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“I greet His Highness The Second Prince.”
Ravel swallowed a bitter smile as Yustaf greeted him politely.
Ravel wasn’t mistaken when he thought of Yustaf as a black leopard.
“This is Yustaf Raban de Lachia, my younger brother, Your Highness. And Yus, this is His Highness, Ravel Monia La Martel, the Second Prince, as you now know.”
“I’ve heard good things about you, Lord Yustaf.”
“Those are groundless rumors.”
Ravel was taken aback by Yustaf’s answer. Typically, those are words of humility.
‘But I can’t believe there is someone who can say it with such arrogance.’
That’s a subtle hint that the rumor has no effect on him.
“If you don’t mind, would you like to join us for a walk?”
At Ravel’s suggestion, Yustaf looked at him and answered.
“I’m afraid I must decline. I hope you have a wonderful time here, Your Highness.”
Yustaf walked away after greeting the Second Prince politely. Ran made a small noise and turned to face Ravel.
“It’s not a big deal. I merely suggested it out of courtesy.”
Ran smiled softly in response to Ravel’s remarks.
“By the way, Duke of Lachia.” Ravel continued, looking at Ran.
“You’ll have a difficult time getting married.”
Ran opened her eyes wide and nodded.
“Probably so. After all, Lachia is currently in a unique situation.”
It’s not that.
Ravel was about to explain something, but the desire to explain disappeared as Ran looked up to him, puzzled. So he averted his gaze.
“Because you have such a wonderful little brother.”
Ran smiled, as though she realized what was going on.
“That’s right. Yus is awesome.”
Ravel paused for a moment to think. Despite the fact that Ran is only the temporary head, she holds a considerable amount of influence. If Yustaf, the next head of the house, wants to solidify his authority, the first thing he would do is strip her of all powers and then banish her.
And Ran wasn’t stupid enough to be unaware of this.
“Duke of Lachia.”
Ran raised her head and looked at him.
“If you run into problems where you can’t trust anyone, my palace’s doors will always be open.” Ravel said softly.
Ran opened her eyes wide in surprise, then smiled softly.
“Thank you, but if that happens.”
Ran’s green eyes sank deeper.
“I’m sorry, Your Highness, but you won’t be my choice.”
‘I’m going to erase all traces of my current identity and enjoy a new life as someone else.’
Ran thought so.
“What a shame.” Ravel replied and smiled bitterly.
“What do you mean? You said you don’t like problematic things.”
Ran responded cheerfully and continued to guide him around the garden.
* * *
“I like the Second Prince.”
“I figured you would.”
Ran looked at Yustaf and smiled at his comment. She was now getting ready for the evening ball. The maids are tightening her corset as much as they can, assisting her in wearing a fancy dress on top of it, braiding her hair, and painting her lips.
Yustaf sat in the chair next to her, legs outstretched like a hound, watching her dress up.
Soda and Kara glanced at Yustaf while moving their hands diligently.
They pinned Ran’s hair up, secured it with a dark-sapphire hair ornament, and let her wear earrings of the same color.
“What do you think?”
“It suits you.” Yustaf replied, leaning firmly on the armrest.
Ran grinned at him.
“Come on, my lord. Look this way. You can’t move while we’re putting your makeup on,” Kara said, holding her chin and using a brush to paint her lips red.
Kara grabbed up an oiled paper after painting Ran’s lips and let her bite it a few times before nodding.
“It’s all good now.”
At Kara’s words, Ran looked at the mirror. Even, she thought she looked stunning in the mirror.
“So this is the power of makeup.”
Ran stole a glance at Yustaf. His birthday was approaching.
‘What would be a good birthday present?’
But it wouldn’t be a surprise if she asked him directly.
Ran stood up, thinking that she needed to find a gift.
“My Lady, you are so beautiful.”
Soda and Kara sighed and appreciated their work.
Wheat-colored hair braided like a crown of jewels, embellished with sapphire hair ornaments, as well as an elegant dark blue gown, exuded beauty like no other.
Despite the fact that she appeared to be a young lady who had just turned 20, the atmosphere around her changed according to her demeanor and facial expression.
“Today’s party will be the last one.”
Ran eyed Yustaf through the mirror, checking her corset-tightened waist.
“After today’s party, I’m off for a while. I’m sick of it, really.”
“What are you talking about, My Lord?”
Soda said, fixing Ran’s dress.
“Would everyone want to see you leave the spotlight so soon?”
“A typical 20-year-old would be preoccupied with living life as a social flower. But you’re already saying you’re sick of it “, Soda said bluntly.
“But…” Ran sighed.
It would have been a lot of fun if she had been in a group of girls her age and just talked about a cool man, a new dress, or interior design, without worrying about anything like normal girls.
‘Just thinking about it makes me happy.’
However, she is the Duke of Lachia. Her social circle was treading on thin ice, a battle with powerful opponents, and a platform for political discourse and diplomacy.
Ran was meeting with officials, accompanied by an aide who whispered things like, ‘That’s Lee Young-nam, the chief of staff. His wife is Kim Do-hyun, and the couple has two daughters. Each name was -‘
The order and title of the aristocrats’ conversations changed depending on the genealogy, and it was the noble’s skill to memorize them easily.
‘It’s fortunate that in the Empire, only the eldest son inherits the title.’
Otherwise, the overflowing aristocrats would have given her a headache.
‘”All of the Duke’s sons are Dukes.” Didn’t the Empire used to do that?’
Perhaps this is why they created a system known as noble marriage.
Fortunately, the Empire was a one-man succession, so marrying a low-ranking woman didn’t matter. It’s just that the other brothers have to fend for themselves.
‘That’s why there are cases like the one with Baron Lindbergh…’
Yustaf’s distinct voice broke her thoughts.
“What are you thinking about? You’ll be late for the ball.”
Ran moved on, nodding her head. The sound of smooth fabric dragging over the marble floor was soothing.
“Oh, the Marquis and Marchioness of Cyrix proposed we go on a picnic…”
Yustaf nodded as Ran met his gaze.
Ran gave a big smile. She was looking forward to going on a trip with a friend who matched her interests.
“Take care.” Yustaf said as she hopped into the carriage.
“Yes, I’ll be right back.” Ran waved her hand and smiled.
The carriage drove away, casting a lengthy shadow in the direction of the setting sun.
The ball begins at night. Today’s Imperial ball was held in the Golden Swan Palace.
* * *
Soft light was reflected everywhere thanks to the subtle lighting. All of the candles were replaced by magical lights, with the long cylindrical light being the most popular.
A mana stone floating at the top lit the cylindrical lighting, which gradually faded out over time.
When the light reaches the floor, it indicates that the ball has come to an end.
It was the same principle as when the candle burnt out at the end of the ball. This light, on the other hand, clearly displayed the position of the light.
– Meet me in the garden when the lights come halfway.
-Oh, that guy? He arrived when the lights came down about a quarter.
The same conversation was possible, and soon this light will be used at every ball.
“The cooling fan is on.”
Ran leaned against the wall, sipping champagne from a thin glass.
“I never imagined that the Head of Lachia would become a wallflower.”
When Ran raised her head, the first thing that caught her vision was silver hair, and she smiled.
“White Silver Miro’s…”
The Duke of Miro.
“Nice to meet you.” Ran greeted with a light bow.
She doesn’t have to greet first, but making a good first impression is important, and that doesn’t mean Lachia’s dignity is low.
The Duke of Miro was in his early 30s and was also the eldest brother of the Crown Princess.
“It’s an honor to meet you, too. Duke of Lachia. This is Devan Dusk La Miro. Please call me Devan.”
“I am Ran Romea De Lachia. Please call me Ran.”
“The Duke of Lachia’s influence has even reached the Duchy of Miro.”
Devan’s purple eyes were soft, but Ran never fell for it and smiled humbly.
“Instead, I’d think that’s the situation for White Silver’s Miro in Lachia.”
Devan gave a soft laugh in response.
“Well, I’d be more than happy to trade our platinum mine to your ice crystal mine.”
This was the second reason for the Duchy of Miro’s name, “Silver Miro.” They are the owners of enormous silver mines.
Ran opened her eyes wide and laughed as if she had heard an interesting joke.
While the Duchy of Lachia is located in the north and the Duchy of Usla is located in the south, the Duchy of Miro is positioned in the middle and is traditionally closer to the Imperial Palace.
This was one of the reasons Olivia was chosen as the Crown Princess.
They are a powerful duchy at the core of political power.
‘Besides, they’ve acquired a huge amount of money from the silver mine, and I don’t want to deal with it as much as possible.’
“I never thought I’d see the Duke in a place like this.”
Ran said casually.
“Yes, indeed. I’m not a big fan of the Imperial Ball, but I heard the Duke of Lachia was coming.”
Ran opened and then closed her mouth in shock.
“If you had to come to the ball because of me, it would have been enough to send an invitation.”
“That’s not what I meant…”Devan murmured.
“The Crown Princess is my sister.” He continued whispering as he slightly bowed.
Ran was taken aback. She was smiling on the outside, but screaming on the inside.
‘Are you warning me not to touch your sister’s husband?’
Ran uttered a curse inside. She doesn’t need the crown prince!
“The Crown Prince and Crown Princess make an excellent couple. They are suited for each other.” Ran said this while smiling warmly and clutching her heart.
Ran’s last words came out like a little chew, but Devan just nodded.
“Thank you for thinking so. That’s what I think too.”
The Crown Prince then approached Ran, as if by coincidence. He came to a pause when he noticed Devan and quickly smiled at him.
“Isn’t this the Duke of Miro?”
“I greet His Highness the Crown Princess.” Devan greeted with a slight nod.
“Seeing these two Dukes together like this, it appears that the Empire’s future is bright.” Ruth said with a smile.
“Your Highness, the Duchy of Miro will always be loyal to the Imperial Family.”
Ruth nodded at Devan’s words and glanced at Ran.
When their eyes, Ran gave him a light bow. Ruth chuckled, thinking that Ran was becoming more gorgeous by the day.
The fact that he couldn’t get his hands on her made him even more anxious.
She was around the same age as the debutantes who had just had their coming-of-age ceremony, but she didn’t appear like those innocent girls or mature married ladies.
What kind of expression would she make if he put this woman down in bed who became the Duke of Lachia at the age of nineteen, with an innocent face, and became the center of society?
Just thinking about it made Ruth feel stiff at the bottom.
“Would you like to dance with me?” Ruth reached out to Ran.
“I’m sorry, but I’d like to remain as a flower on the wall today. My legs are in poor condition.” Ran said with a soft smile.
Devan skillfully prevented Ruth from reaching out and pulling her away.
“Your Highness, you should have your first dance with my sister first.”