Knock, knock–

“Come in.”

The rich mahogany door slid open, revealing a nervous Haldyr and Reina standing hesitantly.

Kaelan closed the book he was reading, stood up from his chair, and moved to the opposite sofa. When he turned his head to look at them, Haldyr held Reina’s hand and hurriedly walked to the sofa, taking a seat.

After dismissing the servant who had been by his side, Kaelan began his inquiry.

“Tell me everything that happened in the study yesterday.”

Looking at Reina and Haldyr, who couldn’t raise their heads as if they were guilty, Kaelan opened his mouth again.

“Dragging it out won’t do you any good. You can’t go back to your rooms until you tell me everything.”

Haldyr had thought he wouldn’t be lenient, but seeing Kaelan push them so firmly, he hesitated before speaking.

“Well… Yesterday, Father’s study was opened for the first time, so I… I told Reina that I wanted to go in. Since stepmother had been blocking it until now.”

Kaelan remained silent as if urging them to continue, and Haldyr continued his explanation.

“So, since we got caught sneaking into the room without Stepmother knowing… Originally, we were planning to come out immediately without getting caught, but then we saw various things…”

“What was the prank that woman mentioned?”

As the story continued, Kaelan interrupted Haldyr’s rambling. Taken aback by the sudden question and thinking that he needed to answer quickly, Haldyr mentioned the first thing that came to his mind.

“That was when Reina…”


Focusing all her attention, Reina had been making sure Haldyr didn’t say anything unnecessary. She grabbed Haldyr’s hand tightly when she heard her name in a place where it shouldn’t have been mentioned.

In response to Reina’s action, Haldyr realized his mistake and quickly changed his words.

“No, that’s not it. Actually, Reina said it wasn’t allowed, but I went in because I remembered Father. I just… I wanted to go in and see Father’s desk, so I climbed onto the chair. The chair… the chair…”

“Haldyr, be precise.”

“…I climbed onto the study chair and fell.”

Even though he didn’t fully understand what he was saying, Haldyr had only revealed part of what happened. However, as Kaelan continued to press him, Haldyr eventually confessed about the spilled ink incident.

It wasn’t just a simple mistake; it was an accident that had ruined important estate documents. Haldyr was desperate because if Kaelan found out about this, it could have severe consequences, given his heightened sensitivity to estate affairs after their father’s disappearance.

“Is that all?”

Kaelan crossed his legs and drummed his fingers.

Seeing his demeanor, Haldyr thought that he might have to spill everything if Kaelan continued to press him.

Despite initially claiming that he would take full responsibility, Haldyr couldn’t help feeling afraid when he saw Kaelan’s stern gaze fixated on him.

“You stopped her from saying what she said just because you were scared that you knocked over a chair in the study?”


“And you want me to believe that?”

Even though Kaelan’s words seemed directed at him, his eyes remained fixed on Reina, who had been keeping her head down since earlier.


“Don’t lie to me, Haldyr.”

Kaelan’s words didn’t sit well with him at all.

As the atmosphere became increasingly tense, Haldyr’s hands grew clammy.

Perhaps realizing this, Reina attempted to force a smile, lifting her head and trying to display a forced grin. However, her lips trembled noticeably.

“Kaelan, please don’t be so scary.”


“I didn’t do it on purpose, but it’s Father’s study, so… it would be embarrassing if Brother Kaelan found out we went in secretly…”

Reina realized why Haldyr was being so evasive as soon as she opened her mouth.

If she stopped talking, it would be suspicious. So she had to be as natural as possible.

“And, you know, the study might have some important things, so we were worried we might accidentally touch something we shouldn’t.”

Reina’s wandering eyes briefly glanced at Kaelan as she continued her explanation.

“So, Reina even asked that woman to keep it a secret, but she was about to blurt it out during the meal!”

“Actually, it was because of the documents that had been piling up.”

“…Well, that’s true.”

Would Kaelan believe that the woman deliberately let slip the information about the study to make Reina uncomfortable? Reina doubted it.

Then she glanced at Haldyr next to him.

If Haldyr didn’t believe her, why would Kaelan?

In response to Reina’s sudden meaningful gaze, Haldyr interpreted it as a plea for help and finally spoke up.

“But Reina was surprised when the topic of the study came up out of nowhere during the meal. She thought the promise to keep it a secret… wasn’t being upheld.”

Quickly supported by Haldyr, Reina added her response.

“Yes! That’s right. I was so surprised all of a sudden that tears just came out. Since it happened yesterday, Reina naturally thought we were talking about our experience.”

“Is that all? That’s amusing.”

Kaelan openly mocked Reina’s words.


When Kaelan spoke as if he knew something, Reina’s heart skipped a beat.

What is it? What’s going on? What does he know?

“What do you mean, brother….”

“That might not be all.”

Reina couldn’t stop her trembling voice.

Why is he saying such things? Could it be…

Earlier, after she and Haldyr left the dining table, the only people remaining were Kaelan, their older sister Anna, and

‘That woman!’

Reina’s face, which had been barely managing to smile, contorted.

That woman must have told the truth to their brother and Anna after Haldyr and she left!

Otherwise, how could Brother Kaelan possibly know?

As this realization sank in, tears welled up in Reina’s eyes, and she felt incredibly embarrassed.

How foolish she must have looked, pretending not to know in front of Kaelan, who knew everything!

As these thoughts crossed her mind, anger towards Kaelan began to build.

He knows everything but pretends not to?

Is he trying to make a fool out of me!

“Knowing everything and pretending like this to Reina, isn’t that too much?!”


Haldyr called out to me in confusion.

Haldyr still seemed unaware of what was happening. This idiot!

“Haldyr, this idiot! Our brother already knows everything because that woman told Brother!”


“That woman told Brother everything, including how we spilled ink on the documents!”

“Spilled ink?”

Despite my frustrated tone directed at Haldyr, I clearly heard Kaelan’s words ringing in my ears.

“Huh? You didn’t know…”

“You said you ruined the documents?”

“Well…no, I mean, you knew…didn’t you?”

“You just said it with your own mouth.”

“You said it like you knew everything!”

“I meant that there must be a reason why it happened.”


Reina eventually froze, realizing that she had spilled everything.

“Haldyr, you speak.”


With Reina remaining silent due to her own confession, Haldyr decided to explain everything.

He told Kaelan about how, taking advantage of their mother’s absence, they had sneaked into the study, spilled ink on the desk, documents, and carpet, and created chaos. As Haldyr recounted the whole story, Kaelan’s face gradually hardened.

“So, you went as far as to set up an unused inkwell and then spilled it, making a mess of the documents on the desk and the carpet?”


“You blurted this all out during the meal, feeling guilty.”

Haldyr didn’t explicitly say that Reina was the one who spilled the ink, but Kaelan already seemed certain of the culprit, and even though he directed his words at Haldyr, his gaze remained fixed on Reina.

Reina couldn’t bring herself to lift her head under that icy gaze.

Gradually, she began to suspect that Bella was the cause of all of this, and anger consumed her.

Normally, it would have been something she could brush off.

If only that woman hadn’t said those words during the meal!

If she hadn’t said anything, I wouldn’t have spoken up.

This situation was undoubtedly orchestrated by that woman.

But why would she say such a thing?

No, under normal circumstances, that woman wouldn’t have had a reason to speak up, right? She always tried so hard to make a good impression on us.

And originally, she seemed perfectly fine back then.

[Reina, didn’t you know?]

[Stepmother. She didn’t say it’s okay.]

At that moment, Haldyr’s words came to her, and Reina’s thoughts came to a halt.

Was that true?

Haldyr’s mentioned words which he casually mentioned replayed in Reina’s mind.

At the time, she was so flustered that she didn’t process it properly. What was that woman like yesterday?

But just as Reina was deeply lost in thought, she heard Kaelan’s voice again.

“If you two entered the study, that means that woman wasn’t there.”


“On the first day in the study, that woman probably wouldn’t have been away for long, and you just happened to enter at that exact moment?”

“That’s just a coincidence—”

“It doesn’t make sense to claim it was a coincidence.”


“So, that means that woman intentionally left her seat.”

As Kaelan’s words continued, they found themselves unable to speak.

As Kaelan’s words continued, it seemed that not only the incident in the study but also the graffiti on the portrait they hadn’t even worried about would soon come to light.

They thought the portrait prank was something they could easily get over and nothing to worry about, but why did they feel like they shouldn’t get caught now?

Despite their anxiety, they couldn’t stop listening to Kaelan’s words and thoughts.

“By the way, today the butler sent a letter to the painter.”


“If it’s about contacting the painter, it usually involves buying or commissioning a new painting, which doesn’t seem appropriate at the moment.”


“In that case, it’s about the existing paintings. From what I’ve heard, all the previous portraits are in good condition.”

Wait, he already knew about this?

“The only ones I haven’t checked are the portraits kept separately by Father and that woman. I don’t know about the others, but if there’s a problem with those portraits, that woman will surely leave her seat.”

And then you two entered the study.

“Then the conclusion is that you two are the cause of the problem with that portrait.”


“I told you.”

Kaelan tilted his head and smiled, but his eyes were cold.

“Don’t meddle in matters related to the duchy.”



“I thought you understood well, but I overestimated you.”

No, this can’t be happening.

He’ll be disappointed in us.

“No! I only graffitied that woman’s face! I never touched Father’s portrait!”


“Just for a moment–”

“Don’t you know how much I love Father? Huh?”

“Reina, just a moment–”

“I kept it separate because I was annoyed… I thought that if I ruined the portrait, that woman would be sad. That’s why I went to see her reaction, but then she happened to come out of the study.”

It wasn’t the way it was supposed to be.

Reina’s voice grew quieter.

“So that’s why you went into the study…”

Kaelan sighed and shifted his posture as he listened to Reina’s last words.

Seeing Kaelan like that, Reina began to think that maybe it was time to stop.

While she had no defense for what happened in the study, the prank on the portrait was something she wouldn’t have even mentioned under normal circumstances.

“Brother, Reina was wrong.”


Kaelan’s silence in response to her apology made Reina increasingly resentful.

She had never apologized like this before, except to her father.

“But you would overlook the prank on the portrait as usual right…”


When she confessed everything and said she was wrong, there was no response, but when she murmured a little, Kaelan called her name immediately, making Reina flinch.

“Normally, it’s something that can be overlooked, but ducal documents were ruined, do you just expect me to–”

Should I just let it go?


Kaelan sat alone in a dark room with only one lit candle.

The wind was blowing fiercely, but the room was quiet due to the tightly locked windows, and the wind occasionally tapped on the windows.

[It’s nothing.]

Reina’s face brightened, but her expression immediately stiffened at his following words.

[Until my father’s will is announced.]

That pretty head of yours is just an ornament, Reina.

What worth is there in mentioning that I’ve overlooked your pranks all this time.

If you didn’t know that with that intelligent head of yours, then you might as well live like a dead mouse from now on.


That’s all for now.

Remember what I told you privately after father’s will was announced.

[That woman will lead the family until I become an adult.
Don’t make her do anything that contributes to this duchy.
Don’t create any weaknesses or anything that she can see and solve.]

It means don’t be an obstacle until I become the Duke of this family.

Reina’s face turned as pale as ever.

Until the moment she left the room.

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