61. They forget who they hit
Izekiel’s head moved up and down.
I became very curious about the fake reasons he had been thinking of.
My anticipation grew in proportion to my curiosity.
The Izekiel I had encountered was more of a fool, but the Izekiel described in the original work was a ‘man skilled in strategy’.
Eventually, Izekiel’s lips started to utter new words.
A trick to deceive Miller, whose intentions are unclear.
“Use the excuse of Master Lenox.”
If it’s Lenox…
I recalled Lenox from the hunting competition.
His hair, which was fiery red like an eternal torch. His arrogant face with an air of superiority.
Oh, but that man…
Upon closer consideration…
…He’s quite handsome, isn’t he?
Lenox was the type with a lot of wildness like Hernan, but he didn’t seem as rough.
A type one could often see among knights.
A “basic wild beast type,” perhaps.
In contrast, Hernan could be called a “premium wild beast type.”
There was no other face with the level of untamed wildness that Hernan possessed.
No, but if all the nobles who inherited Apophis’s blood were handsome…
‘Just how handsome is that dragon, anyway?’
I couldn’t even guess what Apophis looked like.
He might be so handsome that I’d go blind just by looking at his face.
“Are you thinking about Master Lenox’s face right now?”
I was startled and looked at Izekiel.
How did he know that I was thinking about Lenox’s face?
There were no ghosts around.
“I considered Master Lenox’s face as common.” (T/n: Sorry I didn´t found a better choice to translate this so that the reply from Hernon would make sense >.< Sometimes some things don´t translate well.)
Is this what it feels like when a thief treads on my foot?
“You did it, you have done it.”
“Supply? You mean like an army’s supply? Lennox’s face plastered all over the place?” (T/n: As I said, she meant it like his face is everywhere = common)
Izekiel was shaking his head in disbelief, while Hernan interpreted my words in his own way.
I scratched my cheek awkwardly.
“It’s a fairly accurate statement. Your Highness Hernan’s face is a rare find anywhere, compared to Lennox’s.”
“You are implying that I am better anyway.”
I replied meekly.
“Yes, Your Highness Hernan, you are absolutely right.”
He wore a smug expression of superiority.
“Enough! Let’s stop talking about faces.”
Izekiel steered the conversation back on track.
“When Illiya was young, he used to meet Master Lenox occasionally. Could Master Lenox have been Illiyas only friend?”
It was a fact I didn’t know.
And it seemed like Hernan didn’t know either.
“…Lenox was close to Illiya? This is the first time I’ve heard of it.”
“Of course! You weren’t interested in Illiya even when you were young. How would you know who Illiya’s friend was when you were always at the training ground?”
Hernan’s face visibly darkened.
It overshadowed his pride in his own appearance.
“Hernan, I don’t want to blame your indifference now.”
“Illiya’s situation is not solely your fault but the fault of our whole family.”
It was ten years ago, when Illiya was eight years old.
The civil war had just broken out.
Delta and Angel were really busy, Izekiel was in a bad state of mind after being abused by his uncle, and Hernan was in the middle of practicing his martial training.
So, no one could really pay attention to Illiya, Izekiel added.
“…The only person Illiya met at that time was Master Lenox.”
“Then, perhaps Master Lenox knows the reason why Prince Illiya went into hiding?”
Izekiel let out a sigh, indicating that it was unlikely.
“Well, even if he does know, he probably wouldn’t tell us, right?”
“Is it because he’s against the imperial family?”
“Exactly. Oh, Linzel, you’re quite smart, aren’t you?”
How ignorant does this brother think I am.
“Because I know everything there is to know?”
“Don’t look down on Linzel.”
I glanced at Hernan.
‘Who was it that said I looked like I wouldn’t read a book!’
Hernan gave me a shameless grin. As if he didn’t remember what he’d said before.
This man. Why do I feel like he’s getting smarter with each passing day?
“So, we’ll tell Marquis Miller, ‘Lennox said something hurtful to Illiya, so Illiya turned his back on the world.”
“Will Viscount Miller believe it? The reason is too simple…”
Viscount Miller was not an easy person.
Would he be so easily deceived by a shallow story?
I worried that he would never be willing to give away his family’s seal.
But Izekiel was determined.
“He will be fooled, because…….”
“Because I went through something similar.”
Izekiel continued with lowered eyes.
The emotions he felt when he was abused by his uncle and heard hurtful words.
“I wanted to give up everything. In my young heart, I didn’t want to face the world.”
His long eyelashes drooped downward, as if they were trembling.
I felt sorry for him.
For him, who couldn’t overcome his childhood trauma and still mistakenly believed that I was being abused.
“But I am resilient and strong, so I endured and overcame all those trials.”
“What trials? You actually became a popular figure in society!”, Hernan added.
Izekiel shrugged as he lifted his gaze.
The sullen mood had been neatly erased.
….The sense of pity had been canceled.
The prideful Izekiel looked belittled.
“Do you mind if I kick him?”, Izekiel asked me.
“It’s tempting. Or should I do it instead…?”
Izekiel touched his forehead.
“Just kick me. And you´re not done yet, are you?”
Hernan gestured as if to encourage him further.
“As much as Viscount Miller, no one knows what I went through with my uncle as well. That’s why Viscount Miller has no choice but to believe me.”
He would believe him because there have been similar incidents in the past, Izekiel explained.
Listening to Izekiel’s words all the way to the end, I began to have some trust in the reason he had concocted.
“And you don’t have to live on the edge of your seat wondering if Lord Lennox will find out you’re lying.”
Izekiel said with a meaningful tone.
“The one who hit will forget everything. Forget who they hit or tormented.”
He also subtly glanced at Hernan, but I couldn’t bring myself to ask, “Did you get slapped by his Highness Hernan?”
I wanted to preserve Izekiel’s dignity.
“Even if Master Lenox actually hurt Prince Illiya, he might have forgotten about it by now, right?”
“Yeah. It’s in the past. Besides, friends hurting each other is common.”
“Well, even if Viscount Miller goes to Master Lenox and asks about it, and Master Lenox denies it, it doesn’t matter.”
“That side has no evidence either. Unless Prince Illiya speaks up, nothing can be proven.”
That was a valid point.
The key to this issue lay with Prince Illiya alone.
“And there are quite a few palace servants who know that Prince Lenox and Prince Illiya were close.”
Izekiel mentioned that he had already put those servants under surveillance.
Hernan provided the final touch.
“And through this, we can also give Lenox, who used to be a thorn in our side, a taste of his own medicine.”
Hernan clenched his fists tightly.
For reasons unknown, he seemed to hold a grudge against Lenox.
I followed Hernan’s lead and clenched my fists as well.
“All right! Let’s go with the excuse of Master Lenox!”
Izekiel said with a smirk.
“Then let’s summon Viscount Miller to the palace.”
But here’s the thing.
Since when did Izekiel start participating in our plan?
He had naturally decided to accompany us.
Now, it seemed too late to ask Izekiel to leave, given his determination.
This combination, should be fine, right?
* * *
I asked what the best way was to dress up a lie as the truth.
“That’s all about attitude. Creating an atmosphere that suggests you’ll only speak the truth! An unwavering gaze! A firm tone!”
If you can create the right atmosphere, falsehoods can easily pass for truth.
“Let’s practice telling lies well today.”
“Linzel. Have I ever lied to you? You seem to know me too well.”
Hernan looked suspicious of me.
“No way. Your Highness. I couldn’t have lied to you.”
At least, I hadn’t lied to Hernan.
But there had been a lie to Father and Letty.
‘I fell in love with Prince Hernan at first sight.’
A lie to prevent Letty from marrying Hernan.
A lie that Hernan didn’t know about.
While I hadn’t fallen in love at first sight, Hernan had grown quite likable now…
Could it be a lie that was close to the truth?
“I’m glad to hear there isn’t one.”
“Your Highness, have you ever lied to me?”
Hernan persisted stubbornly.
“I hate lies. I haven’t spared those who lied to me.”
…Lying to Hernan is a matter of life and death.
“But today’s lie is for your sake, Linzel, so I guess it can’t be helped.”
“I don’t have to lie. I’m an honest person.”
Izekiel, who interjected into our conversation.
“I’ve never asked Your Highness Izekiel.”
“But you might have been curious secretly.”
I muttered under my breath.
“I like it when you don’t talk.”
“Come on, let’s go quickly. We’re already running late for our appointment. Hehe!”
I let out a familiar fake sneeze and then rubbed my nose.
As time passed, the frequency of my fake sneezes had clearly decreased.
I still struggled with the occasional sneeze.
Maybe my allergies would go away when summer came.
“He can wait for us.”
The one Hernan was referring to was none other than Miller.
Yesterday evening, we had devised a plan and sent a message to Miller, instructing him to come to the palace.
So today, Miller had come to the palace as instructed.
We were on our way to the reception room to meet Miller, who had arrived ahead of us.
Part of the reason we were running late was my fault since I couldn’t walk any faster.
I didn’t want to cause them unnecessary trouble, so I didn’t show any signs of struggling.
“Linzel, you seem tired. I’ll carry you.”
Hernan seemed to have noticed that I was exhausted.
“Your Highness Hernan, I’ve been waiting for you to say that.”
He’s really affectionate at times like this.
Hernan lifted me up effortlessly. I instinctively wrapped my arms around his neck.
The sensation of being carried was perfect.
“You’re still so light.”
“If I get heavier, will you still like me?”
“Linzel, you need to stop asking obvious questions.”
I nestled my face against his chest. It was a sign of happiness.
By now, Izekiel would usually have something to say, but for some reason, I couldn’t hear his teasing remarks.
After a few more minutes of walking, we arrived at the drawing room.