“Hold on. The grand duchy is in the northernmost part of the empire, and suddenly breathing in cold air without any prior preparation will end up hurting your lungs.”
So you want me to get used to the cold air?
It was logical to say so, as well as considerate for me.
My mouth stayed tightly closed, it was only natural for me to do so at this point.
I continued to sniffle silently.
Maybe because I became anxious after watching the slime, or maybe because I had already adjusted, but I was able to stay pretty much intact.
What a relief.
I was worried that this weak body would droop or everything would poor out, turning my runny nose into a waterfall, all whilst saying “I’m in shock”.
‘But you seem to have a good sense and understanding of the situation, right?’
It seemed to be a body that stretched itself out as it goes, and I was looking for a place to stretch my legs.
By the time I had offered this body an appreciation that was neither full of admiration nor sarcasm, the carriage that never seemed to be stopping had slowed down.
I’ve arrived at the castle of the grand duchy.
It was spectacular to see the massive gates opening to the sound of a heavy horn, loud enough to make it feel as though it pierced my eardrums.
I was in pure awe as I looked out the carriage window.
The graceful off-white stone building with its aged appearance was a perfect match for the lapis lazuli coloured roof.
There were no raucous decorations anywhere, and the windows were particularly small.
[TL/N: raucous – it’s primarily used to describe a sound, but it’s like harsh, loud, etc.)
The grand duchy was located in a cold region plagued by demons, so it was built to be defensive.
The strong-walled look made it look honest.
It wasn’t a fancy place, but it was beautiful as it was.
I knew that Ione Clark was destined to die, so I thought it was a shame, but I didn’t know that she would live in such a nice place.
‘Wow… It looks like an old European castle.’
I quickly fell in love with the grand duchy.
It wasn’t just because of the castle.
When I looked around, I saw a white gazebo beyond the snowy shrubbery.
There was only one gazebo in the story, so that’s probably the place…
‘That was where Ione confessed to Adrian for the first time.’’
That event had to be avoided.
‘If I ever happened to be alone with Adrian…’
Even if I didn’t want it to happen, it would’ve happened anyways.
It would have been possible if the force of the original story, the one that used Harford or Gafford (either way, both I’ve never heard of before) to bring Ione to the North, was invoked again.
‘So I need to always avoid that place, and in addition, the one that Ione confessed to…’
The gazebo wasn’t the only landmine here.
“Hey, would it be alright if I have a tour of the grand duchy later?”
I asked Adrian.
“You don’t have to ask for permission. You’re also the owner of Presse.”
“I don’t believe I should be called an owner. I’m leaving in 3 years, anyways.”
For a moment, Adrian chuckled under his breath.
But before I could even ask why he was chuckling, the carriage stopped altogether.
“We’re here. Let’s get off.”
I stepped out of the carriage, escorted by Adrian.
As I got out of the carriage, I admired the castle silently. It was already wonderful when I saw it through the window, but when I got off and took a proper look, I felt overwhelmed by the elegant grandeur of the castle.
Through my gaping mouth, a single exclamation of admiration and wonder seeped out.
As he watched, Adrian leaned down and whispered in my ear.
“Is it to your liking?”
“Oh, yes, yes. It’s amazing.”
“That’s a relief. Wouldn’t it be better if you liked it since it could become a place where you would live for the rest of your life?”
The words “rest of your life” were pronounced with heavy emphasis.
I smiled awkwardly and nodded.
Suddenly, I couldn’t figure out why this was happening.
I probably slipped up by saying that I’d be leaving in 3 years, but so what?
The contract was biased in favour of the grand duke anyways, and the emperor was also satisfied.
There’s no reason for him to be disappointed 3 years from now…
My rambling thoughts were cut short by his low voice.
“Yes, Your Highness.”
“Don’t make a fool out of the emperor.”
“H-How dare I, h-h-how dare you…”
I was so flustered that I chewed my tongue three times while speaking one sentence.
Adrian cut off my words and laughed.
The low voice ringing in my eardrums was horribly irritating.
“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.”
Adrian’s gentle warning made my eyes widen.
‘Didn’t you also do it?’
A shiver ran down my spine and I got goosebumps.
I thought I only had to avoid the man in front of me, but suddenly I had two people I needed to avoid, and I felt helpless at that fact.
From what I could see, the emperor was no ordinary man.
He was the twin of Adrian, who was the heir to the powers of the dragon.
Even if he didn’t inherit the dragon’s power, that meant he and Adrian were the same in every other way.
His cold gaze was sharp enough to even rival Adrian’s.
No, technically speaking, the emperor might be an even greater threat than Adrian.
If Adrian had the power of a blessing, then the emperor had the power of a god!
‘Not just this man, but the emperor’s suspicions…’
As soon as I raised my head with a creak, Adrian slowly opened his mouth, speaking as if he was sentenced.
“He says I’m the most powerful blessed of all time.”
Regardless of what I may be worried or afraid of, Adrian continued silently.
“That means that the intensity of my emotion deficit is strong.”
“I’m not the type to be swayed by any lip service.”
I thought it went well with the emperor and this man, but I was wrong.
He pronounced it slowly, word by word, almost like he was reading out his sentence to me. I became stiff and was unable to say anything.
“Be careful. I can see that you want to run away.”
Adrian, with his emotionless smile, matched perfectly with the northern white scenery.
However, the moment I saw his smile, I got goosebumps all over my neck.
‘Three years to go before the female lead appears… I’ll be able to hold out, right?’
The combination of a terrible and persistent snowstorm and a carriage accident was the worst.
It was long after the grand duke and grand duchess had left that the emperor’s fiancée, Lady Vasille Garnett, arrived at the palace.
After being trapped in the carriage for so long, Vasille was pitifully frozen.
“Vasille, I’m so glad nothing big happened.”
Vasille’s expression twisted into a grimace by the emperor’s kind words.
“I’m sorry, I am. Y-Your Majesty. This was a very important m-meeting.”
The sound of her teeth clattering couldn’t stop.
Her frozen body was trembling.
“Vasille, don’t say that.”
“B-But family g-gatherings…”
While chewing her tongue, Vasille still tried to answer him somehow.
Suddenly, the emperor smiled lightly at her appearance.
“Yes, I was looking forward to the day when the “family” would be together, and you know what?”
The emperor raised his index finger, effectively interrupting and blocking Vasille from finishing her words.
“But you knew, too, that this was just my way of telling you.”
“Isn’t it?” Whispered the emperor, Sylvark, before giving a short laugh.
“I know, Your Highness.”
Unlike usual, Sylvark’s eyes, which were looking at Vasille, were glowing.
It was sinking, eerily cold.
“Ione Clark is not Adrian’s fated partner.”
“Adrian was looking at the grand duchess with a gaze that was even more insensitive than the one he looks with at his sword with.”
The emperor’s eyes passed by Vasille and emitted a distant light as if he was looking somewhere far away.
“But I didn’t have a choice, I had to pair Adrian up with someone somehow.”
The emperor remembered clearly.
Last spring, the intense emotions in Adrian’s eyes as he scanned the banquet hall.
He clearly had the eyes of a blessed who had found their fated partner.
But it only lasted for a moment.
Adrian’s reaction chilled following the commotion in the banquet hall, and he left without ever returning afterwards.
Even if he hadn’t seen it for long, the emperor knew that he wouldn’t have been able to forget the look on Adrian’s face that day.
His pupils dilated.
An impatient expression, moistening parched lips.
Adrian became excited enough for the corners of his eyes to become red.
The emperor felt his emotions surge at the fond memory.
He let out a long sigh and looked down at Vasille.
It was Sylvark himself who filled Vasille’s dull eyes.
At the sight of it, he felt something stinging in his chest.
Adrian wouldn’t be able to feel that way again for the rest of his life.
The emperor felt very conflicted.
“Yes, Your Majesty.”
“I know that Ione Clark is not his fated partner, but I’m still pushing for a marriage between them because I want Adrian to have someone, at least. Does it make sense?”
Vasille blinked slowly at the emperor’s words.
Her frozen mouth had thawed in the meantime, so Vasille talked in a straight voice.
“Does it really make sense?”
“Of course. You did it for the sake of the grand duke.”
The emperor slightly frowned at her answer, which was full of unconditional trust.
It was a complex expression, if others saw it, they’d beunsure of whether he was laughing or crying.
But Vasille thought it was alright.
The most important thing to her was Sylvark, and just him.
What Sylvark wanted right now wasn’t an answer or her opinion.
He just wanted some relief to put his confused mind at rest, or confidence that he did the right thing.
So, Vasille whispered again.
“Your Majesty is always right.”
Eventually, Sylvark sighed a little before opening his arms to her and smiling.
Without hesitation, Vasille buried herself into Sylvark’s arms.
His arms were as firm as ever.
Vasille patted the emperor on the back.
Her frozen body still felt numb, as if it belonged to someone else, but Vasille worked hard to help soothe him.
The longer the sounds lengthened, the more the hardened fingers loosened.
“Vasille, shall we get married when spring comes?”
[TL/N]: hello! I’m just here to slightly explain Vasille and Sylvark’s names. In MTL Vasille’s name is Basil or Vasil (but it rhymes with dazzle!) but I decided to have it be Vasille to make it more feminine and for it to also not sound like a herb : ) (nothing wrong with the name though! It’s traditionally a boy’s name from Ancient Greece meaning regal). Sylvark was a bit trickier because I wanted to make it look pretty, but both names should be somewhat close, if not the same, as the pronunciation in the novel!
Hi guys, as you know we are a free-to-read website and we only survive on ads. However, ads are not able to help us much longer. If you like what we do and have any spare, please consider supporting us to keep us alive: Link
Thank you for reading! If you enjoyed what you have read, do consider tipping us a little through: click here. Once we receive 6$, an advance chapter will be posted as a thank you. Don’t forget to mention the series that you’re supporting!