It was difficult for her to understand what she was saying.
‘Did Aiden turn back time because I died?’
She searched for a connection between those two things, but couldn’t find one. Asralda stood there stupidly, with a bewildered expression on her face.
“I don’t understand what you’re talking about. Aiden killed me.”
“You’re misunderstanding that.”
An absurd laugh burst out of her lips. Asralda glared at Marinda and opened her mouth.
“Deceiving me, abandoning me, ultimately killing me, trampling and dominating me thoroughly. And you say it’s a misunderstanding?”
“Well, I won’t deny that.”
Marinda laughed out loud at Asralda’s intense reaction.
“But it really is a misunderstanding that Aiden killed you.”
“But Raphil clearly said it was Aiden’s doing.”
“It’s no use telling me. I don’t know the details.”
Marinda cut off the conversation with an indifferent face.
If it wasn’t Aiden who killed her, then who was it? Asralda vividly remembered the sharp words that Raphil had aimed at her with his sword.
‘His Excellency is worried that suspicions may arise around him.’
‘You might be a hindrance, so it would be better to just kill you.’
The pain she had felt that day still lingered in her throat, but if it wasn’t Aiden, then what?
Asralda looked at Marinda suspiciously. She couldn’t tell why she was telling her this or what was true and what was a lie.
But even if Marinda’s words were true, nothing would change. Even if Aiden didn’t kill her, the wounds she received from him during their marriage wouldn’t disappear.
Asralda nodded calmly and spoke.
“Let’s say that it was a misunderstanding that he killed me. So what? Why are you telling me this? Didn’t you hate me because of Aiden?”
“Yes, I hate you. But not because of Aiden. I told you before, I don’t love Aiden.”
“But you acted like you loved him in the past.”
“No. Aiden and I don’t have the kind of relationship that you think we do. We have a cooperative relationship.”
“A cooperative relationship?”
“Yes. It’s a cooperative relationship where we work together for Aiden to ascend to the throne and for me to become his consort.”
Asralda couldn’t help but be bewildered by those words.
Cooperating with each other to enter the imperial family?
Although Aiden was the only nephew of the Emperor of Mimart, that didn’t mean he had the right to ascend to the throne. The Aiden Asralda knew didn’t particularly care about the political situation in Mimart. No, he hated people who approached him with political intentions.
“Think about it. Why do you think Aiden turned back time as soon as you died? To catch Oscar? So he needed bait?”
“Aiden loves you. Not me.”
Asralda couldn’t understand what this woman had been talking about since earlier. Her pupils shook like a fierce storm.
Who loves who?
Marinda spoke without hesitation.
“I asked why you were talking about this earlier. I’m done once I achieve my goal. It’s true that I came to warn you last time. I was curious about why you dressed up as a man. But after seeing you, I didn’t think I needed to worry. That’s why I came back.”
Asralda understood why Marinda’s attitude had changed so suddenly in a few days. But it was no longer an important issue for her.
If Aiden loved her, why did he despise her and hurt her so much?
The anger towards Aiden, deeply rooted in her bones, and the vows she had made since going back to the past, shook her for a moment.
Marinda opened her eyes narrowly at her reaction.
“Oh, are you shaken now that you know Aiden didn’t actually kill you and even loves you?”
Asralda’s answer came out firmly.
‘As if that’s possible.’
There was me, who wrote love letters to him every night while holding onto the wounds he inflicted on me. The wounds were still so deep in my heart that it was impossible for me to feel relieved just because one reason to hate him was gone.
In an instant, her confused mind cooled down.
Marinda stared at Asralda’s frozen pupils and spoke.
“Sure, Aiden has done something wrong, but even if he says he loves you now, that can never be an excuse.”
“Besides, even if he loves you, what Aiden ultimately needs to become the emperor is me. He probably won’t choose you even if you die.”
There were words that crossed her mind at that.
‘… What did I do wrong to you?’
When she asked Aiden in his room about the divorce, those were the words she said.
‘First, the fact that you were born in Lucias. Second, the fact that your country is worse off than mine. Third, the fact that you’re the daughter of that crazy Oscar.’
When she thought about it, they were all related to her ‘usefulness.’
Despite not wanting to be swept away by Marinda’s words, Asralda was shaking uncontrollably like a storm.
Then Marinda’s voice changed sweetly, like sugar melting.
“I heard you got hurt badly during yesterday’s match. And Aiden pushed you into it.”
“Look, even though he remembers everything, he’s still trying to rule over you.”
At that moment, Asralda realized something she hadn’t thought of in Marinda’s words.
Aiden remembers everything from before.
Yeah, come to think of it, she said Aiden turned back time. It wouldn’t be strange for him to remember the past like her.
His attitude was so unnatural in the reservoir, in the arena, and when the tea spilled in his office.
The scattered pieces suddenly fit together in her mind.
He had known all along, since the moment they reunited in front of the mansion.
She felt a blow to the back of her head as if she had been hit by something. Asralda felt her spine chill.
Marinda caught that moment and asked with a grin.
“Shall I tell you what Aiden is thinking right now? He knows everything, yet he’s still leaving you like this.”
Before Asralda could answer, Marinda whispered.
“Aiden wants to break your wings, Asralda.”
“When people fall in love, they can never do that. But Aiden is different. I’ve seen him up close for longer than anyone else, so I know. He’s a twisted human being. He loves you, but he’ll never tell you the truth.”
“Even now, you’re probably hoping to come to him and confess everything, right? That you’re a woman and that you need his help. And then he’ll tie you up in the Ducal Palace like before. Quietly, like a bird in a cage.”
Marinda spread her arms and leaned against the railing.
She was so quiet and gentle that she seemed to be a model of elegance and grace.
So Asralda didn’t know. She never thought that Aiden had such ambitions with Marinda.
“But you don’t want to be under Aiden’s control quietly, do you? Don’t you want to run away from Aiden? That’s why you dressed up as a man and joined the Knights.”
“I’ll help you. I don’t have any reason to be hostile to you anymore. In fact, I’ll be relieved if you disappear.”
“…Is helping me mean helping me escape?”
“Yes. And it won’t hurt you either way. If you succeed in escaping, it’ll be good for both of us, and if you fail, it won’t matter. There will be many more opportunities for you in the future. Besides, isn’t this a good chance for you to test my words?”
Marinda seemed to have seen through everything already. So there was no point in lying here.
But even among the things she said, there might be no things she left out. Asralda didn’t know why, but she had a strange conviction that there were no lies in what Marinda said.
Unable to read her intentions at all, Asralda couldn’t easily give an answer.
Marinda smiled under the empty parasol.
“Think about it. What will happen if you’re caught trying to escape as a prisoner of war?”
“Usually, it’s a death sentence. There’s no one who’s foolish enough to show mercy to a prisoner twice. Even if you’re lucky enough to get your sentence commuted because you’re really Oscar’s precious bait, you’ll still end up in prison without any movement. But what about Aiden? Will he sit back and watch his beloved woman become a rat in jail?”
Marinda spoke with a confident tone.
“Aiden forced the emperor and courtiers, who are always suspicious, to use you as a knight. So he’ll do whatever it takes to save you this time too. No, he might even go crazy. Maybe he’ll try to bind you even more tightly than before.”
“Well, that’s only if it serves his purpose.”
Their gazes met in silence. Then Marinda smiled broadly.
“So, go ahead and check it out, Asralda. I’ll help you. Aren’t you curious?”
“Are you just a bait or love for Aiden?”