Chapter 2

***

 

Three years ago, Rodelia was a little more shy, repressed, and insecure than she was now.

 

She was the highly prized only daughter of the Marquis of Florence. The position of Duke of Thebes had been vacant for quite some time, and the Grand Duke of Eisen, who claimed to be above the Emperor, was not interested in power, so it was safe to say that the Marquis were the most powerful. There was the Marquis of Collide, but their position was decidedly different.

 

Her father, the Marquis of Florence, was a power-hungry man . Although he didn’t show it outwardly because of his external image of being benevolent, he had the ambition to make Rodelia the Empress.

 

The Marquis did not allow her to have any contact with any men, and did not allow her to go out, because of his crazy theory that the position of Empress should be flawless, but thanks to him, Rodelia was raised to be a golden branch with all the love in the world.

 

The actual situation was a little different.

 

The Marquis was angry as fire every time Rodelia made a mistake, and she would be whipped. It was abuse that was allowed in the name of love.

 

In the end, he had successfully rounded up the previous emperor and achieved the feat of a political marriage with the crown prince, and Rodelia, who had received all the education she needed to become an Empress from an early age, had no choice.

 

“Father…..don’t want to get married like I’m sold to a stranger.”

 

“What do you mean ‘sold’? Your partner is the crown prince, who will be the next emperor. You’ve been doing well so far, right? You’re not going to disappoint this father, are you?”

 

What would it be, if not a sale? Rodelia knew very well that this marriage would mean exchanging herself for her father’s power in the future.

 

But she couldn’t even reply to her father’s stern voice. Whenever the Marquis spoke to her in a shout, she always shrank back, for no matter what she did, she always ended up obeying him.

 

“You are the one to be the Empress. I like it.”

 

Fortunately, the Crown Prince had a likable impression. His demeanor was a bit overbearing, but to her, who had grown up under the Marquis, it was no big deal. At that time, the Crown Prince was like a savior to her. 

 

Crown Prince Kane also liked Rodelia. Of course, it was because of her dazzling good looks.

 

Her fresh green eyes that made people dizzy when they looked at them and her blond hair that swayed as if it contained the morning sun made her pale skin look a little more mysterious, and the graceful attitude she wore also seemed appropriate to stand by her side. 

 

He had the impression that she looked a little cold, even somewhat shrinking in demeanor. Isn’t she just the right person to tame as he likes? He hated fierce women, and she was the perfect companion.

 

The Marquis of Florence’s greed bothered him a little, but he was not a wimp. He was smart, young, and had the power to subdue nobles with ease.

 

 Since their first meeting, Kane had been kind to Rodelia. It was also Kane who had first approached Rodelia, who had been formally educated as an Empress and was facing prosecution. 

 

“That’s how it is with everyone at first. You have excellent basic etiquette and will learn quickly.”

 

Rodelia was instantly smitten with Kane. It was only natural, since she wasn’t able to receive proper love from the start. She believed that with Kane, the title of Empress would not be so bad. It was a political marriage, but they came to love each other. 

 

Thanks to Kane, she gradually emerged from the shadow of the Marquis of Florence, regained her vitality, and brightened. 

 

****

 

She finally knew stability in her life, but it all came apart again in an instant. Her limbs began to shake. Rodelia tried to calm down but it was hard to do so.

 

“Ah…d*mn it.”

 

With a sigh that included a tantrum from Kane, the woman with wispy red hair hanging down to her waist, Sola Eisen, appeared from the bedroom.

 

She only had a plain white cloth wrapped around her body as she gently approached Kane’s side. There was no need for explanation, Rodelia could tell what kind of relationship she had with Kane. 

 

[Don’t trust the Emperor too much.]

 

Grand Duke Eisen’s warning about his twin sister Sola Eisen floated through Rodelia’s head. However, she didn’t believe him when he told her that.

 

What did she say to him then? 

 

[Thank you for your concern, but I trust His Majesty.]

 

It was strange. She believed that there must be some misunderstanding. If she had believed the Grand Duke, would she hurt this much? An empty smile spread across Rodelia’s lips.

 

“Kane, it’s not like that…”

 

“….”

 

She spoke it a little hoarsely, hiding her horror, but Kane said nothing and just looked at Rodelia with a complicated expression. She hoped not, but his silence was the same as an affirmative answer. She felt as if her heart, which had been so painstakingly suppressed, would plunge into the mire.

 

“His Majesty is so weak-hearted that he can’t tell you himself. So I have no choice but to tell you myself.” (Sola)

 

“….”

 

Rodelia’s gaze crossed with Sola’s dark eyes as she let out a long breath. Staring her up and down, Sola slowly opened her mouth again.

 

“His Majesty is tired of the Empress. You’re not interesting because you are so obedient and submissive.” (Sola)

 

With a sneer, Sola gently sat on Kane’s lap, who said nothing. She wrapped her thin arms around Kane’s neck in a showy gesture and looked up at Rodelia.

 

The previous emperor’s concubines knew better. They wouldn’t go this far in front of the Empress for fear of being hated, but it was because they were from the commonwealth.

 

Sola was confident and arrogant as if she was flying in the sky, perhaps because she was a Princess in the first place.

 

Raising herself from Kane’s lap, Sola approached the hanger with a sexy gait and dropped the wrapped cloth on the floor.

 

Then she lifted Kane’s uniform jacket and put it on, and looked at Rodelia again. Sola’s curvy figure was in full view.

 

“I suppose that means that as an Empress, she’s a honourable person, but as a woman, she’s not so good.” (Sola)

 

Sola’s long eyes narrowed as she laid down the facts and spoke plainly.

 

Kane made no reply to her words. He was a figure that disappeared like dust until the last remaining trust. Unspeakable questions lingered in Rodelia’s head.

 

Her vision began to blur. After wobbling for a while, Rodelia patted the desk with her frail hand.

 

‘Did Grand Duke Eisen really know that his sister had become the Emperor’s mistress and warned me?’

 

‘If so, why on earth?’

 

Sola and her brother, Cerdian, had just made their appearance in the social world. It was common for the children of the closed-off Grand Duchy of Eisen to go outside the castle when they reached adulthood, and they did the same.

 

‘She (Sola) approached Kane as soon as she left the Grand Duchy, didn’t she?’

 

Rodelia’s beautiful brows twisted darkly in suspicion. Kane’s impression of her also wrinkled slightly at the sight, but soon returned to a dry expression as he sighed once and said in a cold voice, 

 

“I don’t need to explain anymore. You seem to have an understanding, so I would like you to leave now.”

 

Rodelia couldn’t understand Kane, who had changed in an instant. It was true that a few days ago he had confessed to her that he loved her.

 

As doubtful as it may seem, it must have happened after Princess Eisen stepped into the royal family. Or there might have been some unspoken circumstances. She wanted to believe that.

 

She was biting her lip with an indifferent expression and slowly opened her mouth.

 

“I have a question.”

 

“What is it?”

 

“Do you love the Princess?”

 

She hoped that Kane would tell her he did not. And that it was just a misunderstanding. She was willing to believe him if he told her that. Rodelia’s wistful gaze turned to Kane.

 

However, there was no unexpected change. After a long, complicated stare, a dry voice came from Kane’s mouth, one she had never heard before. 

 

“Yes. I love her.”

 

“….”

 

It was beyond belief. Rodelia didn’t want to believe it.

 

However, Kane didn’t care about Rodelia, who froze in shock. He just looked down at his documents again.

 

Rodelia’s body began to tremble. As she grasped for a ray of hope, the heart that she had been trying so hard to hold in place collapsed helplessly.

 

Had he really fallen in love at first sight? What could have stolen his heart in such a short time?

 

Why on earth?

 

She was convinced until the very end that he wasn’t, but the moment she heard him say he loved the Princess, she couldn’t stop her eyes from turning red. The hurt piled up in the pitiful look in Rodelia’s eyes.

 

Because she loved him and she believed his love was eternal, and her heart ached as much as she believed him.

 

“You told me that you loved me. Was that all a lie?”

 

“It wasn’t a lie. It’s just that my heart is small.”

 

The look in Kane’s eyes that turned indifferent pierced her heart. As the first time she received his cold stare, the loss was too great for words.

 

She had no choice but to admit that his heart went missing. Otherwise, he wouldn’t have humiliated her, the Empress, in front of others, let alone the mistress.

 

Hot tears streamed down her pale cheeks.

 

“Hic…”

 

“Pfft.”

 

Rodelia, who came to her senses at the sound of Sola’s laughter, quickly wiped away her tears.

 

“Is it that easy to cry? The position of Empress is nothing.” 

 

It was an attitude that she was above her. Sola said with a sharp gaze.

 

It was the first time in her life that she was insulted in such a low-grade manner. Clenching her fists tightly, Rodelia hardened her eyes coldly and stood upright.

 

She’d already lost face, but as Empress, she didn’t want to seem ridiculous any longer.

 

‘I have to alm down. I am the Empress of the Thebes Empire.’

 

She had learned how to act in a situation like this. And even though, she had practiced countless times, the reality was not as easy as the practice.

 

Het limbs trembled, her heart pounded, and she felt driven to the edge of a cliff.

 

But it was something she had to endure. Rodelia opened her mouth, trying to keep a calm figure.

 

“Yes, the Princess is right. The position of Empress would not have been much without the favor of His Majesty.”

 

It was a bitter truth. Kane, he could only stare at Sola, whether she said anything insulting to Rodelia or not.

 

Fortunately, her cold voice leaked out as intended, and she breathed a sigh of relief in her heart.

 

But she felt as if she had become an uninvited guest among them. She no longer had the courage to be here. She lifted her gaze and looked at Kane.

 

She was about to say, “I’m leaving,” when his increasingly gaunt face entered her field of vision.

 

She hated him, how could his feelings disappear in an instant? But like an idiot, she began to worry that he might be sick.

 

As her eyes scanned his body, Rodelia spotted his darkly burned arms under his sleeves. She looked at Kane with startled eyes.

 

“Your Majesty, what’s wrong with your arm…………”

 

Startled by Rodelia’s gaze, Kane pulled down his sleeve and covered his arm in a panic. He looked perplexed and opened his mouth coldly like a blade.

 

“Empress, isn’t it time for you to understand? I hope you don’t bother me anymore and leave me now.”