But she wasn’t one to be easily persuaded; she replied calmly.
“That is not possible. Among the landowners, there are some estate farmers who deliberately underreport their crops to pay less tax. If we don’t identify such cases, the Emperor’s tax reduction decree will be in vain.”
Eve added a final note to her argument.
“I doubt that was the intention of His Majesty the Emperor.”
Arsen stared at Eve for a moment then chuckled.
“You’re right. That probably wasn’t the Emperor’s intention.”
“It’s ‘His Majesty’ to those above, you know.”
Eve pointed out, irritated by his casual use of the term ‘Emperor.’
“Do you happen to like ‘His Majesty’?”
“He’s a good man. A righteous ruler.”
“I like him, too.”
What could she do? Eve replied dryly and returned her gaze to the matter at hand. She had tried to refute his idea at first, but it wasn’t entirely unreasonable. In fact, it could be considered more efficient than other methods.
As long as there were plans to fix the shortcomings she pointed out, it seemed quite useful. However, she couldn’t believe that Arsen had come up with this on his own.
‘Cecilia could have informed him.’
Cecilia was an ambitious woman. Given her history of manipulating Arsen and pushing herself to the limit, it wouldn’t be surprising if she had something to do with this. Even if that was the case, it seemed more plausible than Arsen coming up with the idea to cut taxes himself.
“The more dangerous one is Cecilia. I must deal with her as soon as possible.”
Tapping her temple in thought, she suddenly had a solution, and a triumphant smile spread across her face.
“Depriving Arsen of the opportunity to use him to her advantage would be the cruelest punishment for this woman.”
It seemed that she would have to find a suitable lover for Arsen to replace Cecilia. Since he was a libertine, it shouldn’t be too difficult for a woman to manipulate him, especially since she knew his tastes.
“I didn’t marry Yvonne because I loved her. I’ve never felt anything like love. Yvonne is not… my type.”
Her expression darkened for a moment as she remembered Arsen’s sincere confession before he died. And then her eyes fell on the current Arsen.
The Arsen she saw yesterday and the one today seemed different, but that couldn’t be. Even if it were, it wouldn’t change the fact that he had betrayed her.
When her eyes met his, Eve smiled back at the grinning Arsen.
‘Wait. Both you and the Cecille you once loved will be sent to hell side by side.’
Such a terrible declaration.
Auburn hair, emerald eyes, delicate features. He was undeniably handsome, not just a “playboy,” but when Tiago looked at his face, he couldn’t find anything particularly attractive. But as he leaned lazily against the window, his chin resting on his hand, he looked beautiful, even pious.
Despite the sound of approaching footsteps, Arsen continued to enjoy the spring breeze outside the window. No, it was Charles who turned his eyes late.
“So, how are you feeling?”
“Even if you ask me…”
Tiago was the Imperial Grand Marshal and the intelligence agent the Prime Minister had planted in this Duke’s estate. Thanks to him, he was one of the few who knew Charles’ current condition in the palace. The prime minister was not only one of the emperor’s closest confidants, but also the first to notice any changes in the court.
The Emperor and a lowly Duke had switched bodies, a fact known only to the two people who had experienced the switch, the Prime Minister and Tiago, who had been sent to the Duke’s estate to explain the situation and protect Charles.
Charles still couldn’t fully comprehend the situation. He had simply gone to sleep one day and awakened in another man’s body.
A few days ago…
“Where is this?”
As Charles opened his eyes to the unfamiliar ceiling and surroundings, a servant muttered.
“What? What do you mean, Your Grace?”
Charles frowned as he saw his own face reflected in the mirror. What was reflected was not himself, but an ugly man.
A duke, too? He was the emperor of this realm.
Charles asked as if it were natural, without any doubt or hesitation, as befitting His Imperial Majesty.
“What is the name of this place?”
The servant hesitated, as if debating whether to address him as “Your Grace” even though he was a doctor. Somehow he felt an unfamiliar sense of intimidation from this once libertine man.
“It is Duke Arsen de Fontenay…”
“Arsen de Fontenay. Haha, interesting.”
As soon as he heard the name, Charles burst out laughing. There was no need to search his memory. Duke Fontenay and his wife were famous in high society.
A reckless womanizer of a husband and a virtuous wife who endured it all.
Even the Emperor himself must have heard of them, so it was needless to say how much the nobles enjoyed and gossiped about them.
And from that moment on, Charles understood the situation at once.
‘Have I become a playboy?’
Even if he had seen it before, he couldn’t remember, but anyway, the servant called him Viscount Fontenay, which wouldn’t be wrong. Not a common name.
‘It looks like this isn’t a dream.’
He couldn’t possibly be dreaming such a thing, and he wasn’t so stupid that he couldn’t tell the difference between dream and reality.
‘Then… what happened to my original body? Could it even be possible for me to enter someone else’s body like this?’
It was truly an unbelievable situation, but it had actually happened. If that’s the case…
‘It could be a curse or some kind of magic. I didn’t believe in such things, but… now I have no choice but to believe.’
A curse. Charles sighed and rubbed his temples, but only for a moment.
“Did you say the Emperor died?”
“Yes? I-if you say such an outrageous thing…”
“So he didn’t?”
“Yes, he did not.”
At the servant’s tremulous answer, Charles expelled a short breath.
If I died and took over this body, the palace must be in chaos by now. It is already twelve o’clock… Normally, there would still be time for people to wake up. So the news of my death must have spread.
‘If my original self is still alive, there’s only one place the original owner of this body would have gone.’
Things had changed. Their bodies had changed. So there was only one conclusion.
‘There must be a way to go back.’
That’s what he concluded.
Actually, he wasn’t too worried about the current situation. Their bodies had changed, so there must be a way to return them to their original state. He was the emperor, and he had a lot of resources at his disposal. It wouldn’t be too difficult to find that method.
Coincidentally, he had been bored with too much work lately, so living the life of a playboy for a while didn’t seem like a bad idea.
Having made up his mind, Charles casually instructed the servant.
“Very well, I should change my clothes.”
“Yes, yes, Your Grace.”
And so, after sending a letter to the Prime Minister informing him that the Emperor of this land had switched bodies, Emperor Charles spent a few leisurely days as the carefree Duke of Wayward Hearts.
Tiago had initially doubted the truth when he heard that the Emperor’s body had been switched. But when he met the real Charles, who also happened to be his childhood friend, he had no choice but to accept the reality. The carefree rascal in front of him was indeed his close friend and the Emperor.
Why did the Emperor’s body have to be swapped with the Duke of Wayward Hearts? Tiago sometimes scolded Charles, asking him how he could be so relaxed in such a serious situation. But in reality, Charles enjoyed the situation like a vacation.
If all else failed, he could always rise up in rebellion and reclaim the throne with this body. He had the qualifications and the ability. It was just that after a few days, complications arose…
“This won’t do. Some landlords are deliberately underreporting their crops to reduce their taxes. If we don’t root out such cases, His Majesty’s tax reduction plan will be in vain.”
“That wouldn’t be His Majesty’s order, would it?”
Eve. Fragile and delicate as a lily. The pitiful wife of the carefree Duke Fontaine.
She, with such a nickname, had begun to annoy him a little. There was a reason for it.
“Tiago, do you think there exists a woman who encourages her husband to have an affair?”
Charles asked, his eyes following the playful petals dancing in the wind. The answer that came back was, of course, negative.
“Of course not.”
“Is that so? Then why would our Duchess do such a thing?”
Tiago paused in embarrassment.
It was a well-known story that the Emperor had no interest in women. There were all sorts of rumors circulating in society, saying that he was impotent or that he had peculiar preferences. But in reality, the Emperor was just an extreme workaholic.
Even the archbishop unknowingly praised him as a heavenly face. Although it was ridiculous that he was always working, in reality, that was what Charles did.
Moreover, he was known as a ruthless lord among the nobles and palace servants. There was no one who didn’t know that the road he had taken to the imperial throne was covered with the blood and tears of the imperial family. They just pretended not to know.
To be honest, from a friend’s perspective, Charles seemed to have little interest in people. No matter how many people shed tears for his meaningless kindness.
But lately, the Duchess had been persistently trying to set him up with women, especially the extravagant and flirtatious type, which had annoyed him. Of course, he had turned them all down, but his wife’s overly affectionate actions were truly puzzling.