Home Post 730-chapter-144


‘Haa, what truly a cursed fate.’

Whenever Andra thought about the clashes with Airak every time she came to the capital, she couldn’t help but feel a rising anger. Airak, the troublemaker, had a peculiar talent for turning the minds of seemingly sane people upside down. As a result, Andra often found herself tempted to shout and condemn him recklessly.

In reality, it was just an impulse, and frankly, it was merely a figment of her imagination.

Responding to Airak in the same manner would only degrade herself in the same vulgar way. As a noble and as Avelin’s daughter, she couldn’t afford such behavior. No matter how much the other person provoked her, engaging in such actions would be a stain on her dignity.

‘Applause requires two hands. I can’t lower myself to such levels.’

With these thoughts in mind, Andra leaned back against the chair. In any case, she had to keep herself together throughout the day. Lady Venetolia, Jewelie, and even Airak – any mistake could quickly tarnish her reputation. In such an environment, she couldn’t afford to act carelessly.

Above all, people were watching her. The social circles were not forgiving. If Andra showed any signs of weakness or indecision between Lady Venetolia and Jewelie, they would undoubtedly be disappointed, possibly leading to her exclusion from the central social circles.

‘Oh, please. I just want today to pass quietly without any incidents.’

Andra smoothed out the wrinkles of her dress and offered a brief prayer. Please, let me finish the day quietly without encountering Airak, without any strange incidents from him. Help me.

Before she knew it, her hands were gripping the pendant necklace hanging around her neck.

* * *

Arriving at the Imperial Palace, Andra and Ansel were guided to the hall where the ceremony was taking place. There, noble youths who had just turned twenty, like Andra, were accompanied by their respective guardians. Some had already relaxed, exchanging smiles and conversations with others.

Andra first scanned the hall to see if Airak was present. She didn’t want to see that unfortunate face from the beginning. If Dustin Airak happened to be here, Andra had decided to turn around and go elsewhere.

There was a nearby garden, and she could ask Jonathan’s permission to go to the Phlox Palace to meet him. That’s how determined Andra was to avoid Airak for the entire day.

‘He’s not there yet?’

Having surveyed the hall without spotting Dustin Airak, Andra quickly found a place to sit. Since she would be called around during the ceremony to show her face to the people, there was no need to waste energy wandering. She planned to quietly spend her time in the corner until evening.

“I’ll rest over there. What about Ansel?”

Andra was about to walk towards her seat, she turned to look at Ansel, who had accompanied her. Ansel draped a shawl over Andra’s shoulders and replied,

“I see some familiar faces, so I’ll just say hello and join you shortly. You go ahead and rest. Do you need anything?”

He spoke kindly. Even the meticulous touch that arranged her shawl felt warm. Thanks to Ansel, Andra’s anxious heart, burdened by the thought of Airak, seemed to calm down. Ansel, as her eldest brother, often displayed a motherly side. Of course, Andra, who lost her mother at birth, didn’t quite understand what it felt like to have a motherly figure.

“No, I’m fine.”

“Alright, see you later.”

Ansel left a small kiss on Andra’s cheek and moved somewhere else. Andra followed her older brother’s departing figure for a moment before finding a comfortable spot and settling in. Just as she was about to sit down, someone suddenly called Andra with a kind tone.

“It’s been a while, you’ve become an even more charming lady. Lady Avelin.”

Andra turned around to see the person who called her. It was the successor of Jewelie and the eldest. This time, she was a senior to Andra in the coming-of-age ceremony. She seemed to be here as the guardian for her younger sister. But then, where was Young Lady Jewelie? Glancing around discreetly, Andra couldn’t spot the younger Jewelie anywhere.

“Lady Jewelie.”

For now, Andra greeted her with a natural smile. Lady Jewelie had ash-colored hair that reached down to her waist, sharp eyes, and the tear dot on her eye area remained unchanged, as expected.

However, she seemed to have lost a bit of weight. The jawline, not visible before, was now prominent. But seeing her tired expression, it seemed like the responsibilities that came with being the heir of the family took a toll on her.

‘Well, she hasn’t been the heir for long.’

The news about the change in Jewelie’s successor had reached her about six months ago. At that time, it had caused quite a stir even in the Eastern regions, and she vividly remembered the commotion it created. Above all, since Jewelie was in a cooperative relationship with Avelin, the news of Jewelie’s successor was also important to Avelin.

“The title of Lady Jewelie has been relinquished to Stephanie for a long time. Young Count Jewelie… Well, no. Just call me Leona. It’s less confusing and more comfortable.”

“Let’s go with that, Lady Leona. It’s been a few years since we last met, hasn’t it?”

“I saw you at the founding New Year’s party two years ago, so it’s been a year and a half.”

Leona closed the distance between herself and Andra effortlessly. Then, nonchalantly, she sat in the seat Andra was about to occupy. Andra didn’t mind at all. Since there were plenty of seats, she just chose any spot next to her and sat down. Leona swirled the wine glass she brought and spoke.

“Let’s get straight to the point without beating around the bush. Lady should know that time is precious. Well, in fact, there’s not much time left until Stephanie returns.”

Andra nodded readily at Leona’s direct way of speaking, which hadn’t changed since before. She didn’t mind having this kind of conversation with Leona, and since there was no one else around, she figured it didn’t matter much if it didn’t suit the usual social etiquette.

“Have you heard the rumors?”

“I have. It’s been buzzing in the capital.”

“Well, most nobles should know about it. It’s the kind of rumor that was deliberately spread.”

Leona smirked. She was clearly taking a shot at Lady Venetolia. This rumor was informing Andra that the Lady had spread it herself. Of course, Andra already knew who had spread the rumor.

Isn’t it obvious? The Lady must have done it to openly scratch Jewelie. And it seemed to have been somewhat successful, judging by Leona’s less-than-pleasant expression.

“Lady Venetolia’s retirement is real. Do you know why?”

Although the exact reason for Lady Venetolia’s retirement from the social scene had not been revealed, most people speculated that it was because of her marriage. The fact that a prince from the Pohas Kingdom, who had come as an envoy, had fallen deeply in love with the Lady had been well-known in the capital for a few months.

“Thanks to that, now the hot potato has become Lady Avelin. Lady Venetolia’s position is vacant.”

“There’s still no clear evidence to say that.”

Andra cut Leona off decisively. It was a preemptive strike against questions about whether she would follow in Lady Venetolia’s footsteps to take that position. Leona glanced at Andra for a moment with a look that suggested she was holding back her thoughts.

“You’re going to be ambitious.”

“Excessive ambition can be a downfall.”

“Judging by your tone, you seem quite interested.”

Andra only smiled without responding. Leona sighed and turned her head as if to say, ‘Do as you please.’ She swirled the wine glass again.

“Stephanie hopes you’ll concede. There’s no need to engage in a mud fight that could hurt each other’s feelings unnecessarily. Jewelie will generously reward you. Lady Avelin is a smart person, I’m sure you understand.”

“Rumors suggest that Lady Venetolia is confirmed to be heading to Pohas.”

Instead of answering, Leona took a sip of her wine. This time, Andra looked at Leona with a contemplative face. After a while, Leona sighed and opened her mouth.

“So far, it’s been Leona Jewelie’s perspective, and now I’ll speak as Young Count Jewelie. I hope Lady Avelin takes that position.”

This was an unexpected statement. Andra looked at Leona with a puzzled face. The sisterly bond between the Jewelies was well-known. They were inseparable and did anything for each other. Their collaboration to drive out their cousin and secure the Jewelie family’s succession had been a hot topic for a while.

Leona continued with a sigh, pressing her temples.

“Stephanie has recently… lost her judgment. The same determination as before is gone. She’s intoxicated with victory. She is someone who hasn’t tasted defeat often.”

It was a seemingly arrogant statement. Not tasted defeat often? But it was true. Stephanie Jewelie never missed a shot once she marked her prey. The fact that she had extorted 1,000 gold under the pretext of investment and compensation from the neighboring Duke on a vacation in the southern country was Stephanie’s doing.

And that was not all. Her campaign to pass the tourism law for business expansion was relentless. The fact that she managed to secure a majority vote for the law was still talked about.

And let’s not forget that she was just five years old when she took away Lady Venetolia’s vacation spot, a story that still echoed today.

Stephanie Jewelie clearly wasn’t someone to be taken lightly.

“I want to bring Stephanie to her senses by defeating her once. I just can’t stand watching her act recklessly like this.”

However, in Andra’s eyes, it seemed that Leona, who spoke of breaking her arrogant sister’s spirit, was an even more formidable individual.