The days passed uneventfully as they waited for Gemma to wake up and for the information guild to get back to them. Even Elaina, who was sure to have her hands full, was quiet.
It all seemed so normal that it was odd.
Then one day, Adilac grumbled softly.
“Citrina, I was expecting more.”
“What were you expecting?”
“Of the canceled requests, only half of them came back.”
Adilac whispered sullenly. She was right. Not many of the canceled requests had come back.
“Only half returned!”
“Yes. I guess it’s good.”
They were lucky.
“You’ll be able to focus.”
Citrina laughed cheerfully. Seeing her smile, Adilac nodded vigorously.
Adilac smiled broadly at Citrina’s words. Her face sparkled like a gem.
She hoped that all of these fantastic times were as pleasant for Adilac as they were for her.
Read only on salmonlatte.com
“I’m going to work really hard. You’ll see.”
“No one can beat a genius who puts in the effort, but today you should rest. Your hands are probably sore.”
Crafting with magic also had a price. The more you used it, the more your fingertips would crack.
Adilac was human too. She couldn’t help but pay the price.
“My hands…they look ugly, right?”
“It’s okay if they’re not pretty. It means you put in a lot of effort.”
Citrina gently squeezed Adilac’s hand gently. Adilac smiled.
“Yes. Then…I’ll take a break today. Thank you.”
Adilac nodded, her voice softening. Citrina slowly let go of Adilac’s hand.
“I’ll close the doors of the atelier then.”
“Citrina! So what are you going to do today?”
There was still some time left before the information guild got there, so she should go to the bookstore and purchase the book <Diary of a Spiritist> that the princess recommended.
With that, Citrina spoke up.
“I’m going to the bookstore.”
‘Does it have any in-depth details about elementism?’
It was a romance novel, so it wouldn’t be about spirits. She wondered what could be inside to make the princess recommend the book.
“Then should I come with you?”
However, reading <Diary of a Spiritist> would have to wait till later.
Someone knocked on the atelier door.
Slowly, Citrina’s body froze up.
There, staring back at her, was someone she expected to see at some point but had deemed unworthy of seeing before now.
He stared at Citrina.
“It’s been a long time, my daughter”
“Since four years ago, I am not your daughter.”
For Baroness Foluin, she didn’t know her. As for Baron Foluin, Citrina didn’t want to use words like pity, compassion, or mercy.
“Close the door, Lita.”
Lita hesitated, so Citrina took a step closer.
His appearance was extremely shabby. It was typical of a fallen aristocrat. She saw a shabby face and haggard expression.
“Ex, excuse me.”
The man who had always spoken authoritatively to Citrina was now looking at her with a face she had never seen before.
“I’m coming in!”
It wasn’t a question.
The baron pushed his way in, strength coming from his small form.
“I have something to say that you need to hear at least.”
This was Baron Foluin who had never sought her out.
If he was here, there was a good chance Elaina was behind this.
‘If she has sent Baron Foluin as her next move, I’ll have to deal with him appropriately.’
Lita and Adilac quietly set up a seat. Citrina stomped back into the workshop. Following behind her, Baron Foluin’s eyes scanned the room.
“Citrina, this father always knew you would be so successful.”
Smiling, Baron Foluin waited for more of a response, but Citrina didn’t say anything more. Her face was impassive.
“Get to the point.”
He was taken aback, but he feigned being calm since he had heard it all from Elaina.
“S, sure. You grew up into a good kid, but now we’re in trouble. You must have seen it in the newspaper?”
“Is that your point?”
The baron averted his gaze and lay down the flag.
“Are, are you angry that I didn’t find you since I’ve been busy living? That’s possible. Don’t you think so?”
He looked around, but no one answered him.
He pulled down his old tattered fedora. Salt and pepper grey hair was visible.
“As you know, I have endeavored to raise the name of our family.”
In this day and age, fallen aristocrats were treated no differently than the merchant class.
Now he was a noble who had to work.
Baron Foluin had done everything he could to reclaim his lands- small businesses, debt-ridden investments, and finally gambling.
His downfall was gambling. Once he turned to gambling, his life quickly fell apart. His family’s life suffered too.
Read only on salmonlatte.com
“Yes. You’ve been through a lot.”
Citrina said sarcastically. The baron’s wrinkles twitched around the corners of his mouth.
“Well…since then, I’ve incurred a few more debts. Citrina, ever since you left…I’ve made a pretty good living, and there was a place that was willing to lend me some money. And the rest of the debt is coming due.”
The way Citrina avoided his gaze was ominous. The baron began to ramble.
“So I was wondering if you could help me out a little bit…”
Citrina cut him off, the weight was heavy on her shoulders.
“Get to the conclusion. You’re using my name to pay the debt, that’s it.”
“Alright, Citrina, dear, you speak too harshly. If you want to get into a good house, you must speak softly.”
Citrina’s tone became even harsher.
Right, he was trying to throw her down into that hole,
however, Citrina had no intention of bowing down to him.
“Then do this: go bankrupt and sell your noble title.”
In the past, Citrina had done practically anything to help out. Things that young noble girls don’t do.
He must have thought back to those days-
back to the old Citrina Foluin who would do anything to earn a penny for her family.
“I checked, and they say that this atelier is quite expensive and that…if you lent me a bit of your atelier’s seal, I can get quite a bit of money. Don’t you think so?”
To put it another way, he was being extremely obvious.
“Do you mean you’re going to borrow more funds using the atelier as collateral?”
Elaina had set a trap for her. No matter how much she struggled, as long as she was bound by blood, she could never get away from this family.
If the entire Foluin family was stigmatized, Elaina was as likely to be wronged as her. So she was trying to make Citrina suffer by putting the shackles of the family on her.
There was also the matter of Citrina receiving an aristocratic title in her own right.
She would feel pressured to help the family for the sake of her own reputation.
‘Elaina, really…too obvious.’
And the same went for Baron Foluin.
Citrina slowly swept her disheveled hair behind her ear.
To be frank, she wasn’t even angry.
“You’re our first daughter, we have high hopes for you, and you’ve been successful. You should be helping to raise this family.”
Baron Foluin’s face was pale as he handed her a piece of paper.
“I have this IOU, so pay it back quickly!” [T.L. Note: An IOU is a note saying how much money you owe someone.]
Citrina looked coldly at the baron’s shouting face.
“Don’t give me orders in a condescending manner.”
Read only on salmonlatte.com
The baron shrank in a hurry as he realized his own position, but it was too late.
“I know you won’t blink even if I die right here.”
Just as the baron had behaved in <Elaina’s Flower Garden>.
And Citrina had no intentions of sinking into the pit in order to help her family.
“A, apologies. Then you can find someone else. I’ve heard you’re close to th, the famous duke, and so is my Rina. So perhaps…”
Baron Foluin’s “Rina” must be referring to Elaina.
Citrina looked into the darkened eyes full of expectations and spoke.
“You’ll never meet anyway, so don’t go looking for him.”
“What do you mean, we’ll never meet?”
“Because His Excellency Duke Pietro and I are merely patron and client.”
Citrina smiled, going back to her gracefulness. She couldn’t tell if Elaina would believe this information.
‘You’re trying to use Baron Foluin to drive a wedge between Desian and me, so I’m mixing in a few lies.’
It was to get Citrina to constantly ask Desian for unreasonable favors for her family.
“At any rate, it was a funny story.”
“I don’t know what was so funny, but I’ll leave you to it. I’m sure you’ll pay me back.
You may have gotten a little cheeky, but I’m sure you haven’t forgotten about family ties.”
“Ah, so I’m supposed to pay your debts for what my father did without my consent?”
Citrina asked calmly.
The baron’s pretentious expression was funny.
He left the IOU note on the table as he made his way out the door. Citrina didn’t see him off gracefully.
She had the IOU in her hand.
Citrina pulled out a small piece of paper. The destination at the top was Ponem. [T.L. Note: Honestly, I am confused as to what Ponem is. Maybe we’ll find out in a future chapter.]
-I need you to replay the scene from a minute ago and record it for me.
Light began to shimmer around Gemma’s body, and a sapphire the size of a fingertip appeared on the table.
-Is this the video sphere?
The debt had nothing to do with her, but Gemma’s ability could solve it.
Though the baron who was already out of the atelier wouldn’t know that.
Alright, let’s put your mind at ease.