“Congratulations on your survival, Cassion.”
At this, Cassion blinked.
His originally bleary eyes gradually became clearer the more he blinked.
“How do you feel”
As Rosetta leaned back a little, she asked about the man’s physical condition.
Cassion had no answer.
His lips were tightly shut like a closed shell.
There’s some suspicion.
It felt like there was a wave of the ocean rushing into a well-built sandcastle.
When his name was called, Cassion sat up reflexively.
But after his sudden movement, groans followed.
His expression became distorted as cold sweat broke out on his forehead.
“What’s wrong Don’t overdo it.”
Rosetta took out a handkerchief and reached out to Cassion’s forehead.
But she never got to reach him.
“Don’t touch me!”
The curt exclamation stopped her hand.
His expression, the way he breathed roughly—his entire countenance screamed defiance.
Rosetta wondered to herself as her hand froze in the air.
Was it really something that would fit the current situation
It seemed that the anxiety brought about by those relentless waves had yet to abate.
“Where am I You… Judging by the color of your eyes, you’re a Valentine.”
What kind of line was he spouting Was he an amnesia patient
‘But seeing as he knows which eye color belongs to what family, I don’t think it’s amnesia.’
I’m a Valentine.
Fortunately, you recognized me by my eye color.”
The tension that he felt visibly grew as she said this.
He drew back, clutching the sheets next to him.
His fists shook with the strength he put out.
With him acting like a wounded beast, Rosetta almost let out a laugh.
“Why am I here Did you bring me here to lock me up”
‘Look at this punk.’
He crawled just to receive help from her, but now he thought she locked him up
After taking him out of the waters to stop him from drowning, this was the thanks she got
She stared at the poor, beastly man and, with a deep sigh, she threw out a question.
“How far do you remember”
“Do you remember the carriage accident”
Watching the ambiguous look in his eyes, Rosetta observed that he seemed to remember up to that point.
Of all things, it was until there.
“I saved your life.
Do you remember that”
“You saved my life”
Yeah, he didn’t seem to remember at all.
‘This isn’t part of my plan.’
Rosetta could feel a migraine coming.
She planned to use the fact that she saved him to approach him, develop an amicable relationship and gain his trust—that’s why this should have been a piece of cake.
In the novel, Cassion was a man who had many walls around him.
It was inevitable since he lived that way all his life.
Still, Rosetta thought that he’d open his heart to his savior who gave him a second chance at life after a moment of crisis.
But she never thought that he’d forget.
I put on bandages on you and treated you to the best of my ability.”
“You saved me and treated my injuries”
At the unexpected question, Rosetta couldn’t say anything.
She didn’t predict this either.
Why did you save my life, treat my injuries… Why did you bring me here”
The more Rosetta delayed in answering, the more his questions stacked on top of each other.
She pondered for a moment.
When asked all these questions, what should she answer
‘How could I possibly turn a blind eye to someone who’s hurt’
Would the cliché answer be the right answer
But he wouldn’t believe this.
‘Asking questions like that in the first place…’
Considering the people around him in the past, he was a child who no one loved.
And he grew up to become a man who forced himself to hold onto life even in the face of death.
There was no one who cared, no one who worried.
Even his own father abandoned him, so a stranger’s goodwill would only make him put up more walls.
She tapped her fingertips onto the surface, then opened her lips.
“Because I need you.”
This was not the answer.
It was better to offer an exchange rather than offer goodwill to someone who was so mistrustful.
If there was something she wanted from him, then it would be easier to convince him through a ‘transaction’.
“You need me”
As expected, the voice that asked back became slightly relaxed.
Instead of hostility, his expression was now filled with questions.
However, this was very brief.
Just like the calm before a storm.
It’s hard to believe, but I need you.
To be exact, I need you to become the Duke rather than Leo.”
The moment the name ‘Leo’ was said, his tension rose insurmountably once more.
His face, which was already ashen, turned even more white—to the point that he was almost blue.
His lips were trembling.
Only by the mention of Leo’s name.
“I’ll make you Duke Carter.
So, walk down this path with me.”
Rosetta stopped speaking and let the silence stretch between them.
His eyes, which quivered as though there was an earthquake within him, shifted sharply to the floor.
“That… doesn’t make sense.”
Rather than an answer to Rosetta, it sounded like he was talking to himself.
Even with bitterness filling his voice, there was a sense of helplessness.
Soon, his white teeth bit into his lower lip.
And with his lips being dry and chapped, blood was drawn.
A line of red blood trickled down the side of his lips.
Nevertheless, there didn’t seem to be any sign that those white teeth would let go of his lips.
The gaze that fell to the ground did not look up to meet her golden irises again.
* * *
On the other side of this conversation, Cassion felt as though he was about to burst because his head was swirling with complicated thoughts.
‘Just who the hell is this woman.’
He felt like sh*t, but he momentarily forgot all the pain in his body because of the woman in front of him.
Perhaps everything could be summed up like that.
Why was the illegitimate ducal princess of the Valentine Duchy here, doing all this for him
‘Be the Duke instead of Leo’
He almost laughed in vain.
He had never stopped to look back just because of something like that, so he never dared to imagine it.
All he knew and all he wanted was survival.
He needed to survive.
He was a man who lived only to endure.
But after enduring…
‘Have I ever thought of what happens after that’
It felt as though there was lead weighing his chest down.
For him, survival was his revenge.
He thought it was the only thing he could do—to show them that he continued to survive despite their attempts at his life.
But, until when
Would he end up dying after only enduring all this time
‘Ah, why did this thought even come up.’
Amidst the confusion and misery that filled his mind, Cassion raised his head.
And as saw Rosetta, he almost shuddered.
She was so calm.
Even so, there was a confident look behind her eyes.
As a result, he couldn’t understand what it meant.
‘She’ll make me the Duke, she says.’
It was a future that he had never dared to consider, and all it took for him to think about it were her calm words.
It would be a future where his purpose for living was not only to ‘survive’, but a future where he could know peace and safety.
That wasn’t possible for him.
‘This is definitely a trap.’
Cassion tried to think of it as rationally as he could.
Rosetta’s words were surely false.
Obviously, there must be another reason.
‘Is she a person that Stepmother sent’
Usually, other families interfered with the succession race of other families the moment the possible heirs were of the right age.
Coincidentally, Cassion had just become an adult, and the reason for the carriage accident must be that.
What if Rosetta was sent here after the carriage accident just so he would be gone for good
The moment he opened his mind and truly considered the position of Duke, then…
‘It would be enough reason to get rid of me once and for all.’
However, this conclusion had nothing to prove it.
What did the Princess of Valentine have to do with Duchess Carter Why would she need to play this role to trap him
If it was only to tempt him, it would have been better to send a member of the Carter family.
Not a person from a family who constantly kept the Carter Duchy in check.
If it was from his own family members, their sweet whispers would be all the more attractive.
‘Then what the hell could it be’
While Cassion struggled and contemplated alone, Rosetta was still relaxed.
She was sitting calmly, combing through her hair as though to say ‘Take your time’.
Cassion continued to sort through his chaotic thoughts, uneasy with the unknown variables thrown at his face.
‘What the hell is her angle Why was she trying to appease me with a ‘transaction’ that doesn’t even make sense’
In fact, no matter how confident she looked, the promise of him being the head of the family could never be true.
Because a person who had no ability to wield magic could never be the head of the Carter Duchy.
The Carter family, and even the branch family.
They had a high-nosed pride with ‘magic’.
No matter how distinguished one’s background was, this family was one that recognized an individual’s capabilities first and foremost.
From generation to generation, the Carter Duchy’s veins had been brimming with mana, with bright talents in mana application and affinity.
That’s why the successor who would become the head of the family was indisputable to all.
If someone as incapable as him would become Duke…
‘There would be a coup d’état.’
It would be a significant disgrace if Cassion was the one who’d succeed the Duchy.
There would surely be a lot of opposition.
Was she aiming for this
The woman in front of him was the Princess of Valentine.
It would make sense if the Valentine Duchy would want to support him in the succession race to cause disorder within the Carter Duchy.
In fact, even if this wasn’t a perfect hypothesis, this was the likeliest one he could come up with.
After gulping once, Cassion opened his lips—resolutely.
“Do you plan to use me You’ll make me Duke just so the Carter family would be a mess”
Unyielding red eyes met her golden irises.
As their eyes met, Rosetta blinked.
‘What did he just say’