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Episode 18.

When the spring breeze turned the trees a fresh shade of blue, the doors of Truto Public Noble School opened. The narrow corridors were bustling with new students as lively and refreshing as young sprouts.

Among them, there were two standout individuals: Evan and Riett. Evan, in particular, had already garnered attention due to the fame of Duke Kreutz, but recently, he had become even more renowned because of the scandal involving Duchess Kreutz. This made Riett genuinely concerned about Evan for the first time.

Just as Duke Kreutz worried, the noble school was an unpredictable place. With only three coveted thrones, the competition was fierce. Someone like Evan, an unbelievable prodigy, would be torn apart for even the tiniest flaw.

Riett had tried several times before the admission to ask Evan if he would be okay, but she missed the right timing. It was because there had been significant changes between Evan and Riett since the day Evan fell ill.

For example, Evan stopped expressing his feelings to Riett. He no longer teased her with playful words or engaged in actions that showed concern.

Riett felt relieved. She thought that Evan’s affection had settled down, like a momentarily rising surge of heat.

It was fortunate. The long-standing relationship they had maintained had been restored.

‘No, I thought it was restored.’

However, Riett soon discovered that her relationship with Evan had transformed into another form.

It happened one day.

Riett found Evan reading a book that was not the imperial etiquette book Duke Kreutz had told him to memorize.

“You’ve memorized all the imperial etiquette?”

“I memorized it before you even finished reading the first line.”

At first, Riett thought it was just a subtle change in his tone. He was just a guy who was subtly irritating by his mere presence.

But it wasn’t a misconception.

She could feel it once again during their monthly horse race competition.

“I’ll win this race.”

“Give it your all, Riett. The outcome has already been determined.”

Riett soon realized that Evan no longer liked her.

Now that Evan had shed his shell, he no longer tried to make himself look good or to show consideration. Therefore, his original attitude began to show.

‘Oh, this is your true nature.’

After gaining this realization, Riett started to stick to Evan whenever they met.

To be precise, saying she stuck to him wasn’t accurate. Riett herself burst into flames whenever Evan threw a spark.

As this relationship continued, she couldn’t bring herself to voice her concerns about Evan.

But now, on the first day of school, when she felt the hesitation of other students, her worries for Evan resurfaced.

Riett believed it was finally time to bring up the feelings she had suppressed.

“Hey, Evan.”


“Are you… okay?”

As they walked together through the corridors, Evan turned his head and looked at Riett.


“I mean, you’re attracting a lot of attention.”

Upon hearing Riett’s cautious words, Evan smiled as if he was pleased.

“Are you worried about me right now?”

“It’s ……. I shouldn’t have said that.”

With a teasing tone, Riett excitedly nodded her head and increased her walking speed. Soon, Evan caught up with her and grabbed her arm. A smile was drawn on his face.

“Riett, do you think I’m someone who attracts attention?”


At the unexpected remark, Riett abruptly stopped in her tracks.

“Well, there might be people looking at me. But you know, Riett.”

Evan stopped and whispered into Riett’s ear.

“Look around you. Do you see anyone who stands out as much as you?”

Riett furrowed her brow and looked around. People were staring at her and Evan with surprised expressions. The gazes were more explicit than before. Suddenly, Riett realized that she was standing too close to Evan.

“Ah, I get it, so go away!”

Finally satisfied, Evan smiled and moved away.

By the time they reached the school building, Riett had figured out the true meaning of Evan’s words.

The gazes were not directed at Evan but at her.

Apparently, there were hardly any girls at the school, and her vibrant red hair stood out even from a distance.

‘Oh, they were looking at me.’

Riett felt flattered, but she tried not to show it and casually changed her stride, pretending to be unaffected.

As they approached the front of the building, they noticed a crowd of people.

“Oh, it’s the class placement list.”

People were gathered to look at the list of newly assigned students posted on the building.

Riett also checked her class placement list. At the top of the list in Class A, she found “Riett MarRen.”

‘So, I’m in Class A.’

After passing through Classes B, C, and D, she finally found Evan’s name.

‘Evan is in Class E.’

They were in different classes, and their assigned buildings were even far apart.

Riett thought it was for the best. After spending so much time together with Evan, she wanted to take this opportunity to be away from him and try to make other friends.

“Oh, Evan.”

Riett looked at Evan, expecting a similar reaction. However, his expression was dark, almost hardened.

Riett was momentarily surprised by Evan’s unexpected demeanor, but she quickly put on a mischievous expression and patted Evan’s shoulder.

“It’s a bit sad to be separated from me, but what can you do?”


“You can make lots of other friends during this time.”

She thought she would throw a playful remark and laugh as usual, but Evan remained silent.

“Well then, I’m going.”

Riett waved her hand in front of Evan’s wordless face and moved on.

As she entered the assigned classroom on the second floor, Riett felt all the students’ gazes turning toward her.

Feeling the unfamiliar attention, Riett awkwardly went to her seat.

As she sat there with nothing to do, she could overhear whispers being exchanged discreetly.

“Isn’t she Riett, the daughter of Duke Marren?”

“Seems like it. I heard she dresses and acts like a boy, but she’s surprisingly pretty, isn’t she?”

If you’re going to whisper, at least lower your voice…

At first, Riett felt flustered by the significant attention, but gradually, she felt like a spectacle in the marketplace, and her mood sank.

“So, the person she was with earlier is Evan, right? He looked like a sculpture or something.”

“Rumors say they’re engaged. You saw them whispering in front of the class placement list earlier, they look like a couple…”

“No, that’s not true!”

Eventually, Riett couldn’t hold back and abruptly stood up. She was already annoyed by the comment about Evan’s good looks, but the shocking news of their engagement made her burst out.

The gazes that were pretending not to notice suddenly fixated on Riett.

Seizing the opportunity, Riett thought she should give them a warning.

“And you guys, if you have something to say, say it properly in front of me! Don’t whisper!”

As the boys surrounded her, expecting her to be shy, a tense atmosphere filled the air.

However, it didn’t last long.

“If you feel upset, I’m sorry!”

“We were just curious because you and Evan are so famous.”

“Wow, your hair is really red.”

Thinking that allowing them to speak properly was approval, they all gathered around Riett.

‘What, what.’

Her expected reaction wasn’t this.

“You and Evan rarely attend social gatherings either.”

“That’s why we were curious.”

“And we thought you’d be snobby, being the only two dukes in the empire!”

It didn’t take long for their misunderstanding to be cleared up.

It was due to Riett’s nonchalant and rough behavior.

* * *

As time passed, Riett naturally assimilated into the group of students she had once found difficult. The attitudes of the boys towards Riett could be broadly categorized into two types.

The first type was the affectionate ones who treated the pretty Riett well. The second type was the skeptical ones who didn’t take kindly to the fact that a girl had enrolled in a prestigious school.

Fortunately, the former outnumbered the latter by a large margin, so even after three months since her enrollment, there were no major obstacles in Riett’s school life.

Evan also adapted well to the school. Although they had significantly fewer opportunities to meet as they grew apart physically, rumors about him could be easily heard from anywhere.

During that time, Evan had successfully established his territory within the school.

The method was simple. There was a clear hierarchy among the boys, and Evan proved that he occupied the highest position in that hierarchy.

He approached those who were friendly to him with kindness, solidifying his supporters, and dealt with those who ruthlessly provoked him, to the point where they served as examples.

Although it was unclear how he dealt with them specifically, those who used to provoke him soon found themselves wary of Evan and kept their distance.

Interestingly enough, there was one more famous person besides Evan and Riett.

“Hello, Riett.”

That famous person was Lucas Holton, who was currently greeting her.

Lucas had shiny platinum hair and delicate features. Apart from Evan during his childhood, she had never seen such a beautiful man before.

However, his fame was not solely due to his appearance.

Despite belonging to a relatively powerless noble family that was hardly known, his bright and friendly personality made him known to everyone at school.

He also approached Riett with affectionate words.

“The weather is nice today, Riett.”

“Yes, it is.”

“Shall we have lunch outside?”

With his gentle and amiable personality, Lucas easily approached Riett and quickly became close to her.

“Sure, that’s fine.”

“It’s unusual for Riett and me to have lunch outside, just the two of us. Other kids will probably be watching.”

He playfully whistled.

Riett ignored Lucas, as if she was used to his antics, and continued walking.

They settled on a cozy bench under the shade of a tree and took out their lunch boxes. Lucas asked,

“Do you know something?”


“Is one intimidating look from Evan scarier than a hundred people staring at me?”

Lucas chuckled and said with a smirk.

“I think Evan doesn’t like me.”

“Are there people who don’t like you?”

Riett retorted dismissively, and Lucas chuckled.

“I don’t know about that. Some people dislike others for no reason.”

“While Evan may be a bad guy, he’s not the type to dislike people without reason.”

“You’re upset, Riett. Taking Evan’s side.”

“Stop making noise and eat your lunch!”

Riett threatened with her fork, and Lucas reluctantly took the fork from her.

“By the way, the grades will be announced soon.”

Lucas said as he took a bite of the bread he brought for lunch.

As Lucas mentioned, it was the day when the three-month academic performance would finally be announced.

The grades were based on exams in history, politics, the military, and religion, as well as outdoor activities such as fencing, horseback riding, and archery.

“So, are you confident?”

“I’ll come out as good as I worked.”

Lucas burst into laughter at Riett’s ambiguous remark. And he subtly continued,

“The school atmosphere will change a lot once the grades are announced.”

Riett knew what Lucas was talking about.

Until the grades are announced, it’s uncertain who should be watched out for the most. But once they rank in the top three, it becomes clear who everyone’s enemies are.

There are only three seats on the throne.

“Oh, hi, Riett.”

A boy who appeared out of nowhere stuttered and greeted them.

Interrupted by the sudden intrusion, Riett, and Lucas stopped talking.

“Oh, should I leave the seat?”

Lucas said, tossing his head as if familiar with the situation.

Riett sighed before the boy could say anything.

“Riett… T-take this.”

The shy boy almost threw a letter with a heart drawn on the envelope at Riett’s feet and left.

“It’s already the nth time. Being popular is tiring.”

Lucas bent down, picked up the letter instead, and handed it to Riett. After receiving the letter, Riett casually glanced at the envelope with a heart drawn on it.

Riett wasn’t pleased with this kind of attention from boys.

Aside from the burden it brought, she knew that they didn’t perceive her as a competitor, which was why they showed interest.

In academic fields, Riett could surpass them, but in areas that required physical strength like fencing or archery, the difference would be obvious.

However, contrary to Riett’s concerns, the boys’ interest didn’t last long.

It all changed when the bulletin board announcing the ranking was put up.

1st place: Evan Kreutz

2nd place: Riett Marren

3rd place: Lucas Holton

And a lot has changed since that day.

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