Everything was settled, and I was treating my feet by myself quietly in my room.
Perhaps it was because I ran a long distance barefooted to stop Clyde, as the soles of my feet were scraped and there was even congealed blood on it.
Did Clyde know it?
Earlier, I was afraid he’d tell me to return and rest if I said my feet was hurting.
She hid her pain by pretending to be okay because I was unwilling to see him left the ballroom.
Many people, including Joseph, had left me but only Clyde who didn’t want to turn his back away from me again.
So I deemed him like a ‘friend.’
To him, I was just a sweet childhood friend in his memory.
I imagined something a little surreal and sweet occasionally when I felt lonely and sick like this.
If he wasn’t the sword of my father, not the Guardian of Heaven, not the leader of the shunned revolutionary group, but only stayed on my side.
How if the brave duck returned to the ugly duckling empress after 10 years?
“Clyde might have laughed at me if he heard it…”
I shook my head while saying it was indeed a ridiculous story. Thereupon, the quiet air of the dawn rushed into my lungs.
While letting out a small sigh, Jason Evanders’ voice rang in my mind.
“Then what are you going to do to me?”
“What could you possibly do?”
I felt like I finally came to my senses once I heard it.
Right, what could I do to fight against Jason Evanders?
I protect my family using the power Jason had lent to me, but what should I do if Jason became a threat to me?
I hadn’t thought about this.
There’s no way the deal would be changed.
I thought I could’ve somehow fixed it when this sort of situation came up.
But when he asked me, he looked down at me arrogantly while guessing what I could do, but I had nothing to say.
“Because you value the trust of the nobles in you too much. I was trying to get it and use it as a knife to aim at you when things go awry for you.”
Perhaps when I told him that.
And when I said this to Clyde.
“So Clyde Darrenhill, as the Princess of this Empire, I said you are not a monster.”
I might have decided. From this time on, I would return completely as Stella, the Imperial Princess, not Ethel, who missed her family.
I tore the contract I had with the imperial family in half.
If I stayed here for six months obediently, the Imperial Family would not ask me for anything.
That’s how I signed a contract with them.
But in the end, it was all useless. The safety of my family was not obtained through permission of others.
It was foolish of me to try to protect my people based on the trust and favor from my opponent.
People’s minds would always change.
In this case, it’s because the weak have to beg for the favor of the strong.
And because I just have to wish everything would turn out to be fine.
Therefore, I would eventually become the Princess who gained the support of the nobility and people.
Jason Evanders needed Stella Ethelanche, the Princess who could have an influence on the nobility.
The Imperial Family also wanted the same thing from me.
“If you could be the perfect Second Princess like I said.”
It would not hurt me for being a substitute just like Karen who needed one.
It was clear that Jason would never dare to say such a thing to me again if I could become the Princess who succeeded in winning the favor of the nobles.
Because my influence would turn out to be a threat to him.
Even the Imperial Family would not dare to lay even a fingertips to my family.
Because they knew better than anyone else that it would harm them if they were to take advantage of my weaknesses.
Only then would the contract be kept as a mutual relationship.
I closed my heavy eyelids while laying down wearily on the bed.
If I had known this thing would happen, I would’ve grinned while saying farewell to the ‘Adventurer’s Refuge’, the place where I called it my home that would be the place I return to someday.
Jason Evanders leaned roughly on the chair and took a deep inhale of the cigar smoke.
When he exhaled, the hazy smoke dispersed into the darkness. He stared into the air with a blank gaze.
His vest was unbuttoned loosely, his shirt opened up a little and slightly revealed his bruised wound.
His lips was cracked and the blood was drying up.
His servant, who was studying his master’s face, took a step and proceeded to unbutton his master’s shirt one by one.
“…It’ll last for quite a while.”
He examined the wounds on Jason’s body.
“I’m glad it’s not impossible for you to live a normal life like usual after this. I’m also glad the Princess had dried it out for you.”
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The man once again wetted the cloth with disinfectant before wiping it on the minor wounds in his master’s body.
He was very familiar and quick when doing it, as if he had already done this sort of treatment many times.
There was no work to be done anymore because the doctor already handled the big wounds, so he only looked at the man’s condition.
A bandage on the shoulder and another one on the ribs, the bruise… Let’s see where others are. There are one, two, and three big bruises.
He checked the condition of his master calmly and put his shirt back on.
It happened oftenly.
When his superior sometimes had to deal with dirty stuff and returned home covered in blood like this.
At that time, the man’s duty was to check whether his master was in good or bad condition, and adjusted his master’s schedule after figuring out the situation calmly, then he was just prescribed strong painkillers so the owner could live his daily life thoroughly.
With his help, Jason Evanders was always able to put himself as the heir of Evanders’ Kingdom, not as the human version of Jason Evanders.
Thus, Jason Evanders acted as the face and heart of Evanders.
“I will take my leave now.”
He bowed his head and left quietly like usual.
Then Jason opened his mouth.
“…You’ve taken medicine, so it’s better not to take it now. As I said, the Viscount’s body does not solely belong to you, but to Evanders…”
“The aide babbled about the same thing. Just bring it to me.”
He bowed his head again before leaving Jason’s office.
His master didn’t seem to be in a good mood today.
He heard from his master’s aide that this was not because of his work, but because of a woman…
He walked forward while saying there was a very unusual thing that had taken place today.
Because of a woman?
He shook his head while insisting that he must’ve heard it wrong.
“W-w-what had happened? What? Your Grace. Why didn’t you even tell this poor aide earlier? Now, if he brings Your Grace to trial… No, he shouldn’t do that.”
“The Princess, what did she say? Your Grace, aghh!”
Clyde closed the door in front of his noisy aide’s face, who was busy babbling, and sat down on the sofa while covering his forehead.
He recalled what Stella had said to him earlier. Stella was asking him in a soft voice.
“Why did you do that?”
With a warm voice full of concern to him, to the worthless monster. Clyde couldn’t help but hesitate for quite a while when Stella asked him that.
Why did Clyde Darrenhill beat Jason Evanders up?
It wasn’t long before he decided to answer her.
“Because he said something offensive to me.”
He didn’t dare to say that he did it because he was in love with the Princess.
The Princess and Jason Evanders seemed to be such a good match for each other.
Would it turn out to be different if he told Jason Evanders that he didn’t like him to stay beside the Princess?
It was clear that people would only point their fingers at him because of the fact that he was jealous of Jason Evanders.
He went through a lot of things today, and he couldn’t be honest toward her because he thought it would’ve been unbearable if he got rejected. He did it to Jason only because it was related to her. The man next to her made his blood boil so he couldn’t stand it anymore.
No matter how much Jason Evanders insulted himself, Clyde was confident that he could endure it all.
But he shouldn’t have dragged Stella.
Stella’s virtuous name shouldn’t have flowed through his dirty lips.
Moreover, when Stella found out that he had interrogated Jason Evanders before, the man would’ve come forward and Stella would finally find out about things he couldn’t tell her directly.
Stella would obviously stay away from him.
What should he do to help Stella out in her matter?
Therefore, he decided to be quiet. While not saying anything on his mind.
She was so kind and warm toward him.
Then Clyde thought of something.
He thought it would’ve been better to make Jason Evanders do that instead. Rather than being an obstacle to Stella due to him being an illegitimate child, it was better for him to pose as a threat to everyone.
He was accustomed to be the target of hate for everyone and feared by them, so there was no reason for him to be hesitant.
He would’ve taken away all the darkness and dirty things in the world, because he wanted Stella to be like a bright light that illuminated the night sky in his shadow.
The person who was feared by the nobles wasn’t the Imperial Family, but him who had successfully returned the crown back to the Emperor, therefore he would stand silently beside Stella and leave everyone quivering in fear.
So that Stella could be loved fully in a safe and shining place.
Velvice’s people called him a hero who was able to restore the Imperial Family back to their original place.
“So Clyde Darrenhill, as the Princess of this Empire, I said that you are not a monster.”
There was only one person, who told him that he wasn’t a monster, and that person was Princess Stella Ethelanche.
It didn’t matter if he couldn’t stay by her side because it was something he didn’t even dare to wish for in the first place.
Now that the Emperor has been crowned again after fighting he fought to the point that he almost crushed his whole body, he didn’t care if nothing had changed.
He was going to dedicate the rest of his life protecting her.
Because the girl was his only salvation.