I didn’t plan it, but somehow, I ended up sleeping in Rustina’s room until the sun came up.
Since I was already there, I spent some time greeting her in the morning.
Thereafter, I went to clean myself up, got dressed and prepared for a whole day of labor.
I briefly wondered what kind of political play I had to do that day…that’s right! I am the King’s only daughter, therefore I must do a lot of work for the sake of the Kingdom.
In the beginning, I thought because Etricia was an infamous Villainess, she only lived to play and eat.
However, I know now that this isn’t the case.
In truth, she actually lives quite a busy life.
Fortunately, this body remembers everything so I do not have to worry about who I am meeting with, what is expected of me or my duties because I can just do them on reflex.
Otherwise, if I couldn’t rely on muscle memory then I really wouldn’t have been able to accomplish anything.
Today, I was stuck signing documents.
As I skimmed through the reports of the Imperial Palace’s finances, I caught sight of something that made me remove my glasses to read it more clearly, “What? Am I seeing this right?”
I brought the paper in front of me and opened my eyes wider to read it again; [To the daughter of her highness Princess Etricia, Princess Rustina, I give the Hermonia Territory in the south.
When Rustina reaches one-year-old her surname will be…Once she is two-years-old, the working mines of the north shall be given to her as well…When she turns three…]
It was a list of all the things that will be done for Rustina and of all the things she would receive.
Even though I read the document countless times, I still could not believe it.
‘What is all this now?’
One of my aides who was assisting me with work noticed my discomfort and asked, “Princess, is there any problem?”
“Ah… Sir Ber.
Could you take a look at this?”
I handed over the papers to him, and Sir Ber casually read the document and put it down gently.
He looked at me and asked in confusion, “What’s the matter, your highness? There are no problems with the documents.”
“No that is not the case, but why is this all about Rustina?”
“Indeed, it is.
His Majesty has ordered them to be prepared for her.”
“… Oh my gosh.”
Is the King trying to say that he’ll give her his country? Even though it is an empire with a large land mass, isn’t this being too excessive, even for him?
“But why… He didn’t even give me anything?”
Isn’t the King being too much? I am his only daughter but I received nothing from him.
This isn’t an issue about me being greedy but an issue of discrimination! First of all, I also have to live here, isn’t it my right to receive something too?
Especially because I may have to leave this place once I find Rustina’s dad, so money is crucial for my survival!
“Oh, he said he wouldn’t give anything to you, Princess.”
Yes, there must be many reasons why he wouldn’t.
I was embarrassed to even ask but I was still curious.
Seeing Sir Ber’s eyes, I smiled awkwardly as I read the look on his face which clearly told me; ‘Are you really asking because you don’t know?’
I truly do not understand why the King was doing this to Etricia.
I sighed and replied, “It’s okay, tell me.”
“I think you forgot, so let me tell you a few things.
The most recent thing that earned the King’s ire was when you suddenly left the Palace a few months ago and did not return, then you took out a bunch of valuable jewelry and gold from the royal treasury.”
“… Well, granting arguendo that I did do that, Sir Ber, it could be that I may have just used the funds allocated to me, right?”
“Princess, if I did anything wrong before that, please tell me.”
“Sir, what could you have done wrong?”
“Then why are you suddenly using honorifics… Every time you speak to me like this, I get scared.”
Oops! I still wasn’t used to how callous Etricia used to address the workers of the palace, so I was being respectful out of habit.
I cleared my voice and smiled mischievously at him, “Well it looks like your once spoiled Princess has grown up…Just think of it in that way.”
Continuing on with the story, the Princess only took out the things that His Majesty cherished the most and sold them.”
“… I did, what?”
I can’t believe Etricia really just did that! Sir Ber continued talking and I found out that the princess was eventually caught and dragged to her father.
However, when she was searched none of the valuables could no longer be found in her possession.
It was then logically concluded that she managed to get rid of them before she was found.
“Do you know what will happen if you do something like that again? There was a big uproar the first time you fled the palace with so many treasures and didn’t even tell anyone why you did that or what you were planning to do with the money.”
“I know if I did that again, the King wouldn’t give me anything in the future.”
Okay, let’s admit it.
It was already fortunate enough that I was allowed to be here; to eat and sleep comfortably inside my luxurious room even though I technically committed an unforgivable crime towards the crown.
At Sir Ber’s words, I straightened up my posture and sat down, “I work hard and I must have changed a lot these days though, right?”
“Indeed, the princess has noticeably changed a lot.
However, whether you are just acting or being genuine still remains to be seen.” He took a quick pause and asked, “Have you thought about the upcoming banquet?”
“Is that something I should be concerned about?”
Right now, I was flooded with royal duties already, but it seems there is no end to my work! I am now being told to plan for a banquet too… but perhaps, I should have expected it.
Rustina is Etricia’s daughter, it is only natural for mothers to plan and have a say about any party or banquet that concerns their child.
It is indeed part of my responsibility.
Furthermore, I had strong suspicions that if I let my father plan this instead, the Kingdom’s royal treasury would be emptied and we would go bankrupt!
I sighed, “Um, then… Let’s focus on these tasks first and not talk about the banquet right now.”
I grabbed the papers in Sir Ber’s eyes and got up from my seat.
Truthfully, I don’t know what I should do right now, but I do know I no longer wanted to talk to Sir Ber.
“Would this be okay?”
I submitted the banquet plans to my father with a nervous expression.
I couldn’t help but think that this situation feels exactly similar to when I used to submit company reports to my superiors back in my previous world.
My father flipped through the papers with a serious look on his face.
As the wrinkles on his forehead visibly deepened, I knew he saw something he did not like.
Therefore, I was no longer surprised when he said in a loud clear voice, “I reject this proposal!”
“But why?” I mean, I did expect this rejection as Sir Ber already warned me that the King will not approve it.
Still, he only saw it for a few minutes.
How can he make a decision in such a short amount of time?
“Will this be the budget? It’s so infinitely lacking.”
“What is it that it lacks? It’s a very grand banquet that will dent the royal treasury.”
“It feels good to hear those words come out of your mouth as it seems you are interested in your daughter’s affairs, but shouldn’t you at least have a jeweled table and goblets made of gold?”
“I am against those! Rustina’s eyes are too young, she might be blinded with all that shining and shimmering things.
Besides, there will be too many people coming, what if they find it too luxurious and criticize the royal family for being too extravagant?”
I am at a position of privilege and so is the royal family, they are used to luxuries simply because they can afford it, but common people are not and such blatant displays of riches can turn the common folk against us.
I already had a bad reputation where my subjects cursed me, therefore I had to be careful with my actions so I don’t stir up more trouble.
I had to be careful, especially now, because whatever I do will also affect Rustina.
If it is too extravagant, people might go crazy, what will we do then?
“You know father, being thoughtlessly lavish will cause people to gossip badly about the royal family.
I do not think it is wise to involve Rustina in such bad gossip.”
Now that I am no longer the villain Etricia, I knew I had to change my image so I can live here comfortably.
I don’t know if my reputation is an easy thing to change, but I still have to make an effort to do so.
“Leave it entirely to me this time.” I told the King confidently.
“Well, if you say so, then I will leave all the decisions to you.”
Father’s expression softened slightly.
After an hour or so, I finished my audience with him in a lighter mood.
‘Sir Ber will be surprised.
The plan is successful.’ I thought to myself as I excitedly passed through the hallways.
As I recalled, he was very confident in telling me that I wouldn’t succeed in getting the King to side with my proposal, but I told him I had no choice but to win over my father, because I no longer had any ideas left or energy to come up with a grander banquet plan.
Regardless, it is fine isn’t it? After all, the King already gave me the green light to do as I pleased.
I hummed as I went to my room and stopped walking as I remembered something, “Ah! You didn’t do the most important thing!” I berated myself as I totally forgot to write to Kyrian.
Before the day of the banquet I planned to see him so I was going to send him a message to meet before that.
However, it seems I forgot to do that because I was preoccupied with work.
I also told Louisa that I would meet with him separately to talk…
‘Ha, this really is so burdensome.’
I shrugged my shoulders and entered the room.
Without bothering to take a break, I proceeded to sit down at my desk and immediately picked up my pen and wrote…
I am sending this letter in hopes that you do not even consider breaking into my room, or show up in the imperial court, or even bring me anything useless that would just cause a menace.
If you really want to meet me to talk, I think you should come to the Annex of the Palace tomorrow.
If you want to meet with me, please come tomorrow and meet me at the designated rendezvous.]
I have read the letter several times.
I wonder if he will understand this enough?
I thought it would be weird if I said respectful words, so I decided to just write comfortably, simply and straight to the point.
Besides, it felt as though we were familiar with each other, so it may not be so strange if I wrote to him like this.
I don’t know if Kyrian will come, but I don’t think he will come to the Imperial Palace against my will, especially because I know that he doesn’t like the imperial family that much either.
I only wrote the letter, but why do I feel like I’m moving so quickly?
Besides, I had one more thing to do; I also had to write a letter to Louisa and inform him of our rendezvous; [Louisa, please come to the Annex of the Palace.
Don’t bring anything, just bring yourself.
There is no bedroom, so don’t even dream of staying the night.]
There was no need to write a long one.
Whatever the purpose, I realize it is easier to simply write the content that needs to be conveyed to the receiver.
I put the letter in an envelope and sealed it with the imperial seal.
Afterwards, I rang the bell and handed the letter to Bell and instructed her in a somber tone, “Never let others know about this.
You have to go and deliver these letters secretly.”
“I understand, your highness!” Bell answered in a loud voice.
Once again, she wore an expression on her face that told me she viewed the mission given to her as something that was important.
Well, it did not matter what she thought…
I leaned back on the chair and stretched my aching limbs, “Oh and do tell the maids to bring me hot tea on your way out.”
“Yes, your highness.”
As Bell closed the door, the room was once again enveloped in complete silence.
I stood up and slowly opened the window to let the cool breeze in.
I closed my eyes and allowed myself to relax.
I was almost feeling at ease when the wind carried the knocking sounds to my ears.
Someone was speaking through the doors, “Princess, I am sorry to disturb you but may I come in?”
I recognized the voice and so I replied, “You may enter.”
Rustina’s nanny slowly stepped inside my room while carrying the former.
The young child was wrapped in swaddling clothes but a smile immediately broke out on her face and she started flailing her hands as soon as she saw me, “Byeah!”
Rustina, who was looking at me with her bright eyes, was struggling to reach out to me and come to my arms.
Now that I’m used to her clingy behavior, I casually took the baby in my arms and sat down on the nearby chair while carrying her.
“Princess Rustina whined and so I brought her here.
She seemed to be looking for you, your highness.” The nanny explained apologetically.
“Really? I’ll be with her for a while, so you can go and get some rest.”
“Thank you, your highness.” The nanny glanced at Rustina and me, smiled sweetly, and then left.
As soon as the two of us were alone, I looked at the opened window, “Isn’t the temperature too chilly for you? Will you catch a cold?” I asked as the wind kept blowing in and messing Rustina’s golden hair.
I stood up to close the window to prevent her from being sick.
“Looks like the tea is here, come in.” I told the person outside my door and thought happily that finally, the fatigue I was feeling will be washed away by a nice cup of hot tea.
However, as I casted my eyes at the door, the anticipation in my eyes was replaced by shock when I saw who came in, “… Hassel?”
There was Hassel Droy standing with the tea that was meant to be carried by my maids.
It was obvious to me that he just came from training as he was still dripping wet from a whole day of gruelling work.
The outside wind made his white shirt cling to his body, revealing his strong muscles underneath.
Unexpected gasps of surprise came out of Rustina’s and my mouth, at the same time.
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