As she sat down, Andra rested her chin on her hand and looked out of the window as the sun began to set.
It had not been long since Andra became convinced that Lady Venetolia had received a terminal diagnosis. Until arriving at the palace, it had been a suspicion, and even before asking Jonathan, part of her thought it might not be true. That she might be misunderstanding.
However, Jonathan’s silence and non-denial answer confirmed it for Andra.
In the end, the Prince of Pohas was just one of Lady Venetolia’s deceptions. All to divert attention to Pohas. However, Pohas would only be a passing point, not Lady Venetolia’s final destination. After all, the Lady Venetolia’s ultimate destination was the Flande Kingdom, which had a long-standing connection with Avelin.
In fact, when Andra accidentally read a letter from the Princess of Flande in her father’s study, she did not fully understand its content at the time. In the letter, the Princess demanded a large sum of money from Avelin, and her father was naturally expected to comply.
The Princess said she would maintain proper etiquette to the guest and even send regards to the Emperor on her behalf.
Only now did Andra fully comprehend the content of that letter.
Lady Venetolia, for whatever reason, was hiding the fact that she had received a terminal diagnosis. After this coming-of-age ceremony, she planned to retire and move to Flande for a peaceful life. The Emperor had approved, and that’s why Flande, supported by Avelin on behalf of the Imperial Family, promised assistance for Lady Venetolia’s remaining years.
‘Ansel must have known, right?’
The eldest brother, Ansel, was the one who was well aware of the capital news more than anyone else. He couldn’t have been ignorant of the matter concerning Avelin. He knew from the beginning that Lady Venetolia’s position would come to Andra. However, he might have kept it quiet considering his sister.
Andra, being an Avelin have a strong sense of pride.
‘Still, how could they finish the conversation among themselves, without me?’
Andra felt betrayed by Ansel.
It was highly likely that Ansel had taken the lead in dealing with Lady Venetolia.
Since their father started sharing his duties with Ansel, he rarely came up from the East to the capital, except for major events like this coming-of-age ceremony. Typically, Ansel handled Avelin’s affairs in the capital.
‘I should have noticed from the moment when Lady Venetolia sent several letters before I came up to the capital…’
Before Andra came up to the capital, Lady Venetolia had sent her several letters. Although they weren’t particularly close, she thought it was related to Lady Venetolia’s consideration for the coming-of-age ceremony.
Lady Venetolia was a prominent figure in the capital social circles and, being a senior, she might have wanted to extend a helping hand to Andra, who lost her mother early and had no one to care for her in the East. At least, that’s what Andra thought at the time. So she actually took Lady Venetolia’s help while preparing for her coming-of-age ceremony.
In reality, it was a carefully calculated action driven by deals and calculations. Thanks to this revelation, Andra once again realized that she was still pushed back in this world. Well, after all, there’s no such thing as free things in everything.
‘Andra, there’s no such thing as unfairness in politics and business. From the beginning, there’s no such thing as fairness. What matters is how much you can take from the other side.
Ansel didn’t say such words to her without reason.
Andra glanced at Ansel’s empty seat for a moment, pursing her lips. Even if Father is like that, couldn’t Ansel at least show her a little consideration? Annoyed by the attitude of the men in the family who consistently exclude her, Andra’s temper flared.
‘I even dismissed the ridiculous rumors about Lady Venetolia. Was all that true?”
When Andra came up to the capital, she naturally heard rumors about Lady Venetolia’s retirement. However, she had also looked into other rumors about Lady Venetolia. However, those rumors were generally absurd and nonsensical, so she didn’t pay much attention to them.
Lady Venetolia had taken medicine, vomiting blood… Rumors that no one who has seen Lady Venetolia could believe.
‘I still don’t understand this world.’
Andra grabbed her throbbing head. Although it hadn’t been long since she returned from a walk with Jonathan, her inside felt frustrating. After instructing the maid after Ansel had returned outside, Andra said she would go out for a short walk.
Walking along the quiet path, Andra began to think about the women of the Jewelie family.
The position of Lady Venetolia was already confirmed to be Andras. Lady Venetolia would naturally try to hand over that position to her. In that case, it was inevitable that she would clash with Lady Jewelie, who aimed to enter the capital’s social circles this time.
‘Does Lady Jewelie know that Aveline and Lady Venetolia have been working together for some time? Also, about Lady Venetolia being on a time limit…’
It was difficult for Andra to make reasonable guesses about the extent of the Jewelie family’s information network. Therefore, Andra had to consider two assumptions.
If Lady Jewelie knew about it, what would she do? How would she attack Andra to snatch the capital social circle position? Or, if Lady Jewelie was unaware? How would she retaliate against Andra?
Both assumptions left Andra feeling bewildered.
In reality, Andra was not accustomed to this kind of fight. This coming-of-age ceremony was her first event stepping into the capital social circles, and until then, she had led a relatively smooth social life.
In the East, where Aveline was dominant, no one harbored ill feelings toward Andra, the only daughter of Avelin. On the contrary, they made an effort to be on good terms with her.
Occasionally attending events in the small social circle in the capital, Andra didn’t have much to worry about, especially since the gatherings involved people with connections to Avelin. While there were some difficulties due to the incident with Dustin Airak, attacks from others in the social circle were rare.
‘Lady Venetolia might offer some help, but I can’t completely trust her to stay quiet.’
Lady Venetolia had agreed to transfer the position, but she never promised to be a mentor by Andra’s side, teaching her about the social circle.
‘There are several people who came up from the East, but facing Lady Jewelie alone is challenging.’
Just like Andra, Jewelie probably brought some followers when she came down from the South. Both of them came from families with established connections in the capital. In terms of numbers, Avelin and Jewelie were evenly matched.
While Avelin had a slight advantage due to Lady Venetolia’s support, as she previously thought, the women of the Jewelie family were not to be underestimated.
‘Even now, I could go to Lady Venetolia…’
Andra quickly changed her mind. After her arrival in the capital, there were opportunities for Lady Venetolia to meet Andra, but she chose not to. It was almost like saying not to expect any real help from her.
Lady Venetolia was likely assessing whether Andra had the qualities to secure her position. While she had promised the position, she would prevent Andra from embarrassment…..
‘But I have to think and prepare for the worst-case scenario.’
As if making a pledge, Andra clasped the necklace around her neck with her palm. Only now did she realize that she was standing in the capital.
‘I can do this, I’ll do well. Above all… I can’t afford to be embarrassed in front of Airak.’
Taking a deep breath, Andra released her grip on the necklace. She decided that she needed to go back, confide in Ansel, and seek advice.
Ansel might have no choice to speak about this if Andra talks as if she knew about everything. She also knew he would not remain silent about the Jewelie family so he surely had plans prepared. It seemed urgent to discuss this matter with him.
It was when Andra was about to turn the corner to head back. She almost bumped into someone coming out of the corner.
Andra, swaying and barely maintaining her balance, looked up to identify the person in front of her. Her expression quickly twisted.
The person was none other than Dustin Airak.
Dustin, rarely seen in formal attire, raised an eyebrow and grimaced when he saw Andra. They seemed uncomfortable with each other’s presence, as if they hadn’t expected to meet here.
Andra spoke first with a sharp tone.
“I didn’t know Lord Airak had a hobby of taking quiet walks.”
The Dustin Andra knew was not someone who would casually take a leisurely walk. He always disappeared somewhere, avoiding public view, and was far from someone who enjoyed the sight of flowers or landscapes.
At Andra’s words, Dustin raised an eyebrow, questioning what that had to do with her. He scrutinized Andra from head to toe.
“I wouldn’t have guessed that the lady herself was wandering around outside at this late hour?”
“Should I seek Lord Airak’s permission to take walks?”