Chapter 13

***

 

The man was middle-aged, wearing luxurious clothes and expensive accessories. He had a sharp,look in his eyes that gave him a somewhat vulgar atmosphere. He took a quick look at me up and down, chuckled, and sat down on the opposite side. The look of arrogance on his face made it seemed like I was nobody.

 

Even if the guards were standing behind me, it would have been difficult for them to see me now and know that I was from a high-level noble family. Guards could be obtained from any number of low-level nobles as well as rich commoners.

 

“What is your business here?”

 

“I’d like to buy some information. As long as you handle your business well, you will be well compensated.”

 

“Just say the word.”

 

The man nodded with an indifferent look on his face.

 

His arrogance was starting to get to me.

 

“I’d like to know how the Crown Prince and Young Lady Claire Dana met, how they got close, and everything that happened between them. Also, about the stories and rumors that are currently circulating in the social circles.”

 

The man frowned at my words.

 

“Information related to the royal family is not so easy to obtain. If we’re not careful, the entire corp could get involved, and we can’t afford to take that kind of risk with a little money.”

 

I was a little puzzled by the unexpected reply, but I didn’t let it show on my face. He said that he couldn’t handle it recklessly, but didn’t say he wouldn’t handle it completely.

 

His words meant that there was room for negotiation.

 

The man in front of me had a hint of frustration in his eyes, but he didn’t leave his seat.

 

A cold sneer cut through my voice.

 

“Information about the royal family? For the past year, the relationship between the Crown Prince and Young Lady Dana has been a constant topic of conversation. Isn’t that a leap too far when all I wanted to know was about the gossip circulating in the social circles?”

 

The man frowned,

 

“May I ask why you want to know that?”

 

 “Do you owe me an answer?”

 

“No, but….”

 

He stared at me, his eyes narrowed. Unlike his earlier indifference, his gaze was very sharp. It was as if he was trying to figure out who I was. His demeanor caused the knights standing beside me to frown uncomfortably. Eventually, his eyes went down through the mask I was wearing and touched the golden hair that stuck out a little from my robe.

 

I stood up when I saw the man’s gaze change slightly from before.

 

“If you can’t even do that, then let’s pretend this deal never happened. This is not the only place where you can buy and sell information.”

 

“Please wait a moment.”

 

He jumped up from his seat and tried to grab me, but of course his hand was blocked by the knight before it could touch my body. I looked up at him as if to ask what was wrong, and I could see the frustration in his gaze.

 

“I didn’t say it was difficult.”

 

I sighed inwardly at the slight change in his demeanor, as if he had just realized my identity. Now that he knew, I asked him openly.

 

“How much would you like to be paid?”

 

“Ten pounds. How about that?”

 

After he finished speaking, I pulled a pocket out of my sleeve and tossed it on the table.

 

The shimmering gold coins were seen slightly through the open pocket. It was already far more than the amount the man asked for. To Roxana, it was a small sum, but this much money to buy information was certainly excessive.

 

However, as long as he was sure that he could get the job done, I was willing to invest this much. Seeing that his eyes were drawn to the gold coins on the table, I casually spoke.

 

“This is a prepayment. The rest of the money will be paid after I see the results. And one more thing……..”

 

As I spoke, I glanced at the back, curious about the knights. The fact that an unmarried young lady with an engagement was looking for an unidentified man certainly was not a good thing.

 

If this were to become known, my honor and reputation would be damaged.

 

I had yet to find an imperial spy in my family, and I did not trust either the imperial family or the Duke. So I needed to be a little more cautious.

 

I pondered for a moment and then motioned to the knights standing behind me to stand outside. As expected, they immediately protested.

 

“We can’t leave Young Lady alone with this man.”

 

“It won’t be long. I’m not asking you to go out of the building, I’m asking you to wait outside the room. If anything happens, I’ll shout right away, so you don’t have to worry.”

 

“But……”

 

“Stop.”

 

After I said all this and they showed no sign of retreating, I expressed my displeasure with them.

 

“The nanny was telling the truth when she said that the Order’s discipline seemed to have loosened recently. How dare you disobey your master’s orders and even talk back to me.”

 

“!”

 

Their faces turned pale as I spoke.

 

“Whose orders do you people listen to? Since my father is not here, your master is me. Don’t forget that.”

 

“…I will obey your orders.”

 

Finally, I wielded my power and chased them out of the room. I felt a little bad, but I didn’t have a choice. The man was looking at me with a strange look on his face. I put on a nonchalant face and asked him.

 

“The door looks thick… Is this room soundproof?”

 

The man nodded.

 

The mask was pointless now that my identity was known anyway, so I took off the hood of my robe and even the tight mask.

 

I had whitish-gold hair and clear golden eyes that proved I was of the Lillian ducal bloodline. If the Hermes Intelligence was so great, there was no way he wouldn’t know my identity when he saw my current appearance.

 

As I took off my mask to reveal my face, the man’s eyes widened as if they were going to pop out, and his mouth dropped open. I regretted it for a while, thinking that I must have misunderstood him because he looked so surprised, but I soon realized that I didn’t.

 

The man who couldn’t take his eyes off my face looked as if he was mesmerized.

 

His gaze was bold and faintly heated, as if he was afraid of me. Seeing his face full of surprise reminded me of the first time I looked in the mirror.

 

It was indeed a beautiful face.

 

I, too, was as surprised as the man in front of me when I first faced this face.

 

In my memory, Roxana was not the one who attracted attention with her beautiful appearance. I could understand the man’s reaction on the one hand, but it made me somewhat uncomfortable to think that he was staring at me too closely.

 

I didn’t want to stay here too long, and I didn’t want to have a long conversation with the man in front of me, so I cut to the chase.

 

“He had dark hair, dark red eyes, and looked young. His face was beautiful and his status was probably noble.”

 

“…?”

 

The man looked at me as if he had finally come to his senses. However, the confused look in his eyes said otherwise.

 

“Find the man I just told you about. You don’t have to do anything in particular, you only have to figure out who he is and what kind of connection he has with me.”

 

The man nodded without complaint. I wondered if it was really possible to find someone with just this level of explanation, but seeing that he didn’t ask for any additional information, it was clear that he was confident that he would succeed. At this I raised the corner of my mouth in satisfaction.

 

This was the reason I visited Hermes today. Excellent intelligence and tight security.

 

“Most of the people who attended the last Imperial Palace banquet… …a week should be enough, right?”

 

“One week is too short. If you can give us enough time………”

 

The man said with a troubled look on his face, as if this was impossible.

 

“I’ll give you ten days. And I’ll give you a month to solve the problem, because the work I’m going to ask you to do is much larger than that.”

 

“…!”

 

The man’s pale face became even worse than before.

 

“Until the work is completely finished, you will visit me regularly and report on what you have learned so far. And since I won’t be able to come here in person from now on, you’ll have to contact me in an unnoticeable way.”

 

The man’s mouth dropped open.

 

I could see the weariness on his face, as if he thought he had met a difficult customer. I continued self-consciously.

 

“You can do it any way you like. However, we need to ensure security. You have to inform me directly about everything and anything about this request.”

 

“Then by what means….?”

 

The man asked cautiously, taking in my expression.

 

“That’s something you’ll have to figure out in the future. That’s why I gave you the extra money. If that’s how much money you got, you need to give me what I deserve.”

 

I then stood up without looking up at the man. I made sure to remind him that no third party was allowed to enter or overhear the details of this transaction. So I should be able to stop worrying about the contents of the deal leaking out or being overheard by the servants for a while. It would be inevitable if he was to betray me after all this, but he probably wouldn’t.

 

The man in front of me seemed to be witty, so he must be aware of the fact that my unmasking and revealing my identity was a warning of sorts.

 

Even though the Hermes was wealthy, they were still just being run by a commoner.

 

Therefore, it could not compete with a high-ranking noble family like the Lillian. The fame of the knightly order that belonged to the family was high, and the prestige of Duke Lillian was so great that even the imperial family couldn’t ignore it.

 

And the one he just talked to and left was the notorious princess.

 

In reality, there were many exaggerated aspects, but the notoriety surrounding Roxana was so high that he would not dare to try anything futile unless he didn’t care about his life.

 

After leaving the Hermes Corp, I put on my mask again and came out into the downtown area. It was already late at night, and the streets, pervaded by a festive mood, were already filled with people drunk on entertainment.

 

I felt even more reluctant to go home when I saw the vibrant city scenery.

 

But I didn’t know what else to do. I’ve already had enough of the sightseeing earlier, so there was nothing more to do.

 

I stopped and pondered for a while, and then I saw a store with a handmade wooden sign in front of it, and a window that opened quickly to reveal the interior.

 

The store was small and didn’t seem to have many customers, but the interior was clean and had a relaxed atmosphere. Besides, the smell of delicious food leaked out, and everyone seemed to be having fun, laughing and chatting loudly.

 

Just as I was getting hungry and feeling a little guilty of dragging others here and there because of me, so I headed there without hesitation.

 

When I was about to open the restaurant door, one of the knights blocked my way and asked with a serious face.

 

“Young lady, are you sure you want to go in there?”

 

“…?”