Updated: Jul 4
The person Tara brings in reveals something rather important to the Duke.
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Episode 245. About 9 months (4)
"If things had worked out the way she wanted them to, I would've been very grateful to her for saving me. My father would've probably agreed if I had been the one to tell him to bring Jason back to the Empire as soon as possible. At my birthday party, my family was almost taken advantage of."
I paused and glared at the Duke.
"And what did His Grace, the Duke, give to this woman?"
"It was 28 years ago, so you may not remember. That's why I invited her."
"Who did you call...?"
Just then, a Philippe entered the hall alone, a woman with a calm demeanor. Upon entering the hall, she pulled back the hood of her grey robe.
Everyone gulped when she revealed her face.
Confusion danced in the Duke's murky brown eyes.
It was Gloria Philippe, his first daughter, who had renounced all rights to House Philippe.
[It happened on the night of my social debut party, and my marriage to the Elias family was almost annulled, but Victoria stepped in. She said she couldn't let the family be disgraced and would sacrifice herself. Naturally, my share of the estate which I was to receive on the condition of marriage was passed on to her. The incident raged like a storm, and after a while, it occurred to me that it was strange. Why had she come to my room at that exact moment in the morning? We weren't on good terms, so Victoria hadn't been in my room since she was ten. And that's when I thought that she might have something to do with it...]
I had met Gloria Philippe three hours prior, she was living as an orphanage director in the outskirts of the Capital. She had been shunned by society after the incident and left the Philippe family.
At the time, House Philippe wanted to marry her off to the son of a vassal, but she refused and chose the orphanage.
[She tried to destroy me in the same way she did to you, the Duke’s beloved noble daughter. If we leave this be, the Elias and Philippe family will pay dearly for it later.]
Tara explained the whole situation in detail, starting with the discovery of the ledger and ending with the birthday party. Gloria, who listened intently to all of the explanations, was first and foremost worried about her father.
[He's already gotten very weak, and if he gets shocked... Go. Go and stop her now.]
The Duke stumbled when he saw Gloria, who rushed to his side and supported him.
"Father, are you feeling well? Are you taking the medicine I sent you?"
Gloria was the kind of person who worried for her father, who had been deprived of everything she could've had in the Philippe family, and yet wasn't able to close herself off.
"Oh my God... Gloria, what is all this...?"
"Yes, Father. It's just like my social debut party."
Gloria held on to the back of the chair with difficulty and helped the trembling Duke take a seat.
"Do you really mean to tell me that's what the Countess did to you twenty-eight years ago?"
The Duke's voice shook slightly.
Looking at the Duke and Philippe's vassals, who were finally ready to listen, I outlined the events in detail, as if I was giving a briefing.
None of them dared to interrupt when I spoke, except for a few stifled gasps as I spoke.
"If this is left unchecked, Victoria may do something even worse. Stop her now, Father."
The Duke, who had heard every explanation in detail, looked stunned.
"My... I was blind. All this time, my precious daughter... Oh, my... Ha... Heuk."
The Duke dropped his dignity and authority at once, threw his arms around Gloria and sobbed into her neck. His sobs mingled with pain, remorse and lamentation rather than anger. The room was filled with his sobs for some time afterwards.
After some time had passed, the Duke looked at my father and I with gleaming eyes.
As if he had made up his mind, he spoke again in a different tone than before.
"I will make that ungrateful thing bitterly regret this. It will never be able to join high society again, it will never be able to be greedy again, it will never be able to set foot in the Capital again. I will make it live the rest of its life crushed under the weight of its own sins, having plunged a knife into its own flesh and blood, sullied its family honour, and thrown away its nobility. Of course, my sins in enabling it are just as great."
He called her 'it' instead of her name. Calling her that meant that she would be completely shunned by the family.
Here and there the sound of gulping could be heard.
His voice, quiet but firm, carried a resolve that overwhelmed the crowd. Everyone waited breathlessly for the Duke's next words, feeling its weight.
"Count Lloyd Elias, and Lady Tara Elias."
"Speak, Your Grace the Duke."
"It almost caused me to lose my precious child and I nearly suffered another great humiliation because of it. Thanks to House Elias, I could've covered for the sins of a wretch I would've otherwise not been aware of for twenty-eight years, no, for the rest of my life. Thank you. And I apologize from the bottom of my heart."
The Duke of Philippe looked straight ahead and slowly bowed his head towards my father and I. The vassals standing behind followed suit and also bowed their heads in apology.
The Duke, who bowed to no one but the Emperor and Empress, bowed deeply not only to my father, but also to me.
The Duke then ordered his vassals behind him to remain silent about what happened today, and my father and I followed the Duke, supported by Gloria, to the parlour.
And after a lengthy and detailed discussion, the Elias family obtained a total of three documents from House Philippe.
The next day.
Victoria was waiting for the carriage outside the hall with her luggage packed. The Elias family only allowed her one maid, Scylla.
All the way from the northern annex to the entrance of the hall Victoria cursed the Elias family. Then, she expressed her resentment for her daughter for never coming to visit her.
"Chloe. Chloe, ungrateful thing I gave birth to! Hurry up and come out now! Let's go to the Philippe estate. Come now!"
Just before she got into the carriage, she screamed for Chloe, but no one came to see her except me.
Victoria, seeing me for the first time in a week, began shouting even louder.
"Tara, you bitch! I will definitely punish you for humiliating me! I'm not going to stand by and watch a daughter of the Philippe family be insulted like this! And what, a divorce? Says who! As soon as I get home, my aristocratic family will amend this injustice! Wait and see!"
The words were deafening, but I drew nearer to her, and Victoria moved towards me with glaring eyes, but the two knights by her side seized her by the forearms.
"How dare you! Let go of me! Are you treating me like a criminal?"
"... We'll see how you're doing in ten years. You've been misbehaving for the past thirty years or so, but there's one thing I can't ignore, the blessing that Chloe is your child. Remember, I have the power to save you. So I hope you will obediently take your punishment and wait with repentance."
One of the documents we got from the Philippe family was the authority to decide her fate.
With these words, I turned away. However, Victoria had an impressive ability to rouse people's emotions.
"Ha! What nonsense are you talking about? The power to decide my fate? Punishment? You're crazy! As soon as I go home, I'll sue you in aristocratic court! Do you think I'll forget how you bullied me and my son and made our lives difficult?"
I spun around and stepped in front of Victoria, who inadvertently covered her neck. I stared into her hazel eyes and spoke clearly.
"That's strange. Are you crazy? Why do you keep forgetting? I didn't do anything! It's you and your son that caused the accident, not me!"
"You crazy bitch. You think I've forgotten the indignity my son and I suffered because of you? Wait and see. I'll expose you for the sneaky bastard you are. I'll never leave you be!"
I was so stunned I almost burst out laughing. It was amazing that Chloe was born from a woman like this.
To think that Brandon was killed by this stupid woman. All of the anger I had been holding back burst out.
"How? Are you going to kill me with a contract like you did with Brandon? I've been holding my tongue for a week, and now you're doing this? Think about it. I'm the one who discovered Jason's corruption, I'm the one who saved this family during the Dragonfruit incident, I'm the one who sent Jason to Gaion and I knew of your scheme for the birthday party in advance and prepared accordingly. What I'm saying is, no matter what you do, I can stop you. So wake up, woman!"
"This... This.... Now you're showing your true colours, you vile bitch."
It felt like a nerve had been severed in my brain.
"Haa...Please, don't repent even when you get there. Because then I can tear up the document I've obtained that could save you without feeling sorry for Chloe!" I screamed.
I turned around and walked away.
I could still hear her swearing behind me, but it was less intense.
That was it.
Victoria's shouting continued even as the carriage departed, but as it rounded the corner, it was no longer audible.
It wasn't until nightfall that Victoria reached the center of the Empire.
The thick iron gates slammed shut behind her. Scylla, who had accompanied her, shuddered and clung to her.
"M–Madam, you said you were going to a resort, so why are you bringing us to a place like this...!"
"Be quiet! I can't think because of your cries!"
Apparently, she just needed to take the month off and clear her mind.
Even now, when she was about to arrive in the Philippe family's luxurious carriage, her head was full of thoughts on how she'd take revenge once she returned to the Capital.
It puzzled her that she had been sent away the moment she arrived at the Philippe mansion, but soon afterwards the family lawyer had come out himself and said, 'If you go there, we will prepare the legal documents and proceed further.'
Victoria was pleased to hear that they were immediately going to proceed with a 'lawsuit' against the Elias family.
'Yes. I've been dealing with so much, so I'd better take a break. Then I'll be able to deal with the bitch in a more collected, calmer way.'
With that thought, she had instantly boarded the carriage and travelled without a sound.
However, as soon as she got off the carriage with Scylla, the coachman threw only two bags on the ground and left without a word.
There was a large iron gate between a stone wall that was well over a metre high. She didn't understand why, but the carriage had already left. She ordered Scylla to knock on the door, and it opened to reveal two women. One of them, an old woman, violently grabbed Victoria by the arm and dragged her in.
"Take her to her room! You're an esteemed guest, so get a good night's rest, and we'll start the lessons tomorrow!"
"What is this place? There seems to be a mistake. I'm supposed to go to Philippe's summer castle!"
Strangely anxious, she shook off the old woman who was pulling her along and stopped in the dark corridor.
Trying to hide the slight tremor in her voice, she spoke with a stern voice. The old woman, the deputy director, answered in a grovelling tone.
"Yes, Ma'am. I've already heard all about it. It's far away, so you'll rest here for a day before travelling further."
Slightly relieved by the polite and submissive behaviour, Victoria managed to keep up with the deputy director's quiet steps in front of her.
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