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I held hands with Regina and exclaimed with unbridled enthusiasm. The sight of the vast collection of precious jewels amassed by the princess was enough to send everyone present into a frenzy of excitement.
Diamonds, carnelians, emeralds, agates, amethysts, obsidian, and feather pens set in platinum. By displaying the royal treasure, the virtuous princess gave the impression that she possessed a superior air.
“Your Highness, the princess, is really amazing.”
“What’s so great about this?”
“Do you really believe that if you sold the things that we have here you could buy a country? Amazing.”
Following that, there was already an endless parade of adulation. If this is the case, I should say something. As I perused the room in search of a fitting subject, my gaze came to rest upon a resplendent diamond necklace adorning the wall about the size of my fist.
“Look at that. Isn’t that something truly beautiful?
No kidding, it’s a diamond necklace that’s about the size of my hand. Absolutely breathtaking in every way. It appeared that only the empress or queen of an Empire, or at the very least Princess Royal Lotte, who possessed more power than an empress, would be capable of taking in that necklace. Truth be told, the object in question could hardly be classified as a medal, yet its dimensions were undeniably colossal.
“I know. That is very beautiful.”
“It is a necklace made of diamonds and given the name Heart of the Goddess. It is a precious item crafted by Aston Martin, a legendary craftsman who has passed away.”
I’m afraid that I’ll lose something that expensive. With a resolute decision in mind, I wasted no time in showering Princess Lotte with praise.
“Your Highness, Princess. I believe that Your Highness the Princess would look absolutely stunning wearing this necklace.”
“When the ball is held next time, please make sure to wear this necklace. It’s a promise.”
She even went as far as purposefully making a short sound with his tongue, as I showered her with compliments. I have to search as thoroughly as I can to find the ring that Alex’s mother wore. So I acted as if I was interested in that huge diamond.
Princess Lotte’s lips curved into a graceful smile as she gently stroked my hair. It was as if she was pleased with my words with how I said they were beautiful but did not belong to me.
“If that is what Ciel wants. I should be happy to. Wouldn’t it be possible that you’re my future daughter-in-law?”
Please, please, just do me a favour. It was a shame I couldn’t bring myself to shoot them straight in their faces Still, when I praised the princess, her loyal subjects immediately complimented me so as not to be left further behind.
“Oh my. I am really looking forward to it.”
Silly. Wearing such a heavy necklace would get caught in a herniated disc in my neck.
The princess didn’t seem to know yet that having a lot of loyal subjects is toxic.
* * *
When Alex finally got back from work late that night, and the first thing he did was check on how I was doing.
“I heard that you paid a visit to the princess’s palace.”
“Yes. I have made good friends.”
Towards the end of the meal, Burnett approached Alex with a concerned expression on her face and reported what had happened.
“It is said that another theft occurred in the princess’s palace.”
“Since they haven’t found the perpetrator, this time they are claiming that they stole the ruby that the princess especially cherished.”
Since it wasn’t in any of the collections I saw today, it seems that the princess hid it personally, but after I heard about it, I thought the situation was quite serious.
“What do you have planned for tomorrow?”
“I have to go see my sister.”
The reason I entered the palace in the first place was to protect my older sister. My first stop the following morning, as soon as daylight broke, was to pay a visit to my sister.
“Ciel. You are here.”
An older sister in a green uniform greeted me. When I saw her with her long, dark tresses braided neatly, I thought she looked much more mature than she did when she was staying in our mansion.
But my sister was not by herself.
“Clara, I have come to speak with you about something.”
You don’t have to make excuses, but Theo did make an excuse and pretended to be different from everyone else.
“I’m glad you got here. Please hand over the letter I wrote to mom. I’ll leave it to you from now on.”
“Yeah, let’s do that.”
Theo nodded with satisfaction, attempting to conceal the wide grin that threatened to overtake his countenance. I decided to write to my mom daily, so Theo could meet Clara every day under the pretext of delivering my letter.
Becoming into a love cupid, I grabbed Theo and asked him about Count Netias.
“Netias. They are just an ordinary count family.”
“An ordinary family?”
“I believe that I heard that the family only had one daughter, so they had to bring in a son-in-law to take care of her, so they let her in next to the imperial lady.”
Theo, who is my source, knows everything. He wasn’t wearing glasses for looks. I got the information I was looking for, so I was happy to avoid the seat so that the two of you could go on a date.
Because Theo was standing so close to me, he no longer needed to worry about Clara’s problem. As I came out of the building, I was humming, and Burnett, who had been waiting outside, was there to greet me.
“Lady Netias has arrived.”
There was no prior arrangement for Regina to come. Meryl helped me put on a lemon-colored dress, and I ran to the flower garden, where Regina was waiting.
I was worried that the preparation time would run later than expected, but fortunately, Regina was already sitting in the pavilion with a bouquet of beautiful freesias looking out over the lake when I arrived.
“Ciel. You have arrived.”
Contrary to the expectation that it would be difficult because of the name of the Duke of Valentine, Regina readily let go of the title and welcomed me.
“I heard about it yesterday. I heard a thief broke into the princess’s palace?”
“I think it was the work of the phantom thief Netty.”
I’d never heard of it before because the Valentine family was so well-protected by my father’s magic that thieves couldn’t even dare to step in.
But these days, thieves who specialize in robbing only nobles have appeared, and they said it was a headache.
“They are the phantom thief. They say that nobles who amassed wealth through bad deeds will face punishment.”
“Then they are not just a thief, they are a bandit.”
Everyone is ignorant of the fact that the princess amassed her wealth through unfair means. The most recent medication incident was also the work of the princess’s faction. I couldn’t find out officially, but I wanted to punish them in some way, so I was relieved to hear they were reprimanded in this manner.
“However, the Duke of Valentine is a well-known figure among all people. It’s possible that this is why they don’t bother to touch him because of it..”
The thing is, because my father is so powerful, he doesn’t jump into anything without first giving it some careful consideration.
As I was also a precious princess who had my childhood spent in a greenhouse, my older brothers were the only source of information about what was going on in the outside world that I had access to.
When I paid attention to what was going on in the outside world, neither of my older brothers liked it very much.
Because even my foolish younger brother Isaac avoided talking to me about things that didn’t pertain to me, the majority of Regina’s stories were completely foreign to me.
It was very impressive to see the princess take what seems to be an earnest stance of defence after initially putting up a barrier.
“Then, did the thief break into the princess’s palace and steal the ruby that disappeared yesterday?”
“I guess so. A month ago, there was an incident that was very similar to this one, but this is already the second.”
The princess’s palace is also not as safe as I thought. Even if nothing remains, the situation was made more difficult when people are hurt.
“Is Regina all right? Did you lose anything?”
Worried, I held her hand tightly, Regina shook her head.
“My family is not as great as Ciel. I don’t have anything valuable enough for thieves to target.”
I thought I stepped on a land mine. With Regina in front of me, I was at a loss for words. What can I say or do to ease the tension and make this awkward environment disappear? Regardless, I made the decision to wear an iron plate on my face.
“You know, that’s something that my father would always say. If there is a robbery in my family, I believe that they will take me first before taking anything else.”
“If I were Ciel, I could see it happening.”
Wouldn’t it would be embarrassing for me if you agreed to this so naively? Burnett had arranged the refreshments that she had prepared. In order to prevent Regina from picking up my cup with the hand she was using, I reached out to her with a gentle hand and switched it.
“Just in case.”
You have no way of knowing when or where the princess will bare her venomous teeth. I reached into the folds of my arms and pulled out a handkerchief, then used it to clean the area around where I had touched my lips with it. I then took a drink while placing my lips on the opposite side of the glass.
After making sure it was safe, I handed the teacup to Regina. Even if that happens, my sister was nearby, so detoxification is not a problem.
When Regina noticed that I shrugged my shoulders, she asked an innocent question regarding her concern.
“But isn’t it dangerous for you to risk yourself?”
“If I become poisoned and pass out, the situation will become even more dire.”
This is a warning to the princess’s minion, who is probably listening somewhere in the vicinity. If I get poisoned and then pass out while they are trying to frame me, the Valentine family as a whole will be turned upside down. Although this is located in the Crown Prince’s Palace, it is the responsibility of the Empress to protect the royal palace.
Therefore, the imperial woman will be entirely responsible for whatever transpires in my personal affairs in a situation where something unfortunate occurs.
I took a sip of steaming black tea and grabbed a bite to eat. There was no such thing as poison in the biscotti that my sister baked for me.
“Eat it. It’s delicious.”
“I will enjoy it.”
Regina tried the special herbal biscotti that my sister had made. It was invigorating to hear the sound of the crispy outer layer breaking.
Roenthal is a poison that an imperial princess likes to use when dealing with silence. The leaves are poisonous, but the roots of the plant contain an antidote that neutralises that the poison.
My older sister was excited to make Roenthal cookies because the root itself is something that can be consumed as a health supplement.
Perhaps because they were delicious and also beneficial to the body, Regina had already consumed five of the cookies.
“I’ve never tasted anything like this before. It isn’t overly sweet, and for some reason, it makes my mouth feel refreshed.”
“My sister made it herself.”
In a cheery manner, Regina nodded her head in front of me.
“Your sister? Oh, you’re referring to Lady Clara.”
There is no way that Regina, who has already made her debut in social circles, does not know about Clara. I gave a sheepish smile and boasted about my sister.
In the morning, when I paid a visit to my sister, she presented me with a present consisting of some freshly made hand cream. I presented Regina with the hand cream that had been a present from my sister to her.
“It is a gift.”
This was a hand cream, which is full of lavender scent, was a precious item that couldn’t be found anywhere. When my sister heard that I had a friend for the first time in her life, she gave me this hand cream first.
“My sister made it herself. She said she’d like you to be close to me.”