Published at 19th of November 2020 08:18:41 PM

Chapter 25

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Chapter 25


Fortunately, he wasn’t holding a sword, though he was holding onto something else that seemed to have come from off my shoulders. 






When did these get on me. 


He looked at me strangely as he held the small bits of what appeared to be wood shavings the beavers had gnawed off, in his palm. 


Hah! Unlike Lania, who smirked at me with a knowing smile, the emperor’s expression slightly shifted. 


“The Duchess must really have a lot to show me.”


“…Your Majesty.”


Are you being sarcastic or what. 


His blood red eyes were unfathomable, but honestly, I didn’t want to know what he was thinking, at all. 


All I needed to do was to hold onto him for a moment and hand Haniel over. 


In other words, I just needed to close my eyes tightly and be shameless for a day. 


“Of course. After spending time in the vast world of nature, you’d discover phenomena that are both mysterious and mind-blowing. I am certain that Your Majesty will not regret visiting the lake.” 


“And if I don’t end up feeling that way?”




Well. I hadn’t thought about that, so. 


Since I’d kept my mouth shut and smiled a beat late, I must have looked stupid. 


But I couldn’t help feeling it was ironic with the emperor looking extremely satisfied with himself, a smug expression on his face. 


“…Alright then. Let’s do it based on what I decide.” 


◇ ◆ ◇


“You! What exactly are you up to?”




As soon as the door of the study closed, Lania wildly pointed her finger at me, pushing me towards the fireplace in the room. 


Right after the emperor and his brothers went into the smoking salon, she’d grabbed me, trembling with fury, and dragged me away.


“How dare you, where do you think this place is! Tell me immediately!”


“Ahh, you’re going to wrinkle my dress. I don’t have many of these.” 




Lania’s voice rose to a higher pitch as I straightened my dress with a sigh. 


Read this on littleajummas or you can be a lania. >:


Hopefully her voice would be covered by the loud music in the banquet hall downstairs. 


“Don’t you think it’ll be better to lower your voice a little? Though, of course, it doesn’t matter to me either way.” 


“I told you to tell me what you’re planning. Don’t you know who he is, how dare you speak to him!” 


“What do you mean? He’s the emperor.” 


And also our little cygnet’s older brother. 


The me who’d suffered to the point of getting my veil pushed aside smiled with my eyes. Lania’s face obviously got darker at that. 


“…Catherine, there’s nothing good that can come from doing this.” 


“It’s the same for you as well, though?”




“There’s no need to worry that I’ll say something I shouldn’t. I’m not planning on saying anything about the curse anyway.” 


“Curse? Hah, so you were using that to do all this?” 


In contrast to her wry smile, the incredulous expression in her glistening eyes showed that she thought what I said was ridiculous.  


“I’ve told you since the beginning, there’s no point in you telling anyone. Whatever you say, you’re already the Witch of the North. Who would believe the likes of you?” 




“You stupid thing. You should know that other than you, no one else can return to being a human. You think that counts as evidence? No matter how much you hold onto the cursed ones and deny the rumors, you’ll still be a witch. No, you’ll become a witch who’s lost her mind!” 


Seeming to be satisfied at the thought, Lania’s lip twisted upwards even more. 


Approaching me step by step, her blackish red shadow fluttered up to the fireplace. 


“Think about it. You’d be blabbering without a shred of evidence…”


“Why do I need evidence? My body is proof.” 




“As you said, who would believe me? I’m a nobody who came from a fallen noble family that sold off their own daughter.”


Before Lania could walk up to me face to face, I extended a foot forward. 


Though I couldn’t see a mirror, I knew that my mocking face didn’t lose to Lania’s. 


“Thanks to a certain someone, it seems I’ve become an evil witch who devoured her own husband, so who would believe me.” 


“…You know that, so then why.”


“Can’t you tell?”


“Because I have nothing to lose.”


Our shadows mingled for an instant as we stood across from each other. 


Turns out, I was even taller than her. 


Lania closed her eyes as she lowered her head. 


“Trying wouldn’t hurt. All the evil in the North is going to be blamed on me anyway, so why would I care about the repercussions? It’ll just be like throwing a mere match into the fireball of hell.”


“Catherine, I don’t know what you’ve put your faith in to act like this but there’s a limit to calling your antics cute and letting things slide. No matter what you do, you’ll still be in the palm of my hand. Don’t overestimate yourself. No matter what lengths you go to, I can deal with whatever you have planned. And nothing will change for me if a witch dies.” 


“What do you mean nothing will change? At the least, you won’t be able to become the empress.” 




Lania’s expression, which hadn’t lost its haughty demeanor this whole time, now sharply shook. 


She wasn’t able to control herself as her grip on my arm tightened. 


“Speak clearly! What did you hear from others!” 


“It isn’t something you have to hear from other people to know.” 




“The reason for a lady like yourself, who could get married tomorrow if she so much as extended her finger, to postpone her marriage for so long by using a widow like me…is what I wondered about.” 


To be honest, I thought something was weird from the start. For a person like Lania, who had money, power, and a noble title, to still be single, there were only two possible reasons. 


Either she hated men in general, or there was a bridegroom she already had in mind and needed time to marry. 


‘Why didn’t I know this sooner.’


Up till now, I hated even thinking about Lania, and there were very few occasions for us to meet. 


But after the female protagonist Haniel was thrust into my life, this all became a different story. 


To be precise, I got a hint of this the day when I saw her brightened face as she stared across the lit Winter Palace.  




Eyes that seemed to be dreaming of something, cheeks flushed red. 


Well, isn’t that the very facial expression of a fan when their favorite idol’s show is broadcasted. 


To think I could see such an expression on a person like Lania, I certainly lived a long life. 


But a rival was still a rival, so, just to be sure, I went to Lady Melloe. 


「What does Your Ladyship wish to ask me about?」


“I’m curious as to why His Majesty the Emperor has yet to be married. And I wonder if there are other rules or steps involved.”


「We are still honoring the national mourning period for the late Emperor and Empress. It is customary for royal weddings and all such national occasions to be prohibited for 3 years, especially for the emperor. That’s why the Emperor’s younger siblings married first instead. Of course, the mourning period is almost over now…but why is Your Ladyship smiling like that?」


What do you mean why. 


I just realized that luck exists for me, too. 


I thought this life was doomed from the start, but it seems that it wasn’t really the case. 


 Of course, Lania still held my lifeline in her hands, but at least one thing had changed. 


“You don’t know what that means? If I’m a witch, that means you’re a witch’s daughter, Lania.”


Now I knew this bitch had a weakness. 


“Sure, known for being a witch from planted rumors is different from actually being a witch. But would it be proper for the daughter of a witch, who suddenly died a tragic death, to join the royal family?” 




“Lower your voice.” 


*Shhh.* She loosened her tight grip and I pulled my arm away.


I gently pushed on her shoulder with a slightly trembling finger. 


“We know enough about each other, so we should consider each other’s perspectives at this point.” 


“…What do you want to say.” 


“I surprisingly have no qualms with the way I’m living right now, so you just need to fulfill your ambitions as best as you can. I have no interest in ruining your plans like you fear, so stop pushing and picking fights with people. I can understand that you’re afraid of being backstabbed, as long as you don’t bother me, we can live peacefully together. Our eldest daughter only needs to continue sticking to her bridal lessons, and nothing else, is all I’m saying.” 




Beaming, I fixed a ribbon where my finger had been on Lania’s shoulder. 


“So would the eldest daughter please get out of my way? Before my feathers fly out in front of the Emperor.” 


◇ ◆ ◇


As I took a step outside, the air was fresher than I could ever imagine.


I didn’t particularly approve of people exploiting their opponent’s weakness, using it to threaten them, but doing it myself made me feel as sweet as honey. 


‘That’s why you should have been a little more lenient with me.’ 


Thinking about Lania, who couldn’t even say a word as her eyes quivered with raging flames, made my originally stuffy heart thump with excitement. 


But I couldn’t stay drunk on these feelings. 


Though I felt victorious for that one moment, I couldn’t forget the fact that I hadn’t decisively won the whole war. 


In other words, if I didn’t want to get strangled acting like a know-it-all, I had to tread carefully.


Lania wasn’t your average villainess.


She wasn’t the type of woman to stay trembling for long. 


‘Well, who cares. Anyway, I just have to return Haniel and my duties for today are done.’ 




As soon as I saw the sunset’s glow start to reflect off the lake, my mind jolted awake and rippled like the surface of water.


It’s really time to say goodbye. 


Seeing that was my first thought instead of fear of facing the tyrant Emperor alone, it seemed that my mind was set.