The Friedrich family, which boasts a long history, had countless events throughout the year. Among them, the anniversary of the birth of Duke Rosette, the founder of the Vesilia Empire, was considered the most grand event in the family. The goal was to praise the achievements of being a member of the hero who opened the door of the empire and the achievements of leading the family, and to have a heart of gratitude for generations to generations.
It was the largest event in the family, and this year, the scale was even bigger.
Princess Veronica. This is because rumors have spread throughout the capital that she has returned to the Grand Duchy, where rumors of
bad news have been rampant for nearly two years.Princess Veronica is the only daughter under Grand Duke Friedrich, who was at the core of the Empire’s power and the leader of the four great families. As women can inherit the title, Princess Veronica was the heir to the Grand Dukedom in name and reality. It was natural for aristocrats to pay attention to her return to society to celebrate the birthday of the first Duke.
Despite the official banquets scheduled for dinner, the mansion was packed with aristocrats who had gathered since yesterday. Even now, a carriage procession of aristocrats waited to be identified and entered the mansion and continued along the capital’s streets.
In the drawing room, many rare gifts were piled up in celebration of the nobles. It was impossible to count the kinds and numbers of rare artworks, jewelry, cars of the best quality from the East across the sea, and silk from the north. If you dispose of these gifts alone, you will be able to buy at least one of the estates with a lump sum.
At that time, an aristocrat man was walking around the mansion like it was his own. His shirt, which did not feel formal, was not buttoned to the end, revealing his chest. Even a whistle that blew as if he doesn’t care about others’ gaze to his unorganized, free-spirited, semi-curly head. He seemed to be a noble, but his appearance that did not look like a noble was more rebellious and attracted attention.
“Who is he? He’s not supposed to be in here…”
“He’s a noble, isn’t he?”
“Don’t you think so? Between you and me, he seems a little bad for a nobleman.”
“He’s a little crooked.”
It was at that time when the maids chatted as they watched the man freely roaming the main building, not the annex to welcome the nobles.The man walking past the maids suddenly turned around. The woman shuddered as he approached her with power in his eyes and threatened her.
“Hey, I’m curious, I have to ask. What are you talking about so openly? I feel bad.”
The maids were embarrassed and tried to leave as if they had fled.
The man stretched out his feet quietly. The girl who was running away hurriedly tripped and the women fell like dominoes.
“Who told you to go? I heard a bad word and got an indelible wound in my chest.”
“I-I have committed a crime worthy of death. Please forgive me once.”
The women repeatedly begged without knowing that they had skinned their knees. Since they had seen countless women who were kicked out or harmed for being hated by the eyes of the aristocrats, they had no choice but to cringe and beg.
“Do you want me to forgive you?”
“Say it after me. My uncle is a son of a bitch.”
“What? Y-your uncle is a son of a bitch.”
The ladies were not in a state of limbo. When they heard that he was going to forgive them, they just followed what he told them to do without knowing what was going on. The man laughed and clapped to his heart’s content.
“That’s great. Servants have been learning very fast these days. Go.”
It was time for the women to leave in a hurry, relieved that they had survived a narrow escape.
“Oh! You don’t know who my uncle is, do you?”
The maids stopped and looked back. The man smiled wickedly and spoke in a small voice, but he spoke clearly enough for the maids to understand.
“My uncle is the owner of this mansion. In other words, you’re cursing your master. That’s it. That’s the son of a bitch. Can you handle it?”
The maids’ faces turned white like a blank paper. This is because the only owner of the maids is Grand Duke Frances.
“See you again.”
The man, who enjoyed the reactions of the grieving women, walked through the hall waving his hands. The man, who had the structure of the mansion as if it were his own house, loitered toward the door decorated with top-notch marble.
It was when the man was about to hold the door by ignoring the knight who guarded the entrance like an ironclad.
“Excuse me, you cannot enter. Please identify yourself first.”
The knight, Hurelbad, blocked the man’s way and politely demanded.
Of course, it was a common practice, but the man seemed unwilling to follow the procedure.
“Me? You shouldn’t talk to me so carelessly.”
“I’ll repeat for you again. First, you…”
Hurelbad’s words did not continue any longer. His head snapped back when he was slapped in the face by the man’s sudden rush. The man laughed at Hurelbad, whose cheek was swollen red.
“Why are you buying a fight?”
It was when the man grabbed the door handle and was just opening the door.
“I will restate myself. Please identify yourself.”
Hurelbad kept the man from ever opening the door.
“Hey, why risk your life for nothing? It’s annoying.”
The man put his hair down to his eyebrows over his forehead.
“I will repeat. Please identify yourself…”
The man’s fist flew faster than Hurelbad thought. The swinging motion toward the opposite cheek that he had previously struck was agile.
Pok! The dull throbbing sound spread violently.
Surprisingly, however, the man’s fist did not touch the face of Hurelbad. This is because Hurelbad’s right hand grasped the man’s fist tightly.
The man’s fist and the hand of Hurelbad, who caught it, gave him the upper hand without an inch of retreat. However, neither side had the upper hand and faced off sharply. There was a wild beast in the man’s eyes that did not tame.
“You asked me who I am, didn’t you? Knock me down. Then I’ll let you know.”
“Why, you don’t like it? Oh! Is it because you got hit before? Then let’s start with a fair blow to me too. What do you think?”
The man did not stop arguing as if he enjoyed the moment. As if he had forgotten that today was the big day of the Great Frances family, he seemed to think about how to destroy Hurelbad.
“Sir, step back.”
It was a voice with soft but irresistible authority that relieved the tension like a well-defined sword at one moment. Elena walked out of the marble door, which had been tightly closed. Her neat but elegant hair and simple but elegant-looking dress created a sense of beauty.
“You’re still rude, brother Ren.”
Elena’s words held spines. He felt a spiteful look from the fierce gaze.
When he heard the man’s name, Hurelbad’s eyebrows wiggled. He had been informed by Elena, so he vaguely assumed that this was Ren Bastasche. Apart from that, however, the knight could not bring in those who were not even identified. So this was the result.
“Hey, I’m crying because I’m so happy to see you. How long has it been? Have you thought a lot about your brother?”
“What should I do? Every time we meet, you make this good impression.”
Elena gave a wink, responding coldly. Hurelbad understood what she meant and pulled back. Then, he apologized for causing this situation.
“I’m sorry, it’s enough to just identify himself…”
“I know. Ren must have been rude.”
She hoped he wouldn’t get involved with Ren, but it’s already spilled.
Elena said she didn’t want Ren to notice anything.
“Should we keep standing here or go inside?”
“That’s what I’m saying. Let’s sit down.”
Ren followed Elena and entered the room. He patted Hurelbad’s shoulder guarding the door and scratched his stomach.
“Yes, the lady is very angry. Yeah, you should’ve done better earlier.”
Despite the provocation, Hurelbad did not change his face and ignored him. With that kind of composure, Ren came into the room with a small exclamation saying ‘Hoh-oh’.
Elena and Ren sat face to face on the sofa with the table between them.
“Why don’t you look at me sweetly? Since we’re cousins.”
“Won’t you misunderstand if I look at you more affectionately? Since we’re cousins.”
Elena’s way of speaking had changed. The honor vanished from nowhere and met with informal language.
“Oh, you’re talking down?”
“There’s no reason I can’t let go, right?”
The sharp conversation went back and forth. They were tied through the bond of cousins, and they were in one space, but they seemed anxious because they couldn’t eat each other.
‘I don’t need to be frustrated. I’m officially Princess Veronica. And I know the habits of the motherfucker, right?’
When a bully recognizes that his opponent is weaker than him, he torments him until he kills him by drying his blood. That’s the habit of a bully that never changes. Elena knew Ren better than anyone else.
‘Because I suffered so much that my teeth trembled.’
Ren persistently bullied Elena from the moment he noticed that she was a substitute. He did not hesitate to threaten to reveal the identity unless she told him about the main information or plans of the Grand Duke.
‘I’m not swayed by you anymore. I’ll use you from now on.’
Ren was obviously hostile to the Grand Dukedom. It was of course an old feeling for the heir of the Bastache family, who had no choice but to live like a servant of the Grand Duke due to the Hundred Years’ Treaty.
Elena was about to use the hostility cleverly. It’s still early, but over time, Ren will be a useful card.
Ren clapped his hands.
“Hey, how can I not celebrate when my cousin has grown up so well?”
“You’re just going to say what you want, aren’t you?”
“Has it been three minutes since we sat face to face?”
“That three, and you can’t stand it either?”
Elena responded without losing a single word. Ren scattered Elena from head to toe with a mocking smile. It was a creepy look.
“I heard you were very sick. Are you pretty well?”
“I’m all better.”
Elena answered briefly and firmly. Then Ren smiled a strange smile.
“You’re completely cured in time for the birthday? Just like putting together puzzles.”
“You’re picking on everything. Since when have you been so interested in me?”
Although she felt a significant nuance in Ren’s way of speaking, Elena passed it without much importance. If she paid attention to everything, she might lose her pace and be swayed.
“You don’t think I’m interested? You, your friend out there.”
Elena’s expression hardened in an instant as he pointed his chin to Hurelbad outside the door.
“You just said he was handsome. I just found out about my cousin’s taste.”
“If you know, can you help me?”
“Oh, I’ll help you. I took it.”
Ren showed his swollen hands as if he were bleeding.
“So? You want to complain?”
“Hey, hey. You’re acting silly.”
Ren’s eyes sank strangely. At first glance, he looked drowsy and bored, but inside he felt the tenacity of a beast who smelled the game.
“Why don’t you stop playing with words? I know, but this brother isn’t very patient.”
Ren, who slowly got up from the sofa, blew his life outright. Elena even felt choked because her hair was in the way. A cold sweat ran on her back.
‘It’s like butter.’
Ren, who stood right in front of Elena, reached out and lightly held Elena’s chin.
“Is it because I haven’t seen my beloved sister in a long time? Aren’t you very unfamiliar?”
“When were we supposed to talk and laugh?”
“I can’t argue with that.”
“Then remove your hand, won’t you?”
Unlike the warning, Elena’s voice was shaking slightly.
“If I don’t want to?”
Ren bent down, grinning. Right in front of Elena’s eyes. They were so close that they could even hear each other’s breathing. Elena suppressed her desire to scream. No matter how much Ren was a jerk and a bully, Elena couldn’t be helped. At best, this kind of threat is all that she came up with.
Ren’s touch passed past her chin and brushed her cheek. The hands on the sofa’s back turned and wrapped Elena’s neck like a snake.
“…… Get your hands off me.”
Either way or not, Ren was closer to Elena. He took her face as if he were touching Elena’s cheek and hugged her tightly with his hands wrapped around her neck. Elena reluctantly put her face on Ren’s shoulder. On the other hand, Ren’s head passed Elena’s cheek and was facing behind her earpiece.
Ren’s eyes narrowed as he looked behind her ears. Elena was convinced by the momentary hesitation.
‘As expected, it’s a good thing I’ve made a scar in advance.’
Elena already expected a day like today to come. This was the reason why she intentionally made a scar on the back of her ear during her education at the safe house.
‘This avoids the suspicion of being fake.’
It is safe to say that this is the result Elena had hoped for. The exclusion of Ren’s suspicions was a step closer to the completion of revenge. This is because Ren’s abnormal behavior will inevitably be restricted as long as he has no choice but to believe that she is the real Princess Veronica, not a substitute.
“Did you not hear me?”
When Elena pushed hard, Ren also gently backed away. There was a confused look because it was contrary to expectations, but Ren was not a man of disarray enough to show his inner feelings.
Elena glared fiercely.
“You’ll keep the line, right? There’s a limit I can put up with it.”
“Oh, how scary.”
Ren swept up his hair, and suddenly pushed his face close enough to reach the tip of his nose. Elena, who didn’t know this would happen for a moment, was surprised and swallowed in vain.
“Don’t provoke me too much. Before I go overboard.”
“What can you do?”
Elena didn’t lose and glared. There was no reason to be pushed unless the band was caught. Ren pulled out first in a staring contest that seemed unlikely to end.
“You’re right, what can I? I’ve never thought about it. I should think about it from now on.”
“If you’re going to think of it, would you go outside?”
When Elena pointed at the door with her slender index finger, Ren
laughed as if she was absurd.
“Fine, I’m going to go where you want me to, lady.”
Ren said goodbye exaggeratedly and then turned around. The footsteps moved away, and soon the door opened and closed with a thud. Elena could relax only after turning her head to confirm that Ren had left.
A groan broke out between Elena’s small lips. She was so nervous that her whole body was completely drained and her body was sore.
“You son of a bitch.”
Elena spat out what she wanted to say a hundred more times.
Although she couldn’t do it in front of his face, she felt relieved after shouting like this. It felt like she was clearing a big rock that was blocking her way.
“I’m over the hump. Let’s just think about the future.”
At that time, Ren was walking down the stairs to the annex where the banquet hall was located.
“It’s weird. The more I think about it, the stranger it is.”
Ren’s footsteps did not stop even in the midst of an accident, as if he knew the internal structure of the main building.
“You were obviously poisoned…”
Ren’s eyes, muttering to himself, were deeper than ever.
“How the hell did she wake up?”
The poison was known to be impossible to detoxify once you were poisoned. You could only prevent the toxicity from spreading, but that was the limit. To stop the toxicity, you had to sleep all day. You would be alive, but you could not be said to be alive.
“Did they find the antidote?”
He had no choice but to come to such a conclusion.
Veronica’s alive and well. Ren looked into his swollen hand and repeatedly clenched his fist.
“You’re not just handsome, are you?”
Despite Ren’s unexpected blow, Hurelbad caught it. He even looked like he was repressing Ren’s fist. It wasn’t the skill of a single knight.
He may not know the exact skills until he faced the sword, but he must have been a strong man.
“This is going to be fun.”
Ren grinned. Like he was enjoying the current situation.