Ares perceived me as a rival, fighting over the position of the next Duke Phaeraton since he first saw me.
That means he recognizes me as a member of the family.
“But why isn’t the quest completed?”
I was lost in thought.
How many more times did I hear the sound of Hermes pecking at the cookie?
“Ah, I see.”
A target of persecution.
To Ares, I am not a member of the family but a human who should be expelled from it.
When Ares becomes the Duke Phaeraton, there is no place for me in the family.
I am not a member of the family in the future he envisions.
It can’t be helped that he dislikes me by -444.
At that moment, a warm and soft touch grazed the palm of my hand.
Hermes was gently rubbing his small head against my palm.
“If we meet three more times, I’ll let you call me by my nickname, chirp!”
Is he trying to comfort me?
“I, I’m not refusing because I dislike you, chirp! It’s just too early, chirp!”
“You want to refuse a little bit.”
“I just don’t want to make it look too easy, chirp!”
What did he teach the bird?
Still, thanks to him, I laughed.
‘…Ares truly has no real family.’
Having no family at all.
Even if he had one, he would shut the door and refuse it.
Both sides are sad.
At that moment, the door swung open.
“What are you doing?”
I jumped up and ran to Ixion, grabbing his hand.
“Having a family is a good thing, right?”
“Yeah, right? Isn’t it exciting?”
Ixion stared down at me intently.
He averted his gaze and muttered, “Damn, why am I…” but eventually nodded.
“….I-I like it.”
“Ixion, your ears are red.”
“They’re not red!”
“Are you embarrassed? It’s cute.”
Even when I screamed playfully, Ixion didn’t let go of my hand.
Hehe, teasing Ixion is so much fun.
“More than that, do you have a favorite bread.”
The corners of my mouth turned up, then down.
“What the hell is it? Everyone’s going crazy talking about it.”
“No matter how much I ask, they won’t tell me what kind of bread it is.”
I can’t tell you! It’s completely impossible!
“What is it? Tell me.”
“I-I don’t know.”
“What. Are you keeping it a secret from me?”
Ixion furrowed his brow.
It was an expression of anger and frustration, but I knew better.
That’s an expression of being hurt, actually.
Is this payback for teasing Ixion?
Ugh, I don’t know!
Once is difficult, but twice is even more difficult!
I want to die.
I was in a moment of contemplating whether I should conclude my second life like this.
With a loud noise, a hole appeared on the wall of my room.
And it was a big enough hole for three people to pass through.
“Damn it! It’s so cute!”
The chilly winter wind rushed into the room through the hole.
Will I really die?
Chapter 9. My younger sister is crying
I heard a gentle knocking sound on the door.
I hid the novel I was reading, 〈The Time-Limited Villainess Who Doesn’t Want to Be Loved,〉 between the cushions.
I was in the middle of reusing the scenario that I summoned in Architus.
‘It was at the height of the climax.’
After the heroine ran away, the main character, sub-main character, original heroine, villain, demon king, father, older brother, younger sibling, grandfather, aunt, uncle, and even the dog she raised began to regret their actions.
Read again, exciting! Thump thump!
As I raised my head, trying to hide my disappointment, a dazzlingly beautiful boy entered the room, to the point where even that disappointment was forgotten.
“Ares, you’re here?”
“Because we agreed to cooperate. It’s temporary though.”
Today is the day I meet Ares to uncover the traitor.
I waited for Ares to sit on the couch and asked,
“So, who is the traitor collaborating with Tarenka?”
Ares looked at me with a momentary puzzled expression, then smirked.
“I didn’t know that my little sister had this tendency to want to eat it raw1it means that someone gets something easily without working hard like this?”
Well, of course.
Who wouldn’t like it when you don’t even have to touch it and just sniff it?
“You must have already figured out who the traitor is. So, it would be easy to tell me, right?”
“I’m completely confident that I have.”
“Ares, you’re smart. Aren’t you?”
Instead of answering, Ares smiled. It was a beautiful smile where his slightly tilted eyes gently curved.
“I’m just a collaborator, after all.”
As I expected, my thoughts were correct.
He figured it out already.
Well, with a favorability rating of -444, I didn’t expect an immediate answer when I asked.
…Still, I had a tiny bit of hope, but well.
“Yeah, this is my job, so I should do it.”
At that moment, Ares’ favorability rating changed.
I escaped from -444!
It only went up a little, but it was good to escape the dead-end situation.
“So, what does my younger sister think?”
“It’s very simple.”
I placed both hands on my hips and puffed out my chest.
“If Ares brings me just one work log, snap! Everything will be solved!”
Ares’ face broke into a smile.
“I need an explanation.”
His face didn’t need any explanation at all.
Nevertheless, I started explaining from the beginning.
Ares was curious not about why work logs were needed, but about how I reached such a conclusion.
“Phaeraton entrusted Tarenka and sent a significant amount of childcare expenses every quarter.”
It was a sum of money I had never seen.
“Did the matter end with just sending the money? Absolutely not. Naturally, they received reports on how well I was doing and whether the childcare expenses were being properly utilized.”
“However, seeing that Phaeraton didn’t do anything about it suggests that Nicholas Tarenka created a convincing double ledger. At least from the documents alone, to make them think the money is being well spent.”
“Actually, Tarenka’s documents that came to Phaeraton were flawless. Just in case, they randomly cross-checked the actual purchase history against your goods.”
They worked much more meticulously than I thought.
“And yet, they didn’t catch anything…”
“Maybe the money he spent on his daughter is recorded as if it was spent for you. Both are girls and have similar ages.”
Ares’ eyes narrowed with a dark gleam.
Leaning his head sideways, he lazily rested his chin in his hand.
“Both the father nor that daughter, without understanding their place, dared to take something that belongs to the princess of Phaeraton.
Ares was still smiling, but somehow there was a foreboding expression.
I hurriedly continued the conversation, wondering about the reason behind it.
“If the report was perfect, then those on your side wouldn’t be traitors. I can leave out the work log I was planning to request from Ares.”
“Then what do you want?”
“The flower of gratitude2refers to the process or act of conducting a thorough and genuine audit or investigation. It implies that in situations where gratitude is expressed or expected, a comprehensive examination or inquiry is the true form of appreciation is in the investigation, isn’t it? I’m sure the auditor came to Tarenka Mansion for a real audit, right?”
So, an inspector was really dispatched.
My family had been watching over me without forgetting. It was just that their eyes had decayed.
A feeling of relief surged through me as if all the strength had been drained from my body.
“Why is that?”
When Ares raised his questioning gaze, he continued,
“You’re the one who confidently asserted that a reasonable person would have done their due diligence, right?”
“Yeah, that’s right.”
“But why such a reaction?”
Even though I thought I had done my due diligence, a nagging doubt lingered in the back of my mind.
Because while I was in Tarenka, I thought I’d been completely abandoned.
They don’t even provide child support, maybe because of their financial situation.
So please, just once, come to see me.
I’ll work hard as my uncle commands, and I’ll earn my own food, so please just show your face once.
Please teach me my name.
Even if you don’t take me with you, please tell me that you haven’t forgotten me, that you haven’t abandoned me.
Every night, I prayed fervently, clasping my hands together.
And at some point, even that ceased.
“Yeah. Why is that? I now know well enough that I haven’t been abandoned.”
“…That bastard, did he spout such nonsense to you?”
Surprised, I looked at Ares, but he still wore an elegant smile.
“You said you’ve been abandoned.”
Feeling a little embarrassed, I nodded silently.
“Lift your head, Ruatisha Phaeraton.”
When I raised my head quietly, Ares met my eyes.
“No one in this world could abandon you.”
Ares’ red eyes were like a seal.
An undeniable mark.
“Yeah, except for me.”
No, I almost got moved.
Why exclude you?
Usually in this kind of situation, you’re supposed to say, “I will never abandon you.”
“When I become the head of Phaeraton, I could abandon you.”
“But no one else, no other being, can ever abandon you.”
I quietly looked at Ares.
His face was infinitely serious.
So I realized.
“Ares, you really like me.”
Although the favorability rating is still negative.
“Ares must have started loving me.”
As the favorability rating dropped again to -444, I didn’t lose heart.
“4 isn’t a number of death3In South Korea, the number 4 is associated with bad luck and is often considered inauspicious because it sounds similar to the word for “death” in Korean. The Korean word for the number 4 is “사” (sa), and the word for death is “사” (sa) as well but a number of love!”
Ares continued to look at me with a bright smile.
The long eyelashes of the boy trembled slightly.
Ares’ lips moved, but the voice was too small for me to hear what he was saying.
Ares covered his face with one hand and bowed deeply.
“……Just keep talking. That’s what we’re here for.”
It was a calm voice, but there was a strangely pointed edge to it.
Trying to push me away again.
Stinging pain, my heart hurts.
But it’s clear that the reason for pushing me away is because I’m gradually getting closer to Ares’ heart.
That’s how it is.
I said, clenching my fist and speaking in a cheerful voice.
“The auditor who came to Tarenka Mansion must have known that my child support is only adding grease to Uncle’s bloated belly!”
Of course, it wasn’t just the money that was useful to Nicholas Tarenka.
“He would have also known that I was working all day without a meal.”
“You didn’t even get a meal?”
Ares raised his head in surprise.
“That bastard starved you? Someone like you who eats well?”
“No, I don’t eat that much…well, I do eat a lot, but still…”
I felt embarrassed.
But babies need to eat a lot, lot.
I don’t care what anyone says, I’m four years old!
I regained my confidence quickly and spoke out.
“Uncle probably made an offer to the auditor. If they report the audit results favorably, then they will receive a certain amount of the child support.”
It’s a very clear connection.
“All because of money…I want to say that, but many things happen just because of money.”
“Yeah, and Nicholas probably sweet-talked the auditor.”
“That girl isn’t the Duke’s real daughter. She doesn’t have magic.”
“It’s proof that the Duchess committed adultery. Duke Phaeraton would probably hate that girl even more.”
Now, those words can’t hurt me anymore.
Because I’m Daddy’s little girl.
My name is Ruatisha Phaeraton.
So, I can say it calmly, without any problem.
“Even if she were his biological daughter, Duke Phaeraton wouldn’t cherish a daughter with flaws like that. Phaeraton, after all, is a family without values.”
Plausible words and the sight of gold in front of him.
The dazzling light, the money that could be grasped with just a reach of the hand, must have sweetly paralyzed his reason.
Or maybe he just wasn’t thinking in the first place.
“…Now I understand.”
At the end of a long silence, Ares’ voice, when he finally spoke, sounded strange.
A voice like a mechanical sound, devoid of any emotion.
“The reason you asked if I disliked you for being a secret love child.”
The moment I raised my head and faced Ares, I was out of breath.
There was no warmth in his face.
- 1it means that someone gets something easily without working hard
- 2refers to the process or act of conducting a thorough and genuine audit or investigation. It implies that in situations where gratitude is expressed or expected, a comprehensive examination or inquiry is the true form of appreciation
- 3In South Korea, the number 4 is associated with bad luck and is often considered inauspicious because it sounds similar to the word for “death” in Korean. The Korean word for the number 4 is “사” (sa), and the word for death is “사” (sa) as well