“I want to marry the Crown Prince. If it is not him, I will not marry anyone and will live alone for the rest of my life.”
When Roxana first said this, the Duke left his seat without saying anything. He reacted as if it wasn’t even worth listening to. But a few days later, the Duke called Roxana and said,
“I’ll ask His Majesty.”
With a few words from Roxana, the Duke gave her a wedding with the Crown Prince.
“I’ll get you a teacher in advance to learn imperial discipline. Study hard.”
Being related to the royal family may have been an honor on the surface, but it came with great danger.
If she was involved in a bad incident, the Duke would also be involved and suffer great damage. Also, if the Crown Prince was pushed out of the competition for the throne and the second prince took over instead, the entire family that supported the Crown Prince could be in danger.
Nevertheless, the Duke granted her wish.
Roxana was inwardly surprised by his decision, but on the other hand, she was grateful.
The Duke went to the frontier again. Roxana was left behind in the large mansion, but she was no longer lonely. At her side was the Crown Prince.
The Crown Prince had dazzling blond hair and beautiful features, just like the Emperor.
Because of his high status, beauty, and good looks, many noble ladies adored him, but Roxana was able to secure an engagement with him with the help of her father.
The Crown Prince was the only legitimate son of the royal family, and Roxana was the only legitimate daughter of the Duke.
The Empress cared so much about her only son and had to show his power in front of everyone. The Duke also prepared Roxana’s engagement ceremony perfectly, so their engagement ceremony was a very grand affair.
Next year, Roxana would marry the Crown Prince, and when she did, she would become the Crown Princess. The Crown Princess was the most noble woman in the country, except for the Empress.
She was also the woman who later rose to the position of Empress.
The Crown Princess was certainly a seat worthy of being sought by many, but what Roxana really wanted was not power, but the Crown Prince himself.
Roxana didn’t have much to say except for her high status.
She was arrogant, insensitive, and had a bad reputation, even though she was the only daughter of the Duke.
Still, the Crown Prince was kind to her. He treated Roxana with courtesy and kindness, and she was able to stand by him proudly in many places.
After the engagement ceremony with the Crown Prince, the way people looked at Roxana changed to a mixture of jealousy and envy.
There were those who accused her behind her back that she actually wanted the throne instead of the Crown Prince.
But that didn’t affect Roxana in the slightest.
Nothing else mattered to Roxana, as she already had the Crown Prince, whom she adored from the depths of her heart.
The Prince was clearly doing his duty as her betrothed and being kind to her.
Roxana, with the help of her family, gave the Crown Prince a lot of help to get to the throne.
The Duke accepted most everything Roxana asked for, and when the Duke did not accept her request, she used her willpower and somehow managed to get what she wanted.
She forced her family to make sacrifices in order to gain the favor of the Crown Prince.
With the support of the powerful military family, the Duke of Lillian, the Crown Prince’s position became stronger.
The more this happened, the closer the relationship between the Crown Prince and Roxana became.
Roxana was immersed in happiness and intoxicated with sweet dreams.
However, her happiness did not last long.
Just last year, at the Crown Prince’s birthday banquet, “the woman” appeared.
Baroness Dana was a local aristocrat, very insignificant, and Baron Dana was also a humble man.
Claire was just the daughter of a lowly aristocrat, but she had turned Roxana’s sweet dreams into nightmares in the blink of an eye.
Claire had blonde hair that reached her waist, green eyes that looked like they were transported straight from the forest, smooth and lively milk-colored skin without a single blotch, and rosy cheeks and lips. With her flowery face and gorgeous figure, Claire caught the attention of many people since her debut.
There were countless beautiful women to be found in social circles, but Claire stood out among them all. Even the poor nobles usually came dressed in good clothes when attending the imperial banquet, even if they had to borrow money to do so.They wanted to fit in at the luxurious banquet.
However, the dress Claire wore that day was the most rustic of all the people at the banquet. Her pale pink dress with a small jewel necklace made her rustic attire gorgeous.
It was instead noticeable among the people wearing heavy trinkets. Claire kept her posture, undaunted by the pensive stares. But the social world was thoroughly a world of the weak and the strong.
If a powerless person had what she wanted, the people around her could not leave it alone. A woman in Claire’s position in the social world was a very good match for a political marriage. She would likely marry to become concubines of rich nobles or be sold to a flawed noble for the benefit of her family.
Claire’s situation was not so different from theirs in the beginning.
One nobleman flirted with her and was rejected, which caused a small commotion in the corner of the banquet hall.
Even though the nobleman, whose pride was hurt by her stubborn attitude, raised his voice, Claire did not give in and still maintained her firm attitude.
As a result, when several aristocrats around him sided with him, the uproar grew bigger. That was when the Crown Prince stepped in.
“Why so much noise? Is there a problem?”
He sought understanding from Claire and calmed down the commotion.
“It’s no big deal. It’s just that I don’t know much about etiquette and this nobleman was being rude….”
As the male nobleman facing the Crown Prince froze, one of the noblemen beside him defended him instead.
“Really? It’s a little different from what I’ve seen. Am I mistaken or are you trying to fool me in the palace?”
The Crown Prince sneered coldly.
“Sir, if the Young Lady rejected you, it’s because of your shortcomings. It’s not something you should make a big deal about.”
The nobleman’s face turned red when the Crown Prince pointed this out in front of everyone’s eyes.
The nobleman looked around for help with a look of shame on his face, but the atmosphere had already changed from before the crown prince intervened.
People did not intervene any further, but just watched the situation closely.
“The Imperial Palace is not your playground, so you’d better keep your dignity straight. This time, I’ll let it slide, but if you make a scene in the palace like this again, I’ll assume you’re ignoring me and hand you over to the guards for punishment.”
“..I’ll keep that in mind.”
The commotion was quickly settled down.
Even the arrogant aristocrat had no choice but to bow his head in front of the only legitimate son of the imperial family. After the situation was over, the Crown Prince escorted Claire to the guest room. Disputes of that magnitude often occurred among the nobles, but this was the first time the Crown Prince had come out directly.
Roxana was somewhat curious, but she had just assumed that was the end of the matter for that day.
But then he didn’t come back, and while she was looking around the banquet hall for him, Roxana went out into the garden and saw him and Claire kissing on the terrace.
At first she was confused and then angry. But the next moment, when she saw the Crown Prince’s gentle smile staring at Claire, there was nothing she could do.
It was a happy sight that he had never shown to Roxana before. It was different from the pretense he usually put on in front of her.
Roxana had been mistaken so far, intoxicated by the Crown Prince’s kindness.
She was sure that he felt the same way. But when she saw the Crown Prince looking at Claire with different eyes than when he looked at her, she had to admit that it was all an illusion.
The Crown Prince looked so happy that Roxana didn’t have the heart to disturb him, and as she was backing away, her eyes met Claire’s.
The look mixed with laughter was an obvious mockery.
Roxana grew more and more decrepit since that day.
She had to dress even more glamorously to hide it, but it caused the opposite effect.
Roxana used to wear dark primary colors, but after meeting Claire, she decided to wear what she thought was the Crown Prince’s taste.
She wore a light pink dress and simple trinkets to suit his taste.
It was a beautiful outfit, but the pink color didn’t suit her dark and haggard complexion.
In fact, it only made her look provincial, like a young lady who had just come from the countryside. Moreover, Roxana was taller and more mature, making it awkward, like an adult wearing children’s clothes.
She didn’t have a good reputation to begin with, but after she openly copied Claire, she was blatantly ridiculed.
Roxanna’s lack of character was even more nakedly apparent than Claire’s.
Roxana’s clothes were originally gorgeous to match the Crown Princess’s status, but somehow they became childish and frivolous.
Claire, on the other hand, always wore simple clothes.
Even though she didn’t have any noticeable accessories, she was like a pure and simple lily, and somehow began to wear gorgeous clothes after she got close to the Crown Prince.
Even those who had mocked and pointed at her were impressed by her beauty, which grew day by day. Claire took all the hard-earned things that Roxana had done easily. The crown prince’s attention, the seat next to him, even his heart……
“Did you see the dress Lady Dana wore at the banquet the other day? It’s very gorgeous. As far as I know, her family’s financial condition has not been very good lately.”
“It must have been a gift from the Crown Prince. Otherwise, how could she get such expensive items every time?
“It’s definitely true. Come to think of it, her clothes looked completely different the first time I saw her.”
“This is a secret but some people saw a carriage with the imperial seal on it going in and out of Baron Diana’s house the other day.”
“That Young Lady is very capable, isn’t she? I’m not sure if this is a good thing or a bad thing. I’m sure the Princess would be quite sick to her stomach if she knew.”
Roxana had everything so easily from an early age that she didn’t have to fight hard with anyone until Claire showed up.
There were no sisters in the Duke’s mansion to be jealous with, and the servants were wary of her, the Duke’s only child. Perhaps that was why Roxana was always somewhat lacking.
She was lonely and filled the void around her extravagantly by buying new goods and dresses incessantly. However, those things could not heal her wounded heart.
Therefore, even though Roxana was almost of the age of adulthood, she still had many childish parts.
Roxana was arrogant and Claire was cunning, so Roxana was no match for Claire in any way.
Since Claire’s appearance in the social world, Roxana’s status had diminished drastically. In comparison, Claire, who was only a baron’s daughter, had the crown prince as her backer and was even more domineering than Roxana, the Princess.
Roxana would officially become the Crown Princess next year.
However, the Crown Prince had yet to show his face, even though his fiancée was ill.
Roxana was thoroughly neglected by the imperial family.
Even if she was to marry, it wouldn’t make any difference.
It was clear that all she would gain was status, and that she would fade away pathetically under her glamorous mask. The whole time I was experiencing Roxana’s life through my dreams, I felt as if I was being enveloped in a pitch-black darkness.
My world had become even darker than before.
Even now, when I woke up from the dream, I was miserable and nauseous at the bad memories.
‘When will I be able to go home? No, can I go home?’
I bit my lip as I thought about my family.
Already, the servants’ attitudes were changing daily. In the beginning, they were polite and acted with some sense, but now they would act arbitrarily, treating me as an invisible person.
If I let it go any longer here, it would be difficult to solve it later. I wasn’t going to force myself to nurture the problem and solve it.
So I couldn’t just think about my feelings and be depressed like this all the time.
I stood up and opened the curtains.
My body was a little stiff from being cooped up in bed for so many days without moving.
My head was throbbing with pain. Just then, I heard the door open and Annie, the maid who had been nursing me so well for so many days, slowly entered the room with a bright face.
Her face was full of surprise and joy.
Annie stared at me closely and burst into tears.
“Do you feel uncomfortable anywhere, My Lady?”
I pondered for a moment and then nodded.
“I need to get a doctor right away. You’ve been lying down for a few days, so you must have gotten a lot weaker. And I’ll bring in the others. Everyone will be happy to see you awake.”
Annie said in a thrilled voice.
She was truly happy that I was awake now.
“There’s no need to make a fuss. I just want to get some rest, can you let me be alone for a while?”
Annie hesitated a moment, then quickly nodded and left the room.
I looked at her as she left with a tired face.
I said I didn’t want Annie to make a fuss, but the news that I had woken up was going to spread soon.
It was obvious how much people would be talking about this.
Until now, I could only lie down and pretend to be sick without talking to anyone. But now that I got tired of it and decided to stop, I would have to face the people from tomorrow.
I wondered what stories they would tell behind my back, and how should I treat them from now on.
My head was already spinning with thoughts of this and that. Alone, I washed my face, sat in front of the mirror, and combed my hair.
Then I faced my new appearance for the first time in a calm state.