Chapter 5. Can you pretend to love me?

 

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“I officially welcome you as my empress. I came here in person to say this.”

 

It was the long-awaited Emperor’s approval.

 

There was no going back for Liv. Of course, she had no reason to hesitate.

 

“Thank you, Your Majesty. I am honored.”

 

Liv bent her knees slightly and made a gesture of acceptance of his Grace. 

 

Edgar stared at the figure for a moment, and then furrowed his brow angrily.

 

“How can you do this, Liv!”

 

His eyes, shining like emeralds, looked moist and even pitiful, like a deer that had lost its mother.

 

Of course, that look was probably an act to have her, or rather, to have her family’s power. Liv slightly lowered her gaze and bowed her head as if she was sorry.

 

“Liv.”

 

Looking at the disappointed expression on Edgar’s face, Liv for the first time clearly faced his pitiful eyes.

 

Instead of Liv, who remained silent, Carius told him.

 

 “Accept it, Grand Duke.”

 

Edgar, who was angry, raised his voice after being notified to accept the result that Liv chose the emperor rather than himself.

 

“Your Majesty, I cannot accept this. This is Miss Edinburgh, who was my lover until yesterday, or even until noon today. Wouldn’t you say you were unaware of that?”

 

Carius’ eyebrows arched at the words. But Edgar didn’t even have time to be aware of this.

 

“But you said you welcome Miss Edinburgh as your empress! You will only be a source of ridicule to the nobles!”

 

At Edgar’s warning, Carius gave him a stern look.

 

“Since when is I a monarch who is conscious of the eyes of the nobles?”

 

Edgar flinched, but then opened his mouth again.

 

“Your Majesty, no matter what you do, I can’t believe you’re so selfishly determined to have her as empress!”

 

His provocative words kept scratching Carius’ nerves. Carius, however, showed no sign of it, and said in a rather calm tone.

 

“It’s a private sentiment, and I’m sure you’ve come here with a good reason to welcome Liv as Grand Duchess, but for me, Liv, this one noble woman is enough.”

 

‘I alone am enough.’

 

Carius’s confession caused Liv’s red eyes to shake significantly..

 

The atmosphere was quiet for a moment. In the silence, only Carius’s voice echoed through the air.

 

“Edgar, if you let any gossip drift that would hurt your authority over Liv, it will be taken from your very life. At least that should be the courtesy to you and your lover, Liv, stand in front and quell the rumors.”

 

“….”

 

“Answer me, right here!”

 

Edgar turned his head and looked at Liv. But she was already giving him a cold stare to his last wistful glance.

 

“Liv.”

 

Edgar saw at a glance that Liv did not respond to his earnest call. Truly her heart had left him.

 

He gave a deep sigh.

 

“If it’s for the sake of Miss Edinburgh, I will certainly do it. Your Majesty.” 

 

Edgar forced himself to bow his head. Looking at it, Liv tightened her shaking heart. 

 

‘There’s no turning back now. Why, why did you do this to me? You were the only one I loved.’

 

‘I loved you so much that even revenge must begin with heart-rending pain……….’

 

Liv mourned.

 

***

 

Liv went out to see Carius off, and as she followed him, she suddenly raised her head and stared at his back.

 

She wondered if it was gratitude for Carius taking her hand in spite of her rude request.

 

“Liv.”

 

A low voice echoed in the air, and she hastily averted her gaze.

 

“Yes, Your Majesty.”

 

“Are you sure you’re okay?”

 

‘I suppose you’re asking if I’m willing to choose you over Edgar.’

 

 

“Yes, Your Majesty. I’m fine. I’ve given up all thoughts of the Grand Duke.”

 

 “I don’t think revenge means forgiveness for him.”

 

“Don’t worry, Your Majesty.”

 

“Good. I have something to say to you in return.”

 

Carius moved and led Liv to the garden in the middle of the mansion.

 

“Liv, I have conditions, just as you have conditions for our upcoming marriage.”

 

“Conditions. ……..?

 

“I wish to the best of your ability that the nobles did not know of this relationship between the two of us. Would you do that?”

 

“Yes, of course. Your Majesty.”

 

He immediately agreed with Liv because he could not reduce his support again under this pretext, filling the position of the empress and establishing his dignity.

 

Liv quickly agreed. Carius thought that at best she could occupy the position of Empress and keep the Emperor’s dignity intact, so that his support would not be lowered again for this reason.

 

But his words flowed unexpectedly from his mouth.

 

“To do that…Can you pretend to love me?”

 

Pretend to love?

 

Liv looked at Carius’s blue eyes. His eyes contained only her. There was not a single flicker.

 

“Your Majesty, that’s….”

 

“Use me, even for revenge. As much as you want. But I also need your false love to immerse myself in this play.”

 

“….”

 

Have you ever loved someone pretentiously? Liv’s pupils fluctuated like waves.

 

“If you do that, I’d be happy to help you.”

 

She was worried about everything, but she had no time to avoid his proposal.

 

“Yes, Your Majesty…..”

 

Only then did Carius look relieved and lightly grabbed Liv’s shoulder.

 

“Thank you.”

 

He, who had always had a frozen expression on his face, smiled brightly for the first time towards her.

 

At that moment, she heard the voice of the aide looking for Carius from afar.

 

“Your Majesty, we need to leave now.”

 

Liv, then the marriage will be carried out by the management office, so please come straight in without any need to prepare.”

 

“Yes, Your Majesty.”

 

Liv greeted him with a gentle bow and Carius quickly climbed into the carriage.

 

As the carriage gradually moved away, Liv sighed with a heavy burden in her heart.

 

‘Give him love even if it’s pretentious, can I do it well…  ‘

 

Liv stared at the carriage with worried eyes.

 

But it was the path she had chosen, and she had to move forward. Someone approached her from afar as she tried to take a heavy step with such a determination.

 

“Liv!”

 

Perhaps he was worried, for Duke Dennis approached her cautiously.

 

“Why do you insist on taking the hard road yourself, Liv? Aside from the tyranny of the Emperor, I don’t know why so many women have fled before rising to that position?”

 

“Father, I know it’s because of that curse that you’re worried.”

 

The curse that whoever ascends to the position of empress would be killed by Theodor, the younger son of the emperor.

 

It meant that if the power of the cursed prince could not be controlled, the Empress would die within a year.

 

Liv had heard and knew well the rich and gruesome rumors about the young prince. Of course, her father, Duke Dennis, would often talk about the curse.

 

Such a curse on a young prince offended the dignity of Carius, who had declared his non-maritalism, saying he would not have any more children. Edgar had a great influence on the abolition of Carius in the end.

 

Liv looked at the Duke with an unwavering gaze.

 

“I will raise the Prince, the majestic Prince of the Emporium Empire.”

 

Only by creating a solid successor to Carius will she be able to prevent the tragic catastrophe of Edgar’s bid for the throne of Emperor.

 

In order to do so, she must unravel everything related to the Prince.

 

“Liv! So you want to meet the cursed Prince? You’ve gone mad, you’ve finally gone mad!”

 

“Please don’t try to dissuade me, father. Everything has already been decided.”

 

“….”

 

Duke Dennis couldn’t talk anymore at her adamant attitude.

 

Before the regression, Liv didn’t know, and rightfully so, that the future with Edgar was a flowery path. She didn’t even imagine in her dreams that that road was the road to hell.

 

But from there she died and returned to the opportunity to choose, and she would never make a foolish choice again.

 

***

 

The innermost part of the palace, where there were no people. It was a place where the jet-black bay drifted in and out of the dismal atmosphere, and where the spine naturally turned cold.

 

Surrounded by large vines, only the cold wind struck between the prison-like tower like a ghost’s cry. Carius took a deep breath in the carriage, then raised his head and stared at the tower.

 

“Please, just for today, come out.”

 

His carriage soon arrived at the deepest part of the Imperial Palace, the pagoda.

 

The horses stopped, and as he dismounted from the carriage, ten priests in white bowed their heads as if they had been waiting for him.

 

Carius looked around and raised his eyebrows.

 

“Where is the Prince?”

 

Then one of the priest stepped forward.

 

“I’m sorry, Your Majesty, but it will be difficult to see His Imperial Highness again today.”

 

“What are you talking about?”

 

Then, the priest’s gaze turned eerie for a moment. His expression changed in an instant, and he said in a low voice,

 

“We can’t do anything about it, because His Imperial Highness is very afraid of seeing Your Majesty.”

 

Carius, who was frowning deeply as if the priest’s words were scratching her nerves, spoke in a lower voice.

 

“Today, I have to see the Prince in person. Get out of my way.”

 

“No, Your Majesty, you know better than that.”

 

At the priest’s words, Carius ended up clenching his fist with his large hand.

 

However, despite his anger, the priest did not change his opinion and once again remained calm and consistent in a low voice.

 

“Your Majesty, the curse may come to you.”

 

Carius, who had reached the extreme of anger at the word curse, glared at the priest with bloodshot eyes.

 

“D*mn it! How long will the curse last!”

 

When he pushed the priest aside and tried to enter, all the royal guards blocked him.

 

“Your Majesty! You have to calm down!”

 

“Can’t you let go!”

 

“Think of the empire!”

 

The guards barely calmed the agitated Carius. Even as they watched, the priests curtsied as they were accustomed to do and returned to the pagoda.

 

Click.

 

The sound of the door being locked sounded sadly in Carius’s ears, as if he was being sentenced.

 

Boom! Boom!

 

Carius shook off the guards and ran to the tightly locked iron door and beat mercilessly with his fists. The red blood ran down his hands was just abundant.

 

Finally, the long awaited Prince could not come out.