Chapter 1. I was abandoned by my family
“Irene, you did a great job today.”
It was just as she was about to leave the room, Emma, who was waiting at the door, smiled gently and said this to Irene.
“I did what I had to do.”
She replied as if it wasn’t a big deal, and left the mansion, saying she would be back next time.
‘It’s already been about a month.’
She suddenly remembered the day she first met Emma.
While she was wandering around the village aimlessly, she ran into Emma, who made an unexpected proposition. She suggested teaching a noble child their letters. She felt like she’d heard from someone that Irene had attended a magic academy.
At first, Irene hesitated because she’d never taught anyone before, but when she was told that she would receive a teaching fee, Irene accepted immediately.
Fortunately, it suited her aptitude, and teaching the child was more fun and interesting than she had expected. Moreover, unlike the offer to provide a small amount of money for the class, they actually gave her quite a bit.
‘I need to hide half.’
She couldn’t lie that she didn’t have any money because her family already knew that she was teaching a noble child, and that she received payment for it. Instead, she didn’t give them all of it, and she would secretly hide a portion of it.
‘I wonder how much more I need to save.’
Irene, who was doing calculations in her head, sighed as soon as she thought of her family at home.
In the beginning, they remained energetic and fought fiercely whenever they made eye contact, but now it had become terribly quiet. However, just because it was quieter doesn’t mean that the atmosphere of the house was any better.
Each person walked around the house with a gloomy look or muttered to themselves. It seemed that they’d entered the stage of depression after leaving the stage of anger.
Emil got a lot of books from somewhere, and started to study again just to have something to do. However, Diana still complained because she didn’t know how to do anything. Xavier often stared blankly, finding it difficult to get out of his despair.
She knew immediately that hope had disappeared for them. Irene, who was convinced that her family had no will to stand up anymore, had since found her own way to live.
The first decision that she made was self-reliance and independence. Of course, all she needed was money.
When she was thinking about how to make money, an unexpected opportunity appeared, and Irene was able to earn money from teaching. She thought she’d collected enough, so she was going to avoid her family’s eyes and check.
However, as soon as she arrived at home and entered her room, her heart cooled down with a bad feeling.
“What’s all of this?”
Irene looked at Diana with shaking eyes. As soon as she saw Diana, who looked happy after such a long time, her anxiety grew.
“Can’t you tell from looking?”
Standing in front of the mirror, Diana hummed while she pressed a dress against her body. Irene, who was watching the scene, asked with a suspicious look.
“So, where did you get the money to buy it?”
It was a luxurious dress at a glance. There were even three or four more dresses on the bed, not just the one. Diana, who was looking at the other dresses, answered casually.
“You had it.”
“What? Don’t tell me…”
With a pale face, Irene took out the book she’d stashed in her drawer. The moment she took out the envelope she kept her money in and touched it, her hands began to tremble. It was thick until yesterday, but now it was as light as a piece of paper.
“Think of it as hush money.”
While speaking, Diana’s gaze still turned to the dresses. Irene couldn’t contain her anger at what she’d taken for granted.
“Did you use it all?”
“I didn’t use it all, there’s some left.”
Irene looked at the envelope of money and laughed bitterly. With what was left, she might be able to have a meal outside.
“Sister, have you lost your mind?”
“What did you just say to me?”
Diana, who was smiling while looking at the other dress, suddenly frowned.
“I hid the fact that you were hiding money, if our father found out he’d have a fit!”
“What do you mean hide it! You’re a thief!”
“What? Are you done talking?”
“You stole your sister’s money, what are you so proud of?”
Not to be outdone, Irene shouted as well. She couldn’t believe that it wasn’t enough that Diana was always messing with her stuff, but that she had stolen her money as well. Then she acted as if it was hush money.
“Is it because the only thing you can do is steal?”
“Oh, my God!”
Unable to bear the sarcastic words, Diana threw the dress onto the bed, and jumped on Irene. Not to be outdone, Irene roughly grabbed Diana’s hair.
“What’s wrong with you?”
“You’re the one who’s crazy!”
“You? You? What did you just call me?”
“What do you expect when you’re a thief!”
Indeed, there was no sign of remorse. She couldn’t understand how someone could be so ignorant and mean.
“What’s all this racket!”
Just as they were hurling all kinds of abuse at each other, the door opened and Marquis Leroy walked in. He stared incredulously at his two daughters who were fighting and tearing at each other’s hair.
Irene and Diana were forced to let go of each other’s hair due to his thunderous roar. Irene fixed her messy hair, and swallowed her desire to cry.
At that moment, she noticed a familiar shape behind the Marquis. Irene, who’d noticed immediately, murmured with a stunned expression.
They were at the dinner table that night. The atmosphere was more depressing than usual, probably because of the quarrel between the two sisters.
As the only sound was the clattering of dishes, Marquis Leroy sighed and asked.
“Why did you fight?”
When he called their names firmly, Irene, who’d been sitting still without touching her food, answered first.
“Sister stole my money, and then we fought.”
“I didn’t steal it, I just borrowed it.”
Diana, who was wary of the Marquis’ anger, refuted it as if she was wrongly accused. Irene burst into laughter at her excuse.
“You borrowed it? Say it correctly. You never asked me to lend it to you!”
As her voice rose at the dinner table, Marquis Leroy gestured for Irene to stop.
“Apologize to each other and make up.”
When the Marquis said that, Irene clearly heard something disconnecting in her head.
Irene didn’t want to make up with Diana, and she definitely didn’t want to apologize.
“No. I didn’t do anything wrong.”
“Why should I apologize, especially to the person who stole money from me.”
The more she thought about it, the angrier she became.
It angered her because Diana was the one who stole her money and attacked her first, but he didn’t scold her and tried to make Irene apologize. His attitude of wanting them to make up as soon as possible, as if he was tired, caused Irene to feel even more hurt.
“I’ll get up first.”
Although she hadn’t seen her uncle in a long time, Irene still jumped up and left because she thought she would throw a fork at Diana if she stayed any longer. She could hear Marquis Leroy’s angry voice behind her.
However, it only made her flee the dining room faster.
“You’re older than me…”
Irene went to the orchard where there was no one, then crouched down and shed the tears that she’d held in. Once they began to pour out, it burst out of control.
“How could she do that… The money I collected…”
Knowing what was going on at home, she hated Diana even more for spending her money to satisfy her own greed.
Her heart calmed down to some extent after she cried until she was breathless. She was still angry, but she did her best to comfort herself.
‘It’s okay. I can just save up again.’
One thing she’d realized when she was deported abroad was the fact that money came and went. So, even though she didn’t have any money now, she could just make it again.
It would be hard to save money again, but she couldn’t give up like this.
Irene sniffled and unfolded the magic book in her lap. No matter how upset she was or what unfair things happened, she didn’t want to skip out on her magic studies.
Perhaps it was because of the fact that her ability had disappeared before, but she felt safer if she checked once a day to see if she could still use her magic.
Irene lightly made small droplets in the air with her hand. Fortunately, her magical ability was still intact today.
At that moment, a shadow fell over her from behind. As soon as she looked up, Irene jumped up in surprise.
“Uncle… When did you get here?”
Irene unconsciously stuttered because she was nervous.
However, Keron just quietly looked down at Irene without saying a word.
“I’m embarrassed that she made such a fuss during the meal.”
After Irene disappeared, Marquis Leroy said this while watching Keron’s expression. However, his brother-in-law continued to eat with a blank expression, making the Marquis unsure of what he was thinking.
Everyone began to eat uncomfortably because of the heavy atmosphere.
When the meal was over, Marquess Leroy called Keron over to speak privately, then clung to him desperately.
“Brother, please take me with you. Please save me. Please?”
“Are you still saying that?”
He said it as if he was tired of hearing it, but the Marquess still grabbed Keron’s arm and sobbed.
“Tell His Imperial Majesty that I’ve reflected on my actions, so please ask for leniency, brother.”
“Don’t you feel sorry for me living like this?”
Whenever Keron would visit, the Marquess would say this.
She tried to appeal to him with tears, but Keron just coldly watched her.
“I’ve told you many times to teach the kids properly.”
“Do you still remember what you said when I said I’d talk to the Marquis about it?”
The Marquess automatically closed her mouth when he said this coldly. It wasn’t that she couldn’t answer because she didn’t remember, but she couldn’t say anything because it came to mind right away.
“You told me not to worry because you’d manage on your own.”
“But look at you right now. What happened?”
Their debts had increased and then they were deported abroad, their old life was beyond a dream now. The Marquess looked at him as if she was being falsely accused, but Keron’s words weren’t over yet.
“What did I say when you expelled Leticia?”
“Hey! How can you say that?”
Even if the Marquess refuted it, Keron continued without paying it any mind.
“You didn’t deserve to have Leticia.”
“The same goes for the other kids. What excuse do you have for not properly educating your children?”
Keron, who’d been looking at her coldly, turned away with an attitude that said he didn’t want to hear anymore. He heard sad crying behind him, but he had no intention of comforting her.
All of this was caused by his sister and her husband.
Keron exited the house with a heavy sigh. He went to the orchard to find a quiet place where he could calm himself. He wanted to be alone, but someone was already there.
As soon as he saw the small back, he recognized Irene at once. As he slowly approached Irene to ask if she was okay, he saw droplets scatter in the air.
At that moment, as if she felt his presence, Irene looked at him and stood up quickly with a pale face.
“Uncle… When did you get here?”
He quietly called to her, but she seemed panicked.
“Please keep it a secret from my family!”
“If they find out, they’ll…”
Keron quickly approached the terrified Irene, and gently grabbed her shoulders.
“I have no intention of telling them. So, calm down.”
“Thank you, uncle…”
It was only then that Irene finally relaxed and breathed a sigh of relief.
“I’m here today because I have a proposition for you.”
Irene looked up at Keron with a surprised look at his unexpected words.
In fact, Keron knew that Irene’s magical ability had returned. When he came to visit a few times, it was with the permission of the Emperor. He’d done so because he was worried about Irene, since she was the most timid out of his nieces and nephews. He’d found Irene doing magic alone in the orchard during one of those visits. When he saw this, he wondered if his nephews’ abilities had returned as well. However, except for Irene, no one else’s abilities had returned.
“Will you go back to the Empire with me?”
As soon as Keron learned that Irene’s magical ability had returned, he asked the Emperor to cancel her exile. Magical ability talents could greatly contribute to the Empire, and it would be rather dangerous to leave them in other countries.
It wouldn’t have worked if he’d just said he wanted to take care of his niece, but if she had magic, that changed everything.
After much consideration, the Emperor eventually listened to Keron’s request, but he added the condition that Seios would have to recognize her magical ability. It wouldn’t be easy, but Keron believed in Irene.
“Of course, I won’t force you. You can stay here if you want.”
Just in case it sounded coercive, Keron made sure to say that he was okay with any answer she gave.
Irene quietly listened to her uncle, and clenched her hands in order to suppress her aching heart. Not long ago she told herself she wouldn’t cry anymore, but now it felt like she was about to burst into tears.
She barely managed to swallow her tears, and slowly replied.
“I want to go. Please take me, uncle.”
After returning to the house, Irene began to pack her things as soon as she entered the room. Diana frowned at the sight and asked.
“Hey, where are you going?”
Her home was here, so she didn’t understand what home she was going to. However, Irene continued to pack her things without saying anything.
A few pieces of clothing, and a couple of old books were all the possessions she had.
As soon as she picked up her suitcase with her stuff, Irene smiled gently and looked at Diana.
“I know you don’t feel sorry about the money you stole, I hope you saved some of it.”
She heard a harsh voice call out behind her, but Irene kept walking forward.
With a lighter, more joyful, step than ever before.