“You look like a baby horse running like that.”
“But its been such a long time since I saw you.
Are you done with your work at the Northern Forest”
Already anticipating the question, Damian smiled awkwardly and shook his head.
“Oh, I see.
you need to go back,” Alicia said, the corners of her lips that had been raised drooping down.
The corners of her lips that had been raised to the fullest just a moment ago now drooped down, and her eyes that struggled to keep smiling were pitiful.
Not being able to hide his sadness, Damian hesitated to answer right away.
It seems like I have to.”
Even after such a short response, there was no mention of when hed be home again.
“Then, please take care of yourself.
At all times.”
“Yes, I promise.”
Damian patted Alicia on her head lightly.
At the warmth he displayed, she burst out into another cheerful smile.
From afar, I watched this wholesome exchange between brother and sister in silence, and after a moment, I walked towards them.
It had been a few weeks since my older brother last came back home, so shouldnt I greet him as well
Bothersome villainess or not.
It was a custom I had to follow, even though its just an empty formality.
As I came closer to him, his gaze shifted to me.
The discomfort and unease directed at me earlier were nowhere to be seen—the expression he had now was one that carefully concealed his feelings.
The warmth in his eyes for Alicia disappeared as well.
‘Hes good at hiding his emotions, but he wont show emotions that he doesnt feel .
That wasnt the case for me.
As someone whod come to possess other peoples lives, acting was a necessary skill.
Of course, I couldnt do well all the time, but—
It might be okay this time.
Damian didnt know Rosetta well, and vice versa.
These individuals were bound together by a fence, but they couldnt be considered family.
I curtsied briefly with an amiable smile on my face.
“How have you been, brother”
Even to my own ears, my voice sounded saccharine.
Perhaps hearing such a greeting from an adversary caused Damian lips to stiffen awkwardly.
Yes, Ive been well.
What about .
.” he replied, but the words that he struggled to spit out stopped there.
‘Yes, thanks to you, Im also doing well.
I was already thinking of what to answer.
However, his gaze was straying.
Looking at the middle of my forehead previously, now his pupils zeroed in on the side of my face.
His brows, which were as stiff as the hard line of his mouth, were now furrowed.
‘What is it Is there something on my face
My fingertips touched something warm.
‘Come to think of it, I was scratched earlier.
It slipped my mind because the wound was so small.
I covered it with my hand.
Through the tender skin, I felt a shallow sting.
Anyhow, his gaze shifted away again when the scratch, the object of his attention, was hidden.
However, his brows were still furrowed.
“You, on your face .
“Its from my own carelessness.
Its nothing, so please dont mind it,” I said, cutting Damian off before he could continue.
My face only got scratched by accident, so it would be troublesome if he misunderstood.
The last time Damian was home, Rosetta got scolded for falsely accusing a maid just to kick her out.
Of course, this was one of Katies schemes.
Instead of Rosetta, it was Katie who knelt and begged for forgiveness, saying that it was her own fault for not teaching Rosetta properly.
Through this, Rosettas reputation plummeted while Katies benevolent image solidified.
At any rate, it would be a pain in many ways if I was misunderstood.
Damian, who I cut off mid-sentence, closed his mouth even though it seemed like he wanted to continue speaking.
Still staring at me with wrinkled brows, an unknown hesitation lingered in his eyes.
However, it stopped there.
With his clipped answer, the awkward brother-sister interaction ended.
In that hallway, an uncomfortable silence blanketed over the three siblings.
* * *
After entering my room, I collapsed on my bed immediately without even turning on the light.
Like a water-soaked cotton ball, both my body and mind were heavy.
As I stretched out, I looked at the ceiling.
The dim room felt desolate.
A few minutes ago—
In the middle of the brief silence between them, I left behind the brother and sister who reunited after a long while.
I was supposed to have dinner with Alicia, but I thought it would be best if I took a rain check.
Alicia might have been fine if the three of us ate dinner together, but both Damian and I would surely need digestive medicine if that were to happen.
In this kind of situation, wasnt it only right for me to back off
As I strode away, there was a soft murmur ofSister, sister behind me, but I returned to my room without looking back.
“Should I sleep like this .
A tired voice that disturbed the quiet air returned to my ears.
I couldnt resist the temptation to shut my eyes, but as I recalled all the things I needed to do, they fluttered open once more.
There were more important things than sleep.
First, because Damian was back at the estate, I had to find a way to drive Katie out.
There were only two people who could kick her out: the Duke and the Young Lord.
I couldnt miss this opportunity.
I had a rough idea in mind, but I needed to make up a more specific plan since this was such a precious chance.
And one more thing.
‘That power earlier.
I spread out my palms, and then stretched out my arms.
Through the gaps between my fingers, the chandelier light on the ceiling seeped through.
It was like light poured out from my palm.
With eyes wide open, I looked at the back of my hand then slowly reached down near my navel using the same hand.
Thump, thump, thump.
I could feel my heartbeat even through my stomach.
In between the vibrations, I felt some kind ofpower.
It was a power that was familiar, unfamiliar, yet unforgettable all at the same time.
‘This feels like .
I sat up on my bed and immediately closed my eyes.
While cross-legged in a lotus position, I gathered my core.
Amidst a repeated deep breathing exercise, the energy that bloomed within my body gradually took a clearer shape.
‘As expected .
this is .
Beyond closed eyelids, I could glimpse a bright world.
The second round, the martial arts world I inhabited.
The sword I wielded, and myself alongside my brothers and sisters.
An elegant sword art from which flowers blossomed and the wind parted.
A power that bloomed within the body, situated in the abdomen.
It really was the power I used in the second round.
How on earth.
Thats all I had in my mind.
I never experienced this before.
Whenever I moved on to the next world and possessed the body of a new character, all I could take with me were memories.
No matter how much I sharpened my skills in the previous world, I always had to start from scratch in the next one.
In the first place, if I had the ability to retain my strength, I wouldnt have been locked up during the third round like that.
‘Of course, with such a weak body, I wont be able to manage it, but .
Without realizing it, a sudden burst of power went out of my control and took form on its own earlier in that room.
It was also prompted by Katie, who would go on a rampage like a crazy person.
Well, regardless of what incited this, it was a good thing for me.
I had no intention of showing this power to anyone, but wasnt it better to be strong than to be weak
From now on, I wouldnt helplessly be held captive anymore.
This alone reassured me.
After confirming my strength, I relaxed my posture and got up from my seat.
At that moment, I stumbled.
I coughed, and out came blood.
Its been a while since this happened.”
When I lived in the world of cultivation martial arts, blood trickled down my lips even when I was bored—whenever my energy got twisted up, or whenever I received any type of shock.
After habitually wiping the blood off, I sat in front of a desk.
With the issue of my power resolved, it was time to think about how to deal with Katie.
Since I had regained my internal strength, I needed to do something about overcoming this and possibly letting it dissipate on its own, but my power was still unstable.
Its possible to summon the power, but after that, it was likely that Id blow someone up and kill them if my control slipped.
Wouldnt it be difficult if I suddenly assumed the role of a murderer
The image of a tearful Alicia fainting flashed before my eyes.
Besides if that happened, the Duke and the Young Lord wouldnt find out about Alicia being abused.
And knowing Alicias personality, she wouldnt volunteer the truth by herself either.
In the original novel, the Duke and the Young Lord finally settled at home once they found out about it.
After distancing themselves from home as if they were running away, they realized how much Alicia had been hurt.
Alicias battered mental condition gradually recovered once they decided to stay home more often.
So, for the sake of that child, Katie better be kicked out by Damian.
I took out a blank sheet of paper and wrote down some notes.
The sooner, the better.
This plan must succeed while Damian was still in the mansion.
‘It would be great if hed just happen to witness the abuse so that I wouldnt have to explain anything.
For that, I needed an assistant.
There must be someone to bring Damian at the opportune time.
It was unfortunate, but Alicia wouldnt be very helpful.
Theres a huge chance the plan wouldnt work with her in the equation.
Anyway, I already had someone in mind for this role.
Marie, Rosettas personal maid.