Updated: Mar 17
Kyle learns about Tara's arranged marriage, Chloe and Victoria have a chat, and Tara meets Grand Duchess Helen Stuart.
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Episode 115. About 11 months (7)
The contents of the urgent message were as such:
[Urgent - The Grand Duchess Helen Stuart has visited the Elias Mansion in person and proposed an arranged marriage with the fifth daughter, Lady Tara Elias.]
Kyle, who had been staring at the letter for a while, exclaimed, "Ha!"
"... What happened, Your Highness?"
"Who came up with this... They're playing a very amusing trick."
"There must be a reason for the Stuart family's sudden appearance. How interesting."
Nick didn't know what the Master was talking about, but he could tell that he was talking to himself.
Besides, Nick wasn't sure if he was actually amused by the letter. The words, 'How interesting' carried a sense of ambiguity.
More precisely, it seemed like he was on the verge of coming up with a full set of strategic battle tactics...
Despite pondering it, Nick couldn't be sure. Because he was a knight, and was never sure of his findings.
Nevertheless, brave Nick spun the gears of his mind as fast as he could to help his Master, and stepped forward.
"Should I have the Stuart family investigated, Your Highness?"
"Ah... Right. Why did I say that? Hahaha."
Nick took another step back, surprisingly quickly, and ended up next to the door. He stood up straight.
"Investigate those who have visited the Stuarts in the last two weeks. And have one more person go undercover in the Elias Mansion."
Nick was jumping with joy. His guess was correct to some extent.
He opened the door and left, thinking that he would finally get to the point where he could discuss strategies with his Master, and then came back in again.
He wanted to double-check his brilliant guess.
"Hey, this has to do with the Hunting Contest, right? Your Highness?"
Nick, faced with his Master's cold eyes, smiled bashfully.
As soon as he had answered, he quickly left the Palace to carry out his orders.
'Shit. This can only mean one thing.'
After Nick left, Kyle stared at the closed door for a while, and then laughed out loud.
And after a long time, without realizing, he cited an old saying.
"... Why does it seem amusing when it’s actually not?"
Countess Elias' bedroom.
"You're not even angry? You didn't say a word to the child who sent your brother away and badly insulted your Mother!"
Countess Victoria Elias, dressed more lavishly than ever for dinner, sat down in her chair and shouted at Chloe, who was waiting for her.
"... Mother! The Philippes are my family, but so are the Eliases. As long as I intend to lead the merchanting groups of the Elias family, I can never allow anything to do them harm."
Chloe was as calm and collected as ever.
"But you and my brother, my closest relatives, put the Elias family in danger. And it's undeniable she's the one who turned the crisis into an opportunity. But who should blame who? I don't even know whether you thanked her."
"... Mother! Look at the bigger picture. Why would House Philippe visit the Stuarts, and send a separate messenger to you, telling you not to touch Tara? The elders have also recognized her brilliance. I don't really like the way Mother puts it, but..."
"That's right, you're not married yet, but they're giving the Stuart family to that wicked thing. In addition, when she gets married, they'll give her a position at the merchanting groups and give her the convenience of doing administrative work comfortably. Doesn't that upset you? That means she's getting closer to your position closer than you are!"
"I'm not sure. The business office building is here, and so is Father, who owns the merchant groups. How much could a noblewoman who marries into the higher-ranked Stuart Duchy get involved in Elias' merchant groups?"
At Chloe's words, the grimace on Victoria’s face disappeared. Upon noticing it, Chloe was impressed by the change in her mother's expression.
"... Yes. I guess so? They're not as good at business as House Elias, but they run several academies, so it would not be desirable for a married woman to run her own business. Hmm... They're the elders. You wicked thing. You'll see. I'll pay you back for this..."
Chloe rose to her feet.
"Ha... Mother. I don't want to be disappointed anymore. And I don't think Tara will get married so easily."
"Do you mean she'd break the rules of the aristocracy? She has to do what the family decides! Mwahaha, like removing the thorn in my side!"
At her mother's laughter, Chloe massaged her throbbing head and left the bedroom first.
Count Elias' office.
"What if I refuse this marriage?"
"Are you going to break the rules of the aristocracy?"
"Father, think of the hard work I've done during the assassination attempt on the Emperor..."
"Your Father is pleased. The prestigious House Stuart has proposed a marriage with you, someone who’s rumoured to be defective."
Ah... How could I overcome a father who appealed to injustice?
My whole body began to tremble. With the way things were going, it looked like I was going to get married just like this.
Getting engaged at a desperate time like this, when I was trying to save my family from destruction! And with a guy whose face I hadn’t even seen before!
Well, not that knowing what someone looked like was enough to get married...
I'd only seen the words 'arranged marriage' in novels. I didn't expect it to happen to me. This really was nonsense!
In arranged marriages between nobles, the opinions of the involved parties were not considered important. Unless there was a major disqualification, the parties had to follow the decision of each head of the family.
Arranged marriages were considered one of the responsibilities for getting to enjoy the rights of the aristocracy.
Commoners married for love, and nobles married for politics, after which they had lovers or something similar for their personal love affairs.
Like how my mother married my father...
Some people might tell me to just marry into another family and get out of the house, but how could I, who felt like I was part of this family, merely stand by and watch them order this?
"So answer the Grand Duchess' questions with sincerity. I don’t want you getting on her wrong side."
I was at a loss for words, because my father was acting stricter than ever.
Then, at my father's last words, "I don’t want you getting on her wrong side," a thought flashed through my head. I met my father's eyes.
"... I’ll know, Tara, if you behave rudely on purpose, I'll be very angry with you. So, don't even dream of doing what's on your mind right now."
"... Yes, Father. I will not do anything that is not like me."
"I will behave myself instead. Please don't say anything about it."
I bowed deeply and left the office first. I saw that my father's mouth had stiffened with a glance, but it didn't matter.
Even if my father appealed to injustice, an arranged marriage did not make sense right now, while I had to stop our destruction.
However, given the status of both families, it was impossible to act recklessly.
Yes. If that didn't work, I could find another way.
The people in my family who had been on my side until now were all enemies. From now on, I was fighting alone.
Damn it. I didn't expect marriage to be so combative!
There was still time, so I decided to meet the Grand Duchess first and come up with a strategy.
I had survived cold poison (although there were some after-effects) and I had successfully handled the assassination attempt on the Emperor, it was inconceivable that my plans would be ruined by this arranged marriage.
No, I really wasn't going to consider an arranged marriage... Even if he was like the lonely and great goblin, I wouldn't consider it under these circumstances.*
In the Elias dining room.
All of the Elias family's immediate members were gathered, except for Jason and Aria.
With them was the Grand Duchess of House Stuart who was seated in the middle, her white hair loosely bunched on the top of her head.
Ha... She was the picture of elegance and aloofness.
That was my first impression of Grand Duchess Helen Stuart.
Unlike most older noblewomen, the Duchess did not hide her wrinkled hands and neck with lace.
She sat with a better posture than anyone else, and led the supper with a relaxed and smooth manner.
Damn. She looked so strict, I didn't think I'd be able to get a single word right...
That was my second impression of her.
I concentrated on my dinner as much as I could, but it was hard to tell if the food was going through my nose or mouth.
Everyone at the table was looking at me and the Duchess, but pretending not to.
Ugh. She surprised me when she suddenly started to stare at me. It was scary.
Unlike my family, the Duchess openly watched me from time to time, as if she was evaluating my every move.
This was my third impression of her
Dessert was served after the main course was finished.
Thinking about how I could get away from this crappy situation, I decided to go to the archives and learn more about the Stuarts as soon as dinner was over.
"What do you think of this marriage?"
I lifted my head. Sharp blue eyes were staring straight at me. They were full of unmeasurable depths of experience and wisdom
I swallowed my fears away and racked my brain for a moment.
First of all, I needed a place where we could talk, just the two of us. To get there, I'd need to be cursed at...
I didn't need to waste my time. I had to create the situation I wanted with this answer.
"This marriage cannot benefit both families. Therefore, I don't think this marriage should be discussed any further."
A cold question.
"The Stuarts don't suit me."
The table froze in an instant. And then, everyone's reactions burst out.
That was Father.
"... Oh my God, such an ill-mannered person!"
That was the Countess.
"... Oh, my!"
That was Logan.
"I heard she was not of sound mind, but I thought that was a thing of the past. Am I mistaken? Is it on-going, Lloyd?"
A chilling question.
"No, Ma'am. That... The child is perfectly fine."
"Really? Then that means you're sincere. Why are you saying that the Stuarts don't suit you? In what way?"
"I'd like to ask you back, is the Stuart's second son, Lord Theodore Stuart, capable of marrying the noblewoman who is going to be the next head of House Elias?"
That was Chloe and Father.
"... Oh my God... Baby..."
That was my Mother.
"... Well, well... She's crazy..."
That was the Countess.
Finally, Logan stared at me with glaring eyes.
"Silence, everyone! Interesting, interesting. I don't know what's going on in your mind that compels you to make such arrogant comments. I can't believe you'd speak like that in this situation. Wait. Don't tell me it was your plan to behave this audaciously. Now tell me. The caliber of your personality is better than my grandson's. Is that what you mean?"
"I don't know exactly how capable Lord Theodore is, but it's certain that he'll never be fit for me."
"Your daughter has managed to excite me after a long time, Lloyd."
"Forgive her rudeness. Grand Duchess, she does not fully understand the situation..."
The Grand Duchess suddenly stood up.
The servants who were serving dessert froze on the spot, and Lloyd, who had stopped talking, stood up with the rest.
"Tara Elias. Follow me to the parlor. I'll have to see what it is he wouldn't be fit for!"
* 'A lonely and great goblin' is a reference to the popular K-drama "Guardian: The Lonely and Great God" (쓸쓸하고 찬란하神 – 도깨비), where the male lead is an immortal goblin who is in search of his fated bride. Naturally, he's very handsome and powerful.
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