As if they had a switch in their brains, members of the Krollot family would casually discard their conscience and human morals depending on the situation.
‘The Count and Countess, who appeared kind, were actually corrupt lords who were obtuse because of wealth.’
And what about Jonathan smiling so amiably in front of Rayna? He was a lunatic who didn’t see anyone outside his family as human.
Would the original Rayna, raised in such a family, be any different? After transmigrating, she had to listen with a calm expression to the county’s couple offering tax evasion tips to avoid unnecessary suspicion.
‘No matter how twisted their personalities may be, kidnapping a child is going too far!’
“And Rayna, kidnapping?” Jonathan said, seeming disappointed. “This one’s a wandering orphan. I just happened to pick him up on the southern coast.”
…Southern coast? Rayna looked at the boy again.
Black hair and bloodshot eyes.
A frail state, almost pitiful.
A wandering orphan on the southern coast.
‘No way.’ Rayna’s face paled as much as the boy’s.
“Rayna.” Jonathan affectionately called her; she couldn’t take her eyes off the boy.
“You’ll be less lonely with this kid around. He’s human, so he’ll live longer than a cat.”
Having hoped that Rayna would use this boy to make up for her brother’s absence, Jonathan grinned with satisfaction.
As Rayna’s voice was too low to be heard, Jonathan leaned closer to her, and right then,
“Crazy! Are you crazy, Brother?!” Rayna started hitting Jonathan’s back with both hands.
And the question was, who was the boy Jonathan had brought in?
‘It’s Calyx!!’ Calyx, the sickly younger brother of Lucius Ingerson, also known as the Empire’s “freak Grand Duke.”
Rayna felt like crying.
‘Now Lucius will completely destroy the Krollot household!’
Not long after Jonathan left for the Naval Academy, Rayna came across Lucius’ name through the Imperial Gazette.
[Grand Duke Lucius Ingerson, dispatched to conflict areas with neighboring countries under the Emperor’s command]
Only then did Rayna finally remember the novel she had transmigrated into.
The original story began with the heroine rescuing Calyx, who was a lost orphan. The heroine had done nothing but take care of him with all her heart until he died, but then she found herself in a perilous situation. The novel’s villain, Lucius, lost his brother and went crazy, declaring war on the heroine’s family.
‘Because Lucius accused the heroine of kidnapping Calyx and causing his death.’
Rayna felt sorry for the heroine, who would face a difficult path ahead. But that was it. It was none of her business.
The Krollot family, to which Rayna belonged, was not even mentioned in the original story. In other words, Rayna was neither a villainess who would be punished for her wrongdoings nor a supporting character who would die unjustly.
If the female lead and the male lead were left alone, they would join hands and have enough strength to defeat the villain, just like in the original story.
As for Rayna, all she had to do was live her second chance at life peacefully. To achieve that peaceful life, she just needed to slowly distance herself from her family, who might end up in prison at any moment.
‘It was supposed to be like that!’
However, Jonathan returned home after a long absence and suddenly threw an unexpected time bomb into her peaceful daily life.
“Rayna.” Jonathan grabbed Rayna’s wrist. “Something’s different with you.”
Gasping, Rayna realized that she had unintentionally shown agitation in such an unexpected situation.
Jonathan believed that Rayna was someone who didn’t easily reveal her emotions. Reacting with surprise and anger like she just did was enough to arouse his suspicion.
‘This isn’t good.’
Rayna recalled an incident she had experienced a month after her transmigration. What happened when she scolded the county’s couple after they were too harsh on a servant’s mistake? Their affectionate gazes turned icy in an instant, and they began to suspect there was a serious issue with her mind. She almost ended up being dragged to a suspicious and dangerous place–that wasn’t even a real hospital–called “The Mental Reformation Hospital.”
“More than before…” Jonathan carefully observed Rayna.
“Have you gotten softer?”
“You used to slap me on the cheek.”
Every time Jonathan made Rayna angry, she would slap him. He missed the feeling of her nails leaving a mark on his face. He was disappointed, knowing his back had received slaps with no strength.
‘I’m so glad he’s insane.’ Rayna silently withdrew her hand from his grip, relieved.
“Why did you go to the southern coast in the first place?”
Indeed, why had Jonathan, who wasn’t the heroine, brought Calyx?
“I stopped by before coming home. I stayed there with some of my colleagues, who coincidentally had to stop over the southern coast before heading back.”
Rayna was dumbfounded. Since a crowd of men in cadet uniforms had gathered, it must have left a deep impression on people’s minds.
‘And if you stayed there with your friends and brought Calyx…’ With so many witnesses, it was only a matter of time before Lucius came looking for the Krollot family.
“The southern coast is famous as a resort area. My classmates went back first, but I wanted to stay a bit longer and enjoy the feeling, so I stayed alone. I even dressed comfortably to make it feel like I was traveling.”
“Then… you met the child when you were alone?”
Jonathan nodded. Rayna’s body relaxed slightly in her relief that the worst had been avoided.
“I met the child on a cliff near the beach the night before I left.”
Jonathan glanced briefly at Calyx and then back at Rayna.
“When I saw a child standing alone on the cliff in the middle of the night, it reminded me of you. The child’s eyes were similar to yours the last time I saw you.”
‘He thought of me when he saw Calyx? What’s that nonsense?’
“I’m not exaggerating when I say that my heart aches when I think of the day I left. You suddenly couldn’t speak, and you looked confused. Since we were practically friends, how sad must you have been?”
Jonathan gently placed his hand on Rayna’s shoulder.
For Rayna, who had a weak body and couldn’t go out freely, Jonathan was her only companion. He knew how lonely Rayna must have felt after he left, even if she didn’t show it.
“Even after going to the Naval Academy, your face was always on my mind.”
‘Don’t tell me.’ Rayna had been quietly listening to him and suddenly opened her mouth in astonishment.
“Maybe that’s why I felt that if I left this child behind, it would be like leaving you there alone.”
‘Are you saying you brought Calyx here because I was silent?’
Rayna was at a loss for words. What could she have done after being hit by a dump truck and transported into the world of a book? As confused as she was, she chose to save her words as much as possible until she figured out what book she had been transmigrated into.
‘The actions I took to avoid making a mistake that could affect the original story… I ended up bringing about that exact result!’ Rayna felt both baffled and frustrated.
“When I suggested taking him with me, he obediently followed. He didn’t answer, but he definitely nodded his head.” As he recalled, Jonathan looked at Calyx.
“Now that I think about it, I haven’t heard him speak. Can’t he talk?” Jonathan clicked his tongue softly. “Well, if he can’t talk, he can be the perfect cat.”
He shrugged and continued, “Rayna, I prepared this gift to make you happy, but if you don’t like it, you don’t have to accept it.”
Rayna—lost in the realization that she was the sole reason the original was getting twisted—snapped back to reality.
“Are you going to send the child back to where you found him?”
“That would be too much of a hassle. I’ll just hand him over to a slave trader, or whatever.”
Rayna felt dizzy. Whether she kept Calyx with her or handed him over to a slave trader, Lucius would come to seek revenge.
‘Lucius will do whatever it takes to start a war.’ He wasn’t just an ordinary villain in the original story. He pretended to start a war out of sorrow over his little brother’s death, but his brother was just a tool. His real motive to start a war was hidden deep inside.
‘Is it possible to make amends if I take Calyx back to where he originally was?’
Rayna looked at the child, and, as Calyx looked up right at that moment, their eyes met. When she saw his dark, sinking red eyes, she was at a loss for words. She had been so preoccupied with the situation at hand that she hadn’t paid enough attention to Calyx’ feelings about being called a gift or a slave.
As her lips trembled, not knowing the right words to say, the child’s chapped lips opened.
Silent the entire time, Calyx finally spoke.
“I won’t listen to anything, I won’t see anything, and I won’t say anything. So…”
His voice quivered thinly as he continued,
“Please, just let me stay here.”