It started back when Evelyn and the other three noble ladies were talking smack about me and Alicia.
In fact, I’d been listening to everything since then.
As soon as we arrived at the hunting festival’s venue, I started scanning the place in search of Evelyn.
And as soon as I found her, I listened in on the conversation of her group.
And I heightened my hearing with qi.
Thanks to this, I heard their conversation loud and clear even though I was far away.
‘Your jaws are working overtime, huh.’
To the point that you’d think Alicia and I were chewing gum for them.
In any case, as I listened in on their conversation and observed their behavior, waiting for the right time to throw a concealed weapon.
And the target was none other than Evelyn’s glass.
One of the three other young ladies pushed Evelyn’s shoulder right then, and that’s when the concealed weapon hit the glass.
Due to the fairly strong shock, the glass turned over and soon soaked Evelyn’s chest.
All according to plan.
With Evelyn’s circumstances, she wouldn’t have been able to bring extra clothes, and none of those three young ladies would ever be willing to help her.
It was a situation where she was obviously in trouble.
And with Evelyn in a flurry like this, I would step up with the intention to help.
How very grateful I am for the three who helped create this heart-rending scene.
For our first meeting, there isn’t any other scene more perfect than this.
‘But I didn’t expect them to be so spiteful the moment her drink spilled over.’
I already received intel from Blanca that those other young ladies were looking down on Evelyn.
Back during Cassion’s funeral, I also tried to see if I could find the Riddle family.
The investigation into ‘House Riddle’ had already been completed at that time.
And this included getting information on Evelyn Riddle.
However, there was one thing that I wasn’t aware of.
And it was the level of ‘disregard’ Evelyn was being subjected to.
I thought that people were just ‘disregarding’ her in a way that they’re treating her like invisible air at best.
I never expected that aristocratic young ladies would stoop so low as to do such cheap bullying.
This was an obvious mistake.
I should have remembered that the world was wide, and that there was a whole array of crazy people out there.
‘Anyway, the ones who raise their noses high up in the front of you are typically nastier when your back is turned.’
Evelyn had trembled like a cornered mouse.
She looked like she was about to collapse right there, and so I felt a bit apologetic.
In fact, I felt a little guilty because I’m to blame for making the situation like that.
By nature, being ‘apologetic’ or feeling ‘guilty’ didn’t match Rosetta’s characterization, but I felt bad to see a young lady, who was about the same age as Alicia, shaking like that.
So, I deliberately did something that was not in my plans.
I made it so that drinks were poured over those other three as well—to make it even—and then got Evelyn out of there with a bit more of an ostentatious flare.
Greedy people would typically feel pretty gutted if they weren’t chosen.
Besides that, they would be even more devastated that it was Evelyn, the person they had been looking down on all this time, was chosen.
It’s obvious how they’d be kicking their blankets all night after today’s humiliation.
At least, I knew that they wouldn’t be able to sleep tonight.
It was a childish prank on my part, but fortunately, this seemed to reach Evelyn’s heart.
Evelyn’s face had become pale, but she followed me with light steps.
‘I’ll do what I want, you horrible jerk.’
She even left that nice little line for them.
Anyway, I do have a good reason for approaching Evelyn and going this far.
With the Riddle Guild as the framework, I intend to make House Riddle Cassion’s support base later on.
Right, and it’s not that far off in the future.
Cassion would soon come back alive and take back his place.
By the time that he’d also be qualified to be the duchy’s heir, Cassion would be able to proudly step forward and stand in front of Leo.
And perhaps with the skills that he’d show from then on, nobody would be able to criticize him.
At least, that’s something I’m sure of.
Fortunately, the majority of House Carter’s vassals worked under a meritocracy.
Since the matter at hand was the next Duke Carter, he’d be tantamount to those people’s ‘representative’, which was why it’s only natural for them to rally for the most capable person to take that position.
This was a way of thinking that not only the vassals of House Carter upheld, but basically everyone who used magic.
But nevertheless, getting early supporters was something that couldn’t be neglected.
The opponent was Leo, after all.
Leo was also a capable mage.
He wasn’t as good as Cassion, who was born with a natural talent.
Still though, Leo was a mage hailing from noble lineages from both sides, so he was more talented compared to ordinary people.
Besides that, his mother was the current duchess, Eianne, who was an esteemed daughter of a powerful count’s household.
Her household bore magnificent mages generation after generation, and Eianne herself was famous for her unprecedented skills, even before she was wed.
A candidate who had solid abilities and a decent family backing him.
That’s who Leo was.
On the other hand, all Cassion really possessed right now was his ‘skills’.
Fortunately, he’d be able to dominate many other aspects with his skills alone, but that might not be enough to stand toe to toe with Leo, who had solid support.
So, Cassion also needed that.
The moment he’d come forward as a successor candidate for the duchy, he’d need influential supporters, who could shake public opinion to some extent.
For money and power to follow later, it was a bare minimum necessity to have support.
That’s why Rosetta chose ‘House Riddle’.
The Riddle family had been in a close-knit relationship with the former duchess, so the current duchess and the Riddles had come to hate each other.
For the Riddles, the current duchess and Leo were their enemies.
They were the ones who cut short House Riddle’s golden age, so what else could they be if not enemies
A household with a grudge against the current duchess.
There’s no better condition for someone who’d support Cassion.
Besides that, there’s another reason that House Riddle was chosen.
‘Riddle’ was a name that was mentioned heavily in the original novel.
For no other reason other than being a household that stood in Leo’s way, being a royal pain to him.
In the original novel, although it took them a long time, the Riddle Guild gradually grew popular through word of mouth and blew up in size.
Most aristocrats only became interested in the guild and started investing when the Riddle name was already slowly but steadily getting well-known.
The guild and their investments started to take hold.
Count Riddle was brilliant when it came to managing the guild while also developing magicware, so the guild soon began to spread its wings at an alarming rate.
The mages’ attention naturally shifted towards the Riddles.
The fallen noble household started from the ground up, and eventually became the successful master of the industry.
It was undoubtedly an interesting story.
Although, to be more precise, the attention that they received was due to the enormous ‘wealth’ that the count had built up.
And because the mages had unique careers, they were very much interested in ‘money’.
Mages tend to be immersed in their studies and research, working on their lifelong projects, and something like that inevitably required a lot of money to fund.
Research, of course, needed research funds.
And if they perhaps take a wrong step in their research endeavors, it’s not an exaggeration to say that about one or two laboratories would get blown up completely.
Nevertheless, there’s no way to prevent their overflowing intellectual curiosity.
In tandem with this pursuit, mages tended to be more obsessed with ‘money’ compared to people in other professions.
It was a funny thing.
Others worked to make money, whereas mages coveted money so they could work.
As a household that gained enormous wealth alongside their excellent magicware creation skills, House Riddle quickly became the ‘object of envy’ amongst the mages.
House Riddle thus reached the renaissance of their golden age.
After House Riddle had clawed their way back to the top, they slowly began to look back on the past.
To be exact, they remembered ‘their enemies’.
And her son, Leo Carter, who had then become the new duke.
Whenever Leo tried to pursue something, the Riddles would be up in arms, running out just to pose as a hurdle for him.
They opposed each and every one of Leo’s actions, and they always made sure to trample on whatever he was trying to do.
Leo considered House Riddle to be a great annoyance.
Their household was originally the Carter Duchy’s vassal, and Leo wanted very much to drive them out.
However, it was not so easy to oust them, given that they could also serve as a great support base for him.
Likewise, it wasn’t so easy to disregard House Riddle’s influence.
In the past, Leo and Eianne made the mistake of keeping House Riddle as their vassals just for the purpose of humiliating them as nobles who had reached the lowest low.
Leo thought of the Riddles as a real pain in the neck, while the Riddles were entirely willing to act as a great nuisance to him.
As it was,
‘I’m very grateful towards this household.’
Why, everyone knew that the enemy of your enemy was your friend.
In the first place, House Riddle would eventually become a ‘friend’ even if I didn’t intervene.
I only did so to speed up the process of the Riddles’ success.
Because at this point, they wouldn’t be able to grow on their own just yet.
‘After first investing money…’
I’m planning to get Zobel in contact with them to pursue research projects related to incurable diseases.
For a long time now, Eianne had been trying to develop medicines for terminal illnesses, hoping to build an industry out of it.
But when that’s been intercepted, their side’s finances would take quite a huge blow.
Hitting two birds with one stone, isn’t it
This side would make money, and that side would take a hit.
For the moment, I’m thinking of only getting directly involved with the matter of the ‘incurable disease medicine’.
After that, I’m going to take the hands-off approach and just invest money and leave everything else in the capable hands of the Riddles.
In the first place, the count had outstanding business acumen, so he’d be able to soar higher on his own—for as long as he had wings.
As the Riddles would grow fine on their own, I would later reveal that it was actually Cassion who’s investing in them.
In the same way that they were entirely willing to be the bane of Leo’s existence in the original novel, I’m quite sure that they’d also be entirely willing to be Cassion’s support this time.
‘They wouldn’t dare betray him.’
There wouldn’t be any need to worry about them running away with all the money.
And neither would there be any need to change their minds and turn their back on Cassion later.
That one person who’d extend a hand towards you during your lowest point—that’s someone you’d consider as your true benefactor.
It was for this reason that I deliberately orchestrated a dramatic first meeting today.
So that I could become Riddle’s, or at least, Evelyn’s savior.
And based on the original work, the Riddles made sure to remember any act of benevolence or spite thrown at them.
At least, they weren’t the kind of people who’d bite the hand that fed them.
‘Just in case, there should be a contract.’
There’s no harm in preparing for unforeseen circumstances.
The contract that’s to be sent to the Riddles had already been completed some time ago.
Therefore, only a few more provisions needed to be added, and it would be complete.
‘Riddle and the Investor must never betray each other.
If this condition is broken, then…’
Forfeit your life.
Thinking thus far, I pressed the pad of my thumb with a sharp fingertip.
With the confluence of this firm touch against tender flesh, a sense of satisfaction arose.
With the full-fledged hunt still ahead, this wasn’t all that bad of a way to start the day.