Time flew by like an arrow, and soon enough, the hunting festival was just around the corner.
The summer heat also gradually subsided, and in the same way, the sun rose high.
Autumn was almost here.
Fortunately in the meantime, Cassion adapted to the whip sword.
His technique wasn’t perfect yet, but he could handle it adeptly already.
Perhaps he had formed a connection with the whip sword, but he adapted faster to it compared to a regular sword.
His skills were improving fast.
What a relief.
Then, there was one other fortunate thing.
After meeting the duke in the late duchess’ garden the other day, I was afraid that he would start talking to me more and giving me more attention, but luckily, there’s no sign of that happening.
We crossed paths sometimes, and we would just exchange brief greetings.
Our relationship was still nothing more than that.
But unexpectedly, I heard something unbelievable from Alicia.
‘Sister, you know, Father showed me Mother’s garden.
We had a short conversation, too! Let’s go together next time!’
That last thing she said would never happen, but I just nodded anyway.
Alicia was so thrilled and happy at that moment, so I couldn’t possibly pour cold water over her.
But really, it was quite unexpected.
I just told him to take care of Alicia as an afterthought, but honestly, I wasn’t expecting much from him.
He had that kind of personality, so I would never have imagined him to listen to my words.
‘No, in the first place, it’s unbelievable enough that he heard me out.’
I was alone while thinking of this and that, but I soon heard two raps on the door.
“Milady, it’s me.
There’s a letter for you.”
The owner of that voice was Diana.
Even though I told her she didn’t have to knock, she still continued to do so.
Turning away from the sky outside the window, I set my gaze on the door.
After my quiet permission had been given, the door opened.
Then, Diana entered the room, bringing with her a silver tray with a letter on it.
“Here it is, Milady.”
“Who is it from”
“One is from Young Duke Daniel Freesia, another is from…”
Diana trailed off, her expression becoming stiff.
Her bright brown eyes turned to me.
As though just saying the sender’s name aloud would be poisonous.
I took the two letters that Diana handed to me and carefully looked at them.
The letters were sealed with the coat of arms of two different households, and the white and red envelopes were respectively,
And House Carter.
Just as Diana said, the first was sent by Daniel.
While the other one was sent by…
It was from him.
As I leaned back on my seat, Diana stared at the red envelope and opened her lips, the corners of which were turned down.
“Why on earth did he send a letter”
Diana was one of the few who knew the true relationship between Cassion and Leo.
She has been Cassion’s teacher for the past few months, so it seemed like she didn’t want Leo to come anywhere close to Cassion.
Well, maybe it’s because I hated the guy, that’s why she also started loathing him.
I pressed the red envelope down with my fingernails.
And one by one, crescent moons were etched into the spots where the envelope was pressed on.
“I’m not so sure.
I felt relieved by the fact that I haven’t received any letters from him all this time, but…”
I even felt a little optimistic as I thought, ‘Maybe he forgot about me’
As for Daniel, on the other hand, it wasn’t the first time he had sent a letter.
After the day we met, he started sending letters and contacted me often.
Even though the contents of his letters were nothing special.
In any case, unlike Daniel, this was the first time Leo had sent a letter.
I thought that he would send one right away since he was the one who wanted to keep in touch with me.
Grimly, I clutched the letter.
It was only after the red envelope was full of crescent moons that I reached for a letter opener.
The letter opener ripped into the top of the envelope with a corresponding sound.
Unlike the very saturated red envelope, the letter inside was written on plain white paper.
“Dear Lady Rosetta Valentine,”
I muttered the common salutation.
His handwriting was neat and sophisticated.
Very characteristic of a male lead.
The contents, however, were nothing out of the ordinary.
‘I apologize for not writing to you sooner.
More than I initially expected, I was left in shock after my older brother’s passing.
It was a struggle to pull myself together, and I also had to take care of my grieving mother, so I had been left with no time to write to you.
The hunting festival is drawing near, so let us meet once more there.
Then, I will be looking forward to seeing you at the hunting festival.’
That’s about it.
At first glance, it was an exceptionally ordinary letter, but I couldn’t stop my brows from furrowing as I read through it.
Only the surface was ordinary.
Counting from one to ten, everything written here were lies.
‘Pull yourself together Grieving’
For a murderer to grieve over the death of the man they killed.
‘You’re busy not because you’re grieving, but because you’ve started scheming again.’
Just as he mentioned, the hunting festival was almost here, and so he’s definitely plotting some sort of incident that would happen on that day.
I could already predict what kind of ‘trick’ he’d be pulling on the hunting festival thanks to my knowledge of the original novel.
However, aside from all that, there was one small thing that’s bothering me.
For some reason, this was leaving a bad aftertaste in my mouth.
‘Then, I will be looking forward to seeing you at the hunting festival.
At such events, there’s always something fun waiting in store.’
I recalled that last part in my mind.
Yeah, that’s what’s strangely bothering me.
‘Something fun waiting in store.’
Even if I tried to analyze every aspect of that statement, it wasn’t a sentence that matched the kind of event a ‘hunting festival’ was.
If there’s some kind of underlying meaning to it, then…
‘He must be insinuating that something is going to happen during the hunting festival.’
I tapped one empty corner of the letter with a fingertip, then I pushed it aside.
I couldn’t get rid of that nagging feeling, but really, I might just be overthinking it.
Regardless of whether he really left that kind of implication, I couldn’t dig deeper with just this letter alone.
Mulling over two short sentences would be meaningless.
And it would just be a waste of my time.
I reached for Daniel’s letter this time.
There was a folded piece of white paper from inside the white envelope.
I took it out and instantly clicked my tongue.
‘This guy, seriously.
He can’t read the room at all.’
Daniel sent numerous letters before this, and the contents of those letters were consistently just easy-going drivel about his daily life.
I had no interest in other people’s daily lives though, so I only replied conventionally.
While Daniel’s letters were packed with many written accounts, my replies were always just less than half of his.
Nevertheless, that man sent letters my way consistently.
He imparted not much information.
This letter was no different.
How the weather had changed, what kind of food was good these days.
And in addition, the hunting festival was coming, so he was asking to meet on that day.
He brought up meeting each other during the hunting festival just like Leo, but the way he viewed that day was evidently different.
‘I agree that beasts that harm people should be put down, but I don’t understand what joy could be derived from taking lives from other beings.’
That’s how Daniel’s letter went.
Indeed, he was from House Freesia, which ruled over divine power.
With my elbow on the table and my chin propped on my palm, I folded Daniel’s letter with my other hand.
I pushed it aside along with Leo’s letter, then with my fingertips, I tapped the desk.
Tap, tap, tap.
Freesia and Carter.
‘As expected, I shouldn’t have gotten myself involved with either.’
Both were just troublesome.
Diana had been standing still while I was reading the letters, but she quickly replied the moment I called her.
“Letters from these two… Did Alicia receive any as well”
“I believe so.
The head maid gave me and Lady Alicia’s maid two letters each.”
If Alicia’s maid received two letters at the same time as Diana also did, then the senders should be Daniel and Leo, too.
“I hope those letters don’t have the same nonsense in them.”
I muttered as I narrowed my eyes.
What came to mind was an afterimage of Leo’s sticky smile when our gazes met back then.
I closed my heavy eyelids for a moment, then I opened them slowly.
Brushing away the hair that was on my cheek, I took out the two stark letters.
I was in a bad mood now, but since I received these letters, I had to reply.
This was also a matter that involved the family.
Really, I’m in a terrible mood.
* * *
Meanwhile, Alicia, at around the same time.
These days, Alicia was facing the golden age of her life.
To be more precise, it was the golden age of her happiness.
‘Father showed Mother’s garden to me, I eat together with Sister often, and Brother sometimes goes on strolls with me!’
She thought that it would be nice if they could all spend time together—Father, Brother, Sister and her.
However, she decided not to be too greedy.
She was already so very grateful for the happiness she was experiencing now.
Although she occasionally still had nightmares about her departed nanny, this misfortune was small compared to the vast amount of happiness she was feeling now.
And this time…
‘I can get along better with friends who are around the same age.’
She glanced at the two letters she was holding over her chest as she walked lightly around her room.
She could do this only because there was no one watching.
As though she was dancing, she was lithe like a cat.
Soon, she plopped down on her big, fluffy bed.
Lying there, she stretched out both her hands and stared at the letters.
‘Young Duke Leo Carter, and then… Young Duke Daniel Freesia!’