How difficult was it to get out of this mansion.
Clicking her tongue inwardly, Rosetta asked back with an innocent expression that seemed to make it look like she didn’t know what he’s saying.
“What do you mean”
“It’s just that I feel so lonely after losing my brother.
Perhaps to comfort us in this family and to strengthen the relationship between our three households, why don’t you come and visit often from now on”
The stream of words flowed out smoothly and without any flaws.
Who would ever dare think that this man was the one who had killed his own brother.
“If that’s the case, wouldn’t our older brother be a better match”
Rosetta pretended to be troubled for a moment, redirecting the arrow towards Damian.
Even if there was a reason to come here often, it’s not something she should do.
If he’s looking for someone who he’d see often, then it’s better for it to be Damien rather than either Rosetta or Alicia.
At the very least, Leo wouldn’t fall for Damian—unless the genre would change that drastically.
Still, if it’s love, that’s something that a person couldn’t control.
It’s just that, once Leo had fallen in love, he’s not the kind of person who’d be easy-going about it.
“We’re all the same age, aren’t we We happen to have four people of the same age in our three households, so don’t you think that we’ll be good friends”
Rosetta heard something snap inside her.
A thunderous sound echoed within her as she reflected on Leo’s words.
‘Four people of the same age in three households.’
The first was Leo, second was Rosetta and third was Alicia.
So, the other one was…
Daniel was still standing there, just watching Leo and Rosetta.
And evidently enough, the expression on his face was that of interest.
After just watching the entire time, he soon approached the two as though he had just thought of something.
As that man came closer, Rosetta felt her anxiety rising.
Now that he was close, Daniel patted Leo’s arm with that signature casual smile.
The red gaze of the other man was fixed on the elbow that was patted for a moment, then he looked at Daniel.
“Oh, that’s a good idea, Young Duke Carter.
I agree, I agree.”
Daniel said this as he waved one hand.
His voice was so bright that it seemed as if his ability to read the room had been flung to the netherworld.
Rosetta blinked as she scratched the pad of one finger with the tip of a nail.
The situation had turned for the worse.
Leo Carter suggested it, and Daniel Freesia agreed.
Of the three families, two were in favor.
The two young lords who came here with Leo were looking this way very curiously.
Rosetta had received some intel about the nobles from Blanca.
She had to know as much as possible so that, whatever she had in her arsenal, she’d be able to use freely.
In particular, she studied the people who were usually around Leo.
She learned their faces and their characteristics, and thanks to this, she could roughly guess who those two were.
Hermann and Walter.
Both had the characteristic of loose lips.
Even now, those two looked as if their lips were itching to talk.
Perhaps as soon as this encounter was over, those loose lips would be flapping about later today.
And it’s obvious that Leo wasn’t going to stop them from doing so.
‘I mean, why did he come to look for me with those two in tow in the first place’
Suddenly, such doubts arose.
She realized that he must have been thinking of conducting this kind of situation from the beginning.
If this was a logical leap, then it was a leap.
But for some reason, it truly seemed to be the case.
If she were to consider how he acted in the original novel, then it suited his characterization.
In fact, even with just what happened with Daniel, it’s highly likely that they had been caught starting from there.
In a situation where witnesses were present, it had become difficult to refuse after Leo had suggested fostering a ‘cordial friendship’ with them.
Her red lips curled up.
It was a good smile, but inside her mouth, she was biting her tongue.
The ordeal she was facing now had set her mood into a terribly bad state.
The first scene had been narrowly evaded, but this—she couldn’t believe that everything was being set back like a butterfly effect.
Rosetta wrestled with her thoughts.
Frankly, if she could settle this in a way that she could take full responsibility, at this point, she would have already turned around and left without any regrets.
Regardless of the rumors, regardless of her reputation, regardless of any risks.
She didn’t give a damn about any of those.
Now, however, it’s become a family affair.
In this situation, Alicia and Damian were involved.
As she recalled Damian, she remembered his voice.
With a sense of guilt so ripe that it was easy to make use of him.
That heavily remorseful voice.
“…What do you think, Alicia”
Rosetta glanced back slightly and whispered to Alicia.
She blinked her wide gold eyes, slightly looking around her surroundings.
“May I have the honor of being your friend, Lady Alicia”
And when her pink lips didn’t open easily, Daniel was the first to speak soothingly.
As Daniel made an exaggerated gesture of shaking hands, Alicia smiled faintly.
“…I would also like…”
But Alicia trailed off.
Suddenly, she recalled what Rosetta said to her about Leo.
However, the brief utterance of a positive answer had already left through her lips.
As Alicia was trying to figure out what Rosetta wanted her to do, Rosetta patted her lightly on the shoulder.
“If Alicia thinks it’s fine, then I’m alright with it as well.
Let’s exchange letters often¹.
Like good friends.”
The last part of her response was said with deliberate emphasis.
Daniel might not know it, but Leo was the kind of person who was quick on the uptake.
He could read between the lines.
Rosetta, Alicia, Daniel and Leo.
All four of them smiled.
Although the meaning of each smile did not have the same meaning.
“Wow, then we’re friends from now on, my friend.”
With a tone full of vigor, Daniel said this.
His tactless palm hit Leo’s elbow yet again.
Leo smilingly moved out of the way.
It was a fluid motion, a movement that was clearly natural.
Rosetta looked at both men one at a time for a moment, then she opened her lips.
“Then, I really have to leave now.
May I Truly this time”
At Rosetta’s question, Leo’s brows grew furrowed as he nodded.
I apologize once again for keeping you for too long when you’re not feeling well.”
It was discourteous of us.”
When Leo apologized, Daniel chimed in.
Rosetta shrugged, then she shook her head.
It’s good that we’ve formed a connection.
Then, see you again next time.”
“Shall I see you off”
“No thank you, we’re alright.
You have to stay here.
Duke and Duchess Carter must be grieving a lot, and isn’t the funeral of your beloved older brother still ongoing”
“Thank you for your consideration.”
“Thank you in return for your kindness.”
After saying this, Rosetta quickly turned around.
Yet another thing might come up to hold her back.
Of course, thus far, it didn’t seem like they wouldn’t keep her here just because she had already turned around.
But she just wanted to leave quickly because she was afraid that even Daniel would insist that he should come out to see them off.
Fortunately, this time, there was no voice to stop them in place again.
‘Let’s just go home and rest.’
Right now, her head really was throbbing.
It hurt so much that it felt as if a migraine would arrest her entire body.
All she was thinking now was that they should go home and rest so that she could think about how to deal with this goddamn situation.
How many steps had they taken
Carrying a bit of humidity with it, a summer breeze swept past.
The light wind brushed against her hair and her cheeks, then it disappeared.
Leaves could be heard rustling against each other.
It was the sound of nature that was brought upon by the breeze.
Soon, all the noises stopped.
What’s left behind was silence.
And so, the sound that could be heard coming from the entrance of the thicket was heard only belatedly.
It was out of place, this sound that seemed to come from an animal.
It was fast, it was light.
Something that was definitely not human.
Inevitably, Rosetta’s gaze turned towards where that sound was coming from.
Once more, her strides were stopped.
This time, no one was holding her back.
Rosetta stopped of her own accord as she stared blankly into the thicket.
Her gold eyes were filled entirely with the sight of those well-trimmed trees and bushes.
Following Rosetta, Cassion and Alicia also stopped.
The two wordlessly waited for Rosetta to start walking again.
After a few seconds, however, it seemed as if Rosetta was unwilling to move.
With her back against the other two, she was just standing there like a statue, staring at the thicket.
Feeling that something was amiss, Alicia and Cassion called out to her.
But she did not answer.
Where was it, her answer.
She didn’t make even a small acknowledgement.
The strange reaction urged Cassion to move.
Stepping closer to Rosetta, he now also looked at the thicket where her gaze was fixed.
However, there was nothing there.
There was a rustling sound earlier, but that was all.
It was just an area of well-trimmed trees and bushes.
Nothing more and nothing less.
Knitting his brows, Cassion tried to look through the thicket more, but he soon concluded that nothing’s there.
Then, he turned to face Rosetta.
He unconsciously called Rosetta’s name.
They were outside and in a public place, so he was required to call her ‘Milady’, but he couldn’t.
Because her face had turned so pale that it seemed as if she was going to turn into a corpse at any given moment.
Her golden eyes reflected the thicket, and as they were deeply sunken, her gaze was empty.
It was as if she had been surprised.
It looked as if she had witnessed such a shocking scene that she’d lost her senses.
Cassion held her arm and waved a few times in front of her.
Then, Rosetta’s empty gaze turned slowly—ever so slowly—towards Cassion.
“What’s wrong What made you react this way”
Cassion’s voice pressed down hard as he asked.
It was in a small voice that only the two of them could hear.
Feeling the strange atmosphere, Alicia shifted her weight on one foot then the other.
Blankly, Rosetta shook off Cassion’s hand.
Then, she covered her eyes with her own pale hands.
“Why are you…”
Rosetta firmly cut off the words of concern that he was about to say again.
She hadn’t stumbled, but it looked as though she was about to stumble over any time.
Beneath the hands that covered her eyes, her red lips smiled helplessly.
Rather than an act to show that she was at ease, the stiff smile seemed more to be out of disbelief—out of anger and incredulity.
With her face buried in the dark.
Trying to gauge whether what she saw just now was a mere hallucination or the truth, she laughed.
Immediately after that rustling sound, a strange creature appeared in her sight for but a moment.
She didn’t see it properly and it disappeared in an instant, but the unusual appearance of that thing left a deep impression on her.
Even if it was just a moment.
A bluish body that was much too pale.
The whites of its eyes that had instead turned entirely black.
Like an animal and like a human being, but unlike an animal nor a human.
A blue monster.
It was the kind of demonic beast that Urien controlled.
¹ it doesn’t translate well, but what Rosetta did here was a play on Leo’s words.
Leo proposed that she should ‘come and go often’, meaning to ‘visit’, but Rosetta twisted those words and replied to him with ‘alright, let our letters come and go often.’
² from now on, i’ll be using the titles of ‘Ducal Lady’, ‘Lady’ or ‘esteemed daughter’ for both Rosetta and Alicia instead of ‘Princess’ or ‘Ducal Princess’.