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She had a recurring dream.
– Mom. Why do I have to learn this?
While other noble daughters learned etiquette and dance, Regina was forced to endure rigorous training by her mother.
– That’s because you are a special child.
There was no mercy in her mother’s training. She was repeatedly subjected to being thrown into cold water, even when it was the middle of winter, and came close to dying several times.
When she was younger, everything was a struggle for her, but now that she has the hang of it, she can run on heated stones with ease.
Regina couldn’t understand why she had to learn something like this when other girls didn’t.
– That’s because you are my daughter. If you think it’s unfair, why weren’t you born to another mother?
Is that what you want to say to your child now? Regina chuckled, saying that when she thought back on her mother, the only thing she could say was that she was a real weirdo. If she were still alive, she would have scolded her, but now her mother has gone far away and cannot even answer.
The voice of her subordinate barely woke her up. It had been a while since her mother had appeared in her dreams, so Regina shook her head for a moment and quickly woke up. Since she had left the imperial palace, she had been staying up all night for several days, so it was no surprise that she was especially worn out today.
“And what of the rest of them?”
“They’re here already.”
“Let’s go in.”
She can’t let anyone see her weak side. It was last year that Regina inherited her position as leader of the Thieves Guild from her mother. To be precise, she started the examination process the year before last, and it took her until the previous year to finally take control of the situation.
She was able to rise to the position of head of the Treasure Hunters, a group in the back alleys reputed to be filled with only the bad guys, at a young age thanks to the halo of her mother Amy, a legendary thief who was called the Queen.
The charismatic mother who followed the other four guild leaders by calling her as “sister.”
Even if the subordinate, who had been helping her mother for a long time, hadn’t betrayed him, this tragedy might not have happened.
– Make your own choice. Will you sit back and watch her guild collapse, or will you seek vengeance on behalf of your mother?
The five guilds maintain mutual inviolability. If Regina retreats like this, the guild that her mother has spent her entire life cultivating will eventually fall into the hands of her adversaries.
She had already vaguely realised this since she was a child. Although she said she would never be her mother’s successor, she already knew that it was impossible for her to live like the ‘other children’.
The Thieves Guild’s succession test was cruel. After overcoming a terrible ordeal that she no longer wanted to recall, Regina confidently grabbed the heart of her enemy.
It was then that I learned that the blood of the wicked is also hot and red. Once you step into it, it is impossible to ever return to a world where bright light shines.
A beautiful dress, a graceful walk, bright flowers, and black tea with plenty of milk. Ordinary girls dancing to a waltz can’t even show their inner selves like this.
So now she has to go back to the world she originally lived in. She wasn’t planning on leaving behind any regrets, but it was still quite fun playing friends with Ciel Valentine.
“Princess Lotte’s side must have been quite cornered, but how did the emperor’s side come out?”
“I don’t know. They tell you to figure it out on your own and tell them you don’t know, so this is frustrating for both of us as well as for them.”
The merchant guild leader in charge of negotiations shook his head. Regina also agreed with that opinion. The emperor she met at Ciel’s tea party had a vague presence that put his former name to shame.
Since the end of the war, he had only retained the title of emperor in name, and this time around, Princess Lotte and the Crown Prince were the ones in charge of leading the party.
“He’s still the same.”
The mercenary guild leader, who was from the military, gritted his teeth. When the war ended and the unnecessary army returned to the capital, the council of nobles, fearing that their power would be taken away, put pressure on the emperor and kicked out even the military generals who had made great contributions without fair compensation.
It was the mercenary guild that accepted the soldiers who had lost their way. The people who were kicked out were incorporated into the existing mercenary guild, which has now become a huge organisation that even the imperial family can’t do anything about.
“The emperor seems to have already given up. Now, the crown prince is in charge of the negotiations.”
The guild leader, a loud-mouthed craftsman, clicked his tongue at the emperor’s absurd decision.
“He wasn’t like that before.”
The leader of the mercenary guild, who had been with the emperor on the battlefield, clicked his tongue and sighed. The emperor, who was famous as a sword master, became a paper tiger after the war ended.
Leaving only the name of the illustrious emperor, he passed all of his practical affairs to his son, Alex.
The problem was that Alex didn’t have a lot of people backing him up.
“Since he is the son of such an emperor, the question is whether the crown prince is really the next emperor.”
If Princess Lotte and the Noble Council become enemies, the only option left to him is, in fact, the crown prince, based on the support of the temple.
However, due to the issue of legitimacy, there was strong opposition from the nobles, and recently, there were rumours that he had imprisoned Princess Valentine in the palace, and Alex’s image fell into a downward spiral.
The information guild leader, who couldn’t have known that fact, narrowed his eyes like a fox and deliberately spoke out.
“I’ve heard that he is obsessed with Valentine’s daughter these days?”
“I heard it too. They said he took the girl, who hadn’t even made her debut yet and locked her up in his palace.”
“I heard the Valentine family was aiming for the position of Empress?”
From throwing stones into controversy to giving Regina a sidelong glance. Regina opened her mouth, which was heavily closed, as they seemed to want to hear the current situation from her somehow.
“That’s not it.”
The talk moved away from the Emperor and towards Alex. Now that the nobles have started to oppress Princess Lotte, she can’t just sit back and do nothing, but that doesn’t mean she has to blindly support the crown prince, who has no support.
“Has there been any contact from the crown prince?”
“We were supposed to meet for a while before the auction started, but we were going to make a decision after listening to Regina’s thoughts on the matter.”
Today, the information guild leader’s fox-like, slit eyes shone even more evilly as he smiled.
Anyway, since they have shown off their presence here by robbing Princess Lotte’s treasure trove unless they really want to start a war with the imperial family, they need to create a channel for dialogue.
Will she choose the crown prince as an alternative, or will she enter into an all-out war based on the enormous treasure? Now that that side has even attempted to distribute drugs, this side can no longer sit idly by.
“Miss Regina. I need to take a moment to tell you something, but please excuse me.”
Despite knowing that they were in a meeting, Regina’s subordinate asked for understanding. She decided to take a break after the merchant guild leader said that they should take a break for a while.
‘They say Ciel was hiding in a back alley.’
After hearing her subordinate’s words, Regina hurriedly took her steps. She had already exposed her face to the Crown Prince, and Regina planned to have her subordinate attend the negotiation meeting with the Crown Prince instead.
“Tell him to wait a moment.”
Whether to help the crown prince or launch an all-out war depends on the outcome of today’s negotiation meeting. Regarding that particular issue, Regina has not yet arrived at a decision. Regina approached the location where Ciel was hiding with mixed feelings.
“I know you are there.”
She crept up to the box lit by the streetlight while hiding in the shadow of a dark building. Ciel, who was wearing a hood, didn’t show up under the light until someone moved closer.
“Go back. This is not the place for someone like you.”
So that Ciel, who stands in the light, does not get hurt by Regina’s shadow. Like Ciel, Regina had never had a friend her own age before.
So she also handed over her mother’s necklace to Ciel.
“The Crown Prince and the Grand Duke Winterbaum, which one do you think is best suited to be the next emperor?”
Either way, she just has to choose a man who will make Ciel happy. To Regina’s question, Ciel gave her answer in a single word.
“Of course, I’ll choose Alex.”
She didn’t ask why. If Ciel says Alex, she just does what she says. Ciel went to the palace because she wanted to help Alex become the next emperor, which is why she went there.
“You want to make Alex Hadram the emperor.”
It is a clear act of disrespect for a count’s daughter to dare to call the crown prince of an empire by adding his last name to his first name.
But Ciel nodded her head without even blinking. That’s why she entered the imperial palace. Regina wiped her wet eyes with her sleeve and smiled as she and Ciel walked out into the light.
“How did you get here?”
“My brother brought me here.”
She immediately knew which brother it was. The black-haired boy who looks nothing like Ciel is clearly Ciel’s brother. Lately, she has heard that there’s someone who’s been digging into her identity, so she thought it was a trick sent by the princess, but she had no idea that Ciel was using her brother to manipulate her.
Seeing that Louise Valentine was wearing the insignia of the Intelligence Guild, it was clear that the Intelligence Guild leader knew everything about the current situation and asked about it. She thought he was cunning, but now she knows he’s actually sneaky. This time, Regina took the hit.
“I’m sorry, my younger brother is still immature. Please apologise quickly.”
When Louise saw the purple cloak that was the symbol of the head of the Thieves Guild, he grabbed the back of Ciel’s head and pulled it down with all of his strength.
It is hard to believe that this is something that Valentine’s son, who does not have to bow down to anyone other than the imperial family, did it, but seeing that he is able to respond flexibly to different situations, the easy-going atmosphere must be Valentine’s entire family tradition.
“Can you please raise your head?”
“Well, I’m really sorry that I didn’t even know you, the leader of the Thieves Guild… Huh?”
Although they didn’t have a proper conversation, they definitely got to know each other at the party. Louise Valentine was speechless and just gaped his mouth because he was unable to say anything because Regina, whom he had been looking for so desperately, was dressed in the robes of the leader of the thieves guild.
“Louise, this is Regina. Do you remember that she is my friend, right?”
“You, you, you, me, who is that person?”
The duke’s son refers to her as that person. Regina looked around, realizing that the guild leader’s prestige was higher than before. As the auction was getting started, a group of soldiers could be seen congregating near the back alley.
Getting so many soldiers together in the open is more of a smokescreen. If word got out that the crown prince was working with the back alley, it would be a big deal. But she doesn’t know what will happen to those soldiers if the talks don’t go well.
If Isaac Valentine had been here with her, she likely wouldn’t have been as anxious about the situation.
“It’s too dangerous here. So hurry back.”
“Yes. I’ll come see you again next time.”
A smirk appeared in response to Ciel’s words, which was bright until the end. It would be better to find her by herself rather than have Ciel step foot here again.
As she was waving her hand to go, her subordinate gave a signal from over there. It is soon time for voting to begin.
She wanted to impose a few conditions. A thief’s instinct is to want to steal treasure when she sees treasure left unguarded, so it wouldn’t be a bad idea to give him a proper warning at least once.
After giving instructions to get the two people safely into the imperial palace, Regina covered her face with her hood and returned to the meeting room.