Chapter 21

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thanks so much to Babzsak for the ko-fi (๑˃̵ᴗ˂̵)! (2/2)

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“What?”

The shock came not from Adrian but from Seton, the person standing next to him. 

“She travelled, using warp portals, from one end of the continent to the other in just one day?” 

“Yes.” 

“And she also ate black grass the same day?” 

“…Yes.” 

Good grief. 

Coming out alongside the sound of him clicking his tongue was sarcasm. 

“Using the warp portal shakes up the magic in someone’s body. I can’t believe an ordinary person, someone not a mage, used the portal so many times. Not only that, but even ate black grass, a lump of magical energy.”

Hmph. After a small snort, Seton continued, as if driving a wedge. 

“It’s a good thing she’s not dead.” 

“Who said she travelled that much in one day?” 

At Adrian’s question, Benson answered with a clear voice. 

“Her Highness the Grand Duchess herself did, on the day she woke up. I overheard her explaining that she wasn’t weak, but rather, she was just really tired that day. She seemed to have been embarrassed.” 

“Have you reexamined her?” 

“Of course. After hearing what the grand duchess said that day, I examined her again. I wanted to do it again today as well, but Her Highness refused…” 

“Why today?”

“A maid came to tell me that Her Highness had nearly collapsed.” 

As Benson was explaining, Adrian suddenly remembered something. 

The faint presence loitering outside of his door. 

No matter how long he waited, she never came in and left instead. 

He was wondering why…

“So earlier…”

“Is she okay?” 

After being momentarily stunned by Adrian’s and Seton’s respective outburst, Benson remembered the reason why he had came. 

“So, Your Highmess. I came to ask for forgiveness. Please punish me for the crime of endangering Her Highess the Grand Duchess by prescribing treatment before fully understanding her condition.” 

“That’s your crime, Benson?” 

Adrian’s voice was gentle and delicate as he asked the question. 

But that made him even colder. 

Benson felt the goosebumps rising on the back of his neck. 

“Yes. I was fortunate as Her Highness the Grand Duchess opened her eyes. However, if I had been more careful, I would not have harmed someone so precious.” 

“Who said it was your sin to bear?” 

Adrian let out a short sigh, and for a moment, his expression was one of anger. 

But that expression disappeared so quickly that Benson couldn’t help but wonder if his eyes had been mistaken. 

Adrian, who soon regained his characteristic expressionless face, continued speaking. 

“If there was anyone to blame for this incident, it would be the emperor.” 

Huk. 

Shock erupted from all directions at Adrian’s calm but extremely cold words. 

“His, His Majesty…” 

“He knows better than anyone else that I don’t stay long in the capital. He must have known that I would head straight back to the North with my bride as soon as I signed the marriage contract.” 

And yet.

Suddenly, Adrian closed his eyes and took a deep breath. 

“And yet, he dragged the grand duchess to him early that morning.” 

Now he understood. 

Now he understood why she was sleeping like the dead in the empty reception parlour on the first floor. 

Now he understood why she looked strangely stooping. 

Now he understood why she was so feverish. 

At that moment, he remembered the warmth that filled his arms when he held Ione in his arms.

Adrian’s face began heating up. 

“Haa…” 

Adrian, who was breathing heavily, quietly pressed his temple in frustration.  

“Who would have given a 3-year bride such a huge reward like immunity?” 

“Don’t forget that he was only 13 when he became the ruler of this empire.”

“A mocker, a schemer, a trickster, a liar… He’d been handpicking them out since he was 13.”

It felt like the words he’d given to Ione came back to bite him. 

His twin brother, who became the emperor at the mere age of 13 and ruled the empire with an iron fist, had never been an easy-going figure. 

Although he was wise, he was cunning. As prudent as he was, he also did not hesitate to be ruthless. 

Ione Clark was the person chosen to fill the position of the grand duchess by the emperor. 

Was there any way anyone could become the grand duchess just by having a sick mother? 

A determination and perseverance not to be engulfed by misfortune. 

A mind and passion to revive a declining family. 

A family that is ashamed to even say it had been revived. 

And the strength that could withstand the criticism and constraints pouring in from those on the side of the blessed. 

In addition, her family were naturally to be hostages in the hands of the emperor. 

Such long-term plans were not all that common, but the emperor must have thought, 

‘What could I do to safely hand her over to Adrian van Presse and send her to the North?’ 

That’s how the ridiculous journey across the continent in just one day would have been completed. 

He hadn’t said a word about Ione’s journey, either, because he wanted to send her straight to the grand duchy to consolidate her position as the ‘grand duchess’. 

Everything was under his meticulous calculation. 

Even Adrian.

“…”

Adrian released his ragged breath into his hands. 

He didn’t know what it was that had been building up in his chest, a burning hot sensation of some kind, and so he wasn’t able to release it.

After a long time, Adrian, who took his hand off his temple, resumed his usual face and expression. 

“Benson.”

“Yes, Your Highness?”

“Who else knows about this?” 

Benson shuddered slightly at Adrian’s words, as if he had foreseen the outcome. 

“Only the head maid and I know about this, Your Highness. But the head maid doesn’t have any knowledge on this. As I’m the doctor, please blame only me-” 

“I am the one responsible for this.”

“Pardon?”

Surprised by his unexpected words, Benson forgot about maintaining proper etiquette, raising his head and making eye contact with Adrian. 

His eyes were round and his mouth was slightly open, not to mention there was a bitter taste in his mouth despite the fact he hadn’t eaten. 

“Know that and keep this quiet for now.” 

Strangely, his voice was rough. 

“Your Highness.” 

Adrian also cute off Seton’s words calling him. 

“The plan remains the same. No, it should stay as it is. If it’s true that the magical flow within her body had been reversed due to her frequent wrapping, then we should wait until she stabilizies.” 

“…”

“Escort the grand duchess until the seal is engraved, Seton. I have no intention of indulging in such foolish acts again. I didn’t need a wife in the first place, I only received one because of my brother.” 

“Well, given the circumstances, I can’t say no. But, Your Highness, I’m afraid it won’t be easy for me to accept right away.” 

“Why?” 

Seton, not bothering to hide his disdainful expression towards Adrian, who was staring at him coldly in return, spoke.

“Instead of just waiting, shouldn’t we consider giving her a magic stabilizer or finding another solution?” 

***

The capital’s social scene had been very lively lately. 

It’d always been a noisy place, but there had never been such fervor since the founding of the country.

Today’s salon was held at the Bursley estate. 

Bright sunlight poured in through the large windows for the first time in a long time, making the dazzling interior of the Duke’s house shine. 

But what was shining the most was the way people looked at the Duchess of Bursley. 

“It’s been so long, madame. I’ve been waiting and waiting for when you’ll call me.” 

Along with greetings filled with mild resentment, sounds of admiration for the Duchess of Bursley came from all directions. 

“I see. How did you come to be so gracious?” 

“I’ve been waiting with baited breath for the Duchess’ invitation.”

“It snowed a lot recently. I had to delay sending out the invitations because I was waiting for a good day. I didn’t want to make it the journey here difficult for such precious people.”

The Duchess of Bursley ushered the gossiping ladies to their seats with a smiling face. 

As everyone took their seats, the formalities of conversation ended. 

“Madam, what do you think of the rumours? I heard that there will be an auspicious occasion in the imperial family soon. 

The person who spoke to Duchess Bursley was Marchioness Colple, who sat on her right. 

Duchess Bursley lowered her gaze for a moment at her words before giving a small nod of her head. 

It was a very faint and subtle movement, but it was enough to throw the room into a frenzy. 

Aahh. A nasally squeal erupted from somewhere, quickly followed by a jumple of voices. 

“For goodness’ sake, they’ve only gotten engaged not long ago.” 

“Of course, it hadn’t been long since their engagement took place, but the Lord Chamberlain himself gave us word, so there is no doubt about it.” 

“The Lord Chamberlain? Oh goodness, oh my.” 

If it came from the emperor’s closest confidant, it was definitely not a rumour, but a fact. 

Flap, flutter, flutter. 

The fans in the noble ladies’ hands were shaking wildly. 

“What in the world is happening!” 

There was a buzz in the atmosphere. 

It was crass, but no one was finding fault with it. 

It was a scandal. A scandal involving the emperor. 

The emperor was beautiful, brilliant, and young. He ascended to the throne at the mere age of 13 and took the empire by right! 

It was natural that everyone’s attention was focused on this. 

“Okay, everyone, wait!” 

Marchioness Colple clapped her hands loudly, her eyes shining like the morning star. 

“We must calm down. Otherwise, wouldn’t the duchess, who trusted us and told us, be in trouble?” 

In response to the marchioness’ words, meaningless phrases like “Of course!” and “Don’t worry, my lady!” burst out. 

The Duchess of Bursley burst out laughing as she saw the ladies blushing like little girls filled with excitement. 

“My dear ladies. Thank you for your consideration, but I am not worried. It’s not like we’ve only known each other for a day or two.” 

The duchess’ voice was full of confidence, causing the blush on the ladies’ faces to deepen. 

“Now then, if you would please enjoy the tea. This tea was imported from the Eastern Empire, and the scent is amazing. I will be leaving for a moment.” 

The Duchess of Bursley rose from her seat as the tea was placed in the hands of the ladies. Presumably, she was leaving to inspect the next batch of tea. 

Everyone greeted politely to the duchess as she left. 

“Thank you again for the invitation.” 

“You’re welcome.”

The duchess had left. The ladies continued to sip their tea gracefully, but their excitement was anything but graceful. 

“We must have another tea party tomorrow immediately.” 

The lady seemed to have no recollection of the promise she made earlier, and all she could do was relax her clenched jaw. 

The excited ladies didn’t even notice that there was a cold gaze looking at them. 

“…Can we trust these idiots?” 

[TL/N]: hi… sorry i’ve been on a bit of a break due to health issues TT___TT i hope you can forgive me!!! but we’re back and if all things go according to plan i’ll be updating regularly!! as for those who sent ko-fis, i’ll be posting apology chapters so i hope it makes up for my absence!!! 

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