Translated by Rae
There was definitely a distinctive characteristic in a place where people live compared to an empty place.
It was the same with warmth. There were unexplainable traces that remained in the place where people stayed.
Joseph held his breath for a moment and looked around Stella.
What Stella gave them was a grace period of six month so it was their opportunity to change Stella’s mind, but nothing seemed to have changed compared to the opportunity that was hard to earn.
Stella’s room completely seemed like a place for people to just pass by.
The room where he stood was like a guest room, not the one owned by his sister.
“…Because that doesn’t make you a good person to me.”
Joseph realized the feeling of resentment between them was deeper than he thought.
How should he act now?
It was hard for him to face someone whose visage felt as if they were someone else.
The face that seemed to have lost everything was very strange to him.
Moreover, Joseph wasn’t used to the situation itself.
He was a competent crown prince and everyone loved him.
Even when the treason took place and they had to leave the palace, Joseph was the first thing his mother looked for. Even when Joseph was dressed in rags, the people on the streets were kind to him.
The people also gave him something when he was miserable. A bowl of soup without any pieces of meat and vegetables would have been their dinner after a tiring day.
He was always being loved enough to be given such precious food.
However, for the first time in his life, someone looked at Joseph with resentful eyes.
He thought he was being a good brother to her.
He still hasn’t forgotten to have played the music box with a child in her room.
But Stella, who had returned, told him to not even apologize to her.
Joseph quickly opened his mouth because he couldn’t just do nothing.
“I knew they were precious to you.”
“How do you know that?”
Her voice that came out was cold.
Joseph felt as if he was just being hit by a hammer on his head. Has Stella ever treated him with such a voice?
She was a younger sister who would welcome him with a warm smile all the time.
She was a cute child who pestered him to read this book and didn’t let him go anywhere.
When Joseph was in a state of shock, Stella didn’t change her expression and recited as if she had enough.
“I asked who told you that they were precious to me. Was it father who went around and told everyone about the letter I wrote, or mother who received information from Jason Evanders and sent ten assassins for my adoptive parents.”
“Probably the latter. Because it was you who conveyed the information to mother. If you could step aside now….”
“Mother never has any intention to hurt your savior.”
Joseph urgently went on to say that and grabbed both of Stella’s arms.
“I mean, father is using the hands of mother. I don’t dare to go against your will. I was just telling you let’s do according to the contract. I don’t care about your own business. But my mother couldn’t do that. My mother…”
“So I have to understand that.”
“That’s not what I’m saying.”
“Father is right.”
Stella avoided Joseph’s hands by twisting her body away from him.
She spoke still with an expressionless face just as she was before.
As if it was the last smile he would see when she told Joseph not to apologize.
“You should have followed the contract.”
“I don’t know why she was doing useless things. If she just- leave it on its own, everyone would be happy ….”
“How can you say that to mother? Not just anyone else, but to mother!”
“She was the mother who abandoned me.”
“Mother is repenting. For real! So I was pushed due to father’s pestering. He always said he was reliable after signing the contract, and said he wouldn’t be curious about everything regarding you and wouldn’t say anything even if you left. So…”
“I know what happened after that.”
“I’m not stupid. It’s not like my mercenaries don’t have mouths.”
“Yes, the mercenaries that I hired. They said that my mother was the one who sent ten assassins to my adoptive parents. And then they reported it to me. Then I got rid of those people who dared to hurt my adoptive parents.”
Stella was calm when she said several people had died.
Was he really with the same person? With Stella from ten years ago.
Joseph stood still blankly there without being able to say anything.
“I guess mother didn’t tell you that. Seven died instantly and three died a bit painfully.”
“…They are mercenaries who will escort your adoptive parents safely and secretly to the palace. Mother hired them behind my father’s back! Don’t you know that? Mother is a person who comes from a foreign country and has no power over you. So I’m going to desperately use that method.”
“Then convey it. Next time, pay a bit more and hire people that are fit to work for you, oh, you can’t do that.”
Joseph seemed to hear a ringing sound in his ear.
Stella continued regardless of what seemed to happen to him.
“I’m Jason Evanders’ special client. Unfortunately, even if mother gives you billions of dollars, you still can’t hire the Empire’s best mercenaries. I’m sorry to hear that.”
“Are you really my sister….”
Stella replied to Joseph who mumbled dejectedly.
“You don’t think I’m your sister? Does the ‘real’ one have to come back while smiling all the time, telling you everything is okay, understanding everything, and smile like a fool regardless of whatever happens and being the trash can of your guilty feelings?”
“If I can’t be like that, it seems like I am the fake sister in your eyes.”
Stella’s voice was as cold as death.
“I’ve never been real to you even just for a moment.”
Stella raised her voice to him.
Joseph was frozen in shock and looked at Stella’s face.
“Mother, mother, mother. I’ll get going now.”
“I’m getting sick and tired of this, so stop calling my name, brother.”
Stella bowed her head and didn’t show her face to him. Stella was crying.
She wiped her tears harshly as if it was an ugly sight for him to look st and took a deep breath.
“If you’re going to come and talk about other people every time like this, don’t even show up in front of me again and sympathize with me impertinently.”
“I have never sympathized with you…”
“You’re such a bad person.”
Her wet eyes looked up at him.
He spent a while managing the information contained in those words inside his head.
He had never heard of those words before.
It was the first time he felt the resentment of others toward him.
He was new in this kind of thing, that’s why.
He had made a mistake that he shouldn’t have made in the first place.
“Are you acting like a baby now?”
“…What did you say?”
“No matter how much I said that. Is it so hard to understand that your mother cares so much about you?”
“I told you. They were mercenaries hired directly by mother to keep your savior a secret from father.
Mother genuinely cares about you unlike father. She wanted to know about your past. But how can you be so cold-hearted that you killed her people?”
“Yes, it’s my fault that I didn’t always put you first. But you shouldn’t be so childish. I’ll try my best to understand you from now on, so just this time…”
“You said you weren’t sympathizing with me.”
Stella shook his arm off roughly.
He looked like he was hurt on his face.
“This is not helping me. From now on I need to try to understand your position again, so I should yield to you this time. For this time again. So it seems like I’m a person who is extremely desperate to be loved by my brother.”
“You’re worse because you don’t know that you’re a bad person.”
Stella’s voice trembled.
“Other people won’t know that you’re this kind of person, so I will be the only one who’s just making a fool out of myself.”
“…You, you’re not my sister. Stella didn’t do this. My sister.”
“Then it’s alright if you still see me like that.”
Stella ran past his shoulder.
“It would have been a shame if I still looked like a sister who is begging for love from her brother.”
Where should I go now?
The palace is not my home, and I couldn’t go to the inn that I called home.
Jason Evanders, of course, but Clyde was not an option….
I didn’t want to owe him twice.
Standing vaguely in the middle of the stable, I felt distant when I stood in front of the horse and looked at the ground. A horse rubbed its face against my face as if it comforted me.
I said while stroking the horse’s face.
I spent some time in the stable sometimes, so I guess that’s why we’ve gotten a bit closer.
The docile mare didn’t refuse my touch.
Its soft brown body was sleek, pricked ears that were moving cutely, while the white stripes between both of its eyes became friendly.
Should I come back after seeing Mary, Hans, Daisy, and the family from a distance?
What should I do if I feel the urge to get close to them?
Let’s not go there.
I pulled down on my hood and shook my head.
I thought to check their safety, so I decided to go.
‘It’s obvious what’s going to happen if I get back to my room in the palace.’
My mother will be angry if she knows what I was talking about to my brother when I faced her in my room.
Will it be okay for me to get some clear air?
Will I have the courage to return to the palace?
I finally decided to go see my adoptive parents from afar.
There was nothing to be afraid of as long as the emperor knew where my family was.
‘As long as I don’t go there too often.’
My efforts of not visiting my family to avoid them getting caught were in vain.
So, as long as I don’t pay a visit to them too often, it’s going to be okay.
‘No matter what happens, I have the power to protect my family. Just one look at their face…….”
With that in mind, I stretch out my hand to pull the lock in order to get out of the room.
At that moment, I could hear a voice from afar.
Is it mother?
After hearing Joseph’s words, my heart raced hastily thinking that she had decided to find me.
The servant’s voice was getting closer.
“Mister, I don’t mind doing this myself. Please give it to me. I-I’m sure I’ll get whipping if it reaches the head of the maid’s ear that I didn’t serve the higher ranking people!”
I didn’t hear the answer. Instead, what followed was the sound of the stable door opening.
The light stretched straight across the chilly shadow on the floor. I remained in that position and raised my head slowly.
If it was the empress or Joseph who came to the stable looking for me, I wouldn’t back down.
I tried to stand up even when they criticized and blamed me.
Because that’s what it meant to return but not actually returning as my old self.
It wasn’t much of a big deal to get rid of me anyway.
I thought of my situation at the edge of the cliff as a privilege and tried to pour out all the words I hadn’t dared to say when I was young.
With that in mind, I held the reins of the horse tightly.
Even though I know that I was tired.
But then he appeared like magic and he obviously recognized me when he called my name.
I slowly took off my hood and faced him.
And called his name.