Chapter 19

***

 

“I spent exactly ten billion gold of the imperial money.”

 

She didn’t expect to hear that much money, and Karen stood frozen for a moment.

 

She burst into laughter,and everyone’s eyes turned to her.

 

“My God, ten billion gold…. Stella, that’s why people need education. Is it because you spent so much time with the commoners that you don’t know how much money that is? But you’re a Princess…”

 

I ignored Karen and spoke to the Emperor and Empress.

 

“I will return everything today. Mother and father.”

 

“And how are you supposed to do that?”

 

Karen said, her brow wrinkling.

 

“Ten billion gold doesn’t grow on trees, you know. And if you want to borrow the Duke’s money, that’s shameless ….”

 

“You’ll see soon, sister.”

 

“Maybe there’s something I don’t know? But I think you need to know better in the future to correct your wrong behavior…”

 

“Then how can you not know? As of this moment in time, who is the richest person in the empire, aside from Jason Evanders? Who is that?”

 

“That’s… But how can you cut off your sister’s words like that? You need to learn who has a higher rank here.”

 

“I asked who it was. Sister.”

 

I locked gazes with Karen.

 

Karen’s lips pursed in a pouting grimace.

 

At that moment, one of the attendants whispered something into Karen’s ear.

 

Suddenly, the smile on Karen’s lips deepened. She had a confident look on her face and looked at me.

 

“If Jason Evanders is famous for his business and diamond mines, you have Duke Delanhill’s mighty army and the natural resources of the north…”

 

“Wrong.”

 

“Yes, I almost missed Angelica Lize. She’s the heiress to Gustave Lize’s vast inheritance. The total assets have reached 2.605 trillion gold.”

 

“That’s a long way off.”

 

“What?”

 

“You are a long way off.”

 

I lifted my lips up crookedly.

 

“You left out one person. His current assets alone are worth 45 trillion gold, the largest diamond mine in the empire. And the money that is properly deposited into that person’s bank account every year alone is 20% of the total earnings from the mine.”

 

Karen glared at the servant standing next to her. He shook his head as if he didn’t know anything. At that time, Karen’s expression hardened.

 

Karen’s eyes rolled back and forth as if she was trying to fit the pieces of a puzzle in her head.

 

She licked her lips as she mumbled, “maybe…”, then her face turned pale.

 

“There is a famous saying that sister knows. “I swear on my diamond mine in Sutherland.” Well, that diamond mine is mine now. Because I won a bet against Jason Evanders.”

 

“That can’t be…”

 

“I didn’t stop there, I bailed out the nobles who lost their bets. I created a foundation in my name. Do my steps sound like an ‘imperial princess’ to you, sister?”

 

At that moment, the Emperor interrupted.

 

“What bet? …What was the bet about?”

 

I said expressionlessly as I looked at him.

 

“It was a bet that father and mother told me all my life.”

 

“What?”

 

“Let’s see, Stella Ethelanche.”

 

My mother’s vacant gaze was agitated.

 

“Can I make the stars rise in the sky, or not? was the bet. As you can see, the winner seems to be me. Now, if you’ll excuse me. The borrowed ten billion gold will be handed over by the end of the day.”

 

“Stella Ethelanche, you are….”

 

“Sister.”

 

I looked at Karen with an oblique smile.

 

“That’s why people need education?”

 

“…”

 

“So what kind of education did you receive, sister? I’ve never studied, but I think I’m much better than you, who has lived in the imperial family all her life and has received the best education. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to go.”

 

Jean Bezil’s fuss behind me, but I ignored and led the Duke to the carriage.

 

“Goodbye.”

 

My hand slowly dropped.

 

It was the same greeting as yesterday and the day before. He seemed to want to say something, but I just said, 

 

“No consolation.”

 

He got into the carriage and just as the carriage door was about to close, the gate of the Imperial Palace slammed open.

 

My father, with an angry face, ran out the door.

 

“Can I have a word with you?”

 

“Excuse me?”

 

I glanced at the Emperor.

 

My gaze went from the money-dazzled father to the plush chair of the Duke’s glamorous carriage.

 

I quickly climbed into the carriage, ignoring the servant who held out his hand to me.

 

When I was a little girl, I used to enjoy climbing fences with the neighborhood kids, but this is about as far as I got.

 

“Now if you’ll excuse me.”

 

Facing the Duke who stared at me with curious eyes, I shut the carriage.

 

“Do you want to leave?”

 

Even though I thought I was a little brazen, my heart was overwhelmed.

 

For the first time, I didn’t care about my family or anyone else. Because I did what I wanted to do. 

 

* * * *

 

Same time at Spade Casino.

 

“More and more people want to know.”

 

Jason huffed at the aide’s words, stopping his pen. He leaned his head back and stared at his competent aide.

 

The aide bowed and continued speaking. 

 

“Restrictive information and the Foundation’s gold come down like rain from the sky, it’s not surprising that people are curious. People want to know about the Stella Ethelanche Foundation. And who Princess Stella is.”

 

“It is, indeed.”

 

That sounds interesting.

 

Jason put his hands together. His sharp eyes sparkled for a moment.

 

“The social world wants to create a new idol. Our guests get tired of the same ones too quickly…”

 

“…Did you foresee this whole situation?”

 

“Don’t we have to debut the big client when curiosity reaches its peak?”

 

“…”

 

“The idol that everyone is wondering about is actually a big client of the Evanders family.

 

He smiled obliquely.

 

“Power doesn’t come from elsewhere, it comes from the moment people are enthused and paying attention. And Stella Ethelanche is the perfect power in this situation.”

 

“…… That’s the story.”

 

“I’m going to benefit. We don’t make them buy it, we make a brand name that they will beg to buy, and we make a rich ‘Evanders’ empire with that money.”

 

Jason’s eyes shone with aspiration.

 

“I shall have to spread this glory to my future generations, shall I not? Just as my father and grandfather did. Evanders, chosen by the Star of the Empire. The easiest way to gain envy and favor.”

 

“You’re right. Then I will prepare a gift for Her Imperial Highness.”

 

“It must not be an ordinary gift. Have a huge one that can decorate the front page of the Empire’s newspaper.”

 

“Yes, Young Master.”

 

The aide bowed his head and headed to the door.

 

Jason spoke arrogantly.

 

Public relations using buzz is one of the best ways to increase a brand’s value.

 

‘Let’s see if you’re worth forty-five trillion gold, Princess.’

 

Jason lowered his head and stared at the document on his desk. Just then, the aide who was about to open the door looked at him.

 

“..By the way, Young Master…”

 

Jason nodded. The aide opened his mouth with a grim expression.

 

“I hesitate to say this, as I can’t be certain, but as far as I’ve heard, there is someone who preoccupied Princess Stella. The Duke of Clyde Delanhill. I’ll be on the lookout for that person…”

 

“The Duke and my client?”

 

The aide nodded. At that moment, Jason’s perfect smile shifted.

 

***

 

After avoiding my father, Clyde and I made our way to his mansion, what I found was a familiar piano.

 

“It looks like there’s someone playing the piano in the mansion.”

 

If there is only one piano in the world, I would be a fool not to notice it.

 

I knew this piano in front of me.

 

Because this piano has one missing key, just like the one in my memory.

 

Its black body is really beautiful, but if you sit down in front of its majesty and follow its knees, you will see that it has what I call “the chin of the piano,” with horns that you can feel in your hands.

 

Then I suddenly whisper to the black beast.

 

‘It’s you. We’ve met again.’

 

“None.” (*Clyde answered to what Stella said earlier that it looks like someone playing the piano in the mansion.)

 

At the Duke’s answer, my hand that reached for the keys, stopped. I look up at him with startled eyes.

 

“So far, no one.”

 

“…it must have been difficult to obtain as it was an imperial item that was once destroyed.”

 

“It was easy.”

 

“…”

 

“I was the first one to set foot in the ruined palace.”

 

He brought it from the Imperial Palace, which was empty after the rebel aristocracy was swept away.

 

“…..I see.”

 

I placed my hands on the keys and began to play a simple tune.

 

There was nothing more to say.

 

I needed to escape this strange feeling.

 

Some people say that music brings back memories.

 

It is said that music and scents lead people, therefore, to the past.

 

The melody that flowed from my fingertips took us to ten years ago.

 

The soft music closed my eyes.