Evelyn’s hatred for House Carter was reasonable.
It was due to House Carter that House Riddle fell.
And, to be more precise, it was due to ‘Duchess Carter’.
Originally, House Riddle became a vassal household of House Carter during the time of Evelyn’s great-grandfather.
Thanks to the family’s long-standing relationship and their peerage as a count’s household, House Riddle was considered a fairly influential family.
The incident that greatly impacted the household’s dignity was the ‘welcoming of the former duchess’.
That was the beginning of their tragedy, and it was during the days when Duke Carter was still young.
He declared that he would bring in a beautiful young woman and intended to marry her.
It was the deceased former duchess, ‘Fiona Carter’.
The former duchess was a daughter of a lower household—a viscounty that did not sire mages.
Objectively speaking and in many ways, she was someone who lacked the qualifications to be a duchess.
So naturally, House Carter’s vassals opposed the marriage.
Duke Carter was young back then, and he had just ascended to the post, but he pointed his fingers at them all and did as he pleased.
Among those vassals, the only one who supported the marriage was the Riddle County.
When the historic House Riddle voted in favor of the duke, the other vassal households changed their minds one by one.
Many were still unhappy with the decision, but the duke nevertheless pushed for the marriage.
Fiona, who then became the duchess, was a kind-hearted person.
Therefore, she was the kind of person who would not easily forget any grace she had received.
She thanked House Riddle for the very first to come forward and vote in favor of accepting her as the duchess even while everyone else was against her.
House Riddle also cared for the kind-hearted duchess, and they supported her again.
Fiona and House Riddle became so close that they considered each other family.
Clearly, that was the peak of House Riddle.
The problem began after the former duchess closed her eyes forever.
When Fiona died, the duke immediately found a new woman.
The woman he loved died giving birth to their child, and to top it off, it was a child who couldn’t use magic.
As if to protest against this cruel fate, he searched for a new duchess based on her capabilities.
And so, ‘Eiane Carter’ had been welcomed as the next duchess.
She’s the present duchess.
Unlike Fiona, Eiane was cruel.
As soon as she entered the duchy, she began to clear away all traces of the former duchess, but…
The biggest vestige that Fiona had left was ‘House Riddle’ itself.
Eiane was someone from a solid background, with a strong family and boundless riches.
She was avaricious, and she did not hesitate when it came to clearing up the things she found unpleasant.
Slowly but surely, she strangled House Riddle.
No matter how renowned the family was, the one up top had changed, keeping them at a stranglehold.
They could do nothing about their slow descent to ruin.
Eiane’s son, Leo, was also in a position to be called the heir apparent.
House Riddle’s position became smaller and smaller.
As a result, their influence and their responsibilities gradually turned to dust as well.
Rather than calling them a vassal household, they were more so in the position to be called handymen of the duchy.
However, then somehow managed to withstand that tumultuous time while the previous Count Riddle was still alive.
The larger problem descended upon them when the previous count passed away and Evelyn’s father ascended to the post.
When one’s defenses were to show a gap, even for a moment, the rift would become evident.
Without missing a beat, Eiane struck House Riddle.
They were already shaking precariously as it was, but due to this move, they collapsed completely.
Right, well, since that’s already happened, she should be satisfied with that.
‘But the fact that we haven’t found anyone willing to invest in the shop… it’s safe to say that it must be the Duchess’ poisonous hand doing this.’
It was a reasonable guess.
She was cruel and persistent.
This thought made Evelyn feel a bitter taste in her mouth.
Her family was being dragged around by this power play.
And it’s been nearly twenty years, too.
Evelyn took in a deep breath and looked at Rosetta.
She wanted to receive an investment, but just as the ducal lady said, House Riddle was still a ‘vassal of the Carter Duchy’.
She had forgotten about it because they’d been treated like dirt all this time.
‘Then this investment would just put people at a difficult spot.’
Evelyn bit the inside of her cheek, then she resigned herself.
As long as you’re an aristocrat of this empire, you’d know the relationship between the ‘three duchies’.
They were the three pillars supporting the empire, but at the same time, they were keeping each other in check.
If the opponent were to show just a small crack in their defenses, then the other would bare their sharp fangs and bite them at once.
At the very least, she knew that House Carter was like that.
If someone from House Valentine would make an investment to help out one of House Carter’s vassals, then it would be seen as a clear provocation.
Even though House Riddle was a negligible family.
The Carters would sink their teeth into the Valentines mercilessly.
Evelyn did not want to create such a situation, even if she were to die.
She wouldn’t be able to repay the grace that Rosetta had shown her, however she should at least not serve as a stumbling for her.
After a very long time of agonizing over this dilemma, Evelyn hardened her resolve.
Just pretend that you didn’t hear about this investment.
“Your Ladyship, I appreciate your kindness, but…”
However, Evelyn couldn’t finish what she was going to say.
“Ah, how about this”
Rosetta cut her off mid-sentence.
Not being able to answer, Evelyn stared back at Rosetta.
At this, Rosetta chuckled before she continued.
“How about I invest in the guild under someone else’s name, not mine There’s someone I know who I can trust.”
Evelyn blinked in surprise.
Indeed, this wasn’t a bad way to go about it.
If Rosetta and her family would just never let anyone else know, then they wouldn’t get caught.
“But then it would just be bothersome for you, Your Ladyship.
It would only trouble you.”
Still, her fears had not completely disappeared.
Investing under someone else’s name would not bring honor to the investor.
And there’s a possibility that the third-party, whose name was being borrowed, would run away with the money.
There’s also a possibility that this person would leak the secret.
Evelyn’s family was desperate for an investment, so this wasn’t a matter that concerned them.
But she couldn’t understand why the ducal lady would go this far.
Rosetta shrugged lightly, but her expression slowly hardened.
Replacing the smile on her face, an expression of all seriousness remained.
She gave Evelyn a strong, firm stare.
Facing that dignified gaze, Evelyn felt as if she was shrinking.
To you, does it seem like I’m just saying this without thinking”
“What No, absolutely not!”
It wasn’t like that at all.
She was just worried that the ducal lady would be harmed.
“I’m investing with business-perspective.
I think highly of the Riddle Guild’s potential, that’s why I’ve decided to take a risk and invest.”
“And as I said before, I’ve been thinking about doing this for quite a while now.
So, please review this matter from a business-perspective as well, Lady.”
After those strict words, a small smile followed.
Clenching her hands into fists, Evelyn had a very conflicted expression as she looked at Rosetta.
The ducal lady was seriously considering this investment.
To top it off, she was doing so by rationally calculating the risks and rewards she would take.
This meant one thing: that it would be presumptuous for Evelyn to worry about Rosetta any more than this.
Determined now, Evelyn nodded.
“In that case, then I would also like to consider this matter positively.”
After Evelyn answered with confidence, Rosetta grinned and held out her hand.
Evelyn hesitated for one second more, but she soon took that hand.
“I would like to discuss this more with Count Riddle, so I’ll write to you after the hunting festival.
The sender will be under the name ‘Sion’.”
“Will that person be the person in charge of the investment”
He’s a very reliable person, so there’s nothing to worry about.”
“Yes, I’m not worried.
Thank you, Your Ladyship.”
Evelyn bowed towards Rosetta as she said this.
But, with a shake of her head, Rosetta placed a hand on Evelyn’s shoulder and gently urged her to stand tall.
“No need for thanks.
Perhaps from now on, we’ll be riding the same boat.”
These kind words were like a seal.
A seal that was saying, ‘Let’s continue building trust between us from now on,’ which made Evelyn’s heart soar.
She nodded and smiled broadly.
Her father dissuaded her from coming to the hunting festival alone, but it was well worth coming here today.
The humiliation that Melissa, Julie and Pia had subjected her to was now long forgotten.
It felt as if she was getting out of that definite hell, now taking a step forward towards a definite positive path.
‘Father would be so delighted to hear about this.’
He was already so overjoyed having a regular customer, so what more once he’d hear that they were about to receive an investment
“Then, I’ll be going back now, Your Ladyship.”
The two left the rest area together.
Evelyn said her farewells first, and Rosetta nodded.
However, she also asked.
“By any chance, will you be going straight back home”
I would like to let my father know the good news as soon as possible.”
“Is the carriage you rode coming here around”
Awkwardly, Evelyn shook her head.
She rode in Melissa’s carriage on the way here.
In exchange for that, she had to attend to Melissa for the entire carriage ride.
And now that she thought of it, the money she had in her pouch had been stolen, too.
Maybe she should get off near her house’s area and walk a little the rest of the way.
As though she noticed Evelyn’s predicament, Rosetta cautiously offered.
“If you don’t have a ride, would you like to take a carriage of ours We’re about to enter an important contract together, so I’d like to extend at least this much to you.”
“…I’m embarrassed to be on the receiving end of so much help from you.”
Unable to deny the offer, Evelyn murmured.
Rosetta blinked and held Evelyn’s hand.
“Don’t say that, Lady.
I’ll have someone call one soon.
If you go to the entrance of the barracks, my maid will guide you to the carriage.”
“Thank you again, Your Ladyship.”
With Evelyn’s repeated thanks, Rosetta could only smile.
After bowing deeply, Evelyn left first.
Rosetta stood at the entrance and waved to Evelyn, whose figure was slowly moving away.
As Rosetta smiled, she was as beautiful as a masterfully drawn painting.
And by the time that Evelyn was nearly out of her sight,
Rosetta turned around and walked towards the other side.
The smile that looked kind was nowhere to be found.
Now, only a light smile hung over her lips.
Beneath her brows, which bobbed up and down once, was an indifferent gaze.
House Riddle has been settled.’
As if she had solved one overdue assignment, she felt relieved.
This first time that she met Evelyn today…
No, even before this day.
Everything that led up to and transpired between her and Evelyn on this day had been entirely arranged by Rosetta.