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Leonis eagerly turned the pages of the book till he reached the very last page. His keen eyes were adamant about not missing a single letter.
“Make them vomit the heart of the divine beast? Is that possible?”
“I don’t know if it’s possible…but I am going to try it.”
Leonis locked his gaze on Celia as she spoke.
This was a dangerous discussion. The Emperor would never tolerate it and the Cardian family could be driven to treason. In any case, Celia would not be safe anywhere if she became involved in this situation, but she herself might not be able to see it that way, or she might be on the Emperor’s side.
‘Can I trust you?’
Leonis’ heart screamed that he wanted to believe in Celia a thousand times over. He was willing to place his heart in the Grim Reaper’s palm if he had to trust her to death.
“….Yes. I intend to rebel against the Emperor.”
The propaganda about the imperial family inheriting a mysterious power was completely false. It coincided around the same time as the Cardian family’s curse, but no one pointed it out.
Rather, the imperial family was revered as having been blessed by God, while the Duke of Cardian was only chastised for having been cursed by God.
The consequences of Duke Cardian’s predecessor’s foolish decisions were passed down this way. The long suffering of the Cardian family. And Leonis was going to cut it off.
“What were your plans with the invitation? If you’re thinking of Prince Michael as a countermeasure…. You are mistaken. He has a major flaw.”
Leonis came to a halt because what Celia said was one of the countermeasures he was considering. Celia continued to speak in a calm manner.
“Prince Michael is not the Emperor’s child.”
“….What’s the evidence?”
“Prince Michael’s real father lives in Cancia, a seaside village. The First Empress’s close aides kept him alive just in case. He has the exact same face as Michael.”
It was essential information, but proving it on its own was difficult. She could have overheard a discussion about framing the First Empress with a man who looked exactly like Michael. However, it did not appear to be false at the time when the First Empress’s close aides were trying to hide it.
“How do you know that?”
“Why do you think my father didn’t support Prince Michael?”
She secretly stole the books from the secret library at Marquis Montague’s mansion. Only the Emperor and the Crown Prince in the imperial family are privy to this information, so it would not have been passed down lightly by the Marquis Montague.
“Do you want to become the Emperor?”
When Celia asked that question, Leonis gave her a silent look.
He thought Celia was a woman without ambition. Regardless of the fact that Phil was a scumbag and Michael lacked legitimacy. If the Marquis of Montague had wanted to remarry, he would have divorced his wife, and married Celia off.
The Marquis of Montague’s family held that position.
Nevertheless, Celia didn’t choose anyone. She was engaged to Fabian as her father had chosen, and fell in love with him.
Leonis’ first impression of Celia was that she was calm and simple.
“I haven’t decided yet.”
That was what his aides wanted from Leonis. Ascend to the throne of the current rotten empire and reform it. The capital now appeared to be the only place where people could live without worry, but the slums and provinces were dying.
The Emperor didn’t care if nobles and officials were exploited. Like all nobles, the Emperor believed that the nobility had the right to squeeze the people.
The only decent place to live in the empire was the Duchy of Cardian.
Many people fled when they heard the news. It didn’t matter how much the nobles mocked and spread rumors about the Duke of Cardian as a murderer, it was useless.
Either establish a new empire, or become the Emperor himself.
Leonis had already concluded that the Emperor’s children were hopeless. In the current situation, no matter who was named Emperor, something similar would occur in the future.
There was also another method, which was to set up a scarecrow, but it was also cumbersome. Above all, Leonis did not have much affection for this empire.
Becoming an Emperor meant that in the end, he had no choice but to embrace this empire. Leonis thought it was a nuisance, but he believed it had to be done at some point. To smear blood on those hands and rise to a position of responsibility for all. It would be an arduous and painful road.
“Do you want me to be the Emperor?”
Leonis had a solemn expression on his face as he looked at Celia. She took Leonis’ hand in hers quietly.
“My child, who will one day be born, will not be cursed… I hope you will not be subjected to unfair and terrible treatment as a result of the Imperial Family’s threat. That’s all I want.”
That was enough as an answer. Leonis wanted to be the one who could keep her safe.
“I will protect you, Celia….. I will become the Emperor.”
Leonis kissed Celia’s forehead, whispering in a sweet, serious voice.
✦ ✦ ✦
The information Celia provided was very useful information to Leonis’ aides. This was because he was not only able to hold the leash on Michael as the prince, but she also gave a clue to the long-standing bridle curse of the Duke of Cardian.
“The Duchess is truly sent from heaven! I’m just glad she accepted the Duke! That kind of information….”
“Is there a reason why Marquis Montague has played such an important role in the Imperial Family for several generations…”
While not listening to his aides, Leonis was in a situation that no one knew about. It was probably because Celia had been staring at him all night with a ‘don’t you have anything else to say?’ expression on her face.
He had to tell her something important. However, even treason became more difficult to say when it was brought to his lips, and he missed his timing.
Leonis spent the night with Celia, but he couldn’t sleep well because she had a frosty demeanor.
Celia didn’t object to Leonis hugging her, but she kept staring at him.
Do you have something to say? Don’t you have something to say to me?
Leonis wrapped his arms around her and pretended to fall asleep quickly. Celia seemed to touch him, as if she wanted to pinch him, but he pretended he didn’t know.
And… in the morning. Celia said this as if she was giving an ultimatum.
“Do you have anything to say to me?”
He wished he had surrendered at this point.
Leonis was scared….. Fear! He was never afraid in front of the Emperor, any monster, or a large army! However, he eventually told her that he had nothing to say to her. Then Celia spoke with a voice colder than the north wind,
That’s what she said. Her voice was cold enough to make him feel like he was being sentenced to death just by recalling it.
Leonis, who mechanically went straight to work and sat in front of the desk, could not raise his head. As something heavy fell on his chest, he felt as if he was about to die.
When she looked at him, Celia’s eyes were so cold. He had never seen a woman with those eyes before in his life.
Leonis only realized how sweet Celia had been to him at that point. When she embraced him tenderly in her arms and stared at him with her sweet eyes….
‘I’m going crazy.’
Celia’s attitude indicated that she knew everything. Maybe that’s why she wouldn’t have refused to spend the night with him if she had known.
“Excuse me, Duke? Why are you sweating… Whoops!”
The deputy, startled by his appearance, abruptly rose from his seat and took a step back. With a ferocious expression, Leonis emerged from his desk.
He had a face that was prepared to be punished by Celia, but his close aide saw him differently, he had a bloody face that could annihilate a couple of villages.
“….I will go to the Duchess. I’m going to rest today, so don’t disturb me.”
The information the Duchess had given them piled up, but they were content with it because it will all be used to help Duke Cardian.
Since the person who gave the information was the Duchess, it didn’t matter if Leonis took a day off and stayed by the Duchess’ side all day.
“How about talking about the relics of the saintess? I figured you could get more information from the Duchess if you talked to her about it.”
The relics of the saintess that Celia was looking for were already in the Duke of Cardian.
The Emperor secretly bribed the church to remove the Saintess Agnes’ relics, but the sorcerer was quicker. The sorcerer persuaded the Saintess to send some relics to the Duchess Cardian before she died.
It was after the Duchess was imprisoned by the first Duke, who was already crazy from madness.
The relics sent by the Saintess were not delivered to the Duchess; instead, the Duke kept them for himself. He only came to his senses after killing the Duchess and examined the relics, but there was no clue of the curse anywhere.
The Duke, who had come to his senses by then, expressed regret for not having delivered the relics to her. But it’s a different case now, the first Duke did it in a state of madness, but Leonis couldn’t help but think about his own predicament.
It was as if he was being told that he should tell her now rather than later because he would regret it later.
His aides were puzzled by the sight of Leonis, who had forgotten his dignity and started running. Why was the person who brought the good news in such a rush?
The Duke’s appearance was as cool as a painting, which made it even more unfair. He was a very handsome man, despite the curse aura emanating from his eyes.
‘Why are you so fast?’
Of course, the servants who had to accompany him wept because they couldn’t keep up with Leonis.
✦ ✦ ✦
Celia was comforting herself with sweet desserts and tea because Leonis did not told the truth about the curse.
Celia was perplexed when she saw Leonis come running in a hurry… What uhh.
Leonis was taking a deep breath while Celia set the teacup down and looked at him with gleaming eyes.
“……You all leave.”
The maids silently left the room. Celia’s face lit up with excitement, but she stood up and pretended not to be.
“Isn’t it time for you to go to the office?”
“I came back because there was something bothering me.”
Leonis returned his gaze to the closed door after saying this. This was their own secret story so it should not be leaked out.
Leonis approached Celia after confirming that the door was shut. He then grabbed her wrist and made his way to the Duchess’s room. Celia obediently followed him and cast a sidelong glance at Leonis.
He didn’t sweat much because of his physical strength, but his slightly disheveled outfit suited him.
‘What doesn’t suit you…?’
She hoped she could touch his messy hair, but she couldn’t at the moment. Celia’s touch appealed to Leonis a lot more.
“…I have a story that I didn’t tell my wife.”
Leonis spoke up after entering the Duchess’s room and closing the door. The next words brought a smile to Celia’s face, as they were exactly what she had been waiting for.
‘You should have done this earlier.’