Chapter 1. I was abandoned by my family
There was peace in silence. She knew that they would face a storm soon, but she felt strangely relaxed.
“Did the meeting with Marquis El go well?”
Leticia had barely managed to stop Enoch from going after she came back from the meeting. He could be dangerous when it came to her, so she couldn’t let them be alone together. However, he kept looking at Leticia, as if he was still worried that she’d gone by herself.
“I’m fine. We had a good conversation.”
Leticia purposely smiled, which caused Enoch to sighed in defeat, and he calmly asked.
“What do you think Marquis El will do?”
“Well… Actually I don’t know.”
She gave a veiled threat that sounded like a suggestion, but she couldn’t figure out what Marquis El would decide to do. She just hoped that he’d abandon his deep-seated greed.
‘I’m worried because he’s a man with a lot of ambition.’
She pursued stability more than anyone else, but she couldn’t be completely relieved because she knew that sometimes she needed to take risks for her own ambitions, and needs.
At that time, Mary approached Leticia with a dark look on her face. Leticia guessed where the letter had come from without having to look, and smiled helplessly.
It was a letter from the Imperial palace.
“I guess the time has come.”
She was wondering what was going on because nothing happened for a few days. Sure enough, she eventually received the letter.
‘I’m sure he didn’t use a different method.’
In her head, she remembered the face of Marquis Leroy as he threatened her by using the Achilles family.
Leticia’s shoulder’s dropped as she realized that she could be a burden to Enoch, instead of a strength. Even if she’d prepared for what would happen in the future, she was worried that Enoch’s family would be irreversibly damaged if it all went wrong. If that happened, Leticia wasn’t confident that she could forgive herself.
Enoch was sitting next to her, and gently grabbed the back of her hand. Leticia tried to smile casually, but she’d already been caught tapping her hand on the table.
“It’ll be okay.”
Recognizing her anxious mind, Enoch gently cupped Leticia’s cheek. The way he looked at her was still sweet, so Leticia barely managed to swallow her desire to cry.
She managed to raise the corners of her mouth, and touched her hand to Enoch’s, which was touching her cheek.
‘It’ll be okay.’
That night, Leticia was unable to sleep, so she went outside, and sat quietly on the bench. She slowly looked down at the garden, where there were only the sounds of insects chirping in the grass.
It felt good that everything would be over soon.
‘What will happen to me…’
Leticia knew that she could be dragged into the case of the Erebos family’s framing. It wouldn’t matter that she’d become the adopted daughter of Count Aster, and was officially ‘Leticia Aster’, she couldn’t go unaffected.
She knew this better than anyone else, so Leticia was very nervous about how this would come back on her, but she didn’t want to turn a blind eye either. No matter how it affected her, she definitely wanted to prevent the Achilles family from being damaged.
“Will it be okay?”
She leaned back in her chair, and tilted her head. Unlike her usual self, Keena looked at Leticia with a serious expression as she walked over to her. Leticia, on the other hand, had a relaxed expression on her face.
“What if it’s not okay?”
“Don’t worry too much about it, because I’m not necessarily doing this for you.”
She’d meant it. She was trying to correct what had gone wrong.
“I’ve lived my whole life with no pride.”
The incompetent Leticia, the shame of her family, a disgusting person, and a thorn in their eyes.
These were all words that she’d heard about herself. She’d just bowed her head without denying it.
She didn’t want to shrink away anymore, or think of herself as pathetic.
“I don’t want to be ashamed of myself anymore.”
“So, you should be proud of yourself too.”
“You’ve been hiding all of your life.”
She didn’t dare to think for how long. Somehow, she felt emotional when she thought about how long she’d been alone without revealing her existence.
“You have to be happy now too. I want you to be happy.”
Keena was someone who’d lost her whole family and was left all alone. She stared at Leticia with a mysterious expression, then sat next to her.
“You know, if… When everything is done.”
She seemed to be thinking about something she wanted to say. Only when Leticia nodded, telling her that it was okay, did Keena carefully say.
“Can you talk to me casually?”
“No matter how many times I say we’re the same age, you still speak formally to me. It’s uncomfortable.”
The heavy atmosphere began to slowly relax thanks to her playful smile.
It wasn’t a very difficult request, but Leticia still seemed unsure, so Keena burst into laughter.
Marquis Leroy became nervous when Leticia showed no sign of returning. Eventually he sent a letter to the Emperor that the Achilles family were communicating with Keena.
As a result, the gold letter to enter the palace arrived. Leticia, Enoch, and Marquis Leroy waited for the Emperor to enter the audience room.
As soon as the Marquis saw Leticia, he smiled as if he’d already won. Soon after, the Emperor entered the audience room, sat down, and read out the letter the Marquis had written.
“Duke Achilles is in communication with Keena Erebos, a member of the Erebos family that was executed for treason. I can’t see my precious daughter around such a dangerous person, who is close with the Achilles family.”
In the end, he meant that he wanted to take possession of Leticia. As if she was his, and he had a right to take her back.
Leticia was listening quietly, and clenched her hands that were hidden in her sleeves. It was a situation that did not deviate one step from her expectations, and it almost made her laugh out loud.
‘Is he willing to push this until the end?’
Anger rose inside her that she had to do this. Enoch nodded as he looked at Leticia, as if he was reading her mind. She tried hard to hold back her anger because she knew he was saying that it would be okay.
A confident Marquis Leroy handed over the testimonies, and evidence that the Achilles family had communicated with Keena to the Emperor.
Witnesses who saw Leticia, Elle, and Keena together at the Swordsmanship tournament. The Emperor’s face slowly began to harden as he saw the evidence that there had been numerous meetings since then.
No matter how skilled the Duke’s family was, it wasn’t a simple matter that so much evidence was handed over, which showed that the contact was too frequent to be considered a coincidence. The Marquis added Emil Leroy and Xavier Leroy’s testimonies that Keena Erebos fled to the Achilles family, and they’d searched for her there. If this was true, Duke Achilles had committed a felony by concealing a traitor.
At that moment, Enoch stood next to Leticia, and said.
“I have never communicated with a traitorous family, Your Imperial Highness.”
“Duke, there are more than one or two people who have already witnessed you communicating with Keena Erebos.”
“No matter what the Marquis says, nothing changes.”
Marquis Leroy smirked at the voice that tried to senselessly hide the truth. To him, it was nothing more than a last gasp.
However, his face hardened at Enoch’s subsequent words.
“The family was framed for treason in the first place.”
“What nonsense are you saying right now?”
Marquis Leroy jumped in place, as his anger rose to the sky.
That was when the door to the audience chamber opened, and they heard someone walking in. The strangeness caused a chill to run up the Marquis’ spine, so he looked back, and saw a familiar face.
When the unexpected person appeared, the people in the audience chamber began to make a fuss.
“What? How did a wanted person get in here?”
“There was a person who Duke Achilles brought in advance as a witness earlier…”
“No way, the witness was that person…”
The knights hadn’t expected the woman, who was wanted across the empire, to just walk into the audience chamber, and tried to belatedly arrest her.
Keena easily evaded them, and knelt in front of the Emperor.
“I will receive the punishment for entering so recklessly later. So please listen to my story just once.”
This was her last chance for revenge.
The Emperor looked down at her with an unknown expression.
“Are you the woman from the Erebos family?”
“Yes, my name is Keena Erebos. My family never tried to rebel.”
“Your family tried to train troops hidden from the eyes of the previous Emperor. Do you still say you’re not a traitor?”
“All of this was part of Marquis Leroy’s scheme. So, I ask your Imperial Majesty to look at the evidence, and judge for himself.”
At her unexpected remake, the intrigued Emperor smoothed his chin.
“Do you know what kind of punishment you’re going to get now that you’re here?”
“If you don’t change your mind even after listening to me, I’ll silently accept any punishment.”
Keena’s gaze as she looked up at the Emperor naturally turned to Marquis Leroy. The moment their eyes met, the Marquis had a strange feeling that wasn’t good. His heart beat grew louder, as if it was right next to his ear.
“You don’t have to listen to her, Your Imperial Majesty! Arrest her right away, and confine her…”
“It’s not difficult, so let’s check it out as she wants.”
Marquis Leroy urgently tried to intervene, but the Emperor raised his hand to block the Marquis.
After his servant received the papers from Keena, and checked that there wasn’t anything dangerous, he delivered them to the Emperor. Seeing the Emperor quietly checking the correspondence, Keena opened her mouth.
“This is a letter written by Marquis Leroy, who had the previous Emperor’s handwriting copied, and sent it to my family to have them train troops.”
Marquis Leroy’s face began to turn blue. He’d seen the letter destroyed, but when he heard that it still existed, he couldn’t breathe.
“Marquis Leroy, what are your thoughts?”
The Emperor waved a letter imitating the handwriting of the previous Emperor, and its contents written directly by Marquis Leroy.
“It’s something I know nothing about! How could I do such a terrible thing?”
“Even if there’s a witness?”
Enoch, who was still watching the situation, asked with an expressionless face.
He tried to refute it somehow, but Enoch acted like he already knew everything. As a witness was put forward, the Marquis’ face darkened.
‘There can’t be a witness… No way!’
Marquis Leroy belatedly noticed who the witness was, and his face paled. Marquis El stood there with a blank face.
“I introduced Marquis Leroy to a person who can imitate handwriting.”
“What… Marquis El.”
“At that time, I didn’t think he would commit such a terrible act. Everything is my fault, Your Imperial Majesty.”
Marquis Leroy gritted his teeth, hating the way Marquis El stood there like a sinner confessing his sins.