“What did you say? That can’t be true!”
“Then, why did you splash water on my face?”
In response to my question, the bewildered woman looked at me with a face that seemed to have seen all sorts of strange things.
“It’s to make you look embarrassed with wet hair sticking to your face like seaweed or with smudged makeup! It’s to provoke you.”
“But earlier, you said, ‘You said you were hot, so I added some cold water. Are you feeling cooler now’…”
“That was a sarcastic remark!”
“Oh, I see.”
Anji looked at me with an even more astounded expression.
Well, I didn’t know why she would look at me so strangely. If someone close to you got angry, saying nonsensical things while they were showing kindness, anyone would think the same as me, right?
Besides, it was quite amusing.
“Isn’t it even more embarrassing to explain it in your own words?”
“That’s what I’m saying! It’s like being in a situation where you have to explain a humor that no one understands! If you had just behaved properly, I wouldn’t have to go this far–!”
She answered with words that were embarrassing for her to say with her own mouth. In the meanwhile, some people were already pointing their fingers at Anji and laughing, so if I added fuel to the fire, it would be too pitiful for her.
“This situation didn’t happen because of the Grand Duchess but because of you, who acted with malice in the first place, what kind of nonsense are you talking about?” Reinhardt let out a cold laugh with a chilling expression. “You said that splashing water on her face was to provoke her. So, can I interpret this as you declaring war against the entire Grand Duchy of Erenstein?”
“…It didn’t have that meaning. I simply wanted to make the Grand Duchess feel the same embarrassment that she caused my dear friend Ella by enticing the Emperor.”
Anji tried to defend herself calmly under Reinhardt’s sharp gaze, but it was a defense that didn’t convince anyone.
“You wanted to make her feel the same embarrassment by mocking her? Are you saying that the Grand Duchess enticed the Emperor?”
“Didn’t the Grand Duke see what she did earlier? Perhaps she whispered words to entice the Emperor with that conceited face.”
“…Did I hear you wrong? Are you trying to insult my wife with baseless speculations? Are you out of your mind?”
“Reinhardt, stop it.”
I grabbed his shoulder and restrained him, and the oppressive atmosphere suddenly faded away.
“This is something that happened to me, so I will handle it.”
I said to Reinhardt and then turned my gaze to Anji, putting on an idol-like smile.
“Madam Anji, I apologize.”
Anji responded with a surprised exclamation as if she didn’t expect such words. At the same time, Reinhardt and everyone else who were watching also widened their eyes and looked at me.
“You splashed water on my face, hoping for me to feel refreshed, but instead, I just looked ridiculous with my wet face. And even though you sarcastically mocked me with ill intentions, I didn’t seem to notice at all, making me the one who looked foolish. You’re free to tease me without any consequences, and I’m sorry for deluding you into thinking that I enticed him… Above all, I feel no impact from any of these things, so I’m sorry.”
“…You say you feel no impact at all.”
Anji trembled, her face angry.
Even though she tried to embarrass me, she ended up looking even more pitiful. How pathetic. She should have thrown a kimchi slap at me to impress netizens who only react to such things.
“Yes, I’m truly sorry.”
“Ha! Well, let’s see if you really feel no impact from something like this.”
Everything happened in the blink of an eye. Anji swung her hand towards my cheek, but Reinhardt grabbed her hand even faster.
“Did you forget that I’m right beside her?”
And then, suddenly, a surge of heat rushed through my brain. The whole world spun around, and the world shot up into the air.
“The Duchess of Erestein has collapsed!”
“Get a doctor immediately!”
I thought the world was soaring upwards, but it turned out I was the one who collapsed.
“Anji killed the Duchess of Erestein!!”
“No, no! I didn’t even touch her…!”
My consciousness began to fade. Really, Anji didn’t lay a finger on me, so why did I suddenly collapse?
“Irovel, are you alright?”
As Reinhardt, who had appeared out of nowhere, was now holding up my fallen body, I struggled to keep my eyes open, which were constantly trying to close.
And in the next moment, my vision was completely engulfed in darkness.
I could faintly hear Reinhardt’s voice calling my name, but it felt like it was getting farther away.
After a while, I regained consciousness in a hazy state.
As soon as I opened my eyes, my body was completely lying down, and for some reason, I was looking at the chandelier in the banquet hall. The sparkling chandelier, changing angles with every gust of wind from outside, was incredibly beautiful.
But why did it feel so repulsive to my eyes? Just as I thought about it, the wind blew again.
An unpleasant creaking sound came from the chandelier.
Then, with a clank, the thing between the ceiling and the chandelier broke. The chandelier plummeted towards the floor at a rapid speed.
And beneath it was Reinhardt.
* * *
I screamed as if I was being torn apart and woke up from the dream.
Reinhardt’s handsome face, who was looking down at me, came into view. What was this? He looked perfectly fine.
I was also perfectly intact…
It was all a dream, after all.
“Are you awake? Do you recognize who I am?”
“…The most handsome person in the world.”
“You’ve regained your senses.”
Reinhardt sighed and brushed his chest.
What was this? He regained his senses when I said he was handsome. Has flirting become my identity now? By the way, judging from the fact that my buttocks were still cold and stiff, it seemed that I was still lying on the floor.
Fortunately, it seemed that I hadn’t lost consciousness for long since I hadn’t been moved to a bed yet.
“How long was I like this?”
“Not long. About a minute? The palace physician is coming, so please wait a moment.”
I have even dreamed in that short time. Perhaps I was tired from the preparations I made since dawn?
“I’m fine. I probably just dozed off for a moment because I was tired.”
“Due to the instinct to protect one’s own body, even if someone dozes off deeply, they wake up before their head hits the ground. And Irovel, you were just about to hit the ground with your head. It’s clear that you fainted.”
“Though I even had a dream.”
“That was just glimpsing the unconsciousness during the gap when you lost consciousness.”
Shortly after, the palace physician arrived.
I received an examination from the palace physician in the makeshift reception room prepared in the banquet hall and received the opinion that there was nothing wrong with me. I had suddenly developed a fever just before collapsing, so I wondered if it wasn’t a cold, but now the fever was gone. I was perfectly healthy.
“Nevertheless, it’s better for you to return to the mansion and rest.”
After the palace physician left and the commotion caused by me subsided, by the time the music started flowing again, Reinhardt spoke. Camilla also listened to his words.
“Yes. You’ve already achieved the purpose of widely publicizing that you’ve become the Grand Duchess of Erestein, so it’s better for you to go back.”
“A birthday celebration is considered impolite if you leave before the end of the event. Is it okay?”
“Since you’ve suffered harm from a member of the palace, and your health is not good, it doesn’t matter even if you don’t adhere to etiquette. No one will blame you.”
Strictly speaking, she didn’t lay a finger on me, but it was true that she tried to so it was okay to take advantage of it as an excuse. Even if I didn’t adhere to etiquette, it was her responsibility to receive blame.
“By the way, what happened to Madam Anji?”
Before Reinhardt and Camilla could answer, Anji’s voice was heard from outside.
“Let go of me! I didn’t even touch the Grand Duchess of Erestein!”
Reinhardt, who looked outside for a moment, explained to me.
“It seems like she’s being taken to the confinement room. She’ll be released after the event is over. She probably thought it would end with just a short confinement, so she’s pretending to resist to make the punishment more severe. It’s not a significant harm, but still, it’s a bit irritating. To be confined for just a moment.”
For some reason, Reinhardt looked at me with a slightly puffed-up expression.
“You seem unaffected, but it seems like you’re a bit irritated.”
“It’s not ’a bit.’ Of course, I can’t help but feel that way. Even if I didn’t feel any harm, I clearly received the other person’s evident malice. That’s an extremely burdensome thing, so Irovel has clearly suffered a great deal. It’s only natural to feel unpleasant emotions.”
He hit the nail on the head when it comes to sensing those emotions.
Even though I’ve experienced it countless times, even during my idol life, I’ve experienced it a little less since becoming Irovel. That was why I thought I could endure it… but as Reinhardt said, it’s undoubtedly a heavy burden.
I was just deceiving myself by saying, ‘I’m fine. I’m unaffected’.
“What Reinhardt said is right. Although I have a stronger mental fortitude than others, I still don’t like being hated. I just want to receive love.”
“You can’t be loved by everyone. There’s no need to strive to be loved by everyone. You just need to be honest with your own emotions.”
Since you say it like that, I’ll be honest. Reinhardt looked at me with a worried expression.
“It seems a bit exciting to have someone take care of my emotions so well.”