In the next few hours, Anastasia had a good time playing with Louis.
Perhaps thanks to periodic letters, fortunately, the child did not seem to be greatly traumatized by her sudden disappearance or return.
Anastasia was more relieved than anything else about that fact, and delighted Louis by presenting a new game she had thought hard about before returning to the palace.
How many hours had passed like that.
“Empress, the Duke of Barantes wishes to see you.”
Louis quickly got up from his seat at the news delivered by Selene.
“I must have been monopolizing Her Majesty too much.
The Duke of Barantes must have wanted to see Your Majesty a lot.”
The Duke is here now, too.”
Anastasia hugged Louis tightly and, proud of him, kissed him on the forehead.
“I’ll go to the Imperial Palace later.
You can have fun until then, right”
“Sure! See you later, Your Majesty.”
Louis, who answered bravely, kissed Anastasia on the cheek and left the room.
Anastasia looked pleased at the child’s back and went out to the hallway leading to the reception room.
After a while, when she arrived at the reception room, she saw the Duke of Barantes standing up from his seat.
Anastasia saw the Duke of Barantes with trembling eyes.
“Long time no see.”
The Duke of Barantes ran to Anastasia with a face that looked like he was about to cry.
Anastasia smiled softly and opened her mouth as it looked not much different from her previous reunion with Louis.
“My father is like this too.
Why is the person I contacted most often after running away trying to cry like this”
“Oh, don’t say that! Your Majesty must be in my position.
How do you feel when you find out that your one and only daughter has run away at night and only has this one letter left”
Duke Barantes blamed Anastasia with a mournful voice.
“I mean, you should give birth to a son who resembles Your Majesty later and experience it the same way.
Your Majesty will never know how heartbroken I have been in the capital!”
“What don’t I know You are a father who always thinks of me terribly.”*
*TN: as in a lot
Anastasia patted Duke Barantes and said with a faint expression on her face.
“Did you have a hard time I’m sorry.
I’m such a bad daughter.”
“Oh no… no.
You came back safely, so that’s enough.”
The Duke of Barantes continued to speak in a hoarse voice, dripping with tears.
“I am infinitely glad that you have returned, Your Majesty.
How surprised I was earlier!”
“My father is very strange.
You got a letter saying I was coming back.
You knew I was going to be there.”
“Oh, well, I thought so too, but I wasn’t sure.
Oh my god, who knew you would appear in such a beautiful and majestic form!”
Even thinking about it again, it seemed like it was amazing, and Duke Barantes admired it with an exhilarating expression.
“Your Majesty should have seen Lady Hazel’s distorted expression earlier.”
“… Did you see it too”
“Lady Hazel’s expression, that is.”
“Of course! As soon as Your Majesty appeared, I turned my head right there.
I’m just wondering what kind of expression she was going to make.
I was so surprised that her face crumpled in a flash.”
“Actually, I didn’t like Lady Hazel from the beginning.
I didn’t think you took her place, but… It looked a bit insidious.”
“Is it insidious”
“I didn’t tell you this on purpose because I was afraid Your Majesty would be upset, but Lady Hazel was almost camped in the Central Palace right after your disappearance.
What was she up to…”
Then the Duke of Barantes quickly changed his words when he saw Anastasia’s increasingly hardened expression.
“But why did you suddenly change your mind and come back To be honest, I was on the verge of giving up…”
Anastasia opened her mouth with a bitter look.
“I needed to be sure that I wasn’t crazy.”
Anastasia suspected that she might have heard a hallucination.
It was because hearing the voice of the Goddess in the first place was a rare experience that could only appear in history books.
But right after returning from the temple…
“Your Majesty, the sign is bigger”
“It got bigger”
I think it’s half bigger than before.”
She checked it with the mirror she took over in a hurry, and it was true.
Anastasia became more disturbed.
‘As if to prove what I heard earlier is real…’
Nevertheless, Anastasia hesitated to return.
‘If the oracle is really false, it means that the High Priest colluded with the Hazel family and manipulated the oracle.’
Because the oracle can only be heard by the High Priest.
‘But why the High Priest’
If discovered, it will not stop at mere dismissal.
He’d be thrown alive into fire for blasphemy and die painfully.
There was no reason for him to take such a gamble at all.
‘Avelin lied to me’
It was hard to accept the fact.
She was always nice and friendly to everyone before and after her return.
“Would it be hard to pretend to be a noble lady”
Selene ended Anastasia’s concerns.
“His Majesty promised not to divorce Your Majesty.
Even if the oracle falls, it’s not in the lady’s favor.
So shouldn’t she at least manage her reputation well”
“But if you really care, there’s only one thing.
A sure way to confirm Lady Hazel’s sincerity.”
“… What is it”
“A person’s true intentions are best revealed in unexpected and sudden situations, right”
Selene made eye contact with Anastasia and explained timidly.
“Go back to the Imperial Palace without telling anyone.
It will be clear from the look on the face of Lady Hazel the moment she first hears the news of Your Majesty’s return.
Whether or not she really cared about Your Majesty.”
“But is it possible to capture that moment…”
“It is possible.”
Anastasia realized that she had only a few days left for the visit of the Vislante delegation, and she murmured.
In her absence, Avelin would certainly appear in her place.
I will be able to judge for myself.”
So Anastasia went straight to the capital and appeared in front of everyone.
“The only moon in the Rosenberg Empire, the Empress enters.”
And with those words, as she entered the grand banquet, she was the first to find Avelin.
She hoped that her suspicions were wrong.
If the truth she had firmly believed in from the beginning until now was shaken up to its roots, it seemed that she would not be able to bear the shock of it.
Anastasia despaired as she saw the feeling of embarrassment that filled Avelin’s eyes.
She was actually angry enough to say that she was astonished by Avelin.
Hers was a more distinct emotion in contrast to the purely surprised expressions of others around her.
Anastasia became miserable.
Avelin was so shocked that she didn’t even seem aware that she had made such a face.
‘Really… Does that mean that I was deceived’
Now she had to admit it.
She had been thoroughly deceived by Avelin.
And in over two lifetimes too.
Same time, Sienna Palace.
After Avelin flicked her fingers a few times, the red rose petals ripped from the flower stalk fell helplessly to the floor.
All of a sudden, rose petals piled up under the floor.
There were dozens of roses that had already been damaged in the same way.
Avelin glanced at the rubble on the floor.
At first glance, her face was expressionless, but she was clearly sensitive and nervous.
At one point, Avelin’s expression changed wildly, and she grabbed the rose petals all at once and pulled them out in a bundle.
The rose petals flowed down the floor like blood.
Things went wrong.
The sudden return of Anastasia was unexpected.
“I thought she was going to die quietly in the countryside, but…”
Two months ago, the black magic wasn’t just for scare.
Her body must have been very damaged because she filled it with magic.
The proof of that was that Avelin gave a lot of her life force in exchange for black magic and even bled blood.
She was scared like a child and left right away, so Avelin thought she wouldn’t be seen in the palace for the rest of her life because she was afraid of the divine punishment…
“… Her color looked good*.
She seemed like a healthy person.”
*TN: as in she wasn’t pale from being sick
It was not at the level that would improve simply by recuperation.
“It seems that the black magic has failed.”
It was the worst.
Avelin asked nervously into the air.
“What’s wrong The conditions were perfectly met.”
[It was perfect.]
The bizarre voice only heard by Avelin penetrated her ear.
Avelin frowned reflexively at the eeriness of not being able to adapt no matter how many times she heard it.
[She’s just defended too well over there.]
“What the hell are you talking about”
[That means the divine power reflected your magic.
Is it because she’s chosen by the Goddess Good luck, she’s too lucky.]
[Should I say it simpler They’re fine over there, and you’re the only one who’s broken.]
Soon, a strange laugh penetrated into her brain and caused a headache.
Avelin asked in an irritating voice, covering her forehead.
“… Can you please stop making that crappy laugh”
[It’s because it’s funny how it’s going now.
Oh, my God, you’ve wasted your life! Keh keh.]
Was he an ally or an enemy
As Avelin stared fiercely into the air, the black light flashed rapidly in front of her eyes as if teasing her.
[You know there’s only a few months left, right If you don’t become Empress by the day you first died…]
“I remember the contract clearly, so please shut up.”
Avelin chewed her words out with a troubled expression on her face, the creepy laughter still lingered in her ears despite her own warning.
[Whether it’s in the past or this life, I can’t believe you didn’t even win him over.
More than anything else, those words bothered Avelin the most.
In other words, the problem was the starting point of all the contracts with this dark being and dragging the situation all the way to where they were now.
Wilhelm Rosenberg, because she didn’t get that one guy.