Sponsored by Curufin💖 (4/10)
While Stella was spending her time with the Duke, Karen simply waited for Stella to return to the Imperial Palace.
What the maid said lingered in Karen’s head.
“However, if the two of you no longer have a deal, Evanders’ donation to the imperial family every month will be…”
Karen’s beautiful hands were clenched up firmly.
She sat in front of the tea table and waited, waited, and waited for Stella to return, but,
Stella didn’t return.
Soon after, Karen got up from her seat as she checked the time.
She couldn’t sit still like this anymore.
She should meet her father.
Her father, who would be fully immersed in the delight of the thought holding a super luxury coronation and ball.
“What do you mean there are too many chandeliers? As much as possible! The ceiling of the imperial palace needs to be extravagant until it can barely hang out there!”
The emperor’s voice reverberated loudly in the drawing room.
The Empress dissuaded, but the Emperor kept being stubborn.
“Like a banquet which was held during the Emperor Alexander’s reign, my grandfather, no I mean make it more than that. Put those up a lot more. Recreate the chandelier which was hanging like a gaggle of grapes in the sky at that time! It would be even better if I turn the stairs into gold this time.”
“Can we not use the stairs that the terrible aristocrats used? You over there, the one who’s currently lacquering the stairs… No! I mean, how much is it to change it with gold?”
The servants looked at each other’s faces as they glanced at the long list in their hands.
The merchants behind them didn’t have a pleasant look on their faces either. The Minister of Finance had a stressful look on his face.
As soon as the door opened, the servant who stood next to the door spoke in a loud voice.
“The first Princess of the Empire, Your Highness Karen Ethelanche has arrived.”
As Karen entered the huge drawing room, the emperor ran with a welcoming look and held Karen’s hands tightly. As if the delighted emperor’s face seemed to be clouded with lunacy as well.
The Empress, who was looking at her husband, then sighed and rubbed her forehead.
It wasn’t the proper attitude to be seen here with servants and merchants inside the room, but the Empress did look really tired now.
“Oh, you’re here. Come here.”
Regardless of that, the emperor grabbed Karen’s hand and headed toward the servants and merchants.
Karen shared her gaze with the Finance Minister. The Finance Minister lowered his gaze as if he had become hopeless.
The Emperor said while bragging.
“As far as I could remember, we were talking about stairs until earlier. Karen, what do you think I should do, hm? Do you want this Father to lacquer the stairs of the Imperial Palace with gold? Or replace it with gold! Do you really want me to change it to gold entirely?”
“Please, please. I told you to decide for it. It’s the first and last coronation and debutante of your younger sister, so I shouldn’t prepare it carelessly, right?”
Karen called coldly. Then the Emperor’s face gradually stiffened by the words that came out of Karen’s mouth.
The emperor opened his trembling lips after a long moment of silence and said.
Karen shut her lips firmly after she was done talking.
The Emperor only let out a small yet insanely uncontrollable laughter, unable to control the twitching of his lips and grasped Karen’s arms tightly.
“Did you say that the National Treasury… is empty? And Stella, Stella had gone to the best designer of the Empire. She went to get the dress there?”
In an atmosphere that sank to the bottom and was suffocating as if it had catched their breath, the servants had a look like they would rather choose to be dead as if they couldn’t breathe because their breath had been caught in the ominous and suffocating atmosphere.
“May I take you straight to the palace?”
I nodded at the driver’s question.
The jewelry box that Clyde gave me as a gift was held in my hand.
As soon as the carriage departed again, I carefully opened the wooden box given by Clyde with trembling hands. The earrings were really beautiful when I picked them up.
Tak, I looked out of the carriage window when I had closed the case again.
The passing scenery on the outside was quiet and beautiful.
“I want you to go to the ball. With me.”
I keep thinking about the answer I received at that time.
Now that I think about it, I had forgotten about that matter for quite a while.
[T/N: I think this line was said by the carriage driver.]
That kind boy was one of the people who would leave me as well.
“…But one day, the brave duck didn’t come.”
Back in my childhood, there was a boy who filled Joseph’s place.
The boy was reserved and didn’t say much, but I was delighted when he kept staying by my side.
When the boy came to the attic, I used to play the piano, give him tasty food secretly, or sing for him.
I was too engrossed in a sweet fantasy when I read him a storybook.
He took his fleshy hands and I let him brush slowly through the letters with his fingertips, then he began to read while stuttering the name of the letter slowly as he watched the movement of his fingertips.
I had taught him to write.
He read out one letter after another and soon his eyes turned to me.
And then one day.
“The ugly duckling waited, waited, and waited, but the brave duck never came again.”
He has never come since then.
I always waited for him to come back with a slight hope, but he never did.
It was particularly cold and lonely on a rainy day, so she headed to Joseph to look for Clyde, but she was thrown out relentlessly after being told by the servants she had acted rude.
“How is your behavior so different from the First Princess? Why do you want to meet the Crown Prince without prior notice and without showing a polite manner like an uneducated animal…”
“I want to see Clyde. If it was my brother, he would know where Clyde is.”
“Did you want to see that floor cleaner? Are you going to spread rumors that they are playing together and disgrace the name of the Imperial Family?”
Back when I was still young, I spent my time alone while wishing for one thing.
Wishing that Clyde would’ve come back to me.
But my small wish didn’t come true.
I was completely alone, even the stars weren’t on my side either. Until the day the Imperial Family ruined miserably and fell apart.
After a long time, he appeared again in front of me as Clyde Darrenhill, the so-called ‘revolutionary leader’ when I almost forgot about him.
That was what I thought when his gentle warmth enveloped me.
One part of my heart which hasn’t yet to grow up seemed to have missed him without realizing it.
Maybe that’s why I was trying to forget him even more desperately.
“…I apologize, Your Highness.”
The fact that Clyde came back, but it wasn’t because of me.
“For the ball… I think it’s better for you to be with someone other than me.”
At the same time, I recalled the moment when I sometimes decided to ignore that fact, and it hurted my heart a little.
“What do you mean that we don’t have any money?”
The loud voice of the Emperor reverberated through the huge drawing room. Karen shivered and avoided the Emperor’s gaze.
In spite of that, the Emperor even yelled at Karen until the veins around his neck protruded out.
“Why is there no money, why!? Unless you had used up all the money that f****ng Evanders gave us, we would still have money. I think we need a grant for this month!”
“It’s you! Did you use it all greedily? You didn’t want your sister to get the attention at the ball. I hate that your sister’s coronation are going to be so huge that it would be recorded in history.”
“I. didn’t. take. it. Father.”
The emperor smiled and pulled up the corner of his mouth as he kept his angry face intact.
His outstanding face, his raised mouth along with his crazy gaze sent the shiver down Karen’s spine.
“You are telling a lie.”
“Why should I…”
“…You have lied once, so why can’t you do it for the second time, huh? Does your Father look funny to you now? You too, do I look funny? Tell me. Why can’t you just talk!”
The Empress intervened because she couldn’t bear to see it anymore. Karen looked down to the ground with the look she usually put on her face.
The emperor glared at her and retorted.
“Don’t interfere here.”
“She’s your daughter.”
“Do not. interfere.”
“It’s not a lie.”
“I told you to not interfere, Misella.”
“She’s your daughter. Even if you don’t believe me, you have to believe your daughter. Just stop …now, stop making me miserable and listen to Karen’s words. You have to listen to your daughter. Please?”
“Yeah, you said it really well. The mother also caused a headache as well as her daughter.”
“I heard you sent an assassin to Stella’s adoptive parents. You even make people in trouble by doing things they didn’t ask you to do. You’re doing such a wonderful job, Misella. I’ve been telling you over and over not to touch them.”
“I should have done that.”
“Now you are talking back to me…”
“I had to do that, at least in that way.”
The Empress’ low-voice echoed through the silence.
“You are very confident. Then what kind of good things have you done in these 10 years? I’ve had enough of you, honey, you spent all of the money on imitating this sort of banquet in order to become like your father? You can’t imitate his abilities, so you must’ve been trying to look good on the surface…”
“Your mouth, you’d better watch your mouth. Misella.”
“…You were very desperate to try to build your appearance as if you were a puffer fish inflating its body, pretending to be calm toward the nobles who were keeping an eye on your throne somehow. You’re telling me to do what Stella wanted to make up for that. I didn’t even know she was crying quietly.”
“Would a mother who cared so much about her daughter send an assassin to your daughter’s adoptive parents?”
“I just did what I had to do as a mother.”
The Empress replied in a voice trembling with anger.
“I even sold off my wedding items to hire mercenaries, did you know that? I was about to bring Stella’s adoptive parents and treat them well. At least I had tried to do something even if I ended up failing.”
“What does it have to do with this?”
“Like what Karen had said. Stella, she’s currently going to the high-class designer to ask for a dress, she would wear the best dress that nobles would like and you just interfered. That child knows what will help us, so she does it for us. Why did you do things I didn’t tell you to do? You ruin things!”
“Are you feeling so proud after sending the assassins to the adoptive parents of your little daughter? Don’t you know what we really need to do now? Our job is to keep our commendable daughter away from the cruel monster.”
The Emperor’s voice trembled with strong emotions as he said that.
“Now that my real youngest daughter is back, you can’t give that precious child to such a monstrous duke, can you? That precious child… hm?”
When the Emperor grasped the Empress’ arms while shaking them, she turned her head away as if she refused to hear him.
Karen, who couldn’t bear to that anymore then blocked the Empress by standing in front of her.
“Please stop. Yes, that’s right… Ah, Father’s money is given to Stella, right? Since it’s on her, you don’t have to fuss over useless things.”
“She had lived in the house like that for her entire life. A-And she had come back home, but she gave us a chance for only 6 months at most… Please think about the first thing she sees after she arrives at home after requesting a nice dress is her father yelling at her mother.”
Karen thought she had never been as miserable as today in her entire life being Stella’s older sister.
Unlike her calm face, Karen spoke in a trembling voice.
“W-Wouldn’t it be rude to be seen by her and to the precious guests who came here? As the Emperor of the Empire, you have to set an example to your subordinates…..”
A dismayed laugh came out through the Emperor’s lips when he heard that. Karen retracted back because she had a bad feeling about it. Hahahaha! When the emperor burst out into an insane laugh, his attendants and the merchants trembled with faces like they were predicting their death.
The Emperor pointed to the merchants and said.
“Why do you think I’m going to send them out alive?”
“Am I going to save those who have seen my flaws with their eyes coming out alive?”
“Y-Your Majesty… Please save me. Please save me, I beg for your mercy….!”
The door opened when the Emperor called the guards like a madman.
“The second Princess of the Empire, Her Highness, Stella Ethelanche!”
Everyone inside the room looked at the lady behind the huge door as if they just saw a savior at that moment.
Stella smiled brightly. But Karen was able to realize it.
That the storm would come to ruin this place, since that smile was not just a mere smile.