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* * *
Louise went through the back alleys today while keeping his hood pulled down tightly.
Since the emperor brought the empire together, a lot of time has gone by. As the capital grew stronger, the back alleys that the imperial family couldn’t control kept their order and grew in power.
A back alley with the imperial palace right in front of him, as if it were dark under a lamplight. Rumour has it that even the emperor would not dare enter without the permission of the five guild leaders who rule this place.
Maybe it was because he was exceptionally out of the way, even within the Valentine family. Louise set foot in this back alley early, hiding even his name.
An outstanding mage, especially a mage who officially received an A rank in the Mage Tower, was infinitely rare. He knew no one knew Louise’s identity except the head of the intelligence guild, who allowed him to set foot in the back alley.
Money is the only thing that matters here. Fame or status outside of the alley has no value. Here, Louise went by the name “Lou” and used to get paid when the information guild sent his requests.
“It’s a good thing you’re here. The last time I asked to find out, instead of the success fee, the information came in.”
The last time he entered the palace, he left it to investigate what Ciel asked for.
“I’m surprised. Wasn’t there a week when you didn’t do anything that didn’t make you money?”
“Just answer what I asked. What about the information?”
“Here it is. Here’s the rest.”
The last request was quite difficult, so there was money left. Louise took the worn-out money bag and walked out without looking back.
Several important nobles are close to the princess, but the Marquis of Romford and the Marquis of Orsay are by far the most suspicious.
At first, he didn’t want to get involved in this, but when he saw Ciel collapse, he changed his mind.
‘I can’t believe they would poison you.’
Even if Clara hurriedly deciphered it, it wasn’t a good thing to see his sister fall in front of him.
He is to blame for having a young brother who gets into trouble with her. If he let it go like that, something bad might happen, so he should solve it quickly and go home.
No one knows why, but he was angry for no reason. He thought he wanted to put ugly Ciel away from him, but he didn’t feel good when she disappeared in front of him.
With that thought in mind, Louise walked down a dark back alley. The voices of drunkards could be heard from the tavern with the windows open.
“Hey, did you hear that rumour? Didn’t the treasure house of the imperial palace get robbed?”
“It was already a mess. It will be for sale sooner or later, they will buy it immediately”
The news that the princess’s treasure house was robbed became a hot topic even in the back alleys. It was an unwritten rule not to touch the imperial family, but items taken from Princess Lotte’s palace were sold at high prices in an underground auction under the connivance of the five guild leaders.
“The Thieves’ Guild said that it had been robbed in broad daylight. I heard that the aristocrats on the imperial side tried to release drugs to the market.”
That’s why. Although it fizzled out during the investigation due to its strong power, everyone who knows anything knows that the drug case was done by aristocrats on Princess Lotte’s side.
If the princess had told people to sell drugs in the dark, the fallout would have started in the back alleys.
Aside from the imperial family, the five guilds are in charge of the back alley in the dark. So, they don’t want their order to be messed up.
“That is bold. Compared to her, the crown prince is much more clever.”
“Of course. It’s strange to see Valentine’s daughter locked up in the palace.”
When the story about his sister and someone else came up, Louise stopped and went to the store for a while. Since underage drinking is not allowed, Louise ordered fruit juice and listened to the stories of drunkards.
“Are they looking for a spouse?”
“Well, of course. Even though I look like this, wasn’t I a servant for an aristocratic family when I was young?”
Debuting in the social world is practically the same as stepping into the marriage market.
Since the Valentine family is in a different position than most, even though everyone joined society early, the famous daughter Ciel, who was the first daughter born after 100 years, didn’t make her public debut until she was 16.
“It’s all over. If the Duke of Valentine hadn’t gone crazy, would he have brought her younger daughter, whom he loved so much, without much thought? He did say that he would make her the empress, so it must be true.”
Hearing their confident voices, Louise struggled to hold back a laugh. Ciel only wanted to be next to her older sister, Clara, but it was just absurd that everyone overextended her interpretation.
He wasted no time. Louise left the store and walked again, he was not listening to rumours about the back alley.
It seems that the fact that Ciel collapsed last time has not been told to them yet, but when he suddenly thinks of it, the face of his younger sister, who was only mean to him, is stepped on in his eyes.
“Caramel candy. Ciel liked it.”
It was impossible for the unhealthy food that was only sold in the back alleys to be in the imperial palace. It was a snack that always went missing every two days if he put it in his drawer, but it stayed there for over three weeks after Ciel moved into the palace.
“I like this too.”
He saw his mom take away the slime and coloured junk food, which the kids then threw in each other’s faces. As he picked up everything he could remember, it got very heavy.
“You two look alike.”
He looked over and saw an ugly girl doll stuck in the corner. The angry, round, yellow face with a frown looks just like Ciel. When he chose that way, a lot of gifts piled up.
“It’s 4 gold and 10 silver.”
He came in to deal with the remaining change, but he didn’t expect to have to pay a few more gold coins. He bought it by accident because the line was long, but he couldn’t get rid of the thought that he’d done something terrible.
Without his younger sister there to greet him and tell him he was an idiot, Valentine’s Mansion felt even bigger today. Someone knocked on the door as he tossed and turned in his sleep.
“I’ll come in for a while.”
Louise got up when Theo came into the room for the first time. Theo took a quick look at the paper bag he had gotten from the alley and then got right to the point.
“Ciel was looking for you. Please go to the crown prince’s palace tomorrow.”
“Tomorrow? Wait, Ciel was looking for me?”
“Yeah. I guess she is having a hard time alone in the palace. Something needs to be looked into.”
He didn’t know the details of the situation, but the whole imperial palace was in trouble, so what was it like to just listen? Louise gave his brother’s request a nod, just as he had to follow his bigger brother’s orders.
“I was also looking into the case of the princess.”
“I’m proud of you.”
His older brother Theo, who looked like their father, ran a big hand through Louise’s hair. When Louise’s older brother, who rarely gave compliments, told him he did a good job, his heart grew bigger and bigger.
“You are great, too.”
Ciel can’t do anything without Louise, no matter how much she uses a dragon. Even though the information came on time, it wasn’t enough to predict the future or even buy a gift.
When Louise said that he must be a genius, he fell into a swamp of pride that would never end.
* * *
I thought it would take a few days because we talked about it yesterday, but I never thought Louise would enter the palace overnight. Facing the day when I hadn’t even changed my pyjamas yet, Louise exclaimed triumphantly.
“I came because you wanted to see me.”
“Come over there. Do you know what time it is?”
The morning sun has just risen and is dyeing the horizon red. Even if it was because the days were getting shorter, it was only seven o’clock in the morning, and I was struck by lightning in my sleep, so I had to greet my brother in the bedroom.
“Looks like I got here too early.”
“It’s not too early!”
I don’t know where to start, but while talking about something else, my shameless older brother Louise stopped being pretentious and started defending himself.
“Then, Ciel, you do have a lot to say.”
It did stretch a bit. My one and only friend had disappeared, and since everyone was busy, I was so bored that I was playing with a pile of dolls.
I wasn’t allowed to go out, so I faked being sick for a few days and didn’t eat, which made my face hurt. Today, I didn’t think I looked very good, Louise looked especially good-looking.
“So, do you think it’s worth it to go on living without me?”
“If it weren’t true, then it would be a lie.”
My brother was mean. I stepped on his defenceless calf and left the headlock as it was.
“You’re saying let’s do it after a long time, right?”
If the relationship between Isaac and I is like a picture-perfect brother and sister that comes out of a fairy tale, then Louise and I are pretty much enemies.
When we were at home, we fought twelve more times a day, so today, when the door to the next room burst open, we were just fighting like usual.
“What is this……!”
As close brothers and sisters, we are strengthening our friendship as usual, and Alex ran to protect me with a white face.
“Ciel, you’re a coward!”
“What are you doing?”
Hey, it seems that His Highness, our crown prince, is misunderstanding something. Please stop looking so serious. In a strict sense, I was the one who started the fight, but Louise got caught up in everything for no reason.
Usually, I would have left him alone, even if I had been scolded, but I called him today because I was sad. I held Alex in my arms and shook my head.
“Your Highness, it’s just a sign of how much we like each other.”
“Is this a way of showing love?”
My poor Louise. I want to say that dogs should be loved, but Alex’s face is so scary that I can’t bring myself to say it.
Our idiot, who has quite the petit bourgeois spirit, nodded to my words with a frightened face.
“……It’s still early.”
“Louise works so hard. I won’t make any noise, so hurry and go back to sleep, Your Highness.”
I already said that the sun has come up. Alex looked at me briefly as he looked out into the bright morning light. Then he put his messy fringe in order.
“You look like you’re happy today.”
“Thank you for caring, Your Highness.”
Theo came yesterday, and Louise came today. Alex seemed worried that I would say I was leaving again, so I did what I could to make him feel better.
“We’re almost ready for morning practise. It’s fun to talk, but don’t forget to eat breakfast.”
“Okay. Have a good day today.”
Alex gave Louise the evil eye, and then he went back to his room. When the door closed, I let out a sigh of relief. Louise, who was shocked, looked at the door and asked.
“What, that, that door?”
“What do you mean? Are you seeing the door for the first time?”
“No, that isn’t it. What the hell are you doing with the crown prince?”
I told his white-faced scoundrel that we didn’t have anything to do with each other. I decided to add a few words of explanation to make it easy for the pathetic brother to be fooled.
“As you probably already know, the palace is a dangerous place.”
“That’s why His Highness set up my room here. If anything happened to me, he would come running and protect me right away.”
I gave an idiot who didn’t know how easy it was an eye-level lesson while nodding my head. What should I do with this brother who needs to be fed, unlike me, who can take care of myself?