I looked up at Beltran in surprise.

‘What are you saying?’

Out of nowhere, a marriage proposal? I began to doubt if he was in his right mind.

I mean, I knew he liked to tease and playfully flirt with me, but making an outright proposal was a whole different story.

Once it’s out in the open, it comes with responsibilities. I hesitated to answer, and Beltran awkwardly cleared his throat.

“It wouldn’t be a bad proposal for the lady.”

“And who gets to decide that?”

“I do. And so does public opinion.”

So, my opinion doesn’t matter in this, huh? My reluctance to engage with him was evident in my expression, but Beltran seemed to interpret that differently.

“So, you’re worried about my brother after all?”


“I’ll take care of those who run their mouths about you playing games with my brother. So, Lady, you don’t need to worry.”

Beltran acted as if I had already accepted his proposal.

He didn’t seem to entertain the thought of me rejecting him.

‘Where does this confidence come from?’

From what I’ve heard, even the empress didn´t raised him to be this way.

“Of course, the lady was my brother’s fiancée, but the engagement was broken off now anyway, right? Is there anything to worry about?”

There’s actually plenty to hesitate about.

“Excuse me, Your Highness. By any chance, did you not hear anything from the empress?”

Do you want to become a husband who gets slapped?

“Mother? Are you hesitating because you’re scared of Mother? Well, she’s a formidable woman, but don’t worry, Lady. Mother quite likes you.”

It seems Beltran hasn’t heard the conversation between the empress and me from last time. Well, if he had, he probably wouldn’t be attempting a proposal like this.

Beltran chuckled awkwardly.

“Lady, you just need to marry me without any worries. I’ll handle the meeting for you, and I’ll take care of any obstacles in your path.”

‘The biggest obstacle is you.’

“I have no immediate plans to marry anyone.”

“Since we’ll start with an engagement, it’s fine. We have all the time in the world, Lady!”

“I have no plans for an engagement either.”

“Oh, skipping the engagement and going straight to marriage…? Still, wouldn’t it be better to follow the proper procedure? No matter how much you like me…”

This guy only hears what he wants to, doesn’t he? I wonder how I can get this delusional person out of this room without causing a big scene.

‘Maybe I should just knock him out with a sedative?’

But with my current situation, causing a commotion with the Second Prince was not ideal. It’s not as advantageous as it would be in the Perdia Mansion, considering this is the Imperial Palace.

If there was a crisis, this was the time for it.


The door opened without warning. Beltran, who had his back to the door, turned around angrily.

“Who is it? I told you not to let anyone in until I come out!”

“It’s me, Beltran.”

“Huh, Brother?”

Without knocking, the person who entered was none other than first Prince Ademir. He walked in without hesitation and stood between Beltran and me.

“The supervision of the servants in charge of this annex is a mess. How do they even manage the security here?”

“Why, Brother-”

Ademir abruptly cut Beltran off.

“It’s because the security is so lax that anyone can come and go like this.”


Ademir referred to Beltran as ‘anyone.’

Beltran’s face flushed red.

Adenmir, on the other hand, smiled leisurely.

“Isn’t that right, Beltran?”

The Beltran, who was entertaining delusions just moments ago, had completely disappeared.

Beltran looked both nervous and angry as he glared at Ademir.

“Is it acceptable for you, Your Highness, to enter and leave this annex, where important guests are staying, so casually?”

“It seems you’ve forgotten, but I have the authority to enter any place in the Imperial Palace, unlike you.”

Ademir’s words weren’t just boasting. They were a display of his status as the emperor’s son and heir, emphasizing the favor he enjoyed.

Whether Beltran understood the intention or not, his face became even more stained with anger.


“Do you want me to call the soldiers and have you thrown out, or will you leave on your own accord?”

Not wanting to be dragged out, Beltran glared at Ademir and stormed out of the room.


The door was forcefully closed.

It was truly an undignified exit.

With Beltran gone, Adenmir and I were the only ones left in the room.

“I hope I didn’t inconvenience you in any way.”

“I highly doubt that. Just now, Your Highness was my hero.”

It wasn’t an empty compliment.

I couldn’t be more grateful for Ademir for chasing away that unbearable Beltran.

Perhaps my sincerity came through in my voice because Ademir chuckled softly.

“Calling me a hero is a bit much.”

“But how did you know the Second Prince had come to see me?”

“I had Beltran monitored. We’re not regular brothers, after all.”

Ademir carefully chose his words, acknowledging the power struggle between them over the throne.

“To be honest, I accidentally overheard the conversation you had with Beltran. He seems to think you… like him. Could it be that Beltran is the person you like?”


“No, of course not. I’m sorry.”

I accepted the apology, but I couldn’t hide the expression of disgust on my face.

To think that I like Beltram how could such a terrible misunderstanding occur!

“Anyway, thank you for your help, Your Highness.”

“I’m glad I could be of assistance.”


With my response, silence settled in. Since I had nothing more to say, Ademir looked at me with curiosity, not leaving the room.

“Do you have anything else to say?”

“The meeting is about to begin.”

“I’m aware.”

Ademir examined me closely, given my composed response.

“You seem much more unfazed than I expected.”

“I can’t just sit here on the bed, sulking. It’s not like I´m a kid…”

For some reason, Ademir’s eyes widened. But his momentary surprise quickly disappeared.

‘Am I mistaken?’

Ademir asked, puzzled.

“The forces of Duke Angellus are going to attack you. Do you have a plan?”

“Well, it is complicated.”

When I chuckled lightly, Ademir sighed.

“I just can’t seem to relax.”

He looked at me as if I were a child by a riverbank. It felt strange to be openly worried about like this.


“I don’t know why, but I’m even more anxious than the person involved.”

Although I did have concerns about the meeting, I also had my own thoughts. However, I didn’t want to discuss them openly between Ademir and me.

So, I just laughed it off.

“I’m sure my father wouldn’t approve.”

Adenmir broke the silence, seemingly lost in thought.

“I will defend the lady as best I can at the meeting.”

“Your Highness?”

I thought he’d remain neutral, so this was unexpected.

Sure, the Duke of Perdia was an ally of the First Prince, but that shouldn’t be reason enough to defend me. Then I remembered a conversation I’d had with Adenmir some time ago.

Adenmir added, saying that the emperor’s condition has improved thanks to me.

“Because of your previous actions, my father’s condition improved. So, I have to repay that favor.”


“What favor?”




“I’ll decide on the method; you just have to accept it.”

Is this the favor he meant then? To admit he’d been dumped, to present me with a magic tool, and finally to break his neutrality and come to my defense.

“Isn’t it a bit too much to call ourselves just acquaintances, Your Highness?”

“Aren’t we just that?”

When did this change in attitude come about? If I looked back, Ademir felt more intimate to me now than when we were engaged.

If I were to define our relationship…

“It’s quite nice to have a prince as a friend.”

“A friend…”

Ademir, who was quietly pondering, smiled faintly.

“But I doubt anyone would consider us friends.”

“Why is that?”

“Because our titles are too formal. ‘Lady,’ ‘Your Highness,’ we address each other this way.”

It was natural to be formal with each other’s social status, but Adenmir’s argument was quite reasonable.

Well, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to be friends in an ex-engagement relationship. Considering the future, it was good to get along well with Adenmir.

“Then please call me by my name. Elodie, Lili, whatever you like.”

“For now, Elodie.”

“Then I’ll call you Ademir from now on. Of course, only in private.”

“You can call me whatever you’re comfortable with.”

“Even so, you’re still a noble. Just addressing you by your name feels a bit…”

Even though we hadn’t called each other by our names during our engagement, it felt somewhat awkward now. But it wasn’t a bad thing. It felt like we had become closer.

. . . Leaving the western annex and heading back to the main castle. Adenmir thought back to his conversation with Elodie.

“I can’t just sit here on the bed, sulking. It’s not like I´m a kid…”

Hearing Elodie’s words, he couldn’t help but recall his first encounter with the little girl one day in the past.

However, Elodie maintained an indifferent expression. The fact that he alone remembered that time and felt shocked by it puzzled him. Then Elodie’s voice brushed by like a breeze.

“It’s quite nice to have a prince as a friend.”

“A friend.”

It sounded like they were defining an intimate relationship, but it was not the case.

It was a declaration that they couldn’t become more than friends, as if setting a barrier to prevent any deeper connection.

The innocent lady wouldn’t know.

Ademir acknowledged the fact that the more lines and walls Elodie drew, the more he wanted to break through that boundary.

Ironically, this desire only arose after he had damaged their relationship with his own hands.


The council meeting was held on the day after I arrived at the imperial palace.

The venue was the same council chamber used by the emperor for state affairs.

Seated next to the empty imperial throne was Salvatrice, the Empress, while nobles were arranged on either side.

My seat was an isolated chair placed among them.

[They comfortably sit on their soft chairs, while your chair looks exceptionally uncomfortable!]

‘You are right.’

True to Greed’s word, my seat was a hard wooden chair with no cushion.

Familiar faces were scattered throughout the room – the nobles who had been in turmoil during the founding festival.

People who would have died if it weren’t for me.

In addition, the duchess, including the Duke of Perdia, and his two sons were also seen, as was Duke Angellus, who strongly advocated for this great conference.

“They’re all people I know…”

I muttered to myself as I sat down and locked eyes with Empress Salvatrice, who sat directly across from me.

Her eyes narrowed, as if she’d remembered my words that I would beat Beltran him if would I marry him.

“Let us begin.”

At the Empress’s words, the servant beside her nodded vigorously and exclaimed.

“We will now commence the council meeting to discuss the Rift Incident that occurred during the founding festival!”

The council meeting had begun.

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