< — Damian — > (1)
TN: I traveled and had no wi-fi. Finally got it set up today so here!
The news of the Duke of Taran’s marriage had come from someone’s mouth and was passed from mouth to mouth before reaching the high society.
It only came up in people’s conversations. There was nobody that had attended the wedding so the rumor had only blown up because people didn’t know any other way to satisfy their curiosity.
Kwiz was of course, also curious and had put in a lot of money and time into satisfying that curiosity.
Since the woman that became the Duchess was a princess, it was hard to find anyone eager to investigate into it.
No matter how much he dug into it, he couldn’t find anything. The only accurate information he got was her name and age.
There was no one that knew even a little thing about the princess.
However, if it was considered a harvest to get her description from the palace maids that waited on her shortly before she married, then it was a harvest.
And so, Kwiz became more unyielding. He was convinced that he had an information source that was capable in its own way but it took them digging around for months and coming up with nothing to wake him up.
“What is going on? It’s not like she fell from the sky.”
Kwiz lamented the absurdness of it all. It wasn’t just Kwiz that had tried to find out about the princess.
The Royal Intelligence Division had also dug into Princess Vivian by investigating her detached palace but in the process, the manipulation of the palace maids’ roll call was revealed.
The palace was turned inside-out on the large scale and the head proprietors were held responsible and severely punished.
Kwiz dispatched someone to the village that the princess had lived until she was twelve years old but even the person that had been close to the mother-daughter pair shook her head, saying she didn’t know anything.
After digging and digging for several months, Kwiz got his hands on the letter that the princess’ mother had sent to the palace before she died.
“No clue from this too…”
Kwiz sighed after reading the short letter on the old piece of paper.
All it said was that she slept with the King one day and gave birth to a princess. There was nothing revealed about their relationship and nothing that gave hints about her mother’s identity. Her mother didn’t even sign her name.
“Could it be that… her mother was a commoner…?”
Kwiz was slightly suspicious but it didn’t seem like it. Even though it looked like that old geezer played around with whatever woman available, he had a preference.
It was unlikely that he would embrace a common woman who had rough skin and hands that were coarse from labor.
“Do you really not know anything, Sir. Krotin?”
Kwiz asked Roy, his escort guard that liked to disappear, the same question that he had asked countless times already.
“I don’t. Even if I knew, I don’t.” (Roy)
His irritating and discourteous manner of speaking caused the prince’s aide that was standing next to him to scowl.
Compared to him, the Crown Prince’s expression did not change one bit although one couldn’t know what he felt inside.
“Even something else is fine. Just how in the world did those two meet and marry?”
I’m curious to death!
Looking at Kwiz’s frustrated expression because of his unsatisfied curiosity, Roy secretly snickered.
It was quite enjoyable to know the secret that someone else was struggling to know.
“Come to think of it, you have a duel tomorrow, right, Sir Krotin?”
Factions of the Counts hostile to the Crown Prince did not dare to directly confront the Crown Prince, so they picked a fight with the rigid Roy.
When Roy refused in his usual manner, flinging a few words at them, they threw down their gauntlet, saying that he’d insulted them. (1)
And Roy gladly accepted. He had never once avoided a fight that was brought to him.
“Do I take it gently? I mean for the duel tomorrow.” (Roy)
Kwiz burst into laughter.
“Is that a new joke? What kind of joke is that? Don’t think about me, just fight to your heart’s content.”
It wasn’t like Roy wanted to fight personally but sending a knight of his family while they were assuming he would be fighting was an unbecoming sight so he was looking for an opportunity to crush them.
He could easily handle the knight that proposed the retaliation duel, it was their fault for serving the wrong master.
But because he was worried about causing an accident, he asked the prince. If an accident happened, it wouldn’t be a matter of the prince’s face but his lord would beat him to death.
“Got it.” (Roy)
‘I got permission.’ Roy laughed contentedly.
The Crown prince would continue to recall this day in the future for a while. It was the beginning of the ‘Mad Dog’ Krotin. (2)
* * *
When news of the Duke of Taran’s marriage arrived, quite a lot of women felt their hearts break.
Anita was surprised but unlike those women, she just felt a little bitter. She had already married three times and had never even dreamt of marrying the Duke of Taran.
She was satisfied with being the lover that he didn’t forget and came to see from time to time.
‘When he is tired of his new bride, he will contact me.’
She kept her composure and waited but instead of getting contacted, she received a yellow rose.
She gaped spiritlessly at the bundle of yellow roses in front of her for an entire day, then she got sick from stressing over it for ten days.
When she was barely able to even move her body, a question arose in her mind.
No matter how much she thought about it, she had not made any mistakes.
She never contacted him, never asked him about his whereabouts and never even mentioned their relationship.
Rather, when she heard that he was married, she had stayed away even more.
She just couldn’t understand why he would end their relationship.
Removing his lover because he was married? He was never such a conscientious gentleman.
Anita suppressed her heart that wanted to immediately run to his manor and ask him why. Because she knew that once she did that, she couldn’t take it back.
In the past, she had heard of a woman who stormed into the Duke’s manor after being notified of their separation but after that incident, Anita never saw that woman in the social circles again.
After thinking about it over and over again, she came to the conclusion that it was the one who had become the Duchess, Princess Vivian.
The new bride must have learnt of Anita’s existence and urged him to break it off.
And since he didn’t have that much of an attachment to Anita, he obviously just agreed to his wife’s request.
Anita began to investigate into who Princess Vivian was. At first, everything was as it seems.
However, the facts that were revealed to her, little by little, was so interesting that at some point, Anita began hunting day and night for information about Princess Vivian.
Anita investigated into the princess and her unique intuition did not let any sort of information slip.
The first thing that caught her attention was the record of Princess Vivian attending the victory ball. The princess who was practically trapped in the palace and didn’t know anybody attended the victory ball.
Any woman would wonder; what about her dress? Her makeup? Her hair?
It was akin to randomly casting a net into water and reeling the fish in one by one; little by little, things about Princess Vivian were revealed.
Anita found out that the princess used to disguise herself as a maid and frequently leave the castle. For the dress, Anita concluded that the princess had to have procured it personally.
Princess Vivian wasn’t a princess that knew nothing about the world. Anita placed a portrait on the table and watched it without moving for a while.
It was a portrait based on descriptions of Princess Vivian that she had obtained after handing out some bribes.
When Anita first saw it, she was relieved.
The person in the portrait was far from his taste. After reaching the conclusion that his marriage was just a marriage of convenience, Anita slept well.
But after a while, her heart became restless again. Yes, the princess wasn’t to his taste but wouldn’t it be more likely for him to fall for her because of that?
Men were usually attracted to new things. She began to get worried about this unusual point of the princess that liked to cosplay as a maid.
‘Even if he’s interested in it for a while… it shouldn’t take long to cool off at any time and who knows, he may come find me.’
She comforted herself while her anxiety grew even more. He had never seen a woman whom he sent a yellow rose to, a second time.
After she received the yellow rose, Anita barely had any days where she slept properly.
‘He only got married because he needed to. He’s a man that does not know how to love a woman.’
While looking at Princess Vivian’s portrait, Anita constantly repeated these words in her head.
He was someone who drifted from one woman to another, without ever settling down. It was hope based on the false premise that his heart wouldn’t ever be caught by a woman. It was also her pride.
Just thinking about it actually happening, filled her heart with anxiety.
‘I have to see the real Princess Vivian.’
Anita wanted to calm her anxiety by meeting Princess Vivian and confirming that she wasn’t in his eyes.
‘Do I go to the North and confirm it without him knowing…?’*
If she didn’t take the ‘gates’, a carriage there would take several months. She couldn’t even bear the thought of doing that.
To use the Northern ‘gate’, one had to gain the approval of the Taran Duke and no matter how formal the process was, she was afraid of the backlash if he ever found out.
It would be better to just wait for the two of them to return to the capital.
‘Why did the princess pretend to be a maid and leave the palace? What did she do outside the palace? Did she have a lover…?’
A lover. That was very possible.
Finding Princess Vivian was going to be the real starting point from now on. Her initial intention of just checking out Princess Vivian was gone.
1. So simple trivia: to throw down the gauntlet means to issue a challenge to a duel.
2. The previous translator translated this to ‘Crazy Dog’, I prefer ‘Mad Dog.’
*If you’ve forgotten who Roy is…he is Hugo’s knight sent to the Crown Prince’s side as a guard.
*Who was excited to see Anita again?! Just me? Ok.