Translator: thursdays Editor: thursdays
Vera’s eyes opened wide.
This was the first time that Cayena had shown such a lukewarm response to Raphael Kedrey.
It was an open secret that the relationship between the Emperor and Duke Kedrey was poor, and though why it was so bad was unknown, the Emperor was frustrated by Cayena’s fascination with Raphael.
“If Lord Kedrey were to become the Emperor’s son-in-law, there may be problems with the power structure.”
It was a fairly simple statement, but it was a problem that Cayena never seemed to consider before now.
Vera quietly refilled the tea and glanced at Cayena’s serene profile.
Cayena hid a calm smile behind her teacup. This matter would not just go to Rezef’s ears. Her remarks would surely be relayed to the Emperor as well.
“I have been obstinate and undignified up to now as I hadn’t understood the will of the Emperor.”
Cayena’s desire for Raphael was proportional to the distress she had caused to her surroundings. She had forced herself into his house and summoned him into the palace. Well, actually, the Emperor had summoned Raphael to the palace at Cayena’s request every time.
Of course, this wasn’t necessarily for Cayena, but rather to humiliate the Kedrey family by breaking their next lord’s spirit.
“He must have listened to your requests because your actions were appropriate enough.”
Cayena agreed inwardly with Vera’s words, but outwardly, she frowned.
“As the Imperial princess, how could I not know that my conduct was inappropriate? Now, at least, I must make up for what I have done.”
“What do you intend to do?”
“First of all, I’ll have to mend the dress for the coming-of-age ceremony.”
Vera tilted her head as the statement seemed totally unrelated to their discussion.
“Open up the dressing room.”
Soon, there would be a banquet for Cayena’s coming-of-age ceremony. The dress that she was going to wear had been prepared long ago, but Cayena wanted to revise the concept to make use of the incident.
“Would you prefer something with a plunging backline to show off your shoulders?” Vera asked.
Seeing the dress, Cayena shook her head. “No, that’s too exposing.”
She had an image in her head.
‘A marionette should look more like a marionette.’
Cayena wanted a dress with fancy lace decorations, the type that one would dress up their dolls in. She needed to appear as if she cared too much about beauty.
Cayena checked her reflection in the mirror and nodded her head.
“As always, nobody will be more beautiful than your Imperial Highness at the banquet!”
The people around Cayena were busy fawning over her appearance. But Vera thought to herself as she helped Cayena change, ‘Everyone is glad that Her Highness has become well-behaved, but it has never been this easy.’
Cayena’s aura and image had completely changed. Recently, Cayena had been acting very softly, and now everybody wanted to stay by her side.
Her mildness and inaction seemed like she was conceding the initiative to her opponent, but it was really more like giving a child a snack that would quickly disappear.
‘After she drank the poison, even her speech has become more refined.’
Vera herself seemed to be the only one who had noticed the change. She observed Cayena quietly and incessantly.
Cayena knew well that Vera was agitated.
‘Vera is loyal, but ambitious.’
None of the court ladies in her palace were worth using other than Vera. Cayena intended to appease her, so she allowed Vera to observe her as she wished.
Cayena tried on the final dress. It was the dress that Cayena had prepared with utmost care for the coming-of-age ceremony.
Cayena had loved roses, and so she liked to wear dresses that were embroidered with roses. The same was true of this dress.
“My goodness, you look just like a doll!”
Her ladies-in-waiting made a fuss, just as they always did. This was the type of compliment that Cayena used to like the most.
Vera bit the inside of her mouth to quell her laughter.
Their mistress was no longer pleased with that sort of praise.
As expected, Cayena smiled quietly, not looking proud or conceited.
‘She really has changed.’
Vera wondered what this change meant. She kept wanting to discover Cayena’s true intentions.
Could Cayena be a good master for her?
There were many cases in which entire families died for supporting the wrong person in the imperial family. Vera had to be cautious.
Vera saw that despite the conditions against him, Rezef would become emperor one day. It was a very accurate judgment.
And now, Vera’s brilliant insight was quickly re-evaluating Cayena.
“The rose embroidery isn’t excessive and has been incorporated very well.”
“Let’s keep this one as is.”
“I’ll send the rest to the tailor’s, Your Highness.”
Cayena nodded. Then, she looked in the mirror and lifted up her hand. It was as if there were strings attached to her limbs, manipulating her.
That look suited her.
‘All my life, I’ve been controlled by someone.’
She hadn’t realized that she was someone’s marionette, hanging from the puppet lines. She didn’t know whose power it was that she held in her hands.
‘I once thought that I was moving under my own will.’
But she had learned too much to continue living under that illusion. Cayena had no intention of making the same mistake again.
‘I will live as myself.’
She dropped her arm, as if the string had been cut.
“I need to change my clothes.”
Cayena took off her dress and changed into her everyday clothes.
“Where is Rezef?” she asked.
“He’s still out, Your Highness.”
Rezef was quite busy recently as he was in the midst of a power struggle with Archduke Heinrich’s son for the position of crown prince.
‘Rezef, did you think that raising my value would contribute to your own power?’
Though Rezef would eventually become a tyrant of an emperor, he was still only 18 years old right now. He was a child.
On the other hand, Cayena was only wearing the skin of a young woman; she had already lived two lives. Cayena had experienced horrible things in her lifetimes, and so to her, Rezef was like a young child.
‘He’s overlooking the fact that there are others who can lend me their strength at this point in time. How foolish.’
Cayena addressed Vera. “I must go see the Emperor.”
The Emperor of the Eldaim Empire, Esteban Hill, lay in his bed and drank medicine. Then, he looked at his daughter, Cayena, with lifeless eyes.
“To think that you would come looking for me first like this… It must be something special.”
At his words, Cayena grabbed the hem of her dress. Curtsying, she said, “Please forgive me for my disrespect, Your Majesty.”
The Emperor was not one who would be moved by such words. His voice was cold, knowing that his tone would hurt Cayena’s pride.
His daughter was a fool. He was contemplating when she would come to her senses when she spoke again.
“Though it is late, please look kindly upon your daughter who is now trying to fulfill her duty as your obedient child.”
Her words were as sweet as honey. They weren’t the sort of words that Cayena would usually say.
The Emperor’s eyebrows raised in wonder. Cayena drew nearer to his side.
“I must have been causing you worry as of late,” she said.
It didn’t really matter whether or not the Emperor had been concerned. What was important was that Cayena showed that she thought of him and his well-being.
“I’ve come to greet you so that you do not need to worry. I have nearly recovered fully.”
Cayena took the dish with the teapot and cups that an attendant was bringing over for the Emperor. She helped him drink the tea with a silver spoon, her actions as natural as the flowing water.
‘Were the rumors true?’
It had been reported to him that Cayena’s attitude had changed considerably after the poisoning incident. They said that there were mercy and generosity in her words and actions now.
He couldn’t remember when his daughter was ever kind, except for when she was very young.
At some point, the relationship between the father and daughter had grown apart. Cayena felt uncomfortable near the Emperor, and the Emperor began to feel contempt for her.
But now, Cayena did not look uncomfortable at all as she sat in the chair beside him and cared for him.
“Whose plot is this?”
The Emperor had lived as a ruler all his life. This sort of incident never happened on its own.
He began to wonder if the process of finding the culprit as well as the aftermath of the incident had all been fabricated.
 This is just a metaphor; Vera has no reason to think that Cayena has an opponent at this point in the story.
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