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* * *
“Come on, Brother. What’s going on these days? Your face doesn’t look too good.”
Ciel and Clara’s entrance to the Palace was scheduled for later after their family trip.
In celebration of Clara’s official employment, they decided to go on a family trip to their newly purchased summer villa.
Traveling was like a battlefield, so Isaac would come if they asked him to, but it wasn’t easy to bring it up hastily. Isaac couldn’t bring himself to speak out and stared at his sister.
On the day of his formal knighthood, Isaac made a secret vow. For the warmth of her cute hand, that held his finger tightly, and for that innocent smile to last forever.
His sword was there to protect Ciel’s happiness, and he couldn’t erase the feeling of getting further away from his beloved sister.
“Are you having a hard time training these days? You look very tired.”
“It’s fine. Whenever I see Ciel’s face, all the tiredness goes away.”
“Hey, how could you say that? You must be very tired today, so I’ll massage your shoulders.”
Sweet Ciel wouldn’t leave the troubled Isaac alone. What a lovely little sister she was.
No matter how hard he tried not to show it, his beloved sister’s eyes couldn’t be deceived. Isaac hesitated and carefully brought it up.
“Actually, I have a tourney this week.”
“It’s a tournament where we compete.”
“Yes, I know what that is. Didn’t you win every time?”
He had never told her, but Ciel already knew the result. In front of a surprised Isaac, Ciel smiled brightly.
“I know everything.”
“You’re the strongest among your peers, right?”
Although he had never shown off his skills or talked about them in front of Ciel, his beloved sister praised Isaac’s skills as if she had known for a long time.
“I want Ciel to come and cheer for me this time, but it’s too much, right?”
“What’s too much? I went to Louis’s grade test last time.”
“Could you come?”
“What’s so hard about it? It’s not just for anyone else, it’s for Isaac.”
He didn’t expect it, but Ciel had already begun preparations, counting the days on her fingers.
“I’ll bake some cookies. I’d like to take this opportunity to see how strong my brother is.”
Isaac nodded excitedly at the unexpected suggestion. If Ciel supported him in person, he wouldn’t lose to anyone in front of Ciel.
“I’m going to sleep with Clara tonight. Good night, brother!”
Ciel waved and went straight to Clara’s room.
But Isaac couldn’t sleep anymore, so he held his sword while looking at the moon.
* * *
Isaac’s condition was very strange these days. I wasn’t the only one who felt the change.
“Well, it’s certainly become more frequent for Master Isaac to skip his meals.”
“I was wondering if I should speak to the Lord or not.”
Mrs. Lisbon also noticed that there was something wrong with Isaac early on. He would always say he was okay if I asked him directly, so after contemplating, I went to Clara.
My sister was talking with Theo today to see if there was anything to check.
“I’ve talked to the president of the association. They said thank you for telling them in advance.”
“That’s a relief. I’m glad I consulted you.”
“Well, with this, later on, if there’s anything else I can do to help, let me know.”
QC/N: He gets so shy with Clara lol
Theo was helping Clara today with a pitiable air. Theo was the only one Clara could rely on comfortably in this house.
Somehow the atmosphere between the two looked good, so I stuck near the door and peeked intently at Theo and Clara.
“Dummy, what are you doing there?”
Anyway, I was caught peeping by Louis’ unhelpful appearance.
“Ciel, what’s up?”
Well, two heads would be better than one. I consulted the two about Isaac, who had become strange these days.
Theo and Clara, who heard my story, somehow did not open their mouths easily.
“Well, a fool is really a fool. You really don’t know what’s wrong with Isaac?”
“Why? What’s going on?”
“Louis, shut up.”
My youngest brother, Louis, seems to know something but was unlucky today, only getting scolded and running away.
But somehow Theo and Clara seemed to know what was wrong with Isaac.
“It must have been a shock to him.”
“Yes, I think so.”
“Shocked? Why? What caused him to feel that?”
“Oh, I mean, you know, the fact that you were kidnapped last time. He seemed to be very hurt because he couldn’t protect you properly. Right, Clara?”
Clara peeked at Theo and nodded. Since Isaac always pampers me.
However, it was natural to be heartbroken because the role of saving me was taken away by His Highness, the Crown Prince.
“Am I being too careless?”
“Because Isaac really cares about Ciel.”
“Brother, do you remember that time? Until Ciel was two years old, Isaac couldn’t even come close and looked at her from afar.”
“It was like that.”
Clara and Theo told me a childhood story that I can’t remember at all.
“He just looked at me?”
“Yes, I always said it was okay to come and touch you, but he just stared at you when you were asleep.”
“Why did he do that?”
“He said he was scared, but he must have been afraid that he might hurt you by mistake. He’s been strong since he was a kid.”
Isaac usually acted like a fool for his younger sister, but he was unmatched in swordsmanship.
He was recognized for his talent by a famous knight when he was young and became his disciple and the youngest knight.
I was surprised to see Alex because few people were as strong as Isaac.
“Please understand Isaac’s feelings. I think he was hurt when you said you were leaving the house.”
“Is that so?”
I was so full of thoughts of making Clara happy that I neglected to take care of Isaac.
For Isaac, Ciel was not just a sister. The love, which was blind, felt different from the love between a man and a woman. How should I explain it?
I didn’t want anything in return, I just wanted to give them everything they wanted, like a parent that just wants their child to be happy.
I don’t know how it turned out like that, but it was not weird for me to treat Clara like that.
“Clara, there’s a tourney between Isaac’s knight’s group. I want to bake cookies and go, can you help me?”
“Of course. I’ll help you.”
If I baked it alone, I thought I would make salt-flavored cookies again, but I could bake it deliciously with Clara.
I mobilized my sister as well as all the maids to bake a mountain of cookies so that I could give them around to all the knights.
On top of that, I wanted to take this opportunity to see how strong Isaac was. Considering what would happen in the future, Isaac’s outstanding skills would play an important part, so it was not bad to check with my own eyes.
Thinking about which cookies to bake for my beloved brother, I hummed joyfully.
* * *
“What the hell are you up to?”
Unable to resist his frustration, Stan eventually went to Alex himself. As if it wasn’t enough that he was openly flirting with Ciel, Alex, who continued his suspicious behaviour, could no longer be tolerated.
He came out of the blue which made ALex wonder what was going on. Frowning, Alex stared at his cousin with a look of pity. He knew that he couldn’t get angry at just this level of provocation. Perhaps because his mother raised him, Stan was still immature.
It had always been like this since childhood. Stan didn’t know how precious the things he enjoyed were because of Queen Lotte, who had raised him within the width of her skirt so that she did not regret anything.
He was picky about food, and if he didn’t like it even a little bit, he got mad, saying it was his mother’s fault. Stan, who had grown up enjoying everything like that, could not tolerate even a mistake as small as his fingernail.
The sight of it brought disgust. Stan had been living happily without any worries in his mother’s arms while Alex had repeatedly overcome the crisis of death after falling into the schemes of Queen Lotte.
“You son of a bitch!”
When Stan raised his fist, the knights around Alex looked around. He shook his head and lightly prevented the non-threatening attack.
“If you have something to say, say it.”
There was a difference in size, so it could clearly be seen that Stan couldn’t win with strength. Stan lowered his raised fist and bit his lips with a look of injustice.
“Be honest. What the hell are you going to do with Ciel?”
Since Stan got everything he wanted, Alex didn’t know that there would be a time when the face of the guy who had no regrets in the world would be distorted.
Alex smiled knowingly and looked elsewhere indifferently.
“I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
“Don’t say that now!”
It was a well-calculated plan to have Ciel enter the Palace. Stan had said he liked Ciel since he was young, so this situation is good bait for Alex.
Once Ciel entered the Crown Prince’s Palace, no one could meet her without his permission.
If Queen Lotte actively moved to marry Stan and Ciel, the nobles would surely press the Emperor to make him Crown Prince, citing his pedigree.
So, Alex was just doing his best to keep his position. Looking at Stan, who was angry as expected, he felt like his past frustration was going down a little.
He could do anything for revenge. He was really willing to marry Ciel if he could take revenge against Queen Lotte by making Stan despair.
Anyway, there was something he wanted from him, so he would be nice to him. Even if it was a transaction for mutual benefit, it would be an equally fair transaction.
‘Or maybe you’ve already noticed my plan.’
He would never let go of those who caused his mother to die. He didn’t tell anyone, but he had made up his mind in secret.
If he were to ascend to the throne, he would dry up the seeds of the nobles who persecuted him to protect their power, including those that had committed evil acts under Queen Lotte.
Of course, he did not intend to purge the contributors who helped him ascend to the throne. In that sense, Ciel stood in line quite well.
‘Of course, that’s not the only thing.’
Just by looking at her friendly attitude and letters from earlier, Ciel already seemed to be infatuated with him.
A girl who stood up for her beliefs even in situations where everyone turned away. Even now, there was no reason to refuse a girl who took care of him because he was her precious friend.
Alex snorted and teased Stan.
“Ciel must be very upset because she likes me so much.”
Alex told him not to be petty and jealous while turning around swiftly.
“Will you be alright?
“Leave her alone.”
She would certainly be the strongest ally and the weapon to attack Stan. At least among the many ladies in the Empire, no one was more perfect than Ciel.
Why didn’t Stan know that the more he made a fuss, the more Alex wanted to have Ciel by his side?
Despite Stan talking, Alex listened to it in one ear and let it escaped through the other, and began to find an excuse to go see Ciel.
 They use salty to talk about tears or of ‘a pathetic situation that brings one to tears’. The expression ‘I smell salty’ can be translated as ‘I am in tears’. 짠내를 풍기며 is referring to the fact that Theo is pitiable. Like he’s giving off the airs of a tragic submale lead, it makes you want to cry looking at him. More info here
 This is a metaphor for how Stan was raised in an environment where Queen Lotte took care of everything for him and he always got what he wanted while she kept a close eye on him. Kind of like a helicopter parent that also spoils their child like crazy.
 Not complete sure about this but I think it means that he can’t stand even the smallest mistake