At the time Rowaine broke into Dimitris room, a commotion broke out at the Larscel County.
“How does this make sense How can this be!”
Count Larscel, who had already started to lose hair from the back of his head, ripped off his cherished hair.
The Countess fretted and tried to calm him down.
She had been watching over from afar until now because she was afraid of her enraged husband.
“Calm down, honey.”
“Do I look like I can calm down How can the bride change!”
Count Larscels fierce eyes turned to Renée, who was standing in the corner of the foyer, unable to even breathe properly.
“Is your brain working or not Did you think it makes sense to send your sister instead”
The Countess hurriedly sided with her husband.
“You must have tricked that innocent girl! Is this all just a game to you”
The Countess was referring to her daughter, who made her cruel nature known to the world, as aninnocent child.
“Thats not what I…”
Renée couldnt even say anything in the midst of shedding tears.
Because she didnt protest and kept sobbing instead, the Count and his wife became even more furious.
‘Maybe I should have stopped Rowaine
Renée thought so out of fear.
She didnt want to marry the Duke of Blois.
Duke Blois was surrounded by so many rumors and he rarely showed his face in the social world.
He was notorious as a blood-crazed beast who ran rampant on the battlefield, not knowing how to distinguish between enemies and allies.
His capricious and cruel nature was beyond description, and it was said that many employees ended up dying after going to the Blois estate.
Whatever rumor she heard about him, the weak Renée could only cower in fear.
‘Hes definitely a scary person…
There must be a reason why so many people were telling similar stories.
Renée, who was weak at heart, never wanted to marry such a man.
She had already suffered so much from the bullying and neglect she had received at home, and marriage was her last chance to leave such a dreadful life.
If the household she was going to be married into was another hell, then shed rather not go.
Above all, she had someone she loved.
Rowaine told her to run away with her lover right away after they switched places, but…
‘Can I really do that
She didnt have the courage.
The world outside the mansion was unknown to her.
Renée hesitated because of her timid personality.
While deliberating whether shed be able to gain courage and harden her resolve, she had missed the chance to escape.
“She said shell do a good job to capture the Emperors heart just like the sly little vixen she was, but now she just up and left Does she think this is all a joke! Theres a limit to His Majestys patience, a limit!”
Count Larscel slammed the table, thinking that Rowaine was playing another dirty trick against the Emperor.
Each time that happened, Renée shuddered and trembled, wiping her tears away.
“Do you know how much wealth His Majesty promised to Rowaine He said he was going to give me the whole diamond mine! And thats not all, he also decided to grant her a castle in Elia so that Rowaine can live comfortably until she grows old.
All of them will belong to the Larscel family!”
Renée, who had never heard about this, was sickened by her father.
Immediately, a question popped up in her head.
‘Rowaine always wanted to be the Emperors mistress, so why did she go to Blois instead of me all of a sudden…
All that wealth could have been hers.
Wasnt that what her indifferent younger sister yearned for the most
It was hard to guess her sisters intentions because of her abrupt change in attitude, but it was clear to Renée that their father would not give up that enormous fortune without a fight.
Count Larscel came up to her, his bloodshot eyes wide open.
He grabbed Renée, who was shrugging to get away from him, but he held on tight.
“Go and get Rowaine.”
“If you cant please His Majesty the Emperor in her place, I bet you can do everything in your power to bring her back!”
The Count directed all of his anger to Renée.
“You are the one who‘s going to marry that beast, Renée.
You, not Rowaine!”
And so, Renée set off to Blois the next day at dawn, to switch places with Rowaine once more.
* * *
After spending the night locked up in the room assigned to me at the annex, I had to wash myself thoroughly under the strict surveillance of the maids.
I had no idea what that scent was, but I needed to wash it off before going to bed so that I could get rid of it.
Then, as soon as I woke up, I had to bathe again.
Nobles normally bathe with the assistance of maids, but it was still so embarrassing because I wasnt used to having people around me while bathing.
After the bath, two maids began to dry my long hair with a magic tool that blew out wind.
Meanwhile, I gazed awkwardly in the mirror.
There was a face, still unfamiliar, in the mirror staring back at her.
On the surface, Rowaine was really pretty.
‘Shes beautiful enough that the Emperor fell in love with her at first sight.
With wide, vivid scarlet eyes and creamy, translucent skin, she looked more like a doll than a human being.
How perfect the curves of her thick, slightly raised lips were.
Even her thick and straight eyebrows looked as if they were drawn.
Thats why I couldnt quite believe it yet.
It felt weird to look at the mirror because the person staring back seemed more like a painting or a photograph, and it was hard to believe that I was feeling real sensations.
After the maids finished styling my hair, elegant wavy burgundy hair covered my back.
In the mirror, there was a beautiful woman who captivated any eye, perhaps because of her porcelain skin with slight pinkish hues.
“The Master sent a dress for you.”
As I stared at the plain dresses packed for Renée, who was supposed to be here, the maid presented another dress to me.
It was a sleeveless dress meant to be fastened with a string instead of buttons, and accompanying it was a shawl to be adjusted and affixed onto the shoulders.
It didnt need to be tailored to fit because its a ready-made dress.
Perhaps predicting that I would insist on not wearing that dress, the maid quickly conveyed the Dukes words.
“The clothes you brought may have a scent, so please wear the dress prepared by the Master.”
How the hell exactly did I smell that he was so stubborn about it Wasnt he just pushing the blame on me
At this point, I was getting annoyed, but I didnt want to make a fuss, so I just clenched my teeth and quietly changed clothes.
“Dont delay any longer, lets go quickly.
I heard my sister is here.”
Obviously, I told Renée to run away with her lover, but seeing as she came to the Blois Duchy, she seemed to have failed.
It didnt make sense that she got caught right away while running away.
Because Rowaine routinely went out at night, it wouldnt have been strange for her to disappear.
So, if Renée ran away that night and wasnt noticed, shed have been ahead by at least a day or two.
In the end, she must not have even tried to run in the first place.
‘I even showed her where Rowaine hid her gold.
I thought that if she had the money, she would have finally gained some courage regardless of how cowardly she was, but I was mistaken.
No matter how much Renée didnt believe my change in attitude, she was in a situation where she had to grab every opportunity she could get.
If she didnt run, she would have to marry Duke Blois.
And if she did run away and got caught, the result would be the same.
If Renée thought about it like this, then she should have known that it was better for her to close her eyes and run away.
‘I underestimated her cowardice.
I knew it wouldnt be simple, but still, its disheartening to see that my plans were so vainly shattered.
I had no more cards left.
My future was now in the hands of Duke Blois.
‘Maybe since Ive shown my ability, he wont send me back to the County…
I got impatient and ran to the parlor of the main building.
Renée was there waiting for me.
When Renée, who had been shuddering in fear, saw me, she immediately jumped up.
It seemed like she had been pretty exhausted throughout the day.
Anyone who saw her now would have thought that the Duke had slapped her or something.
It was because Renée was watching the Duke with frightened eyes.
Meanwhile, the Duke simply stared at her as if she were an insignificant ant.
“You didnt do anything bad to Renée, did you”
The Duke turned to me, dissatisfied, then crossed his legs.
He looked as though he didnt want to be here in the first place.
The trembling Renée meekly responded instead.
“O-Oh no, Rowaine.
He didnt say a word.”
“Not a word”
Renée hurriedly nodded her head.
“Then, why do you look so intimidated”
To be honest, I didnt expect her to answer.
The situation itself must be too much for her timid and vulnerable personality.
“Straighten your shoulders—someone would think youve committed a great sin.”
I just wanted her to ease her mind a bit since I was an accomplice.
Wouldnt she feel better if she had someone on the same side
While Renée hesitated, Count Larscels aide, expecting her to be unable to express herself properly, came forward.
“Lady Rowaine, please return to the County”
Then, he apologized to the Duke of Blois.
“I apologize, Duke.
The Countys daughters decided to play a simple joke.
Please forgive us.”
But I immediately denied his words.
“What joke Were not so young anymore that wed take this lightly.”
Renée was twenty-three and Rowaine was twenty-one.
Of course, my real age was twenty-nine.
Regardless, I was old enough to know that marriage wasnt a game.
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The Counts aide whispered in my ear.
“What about His Majesty the Emperor His Majesty is looking for you.”
“Sorry, but tell His Majesty that Ive changed my mind.
Please tell him to be more devoted to his family.”