* * *
‘She’s trying to attack my dad?!’
I clamped my mouth shut, stopping the sound from leaking out.
‘She’s crazy! Completely insane!’
How could anyone come up with such a thing?
In a sense, it was a somewhat familiar development.
It didn’t just refer to all-age romance fantasy novels…
That kind of thing is often committed by villainesses in adult-oriented material…
I clenched my fist tightly.
I can’t let Dad become a night slave to a villainess!
While I was making my resolution, they were having a celebrative atmosphere, saying it was a perfect plan.
“As expected, my mother is the best! The day I become Phaeraton princess is not far away!”
Cynthia exclaimed excitedly as there was a knock on the door and Dana walked in.
“You called, miss?”
“Oh, it’s nothing. How’s your body doing?”
“I’m fine. Don’t worry.”
“If you’re fine, that’s not good! Act like you’re in more pain and move around more.”
“Why are you answering like that? Are you complaining? This is an opportunity for you to be of use to me! You’ve always been nothing but a hindrance!”
“No, I’m not complaining. I just… don’t have any particular intention…”
Dana lowered her head deeply.
“Is she always like that? Can’t even speak properly, frustrating.”
“Is this the first time she’s been like that? Well, you’ve given me a great excuse this time. You have a big heart, don’t you?”
After Lady Aphelia’s words, Cynthia fell silent and soon gave Dana a bright smile.
“Dana, I hope I didn’t hurt your feelings. Anyway, I’m glad. What’s all this fuss about Ruatisha?”
“She threw a fit over one of those many accessories she has. A younger sister should learn to give in to her older sister, and not be so greedy! She’ll soon become my real sister, you know.”
“I see. It’s a concern. A daughter with too much greed isn’t great. Looks like she’s been raised with a lot of pampering from His Excellency. I’ll have to educate her well.”
“As her sister, I’ll take good care of her. So she won’t be greedy anymore!”
The pair of mother and daughter smiled at each other.
“Dad will definitely love me more! She didn’t even know it was her own father’s birthday, that greedy brat!”
“Yeah, well, he’s only had one daughter so far, so it’s okay for her to be like that. How much will she be compared to you when you become his daughter?”
“I’m sure he’ll start comparing her to me on his birthday. She’s scrambling for last-minute gifts.”
“Come to think of it, there hasn’t been any news of her buying anything since then. Well, what can she buy in such a short time?”
“Compared to that, the gift we prepared is truly amazing! It’s a gift supported by Her Majesty the Empress!”
“When he receives that, His Excellency’s heart will surely be delighted. Alcohol, parties, and tremendous gifts. Of course, he’ll feel good.”
“Then, on that night?”
“Yes. Hehe, I’m really looking forward to it.”
Lady Aphelia licked her lips.
At that moment.
The sudden noise interrupted the conversation between the mother and daughter.
“What…? Didn’t you hear something? Wasn’t it from the bookshelf? Dana, go and check. It’s not a mouse, right?”
Dana, who bowed her head, approached this way.
* * *
Thud. I swallowed a gasp at the sound.
‘Ah, this darn notification window.’
I held my breath and focused, but because of the unexpected notification, I accidentally touched the bookshelf.
[Completed quest ⟨Three Slaps For A Bad Matchmaker⟩.]
There was no need to notify me at a time like this!
‘The rewards and other things can wait, later, later!’
As I thought that, the notification message scattered.
I huddled my body as I watched Dana getting closer and closer.
But I couldn’t move because I was afraid it would make a sound if I retreated.
I could only hope she wouldn’t notice since it was just a bookshelf filled with books.
But my hope was ruthlessly shattered.
Since I noticed her talent for drawing well, Dana was really good at noticing things.
Through the narrow gaps created by the books and the cramped space they made, barely visible shadows, Dana’s eyes met mine.
Dana’s eyes widened.
‘I was wrong.’
Dana likes me.
But she has no choice but to tell Cynthia the truth.
Even if she didn’t want to say it, she couldn’t bear not saying it because it’s scary, frightening, and terrifying.
It’s not Dana’s fault.
It’s the fault of that mother and daughter who made this little child like this.
“What? Is there something there?”
As Dana stood in front of the bookshelf, Cynthia asked, looking strange.
I calmly thought about the next situation.
‘Should I summon a novel? Can I extract an ability to erase her memories all at once?’
That’s when it happened.
Dana was rearranging the books between the bookshelves.
“The books tilted and made a sound.”
“Ugh, I thought it was a mouse again.”
“This child, don’t make scary sounds. It’s a duke’s mansion, so they manage it thoroughly.”
Dana was still sorting the books, ignoring the mother and daughter.
Her hand holding the book was trembling.
Her eyes were filled with fear and dread, and sweat streamed down her forehead like rain.
There was no trace of joy in her face after deceiving and defying Cynthia.
‘Dana, you’re so brave.’
I lightly touched her hand that was putting the book back.
Dana looked at me with surprise.
My warmth transferred to her ice-cold hand, making it lukewarm.
Similarly, the fear that filled her eyes gradually subsided.
‘And you’re an amazing child.’
Dana’s defiance against Cynthia was not for her own sake.
When she had to speak up for her own sake, Dana couldn’t do it.
That’s how much she feared Cynthia.
But how many people can stand up to fear for the sake of others?
‘Just as you helped me, I will help you.’
Looking into Dana’s trembling eyes, I made a vow in my mind.
‘So that from now on, you can stand up for yourself too.’
The only problem is whether the emotionally unstable Dana can accept the hand offered by the reader.
The quest said so.
‘In my opinion, Dana is more than capable of accepting it.’
There is still an unyielding will within this child that Cynthia has not extinguished.
At that moment, the door opened and a middle-aged woman entered.
“Young lady, you said you wanted to eat the lemon pie I made, right? I brought it.”
Cynthia greeted the nanny with a wide smile on her face.
“My nanny is truly the best! There’s no one else who thinks of me like this, right? Nanny, there’s no one else but me, right?”
“Oh my, this child. Look at you saying things like this in front of your mother.”
“That’s right, Nanny is my nanny. Right?”
“Yes, young lady.”
As the nanny handed the lemon pie to Cynthia, her gaze briefly shifted towards Dana.
It was a moment so fleeting that it could only be called an instant.
But Cynthia followed the nanny’s gaze and quickly turned her head to glare at Dana.
“What are you looking at?”
Her voice was so sharp that she felt like being whipped with a whip.
“You’re not allowed to do that. Even if you pretend, it’s obvious. The problem is that you always meddle in other people’s business without knowing your place.”
“I, I really–”
“No? Then why do you always take what’s mine? Do you know how difficult it was for me when the nanny got pregnant? She had to give birth to you when she should have been taking care of me!”
“That’s right, Cynthia suffered. I wondered if I would lose her back then when she was crying so much because her nanny wasn’t there.”
“But even with all that, the nanny was so desperate that I allowed her to raise you while taking care of me. And yet you!”
“Ah, Miss, I wasn’t staring at Dana for any particular reason. It was just a passing glance.”
At those words, sparks flew from Cynthia’s eyes.
“Why is Nanny taking her side? Nanny is my nanny!”
She stood up abruptly and started pacing back and forth.
“Look at this. Are you neglecting me now? I knew this would happen and I didn’t want it. The nanny is supposed to take care of only me, but because of she had a child, she keeps paying attention to you instead of me!”
I was stunned.
I couldn’t believe that with just a few words, she could suddenly change and start screaming like a mad person.
“I lent my nanny to you! Nanny likes me more, right?”
“Of course, of course, Miss. Dana, apologize to the young lady!”
“I, I’m sorry, Miss. I won’t covet what belongs to you anymore. I overstepped my boundaries as she was your nanny before becoming my mother.”
Dana flattened herself and began begging.
Dana was two years older than me but she’s not much bigger than me.
You can tell how small Dana is by seeing how different kids of the same age can be.
‘I’m also smaller than kids my age.’
Just seeing that child begging like that was enough to make my heart ache.
Cynthia stood with her arms crossed, watching that scene for a while before speaking.
“So you think kindness is a right. You’re such a perfect pair.”
There was a twisted sense of superiority in her eyes.
“Hmm, it’s because it’s me that I’m treating you like this. If it were someone else, it wouldn’t be so lenient. You know?”
“Yes, yes, thank you, thank you.”
Dana kept repeating words of gratitude and apology without even lifting her head.
Cynthia, intoxicated by her sense of superiority, looked down at that child.
That scene was just like me and Clatie.
‘But still, I am a reincarnator with memories from my past life. Dana…’
I clenched my fist.
I will definitely, definitely make Dana happy.
* * *
I grabbed Hedwig’s sleeve in a frenzy.
“What’s the matter, youngest Miss?”
Even in the midst of his busyness, Hedwig smiled at me.
“If the party goes on late tomorrow, what about the guests?”
“Those who need to leave will leave even if it’s late, but we have prepared guest rooms for those who want to stay comfortably. The vassals residing in the annex will stay in their assigned rooms as usual.”
Then there should be enough spectators.
As long as I can dance the sword dance well.
“By the way, have you chosen your gift for His Excellency?”
“I have, but… I don’t think he will like it very much.”
“No matter what you give, His Excellency will surely like it.”
Even if I pick up a pebble, Father will like it.
“But I don’t really want to do that.”
Hedwig had a proud smile on his face.
“Dad’s gifts are too hard to find. No matter how expensive they are, Father can afford them, and no matter how rare they are, Father can find them.”
“Our young Miss wants to give His Excellency something special.”
“Yes, something incredibly special! But I’m not sure about what I prepared.”
“I’m curious about what it could be.”
“There’s only one in the world, but if he were to receive it, he would probably… No, maybe he would refuse it, why do I think that way?”
“Well, but I think Dad would like it.”
I blushed a little, feeling embarrassed.
“I’m really curious about what gift you’ve prepared. Can you give me a hint?”
“That’s not possible. It’s a gift for Dad, so he should be the first to know.”
Hedwig suddenly tapped his forehead and looked up at the sky.
“It’s nothing. It’s just… I want to have a daughter.”
“That’s something you can’t do with Seine (Hedwig’s wife).”
“…Then maybe a granddaughter.”
“It’s not good to interfere with your son and daughter-in-law’s plans for children.”
“Ugh, I guess all I can do is pray.”
I waved my hand as I saw the other servants lingering around Hedwig.
“I’ll be going now! Everyone, let’s do our best with the preparations!”
The servants smiled and waved their hands at me.
Chapter 16. Let’s Save Dad from the Decadent R19!
A dazzling diamond chandelier.
The finest silk wallpaper and pristine white marble, golden reliefs, and sparkling jewels.
‘Oh my god….’
Lady Aphelia opened her mouth wide in astonishment.
This place was like a different world.
As a relative of the Empress, she had had the opportunity to attend several palace banquets, and she prided herself as someone with a discerning eye.
She had wondered how impressive a party prepared by a lowly servant would be.
‘But this is a party prepared in just five days?!’
“No means no. It means it’s fine, and I’m turning it down because I don’t need Auntie’s help.”
“Our family is different from other places. If Auntie has experience hosting palace parties, it would be helpful, but…”
The arrogant voice of that insolent girl came to mind.
Honestly, after seeing this banquet, she couldn’t help but agree.
‘No, no. I can definitely do this much.’
She just hadn’t been given the opportunity yet.
‘I can do even better if I become a duchess.’
“Wow… This is truly the most magnificent party I’ve ever seen. It’s so amazing.”
Cynthia said in a dreamy voice.
“If I become a princess, can we have parties like this every day? Isn’t this the perfect place for me?”
Cynthia twirled around, sweeping her hair back.
“Yes, it suits you very well.”
“Hehe, since I’m wearing the dress Her Majesty the Empress gave me for the occasion!”
To captivate the Duke’s heart,
the Empress had gifted both mother and daughter with expensive dresses.
“Even if that girl has good clothes, she’ll only be wearing the Empress’s hand-me-downs. Today, I’ll be the most eye-catching!”
“Then my daughter will be the prettiest. You look just like me!”
“…It’s just a shame it’s not a dress designed by Eutra Felia.”
“They suddenly say they won’t make dresses for girls, so there’s nothing I can do.”
I wondered why.
“People are starting to arrive.”
Hearing Lady Aphelia’s words, Cynthia looked around.
“But it’s only the vassals. Is Dad not here yet?”
“Cynthia, be careful with your words. You shouldn’t call him ‘Dad’, you should call him ‘His Excellency’.”
“He’s going to be my dad soon anyway.”
“But etiquette is important. There’s no need to be reprimanded for no reason.”
“And don’t ignore the guests. Especially the vassals of Phaeraton, who even central nobles can’t ignore.”
To become a duchess, the support of the vassals was also necessary.
Lady Aphelia approached the vassals with her fan.
“I heard His Excellency won’t be celebrating his birthday. What happened?”
“It seems like it came suddenly. I was surprised when the invitation came four days ago.”
“Oh, me too. I didn’t think he would celebrate his birthday so hastily.”
Lady Aphelia casually joined the vassals’ conversation and smiled.
“I just said it was a shame to let the Imperial Hero’s birthday pass by like this.”
The guests’ eyes widened at her words.
“So he really followed Lady Aphelia’s wishes and ordered a party?”
“Well… I just said it was a shame to let the day pass by like this.”
“I said that since the time was short, we should have a family party, even if we couldn’t invite the nobles from outside, so this…….”
Lady Aphelia waved her fan and looked at the splendid banquet hall.
“Then did they follow Lady Aphelia’s wishes…”
“But His Excellency is not that kind of person. He’s a man with no feelings.”
“If he were angry, he would have shown it. I can imagine how he would have reacted. If I think about the gaze he calmly gave me, ugh…”
The vassal shuddered at the words.
It was when everyone was treating Lady Aphelia’s words as nonsense.
“Well, His Excellency hasn’t changed, has he? Looking at how he treats the youngest lady…”
“Ah, seeing how he treats the youngest lady is enough to make you change your mind…”
“But the person who wanted to celebrate wasn’t even the youngest lady…”
People’s eyes turned to Lady Aphelia.
“Of course, you’re very beautiful, but um…”
Lady Aphelia’s face turned bright red.
She turned around with her face hidden behind her fan.
‘Just wait and see. When I become a duchess, I’ll have you all dismissed!’
Lady Aphelia gritted her teeth.
It was then.