I noticed the bruise on my wrist during dinner one evening.
Tara whispered lowly, “Evelyn, what happened to your wrist?”
I had tried to hide it with a bracelet, but Tara could see through it. She had the kind of confidence that made it seem like she could challenge even the Emperor himself.
Of course, that would be considered treason.
I quickly raised my hand before my life met a hasty end.
“Don’t worry about it. I’ve already apologized differently.”
“How can you not worry!”
Tara’s voice thundered like lightning, and I couldn’t help but flinch. She immediately reverted to her usual demeanor.
“Get a healer right away.”
Looking at my family’s faces, I felt a twinge of guilt. After all, I had returned with wounds that I’d chosen to bear, like a forbidden burden of this household.
“They aren’t the kind of scars I wanted.”
I hoped that Ulysses had received the same injuries as my wrist in our trade. I finished my meal with a sense of bitterness.
And then, the next day.
As expected, a letter arrived from the Imperial Palace, but regrettably, it didn’t contain the news I had hoped for.
I crumpled the letter and threw it on the floor, stomping on it with my foot.
“Can’t believe the Lady has forgotten me? How laughable.”
Empress, this guy isn’t doing unnecessary things, so keep your promise about my wrist.
Just as I thought, he wasn’t a regular Emperor. He simply disregarded Yumin’s earnest request. Of course, what infuriated me more wasn’t the Emperor but Ulysses.
“Can’t believe it? How many times did he want to separate before? I even told him I disliked him, but he still can’t believe it. XX.”
Evelyn had embarrassed herself in front of people. A normal person wouldn’t be fond of someone who had embarrassed them.
“Evelyn wasn’t exactly normal either, but well… It’s still the early stages of the original story, so her true colors haven’t fully shown yet. Quite the confidence she has.”
As if she’s some fatal attraction.
He says these things with such confidence, and he’s none other than himself.
Besides, I was planning to go find my fake fiancé today, but it seems I’ll have to hurry.
“The Emperor’s attraction to Evelyn was probably just for her future role as the Empress. But as soon as he discovers her lie, I’m in trouble.”
It’s not just about my neck being at risk; my relationship with the Emperor is the problem.
While I could clash with Ulysses all I wanted, I had to maintain a good relationship with the Emperor. For that to happen, I needed to turn my lies into the truth.
“I need money.”
As I mentioned before, Evelyn had no personal wealth. Of course, the things in her dressing room would be considered assets, but they would be meaningless until they were converted into cash.
“I can’t ask my parents.”
The things I had acquired over the past three days had all been purchased with my parents’ money.
That meant I only had one source of income.
I went to Ashil’s room. He welcomed me with a radiant smile that closely resembled Henry’s.
“Evelyn! What’s up with my sister’s wrist? Is it okay?”
Ashil exaggeratedly worried about my wrist. I raised my wrist as if there was nothing wrong. Thanks to the treatment I received from the healer yesterday, the bruise had completely disappeared.
Ashil’s expression brightened, and during this time, I got to the point.
“Give me an allowance.”
Even though I was asking for money all of a sudden, Ashil was still cheerful. I paused for a moment and extended all five fingers.
To which Ashil cheerfully asked, “500 goldens?”
… Just so you know, 500 goldens are 50 billion Korean won. Even if it’s my doting younger brother, giving away 50 billion like that is insane.
I held back my shock and corrected myself, “No, 50 goldens.”
“Can you manage with 50 goldens?”
Ashil asked, looking worried. His expression somehow made me feel guilty. I hadn’t done anything wrong, but his expression was making me feel like I had.
Because of that, my mouth moved without me realizing.
“Then just 50 goldens more.”
“Can you manage with 100 goldens?”
If this continued, it might go back to 500. I looked serious and stopped Ashil.
“Enough. That should be sufficient.”
“Are you sure? It doesn’t seem enough…”
Ashil still couldn’t erase his worried expression. How much money would you have to spend before your younger brother, who initially asked for an allowance, started raising the price like an auction?
It was probably necessary to check whether Ashil’s liver and spleen were properly attached.
“He’s being compared to Kim Geum-su.”
That guy didn’t even give me an allowance; instead, he asked for money from me. And he didn’t even buy me chicken.
Anyway, I sighed and stopped Ashil from reciting numbers.
“200 goldens should be enough.”
I’m just going to throw down the down payment today, so 200 should do it.
“Are you sure that’s enough?”
However, Ashil was still giving me puppy-dog eyes, which made me uneasy.
“…Okay. Will this really work?”
The fake fiancé I was going to acquire today was Raphael, who was the leader of the Dark Guild and also a sub-male lead character in the original story.
I knew that intervening in the original story or even bending it would be a risky move. Still, I couldn’t think of any other talented individuals like Raphael.
“Fortunately, Raphael hasn’t become entangled with Dahlia yet.”
In any case, Raphael’s reason for running the Dark Guild wasn’t for money. He created it out of necessity and just happened to be suited for it.
“Ah, he’s still insane when I think about it.”
It gave me the creeps, but when I thought about succeeding in acquiring him, I felt reassured. When it came to lunatics, it took one to know one. If it was Raphael, he could completely shake off Ulysses.
Just then, someone entered Ashil’s study.
“Ashil, we need to talk… Evelyn?”
It was Douglas. He had a surprised expression when he saw the money bag clenched in my hand.
“Oh, again with the nonsense.”
It was clear he was going to complain about me demanding an allowance from Ashil and make unpleasant comments.
“Do you need an allowance?”
However, something felt off with his reaction. Douglas asked me with a more serious expression than usual.
“What’s going on?”
Even though I had previously expected Douglas to criticize me for taking an allowance from Ashil, his reaction seemed strange. I frowned at Douglas with a suspicious look. I was handed a key without asking what it was for.
Douglas gave me an answer.
“Take as much as you need from my safe.”
“If what’s in the safe is not enough, tell me. I’ve set aside some emergency funds.”
…Is he serious? He criticized me for being a freeloader before, so why is he giving me an allowance now?
I was nearly about to check if Douglas had suddenly lost his mind.
‘Although I’m not sure why he’s voluntarily giving me money all of a sudden, at any rate, I have money now.’
And just in case I needed more money, and because I didn’t have much time, I used the key I had unexpectedly received from Douglas to secure an additional 300 goldens.
Even though he resided in the capital, his mansion had a simple elegance to it. His office exuded a refined minimalism. The door to this office opened, and a chief assistant entered, looking for the master of the house.
“Boss, a guest has arrived.”
The smile on Raphael’s lips vanished upon hearing the chief assistant’s summons.
Not a master or a lord but a boss.
Raphael removed the monocle he was wearing and inquired with a hint of displeasure.
“Why would the head of Pograzium be looking for me here?”
Raphael was slightly uncomfortable. Nobody should know that he was the leader of the Pograzium, a dark guild. How did this person find out?
The chief assistant cleared his throat and replied.
“I wasn’t able to inquire about that. However, they brought quite a hefty money bag.”
“…Insane, is he?”
Raphael almost wondered if Douglas was in his right mind. He realized that he didn’t care whether he was the master or not but that he didn’t want to be treated as a boss.
Raphael’s eyebrows lifted slightly at the mention of “goldens.”
“Who has come?”
“Lady Evelyn Praviche.”
Raphael was slightly surprised. Not anyone from Praviche, but a lady? He paused for a moment, lost in thought.
The woman who had been overly obsessed with the crown prince and faced public embarrassment at the royal-hosted party.
She had been confined to the mansion for a while, but now she suddenly came to Pograzium with a request?
Raphael’s interest was piqued.
“Where is she waiting?”
“In the innermost reception room at the main residence.”
“I hope that place won’t disturb the lady’s sensibilities, even though it’s the finest of our estates.”
Celestian’s main residence was fundamentally modest, and it wasn’t Raphael’s primary residence, either.
The chief assistant replied, “She seemed to be fine on the outside.”
“In that case, please guide her to me.”
A deep smile spread across Raphael’s lips. He had been bored with his usual routine lately, and he had a feeling that something interesting was about to happen.
Raphael untied his loosely bound hair. At the same time, the wind that entered through the open window tousled his bright auburn locks.
“I don’t know how she found out, but we should receive our guest with sincerity.”
Raphael adjusted his tie, his eyes gleaming with anticipation.