Chapter 10

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“I hope it wasn’t …. There was a traitor among the maids.”

 

Rodelia clenched her hand in disappointment as the words the Viscountess spat out more coldly than she had expected. The maids also looked more than a little surprised.

 

She felt sorry for the other maids, but she could not be sure that this would not happen again, so she had to take this opportunity to deal with it properly. Rodelia hardened her expression again, straightened her back, and spoke.

 

“If you leave quietly now, we can pretend it never happened. I’m saying I’ll keep the rumors out of society.”

 

“…….”

 

The person who had informed Sola about the party schedule was being shameless, though Rodelia had purposely used a harsh tone.

 

“Are you sure there’s no one here?”

 

“Your Majesty, how much time have we spent with you? We have been together for three years since you entered the Imperial Palace. How can you doubt us? I’m sad.”

 

“Yes, Your Majesty! It’s really frustrating.”

 

No one stepped up to confess their crime. It was only natural. They didn’t think there was any evidence. But the evidence that Rodelia had was enough.

 

“…… Lady Sarah.”

 

Rodelia had been staring at the window with a hard expression on her face, and when Sarah’s  name was called out with a small sigh from her mouth, most of the maids looked at her with surprised faces.

 

“Yes ……?”

 

“I will give you one last chance. Sarah, did you give the information to Princess Eisen?”

 

“Your Majesty, I don’t understand what you’re talking about…”

 

Sarah trailed off. The way she kept telling lies over and over again in front of the Empress, the young lady seemed to be out of the ordinary. That was probably why she betrayed Rodelia and went with Sola.

 

Rodelia sighed once more. The air in the room was cold, and all the maids opened their eyes and looked around.

 

“Do you think I would suspect you without any proof?”

 

“…….”

 

Sarah kept quiet even though Rodelia kept giving her the opportunity. It was because no matter how much she thought about it, she didn’t think the Empress had any proof.

 

“I understand, your point is well taken.”

 

Undeterred, Rodelia nodded to Baroness Verna. With trembling hands, the Baroness took a piece of parchment from her pocket and showed it to her.

 

Rodelia couldn’t imagine that Lady Sarah had betrayed her, either. Rather, she was suspicious of Baroness Verna.

 

The Polton, to which Sarah belonged, was a rather prestigious family, so Rodelia thought Sarah would not abandon her honor to betray the Empress, and go to Sola.

 

That was before she learned that the Count’s family was in huge debt from the Count’s gambling.

 

“I heard your family, the Polton, owed the Eisen an enormous amount of money.”

 

“…..yes.”

 

Rodelia smiled bitterly as she thrust the paper given to her by Baroness Verna in front of Sarah. Seeing the note, Sarah lost her composure and began to shake noticeably.

 

“I almost passed it without knowing it, but Baroness Verna’s uncle is the president of the bank.”

 

“…….”

 

“If you had asked me for help, I would have gladly helped you. Was I so unreliable?”

 

Rodelia believed that Sarah was her person, and she felt a tremendous sense of loss that Sola had taken away the person she trusted again.

 

Her mouth began to feel bitter, but she couldn’t show it, so she pretended to be fine and continued her words dryly. The other maids looked at the debt paper and sighed here and there in disbelief.

 

“You have used Baroness Verna. You said the Princess wants the position of Empress from now on.”

 

Sarah used the outspoken Baroness Verna to draw Rodelia’s suspicions away from herself, making it impossible for her to think straight. As she had planned, Baroness Verna made a big deal out of Rodelia and told her that Sarah seemed to have an ulterior motive.

 

Cross-checking all the circumstances, the only one who seemed suspicious was Sarah.

 

“Your Majesty, you suspect me because of that?”

 

Sarah was still stubborn, fiddling with her finely braided hair without confessing. Rodelia’s forehead was finely distorted by her shameless attitude, even though the evidence was clear.

 

She sighed and looked down. For a moment there was an odd look in Rodelia’s eyes as she struggled to figure out what to do.

 

Finally, keeping a firm expression, Rodelia approached Sarah and slowly reached for the hem of her skirt.

 

“Sarah, you’re not being very careful. You’re already showing that you’re the Princess’s person like this.”

 

“Eh, what……?”

 

Rodelia took a strand of red hair from Sarah’s white dress and stared at her.

 

“Are you still trying to deny it? Or do I have to go directly to Princess Eisen?”

 

****

 

“Empress, the Princess must have already drifted away.”

 

The Empress’s palace was somehow alive and bustling. The reason why Baroness Verna was making such a fuss was because Kane had called Rodelia to have a meal with her after a long time.

 

“Yes, that’s right. I agree, seeing as how His Majesty has summoned the Empress separately. He must be tired of the Princess. As expected, he couldn’t have given such a foxy woman his full heart.”

 

“Yes, our Empress is so beautiful, how could he be attracted to such a woman? Please sit down, I will decorate you most beautifully.”

 

The exaggeration of the servants made Rodelia’s heart skip a beat as well. She felt a sense of anticipation. However, she couldn’t be as pleased as she wanted because of her status as empress. Rodelia calmed down her pounding heart and responded calmly, pretending to be fine.

 

“It’s just a meal.”

 

The maids, however, could not leave Rodelia alone. After changing everything from her hairstyle to the color and design of her dress several times, Rodelia finally finished her preparations and stood in front of the mirror.

 

“As expected, you look good in white clothes.”

 

“Where can I find a color that doesn’t suit you? Unlike that woman, you are very elegant.”

 

“I see. ……”

 

Smiling shyly, Rodelia looked around at her reflection. It had been a long time since she had worn a fancy outfit, and the emerald necklace on the thin neck shook as she moved, making her feel awkward.

 

And what’s with the pure white dress? No matter what, a white dress seemed too much for a meal. Just as she was about to open her mouth to say she was going to change, there was a knock on the door twice. It was the appointed time, Kane’s servant came.

 

Rodelia, who had no choice but to wear her white dress, left the room and headed for the emperor’s palace, with the maids seeing her off.

 

“Your Majesty, please enjoy your meal!”

 

****

 

The spacious hall was filled with the sound of clattering dishes. Gourmet food and desserts were served under the gorgeous chandeliers, but Rodelia could do nothing but drink water.

 

She couldn’t enjoy the meal to the fullest because of the anger on Kane’s face.

 

“I heard you let go of the second daughter of Count Polton.”

 

In the silence, it was Kane who spoke up first. He looked at Rodelia with a dry expression on his face, having become gaunt over the past few days. In a chilled voice she slowly raised her head.

 

“It is not your concern, Your Majesty.”

 

She said with no emotion whatsoever.

 

‘What did I expect?’

 

Rodelia felt silly for expecting him to come back to her again. She hated herself for feeling joy when she got his invitation to have a meal together. The raw skin in her heart, which was slowly healing, was overlaid, creating a bigger wound.

 

Rodelia had an inkling of what was going on. She knew that Kane was no longer thinking about her.

 

A wave of bitterness, buried in secret, washed over her. Feeling her throat dry and drinking only water, Rodelia put her fork down on her napkin, as if she could no longer swallow her food.

 

“Count Polton is not in a good mood. I don’t know what the child did, but let’s leave it at that and call her back.”

 

“…… The child was the Empress’s maid, and it’s in my jurisdiction. You can’t tell me what to do, Your Majesty.”

 

Rodelia let out a shaky voice.

 

‘Would Kane believe me now if I told him that Sola had seduced my people?’

 

A ‘ding’ sound echoed through the wide hall as she thought . Kane’s angry voice struck Rodelia’s ears.

 

“Please, Rodelia!”

 

Rodelia stared at Kane, opened her eyes wide in surprise. As she had never seen him in his violent form before, she was taken aback.

 

Kane had never once raised his voice at her. But he yelled at her now. It was clear that he would never believe a word she said.

 

Rodelia’s pale face darkened.

 

“Did you just yell at me just now…. …?”

 

It was Kane who knew best what kind of things she was afraid of. But why?

 

“Please……. Please, can you just do as I say this time? You have to understand me.”

 

Kane’s voice trembled as he tried to hold back his anger. For some reason, there was a hint of sadness in Kane’s voice as he spoke words she didn’t understand.

 

But whatever Kane’s feelings were, it had nothing to do with her.

 

Why should she be the one to understand him……?

 

He should say that to Sola.

 

Rodelia’s plump lips quivered at the sight of Kane’s one-sidedness. She was on the verge of tears, but she had to pretend to be okay. She continued to speak, consciously straightening her back.

 

“Your Majesty, you are no longer my lover.”

 

“What……?”

 

It wasn’t her who hurt him, it was Kane. But why did he look so hurt?

 

“You didn’t tell me anything.”

 

Rodelia couldn’t understand Kane’s bizarre behavior.

 

“It was Your Majesty who let go of my hand first.”

 

Kane’s eyes shook visibly. A sad smile appeared on her lips that she could not hide.

 

“So… Please ask the Princess for understanding.”

 

Finally spitting out the words, Rodelia squeezed her lips together and glared at Kane. She tried my best to pretend that it was nothing, but it didn’t work the way she wanted.

 

She had vowed never to cry, but when she faced Kane, the man she had missed so much, she felt as if tears were about to fall.

 

Kane, who had not said anything for a long time, moved his lips tightly closed.

 

“……The Empress left with Grand Duke Eisen that day.”