Chapter 15

Translator: Gold

In fact, the waltz was a good way to speak alone in a place with many people present.

It was not only for whispering sweet words in each other’s ears, but also for secret conversation.

She had only waltzed with Cedric once for that reason. It was at Lawrence and Licia’s wedding reception.

That wedding served to turn Lawrence from an illegitimate son, who could not even be called Prince, into the Crown Prince.

No one thought Cedric would be present.

Not only did he attend the wedding, but also the wedding reception.

And he asked Artizea to dance with him.

Perhaps it was the strangest event that had occurred in high society back then.

「I had never seen you dance before, I assumed you didn’t know.」

「Your Grace, weren’t you the one who didn’t know how to dance?」

Then Cedric stared at her.

「Marchioness, do you know why I wanted to dance with you on this occasion?」

「I have no idea.」

「Is there anything the Marchioness cannot guess?」

「I am not a saint who passes on oracles from the future, nor am I a sage capable of looking through the heavens. So how can I guess? There are many things I don’t know.」

That day they went around in circles, holding hands, just like they were doing now.

However, Cedric kept a perfect distance from Artizea, as if he didn’t want to touch the bottom of her dress.

She felt such a stifling tension, her skin crawled.

Artizea was so exhausted that she almost collapsed when the waltz’s melody was about to end.

She didn’t want to look weak in front of Cedric, so she struggled to stay on her feet without losing her composure, that memory was still alive in her mind.

「I did it, because I have a favor to ask of you Marchioness, but I didn’t want others to hear and misinterpret my words. It’s not related to politics, I wanted to tell you face to face, looking you in the eye.」

「Go ahead. Your Grace’s words will not be misinterpreted. 」

「If the Marchioness says so, then perhaps it is true.」

「If I wanted to do so, to speak face to face with Your Grace or not, it would make no difference.」

Cedric laughed quietly.

His laughter resounded in Artizea’s ears and shook her chest.

The words that are spoken looking directly into each other’s eyes are more meaningful than the rest.

Artizea could no longer look at him directly, and lowered her head. But as if she had been drawn in, she quickly looked him in the eye again.

From her perspective, his black eyes reflected her ugly face.

「Yes. I know that. Truth and honesty mean nothing to you, all you care about is getting the results you want.」

「I’m sorry.」

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「Please look after Licia. That’s what I wanted to tell you.」

Cedric said.

Artizea looked at him in surprise.

She was better at reading people’s minds than anyone else, but she never expected Cedric to say that.

「Why are you telling me? You should tell His Highness the Crown Prince.」

「I can’t trust Lawrence.」

「But do you trust me?」

「Marchioness, I know that you employed all sorts of tricks to get Licia to marry Lawrence, even manipulating the oracle. So you, as Lawrence’s schemer, should naturally take care of her. Besides, being a Saintess is already a big burden.」

「…」

「Regardless of the motives, the final decision was taken by Licia. So there’s nothing more I can say about it. But she’s like a younger sister to me, so I can’t help but worry about her. I just hope you protect Licia and the Empire for a long time.」

Artizea didn’t lower her head, but even then, she lowered her gaze.

「How could I ignore Your Grace’s words? I will do everything I can to protect her and the Empire.」

But she could not keep her promise.

And now that she was dancing with Cedric, she couldn’t stop thinking about that moment.

Unlike then, Cedric had a calm look on his face. His hand around her waist moved smoothly, facilitating the harmony of the dance.

‘Because he doesn’t know anything about it.’

Artizea felt her heart squeeze, as she thought about it.

The deep pain in her chest was because she could not keep her promise.

Or so she thought.

As she returned to the past, the consequences of her evil acts disappeared.

But for her, that doesn’t mean that her evil acts were erased.

This time I will keep my promise. I will protect and care for Licia so that she can become a true Empress.

While thinking about this, she couldn’t help but lose her concentration.

Artizea never had a good athletic ability. She was not used to dancing, so she had to focus on her steps.

The moment Artizea stumbled and was about to step on Cedric’s foot, he lifted her slightly, with his arm around her waist.

Then, as if he had originally intended to do so, he made a half turn and lowered her. His steps were impeccable.

Artizea suddenly returned to reality, her face blushing completely.

Cedric smiled.

“Apparently, my dancing skills are a little better than Lady Artizea’s.”

“Aren’t you being too cruel to me by comparing my movements with those of Your Grace, a renowned warrior?”

Artizea replied seriously. At her comment, Cedric laughed.

Artizea stared blankly at Cedric, it was the first time she had seen him laugh from so close.

***

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The dance music was over. Cedric escorted her out.

Artizea’s carriage was waiting outside the main gate.

Cedric helped Artizea into the carriage, and then he got into it too. This was the best way to strike up a conversation.

Cedric closed the door, and soon the carriage began to move.

Then Artizea spoke.

“Thank you for your consideration.”

“Why do you say that?”

“For dancing with me.”

“I only did the duty of a gentleman.”

“I know you did it to defend my honour in front of Lady Laila.”

“It was no big deal.”

Cedric shook his head. Artizea smiled slightly.

“May I ask you another favor?”

“Go ahead.”

“I want to visit a place before I go home, would you like to accompany me?”

“Of course. I have no objection to accompanying you.”

When Cedric answered, Artizea instructed the coachman to go to Reve Street.

Cedric asked, puzzled.

“What are you going to do in Reve Street?”

Reve was a slum, where nobles like Lady Artizea should not go. Even burly men were reluctant to visit.

“There’s someone I need to meet. I had no one to escort me to that place safely, so I didn’t know what to do. It’s a bit far, but we have a lot to talk about, so I think it’ll be fine. Is that all right with you?”

“Yes. Anyway, I came here for you. I don’t care if we have our conversation in the carriage or in a comfortable tearoom.”

“Thank you.”

Artizea bowed her head. Cedric looked at her with interest.

“By the way, I think you know why I’ve come to meet you.”

“You went to the Imperial Palace today, didn’t you?”

Cedric was silent for a moment. Then he spoke slowly.

“Is it possible to enter the capital in secret? Besides, it would not be right for me to visit His Majesty, after having talked to you.”

“I thought of it because you mentioned the Countess Eunice in the hall.”

Artizea continued.

“Your Grace is not so close to the Countess Eunice as to meet her alone, so you probably met by chance. The Countess Eunice must also have visited His Majesty today.”

「Just tell her that, ‘I’m sorry, and I appreciate her advice’.」

Cedric recalled the words Countess Eunice asked him to convey to Artizea.

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“Did you advise the Countess Eunice to visit His Majesty today?”

“She did not necessarily have to do so today. I only told her that if she wanted to get my mother out of His Majesty’s heart, it would be best for her to behave like a lovely daughter, instead of being angry, competing with Miraila and criticising His Majesty.”

Said Artizea.

Cedric looked again at Artizea’s swollen cheek.

Artizea had an upright posture and a serene expression.

Cedric could not help overlapping on her face the expression of despair, pain and tears that he saw in his dream.

He did not know how to explain what he was feeling.

That was an unbearable dream of just thinking about wanting to wipe her tears and not being able to do it.

Artizea spoke calmly, not knowing what was going on in Cedric’s mind.

“So, how did it go at the Imperial Palace?”

“His Majesty knew we met for the first time yesterday. Lady Artizea, did you tell him?”

“He found out, but I didn’t mean to. When I returned home yesterday, His Majesty was at the manor of the Marquisate Rosan.”

“Knight Benjamin informed me of your meeting with Sir Kishore.”

“Yes. So I told him what happened. Sir Kishore has always been very kind to me.”

Cedric said with a bitter smile.

“You don’t have to keep pretending that it’s all a coincidence, Lady Artizea. His Majesty’s attitude has already changed, although we only met yesterday for the first time.”

“Yes, it was to be expected. His Majesty sees much further than my mother and brother.”

“It was the first time in years that His Majesty told me I was part of his family. He even mentioned that he wouldn’t forget the achievements of the Western Army, although he didn’t want to talk about it and put it off for another day, he seems to be considering it positively. And that’s because of the possible relationship between us.”

“Yes, I’m sure of that.”

“I did not expect His Majesty to speak in a kind and open manner. Lady Artizea seem to be a person capable of seeing the future.”

Artizea was embarrassed.

“It is also partly thanks to Countess Eunice that His Majesty was in a good mood.”

“Wasn’t it the Countess Eunice who did that to you?”

Cedric pointed again at Artizea’s cheek.

Artizea involuntarily put her hand over the wound.

“This is no big deal.”

“Would you at least be willing to explain what happened to you to a person who cares about you?”

“Simply, Countess Eunice waved her hand in a fit of anger, and unfortunately slapped me.”

“How is that not a big deal?”

“Because I let her slap me. She was very angry at the time, and if she hadn’t, she wouldn’t have calmed down enough to hear my words.”

Artizea answered his question, and then she said.

“So, have you made a decision about my offer?”

“Before I give you an answer, I would like to ask you a question.”

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“Go ahead.”

“Why do you want a divorce in two years?”

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