Chapter Four: The Appearance of Selphius
As I nodded my head, still in shock at her words, Sercia suppressed her anger and let out a sigh.
“Theo, why didn’t you have a wedding? Everyone was waiting for one.”
“Well, this is the second one, anyway,” Theodore said carelessly as he looked out the window.
Sercia glanced over at me to watch my reaction.
“That might be the case for you, but it’s Pershati’s first time… Pershati, I apologize.
He’s rather antisocial, so he’s a bit inconsiderate about things like this.”
“I’m fine with it.”
In truth, it wasn’t my first.
I frowned, thinking of my marriage to Siph in my previous life.
Sercia, who had seen my expression, looked at me in pity.
…She must have thought I wanted to say ‘to be honest, I wanted to hold a wedding’ by my expression.
“She said it’s fine.
This is something we agreed on.”
“How is that something you agreed on? That’s something Pershati obviously yielded for you.
If you keep acting like this, I’ll tattle on you at the family meeting.”
“Hah, so this is why you wanted to return to the residence with us.”
I quickly ran through the Lapileon family members in my head.
‘Who was there?’
I had heard many times that there were many ruthless people in the Lapileon family at tea parties.
However, perhaps because I was never that interested, I couldn’t think of anyone.
‘There’s no way that the entire family is filled with only people like these two, right?’
Although I had only imagined it for a second, I got goosebumps. There’s no way I can survive through a jungle like that!
As I was shaking my head, the carriage came to a sudden stop.
Then, the horseman knocked on the carriage door and spoke courteously, “Master.
We have arrived at the residence of Your Excellency Lapileon, but because there seems to be a disturbance, we cannot go in.”
A disturbance? Now that I think about it, it does seem like there’s something happening.
“What’s going on?”
Sticking my head out the window, I saw two people fighting at the entrance of the residence.
It was Siph and a young boy.
‘What is that crazy bastard Siph doing here?’
And who is that young child he’s arguing with?
As I looked at Theodore with surprised eyes, he stood up inside the carriage.
“Sercia, you should go.
We need to go catch a buzzing pest.”
“Do as you wish.
I’m here to greet Pershati, not you, anyway.”
Clicking his tongue, Theodore opened the carriage door and got out, before offering his hand.
As I was about to take his hand, I turned around to look at Sercia, who was still poised gracefully.
“I’m really grateful for what you did earlier.
Thank you for the carriage ride here as well.”
After all, you have to express your gratitude for the things you’re thankful for.
Sercia’s eyes widened in surprise at my thanks, before smiling widely in satisfaction.
“Pershati, I really like you.
I’ll come to meet you formally soon.”
After nodding, I accepted Theodore’s hand and got down from the carriage.
As the carriage left, Theodore, who had been staring at the two people arguing, asked coolly, “Is that someone you know?”
“He’s the person I used to love and the person who is trying to kill me.”
“Ah, the one you said would try to kill you for your inheritance.”
As we approached the residence, the argument got even more heated.
“It’s fine if it’s just once! Let me meet her! I know you’re in there, Sasha!”
“Do you think this is somewhere a common soldier like you can come and make such a fuss?”
“I need to meet Sasha!”
“Is it because you’re uneducated? You have no respect for nobles.”
One of them was definitely Siph.
But I had no idea who the small boy confronting him was.
“And by ‘Pershati’, you’re talking about the person who will soon be the Grand Duchess.
Show some respect.
There’s a limit to how much I can tolerate.”
“Sasha! It’s me, Siph.
Sasha! Come on out!”
This leech-like bastard.
Figures, though; if he loses me, he’ll lose a rather large inheritance, so of course he’s desperate.
Theodore stopped me as I rolled up my sleeves and started to approach Siph.
“I’ll resolve this.
You are now my wife, as well as the Grand Duchess of Lapileon.”
“It’s fine, I can do this… But who is that child?”
Theodore wrinkled his forehead, as if he’d just noticed the child.
“…It seems that Selphi is back.”
Selph? By Selphi, does he mean…
“Young Master Selphius?”
The heir of the Lapileon family, as well as the child they said Theodore had sent away to the countryside and failed to look after?
That child was Selphius? They said he was left in the middle of nowhere, so what was he doing here arguing?
In the moment of shock after I had been about to stop the quarrel, I heard the child’s cold voice aimed at Siph.
“It seems like you want to die.
If your wish is death, I can certainly fulfill that for you.”
And in the blink of an eye, something happened.
“This is for the crime of disparaging the Lapileon Duchy.”
Selphius took out his earring, made of a crimson ruby, and used the pin at the end to prick his finger.
Bright red blood instantly dripped from it.
Knowing what that meant, I couldn’t help but swear before quickly running in front of Theodore.
‘This crazy bastard certainly deserves death, but I thought this was a secret of the family!’
Siph, who didn’t even know that he had nearly died from what Selphius had just done, turned his head at the sound of my voice.
As Siph discovered me and smiled brightly, Theodore grabbed Selphius’ finger.
As though he had not known that we would suddenly arrive, embarrassment spread across Selphius’ face.
I approached him quickly before tying a handkerchief around his wound to avoid further bleeding.
“W-wait a second, my blood is…!”
Selphius was frightened seeing my hand touch his blood.
Ignoring the situation, Siph put a hand on my shoulder and laughed, like he knew I would appear.
“S-sasha, let’s talk.
Theodore’s face crumpled like paper into a chilling glare as soon as Siph’s hand touched my shoulder, before viciously wrenching his hand off of me.
“Who do you think you’re touching so carelessly?”
I could feel the murderous energy radiating off of him.
It felt as though he would kill Siph right then and there.
“L-l-let go of me!”
“You’re speaking informally.
I heard you were a regular soldier.
Do knights no longer receive education about proper etiquette towards nobles these days?”
Theodore kicked Siph’s calf hard, causing him to fall to his knees.
As I watched this silently, Siph reached for me.
“S-sasha! Help me!”
He seemed certain that I would help him.
How laughable and foolish.
“Don’t show your face to me again.”
“Was ridding you of the privilege to take the royal knighting exam not enough?”
In a second, Siph’s face filled with rage.
“If you appear in front of me like this or say my name one more time, I’ll thoroughly destroy you.”
“If you’re curious, come again.
I’ll let you know what more you can lose,” I said, injecting each word with venom before turning away.
* * *
After we entered the residence, Theodore and Selphius said they needed to speak privately and left for the study.
Only after dinner time passed did the two come out.
However, only Theodore came to the dining room.
“Where’s the child?”
“He said he wouldn’t eat.
He must’ve been upset that I scolded him.”
Theodore let out an exhausted sigh before sitting across from me.
He looked down at the food, which had gone cold.
“I’m going to send Selphius back to the countryside, so don’t worry about it.”
I looked upwards in the direction of Selphius’ room before asking: “How old is he?”
“He’s turning nine this year.”
“Is he Your Excellency’s child?”
His marriage with his ex-wife had definitely been his first marriage, and rumor had it that he hadn’t spent a night with her.
Not to mention, they divorced within two months of their marriage, so there was no way a child of that age could be theirs.
Theodore, who had been pouring himself some red wine, paused.
“Although it’ll only be for one year, you should know since you’re a Lapileon now.
Selphius is my brother’s child.”
Ah, that’s why they look so similar.
“Then what about your brother? Did he go somewhere? Is that why Your Excellency is taking care of him?”
“My brother is dead.”
I gasped as he spoke calmly, like he was telling the story of some distant acquaintance.
Theodore, spinning the wine glass in his hands, continued.
“My sister-in-law left Selphius when he was very young.
She’s not the type of person to come back, so I adopted him as my heir.”
S-so there was a backstory like that.
The Lapileon family truly had an extraordinarily high number of secrets.
I had never imagined that there would be a story like this.
Reading the atmosphere, I distracted myself with my bowl of soup and stirred it forcefully before standing up.
‘I can’t stand this awkwardness any longer.’
“I’ll go up first.”
I hurriedly rushed to the floor that my bedroom was on and saw a flustered maid holding a tray in front of the room.
As I approached, the maid noticed and lowered her head.
“I-I greet the Grand Duchess.”
“What are you doing here? Whose room is this?”
During the tour of the residence that the butler had given to me earlier, he hadn’t said anything about this room, so I had thought it was empty.
“Ah… this is Young Master Selphius’s bedroom.”
I looked from the tightly-shut door to the food the maid was holding in her hands.
“I brought his dinner, but he isn’t opening the door.”
It seemed that he was very upset.
No wonder, since he got scolded for several hours right after arriving in the capital.
“I’ll give it to him.
You can go down.”
I took the tray from her and pointed my chin at the maid, telling her to go down.
Without a choice, she left.
I kicked the closed door hard with my foot.
However, there was no response from inside.
I kicked the door a bit harder this time.
Then, the door opened furiously.
“Who dares to kick the door like… huh?”
“Hi? Um… Selphius.”
Although I was unsure if it was okay for me to call his name without permission, it would be weird to call him Young Master after I’d already had the wedding.
“You’re at an age where you’re still growing, so you need to eat.”
I pushed the dumbfounded Selphius to the side and stubbornly made my way into the bedroom.
As soon as I put the tray down onto the table, Selphius closed the bedroom door and approached me.
“I didn’t greet you properly earlier, right? I’m Pershati…”
“Are you hurt anywhere?”
Hm? Wasn’t he angry that he got scolded?
Selphius scanned over my body before speaking in a low voice.
“Please let me know beforehand if you feel like you’re about to die.
I’ll call the doctor.”
How would I know if I’m about to die and let you know beforehand?
Is this the innocence of a child?
I smiled gently and patted Selphius’s shoulder.
If I ever feel like I’m dying, I’ll tell you for sure.”
In that instant, Selphius’s pupils widened.
His lips, pale from biting, opened and closed silently and he pulled away quickly.
“D-did you just touch me?”
Huh? Does he not like being touched?
I lowered my hand, which had halted in midair, before tilting my head.
“Were you unhappy that I touched you without permission? I’m sorry.
Then I’ll leave your food here, so eat it…”
“Do you not know anything?”
“The curse of the Lapiileon family.”
How could I not know? If it had been hidden from me, this marriage would be a fraudulent scheme.
“Of course I do.”
“You knew, and you still touched me?”
“Why can’t I?”
Selphius’s face hardened into stone.
In the child’s red eyes, there was no emotion whatsoever.
“You might die.”
Is this concern or a threat?
“If that’s advice, I’ll thank you for the thought.”
“Do you think you have nine lives or something? Do you think His Excellency the Grand Duke will look upon you favorably if you treat me well?”
So it was a threat.
I didn’t know how to respond, so I just smiled.
In response to my silence, Selphius continued.
“You should escape while you still can.”
“If you need money, I’ll give some to you in secret.
Escape from this hell.”
A self-mocking, cynical smile dawned on Selphius’ face.
Didn’t they say he was nine years old? That smile was not one a child should bear.
…Since for unknown reasons, I haven’t died despite drinking blood – as of now.
Although I tried to explain, Selphius wouldn’t listen to me.
He opened the closed bedroom door and gestured for me to leave.
“If you don’t plan on escaping, then don’t pay attention to me again.”
Who would have thought he wasn’t the heir of the Lapileon family.
His actions were exactly like Theodore’s.
Thanks for the advice.”
Clenching my teeth, I left Selphius’ bedroom.
After watching me leave without a word, he muttered under his breath so quietly that I could barely hear.
“I’m sorry for scaring you earlier.”
As soon as the words had left his mouth, he shut the bedroom door with a stone-cold face.
‘Did he just apologize or not?’
I stared at the closed door in front of my eyes.
Then, I heard a maid calling me from behind.
“Your Highness the Grand Duchess, what are you doing?”
“I’m having a staring contest with the door.”
“Pardon? …Doesn’t the door not have eyes?”
“That’s why I lost… Why are you calling me?”
She giggled as if I had said something strange and continued.
“It’s your wedding night.
I’ve prepared your bath, so please follow me.”
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