Episode 8: Caught Your Attention? (3)
Julius’s words left me with my mouth agape, and I couldn’t help but freeze.
What did he just say? Who did he push into that pit where bugs were crawling?
‘Did you really do something like that?’
Even trying to figure out if the screams matched Marrygold’s? I was so incredulous that I stared at Julius as if in pity.
“It’s unavoidable. After all, only I know Marrygold’s screams.”
No, why is it that only you know about my mother’s screams? If the Emperor ordered the crown prince, then the Emperor shouldn’t be aware of it either.
‘I’m afraid to ask what’s going on.’
I could already sense that everyone here wasn’t in their right mind.
‘Let’s not let our guard down. Absolutely not.’
I was making this pledge to myself when his long fingers tapped my shoulder. He chuckled and muttered.
“I heard you were summoned to meet Emperor yesterday… Why are you looking so fine? You must have gone in as a sacrificial lamb to make the Emperor angry. I wonder if Emperor’s memory is fading.”
He whispered affectionately to me, but my body grew as cold as if it had been doused with ice-cold water.
‘A sacrificial lamb to anger the Emperor? How could this person possibly know about that?’
How could he know? There was only one reason.
If my encounter with the Emperor in that state was all part of this man’s scheme, wouldn’t it make sense?
‘And to think his memory is fading… Could it be that provoking the emperor wasn’t just a one-time thing?’
The Emperor seemed to be agitated, much like the glowing turquoise necklace I was wearing, but in reality, there were other things besides that necklace that could provoke the Emperor. Like the yellow dress or the earrings.
‘Perhaps even the high heels,’ I thought. This sent shivers down my spine more than anger. It was when I stiffened my shoulders. Despite making a terrifying sound, Julius chuckled as if he were genuinely concerned about me.
“Isn’t that sad for you too? The whole point of the Queen’s existence was to drive the Emperor crazy, but even the Emperor seems to be gradually forgetting the Queen. Doesn’t that make you wonder if their love was fake?”
This guy wasn’t normal either, just like the Emperor.
‘I want to push him away and run away right now,’ I thought. But something strange was happening. The immediate choice that should have come to mind didn’t surface anymore, and I trembled but couldn’t push the crown prince away.
In the meantime, as he came closer, he brushed my shoulder and whispered, “You want to take the throne quickly, don’t you? So that I can see the end of these pranks. Honestly, I didn’t want to pull you out of the bug pit. I didn’t even want to heal your wounds. You’re just like the Queen, even in your screams.”
…Do normal older brothers say such things to their younger sisters?
‘Seems like perversion runs in the family.’
The Emperor did it too, but how can the older brother behave like this? They looked the same, and their actions were almost identical to those of the emperor.
‘No wonder their personalities are so messed up.’
It was strange that an option like ‘I’ll kick this guy in the groin right now’ didn’t appear.
‘Ugh, I really want to hit this guy’s head really hard right now!’
And I wanted to shout at him to stop babbling nonsense.
But could I really live like this, letting my temper dictate my actions? Wouldn’t that just lead to a bad ending? I clenched my trembling fist with all my might. Otherwise, it felt like my fist might fly off like a rocket punch and hit him.
‘This guy is the Crown Prince, the Crown Prince of the entire nation.’
It was obvious that this person, like the Emperor, had an immense sense of pride.
‘The second-highest ranking person in this country. If I were to strike the Crown Prince in this position, it would result in a bad ending by Daniel, thanks to the Crown Prince.’
If I kept quiet, I could live for a hundred days, but due to one wrong move, I could die in just one day.
‘Hold it in, endure it. Endure it and change the ending, live happily for a long, long time.’
Even though I reasoned with myself like this, I couldn’t help but feel twisted inside.
‘Especially when he pretends to be kind, says terrible things with a smile, it’s unbearable!’
I couldn’t hide my instinctual disgust, so I raised my head and glared at the Crown Prince.
His actions seemed to have touched a nerve in him. Julius, with a suddenly stiff expression, spoke to me in a cold voice.
“Why are you looking at me like that?”
I was even more dumbfounded by his counter-question. Why that look? Did he expect me to laugh it off after spouting such nonsense?
‘Hasn’t Sienna resisted at all this time?’
There was no way she hadn’t. She was not of a passive nature like me, so there was no way Sienna didn’t express her refusal.
‘She probably did resist, but they ignored her.’
Both the Emperor and the Crown Prince probably subjected her to violence, the way they treated her was no different from that of animals.
My accusatory gaze caused Julius’s face to contort with anger. His ominous expression became even more similar to the Emperor’s. Relentless criticism poured out from his lips.
“How dare you look at me like that?! If your face didn’t resemble the Queen, did you think you could set foot in the palace?”
‘Resembling the Queen and setting foot in the palace,’ I thought. Sienna lived in the palace because she was the princess. But Julius believed it was all due to her facial features. Not just Julius, but even the Emperor and the maids who had ignored her.
‘They all see her mother through her, don’t they?’
Could one stay unaffected in such a situation? I had only spent two days here, but it felt like my sanity was eroding.
Sienna, truly, had grown up in an unfortunate environment that left her with no choice but to become a villain. And when I realized this fact, I couldn’t hold back any longer and let out a curse.
“This is so damn messed up; I can’t take it anymore.”
I had reached my breaking point.
A person of the Crown Prince’s stature could never go anywhere alone, no matter the situation, even if it meant going to torment his younger sister in a disgraceful situation.
It was only natural that a knight from the Royal Guard would follow Sienna into her palace for the Crown Prince’s protection. The knight standing in the courtyard beyond the hall where Julius was intimidating Sienna had a furrowed brow.
‘It happens all the time, but it’s particularly bothersome today.’
Regardless of what Sienna went through, there were hardly any sympathetic people within the palace. Sienna Liata was the “villain.” Whatever happened to the villain was simply retribution, and sympathizing with it was crossing the line.
But the knight occasionally felt sympathy for her. It was because he had been in charge of guarding the Crown Prince for a long time.
‘It’s the same pattern as always. When Empress complains about the deceased Queen to the Crown Prince, the Crown Prince harasses Princess Sienna.’
It was truly a chain of hatred. And it was only natural for the sympathy card to be handed to Sienna, who was at the bottom of it all.
What was sad, though, was that it usually ended with just sympathy.
‘Taking Princess Sienna’s side only makes things more difficult.’
If he were a knight guarding Sienna, he should not have acted this way. However, the current group of knights was more of a political faction than a military force. There was no reason to help Sienna, who had no political value whatsoever.
And the one who had ordered them not to interfere was none other than Percy Stewart, the Duke of Stewart and the commander of the Royal Guard.
-Remain absolutely neutral in all cases. Especially when it comes to the nobility.
Recalling Percy’s words, the knight suppressed the urge to step forward.
‘His Highness has other appointments anyway. He won’t stay here for long.’
That’s what the knight was thinking. It was after this that the situation took an unexpected turn.
“What are you doing here?”
It was none other than the commander of the Royal Guard, Percy Stewart himself, who had appeared at Princess Sienna’s palace.
His face was as red as blood, but with icy cold eyes fixed on him, the knight cautiously opened his mouth.
“We are currently guarding His Highness, the Crown Prince.”
“His Highness Julius is here?”
Percy raised his head. Although the hall where Julius and Sienna were standing was quite a distance away, Percy’s keen hearing allowed him to clearly hear their conversation.
Sienna swept her hair back and sneered, “This is so damn messed up; I can’t take it anymore.”
At those words, Percy’s eyes widened.
There was no particular reason for Percy Stewart to come to Princess Sienna’s palace.
‘It’s strangely chilly today.’
The Empire was always hot year-round, but today, a cool breeze blew as if the autumn fairy had visited.
Perhaps that was the reason. Even after finishing his night duty, he didn’t immediately return to the palace and instead took a stroll around the palace.
As he walked, Percy, absentmindedly, ended up walking to Princess Sienna’s palace. He let out a sigh under his breath.
‘I’ve come to a useless place.’
Princess Sienna Liata. The greatest villainess in the palace, a foolish woman who couldn’t properly utilize what she had.
In the social circles, it was widely known that Sienna Liata wasn’t the Emperor’s legitimate daughter. There were two reasons for this.
First, Sienna was the oldest among the numerous princesses, yet she was designated as the fourth princess.
Second, she was given the name Liata, not Zulatan, which was the Emperor’s name.
Percy didn’t know the whole truth, or rather, he had no particular interest in it. Birth order? On the day Sienna was born, her mother passed away. Would the Emperor pay attention to the daughter born from his beloved Queen’s womb? He probably forgot about it and only realized when a few more daughters were born. When he noticed that she looked exactly like the Queen.
‘So, that’s why she became the fourth princess.’
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