Chapter 8

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“…… I didn’t even know you were throwing a party today. Empress.”

 

Rodelia was silent, her expression hardened, and Kane sighed, pretending that he really didn’t know.

 

“Did you?”

 

“I know it’s hard to believe, but it’s true.”

 

“Your Majesty knows well that I host every party in the Imperial Palace. Did you have to do this? You’re so cruel.”

 

Wasn’t he really cruel? With him bringing in a mistress was already hard enough, now he wanted to humiliate her in front of the nobles too?

 

“It’s my fault, Your Majesty. I didn’t know about the announcement of the party hosted by the Empress…….”

 

Sola looked at Kane with a sad face, pretending to be innocent, as if mocking Rodelia. Her body trembled weakly, and her eyes were filled with clear tears. The pity seemed to double in contrast to her gorgeous appearance.

 

“No, it’s not your fault.”

 

Kane stared at Rodelia with trembling eyes for a moment. He quickly closed his eyes and exhaled softly as he turned his gaze to Sola again. Collapsing again at the sight, Rodelia consciously tried not to cry.

 

‘Do you have to placate Sola even in this situation?’

 

She couldn’t understand how on earth he could fall in love with Sola this much and ignore the Empress in front of the noblewomen. Her limbs began to tremble with embarrassment, but she had to remain calm.

 

“How could you humiliate me in front of the nobles, Your Majesty?”

 

“Empress, that is not… ….”

 

Fortunately, instead of a quivering voice, a cold one came out. Rodelia looked at them with a relieved expression.

 

“I’m so sorry, Your Majesty. My heart hurts because everything seems to be my fault. ……. Empress, next time I will report every single thing to you, so please relieve your anger.”

 

Sola looked pitiful again, begging for forgiveness.

 

How could she be so pretentious without blinking like that? Is she the same person who spoke harshly to her the other day? It was appalling, but Rodelia couldn’t say anything.

 

No matter what she said here, Kane and the noblewomen would all take Sola’s side. Even if Rodelia’s maids would get involved, it would only make her feel more ashamed. She was no empress now, just a woman who had fallen out of favor.

 

Everyone here still minced no words, looking out for Sola’s mood, not Rodelia’s.

 

If Sola had been a mere status maiden, things might have been different, but she was the only princess in the empire. In terms of status by birth, Sola was in a higher position than Rodelia.

 

Therefore, Rodelia’s arrival here was as good as admitting to herself that the Empress had lost her power.

 

Maybe Sola was trying to take advantage of this situation. Thinking it was her fault for not thinking it through, Rodelia bit her lips tightly.

 

‘What should I do?’

 

She wanted to die because of shame. As she grabbed her innocent sleeve in bewilderment, an extremely low but amused voice rang out in the silence.

 

“What are you doing? Sola, publicly humiliating the Empress is truly your typical behavior.”

 

“Your Highness, Grand Duke Aisen?”

 

Baroness Verna’s slightly surprised voice followed behind the amused man’s voice.

 

“Grand Duke?”

 

Everyone turned their heads in unison. A few unmarried ladies who quickly put down their cups and took out a mirror to check their appearance. 

 

“Your Majesty, it’s the Grand Duke.”

 

Viscountess Cohen whispered to Rodelia, but she couldn’t look back. She had refused Cerdian’s help all at once, so she did not want him to see her being publicly humiliated like this.

 

“Your Majesty…”

 

“……..”

 

“Your Majesty, what are you doing?”

 

Lady Sarah approached the dazed Rodelia and whispered quietly. She finally calmed down, and she turned around slowly, through clenched teeth.

 

“…….”

 

Rodelia’s gaze met Cerdian’s. With a look of characteristic arrogance, Cerdian was perfect again today.

 

Why did he visit the Imperial Palace dressed so beautifully? His handsome face stood out even more by his neatly raised hair.

 

The broad shoulders and firm body that lay beneath the crisp uniform looked even more pronounced. The red eyes with the high nose also gave off a strange vibe, somehow intimidating.

 

He had always had a reputation for good looks, but it was hard to adapt every time she saw him. Cerdian approached right in front of Rodelia and looked at her.

 

Rodelia quickly avoided his gaze, realizing that she had been staring at him without her knowing. But the noblewomen, noticing their subtle atmosphere, exchanged meaningful glances.

 

Then, feigning nonchalance and striving to maintain a calm demeanor, she consciously straightened her back. But she couldn’t hide her anxiety and fiddled with her sleeve.

 

While everyone was at a loss, a high-pitched voice rang out.

 

“How did the Grand Duke get here?”

 

Kane, who had been looking at Cerdian with a disgruntled look on his face the whole time, opened his mouth.

 

Rodelia’s surprised eyes went to Kane. Kane didn’t usually show his emotions to others so easily. As a result, he was a notoriously difficult emperor to deal with.

 

It was amazing that he expressed his emotions as he did. And wasn’t Cerdian a brother of Kane’s beloved Sola?

 

“I just wanted to stop by and see my sister. She’s been in the Imperial Palace for so long, I can’t even see her face anymore.”

 

Cerdian raised both ends of his lips and spoke slowly. He didn’t seem to care whether Kane was wary of him or not. It made Kane’s brows furrow more.

 

It was a very amusing situation for Rodelia, who had been embarrassed by Kane. The noblewomen only blinked and held their breath.

 

“Oh …… brother, you should have sent a letter then.”

 

Sola also looked nervous. She kept glancing at Cerdian.

 

“Don’t I have the heart? Just write a letter instead of coming to see my sister?”

 

“What……?”

 

“I shouldn’t have come to the imperial Palace to see you. I see you don’t like it. Anyway, it’s my mistake.”

 

 Cerdian spoke with a faint smile on his face, as if he was joking, but his eyes were cold. It was a cynical attitude to have towards her own sister.

 

Solar trembled with fear without answering anything. After a moment of scowling, Cerdian turned his gaze to Rodelia.

 

“It’s great that the Empress is here, too.”

 

“…… What?”

 

“The Empress invited me to the tea party. I wanted to see the winter flowers bloom, and I can’t tell you how much I was hoping for it.”

 

‘Invite you to the tea party?’

 

Rodelia’s questioning gaze went to Cerdian. When their eyes met, he smiled lightly at her. It was then that she finally realized his hidden meaning.

 

‘You’re trying to save my face, aren’t you?’

 

It may have been planned, but he kept helping her. Deciding to accept the favors he was giving her, Rodelia decided to sit back and watch, neither confirming nor denying.

 

Far away from Rodelia, Cerdian’s gaze turned to the winter flowers. He gazed at the flowers for a moment with indifferent eyes, then slowly opened his mouth.

 

“I can’t believe I’m seeing them here.”

 

“Hahahaha …… so beautiful, isn’t it?”

 

The noble ladies made an effort to break the frozen atmosphere. However, he didn’t seem to be planning on playing along. Cerdian said sharply, without any regard for Kane’s position.

 

“It doesn’t really fit in with my sister. They were much more beautiful where they were.”

 

“What does that mean, Grand Duke?”

 

Noticing Cerdian’s sarcasm, Kane cut him off nervously.

 

“It’s meant exactly as it is. The flowers don’t look good here, is that a problem?”

 

Cerdian responded to Kane’s words casually, as if wondering why he was being so sensitive.

 

“…….”

 

The reality of the empire was that no matter how much of an emperor he was, he could not be recklessly harsh with Grand Duke Eisen. Kane decided to stop the word war with him.

 

Instead, he brought up a subject that had been bothering him for a while.

 

“By the way, did you say the Empress invited you to the tea party? Why?”

 

Kane, who could not hide his hidden anger, gritted his teeth. The reaction was as if he was jealous of the relationship between Cerdian and Rodelia.

 

He isn’t happy that Rodelia is talking to another man while he is hanging out with his mistress publicly? That’s funny.

 

Kane glared at Cerdian like he was going to kill him.

 

“We had a conversation the other day.”

 

“What kind of conversation?”

 

Cerdian seemed to be bothered by Kane’s questioning. His brow furrowed and he let out a frustrated voice.

 

“Do I have to tell you that, Your Majesty?”

 

“…….”

 

Cerdian took a step forward.

 

Kane in front of him looked so diminutive. He was also shrewd wherever he went, but that was probably because Cerdian was taller. Kane felt it, too, and he put the cup he was holding on the table with a clank and hurried to take a seat.

 

Kane’s sort of obsession was always to be necessary and inferior to others. Kane’s lips twisted badly as he was still unable to say anything this time.

 

Suppressing his anger, Kane opened his mouth, looking at Rodelia.

 

“Empress, tell me. Did you invite the Grand Duke to your party? And what conversation have you been having with him?”