“Come to think of it, the temple mentioned wanting to discuss a donation matter with me. I’ll be sure to visit soon.”


His words were gentle, but there wasn’t anyone present who failed to catch the underlying warning in them.


Still, Boris responded with a smile.


“Of course. I’ll get in touch with you soon.”


“The sooner, the better.”


With that, Boris finally left with the temple knights.


As he departed, the crowd dispersed, restoring quiet to the scene.


“I should be on my way too. I’d like to stay by the side of My Lady, especially after such an incident, but I have pressing matters to attend to. Will you be alright on your own?”


There was evident concern in Benjamin’s voice.




Grace inadvertently let out a sigh upon hearing that Benjamin was leaving. Noticing her reaction, he paused and looked at her intently.


“Is there something you’d like to say?”


“Um, no, I mean… It’s just…”


‘I don’t really have anything to say.’


Why did she stop him? Grace hesitated for a moment.


“Thank you.”




“For believing in me.”


She felt a lump in her throat.


She was grateful for the faith he showed in her just moments ago. Although that wasn’t why she stopped him, it needed to be said.


Benjamin stood there silently before he spoke.


“It’s only natural. We’re family, after all.”




Would he not believe her if they weren’t family? She held back from asking that question.


‘I’m not even the real Grace, the Duchess Felton in the first place.’


What would his gaze be like if he knew? Would those warm eyes suddenly turn cold?


Why did he look at her with such tenderness? She couldn’t understand it.


‘Hoping that those eyes are not because I’m Grace is probably selfish of me.’


It was a peculiar feeling. Initially, she inhabited Grace’s body and had embraced her grown feelings that surpassed mere fondness for Benjamin.




The air grew heavy, mirroring Grace’s own heavy heart.


Hoping to lighten the mood, Grace attempted to change the subject. 


“You know, earlier, it seemed like the Saintess was looking at me…Was that just a coincidence?”


“The Saintess?”


Benjamin cast a suspicious glance at Grace, appearing as though he was piecing something together. 


“I might have mentioned you frequently, so she could have recognized you. After all, she might have seen you at the Rondel Canal.”


‘I doubt she saw me at the Rondel Canal.’


Grace recalled wearing a deeply pulled-down bonnet during her visit to the canal. Besides, she had been quite far away and hadn’t even greeted the Saintess properly.


‘My attire might be modest, but the quality is good. She might have guessed that I am a lady of status.’


Grace knew well that whenever Benjamin spoke about her to Aria, he never described her appearance.


‘It was like that in the original story.’


She sometimes wondered if she was relying too much on the original novel’s narrative. 


To clear her doubts, she asked, “Did you ever describe my appearance to her?”


“…! I… never did, actually.”


“I see.”


As expected, it’s the same thing as in the original story.


‘It leaves a bitter taste.’


‘So, did she just glance at me because of the commotion?’


With a groan, Grace bowed her head.


‘It could be.’


For now, it wasn’t a pressing concern. She escorted Benjamin outside. She wanted a break.


‘There are too many things to think about.’


What to do with the mine? When will I meet Tom Burkin? I also have to visit the Linden Viscounty before that, whether that would be awkward? Also, soon there will be an imminent crop workshop strike – I wonder if I could handle it well…


‘And also the temple isn’t exactly virtuous.’


When people gather and form a group, it is natural that not everyone would be kind-hearted.


But to Grace, the situation today went beyond that level.


To label a Duchess, who had come to a contaminated area for relief purposes, as a thief was outrageous.


‘I’m sure there was a similar incident in the original story.’


When Aria joined the temple and didn’t fit in well, her belongings were stolen.


The thief turned out to be a young lady from a noble house. Although she voiced her grievances, in the end, it was concluded that she acted out of jealousy towards the beautiful Saintess.


‘Yet, the temple, citing the Saintess’s mercy, didn’t punish the lady.’


Grace’s reflection on this matter wasn’t merely because of the similarity to her current situation.


‘The novel… it’s all written from Aria’s perspective, isn’t it?’


What if the real culprit had also been wronged? What if that truth never reached Aria’s ears? Chills ran down Grace’s spine.


‘Hold on a second.’


That means…


‘Benjamin’s descent into darkness might not have been because of his obsessive love for Aria.’


Then what caused it?



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