Chapter 6


As the hazy sunlight faded away, the Duke’s bedroom was engulfed in darkness. Even though it was still late afternoon, long before dinnertime, the sky was as dark as night. They said that when the true winter arrived, the days would get shorter, and at the peak of winter, it would be dark by three in the afternoon. It seemed like it was truly becoming that way.


“What are you looking at?”


The Duke turned Cordelia’s face towards him as she was gazing at the sky outside the window.


The Duke was atop Cordelia’s body. After just finishing their lovemaking, he lay lazily on her body, slightly curling one corner of his lips as if he felt uncomfortable.


“It suddenly became dark.”


In response to Cordelia’s words, Duke Calix descended from on top of her.


The Duke sat beside her and stared intently into Cordelia’s eyes.


Cordelia had a dark and melancholic gaze, much like the winter sky. Not liking her eyes in such a state, the Duke furrowed his brow.


Cordelia quickly grabbed the robe she had thrown in a corner of the bed and put it on. They had already seen everything there was to see, and it was embarrassing to be exposed naked.


The night-long affair finally ended when Cordelia fell asleep as if she had fainted. But as morning came, it started again. Until this late afternoon, Duke Calix had embraced Cordelia without a break.


She wondered how long this would continue. How much longer would he explore her body in this manner?


It has already been two weeks since the Duke woke up, but he didn’t take any particular action. He just kept holding and embracing her relentlessly.


It wasn’t because she had to act, even in the deep dawn when there was no one around. Duke Calix couldn’t leave her alone.


‘How long?’


Every day, she was tormented by him, and the uncertain future made her anxious.


Unlike Cordelia, who was like this, the Duke seemed endlessly relaxed. He seemed like someone who didn’t care about the future, no matter what happened.


Cordelia silently looked at Duke Calix. He had a mysterious and languid expression, like a beast whose inner thoughts couldn’t be understood.


“Tell me.”


He spoke, trying to figure out what was inside her.




“You have something to say, don’t you?”


He urged her to quickly reveal her true feelings with a confident tone.


“… There’s nothing.”


Cordelia couldn’t honestly say it and evaded the question. Then, Duke Calix’s gaze turned cold.


“I told you not to deceive me.”


He looked at Cordelia as he pulled her head back threateningly.


“I’m not deceiving you. It’s not like that…”


“Then speak.”


Unable to resist his words, Cordelia reluctantly opened her mouth.


“I’m curious. How long will you keep doing this?”


The Duke in front of her was completely naked, not even wearing a single thread. As his body came into view, Cordelia quickly averted her gaze into the empty space.


“How long?”


Duke Calix, who had smirked at Cordelia’s action of turning her head, now wore a puzzled expression. Then, after a moment, his face froze with coldness, as if he had realized something.


“How long will you hold onto me like a beast in heat?”




“Weren’t you satisfied?”


“That’s not it…”


“Or am I pathetic?”




“Just lusting after me in a trapped and exploited state…”


The previously satiated expression of the satisfied beast suddenly sharpened. Fear surged as Duke Calix, with a chilling voice, growled and asked.


“Don’t worry, I’m going to do it now.”




Not understanding the meaning, Cordelia asked blankly.


“Have you ever been outside the bedroom?”


The Duke spoke again with a relaxed expression.


“Except for the day I arrived here, I’ve never left this bedroom.”


That was all she saw as she walked into the room on the day she moved from Madame Polina’s house to this mansion.


“Well, that’s good. Then let’s go out and explore today.”


As Duke Calix stood up, he grabbed the robe placed on the bed and put it on.


“What are you talking about?”


Unable to understand the Duke’s words, Cordelia asked again, and the Duke gestured with his eyes towards the window.


Cordelia’s eyes widened as if they were about to pop out.


“Seriously? Go outside?”


Cordelia looked at the Duke with an expression that questioned if that made any sense, and he shrugged as if to say, “What’s the problem?”


“No, we can’t.”


Startled, the Duke rebutted unintentionally.


“Why not? There’s no danger today.”


“Still, it’s risky.”


The other maids, excluding the head maid, seemed unaware of the Duke’s condition. However, the likelihood of anyone knowing the Duke’s condition within this mansion was close to zero. And it was unlikely that the head maid would leave without leaving someone to monitor. Yet he wanted to go outside.


As Duke Calix stood up, he grabbed the robe placed on the bed.


“There are guards at the door.”


Cordelia tried to stop him, saying that it was dangerous to go out.


Ignoring Cordelia’s objection, the Duke confidently walked towards the door.


“I’ve never gone out that way.”


As Cordelia got up from the bed and hurriedly approached him, he said,


“Then what should we do?”


Not knowing what he was thinking, Cordelia asked, and he glanced at her as if scanning her.




“It would be better for you to wear a red dress. You need to catch people’s attention.”


The Duke’s words, without any context, were incomprehensible. Cordelia had no idea what he was thinking.


“You can’t go out. It would be dangerous if it becomes known that you’ve awakened. The head maid will immediately receive the news in her ears.”


Still, she couldn’t just let it happen, so she protested once again.


“The sneaky little rats will gossip and spread rumors if they catch wind of it.”


Duke Calix, who quietly watched Cordelia trying to stop him, spoke.


When the Duke and I were not acting, the maids and the people of the Duke’s residence would often appear and try to sneak a peek.


Thinking that they wouldn’t hear anything, they would giggle among themselves and have conversations. One day, they even had such a discussion.


— But isn’t it strange? Normally, when in heat, they enjoy the thrill and ravage each other in public places like corridors or gardens. But the Duke and Duchess always stay in their bedroom. Considering Duke’s behavior of seeking privacy, this is quite peculiar.


As one of the maids spoke in a low voice, others murmured in agreement. It seemed like the Duke knew what they were talking about.


“Go outside and do that?”


Cordelia’s face darkened as she realized the Duke’s intentions.


It could be used as an excuse, but the suspicious head maid might not believe it. Moreover, Cordelia couldn’t understand why they had to engage in such risky behavior.


And above all, she didn’t feel like doing it. There were already plenty of prying eyes, and to engage in such acts with the Duke outside, where they could be fully seen by others…


“For my sake?”


He grabbed Cordelia’s chin, making her meet his gaze.


“You would do anything for me. Isn’t that right, Cordelia?”


Duke Calix’s voice was chilling, as if he were disciplining a child.


Still, Cordelia’s steps didn’t falter. As she hesitated, unable to take a single step forward, he growled into Cordelia’s ear.


“What are you waiting for? Cordelia. Let’s start.”


* * *


“Did you call for me, Your Majesty?”


Ronald entered the Emperor’s office and bowed his head.


“Take a seat.”


The Emperor’s complexion had become even paler than before. However, his gaze, piercing as ever, remained sharp.


Ronald took a deep breath to compose himself. The Emperor was difficult. In front of him, it was almost impossible for Ronald to hide his true intentions.


“I have obtained the consent of the Temple and the Noble Council.”


Ronald’s hand, which was resting on the armrest of the chair, paused at the Emperor’s words. But soon, he relaxed and sat deep in the chair.


The Emperor, with his deep gaze filled with experience and wisdom, stared at Ronald.


Ronald adjusted his posture, maintaining a calm expression.


After a long while of observing Ronald, the Emperor finally spoke.


“So, you should proceed as planned.”


At the following words, excitement resurfaced on Ronald’s face.


“Rush the preparations for the coronation ceremony. I hope you will take charge, starting from Princess LaCroix’s visit.”


He was offering the position. And not only that, he was willing to relinquish the throne quickly.


“The preparation period is not ample, so I hope we can keep it simple. Is that acceptable?”


The Emperor looked at Ronald with a face seeking agreement.


“Yes, I will do as you say.”


If Empress Cassandra were to hear this, she would definitely protest, but at the moment, what mattered was not a grand coronation ceremony.


“It would be difficult for Duke Calix and Liam to attend, right?”


The Emperor asked with hopeful eyes.


“My brother is currently enjoying his newlywed life to the fullest and rarely leaves his chambers. I’ve heard that he’s completely set aside his duties. So, it’s highly likely that he won’t be able to attend.”


He explained that the Duke, completely devoted to his bride, wouldn’t bother attending events like the coronation ceremony.


“Understood. I’ve also heard about that. At this rate, we might soon have a grandchild.”


The Emperor let out a satisfied laugh.


‘So he’s watching me, not hiding the fact that he’s monitoring whether I’m doing my job properly.’


Ronald’s expression twisted. Whenever the Emperor revealed his feelings toward Duke Calix, it was painful for Ronald.


“There will be a lot to prepare. You may go now and attend to it.”


The Emperor spoke while suppressing the rising anger.




Ronald stood up from his seat and bid farewell to the Emperor.


“Remember this.”


Ronald, who was heading towards the door, was called back by the Emperor.


“If anything happens regarding Liam, I will never forgive it.”


The Emperor looked at Ronald with a stern gaze, as if warning him.


Ronald reassured the Emperor with a gentle expression, as if to say that such a thing would never happen, and greeted him before walking out of the room.


It wouldn’t happen. It wasn’t the right time yet.


* * *


“Liam, Liam. You keep talking about him till the end, don’t you?”


Ronald, who had returned to the Prince’s residence, angrily threw his clothes aside.


“Your Highness, Baron Lawrence, has arrived.”


The chamberlain spoke as he picked up the fallen clothes from the floor.


Deep wrinkles formed on Ronald’s forehead. Lawrence, who was already filthy and greedy, had the audacity to come.


“Why is he here again today?”


“He wants the right to invest in the Hern Mines…”


“What does he want?”


At the chamberlain’s words, Prince Ronald burst into laughter, as if he found it ridiculous.


The Hern Mines was a mine filled with diamonds, and Prince Ronald and his associates were investing heavily in its development. But he wants the right to invest? Does he even have the money?


“Send him away.”


When Ronald said this with an expression that showed he had no value to be dealt with, the chamberlain’s face darkened.




“The Baron is filled with poison. He is dissatisfied, saying that what Your Highness has decreed falls far short of his expectations. If he is not allowed to participate in the investment, he threatens to expose what Prince Ronald is doing.”




Ronald shattered the porcelain on the table.


“Is he blackmailing me, thinking he can get away with it?”


Ronald scolded as he looked at the chamberlain.


“Of course, I can handle it within my means. But this is an important time. Shouldn’t we avoid any disturbances due to insignificant ants?”




“I’ll pretend to entertain his request for rights and exclude him from the investment. After all, the days when his services are needed will not last long.”


At the chamberlain’s words, the corners of Ronald’s mouth curved into a smirk. His words were true. There wasn’t much time left until the day he would become Emperor.


“If he dares to threaten me, I will make him pay twice as much.”


Prince Ronald looked at the chamberlain, determined.


There was no way he would get involved with Lawrence, a mediocre nobleman buried in his rural estate. If only it weren’t for his father, the Emperor.


A month ago, Crown Prince Ronald was summoned by his father, Emperor Leopold, to the palace garden.


The Emperor, sitting in a comfortable chair, appeared frail. His usually sharp gaze had softened, and his perfect and dignified posture was slightly disheveled.


“It seems difficult for me to see flowers blooming from now on.”


The Emperor’s gaze rested on the lilac tree planted in the garden. It was a tree that Liam’s mother, Queen Consort, had loved.


After the Queen Consort passed away, the emperor ordered the garden to be filled with lilacs. When spring came, thousands of lilac trees bloomed, coloring the entire garden purple. He had said that he would not live until then. It was what he desired.


“Please don’t say such things, Your Majesty.”


Ronald pleaded, concealing his inner thoughts.


“It seems like everything has come to an end now.”


The Emperor looked at the garden with eyes filled with regret.


“I have something to ask of you.”


When the Emperor saw Ronald, his gaze became tense.


“I want to see Liam. Can you bring him to me?”


Ronald’s heart twisted at the emperor’s earnest gaze fixed upon him.


Liam. Liam.


He had left as Calix and had already been the crown prince for over three years, yet he was still searching for Liam.


The emperor had longed for Liam to become the crown prince. He was certain of it.


Unable to bear the sight of Liam becoming the crown prince, Empress Cassandra, his mother, constantly tried to harm him. She administered poison, employed assassins, and devised various schemes.


But Liam didn’t die easily. The more he survived, the more the Emperor’s anger grew. He came up with increasingly cunning and cruel plots.


As Liam, the prince, vomited blood due to poison and suffered unexpected attacks, rumors spread throughout the empire that the relationship between the brothers was strained.


At this point, the Emperor called the empress and himself together and warned them. If they caused trouble again, he would not just stand by and watch.


However, they couldn’t stop. Liam had to disappear for him to become the crown prince.


One day, unexpectedly, Liam announced that he would step down from his position as the prince. It was what he desired. It was a relief for him to leave on his own accord.


After leaving, Liam reclaimed the Northern Territory of Calix and received the title of Duke. Ronald felt momentarily anxious, but soon found solace. Liam seemed to have no intention of returning to the palace, and if that was the case, living buried in the Northern Territory wasn’t so bad.


However, the emperor couldn’t let go of his lingering attachment. He sent people to constantly summon Liam, and whenever Ronald’s handling of affairs as the crown prince was inadequate, he would mention Liam’s name. Due to the Emperor’s constant comparisons between him and his brother, Ronald was on the verge of a nervous breakdown.


“Brother, Duke Calix isn’t coming back. Don’t you know?”


Ronald looked at the Emperor with eyes filled with resentment, unable to understand why he couldn’t let go.


“I want to see him get married before I die. If he can live a stable life, sheltered from the rain, I will have no more desires. That’s why, Ronald.”


The Emperor called the name of the crown prince abruptly.


Ronald’s eyes showed confusion at the sudden call.


“Arrange for him to marry. Don’t rush into the succession.”


In the mention of marriage, Ronald’s pupils shimmered with excitement. However, the excitement quickly subsided.


He couldn’t bring Duke Calix back. Because he had killed him.


The Emperor still held onto the hope that Liam would return. Even though he was ill and didn’t have much time left, the Emperor refused to share his power.


Ronald felt frustrated that the Emperor didn’t give him any responsibilities, despite being the crown prince.


After several days of internal struggle, Ronald came to a conclusion. The Emperor would never let go of his attachment until Duke Calix was dead.


He devised a meticulous plan. When the conflict between the brothers reached its peak and Duke Calix suddenly disappeared, the Emperor warned Ronald. He threatened to take away not only his position as the Crown Prince, but also his status as a prince if Ronald tried to harm Duke Calix again.


The Emperor closely monitored Ronald and Empress Cassandra, fearing they would harm Duke Calix.


In such circumstances, it was risky to act hastily. That’s why Ronald decided to use a tribe of magical creatures rather than his own knights or mercenaries. Moreover, he chose the former leader of the tribe, who was loyal to Liam.


At first, the magical creature named Hinyas adamantly refused to help Ronald. His fierce resistance almost resulted in injuries for Ronald. However, when Ronald presented a constant vision of a future for the tribe that would unfold if Hinyas helped him, Hinyas eventually agreed.


Harming Duke Calix was ridiculously easy. Several members of the magical tribe lured Duke Calix and his knights into the mountains, and Hinyas sneaked into the tent where Duke Calix was sleeping and stabbed him. In the process, Hinyas also sacrificed himself, but it turned out to be for the best. He no longer needed to keep his promise.


Duke Calix, who had suffered a deep wound to his side, was barely hanging onto life.


Ronald wanted nothing more than to end his life then and there, but he spared him. If Duke Calix died, the Emperor would not sit idly by.


In the midst of contemplating how to deal with the unconscious Duke Calix, the Emperor suddenly demanded that Ronald bring him. He even wagered his own position as the Emperor for it.


“Why would it be difficult?”


As Ronald struggled to figure out what to do in this situation, the Emperor asked.


“It’s not that…”


At a loss for words, Ronald’s sentence trailed off. A thought briefly passed through his mind. It seemed absurd, but perhaps it was possible.


There was an incident that caused a commotion in the capital not long ago. It was a case where the wife of a viscount concealed her husband’s death and attempted to take over his estate.


The viscount’s wife, who had no children, was worried that if it became known that her husband had died, the mansion she was living in and all the property would be passed on to her husband’s younger brother. So she devised a meticulous plan.


Using a stand-in who closely resembled her husband, the viscount’s wife pretended that the viscount was still alive. She deceived people for over a year. However, as they say, long tails are easily caught, and her deceitful actions were exposed, resulting in her losing all her assets and facing public scrutiny.


He was considering applying that incident to his own situation. He thought about staging it as if Duke Calix had gotten married.


“I actually heard some news about my brother.”


When Prince Ronald cautiously opened his mouth, the Emperor looked at him.


“I heard that my brother has called for a noblewoman and will soon be getting married.”


The Emperor’s face turned pale at Ronald’s words.


“Is that true? And how do you know?”


Narrowing his eyes and casting a suspicious gaze at Ronald, he asked.


“The top-tier top shareholder of a trading company secretly informed me. They said that a large order of items needed for a noble wedding was placed from the Duke’s estate.”


“Are you saying that Liam is really getting married…?”


The Emperor questioned, finding it hard to believe.


“I can’t be certain, but the possibility seems high. I was about to bring this matter to Your Majesty’s attention.”


“If that child is getting married…”


The Emperor placed one hand on his chest, seemingly moved, and murmured.


“If I were to hold the wedding ceremony at the palace, he would refuse, wouldn’t he?”


The Emperor looked at Ronald with hopeful eyes, as if expecting something.


“He most likely wouldn’t comply.”


Ronald spoke with a confident tone, firmly convinced that he would never agree to such a request.


“You should go.”




“You should go and attend Liam’s wedding ceremony. Offer your congratulations. It would be good if it could resolve some hidden emotions between the brothers, but don’t expect too much. Will you do that?”


“Prepare to leave immediately,” the Emperor said.


Ronald replied that he would follow the Emperor’s orders.


After parting ways with the Emperor and returning to the Prince’s Palace, Ronald mobilized his close aides and devised a strategy. Various opinions were voiced, and various options were considered to deceive the Emperor. However, there was a problem: the wedding.


It would be easy if they could find the bride immediately, but there was no way to bring a person who was lying unconscious to the wedding venue.


“We can use the customs of the Calix territory,” one of the aides spoke up after a heavy silence.


In the Calix territory, there was an ancient custom where witnesses would observe the newlyweds’ first night.


The reason this ancient custom, which originated in the past, had not disappeared was that the Calix territory was a frequent target of monster invasions.


Some monsters knew how to use magic. In the past, there were cases where monsters disguised as brides would hide in the bridal chambers on the first night and kill the lord of the territory. So, they had to keep a close watch on whether the bride was a monster or not, leading to the tradition of the first-night ceremony, which still remained. It seemed they could use that. Instead of holding a wedding ceremony, they could replace it with a first-night ceremony.


If the eccentric Duke Calix, who had unique preferences, said he would skip the bothersome wedding ceremony and only hold the first-night ceremony, no one would suspect anything.


Ronald ordered his chamberlain to find someone who could be the bride of Duke Calix. They needed a noblewoman who had never appeared in high society and whose face was not known.


Cordelia, the daughter of Baron Lawrence, fits those criteria.


Baron Lawrence accepted the Prince’s proposal without any hesitation. He seemed completely devoid of any guilt as he sent his daughter to play the role of a fake bride for the unconscious man. I should have known back then.


“But it’s just a trivial sacrifice,” as the chamberlain had said.


If they got rid of Cordelia, that would be it.


Ronald pushed aside his unpleasant feelings and thought that he should enjoy this moment. The throne finally seemed within his grasp.


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