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The city is engulfed in flames. Acrid smoke could be smelled, and the wail of a kid could be heard, but even that was soon covered up. After the smoke cleared from the war, there were dead bodies lying everywhere.
Where the hell is this? As I looked around, the man in the black robe was looking at the child, who had lost her breath.
Another scream was heard from far away. There were no words to describe the hellish scenery. A deep, resonant voice could be heard as if it were being repeated in a cavern.
A golden halo rose even in the dark. A person wearing a black robe and exuding a strange aura came up to me.
“There is no hope here. I am about to destroy this world.”
Along with the sound of horses’ hooves, scenes that I couldn’t stand to view with my eyes open enveloped my vision. I couldn’t watch them with my eyes closed either. As soon as I saw that malicious glare, I squeezed my eyes shut.
Flames began to fall from the sky beyond the pitch-black darkness as a response to the gesture made by the person wearing the robe.
The name of that magic is Meteor. I recall my dad telling me about it. The surrounding area was transformed into a sea of fire as stars began to rain down from the sky and land on the earth below.
If this happens, not only the soldiers but also the survivors who barely made it out of the city, will all die. With Marley in front of me, the man in the robe asked.
“Why are you stopping me?”
“There are innocent people here; why are you trying to kill them as well?”
“Innocent people. You’re telling a crazy story. How many of these people do you believe exist in the world?”
After such a question, I had nothing to say. What makes me think that? There was nothing to say, so I kept my mouth shut.
“Oh, you mean 50 people?”
“Can we destroy them if there aren’t fifty people?”
I reached out and grasped the man’s wrist as soon as he lifted his hand again, and then I stepped away.
“Will there be forty?”
Because the surrounding area is in ruins, I’m not sure if the forty people are still alive. Speaking like that, I was not confident, so the number kept decreasing.
Thirty, twenty, but my expression was shaky, so I yelled one last time.
“Hey, ten people! There must be ten of them.”
He dropped his raised hand again after hearing that there were ten men. The raging flames died down with time, and dark clouds began to gather in the sky.
The cold rain was brisk and poured in drop by drop. The rainfall became thicker, cooling the scorching ground. While soaking wet, the mysterious man and I faced each other.
“I can’t help it because you ask so much. If there are truly ten true righteous people in the land, I will not destroy them.”
The soil was saturated by the cold rain. The illusions that had filled my eyes vanished, and the dazzling light shone through. As the darkness spread to my feet and I had the sensation that I was falling through the air, the whites of my eyes dimmed and then brightened once again.
I woke up with a scream. As soon as I jumped up, I hit my head.
“Argh, this guy. It’s always so loud when everyone is dying.”
“Your Majesty the Emperor?”
He said I had heard a lot of voices in my dreams, and that he resembled the emperor only in his boldness. Looking around, I realised it was my room.
It wasn’t only the emperor standing beside me. Greta, the Marchioness of Baldr, was clearly sobbing behind him. She tried to get up from her seat, not knowing what had happened, but her head whirled around, and she sat down.
“This kid. What should I do if you overdo it like this, no matter how nice the party is?”
In fact, my mother helped with almost everything, leaving me with nothing to do but overdo it.
It seemed that I had been poisoned and collapsed, but the Emperor didn’t seem to know that. Because it would have been inappropriate for me, as the host of the party, to admit that I had come dangerously close to being poisoned, I pretended as if nothing had happened.
“Since this is your very first time, I can only imagine how excited you must be.”
“It was a surprise because Your Majesty was right in front of you; otherwise, everyone would have been surprised and gone crazy.”
“What about the party?”
I was worried that there would be a ruckus because I had collapsed unexpectedly, so I barely tried to get up and peeked out the window to make sure that the party was still in full swing.
My three older brothers, who are now almost like volunteers, were buying time for me by playing on the stage that was built up in front with their own musical instruments.
“Don’t you know that your mother’s skills are the best?”
Indeed, she is the Duchess of Valentine. My brothers don’t like to play in front of people, so I’m sure my mother got them on stage somehow.
My mom is the one person I can count on. Thank you, Mom. I love you, Mom. I shook my seat and came as I silently prayed on the inside for the grace of my mother.
My body is a touch squeaky, but I’m not in awful shape. I couldn’t be away from the party for too long, so I changed and went back.
“Without any more rest?”
“I hosted a party, and I can’t stay out for too long.”
At my dignified answer, the emperor smirked and said something nonsensical.
“Look at this kid. Do you really like Alex?”
By speaking nonsense, the careless monarch ruined the atmosphere again. Now that I have nothing to worry about, I close my eyes and stay away from the monarch as he comes closer.
“Yes, I do like him.”
“It’s nice to have Ciel in the palace, too.”
Meryl helped me fix my dress as I ignored His Majesty, who was following me around. Greta, still concerned, informed me of the situation.
“You collapsed suddenly. Fortunately, His Majesty the Emperor told them that he had made a mistake while playing a joke, so the commotion was kept under control.”
Even if the detox cookie had stopped the effects of the poison, I would have been unconscious for about 30 minutes.
It wasn’t until now that I realised it was really a life-or-death situation. Fortunately, there is still time to avoid the Emperor’s Majesty’s excuses.
Wearing a violet dress prepared for the end of the party, I went down to the garden, escorted by the emperor. I thought I was going to leave for a while, but people didn’t notice what happened when they saw me dressed up more colourfully.
Only a few people winced when they noticed the Marchioness Baldr was safely following me. Seeing that, I was able to tell who was an adversary and who was a friend.
Stan took off running. Others may have been misled, but Stan, who had been acting suspiciously since earlier, seemed to have sensed that I had been poisoned.
The emperor, who should have been able to stop him, took a step back. But I already have wonderful guardians.
“Your Highness Stan, thank you very much for visiting your sibling’s party today.”
Of course, I thought that Theo or Isaac would come forward, but unexpectedly, it was Clara who stood in front of me. My older sister, who usually takes a step back, proudly straightened her back today and blocked Stan’s way.
“Lady Clara, I’m talking to Ciel right now.”
Calling her “Lady,” right in front of me, Stan warned my sister to get out of the way. If it had been Theo or Isaac, I wouldn’t have said that. But my sister was not intimidated and stood in my way steadfastly.
“Because Ciel is my younger sister.”
My older sister was looking straight into Stan’s eyes. Her usual slightly dispirited appearance is nowhere to be found.
Clara, you’ve grown up beautifully. My heart was broken for no reason the instant I heard that profound word. We’re sisters, whether it’s a bloodless adopted child or not.
Whatever happens to my older brothers, I can certainly claim that my bond with Clara is so strong that no other sister in this world envies it.
I was grateful to my sister for standing up for me, so I deliberately stuck behind my sister’s back to get on Stan’s nerves.
“Everybody was here.”
Alex stepped in, and our delicate argument was over. Stan withdrew with an unhappy expression on his face when his cousin arrived after they had finished playing.
“Ciel, are you feeling okay?”
“Yes, sister. Thank you so much.”
She must have been taken aback when she saw me collapse from the poison. That is how you live. Don’t let anyone intimidate you. Have confidence in yourself. Regardless of what others may think, she is my sister.
My heart was suddenly touched by the transformation of my older sister, who always crouched down while suffering from the complex of being an adopted child.
As Regina came running up to me, her purple hair was blowing in the breeze. Today, Regina arrived wearing the gown that I had given her. Looking back, it looked really good on her. I gladly introduced my new friend to her sister and her brothers.
“My sister and brothers. This is my new friend, Regina Netias.”
“I am Regina, the daughter of Count Netias.”
The eyes of many of the ladies at the party were focused on Regina. Theo, who is like my guardian, spoke to Regina, ignoring the gazes around her.
“On behalf of Duke Christopher Valentine, please take good care of Miss Ciel. Isaac.”
“Lady Regina, would you like to dance with me?”
At Theo’s signal, Isaac, who had never danced with anyone but me, requested a dance first. This is more like saving face.
Regina was unwittingly disregarded in the Lily Palace due to impoverished Netias’ circumstances. Even worse, Princess Lotte regards Regina as a disposable long-term partner.
It is the result of my developing my method of protecting Regina so that she cannot be killed or harmed. Brother Isaac, who would go to any length to fulfil my request, eagerly assisted with the operation to protect my friend.
“Ciel. Would you like to join me in dancing?”
I was watching my brother Isaac and Regina dance when Alex sneaked up to me and asked.
It doesn’t matter if you dance or not, but unfortunately, if you dance with me, Alex’s feet won’t stand still. Still, there’s no better way to get Stan to give up on me.
“I’m afraid that I might accidentally step on your foot.”
“That’s a bit troublesome.”
As he said that, Alex lightly grabbed my hand. We exchanged glances, and our bodies came into contact. Alex started the dance by putting his hand on my waist and making a slight rotation movement.