Chapter 13

Translator: Gold

Cedric retired after drinking a cup of tea with the Emperor. He then went to the manor of the Marquisate Rosan as originally planned.

The butler was extremely surprised by the visit of the Grand Duke Evron.

And he was even more surprised by the fact that the person he had come to visit was not Lawrence nor Miraila, but Artizea.

“The Lady went out.”

“Where did she go?”

The butler got nervous at his question.

Cedric finally realised how badly Artizea’s position was in this house.

Artizea was the sole heir of the Marquess Rosan, so she would succeed the title in two years.

But even so, the butler didn’t even know where she’d gone.

The butler begged him repeatedly to wait a moment before approaching the maids.

Cedric stayed in the foyer and waited.

He was angry. This was inconceivable in the Grand Duchy Evron. Cedric had lost his parents tragically during his childhood, but his vassals cared for him as if he were their own son or grandson.

Even the day he returned from the funeral, his house was still his home.

The day he felt oppressed by the Emperor, the day he thought he could do nothing, even the day he simply wanted to surrender, and seek comfort with his broken heart, his house was still his home.

It was a place where he could rest peacefully, and a place where he felt protected.

His butler and servants were not just employees to him.

Cedric regarded them as his family, they took the place of his late parents. They cared for Cedric as if he were their own son, their grandson, or even their brother.

As Cedric waited standing, the butler of the Marquisate Rosan panicked and did not know what else to do.

Artizea’s trusted maids would not reveal where she went lightly.

In the end, Cedric had to wait almost an hour before he received an answer.

“Forgive me, Your Grace. I was informed that Lady Artizea has gone to the ball at Count Enda’s estate. If you wait a little longer, I will ensure that she returns immediately.”

“Are you in a superior position to Lady Artizea in this house?”

“Pardon?”

The butler blinked his eyes. Cedric spoke coldly.

“As far as I know, Lady Artizea is the successor of the Marquisate Rosan. Can you, a butler, tell her when to come and go?”

“Oh, no.”

The butler quickly bowed his head and made up an excuse.

“I wanted to tell you that the young master Lawrence will soon return, Your Grace can converse with the young master. In the meantime, I will escort Lady Artizea back…”

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The excuse made Cedric even angrier.

“I must have been mistaken.”

“Eh?”

“I thought I was talking with the butler of the Marquisate Rosan, but you seem to be Lord Lawrence’s butler.”

When Cedric said it, the butler’s face turned pale.

The butler had forgotten it because no one had pointed it out, but the master of the Marquisate Rosan was really Artizea.

Although he was one of Miraila’s henchmen, it was true that as the butler of the Marquisate Rosan, he had said some things he should not have.

“I apologize.”

The butler bowed politely.

Among the fussy and inflexible nobles of high society, there were those who were obsessed with etiquette and formalities, no matter who the person with the real power was.

On top of that, Cedric hated Miraila.

The butler felt cornered. And he thought the only way out of this situation was to apologize.

He never imagined that Cedric would defend Artizea. He didn’t even understand why he had come to see her.

Artizea had had some good ideas lately, earning Miraila’s praise.

However, in the butler’s mind, Artizea was just Miraila’s punching bag.

“I will tell Lady Artizea about this.”

Because it was not his own house, Cedric said these words and left the Marquisate Rosan.

「I just want to inherit the Marquisate Rosan completely and become independent…. Please remain formally married to me for only two years and protect me, Your Grace.」

That’s what Artizea had told him.

Cedric seemed to understand what she meant by ‘protect me’.

***

Artizea, who attended the ball on Count Enda’s estate, stood aside as if it were an adornment.

A ball like this, held at noon, was not a place to enjoy.

It was a place for young men and women to socialize healthily under the supervision of adults.

Of course, this was with the ultimate goal that they could find a good marriage partner.

Still, most marriages were still decided by the heads of the families, taking into account the status and wealth of both families.

However, meetings between energetic young people were not something that could be avoided.

So parents preferred that these meetings be held in a controlled and supervised environment.

Thanks to this, noble young people of marriageable age could make their own choice, even if their decision did not carry much weight.

In addition to building social relationships between people of the same sex and sharing exciting moments with the opposite sex, they were able to experience social events.

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Also, through these meetings, they could determine whether a family could lead to chaos, whether there was a family with which a connection should be established by any means necessary, or whether a family should be ignored, all as appropriate.

Artizea was one of the least popular girls in this type of ball.

Considering her position as successor of the Marquisate Rosan, she should have been the center of attention at these social meetings.

But Artizea was Miraila’s daughter. Those who despised or hated Miraila naturally avoided her.

And those sycophants who clung to Miraila ignored and mistreated Artizea in the same way that Miraila did. Because if they treated Artizea well, they feared that Miraila would lose her temper and become angry with them.

‘And at this age, appearance is power.’

Artizea thought as she took a glass of apricot juice from the table and sipped it.

After all, they were boys and girls under 20 years old.

Few of them could notice the enormous wealth of the Marquisate Rosan behind Artizea.

And even those who did, would still think that a beautiful appearance and a sweet personality were of greater value than wealth.

Certainly a sweet personality is worth much more.

Artizea thought so.

Even if one possessed ten times the wealth of the Marquisate Rosan, it could not compare with the good heart of Licia.

Artizea would wish to have a heart at least half as noble as that of Licia, even if she had to give up all the wealth of the Marquisate Rosan.

“Hello, Lady Artizea.”

Artizea wanted the time to pass quickly to leave, preferably in silence and without exchanging greetings with anyone.

However, it was not strange that things were not as she wanted.

It was the beautiful Lady Atiyah who greeted her.

“Why do you look so depressed? You are early, but you have not yet danced to a single song.”

“Someone has to stand still to decorate the walls.”

“Oh, my. I’m sorry to hear that. All the men who have come to this ball are discourteous and heartless. I can’t believe they haven’t asked you to dance with them, not even a single song.”

As she said this, Lady Atiyah lowered her long eyelashes.

“However, Lady Artizea you are also to blame. This is the fourth time you’ve worn the same dress, how could true gentlemen tell if they’ve danced with you today or if that happened at the last ball?”

The young men around her laughed as their shoulders shook.

Artizea showed a smile.

Before, she used to be so unsure of her appearance and was so ashamed of her old clothes that she could not even lift her head when she heard these words.

But now that she thought about it, she wondered if Lady Atiyah was in a position to say that.

No matter how beautiful the flower of the ball was, Artizea was the successor of the Marquisate Rosan.

The Count and Countess Atiyah were too insignificant to ignore her. They were nowhere near Miraila.

Artizea said with a smirk.

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“With my ugly face wouldn’t it be a waste if I wore a dress priced at hundreds of thousands of gold coins? Especially that dress… As far as I can see, it’s an embroidered velvet dress from the Southern Kingdom Eon, right? A dress as precious as this must be worn by a beautiful lady like you, that would be the most rewarding thing for the designer who worked on it.”

“Oh, so you have a good eye.”

“But is that all right?”

“What?”

“Eon’s embroidered velvet is so expensive, that using that unreserved fabric to make such a splendid dress would cost over ten thousand gold coins in that material alone. And it seems this is the fourth dress of this type you have worn, so Count Atiyah must have invested almost half of his County’s annual income in Lady Atiyah’s dresses alone.”

“What are you talking about?”

“Ah, the Count and Countess Atiyah love you so much they didn’t tell you anything, right? The marble mine, the County’s main source of income, will probably be closed in a year or two, due to its low profitability. Even now, their income must have dropped drastically already. I know they’re on the verge of bankruptcy.”

Lady Atiyah’s face turned blue.

“Well, it’s too much money to spend that way, but it’s not much if it’s a big investment for the future of the family. Lady Atiyah, you are beautiful, so I am sure you can definitely meet your parents’ expectations.

Artizea said with a smile.

“Are you saying my parents are thinking of selling me?!”

Lady Atiyah shouted loudly, forgetting the looks of the people.

At the same time, there was a little commotion at the entrance, apparently because of the arrival of a new guest.

Everyone looked in that direction.

Cedric removed the long sword he carried and handed it to a servant.

The people even stopped whispering, and only the sound of music could be heard in the quiet hall.

“Your Grace, what brings you to this place so suddenly?”

Said Countess Enda, bowing politely.

Cedric Evron was a man who ignited the hearts of countless girls with his handsome appearance and manly attitude, but he had never had a dance partner.

He did not attend balls or parties at all, unless it was a ball at the Imperial Palace that he was obliged to attend.

But he had appeared here, at a social meeting of young men and women.

‘What effect would his participation in this ball have?’ She was thinking about that.

“I need to meet someone, and I was told that person is here. I apologize for coming without an invitation. May I come in?”

“Of course, there is no place in the high society of the Crates Empire where Your Grace cannot enter.”

Said the Countess Enda.

Despite the complex and critical political situation in which he found himself, Cedric was one of the best candidates for a husband.

He was young and had already inherited the title of Grand Duke. He was also rich and a military hero on his own merits.

Cedric Evron could be a kingmaker. If he chose to swear an oath of loyalty to Lawrence or Roygar, the current scenario for succession to the throne could change completely.

‘Who has he come to meet?’

‘It can’t be a woman, can it?’

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Such questions ran through the minds of those present.

But Cedric seemed completely unaware of it, crossed the hall and headed straight for Artizea.

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