Are you a gold-digger? (7)
T/N: Big thanks to Nomortsez for sponsoring this chapter on Ko-Fi!
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“Please forgive me for suddenly visiting without prior notice, Princess Consort.”
Volatun, the head of the Catallaman forge, bowed his head towards Aristine.
Aristine smiled to indicate that it was fine and stopped him.
“You are always welcome, Lord Volatun.”
Although she said that, she was very worried about his reason for coming here.
‘He is not here to take Ritlen, is he?’
After developing stainless steel, Ritlen became the most sought-after blacksmith. He used to be mocked as a smithy’s shame before but now, every forge wanted him.
‘No, I don’t think that’s it.’
She had only met Volatun once but the person she saw didn’t seem that brazen.
“I don’t want to waste your precious time after coming so suddenly so I will put the introductions aside and get straight to it.”
Volatun took a seat and brought up his reason for coming, “Do you remember when I said I would make you a personal gift?”
Aristine was surprised by the sudden topic, but she soon smiled and nodded, “Of course I do. It’s a gift from Lord Volatun, of all people. Anyone would be looking forward to that with excitement.”
“Unfortunately, my gift for Your Highness is not yet complete.”
Aristine tilted her head at those words. Was his visit here just to tell her that?
The talk of a gift only began out of Volatun’s goodwill and there was no set deadline, so it didn’t matter if it was late.
‘There must be something else he wants to tell me.’
While thinking that, Aristine spoke politely, “You can take your time. I can be excited for much longer.”
“Your Highness might be fine with it, but I am not!”
However, Volatun’s response was grave.
Aristine was startled by the passion behind his voice and stared at Volatun.
“It is utterly disgraceful for me to make a promise as the head of Catallaman and not keep that promise.”
His expression was distressed and serious.
“No…you can just give me later…”
“No! Such disgrace cannot be cleansed with words alone!”
After saying that, Volatun signaled to the blacksmith following him. Upon receiving that signal, the blacksmith faced the outside door and beckoned inside.
‘What is it?’
Aristine gave Volatun a questioning look but he only continued speaking.
“I can’t quite call this compensation, but I hope you can accept this even though it’s not enough.”
At the same time his words fell, someone pushed in a wagon from outside.
Aristine’s eyes widened, “It can’t be…!”
Her gaze spun to Volatun, and her purple eyes twinkled with expectation.
Volatun was pleased to see her reaction and nodded.
“Yes, it is exactly that.”
The wagon stopped in front of Aristine.
The delicately polished wagon glistened with a very beautiful shade of silver.
However, Aristine paid no attention to the wagon and opened the box inside. The box opened with a click and the item inside twinkled once the light hit it.
It was an iron ore.
There were five identical boxes in the wagon.
Aristine stroked the iron ore with trembling hands. Who knew that this cold and solid sensation could give someone so much strength.
She thought that she wouldn’t lose and that she was going to win but as expected, she was a little spiritless.
But getting this unexpected support made courage and willpower well up from her chest.
Aristine looked at Volatun, her eyes filled with emotion.
“I doubt this amount is even enough.”
He was right.
The quantity they needed to produce was so large that this amount couldn’t even fulfil their daily orders.
“That still doesn’t diminish your help, Lord Volatun. This is really so much help.”
All the blacksmiths, including Volatun, looked at Aristine mushily.
As they belonged to the reputable Catallaman forge, they had many opportunities to meet members of the royal family. Royals were picky and not easy to satisfy.
But right now, Aristine was truly moved by the little help they provided.
“Haha, but I was going to say there is more since this cannot be enough…”
“There is more?”
Aristine’s face instantly brightened.
“Yes, but…it still won’t be enough.”
Volatun’s face darkened slightly.
Even though he wanted to help Aristine more, this was his limit.
“Take them all into the smithy.”
The blacksmiths answered in unison, gave Aristine a deep bow, then left the room while pulling the cart into the smithy.
“I really don’t know how I can repay you, Lord Volatun, and Catallaman…”
Aristine began to say but Volatun shook his head.
“No. I simply brought these iron ores to protect my honor because my promise to Your Highness was not fulfilled.”
Come to think of it, he said something similar earlier.
Aristine leaned against the armrest and fell into thought.
‘…there must be a reason he is saying that.’
A reason for his justification.
‘It must be the Queen.’
A smithy was a place that needed iron the most.
If their relationship with the Skiela manor, which held the largest iron mine, broke down, the damage would be severe.
Especially since other smithies were looking to take over Catallaman’s position as number one.
‘But he helped me despite that.’
She felt really touched and grateful.
She couldn’t help but want to ask that question.
“You must be wondering why I am helping you despite the risk, Princess Consort.”
Volatun smiled and looked into the distance.
“Because I owe you, Your Highness.”
“You owe me?”
“Yes, I was such a bad teacher that I couldn’t properly lead a student of mine with remarkable talent.”
He was talking about Ritlen.
“When I saw the boy sitting in front of the desk instead of an anvil, I assumed he had gone astray and rebuked him a lot.”
He didn’t recognize the growing talent in his student and only thought he was fooling around when he said he was taking a different path than himself.
Volatun’s wrinkled face was clouded with remorse.
“But I was the one who went astray as a teacher.”
He slammed his rock-solid hand against his thigh.
Volatun didn’t provide Ritlen with constant support and help. But he truly treasured Ritlen and his talent.
“I really want to thank you for guiding Ritlen and making his talent bloom.”
Volatun said and bowed his head towards Aristine.
“Raise your head, Lord Volatun,” Aristine walked up to him and lifted him up.
“It wasn’t me, but Ritlen who did a great job. And yes, it was his own will and skill that made him become such a talented person, but it was also thanks to Lord Volatun’s teachings.”
Aristine smiled sweetly and patted his hand.
“I can see why they call you a Goddess of Salvation. It terrifies me to imagine what would have happened if Your Highness hadn’t come to Catallaman that day.”
Volatun shook his head and laughed.
“Ritlen would have lost the use of his hand that day and a lot of things would be different than they are now.”
“It terrifies me too when I think about what might have happened.”
She was thankful that she was able to save Ritlen.
“…There is something I need to apologize for, Princess Consort.”
Volatun’s face suddenly grew serious and Aristine’s face turned serious too.
“Apologize, you say?”
* * *
Aristine said she wanted to take a bath and the court ladies filled a bathtub with warm water and put into some calming agent.
After all the court ladies withdrew, Aristine enjoyed soaking in the bath for a while.
Thanks to Volatun, an urgent fire was dealt with.
‘But it only handles the really urgent fire.’
Once Volatun left, Aristine immediately went to the forge to check, and it wasn’t enough to cover the entirety of their contracts.
‘I’m thankful we can at least buy some time.’
She had to figure out a way to completely resolve this situation. And there was no guarantee that this wouldn’t happen again, so she had to prepare for that too.
‘I can do this.’
She thought like she was reassuring herself then she looked into the water.
The water surface quivered according to her will and the previously calm surface began to reflect her past life—her life in Korea.
Who knew how helpful it would be to be able to control the view of her past life at will.
Aristine begged like she was praying.
It could be something her previous self merely glanced at for a moment. It could be something she might have passed by without even realizing it.
‘It might be in passing to her, but I can use it right now.’
Scenes began to flash by quickly in the mirrored surface.
Aristine stared at the surface of the water, completely focused without even blinking.
She didn’t know how long it had been.
At some point, the bath water had gotten cold.
The court ladies outside called out to her with worry in their voice, but Aristine couldn’t hear them.
Color drained from her lips the longer she stayed motionless in the cold water.
Aristine didn’t even notice her own condition, but she looked like she would collapse at any second.
And at that moment—.
*I always feel like I have to apologize for cliffhangers but I swear it’s not me 😅