“Estiya, it’s not too late to change your mind now.”

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Stefan followed me around and relentlessly intended to persuade me.
This continued through the course of my martial training, shortly after I threw the bomb and accepted Rodrigo’s proposal.

“Isn’t he an unscrupulous bastard? There are bound to be minor misunderstandings and disputes between families.
But to dare threaten us using such pretext!”

The problem was that this wasn’t a trivial misunderstanding or dispute.
This was not a consequence regarding a leak of false rumors, ignoring the said person during banquets, or politically isolating them.
Cartina contaminated Rodrigo’s iron ore corporation permanently, and it was none other than Rodrigo receiving the damage and prejudice.

Stefan covertly sponsored a newspaper company to publish malicious articles regarding Erhardt, and every single building Rodrigo endorsed was neighboured by one of Cartina’s to interfere with the institution.
He hasn’t touched Rodrigo’s people yet, but if I don’t interfere with his plans, Stefan would seize his henchmen one by one, brutally torture them, and provide them as nourishment for the monsters before Rodrigo.

Therefore, if Rodrigo is harmed in the future, it is necessary to clearly instill the perception that Cartina’s youngest daughter, Estiya, would pay the price.
As Stefan said, it was arbitrary, but if not for this, I wouldn’t be able to meet Rodrigo anyhow.

“Why would you go on a date?”

I returned to my room and informed Jane of my upcoming date.
Jane tilted her head, somehow muddled.

“Huh?”

My eyes widened.
Jane’s question was unanticipated for.

“If you officially announced yourself as lovers, earning permission to spend time together would have been permitted sometime in the future.
Was this necessary?”

It seems the servants are being exploited.
Jane.
Please tell me what this lady has to do with you.
I announced that we were lovers and presented a friendly appearance at the banquet so I could take things bit by bit.
Doing what you are suggesting would be the same as *pouring oil on a house on fire.

TL/N: Making a situation much worse

“Love is good, but I think the lady likes this more.”

I laughed at Jane’s worries and assured her it was fine.
Then I jumped onto the bed.
I could hear Jane clicking her tongue, but the sound went *through one ear and out the other.

TL/N: Disregarding something or quickly forgetting it

The Empire is very old-fashioned.
There are many stereotypes, such as ‘only men can ask women out’, ‘women shouldn’t be the first to confess’, ‘they shouldn’t do this, they shouldn’t do that’, which only apply to aristocrats.

“Is it possible his Excellency has found a weakness?”

“Ehh? Me?”

I shook my hand and dismissed her words as nonsense.
Jane narrowed her eyes and continued.

“Suspicious.”

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“What on earth?”

“It’s strange that the young lady fell in love at first sight.
You weren’t interested in men, were you?”

“He’s handsome.”

“Of course, that’s true.”

“He’s full of money.”

Jane didn’t answer back.
She had no choice but to admit I was right.

“He also has the capabilities and skill.
There’s nothing he lacks except for his being an Erhardt.”

The most crucial point to emphasize, is what Jane so kindly pointed out.
Whatever.
There’s just nothing that passes by this child.
Jane continued arranging my room when I shut up.

“Ah, that’s right! His Highness the Crown Prince has sent a present.”

I laid down lifelessly when Jane brought a gift box before me.
Detheus sent countless items to Cartina the night we met.
The first gift I received was a hundred roses.
The roses were beautiful, but I didn’t favor the person who sent them, so I threw everything in the trash without bothering to smell one blossom.

The next morning was jewelry.
The sapphire necklace (the size of a fist) seemed expensive at first glance.
However, it was immediately returned to the imperial palace.
Why are you flirting with me when you already have a lover? He’s a person who doesn’t have a sense of fair play.

“If it’s expensive, return it, and if not, just throw everything away.”

“You won’t take a look?”

“What’s the point of doing so? It’s better to cut the roots from the beginning.”

I retorted firmly.
Jane let out a snort and tore apart the box.
Inside the large wrapping was a gorgeous dress.
The jewel-encrusted lace glimmered against the light.

“Wow, can’t you admire it before returning the dress?”

“Just send it back.”

I jumped from the bed.
Then I opened my closet and pushed a piece of paper into a thin gap between the bricks.
The stones tumbled to the side in accordance.
There were many of these secret devices throughout the Cartina residence.

I knew of several secret devices that Stefan wasn’t aware of.
The setting of the original novel was a helpful resource to put in use.
I pulled a box containing poison from there.
I diligently searched for a proper procedure to create the Dark Cork sachet for Rodrigo, which is why I didn’t refuse Jane’s offer to read the letter aloud.

“I designed it all night thinking of you.
I can’t breathe whenever I imagine you wearing this.
I would like you to attend the Imperial Palace banquet wearing this dress.
Whew.”

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Jane rubbed the goosebumps spreading all over her body.
Whatever Jane was saying, I was occupied in my objective to train Rodrigo so that he could get accustomed to the scent.

“I shouldn’t use too much from the beginning, right?”

I lifted a bottle the size of my pinky finger and shook it gently.
Poisons were difficult to make as they required specific plants only found in the back forest of Cartina.
My family didn’t know I was producing these toxins, so I had to secretly search for the ingredients.
It was never easy.

“My Lady, what are you doing in the closet?”

Jane asked.

“I’m searching for clothes!”

This was also a secret kept from Jane.
The meeting between Rodrigo and I had to be a date.
In reality, it would be a training rather than a date.

“You are beautiful today, Estiya.”

Even today he was saying I was beautiful.
I placed my left hand over Rodrigo’s.
As soon as I accepted his escort, a bloody gaze shot through his back.

“Are you under surveillance?”

Rodrigo asked.

“Unfortunately.
Please pretend you don’t know.”

The day following the declaration that I was going on a date with Rodrigo circled the mansion, Ether and Eyla rushed home.
They hadn’t even finished clearing the western border.

The reason they were able to return from a one week trip in just one day was due to Cartina’s wizards.
With a little money and many threats, Cartina gained several rare magicians within the Empire.

A western village was demolished thanks to Eyla and Ether’s boiling anger.
Stefan was ultimately called to the Imperial Palace and departed for the West to repair the twins’ mess.
When Stefan returns, a typhoon is likely to occur in Cartina’s residence.

“Thanks to you, I have three tailings.”

“Your mother must be busy.”

“Why? Are you interested in my mother?”

I’m not saying this as her daughter, but Hela is stunningly attractive.
Her pale white skin, slender body, graceful movements and delicate voice made her seem much younger than her original age.

If Hela wished, she could seduce a 20 year-old young man.

“I don’t really prefer unnecessary complications.
I just asked because I thought it would be easier to persuade your mother than father.”

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Rodrigo stroked his chin.
His face shone.
He knew very well his face was one of his greatest weapons.

“He ought to use his beauty somewhere else.
She is a person who shines herself.
Would his attractiveness work on her?”

I whispered inattentively and loaded myself into the carriage.

“Is that what it is? Is that why it doesn’t work on you?”

Rodrigo muttered unexpected words.

“I beg your pardon?”

When I retorted, Rodrigo simply chuckled.

“Let’s leave.”

Rumble, rumble.

As expected, the condition of the roads remained unattended.
Nonetheless, Rodrigo seemed to have paid considerable attention to the carriage.
My tailbone did not hurt thanks to the soft cushions used for support.
We sat side by side until the wagon moved from the Cartina mansion, at which point Rodrigo moved opposite me.

“Was everything alright that day? Sir Stefan seemed quite vexed.”

That anger, you’re the cause of it.
If you’re that worried, please don’t quarrel with my father.

“It surely should have been a big deal.
It was alright, save my suffering.”

TL/N: I think she’s using sarcasm AHAHA

“I’m sorry.
Even if I try to be polite, I keep getting upset.”

“Why?”

It was purely my curiosity.

“I’m not sure.”

Rodrigo rested his elbow on the window frame and propped his chin.
He stared at my face as if I knew the answer.

“Is it because you, the treasure of Cartina, stand on my side? I keep having this urge to show you to the members of Cartina.”

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Yeah…?

“I found out this time that I’m a pretty twisted person.
You don’t like it?”

TL/N: Good and I like it.

PR/N: They say couples resemble each other… crazy attracts crazy

He angled his face slightly downward and raised his eyes.
That was the end of Rodrigo’s confession-like words.
The atmosphere in the carriage changed rapidly.
There was air, but I strangely couldn’t breathe.
I didn’t feel comfortable in this heavy atmosphere.
I pretended to be cheerful and replied.

“That’s alright.
It isn’t like we are normal enough to keep such manners.”

I waved my hand and opened the window.
I worried that he would insist on continuing the topic and demand my answer, but Rodrigo kept quiet.

I fixed my eyes on the scenery outside the window.
It was a chilly and sunny day.
A suspicious carriage could be seen chasing behind our wagon.
It was a ridiculously worn-out carriage.

I was sure it was the carriage carrying Kaylan, Ether and Eyla.
Normally, they would follow discreetly, but today they moved around freely.
I was the only weakness of the skillful Cartinas.
Whenever something was related to me, they would be triggered and it would end with undesirable results.

Wouldn’t this cause huge trouble later on?

“Have you thought about a location for our first date?”

“Yes?”

I haven’t considered that at all.
I was only immersed in the training.

“If you don’t have one, why don’t we follow the schedule I prepared?”

“Please follow your heart.”

PR/N: Dangerous words hon.

TL/N: Agreed.

It was enough to be alone with Rodrigo.
I was more curious about Kaylan, Ether, and Eyla’s next course of action than our date.
So I roughly overlooked the location Rodrigo mentioned we would head towards.

The wagon continued to run.
The horseman constantly hit the horse’s back, and the wagon shook.
The carriage drew farther and farther from the city.
Wasn’t dating usually about drinking tea at famous cafes, eating dessert, watching plays or operas, and touring exhibitions?

It wasn’t until the scenery outside turned completely green that I looked back at Rodrigo.
For some reason, I didn’t have a good feeling.
I asked,

“Where are we going?”

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