Chapter 13

Translator: Alice

Editor: SoaringPeaches

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Huge thanks to K for the kofis! (3/3)

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At a very young age, Cesare adapted well to the wilderness that was the Imperial Palace. Poisoning attempts became so frequent that they almost seemed like a chore to take care off. 

 

Of course, this was an everyday occurrence for most Imperial family members. To weed out the week, they adopted a kill or be killed mentality. Even Cesare’s older brother, the weakest of the bunch, never batted an eye at such events.

 

It reminded him of when he was Eileen’s age, so he immediately condemned the servant. In order to spare young Eileen any distress, the servant’s death was not depicted. The girl was still shocked when her world turned upside down. 

 

Until that day, Eileen was convinced that Cesare was an angel who had lost his wings.

 

Despite his inhuman appearance, he was always kind. Besides delicious snacks, he often gifted her with books she wanted to read. Most importantly, he was fond of her stories about plants that no one else was interested in.

 

In Eileen’s little world, Cesare was a good and just God.

 

After living for so long with this unwavering belief, it broke her when she realised that he was a monstrous demon. This revelation left Eileen so shaken that she became bedridden. Weak and trembling, it took quite some time for her shocked body to recover.

 

When she finally woke up after enduring this turmoil for what felt like an eternity, Cesare invited Eileen to the Imperial Palace. The letter sent through her mother was full of comforting words, even mentioning an understanding should she wish to never visit again.

 

Eileen held the Prince’s letter in her arms and contemplated it for a while.

 

If she refused his invitation, Cesare would neatly sever their relationship. Their paths would never cross again.

 

Yet Eileen could not bring herself to let go of the Prince. Without him, she feared no one would ever listen to her stories again.

 

There was a tug-of-war going on in her heart between the feelings of fear and loneliness. The victor was decided quickly, and Eileen started spinning excuses for Cesare in her mind.

 

‘That servant was an attempted murderer. There’s no helping it.’

 

The method of the servant’s execution was cruel, but he was the first who almost committed a crime! The more she thought about it, the more her heart felt heavy. The Prince’s nonchalance made her want to protect him even more! Living in such a world… It must be lonely.

 

So Eileen returned to Cesare. After that conundrum, Cesare refused to show his cruel side in front of her. 

 

‘I was foolish then, as I am right now.’

 

The thought was bittersweet. Eileen continued to mechanically push around her scrambled eggs before eating them.

 

To think that she told Cesare to run away after encountering the assassins in the palace greenhouse, to think that she wanted to stall to give him time to escape…

 

All she got in return was a request to close her eyes, smile, and maybe even sing him a song.

 

“Just one song would suffice.”

 

Eileen still couldn’t understand Cesare’s antics, but nevertheless complied. Cesare had only laughed when she began to sing the national anthem.

 

But soon, his pleasant voice faded and was replaced by a terrifying sound. It was dead silence before Eileen could finish her first verse.

 

“You can open your eyes now, Eileen.”

 

With tears streaming down her cheeks, Eileen obeyed. Though her vision was blurry, she could make out Cesare caked with blood, clicking his tongue disapprovingly. 

 

“Why didn’t you say something earlier if you were so frightened?” 

 

Removing his blood-soaked leather gloves, Cesare gently wiped away her tears, his voice low but firm.

 

“You don’t have to protect me, okay?”

 

Eileen’s sorrow seemed never ending, but she still nodded. With that, she was led back to the banquet hall.

 

Cesare never let go of her hand. In the banquet hall, her beloved gently spoke to her. She was so lost that she couldn’t register a single word. All she could remember was Michele escorting her home.

 

The victory commemoration banquet was ruined. The only silver lining in the messy affair was that she wasn’t forced to dance.

 

“Hah.”

 

After finishing her meal, Eileen gulped down a glass of water and sighed. Her chest felt tight.

 

Eileen was filled with fear and apprehension towards Cesare.

 

Since that first assassination attempt, she had encountered Cesare’s inherent cruelty several more times. Despite his attempts to conceal it, there were moments when his true nature would inevitably surface.

 

Each time, Eileen found herself trembling and fearful, much like she had been at eleven years old. Yet, despite her terror, she couldn’t bring herself to leave Cesare. Eventually, she even developed feelings for him.

 

‘But what else am I to do with someone so complex?’

 

Her heart swelled with Cesare’s affection, and her love for him only continued to grow. There was no point in denying it.

 

“I’m such a fool,” she muttered to herself as she tidied up the dining area. When her eyes landed at the bedroom door on the first floor, she felt conflicted. The bedroom her father used was still empty. 

 

She continued to wait patiently, knowing Cesare would find her father’s whereabouts. It didn’t mean that the passing days didn’t fill her with unease.

 

After washing the dishes, Eileen went upstairs to change into her outdoor clothes. She was planning on visiting the shopping district today and buying Cesare a gift.

 

On the day the Arch of Triumph was approved, Eileen planned to pick up the custom order for Cesare as a congratulatory gift for his achievements.

The person in question interrupted her plan himself.

 

She had to postpone it because of all the madness, and it was only today that she was able to collect the gift.

 

‘His Excellency will love it!’

 

As she walked through the shopping district, Eileen spotted a newsboy. She tried her best to ignore him. The main news was undoubtedly the triumphal procession and the mess at the banquet hall.

 

The Traon Empire consisted of streets that branched off in seven directions from a single central square. Each of these streets served a different purpose. Eileen opted for the high-end shopping district.

 

Amidst the bustling street filled with carriages, Eileen made her way on foot until she finally reached her target. The bell rang when she opened the shop’s door

 

“Hello!”

 

Eileen’s final destination was a watch store.

 

“You’re here! I’ve been eagerly awaiting you. Come, come!”

 

The shopkeeper greeted Eileen with joy and rushed her to the counter. Luca, a luxury watch dealer on Venue Street, sported a handsome moustache and wore a monocle, presenting himself as a gentleman of refined appearance.

 

Having suffered from chronic migraines, Luca had become Eileen’s regular customer after purchasing her miracle cure made from willow leaves. He was appreciative of her and, thus, naturally went out of his way to make this gift perfect. 

 

“How have you been? I brought more medicine for you.”

 

“You couldn’t have come at a better time. I’m really grateful! Just in a moment. I’ll bring the watch for you.”

 

There was a twinkle in his eye before he disappeared to the back of his store. It wasn’t long before he brought out a red velvet box. Eileen looked at the box with a pounding heart.

 

“Wow…!”

 

Nestled within the box was a brilliantly polished platinum pocket watch. Luca beamed with pride at Eileen’s simple and honest sense of awe.

 

“Since it was your order, Eileen, I paid special attention to it.”

 

Eileen cautiously reached out her hand. She refrained from touching the watch so as not to leave any fingerprints. She settled on lightly brushing the case.

 

Platinum pocket watches were extremely expensive, but Eileen felt compelled to present His Excellency the Grand Duke with nothing but the finest. With Luca’s thoughtful assistance, she had managed to scrape together the necessary funds.

 

“Would you like me to engrave a name on it?”

 

“No, I think I’ll leave it as it is. Thank you.”

 

Not that she wasn’t considering it, but it would cause a scene. Lucas didn’t know who the gift was for. He hadn’t even known that Eileen was a noblewoman.

 

“I made a new formula for the ointment. I’ll bring you some next time.”

 

“You can’t keep giving things away. I’ll pay you a fair price next time. Now tell me, how’s your pharmacy doing?”

 

“Ah… I’m planning on closing it for a while.”

 

Customers typically visited Eileen at the inn to buy her medicine. Now that the Grand Duke had shut down her laboratory, she considered approaching the innkeeper to discuss selling her products on consignment.

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Notes

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