Translator: thursdays Editor: thursdays
Rezef was very confused.
‘Is this the same Cayena Hill that I know?’
Until now, Cayena had been like a doll that he could twist to his purposes whenever he needed. However, now it felt as if there was a knife held to his chest. His whole body felt cold and on edge.
Cayena still was not done, however. “Furthermore,” she said. “We need to put greater emphasis on the poisoning incident, but lessen its importance at the same time.”
What was that supposed to mean?
Rezef was now eager to hear what she had to say.
“I want you to exaggerate the severity of my condition to create a crisis regarding the succession. If both Father and I are rumored to be in poor health, the ministers will become impatient.”
That much was obvious; it could barely even be called a scheme. Rezef felt a little disappointed, but Cayena continued.
“Then, make this incident into fodder for gossip.”
Rezef finally understood what Cayena meant by lessening the importance of the incident.
“If we frame this incident as a scandalous affair committed by a man who is in love with me, society is sure to pay attention. That way, people will not pay too much attention to the incident itself, but still discuss the topic.”
They would do just that. People have always been obsessed with love stories. Rezef could already picture the rumors they would spread.
‘Who advised my sister on this? Or was this her own idea?’
Rezef just had to ask her.
He looked at her sharply, trying to see through her true intentions. “What in the world are you thinking?”
Cayena didn’t answer. She just stared at him.
That moment did not last long, however, as she suddenly climbed out of her bed.
“Cayena?” Rezef said, frowning.
Then, she slowly knelt down on both knees. “My king.”
Cayena kissed the hem of Rezef’s clothes, like a servant to her master.
“What are you doing?!”
Her actions could easily be considered as treason.
Rezef quickly stood, grabbing Cayena by her shoulders and pulling her up.
It was a name that he had called many times before, but it felt strange and unfamiliar, as if its texture had completely changed.
Cayena did not seem concerned as she respectfully held and kissed the back of Rezef’s hand.
In a low murmur, he said, “Just why…?”
Just why was Cayena kissing his hand and acting so respectfully? And she had done it so carefully, grasping his hand with both of hers, as if she was just a servant.
Rezef had often kissed the back of Cayena’s hand because he wanted her to think him noble and lower her guard, but even he had never used both hands. He didn’t have the sincerity to do so.
But that was what Cayena was doing to him.
“You’re the only one who is here for me, Rezef.”
That was what she had always said to him.
“I only have you, Rezef.”
“You’re my younger sibling. My only real family.”
“You have to stop…!”
Rezef pulled his hand out of hers. He clenched his hand— the one that was just kissed—so tightly that it trembled.
“You will be the next emperor of the Eldaim Empire. I am only showing you my loyalty, as I would in the future.”
Cayena had clearly gone insane. Was the poison’s effect that serious?
Rezef glowered at Cayena. “What are you up to?”
“Do you trust me?” Cayena asked. She quietly smiled. Even her smile seemed suspicious.
“…What are you referring to?”
“I’m asking if you really think of me as your sister.”
For a moment, Rezef was speechless and could not answer.
Cayena continued her strange questions.
“What would you do if I was no longer useful to you?”
“It’s easy to guess what you would do. You would sell me to a suitable marriage partner that works in your favor in order to dispose of me, and you wouldn’t have to deal with me anymore.” Then, she casually said some terrifying words. “Well, unless you end up choosing the wrong man, and I get married to a crazy husband who will kill me.”
If she was sent to marry Gillian again, she may be killed again after facing imprisonment and abuse.
Cayena remembered her distant past. The awful memories made her feel even more lonely.
“I know my situation well.”
There was no trace of laughter in her expression.
“Furthermore, I know that you need me.”
Rezef stared back at Cayena, his expression as cold as hers.
As she said, Rezef needed Cayena. The Emperor was still alive, and so his own position was precarious. Cayena’s social influence was useful to him. Though he could get engaged and leave that part to his fiancee, it would be a waste to get married so young.
Cayena knew well that Rezef was measuring many things in his head to optimize things to his benefit.
“What do you want?” Rezef asked.
He decided to take a step back and started the negotiations. He might as well see where this was going.
Cayena replied by saying something that she never had, but desired so desperately.
Cayena knew that she would look ridiculous by saying this, but it was the most sincere word that she had spoken since she woke up in this world.
She wanted freedom to be her whole self.
She wanted freedom to do nothing that others commanded of her.
She wanted freedom to think for herself.
All that she wanted was just that. Freedom.
Rezef yelled, unable to contain himself. “Freedom?!”
Freedom, she said. The word didn’t suit the Imperial Princess at all!
“Are you really going to give up this life of wealth and luxury? Do you think that you’ll be able to be free if you just leave impulsive?”
He sincerely looked at his sister with pity. He gently brushed her pale cheeks with his hand.
“You may feel that this place is stuffy, but this is the place that suits you the most,” he said, running his fingers through her soft hair. “Poverty is not beautiful.”
Cayena knew much better than he what poverty was like.
In her past life, she had been raised by a single mother. Because her mother’s income was not enough, she couldn’t even attend a common academy.
She was smart enough to earn a corporate scholarship and finish her studies, but that was all.
‘It was a life full of difficulties.’
Cayena couldn’t say which of her lives were worse. That in itself was quite pitiful.
She just wanted to live out the rest of her life in peace. Couldn’t the world’s story continue without one villainess?
Cayena then attached another condition, one that Rezef would understand.
“Let me get married to someone I want. That’s the freedom I desire.”
Her request was very typical of the normal Cayena, and Rezef lost his steam. “Are you talking about Raphael?”
Cayena shook her head. “No.”
That was unexpected. Rezef looked at Cayena with a frown. “Well, that doesn’t matter. Elder sister, what can you do for me in exchange?”
Cayena couldn’t answer him right away, hit by a sudden dizziness for a moment.
‘I can’t fall here. Not yet.’
She felt chills and her vision was fading, but she forced herself to look tranquil.
Now was the only time Rezef would be this shaken. She couldn’t give him time to think calmly.
She had no need to be that nervous, as Rezef had interpreted this silence as being significant.
‘What is she going to say, that she has to ruminate on it for this long?’ he thought.
As soon as she felt that she could talk in an even voice, Cayena opened her lips.
“I’ll make you the Emperor.”
She said it so lightly, as if the throne were something that she could give him for a birthday present.
Rezef was dumbfounded.
“Sister, are you referring to me?”
Even though Cayena was useful, her support alone could not make him emperor.
He was about to correct her misperception when she continued.
“I know that you will be able to gain the throne without my support. However, if you do, you would have to share your powers.”
Even if he did become emperor, he would have to pay dearly to those who helped place him there.
He couldn’t succeed the throne by himself. Cayena dug the point in further.
“You’ll especially have to fatten the pockets of the Evans family, the one that acts as your strategist.”
The Evans family, who owned the northern granaries, was already extremely rich and of high rank. Rezef had been keeping an eye on that family, and Cayena was well aware of that fact.
“…Are you appointing yourself as my strategist, then?” Rezef asked.
Cayena smiled softly. “I’m not asking you to trust me right now,” she said. “But isn’t it time you thought about what you would do after you gain the throne?”
Nobody had ever told Rezef such things. In other words, nobody had been a proper adult figure for him before.
Then, Cayena’s body teetered.
Instinctively, Rezef’s hand reached out to hold and protect her. Her entire body was burning like fire.
‘To push your body to this extent…!’
Cayena’s forehead was slick with sweat. She had exhausted all her energy into remaining conscious and finishing the conversation.
It was only now that Rezef realized how severe her condition was. He yelled for a maid.
“You there! Call for a doctor right now!”
Rezef placed Cayena on the bed. Then, just before she completely lost consciousness, she gently brushed her hand against his head.
“You’re a kind child.”
Just like that, she fainted, leaving Rezef with a lost, childlike expression on his face.
Release Rate: 1 chapter a week
Release Day: Thursday (12:00 PM +5:30 GMT)
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