Translator: Knife and Dhruvtara
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That night, Liarte dreamed of something.
A sweet fruit that you couldn’t help but eat even though you knew it was poisoned.
Michael’s presence was an inspiration for her.
Strangely, she felt that her fingers were bitten first, then her wrist. She thought more about it because it didn’t feel that bad.
What would have happened if his lips met hers in his room?
He said so seductively that she would realize her feelings for him if he made further contact with her.
The most incomprehensible thing was Liarte herself, who did not even reject those words.
‘What do I think of Michael?’
However, scenes that were different from reality continued.
Water droplets fell from somewhere, creating a small lake around her.
As soon as she looked into the water, a man grabbed her.
He looked more like a man who was more mature than Michael today.
It was Michael’s voice.
His languid and low voice loosened her body. He held her wrist as if he were pressing it.
“Are you unhappy that I didn’t keep my promise not to eat you up?” (Knife: what in the hell is this euphemism-)
There was a padded floor behind his back. (Dhruvtara: Padded floor = Bed)
Somehow, his eyes were very friendly. Michael during the day was also friendly, but there was no sense of distance as if he were dealing with a very close relationship.
“I said I wouldn’t eat you right away, but I didn’t say I wouldn’t eat you ever.”
She heard the man laughing.
“I usually don’t care how to do it. It’s cowardly.”
His attitude of treating a precious existence and his fascinating appearance coexisted.
“So if you want to resent someone, then resent me.”
Contrary to what Michael said, he saw that Liarte didn’t seem to hold any grudges.
The distance was so close that her cheeks were flushed.
Liarte’s heart continued to beat rapidly, and the mist was slowly lifting. (Dhruvtara: My heart or Liarte’s heart !! Both!!! Ah!)
Suddenly, the water in the lake that supported Liarte’s body disappeared.
At the same time, the dream crumbled.
Liarte opened her eyes, and her heart was still beating fast.
She was in her room.
Even though she knew it was a dream, the image of Michael was so vivid that she looked around to get a glimpse of him.
It was already dawn. As she woke up, the details of the dream began to fade away.
Soon, she could barely remember the dream, but the memory of him still lingered in her mind.
Liarte had a dream that brought her closer to Michael.
It was a fuzzy, cozy feeling.
‘It was nice.’
Liarte didn’t realize she was dreaming, but she seemed very happy.
The Duke of Birce has made an unprecedented announcement.
It was to hold the coming-of-age ceremony of Liarte Elheim in Birce.
This was so unexpected that the nobility of the empire was shaken and confused.
This had never happened before.
Except for the events of a family’s ex-communication or fall, it was not customary for a direct descendant of the family to hold a coming-of-age ceremony outside of their own territory.
But considering Liarte’s years as an unawakened being, it was understandable.
The problem was the relationship between Elheim and Birce.
They couldn’t figure out why Birce had accepted the Princess of Elheim and even held the coming-of-age ceremony for her.
Of course, the Crown Prince cared about such a thing, didn’t he?
“I never thought I’d get a chance like this.”
Hestel stood in front of the Crown Prince with her hands clasped together.
“I’m sure you’re aware of the reason I’ve brought you here, right?”
Nobles below the rank of viscount were completely dependent on the circumstances of their estates.
While some could make a fortune that would make even an earl envious, the viscount’s family, in which Hestel was born, was as poor as a commoner.
They were once an Awakened family, but the fallen Awakened had scattered across the Empire.
That’s when the Crown Prince found Hestel.
“Don’t forget, the Princess of Elheim was the reason I took you out of there.”
“Yes, I am aware, Your Highness.”
At first, Hestel thought the Crown Prince was a husband material, who had come to her rescue.
But the Crown Prince was the same kind as Hestel.
What he had said to her upon their first meeting was still deeply rooted in her memory.
“You’ve dealt with everyone you don’t like, haven’t you?”
Hestel was as greedy as Ninian.
The only difference was that Ninian was a highborn Princess of the Empire and had everything she wanted.
After first realizing she had brainwashing powers at a young age, Hestel didn’t hesitate to destroy others.
She simply didn’t want them to be better than her.
Hestel’s inferiority complex and arrogance were similar to the Crown Prince’s.
A peculiar need for recognition existed in both of them.
“I’m thinking of going to the coming-of-age ceremony in Birce.”
The Crown Prince looked at Hestel, judging her.
“Where do you stand in social circles, now?”
As a mere viscount, she wouldn’t even be able to make it to the coming-of-age ceremony, let alone approach Liarte.
“The Empress has been asking for me often.”
“The coming-of-age ceremony is around the corner, is it only this much?”
The Crown Prince grimaced at the situation.
“I’ll have to get you one more achievement. Did you enter this anonymous painting contest?”
“Yes, I painted a piece myself.”
“You won’t even make it to the finals.” (Dhruvtara: Smirk!! Hahah…. )
Hestel was actually quite conceited when it came to drawing.
She knew she was a little better than the average person, but she always wanted to excel.
While being careful not to get agitated at the Crown Prince’s words, Hestel replied.
“Yes, I must hurry and enter another competition.”
“It has to be the tournament, given its size. I’ll do a background check on the contestants and pick out a commoner with no connections.”
His achievement would be Hestel’s.
The Crown Prince and Hestel had been through this before.
One of the painters who had painted Hestel’s picture had already been killed in order to enlist her. (Dhruvtara: flip table in anger!!!)
‘If I can get the princess into my hands, it will be enough to make up for all my failures so far.’
These were the thoughts that filled the Crown Prince’s mind, and Count Fedes looked at his master pitifully.
“By the way, why hasn’t the Duke of Haron shown himself?” The Crown Prince said impatiently.
Suddenly, the Duke of Haron hadn’t been seen in quite some time.
He was desperate to be introduced to the man who had turned off the lights in the palace.
“I heard that he entered the palace today. I’ll go and get him.”
There was no need for Count Fedes to go out as the door was opened.
Hestel watched as the hooded duke strode in briskly.
The Duke of Haron mistook Hestel for a servant, so he spoke directly to the Crown Prince.
“You don’t have to introduce me to the person I asked you to introduce me to, Your Highness.”
“What do you mean by that?”
“I have found someone who will serve my purpose more exactly.” The Duke of Haron said while thinking of the painter who painted the torch.
“You don’t mean to tell me you’re going to stop cooperating with me, do you?”
“Yes. It was never my intention to do so.”
The Duke of Haron wasn’t above being overly frank.
A good end to the story here would have left the Crown Prince on relatively good terms with the Duke of Haron.
But the Crown Prince chose anger out of all possibilities.
“Are you toying with me?”
Meanwhile, Hestel was thinking that the tone coming from inside the hood was quite familiar.
It was a peculiar tone, like she’d heard it before.
It was arrogant, but without enough emotion to keep the listener cool.
A bolt of lightning struck Hestel as she realized it.
She remembered where she had heard this before.
It was Jen Walker, the so-called genius painter.
She’d never heard a man in her life speak like that, except Jen Walker.
“I must excuse myself.”
Without so much words of apology, the Duke of Haron stormed out of the Crown Prince’s office.
“How dare you!!”
The enraged Crown Prince took out his anger on Count Fedes.
Hestel hurried away, pretending to excuse herself.
She was planning to go to the building of the drawing contest.
All paintings that failed in the preliminary stages were returned to their owners.
Inside the building were only works that had advanced to the finals.
Hestel stopped the carriage and rushed inside the building.
She heard the noise of quarreling from inside.
“Jen, what’s the matter with you all of a sudden?”
“Call me crazy, but I can’t help it. I must have that painter’s contact details.”
“If the judges of the anonymous competition knew you were doing this, they’d be outraged.”
The Duke of Haron and Jen’s voices were identical.
Hestel walked cautiously.
Jen Walker was wearing the same shoes as the Duke of Haron.
The clothes were different, but the shoes were expensive, and she remembered them vividly.
The two were arguing over a red painting that Hestel had seen before.
“Anyway, I said no! Impossible! Absolutely Impossible!!”
Hestel was jealous of that painting and had secretly investigated its owner.
It was painted by a commoner.
Unaware that it was a temporary identity created by Merlin, Hestel placed her hand over her heart.
The opportunity of a lifetime was before her.
The Duke of Haron would find the owner of that painting.
He seemed pretty desperate to find it too.
If she could bring the Duke of Haron to the Crown Prince, she might receive recognition.
Steal his talent. The method was simple, and she felt no remorse.
Hestel appeared in front of the two arguing men.
Greed filled her heart.
She said it in a clear voice.
Her heart thumped.
At that moment, the Duke of Haron’s eyes darkened with suspicion.
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