38. Of all the people available
Though the entire family gathered for dinner after a long time, Tross wasn’t really in a good mood.
He was considered one of the greatest talents in the history of the Thessalia Academy, and while he had already graduated at an early age, he was unable to leave the Academy.
It was because the outcome of Tross’s research was so outstanding that the Academy didn’t let him go.
However, he has to perform his duties as the successor of his family, so he had promised to leave the Academy completely by this year.
Additionally, this year was also the year of his lovely sister, Esma’s debutante, so Tross looked forward to this year more than anyone.
“Why am I not Essi’s partner?”
The dignified appearance at the Academy had completely disappeared, as Tross had a sulky look while protesting with a pout.
“Tross, even during your debutante, Essi wasn’t your partner.”
“That was because only adults could attend the debutante. Essi wasn’t an adult back then.”
Perhaps due to his firm belief that he would be the one escorting his sister, he was genuinely annoyed.
“Tross, don’t act like a child. Esma has already become a respectable grown-up. We’ve already received a number of requests to be partners, and we plan to choose the most decent young lord amongst them.”
“A young lord from another…family?”
As Tross sank into contemplation, Tross’s gaze alternated several times between Esma’s embarrassed smile and the count’s face.
“Father, is it alright if our Essi made her entrance while holding the hand of an unrelated man?”
“Can you tolerate the unrelated man introducing Essi to his friends, which is to say many other men?”
At the phrase ‘other men’ that followed ‘unrelated man’, Count Evita’s face hardened.
Not missing this opportunity, Tross looked at his father, who was starting to be drawn into his words, determinedly.
Tross, who did not miss the opportunity, looked at his father with determined eyes, who began to get involved in what he said.
“Hm? Can you tolerate it?”
Just as the count was about to fall completely for his son’s coaxing, the sound of the countess’ cheerful clapping brought him back to his senses.
“Enough of that, both of you. Are you trying to make my daughter lose her chances of getting married?”
“Wait a minute, Mother. What do you mean chances of getting married? Our Essi is still young…!”
“Noisy! What’s the point of being good at studying? What kind of brother are you, not helping your younger sister’s way ahead?”
At those words, Tross’s brows furrowed at the false accusation, and made excuses immediately.
“What do you mean I’m not helping? I’m currently chasing away all the guys that are pestering Essi!”
“That doesn’t help at all!”
Bang, along with a sharp tap on the dining table, silence fell in the dining room.
The countess had spoken loudly without noticing, and only regained her original benevolent face after muttering several times, “Calm down.”
“Esma’s life is Esma’s. It’s not something that you or Tross can dictate.”
“I’m not dictating anything, I’m just worried…”
“Just worry about yourself, Tross. Succeed the title, and prepare for your marriage.”
At the threats, Tross tossed a pleading look that’s requesting for help towards Esma, but she only gave a reluctant smile.
‘How can our Essi look so pretty even when she’s at a loss of what to do?’
He couldn’t give such a pretty sister to a stupid punk that he knew nothing about.
‘More than that, you’ll have to leave this house if you get married!’
He intended to find a live-in son-in-law, but Tross might have gotten rid of that man secretly.
As he barely managed to swallow down his groan, a good idea came to his mind.
“Essie wouldn’t get married before my marriage, right?”
“Isn’t it customary to marry in the order of age?”
As Tross mentioned social conventions, a meaningful smile appeared on his face.
The Countess stared at her son’s green eyes for a while, before replying with a bright smile on her face.
“You should stop thinking in such an obsolete manner. There’s no need to follow the order of age.”
Watching his wife and children bicker with both embarrassment and contentment, Count Evita observed them with contradictory feelings, before calling Tross to his office ominously as soon as dinner was over.
“I have something to tell you in private, Tross.”
“If you’re going to request something from me, there will be a condition.”
“I’ll listen to everything except for the request to be Esma’s partner.”
The count’s words caused Tross’s face to crumple without reserve.
“Let’s stop with the idle chatter. Listen attentively to HIs Majesty’s orders.”
Upon mention of the Emperor, earnestness appeared on his face.
Completely unlike the foolish appearance whenever he saw his sister, Tross’s face while listening to the count was the permanent face of the Academy’s chief.
However, as the count continued speaking, Tross’s bright face turned gloomy.
“…As such, I hope that you would visit the grand duke’s townhouse before the debutante. You’ve visited the grand ducal castle when you were young, so there should be some amount of closeness.”
As soon as the count reached the conclusion, Tross let out a deep sigh, and looked at his father with a resolute gaze.
His son had become dashing before he knew it, and he wouldn’t have reservations about bequeathing the County to him right away.
Just as the count was once again moved by that appearance, Tross suddenly raised his arms and made a big X sign.
In addition, Tross shook his head lightly, and spoke with a resolute voice.
“Lionel Blanc, he’s a complete nutcase.”
Just the thought of Lionel’s handsome face gave him goosebumps, as Tross had even made short, painful groans.
“But this is His Majesty’s command, Tross.”
“Why should I listen to the command of His Majesty, whom I can’t even remember clearly? And it’s given through my father. Even if the request was given in person, I’d still have to consider whether or not to accept it.”
What in the world is he learning at the Academy he was sent to study at?
The count forgot to answer, and looked at his son, who had made unconventional remarks that were bordering on treason, with a flabbergasted look.
“Above all, I heard that the Grand Duke had rejected the invitations of all the families without exception, be it from the aristocratic faction or the imperial faction. It’s not like I can go there recklessly just because I want to go.”
Tross waved his hand lightly, as if he had already made up his mind that he wasn’t going to do that.
It was a sign that their conversation had ended.
“Wait a moment, Tross.”
However, the count didn’t intend to just let his son go acquiescently.
When his son, who had reached the door without his realisation, turned around, the count raised an attractive proposition.
“I know a way to enter the Grand Duke’s townhouse. If you meet the Grand Duke and complete ‘His Majesty’s request’, I will accept your request.”
There was only one thing Tross wanted. For Esma’s partner to not be another ‘Young Lord’.
“Have I ever not kept my promise?”
Tross shook his head at the count’s question.
His father was someone that will do what he has to, so he would definitely close the deal with him at the expense of his mother’s slap.
“Alright. If that’s the case, I’ll go meet that madman.”
It was a profitable deal by Tross’s standards, so he revealed a satisfied smile.
Meanwhile, Esma, who was eavesdropping on the entire conversation outside the door, let out a deep sigh.
“Why are the two of you making a deal over my partner, and making it into a big mess?”
Actually, she wasn’t offended. It was because she didn’t care who her partner was.
If it wasn’t him, whoever that’s beside her was meaningless.
Not even in the slightest.
As Esma walked away slowly, she recalled the still-vivid scene from her memories.
“I’m sorry. Please hang in there.”
Soon after, a friendly voice echoed in her head. It was as if she just heard it yesterday, and it still remained in her memories vividly.
He was the only son of Count Union, a representative family in the aristocratic faction.
While the families in the aristocratic and imperial factions were generally at odds, amongst them, the relationship between the Evita family and the Union family were that of bitter enemies.
It was so severe that they would use different carriageways in the capital.
A meeting between the Unions and the Evitas in itself was even more awful.
‘How ridiculous. ‘Of all the people available, I just had to fall in love with him.’
When Esma arrived in her room, the sun could be seen setting through the window.
It was already reaching the end, so the sky was a purple colour just before completely darkening in an instant.
As she looked at that colour, it reminded her of another person’s face.
‘I wonder if Miss Atalante is safe.’
Even now, there wasn’t any news of the woman in the wanted poster being captured anywhere in the capital.
Even Count Evita, who’s well-informed due to his merchant group that was located all over the empire, couldn’t find her whereabouts.
‘What should I do if you’re still experiencing troubles because of that love potion?’
Her sin of holding someone she shouldn’t have in her heart, was this her punishment, to cause someone else to suffer?
Tears welled up for no reason.
It was even more saddening that even in this situation, there was nothing that Esma, a noble young lady, could do.
All she has been doing lately was smiling like a doll, interacting with other young ladies, and preparing for her debutante.
All the other young ladies were excited to prepare for their debutante, but Esma wasn’t happy.
Debutante meant becoming an adult, and becoming an adult meant… It meant marriage wasn’t far off.
For Esma, marriage wasn’t a new beginning, but an end.
‘It’s because I’ll have to stop making medicine when I get married……’
She was well aware that there wouldn’t be a husband that would be understanding of their wife working, so she didn’t even bear any expectations.
She keenly felt the fact that she couldn’t even choose the smallest of things by herself, and tears kept flowing out of her eyes.
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