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The emperor himself calls out their names and pins a medal to their chests. All knights, all men in the military service look forward to this moment.
However, The current Marquis of Montague did not relish this occasion.
‘The medal will be kept as a family honor.’
The meaning of the medals remains unchanged even if the current emperor is foolish and unjust. The Montague family’s contribution to the empire will take a long time.
Five men, including the Marquis of Montague, were also given insignia and flags by the Emperor. The imperial family’s blessings were embroidered in gold threads on a flag that could be passed down for generations.
The Marquis of Montague’s frown only slightly widened after this honor.
Following his servant, he stood next to the emperor after receiving the medal. Medals were also being given to nobles of lower rank than him.
The Marquis of Montague turned to the left and saw Celia. She was clapping and leaning against the Duke of Cardian.
He was perplexed as to why the Emperor had bequeathed a medal upon him. He simply pretended he didn’t know.
(Note: It seems like the Marquis is being rewarded for marrying his daughter to the Duke, ensuring that the curse is kept out of the imperial family.)
When the Marquis of Montague met Leonis, who was holding Celia’s waist, he quickly turned his head. His face became pale.
In a strict sense, Leonis was nothing more than the monster’s vessel, but to the Marquis of Montague, it didn’t matter.
His daughter was married to such a monster……
He felt sick just thinking about how she had to endure receiving and growing that seed in her stomach.
‘I’m afraid I won’t be able to see my children any longer…’
Even if he died, his wife would no longer be able to have children. Because she was elderly, Marquis Montague did not want to pressure her. That is why he is looking for Lily…..
‘I can’t believe that useless thing ran away!’
He intended to bring in a noble from a respectable family to marry Lily, and then raise him as the heir to the marquisate. Everything, however, was messed up because of Lily’s strange disappearance!
‘I can’t hand over the Montague Marquisate to that monster’s offspring.’
With that thought alone, the Marquis of Montague was pursuing Lily. But, despite how deftly the venomous had used his head, no one noticed.
The Marquis was concerned because evidence suggested that she had left the continent by boat.
He assumed she wouldn’t go that far because she was afraid and a girl, but in human affairs, there are always exceptions.
The emperor spoke words of congratulations to those who had received medals while he was lost in thought. The imperial palace’s servants were passing through the crowd, offering champagne glasses.
“……Raise your glass high! Today is their day! Glory to the Empire!”
The emperor lifted the cup and drank from it with delight. Others did the same, bringing their glasses to their mouths.
For a brief moment, the Marquis of Montague imagined the emperor would fall, frothing at the mouth, blood dripping from his eyes, but nothing of the sort came to pass.
Because the emperor’s power was ‘purification.’
In this empire, there was not a man, woman, or child that didn’t know of the emperor’s ability, and so, if ever the emperor were to be assassinated, the poison would not be the cause.
‘There’s no way that emperor is going to die right now…..’
The Duke of Cardian was clinking glasses with his wife and drinking champagne when the Marquis of Montague glanced at Celia. He frowned because they appeared to be a good match.
Celia noticed him then as well. The marquis watched as she assumed an expressionless countenance, portraying her calm and aristocratic coldness. He never thought he would receive such a stare from his daughter.
She nodded and bowed her head lightly, but didn’t seem to want to come closer. Celia didn’t want to approach, and the marquis didn’t want her to approach either.
When Marquis Montague turned around, he was greeted by nobles who had approached him. He pushed his feelings of resentment toward Celia to the limit.
✦ ✦ ✦
‘This would be enough.’
Celia was tired of hearing her parents say things like, “This happened because of you.” Before she married, that kind of accusation was enough for her.
She understood that the Emperor’s order could not be disobeyed, but it was cowardly of her parents to blame it on her.
Celia turned to face Leonis when she heard a concerned voice. It was enough for him to look at her with a warm gaze.
‘He is the only one I have.’
Someone who will never betray and will love her unconditionally. Because he was the male protagonist in the novel, she knew it was possible, and she was willing to try.
When Leonis smiled and held her hand, his expression softened.
From afar, the emperor looked at Celia and Leonis and stroked his chin, as if satisfied. He wondered what would happen if Montague’s daughter refused to marry the Duke of Cardian due to their forced pairing.
‘That’s how it should be.’
The emperor, who had summoned Celia to be obedient, had changed his plans. Meddling would have the opposite effect if they were in such a good relationship. Furthermore, there is a troublesome thing called a contraceptive ring in the world, so it is best not to provoke the Duke of Cardian.
The music began to play once more, and couples began to dance in the center of the ballroom.
For a brief moment, the emperor greeted the nobles before turning his gaze to his sons, who were forming several groups in the ballroom.
As was customary, Michael was surrounded by his vassals, while Phil was surrounded by his supporters. Giel is……
‘Hmm. Are you still a drinker? He’s a knucklehead……’
The emperor pretended not to notice that one of the three Empresses accompanying him was watching his expression.
He didn’t have to be harsh with Giel. He had two more sons, and one of them was sufficient to raise as Crown Prince.
You can forfeit the match if you’re afraid of competing. The emperor’s attention was drawn away from Giel and toward the other competitors.
It didn’t make a difference that Michael and Phil were forming their groups. The dukes formed their groups as well, though some followed a different pattern than others.
Loyal families stood by the emperor and stared coldly at those who attempted to visit him, and those related to the prince by blood or marriage formed a group like that.
The Duke and Duchess of Cardian were among those who made an appearance.
As they formed a kind of group, the emperor, Orkan, looked at them with a curious gaze.
Even if he attended the ball, the Duke of Cardian had always left without staying long. Orkan knew to expect this of Leonis at any gathering –banquets included.
‘Does it mean that starting a family has changed your mind?’
It was as if Celia, Leonis’s wife, was shielding him from the most terrifying and piercing aspects of himself.
People approached the Duke of Cardian to greet him, but when they saw Celia, they offered to greet her. Then, thanks to Celia, they met Leonis.
The majority of the nobles seemed pleased to hear the Duke of Cardian’s light greeting.
The emperor thought the scene was a little disturbing. But he couldn’t put his finger on why he felt that way.
‘Is it because it’s uncanny for a monster to pretend to be a human……’
If it had been someone else, he would have attempted to alleviate the unpleasant feelings by assassinating Celia, a supporter.
However, he was unable to do so because his adversary was the Duke of Cardian. Because he needed to see Leonis to have an heir.
Leonis jerked his head back as if he suddenly realized there was a gaze fixed on him. The emperor flinched at what appeared to be a ferocious beast’s gaze.
The direct stare lasted only a fraction of a second.
Leonis immediately turned his head, his eyes as if he were a tamed beast. But Orkan had a strong hunch.
That beast would bite his neck if he touched Celia.
✦ ✦ ✦
Leonis whispered in Celia’s ear as he looked around.
“…… I can’t see my mother-in-law.”
Hearing the word “mother-in-law” come out of Leonis’ mouth struck her as strange. Perhaps that was why she wasn’t hurt because she could not see her mother’s face.
“She won’t come. Don’t worry about it.”
Celia was convinced after whispering in Leonis’ ear once more.
Perhaps her mother would remain in the marquisate for the time being, until the day they succeed in rebelling.
Ramona was a lady who had made a name for herself among the ladies. Celia’s marriage to Leonis irritated her, and she’d be peppered with questions from many ladies.
It was an insult to Ramona. She would receive sympathy from her surroundings because she was known as the Marchioness of Montague.
Perhaps after Leonis has been set free from the curse…… If the entire world is aware of this fact, they will seek to learn the truth through Celia. It was clear at that point that she would try to interact with people once more.
“…It’s late, but congratulations on your wedding. To both of you.”
Celia’s face hardened as she turned her head to the cheerful voice. Fabian’s figure could be seen behind the beautiful blonde woman.
Fabian looked bitter at the situation, but he quickly turned his head away, as if he had seen something that Celia wouldn’t see.
Leonis was by her side. She noticed Bianca while still feeling Leonis’ arm around her waist.
She knew Fabian had a fiancee because she had read the original story. Even though no one in the ducal family had told her, she remembered it.
Because that’s the shocking part.
The Marquis of Yersil did not want his son to be associated with his fiancée’s death. So he went on the hunt for a new fiancée for Fabian to marry when the original Celia committed suicide. As it turned out, Fabian was quite pleased with his new bride-to-be.
Celia almost frowned as she realized it was more heartbreaking than she had expected.
“Thank you. Excuse me, but Lady……”
“I am Bianca Rizalus.”
Leonis had heard the name Viscount of Rizalus before.
He was hesitant to reveal Fabian’s engagement to Celia. She was afraid Celia would get a rude awakening.
Bianca said to Celia with an innocent face.
“Congratulations to us too. We are also engaged.”
She acted as if they were unaware of Celia and Fabian’s engagement. Fabian, who was standing behind Bianca, had a distorted expression on his face as if he hadn’t expected it.
“This is my fiance.”
The nobles in their immediate vicinity held their breath as if anticipating a dramatic play.
The sound of music, laughter, and the sounds of drunken people, which could previously be heard due to the atmosphere of the ball, fell silent.
Even breathing was stifled in this place as if it were a sin. As the crowd awaited Celia’s response with great anticipation.
Celia let out a word without realizing it, her face gleaming with joy like a young girl who had just been engaged to her lover.