Chapter 13

***

 

“…… Ferna, get out.”

 

Kane sent Ferna out, who was at a loss. It was impossible to have a proper conversation in his presence.

 

After Ferna left, Kane’s expression hardened.

 

“You did this, didn’t you?”

 

“Why would I do that? It’s not in my best interest…. …… and I’m not capable of that.”

 

The hand that had been lightly stroking Kane’s face went to Kane’s chest. Sola, who had been mumbling as she patted down his firm chest, quickly tore off Kane’s shirt.

 

The shirt, made of silk, was torn so easily that its value was lost on his face. Red fresh blood poured out of his chest, scratched by Sola’s sharp nails, but such things were not noticeable.

 

Kane’s skin had turned so black that it was hard to believe it was human skin. The poison that had first stopped only on his arms now covered his entire chest and tried to climb up his neck.

 

“Oh my……”

 

Sola’s startled expression slowly turned, reaching Kane’s swaying eyes.

 

Kane flinched at the sight of her eyes, darker than the night sky.

 

“Pfft. …….”

 

Sola’s expression hardened in an instant, and she laughed horrifyingly. Her seductive gaze landed on Kane’s chest. Feeling her gaze on him, Kane clenched his fists.

 

“It’s too bad.”

 

“…… What the hell happened to Ferna?”

 

“It’s really not me. It hurts me to hear you say this over and over again.”

 

Sola gave a meaningful laugh and grabbed Kane’s arm. It was tantamount to a threat not to go against one’s nerves anymore.

 

Kane’s jaw clenched tightly. Sola watched him and covered her mouth with one hand.

 

“You’re a good boy. You know you’re really, really attractive, don’t you?”

 

“What are you trying to do?”

 

“Don’t give me such a sharp look. I might get hurt.”

 

Sola wrapped her thin arms around Kane’s neck and looked up at him seductively.

 

“You’ll die from this.”

 

“…….”

 

“Today, you will embrace me.”

 

Sola’s red lips reached for Kane’s ear. Her lewd voice crept into his ear.

 

He felt ashamed that he couldn’t do anything like this.

 

What would the emperor of the empire do? He couldn’t even rebel, he was just playing along like this. I clenched my fist and a muscle jutted out.

 

“What would you do if you couldn’t even tell the truth to the Empress you love so much”

 

Sola brushed his dark skin with a pitying expression. It felt as if his skin burned with every touch. Kane moaned in pain.

 

“Ugh……”

 

“Do you really believe that the Empress will wait for you?”

 

“…. Of course. The Empress will understand.”

 

Kane was a self-centered man. He had always been in a position of superiority, and he assumed love was the same.

 

He believed that Rodelia would understand him even if he didn’t explain anything to her. He was the only one who knew her.

 

He knew Rodelia’s hurt better than anyone, and he used it to his advantage. Kane was that kind of man.

 

“Really? I think it would be the love of the century if someone hears it. You chose power, but it’s an arrogant idea.”

 

Sola scoffed at Kane. She moved even closer to Kane and whispered sweetly. Then she seduced Kane to embrace her quickly.

 

Still he made no slightest movement, and Sola, who had gently furrowed her brow, said again in a sharp tone.

 

“You must have been in a lot of pain. You’ve been refusing me so much for a few days. Look at this.…. If the empress sees this, she will be very heartbroken. Don’t you think so?”

 

Sola looked at Kane, who was stiff with tension, and then mumbled, 

 

“It will spread all over your body soon.”

 

Then she headed for the bedroom.

 

****

 

“Empress, I heard that Grand Duke Aisen is going to stay at the Imperial Palace for a while.”

 

“I see.”

 

That’s right. It’s time to come. By the way, Baroness Verna, why did she say that?

 

Nodding casually, Rodelia answered reflexively.

 

‘I didn’t think it was a big deal.’

 

It was because she was too sleepy and was sorting through the list of noble guests who had been invited. But when she thought about it again, she felt something was wrong. With a curious look on her face, she looked up and asked back.

 

“Who did you say was going to stay?”

 

“Oh, Grand Duke Aisen, Your Majesty.”

 

Baroness Verna’s eyes fluttered as Rodelia asked again.

 

“Grand Duke……?”

 

She stared at the maidservants with wide eyes at the unexpected news.

 

The maids left the unresponsive Rodelia to take stock of the situation, and again seemed relieved by her reaction.

 

“Your Majesty, I’m terrified. I thought something had happened to you.”

 

“Oh. I was wondering how I should react… …. I thought the Empress didn’t care anymore. It seems that Princess Sola has made a request to His Majesty.”

 

“The Princess really does ask for a lot of things. So does Grand Duke Aisen. Why in the world would he want to enter the palace?”

 

The maids were in an uproar. Rodelia was also curious about Cerdian’s intentions. Why would he want to stay in the palace of all places, leaving the Grand Ducal Palace, which was said to be more magnificent than the Imperial Palace, behind?

 

Is it because of the upcoming banquet? Or does he have something else in mind?

 

It was clear that it was not good news. Rodelia averted her gaze and pretended to be nonchalant as she moved through the pile of papers.

 

“So when did he say he was going to stay?”

 

“That …… starts today, Your Majesty.”

 

“Today?”

 

Rodelia’s hand, which had been flipping through papers, paused. She raised her head and looked at the maids.

 

“Yes, we just heard.”

 

Rodelia frowned.

 

‘How can you ask such an important fact through the maidservants? And now you’re telling me all this today?’

 

What was the meaning of the title of Empress? What was once such a proud position has now become nothing more than an apparent seat.

 

It was as if everything had been taken away from her since the arrival of Sola. She had tried so hard to be a suitable wife for Kane. But to come back and be treated so poorly….

 

Rodelia smiled bitterly.

 

“And…His Majesty ordered you to come to dinner with Grand Duke Aisen today.”

 

Viscountess Cohen spoke cautiously to the scowling Rodelia. It was something she knew would make Rodelia feel more uncomfortable, but it was an order that had to be delivered.

 

“There’s not much time left.”

 

“Yes, you have to get ready quickly.”

 

“I don’t want to go…. Can you send the message. I’m not feeling well and I can’t attend.”

 

She didn’t want to eat in such a cramped seat, and Sola would be there. It was obvious that her stomach would be upset.

 

The Viscountess nodded her head in understanding.

 

“Yes, I’ll tell them…”

 

“I’m afraid that’s not going to happen. Your Majesty must be at the dinner table.”

 

A familiar voice coming from the door spoiled Rodelia’s mood.

 

“Chamberlain Ferna…?”

 

The maids frowned in unison as they looked at the open door. They glared at Ferna as he entered the Empress’s room without knocking.

 

Viscountess Cohen turned to look for the servants who were guarding outside, but they had all left their seats and the hallway was quiet.

 

“It is not for you to decide, Ferna. And how dare you enter the Empress’s room without permission……. “

 

In the history of the empire, there has never been a time when a chamberlain dared to enter the empress’s room without permission. Besides, he even eavesdropped on their conversation.

 

No matter how many times she had collapsed recently, the Florence family was still alive and well behind her.

 

“It is the Emperor’s order that you must attend the dinner.”

 

Rodelia, offended by the one-sided call, raised herself from the bed and looked at Ferna with cold eyes.

 

“I’m sure I told you. I’m not feeling well.”

 

“It is not the Empress’s decision to make. Whether the Empress is not feeling well or has a funeral, she cannot freely violate His Majesty’s orders.”

 

It was ridiculous. The look in Ferna’s eyes as he said this imperiously to Rodelia was one of obvious disregard.

 

It was appalling, but as a person who had recently been through just about everything, something like this wasn’t that shocking. Rodelia approached Ferna with a casual glance.

 

“Ferna.”

 

“Yes, Your Majesty.”

 

Ferna looked down at Rodelia with a look that said, “what can you do?”

 

He normally didn’t like Rodelia.

 

It was because the Marquis of Florence had beaten his family, the Marquis of Collide, and produced an empress, but as far as he was concerned, there was no reason to politely serve an empress who had already lost her power.

 

A sneaky smile spread across Ferna’s lips, which had somehow gained momentum. He didn’t show any of the frightened, timid look he had when he was with the emperor.

 

“I will wait for you, please prepare…”

 

“I’m on equal footing with His Majesty. So you don’t have the authority to take me with you.”

 

As Rodelia spoke, cutting him off, Ferna’s thin lips, which had been moving deliberately arrogantly, stopped. He looked down at Rodelia with his mouth hanging open.

 

“What?” 

 

“So if you want me to come, ask His Majesty to come in person.”