Charlotte raised her head abruptly. She had never heard such nonsense in her entire life. On the contrary, she would often hear praises like ‘Charlotte has the most adorable smile in the world!’
‘This is a matter of Bravant’s honor,’ she thought. She couldn’t let it pass like this.
Fired up, Charlotte grabbed the inspector who was trying to move past her.
“Are your eyes defective? Look at me again!”
“Look again! My smile is the most captivating in the world! There has never been a man who wasn’t enchanted by my smile!”
Honestly, she could brush off her sister’s compliments as a doting sister’s flattery. But when she thought about the nobleman who competed with each other at every social gathering as if vying for her attention, objectively speaking, she definitely did not have an unpleasant appearance.
“Above all, my smile resembles my late mother’s.”
“What did you say? That knight insulted the pink-haired kid’s mother?!”
“He insulted my mother. And not just any mother, but my late mother…”
The onlookers, including the other people in the queue, reprimanded the inspector, even the mansion’s servants muttered in disapproval. In response, the inspector reluctantly mumbled, “Haha, such an attractive smile.”
He sneered in a condescending manner, making sure only Charlotte could hear that.
“But even so, you’re still rejected, kid.”
“We’ll see about that, won’t we?”
Charlotte responded confidently and opened her palm.
She didn’t know the exact criteria for passing, but if she were to be rejected here, she was prepared to cross the fence and enter by any means necessary. Inside this mansion was the person that could save her sister’s life, and she would never give up.
“Just a moment…”
At that moment, when Charlotte firmly made up her mind, the inspector, who had paused for a moment, grabbed her hand and closely examined her palm.
Due to her rigorous sword training, her calloused palms were thoroughly inspected. Suddenly, the inspector groaned and said, “Passed.”
“What did you say?!”
“Do you want me to reject you?”
“No, thank you!”
Thinking that the inspector was about to reject her again, Charlotte quickly lowered her head.
The inspector lifted a pen, as if about to write her name in the visitor’s register, and cleared his throat.
Caught off guard, Charlotte flinched as she was about to say her real name.
She was currently disguised as a man. With her short, pink-colored wig and the hastily torn-off mustache, she still had the appearance of a man.
Charlotte muttered under her breath, “Cha-Charles.”
“Alright, Charles. You may enter.”
As Charlotte stepped forward, she turned her head.
However, the inspector who locked eyes with her only lift up the corners of his mouth sinisterly, without saying a word.
Charlotte felt a lump in her throat, but she didn’t have the desire to ask anything. She was determined to meet Ethan and convince him to stop her sister’s marriage. Once she achieved that, she would have no further business in this mansion.
‘Whether it’s Charlotte or Charles, I’ll do as I please.’
With a nickname she would carry for the rest of her life, she stepped into the mansion.
Surprisingly, the path to her destination, the Order of Knights, was clearly marked with arrows. Whenever she got confused, guides stationed throughout the mansion pointed her in the right direction.
‘Quite strange. Do I really look like someone who has business with the Order of Knights?’
After a long walk, she arrived in a spacious room that resembled a waiting area. Inside, people with permits were relaxing. Charlotte looked around, but there were no more guides, and the arrows ended here. So, she decided to approach someone nearby and ask for directions.
A bald man with intimidating muscles stared down at her. However, his gaze was fixed on the top of her wig. As she started to worry that her disguise was becoming obvious, she noticed a subtle sense of empathy and pity in the eyes of the bald man who was looking at her.
“Tsk, tsk, such a shame at a young age.”
She was slightly irritated, but she reminded herself of her mission.
She would calm down for her sister!
“I need to go somewhere, but the arrow ends here. Sir, do you know the way around here?”
“To enter the Order of Knights, you must pass the second test.”
“It’s only natural considering the reputation of the Black Dragon Knights.”
“I understand the reputation, but…”
Does it really have to be this complicated just to visit one person? It might even escalate to a third test!
It would be easier to understand if it was an entrance exam for the Order of the Knights.
“Grand Duke Ludovica strictly prohibits outsiders from entering.”
The voice of the traitor suddenly echoed in Charlotte’s mind as she grumbled.
“Shave off this guy’s beard and plant it in the backyard!”
“This is ridiculous! Let go of me! I said let go!”
The image of an assassin hiding a poisoned needle in his beard also flashed in her mind.
‘Well, considering the Grand Duke Ludovica’s position, he must’ve made plenty of enemies.’
Raphael Astrid La Ludovica.
He was known as the strongest knight on the continent, not only because of his strength but also because of his reputation as a war hero. In his early days, he single-handedly stopped invasions from neighboring countries and even brought one of them under his rule.
In response, the Emperor was delighted and bestowed upon his nephew the new name ‘Ludovica’ and the title of a Grand Duke. The influence of the Grand Duke extended not only within the military but also in politics.
‘Perhaps the reputation of being a lunatic is just nonsense fabricated by his enemies.’
Shaking her head, Charlotte followed the lead of those around her and warmed up her body. For some reason, everyone seemed to be preparing for something, and she felt a bit uneasy being the only one standing still.
“Now, we will begin the second test.”
“Those called in are in Group 1, step forward!”
Two inspectors called out names one after another.
In Group 1, which included Charlotte, there was the young man who had glanced at her from behind earlier and the bald man with a subtle sense of empathy toward her.
Trying to act nice to them and smile, Shasha approached the bald man. He extended his hand in response.
“I’ve taken a liking to you, kid. My name is Baron.”
“Nice to meet you, Uncle Baron!”
“Just one smile, and he’s already like this?! As expected, he must’ve used a bewitching spell…”
While Charlotte warmly greeted bald man with her unique charm, the young man widened his eyes again and gradually took a step back.
‘What’s wrong with him? Is he insane?’
Charlotte clicked her tongue and shook her head disapprovingly seeing the strange young man.
The participants for the knight test were divided into three groups, with about 20 people in each group.
Group 1 followed the guidance of the inspector and were led to the training grounds.
The inspector gathered everyone inside and explained the rules of the test.
“The method is simple. Just be alive until I blow the whistle again later.”
‘Staying alive? What does that even mean?!’
Charlotte wanted to question why a survival test was necessary for a knight visitation, but she wasn’t given the opportunity to ask. As soon as the inspector blew the whistle, the atmosphere inside the arena changed instantly.
They all drew their weapons and began swinging them fiercely. Among them were spiked maces, and even a single blow from it seemed certain to be fatal.
No one dared to step forward, and the tense standoff continued. Then, the one with the mace suggested an idea.
“Shall we start with the easy ones?”
The mace pointed to Charlotte and the young man with wide eyes since they were relatively small in stature.
Amidst the tense atmosphere, they were driven toward a corner like prey in a hunting game.
“What, what, what should we do?”
The young man’s eyes darted frantically. He looked so pitiful that Charlotte, with a click of her tongue, decided she had to find a way to save him no matter what.
Despite the young man’s body trembling like a bamboo leaf in the wind, he suddenly does something.
“Haha, what’s that idiot doing?!”
The burly men who had openly mocked the young man with wide eyes were suddenly caught off guard.
“Whoosh. Whoosh, dodge! Dodge, whoosh! Whoosh, dodge!”
“What, what is he doing?”
“Whoosh. Dodge. Whoosh, dodge! Dodge, whoosh!”
The young man suddenly blinked his eyes rapidly and began to do an extravagant dance with his sword. He does each step as if possessed by a divine spirit.
‘It seems more than just a performance, it might be real.’
Regardless of the reason, it was clear that the young man’s chances of survival had increased. No one dared to approach him.
‘Whether it was out of fear or because he was a bit crazy…’
Either way, the tense standoff, which had revolved around the young man as a target, began to change. Among the group, Charlotte, who appeared the smallest and most vulnerable, became everyone’s target instead.
“Don’t blame us, haha!”
“If you want to blame someone, blame your own weakness. Rest in peace.”
The men closed in on Charlotte in the blink of an eye. In fact, she hadn’t even drawn her sword yet. However, she maintained a composed expression regardless of being surrounded.
Seeing this, the men raised their eyebrows in annoyance.
“Do you find us that amusing, huh?!”
“No way, you don’t know how to draw a sword, kid?”
Charlotte uncrossed her arms and looked around in silence.
“Is there anyone among you who wants to resolve this through conversation?”
“Do you think there’s such an idiot?!”
“Well, maybe not, after all.”
This situation was quite rare, so Charlotte smirked as she looked at them.
In reality, she had her own rules for dealing with people, or rather, it was a rule Grace had given her.
“Try to have a conversation before drawing your sword. Promise me.”
“Do I have to?”
“Charlotte La Bravant.”
“Why, why do you call me that? Alright, I’ll do it… But what if I ask and they refused to talk?”
“In that case…”
Chuckling with amusement, Charlotte slowly drew her sword from her waist.
“I clearly asked, okay? No backing out and say something else later.”
“W, wait, let’s just talk for a moment…”
Sensing that something was amiss, the men took cautious steps backward, but their feeble attempts were futile.
In the blink of an eye, she lunged forward with incredible speed.
Before the surprised man could even turn his body, she swiftly brought down the hilt of her sword on his neck with a smirk. The man, struck in a vital spot, collapsed weakly without even making a sound.
“You damn bastard, die!!”
As the menacing mace flew towards her head with a chilling sound, she instinctively evaded it, causing the man who threw the mace and grit his teeth in frustration.
“You insignificant little brat?!”
“I told you, you’re slow.”
Swiftly ducking down, she sprang up as soon as the mace passed by, striking the man’s chin with force.
Normally, she would have simply knocked him out, but since he had attempted to smash her own skull, mercy was unnecessary.
The man, with a twisted jaw, screamed in agony as he collapsed.
Other participants, witnessing her overwhelming prowess, hesitated and took a step back.
“She… she’s crazy.”
“We didn’t even see her move!”
“Well, who’s the next challenger?”
The men looked at her, who was grinning broadly, finally realizing that they had provoked the wrong person.
But regrets, no matter how fast, were always too late.
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