Chapter 1. The fiancé is back
…that’s how you always thought of me, huh?
I felt deeply skeptical about how much he ignored me to make such noises in front of other people without any hesitation.
“I’ll give you advice for your sake, My Lady. It’s useless, so don’t waste your time.”
It seemed like I was hearing a lot of ‘useless’ words today.
But I had no intention of moving according to his will, so I looked straight at him and said, “It’s my time, so I’ll take care of it.”
“It sounds like you’re going to take the official test until the end.”
“Anyone in the Empire can take the test, regardless of gender. There’s no reason why I can’t.”
“I bet the Lady will never pass the test.”
“What if I pass?”
It was unlucky to be resolutely certain. But I was annoyed, so I asked back sternly.
Philen maybe didn’t expect me to ask back. He looked at me with slightly bewildered eyes, and then he smiled and raised his chin.
“If the Lady passes this official test, I’ll grant you one thing you want.”
I reflexively wanted to ask if it would be possible to get Cecily and her child out, but I resisted.
It couldn’t have been possible, and if I asked that, I would be treated as a woman blinded by jealousy again.
Even if it was possible, it wasn’t something to be brought out now.
I would tell him later after I really passed the official test. That way, I was able to keep Philen from saying no.
“Then please notarize it.”
This was about Cecily, and I thought it would be better to have a confirmation, so I asked him to notarize it.
Then Philen showed signs of discomfort.
“Do you have to go that far?”
“Why? Is there any reason why you can’t notarize it?”
When I looked at him as if asking him to tell me if there was, Philen smiled.
“All right. I’ll notarize it. Instead, the Lady will also have to grant me one thing.”
I nodded willingly.
“Can I also make a wish like a Duke?”
“Well, yes. What I want is already decided.”
“What do you want?”
I just heard the name, but my body reacted automatically and I flinched. I had an uneasy feeling.
“Please bow your head politely and apologize for what you have done, Lady Thebesa.”
As always, the uneasy premonition didn’t miss.
I wouldn’t have felt so bad or annoyed if I was asked to apologize to Philen.
Even though it was a bit annoying, I would have granted it, but if it was Cecily, it was a different matter.
Cecily was a woman who wanted to crush me somehow.
What would happen if I bowed my head and apologized?
It was clear that she would raise her chin and be proud. Was that all? She would look at me and laugh uncontrollably.
Just thinking about it made me annoyed.
I never wanted to apologize to that woman.
In order to do that, I must pass the official test… but can I really pass it?
I sighed at the sudden question.
As Philen said, if many talented people from the Imperial Academy took this test, the chances of me passing were significantly reduced. It could be said that there was none at all.
Maybe I shouldn’t have made a bet with Philen.
I regretted it, but it was already too late.
Now that it’s notarized, there was no turning back anymore.
And I didn’t want to disappoint Kalian. I really wanted to repay him for giving me the opportunity.
So, let’s study hard and pass the test.
With my deepest commitment, I opened a book on tax law.
I concentrated on studying by reducing not only my sleeping time but also my eating time.
Philen clicked his tongue and looked at me, saying ‘you’re wasting time foolishly’, but I ignored him.
The important thing was the test.
When I had time to listen to other people’s words, I tried to read at least one more letter from the book.
A week had passed since I studied so hard like that. And Sarah told me that he had decided to return to the estate tomorrow.
“If you have any stuff that you must bring, please let me know in advance.”
I took my eyes off the book and turned to Sarah.
“I was thinking of staying in the capital for a while.”
Sarah blinked as if she had never heard of it before.
“Did you not hear it?”
“Yes. And the Duke doesn’t seem to know either because he ordered the butler to prepare two carriages.”
Sarah said Philen didn’t know either?
Ridiculous. I told him that I was going to take the official test, and he was thinking of taking me to the estate?
Maybe he didn’t think about it because I didn’t directly say that I would stay in the capital.
“Where’s the Duke?”
I thought I should meet and talk with Philen, so I went to see him.
Philen was practicing swordsmanship at the training ground.
As if noticing that I had come, Philen looked back at me.
“What’s going on?”
“There’s something I want to tell you. Do you have a moment?”
Philen handed the sword to the servant who was standing nearby.
The servant accepted the sword and stepped back with quick short steps.
Philen also told all the other servants and maids to leave.
“You too leave for a while.”
After telling Sarah to leave, I went to Philen.
Philen sat casually in the shade of a tree and wiped the sweat from his face with a towel.
“What do you want to tell me?”
Without anyone around, Philen immediately spoke informally.
It was the same for me. Since Philen started first, there was nothing to worry about.
“I heard you’re going back to the estate tomorrow, is that right?”
“Yeah. I’ve been in the capital for so long, so I’ll have to go back to the estate soon. That way, I can make sure we’re properly prepared for the rainy season.”
He was right. If I had continued to work as a duke, I would have made the same decision as Philen.
“So, what about it? Is there a problem?”
“There’s no problem going back. The problem is with me.”
Philen’s hand, which was wiping the sweat flowing down his chin, stopped.
“The problem is with you?”
“Until the official test is over, I’ll stay in the capital.”
Yeah, it’s just until then, so I thought I’d get a decent answer, but Philen didn’t say anything.
Don’t tell me he didn’t understand me even though I explained it so kindly.
There was a doubt whether Philen understood me or not.
“There are only three weeks until the test.”
The latter could be possible, so I kindly added an explanation.
“It’s a waste of time going back and forth, and it’ll be difficult if I get stuck in the estate because of the rainy season. So I’ll stay in the capital until the test is over…”
“You, have you forgotten what happened this weekend?”
Philen asked, cutting my words.
What did I forget? I looked back at my memories, but nothing came to mind.
It wasn’t Philen’s birthday, and it was not too late to go back for the anniversary of the Duke and Duchess after the test.
“You seem to have really forgotten.”
When I didn’t say a word, Philen smiled and shrugged lightly.
“You forgot something important because of the test that’s not going to work. It’s not like you.”
It made me even more upset when he added words that would have made me feel bad even if he said them separately.
I said with a hint of displeasure.
“The test that’s not going to work. What are you going to do if I pass?”
“Because it’s obviously not going to work.”
“As I said before, it’s something you don’t know until you try…”
“No, I know even if you don’t try it.”
There was a strange sense of confidence in his words. There seemed to be a certain point of trust.
What is it? Does he come up with anything to get me down?
He’s not the kind of person who would do that.
“Do you know Raymond Logan?”
Of course. Raymond Logan, the second son of the Logan family that had produced famous scholars for generations and was famous enough to be called the genius of the century.
“He’s taking this official test.”
I asked back with a slight surprise at the unexpected remark.
“Raymond Logan is already an official. Why is he taking the official test again?”
“I don’t know the details because I’m not the person directly involved, but I heard that he has long wanted to be the Emperor’s aide.”
I see. If that’s the reason, it’s understandable. The reason why Philen asserts to me that I could never pass it.
“Are you thinking of giving up now?”
When I answered firmly, Philen shrugged.
“I kindly let you know that you can’t pass it, but in the end, there’s nothing I can do about you still giving it a try.”
He looked like he cared about me just by listening to his words, but I could tell by looking at his eyes that he wasn’t.
“You are free to do that. But I can’t allow you to stay in the capital. There’s a territory inspection this weekend.”
Come to think of it, the schedule was next week.
Before the rainy season, the duke used to inspect the territory to make sure there were no special incidents or difficulties of the people.
But what does that have to do with me? I’m out of the duke’s affairs now.
“Are you saying you want to take me to the inspection?”
“That can’t be true.”
Philen sighed as if he was getting annoyed.
“I don’t want to take you either, but Baron Wizard said that if you, the fiancée, don’t come, rumors of a discord between us will arise.”
There’s indeed a discord between us, but there was nothing good to let the people know about it.
Only the Duke family’s prestige would be greatly reduced.
My face, too.
Therefore, it was better to accompany Philen during the inspection of the territory.
Haa, I couldn’t help it.
I didn’t want to walk around with him, but I couldn’t let my personal feelings keep me from doing what I had to do.
“Okay. I’ll go back to the estate.”
As soon as the inspection was over, I would go straight up to the capital.
Then I wouldn’t have to worry about getting tied up in the estate because of the rainy season…
“You don’t look very happy.”
It couldn’t have been good when my schedule was twisted and I was tired in many ways.
I spoke frankly without hiding my feelings.
Then Philen frowned and clicked his tongue.
“I allowed you to take the official test because you said you wanted to take it, but don’t even think about bragging about it.”