Translator: thursdays Editor: thursdays
Rezef considered his words, and his expression became slightly twisted.
“But Cayena, you realize that you nearly died.”
Cayena lightly nodded her head, acknowledging the statement.
‘Because of you.’
Knowing the truth, Cayena could see clearly how Rezef carefully weaved his words.
“Are you perhaps afraid of retaliation? If so, please don’t worry. I’ll ensure that nothing like this ever happens again.”
Cayena tiredly shook her head.
Because she hadn’t completely healed yet, it was quite burdensome for her to have such a difficult conversation.
She had already spent a lot of energy talking with the maids.
Though Cayena would have liked to rest, this was a conversation she had to finish, even if she passed out at the end. This was her intent.
“No. I’m not afraid.”
She exhaled, a feverish breath spilling out of her mouth.
Rezef and the maids in the room held their breaths. This sadness was something they hadn’t expected from the ridiculous Cayena.
“There’s no need to play a game that you’ll lose, Rezef.”
Rezef couldn’t understand her words.
He was the one who had arranged for the poison to be used, and he had also established himself a suitable alibi. He had already selected which targets he would remove with this opportunity, and all he had to do was to send them to the guillotine. This game was completely set in his favor; there was no way that he couldn’t win.
At least, that’s what he thought.
“Everyone, please leave this area for a little while.”
At her request, everyone left. The only ones left in the room were Cayena and Rezef.
“Rezef,” Cayena called. She spoke so calmly and composedly that Rezef felt strange.
“You can’t forget that there are more things happening than what you can see with your eyes.”
“What are you…?”
“Do you know how many people I’ve danced with in the banquet hall? And how many people brought me food and drinks? Under these circumstances, it’s far too difficult to determine who had poisoned me. On the other hand… These circumstances are perfect to pick the culprit.”
Cayena struggled to remember quickly what had happened regarding this incident.
Rezef could never have predicted this to happen to his plan.
“There was a young nobleman who was obsessed with me, wasn’t there?”
She recalled the person that Rezef had led to the guillotine.
It was her previous husband.
She recalled that Viscount Gillian had yet to receive his inheritance, so she merely referred to him as a ‘young nobleman.’
“Do you intend to execute him and destroy his entire family? Good. He’s one of Kedrey’s vassals. It’s not a bad choice.”
That was the whole reason Rezef had concocted this plan.
The Gillian family was renowned for keeping splendid horses. The price of a single one of their horses surpassed that of a mansion. And the Duke of Kedrey had such a family as his vassal.
The Kedrey family was militant, holding the largest and strongest army in the Empire as they protected the western border. They stood in the way of Rezef’s path to the throne, and he was eager to reduce their influence in any way possible.
Even if Duke Kedrey wasn’t implicated in the crime, the word that one of his vassals attempted treason would cause him great embarrassment.
Gently, persuasively, Rezef replied to Cayena. “There must be some misunderstanding, Cayena. That isn’t…”
Cayena wasn’t about to let him interrupt her. Despite her throbbing head, she pressed on.
“However, Rezef, poisons obtained from the black market may change hands many times. It’s clear that there will be two or three records from the black market on their accounting books, but can you really condemn them on such flimsy evidence?”
Rezef thought that Cayena was going to say something amazing, but now, he barely stopped himself from laughing at her.
“I’m not sure what you’re trying to say, Cayena. It’s already obvious how the poison came to the Imperial Palace. I only need to publicize this affair to take care of the issue, and then it will all be over.”
‘Though I don’t know how she knew I was trying to implicate Duke Kedrey, her way of thinking is still simple.’
Speaking admonishingly, like she was dumb, Rezef said, “Are you acting like this because of Raphael Kedrey, perhaps? If so, you have nothing to worry about.”
Cayena almost bit her tongue. Raphael had been her first love. He was also the male lead of the novel.
Rezef thought that Cayena was dissuading him from his actions because of Raphael, that she was trying to protect the man she loved.
This was how he rationalized her actions. She wasn’t acting so differently, after all.
But though it was true that Raphael was Cayena’s first love, and that she had long loved him unrequitedly, that was a long time ago.
Cayena had lived far too long to feel that sweet excitement anymore.
“My maternal grandparents are involved in the black market. If you try to attack the Kedrey duchy with their connections to the black market, it’s likely that they will counter-attack.”
It was a reason that Rezef couldn’t have predicted from Cayena.
The Kedrey duchy would not be quiet if he saw the destruction of one of his vassals.
While investigating, he would discover that Countess Hamel, a relative of Cayena’s mother, the deceased Empress, was embezzling the Emperor’s property. That would lead to the downfall of Count Hamel, and Rezef was suspected for a time to have manipulated the evidence and led a biased investigation.
‘You can’t let that happen. Count Hamel will be an important bargaining chip for me.’
After losing her connection to her mother’s family, Cayena lost all her power, unable to do anything without Rezef by her side. Thus, her obsession with Rezef continued to grow, and Rezef was able to control her more easily.
‘Tampering with the evidence and the investigation isn’t a big problem. The poisoning case, too, will end up fizzling out on its own.’
Cayena did not want the Hamels to lose their power, thus being unable to help her, but she didn’t want the poisoning incident to have been in vain.
She exhaled, exhausted, and looked at Rezef.
“Do you really need to put yourself at risk just for this slight chance?”
Rezef’s expression turned completely stiff.
Loosening the tension, Cayena said, “Have you heard the fable of the wind and the sun? The wind was unable to blow away a man’s coat by force, but the sun was so warm that the man had no choice but to shed his coat.”
“Yes,” Rezef replied, wondering why Cayena was suddenly speaking of story books.
Cayena smiled gently as she met his eyes.
It was a face that believed that the dynamics of the room had been shifted.
‘…This doesn’t make sense.’
It really didn’t. Rezef felt pressured by her, as if he needed to avoid her gaze.
He felt like he was a child who had been caught red-handed by an adult while pulling a naughty prank.
Rezef bit the inside of his mouth.
This was the first time that he realized that Cayena was his elder sister, a princess of the Imperial bloodline.
“Don’t try to bring down the Kedrey duchy. Instead, make them one of yours.”
Rezef sighed inwardly.
‘I want that more than anyone else.’
Rezef had long attempted to use Cayena’s beauty to bring Raphael, the Kedrey family’s next duke. However, though Cayena had fallen in love with him, Raphael remained unmoved.
Rezef had already given up on manipulating Raphael through Cayena.
“Cayena, I’m not sure what you are talking about. What does that dukedom have to do with me?”
Cayena paid no attention to his words and continued to set guidelines for how to make use of the poisoning incident.
“Doesn’t this incident give us a pretext to do many things?”
“What do you mean by that?”
“I want a maid from a trustworthy family. Someone whose identity I know and who will not hurt me.”
Rezef was surprised by Cayena’s sudden remark.
‘What exactly are you thinking, Cayena?’
“What about Lady Olivia Grace?”
“You mean the lady who is sponsored by the Kedrey family?”
Was she being serious? Rezef knew how much Cayena hated Olivia, having watched her from the sidelines. The fact that Duchess Kedrey chose to sponsor Olivia herself offended Cayena and made her jealous.
There was nobody involved in high society who didn’t know that Cayena hated Olivia.
“Yes. Lady Grace is of a mid-ranking nobility.”
It wasn’t high enough to be the maid of the princess, but Olivia had more than enough talent.
“Her family is also deeply intertwined with the Kedrey duchy, which may as well be an iron castle.”
It was actually unclear how much the Kedrey duchy valued the Grace family, but the social world did acknowledge that the two families’ relationship was unusual.
Cayena used that point to persuade Rezef. But actually, there was a separate reason why Cayena wanted Olivia as her maid.
‘If this world follows what I know of its future, this is the woman whom Rezef will fall in love with.’
It was the same as the novel as well as in Cayena’s first life.
Rezef would want Olivia this time, too. And if she chose Raphael over him, he would try to kill her.
Cayena continued talking, pretending that she only wanted to win over Olivia for Rezef’s sake.
“Society will interpret the Grace family’s actions as an extension of the Kedrey duchy’s intentions.”
“…Is this really all right?” Rezef asked, suspicious.
Cayena smiled. “I can’t continue doing whatever I please.”
This was what she had foreseen, and it was more efficient to keep Olivia close by so that she could deal with the situation.
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