would get along well anyway.
Originally, Raphael and Olivia met for the first time at Cayena’s coming-of-age celebration after the marriage talks.
It all unfolded like a fated love story. But it was also the prelude to Cayena’s tragedy.
Vera’s questions didn’t end there. “What would Your Highness do should Sir Kedrey developed some affection for you?”
Cayena was surprised by the unexpected speculation. Placing the book down on her lap, she said, “What a ridiculous presumption.”
She dismissed it like that.
“Sir Kedrey is already in marriage talks with Olivia. I hope we speak no further of this.”
“I’m sorry, Your Highness.”
Cayena shook her head.
“I’m not scolding you. I know exactly why you say it.”
Vera closed her lips, a little embarrassed by her understanding.
It would be great if Her Highness could connect with the person she loved.
Vera felt even more regretful, as she had heard Cayena planned and dreamed of approximately 50 years of a future with Raphael.
‘Although Miss Olivia is unquestionably beautiful…’
Vera thought about Olivia. Cayena said she was a quick-witted and clever lady. She also said that it would be comfortable to work with her since they would be in sync. At that praise, Vera noticed that the princess had considerable respect for that woman.
‘Is she that capable of a person?’
Of course, her first impression was excellent. Excluding her house, Olivia seemed to have no visible faults. Vera didn’t know exactly what Olivia’s personality was like, but her social reputation wasn’t bad. It was actually impressive how her reputation wasn’t poor, considering how everyone knew that Cayena had hated and was wary of her.
“Vera, did you pick your people?”
She snapped out of her thoughts at Cayena’s question. Cayena was referring to the people who would help Vera with her duties.
“Yes, Your Highness. First of all, I would like to appoint Annie.”
“That’s a good choice.”
Vera was secretly reorganizing the workforce in the princess’s palace so that they would be able to be used by Cayena.
“The remaining two court ladies will come tomorrow.”
Cayena looked out the window. The spring rain was still falling.
“I want you to help Olivia adjust to the work.”
“Yes, Your Highness.”
Cayena was thinking of creating a sort of rank among them. The rank would show others who the princess favored more. As Cayena took in Olivia, people would be more careful around her. Once Olivia gained a respectable amount of influence, Rezef and Archduke Heinrich would find it difficult to touch her.
This way, Cayena could create an environment in which they could survive before they left the imperial palace.
When Vera went out, Cayena was left alone in the bedroom. She closed the book. Reading about the western region felt awkward, as Viscount Gillian’s hometown was in the west. She let go of the book as if it were covered in thorns.
A sigh slipped out from her lips. She had thought that she had healed from the past. However, that belief was shattered after she encountered Gillian. Would she be fine when she had to face him again? Cayena wasn’t sure.
“Is it better to take action…?”
Was there any way she could wreck the Gillian viscounty and tear apart their warhorse business?
‘But that would be troublesome for the Kedrey dukedom if there was a gap in their area.’
It was rash and difficult to disrupt Duke Kedrey’s forces.
Rezef and Heinrich would obviously be happy if the Kedreys’ clout were reduced.
And in the first place, it was unwise to sow discord with the dukedom without justification.
‘There are many conflicting interests.’
The Gillians’ warhorse business was quite important. Perhaps she could lessen its influence if the government took control of it, or if there was more competition in the market…
She continued to think of these convoluted plots when she paused. There was no need to go that far.
“I would just need to replace Henverton’s position with a new person.”
And that was better suited to Cayena’s skills.
Fortunately, Henverton Gillian was not born with a particularly good personality or ability, and his friends were even worse.
However, she needed to cooperate with Raphael to implement the plan.
She couldn’t get rid of the Kedrey’s vassal so easily.
Somehow she kept getting involved with Raphael. It wasn’t that she hated him, but she was afraid of making him feel uncomfortable.
Cayena wanted to live differently from herself in the past.
She calmly stared down at her trembling hands. Henverton Gillian was obsessed with her this lifetime as well.
He may follow her if she ran away and do the same thing as last time.
Her memories of being abused were not completely clear. Her memory of being killed was also hazy.
But even with the hint of the memories, her body had become affected in this way.
The reaction of her body was very different from her cool head and rationality.
‘I have to get rid of what I can’t control.’
Gillian was an element she couldn’t control. So she had no reason to hesitate to get rid of him.
Vera brought along just one maid to accompany her as she went to the central part of the castle to check on the princess’s meal.
That kitchen was the most important one in the castle because it was where the imperial family’s food was prepared.
Although the place was thoroughly managed, Vera was always coming in and out of the central kitchen because of Cayena’s allergy. Furthermore, she couldn’t eat food with a strong fish scent, so her ladies-in-waiting had to pay special attention when they served seafood.
‘Her Highness pretends otherwise, but she’s been so weak and worried since yesterday. I need to prepare a meal to help restore her strength.’
However, the head chef always looked displeased whenever Vera stopped by and meddled with the food. He openly ostracized Vera, acting uncooperatively and trying to kick her out as soon as possible. It was almost as if he had something to hide.
‘He’s too against admitting outsiders into the kitchen. Someone with a clean conscience wouldn’t do that.’
Vera thought with a snort. If she found anything suspicious, she would report it right away.
But Vera’s path was blocked at the entrance to the princess’s palace. Some courtiers stood in her way, and among them, Vera saw a familiar face.
It was Mrs. Sovenin, the right hand of Mrs. Helier, the head maid who was in charge of all the female employees in the imperial palace. In addition, she was a member of Rezef’s faction and was a hostile force against Cayena.
Vera greeted her.
“Mrs. Sovenin, may I ask what you’re doing here?”
Mrs. Sovenin scoffed.
“I am cracking down on the palace’s household.”
“By that, you mean…”
“Where are you going now?”
“I was on my way to the central kitchen. I need to check on Her Highness’s meals.”
At her words, Mrs. Sovenin fiercely glared at Vera.
Her expression showed that she would take Vera down, no matter what.
“That place is the most strictly managed of all the departments. You’re no professional. What exactly can you do there?”
Vera realized that Mrs. Sovenin was trying to find fault with her.
Since her opponent had a higher position than her, Vera’s chances of winning this fight were slim.
Still, she couldn’t keep her mouth shut.
Vera’s attitude was a reflection of Cayena. She straightened her back.
“I am the sole senior court lady in the princess’s palace. If I don’t take care of it, who will?”
Then, five senior court ladies lined up beside Mrs. Sovenin as if they had been waiting for her to say that.
“Even so, the head maid told me to select and send new senior ladies-in-waiting because there is an insufficient number of court ladies in the princess’s palace.”
Vera narrowed her eyes at the words.
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