The Villainess Lives Twice
Chapter 8: First Meeting (4)

Chapter 8 – First Meeting (4)

Translator: Gold

Cedric covered his mouth with his hand and coughed for a while, wincing. He had burned the inside of his mouth with the hot tea.

“Oh my goodness. I never thought I would hear that from a young lady I just met today.”

Artizea offered him a handkerchief with a blushing face.

Cedric took it, and wiped his mouth and hands.

Artizea wasn’t talking about a real marriage proposal.

Even if she had changed, Cedric didn’t know it.

So she thought that by telling him about the proposal, he would take it as a scheme. She never imagined that he would misinterpret it as a real marriage between a man and a woman.

Artizea admitted that she herself had made a mistake. At this moment, Cedric was not only unaware that she had changed, but he didn’t even know her. No wonder he misinterpreted her words.

She spoke, pressing her blushed cheeks with her closed hands.

“I’m not asking you to marry me for real. I say it as a way of solving the problems Your Grace has been struggling with.”

“What problems are you talking about?”

“You haven’t entered the capital for the last two months because of the ceremony of the triumphant return, have you? I know Your Grace is concerned that the soldiers will not be treated as they deserve, as this could lead to the collapse not only of the Western Army but also of the Southern Army.”

The treatment of the local troops by the Imperial Family was not new.

However, the discontent that had been building up in the army was slowly exploding, because they had not been recognized despite risking their lives to make contributions.

The soldiers were beginning to desert from the Southern and Eastern Armies. In contrast, the Western Army had not had many problems under Cedric’s leadership.

“The longer Your Grace persists, the less willing His Majesty the Emperor will be to recognise the army’s military merit. He hates losing to others and losing face more than anything else. Perhaps Your Grace is here to ask the Archbishop to act as mediator?”

“Yes.”

“The Emperor has an inferiority complex about the Archbishop. That is not a wise choice.”

Artizea continued.

“If the Archbishop intercedes, even if he succeeds in having the ceremony of the triumphant return, there will be reprisals in the future. Not only is he likely to block any possibility of Your Grace becoming involved in the Western Army, but key Western Army personnel who are helping Your Grace could be expelled or purged. Still, you should be glad that there is only a delay in the replenishment of troops and supplies.”

Artizea said this because she knew perfectly well what had happened in the future.

The Western Army became weaker and weaker. And seven years later, when the wave of monsters came, the western region of the country became a real hell.

Because of the loss of the cereal fields other regions suffered from famine.

Cedric’s face darkened. He knew it too.

But still, he could not bow and yield to the Emperor.

It’s not just supply that constitutes an army. If pride and military discipline disappeared, then the organisation he managed to rebuild would disintegrate.

“His Majesty cares for my brother Lawrence. But at present my brother Lawrence has no military support. It is clear that this will become a great weakness in the future for him, when the fight for the throne begins. His Majesty is worried about this.”

She continued to speak.

“Though of course, His Majesty has no intention of sharing his power.”

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“I know.”

“So Your Grace is the right person. You are in the line of succession to the throne, you can strengthen my brother Lawrence’s legitimacy, and also give him the military support he needs.”

Artizea took a sip of tea and said.

“If Your Grace will leave open the possibility of supporting my brother Lawrence, His Majesty the Emperor would be willing to bestow the appropriate honours on the Western Army and organise a ceremony of the triumphant return to match the achievements made.”

“I understand what you mean, lady. But it is impossible for that to happen. I will not collude with the Marchioness Rosan, that is completely out of the question. Much less marry her daughter.”

Cedric said firmly.

“Lady, the only reason I’ve listened to you so far is because you seemed intelligent, but you’re still young. Also, probably because you don’t know me very well, when you listened to your mother and brother hatch that scheme, you thought it would be feasible.”

“Your Grace.”

“I’m not angry with you, lady. I hope you will excuse me for leaving in the middle of the conversation, but I do not share your ideas.”

“No.”

Artizea grabbed him by the sleeve as he stood up.

“I’m not done talking. And I’m not asking you to actually support my brother Lawrence.”

Cedric looked down at her. Artizea said quickly.

“By showing His Majesty the Emperor the ‘possibility’, it is enough.”

“Lady.”

“Your Grace may or may not support Lawrence, leaving this uncertain will allow the Western Army to receive the treatment it deserves. And yet you will throw it all away for personal reasons?”

“I have no intention of begging for the recognition that soldiers deserve for their military merits.”

“So, what about the ‘Village of the Rebels’ in the Grand Duchy Evron?

Cedric frowned and looked at Artizea with fierce eyes.

“Are you trying to blackmail me, lady?”

“No, I am offering my advice with all sincerity. The fact that I know this, means that others may find out too, Your Grace.”

“I deduce that at least the Marchioness Rosan and Lawrence must know.”

“My mother and brother are not very good at such delicate work. You needn’t worry. Right now, I’m the only one who knows.”

“They are not guilty.”

“I know, too. But this is a problem that could trigger a serious situation at any time.”

Artizea now knew he couldn’t leave.

This allowed her to relax and pour herself another cup of tea.

‘I’m thirsty.’

Cedric sat down again when she finished talking.

Then he asked her in a low voice.

“What do you want?”

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“Your Grace should pursue a more practical benefit.”

“Is that practical benefit in joining hands with the unjust to bring about the ceremony of the triumphant return of the Western Army?”

“Your Grace, you must set aside your honor, so that you may gain the honor of the Western Army and protect the Grand Duchy Evron.”

Artizea said.

“Neither my mother nor my brother knows of this meeting. I did not damage the carriage so that Your Grace would think that our meeting had happened by accident. I did it to deceive the others.”

“…”

“It is quite common that after an accidental encounter between a man and a woman they develop feelings for each other.”

Artizea spoke calmly.

“So, announce that you will stop fighting the Emperor’s will and enter the capital because you have fallen in love with me. Then propose to me. There won’t be many people who will question it.”

She was Miraila Rosan’s daughter. People would misunderstand the whole situation.

Except Miraila and Lawrence, who would know it wouldn’t be a political marriage. Therefore, no marriage alliance would be established.

After saying these words, Artizea straightened his back and looked directly at Cedric.

“On the surface, it will seem that Your Grace has abandoned the honour of the Western Army for a woman. But in reality, His Majesty the Emperor will calculate the benefits that Lawrence could obtain when I marry Your Grace. And then, he will allow the ceremony of the triumphant return of the Western Army to take place.”

Cedric was silent.

“Besides, you will also get the favor of the Grand Duke Roygar, Lawrence’s greatest adversary. Your Grace can benefit from both sides.”

Artizea emptied the cold tea from his teacup, and poured out new tea.

Then Cedric finally asked.

“I know that Lawrence will try to get me on his side. But the Grand Duke Roygar is Lawrence’s adversary, what do you mean if I marry you, I’ll get his favour?”

“You want to marry me because you fell madly in love, not to form a marriage alliance in support of Lawrence.”

“So far, Your Grace, the Grand Duke Evron, has been sensible and fair in all that you have done. But what will the Grand Duke Roygar think when he learns that you entered the capital not to bow to His Majesty the Emperor, but for a woman? Well, he may think you’ve given up your pride to get something in return, so he’ll try to persuade you to take his side.

“You mean I can influence both sides.”

“Yes.”

Cedric was never a man without power of influence.

The Grand Duchy Evron was the shield of the empire in the north.

And Cedric was the man who had earned the most merit in the Empire.

He also helped rebuild the Western Army and stopped the waves of monsters.

There were also many people who admired him in the Central, Eastern and Southern Armies.

At the same time, he cemented his reputation by not bowing down to anyone or forming a party faction. In the end, that made the Emperor end up hating him.

He didn’t have enough power to threaten the Emperor, but he had enough influence to make him feel uncomfortable.

“If you marry me, the Emperor will not be as displeased with your presence as before.”

“…”

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“What His Majesty the Emperor hates most is having his power ignored. And the struggles for succession are what affect that power the most. Consider why he does not support his son Lawrence unilaterally, but puts his brother, the Grand Duke Roygar, on the table as well.”

“I see what you mean. His Majesty is a cautious man, and is deliberately weakening both sides by creating a factional struggle. Therefore, even if someone were to behead me, His Majesty would consider it a simple political dispute and treat it as a minor matter.”

Cedric muttered to himself, deep in thought.

“Is this how she intends to protect me?”

Artizea quietly waited for him to finish thinking.

She ran out of tea, so she called her maid to bring her more hot water.

Cedric remained silent while Artizea poured the hot water into the teapot and turned the hourglass.

“Lady, if it is not to force me to side with Lawrence through a marriage alliance, then what would you gain from this marriage?”

She had no choice but to lie about this, Cedric had no reason to trust her yet.

“I just want to inherit the Marquisate Rosan completely and become independent.”

“Lady, you will inherit the Marquisate Rosan anyway.”

“I can’t wait until then.”

What Artizea said wasn’t entirely untrue.

“I’m currently 18 years old. I can only inherit the title when I turn 20. My mother, who is my guardian, has until the next two years the authority to dispose of the estate of the Marquisate Rosan as my guardian.”

Despite the fact that the Marquisate Rosan had completely lost his political influence, it still had a large fortune.

The power that Lawrence could exercise just for these reasons was enormous.

And there wasn’t much Artizea could do while she was under Miraila’s control.

For now, her first priority was to distance herself completely from her.

“But you can marry with your guardian’s permission. And after you marry, you will be recognized as an adult.”

“Yes, but just because I choose someone, doesn’t mean my mother will let me go. Even when I become an adult it will be the same. Mother would find a way to kill my future husband before letting me marry him.”

Artizea said calmly.

“In that sense, Your Grace, the Grand Duke, is the best candidate I can choose. I am sure His Majesty will be pleased with Your Grace’s proposal of marriage, and my brother Lawrence will not refuse it.”

“Are you thinking of betraying your mother and brother?”

“I am only a tool. If a tool falls into the hands of another person it cannot be considered treason.”

Artizea said bitterly.

That didn’t mean she didn’t consider others to be tools.

In that sense, maybe she was too much like Miraila.

“Please remain formally married to me for only two years and protect me, Your Grace. If you do, then I will make Your Grace the Emperor.”

Cedric’s eyes grew larger at her unexpected words.

“You must do it. If you want the people of the Crates Empire to live in peace. Lawrence is cruel and Roygar is greedy. If either of them ascend to the throne, the Empire will be a living hell.”

Artizea said firmly.

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The Villainess Lives Twice Chapter 8: First Meeting (4)
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