A week later, Erin received an invitation from the Empress and went to the palace. 

The Empress welcomed Erin in the same place where she had met Siara before.
The location, the food, and the people receiving her were all the same. 

The only difference was the contrasting reactions between Siara and Erin.

While Siara was composed and even a bit playful, Erin seemed desperate. 

‘I had some expectations when I contacted you so confidently.’

 A smile naturally appeared on the Empress’ lips as she faced her.
The Empress desired someone exactly like Erin, someone who would cover her eyes and move according to her will.

Having found her prey, the Empress treated Erin more kindly than usual. 

As someone who had lived in the palace for decades, the Empress easily drew out stories about the “Crown Prince” and his “consort” from Erin.
Trembling but with excitement in her eyes, Erin revealed her ambitions.

The Empress, who had been playing nice until then, stiffened her expression. 

“If you were interested in His Highness, then you should have come to him, not me.” 

Erin replied, trying to cover her uneasiness, 

“Your Majesty is his mother.
I thought it would be proper to meet you in advance.” 

“Is that so?” 

Empress Yertina sat quietly, sipping her tea. 

From the beginning, she saw Dianel more as a candidate for the next emperor than her child.
He wasn’t even the child she bore, so there was no maternal affection between them.

Anyway, Erin’s words were correct. 

She was the Empress.
In other words, it meant she held a strong opinion in the selection of the Crown Princess. 

The Empress laughed mischievously and asked, 

“You’re not trying to gain something through me, are you?” 

Caught off guard by the sudden change in atmosphere, Erin nervously replied, 

“W-why would I? I am already loved by His Highness.
He even gave me a pair of white silk gloves.” 

The gloves were sent by the Empress.
They weren’t just sent to Erin but also to many others vying for the position of the Crown Princess. 

Dianel knew about it but didn’t care.
He considered everything she did to be worthless.

Thanks to that, the Empress could pick out good seeds, and Erin was the most representative example.
She was an absurd fool who believed in the gift sent by someone she barely knew and spread rumors all over town. 

To think such a person would come crawling to her, driven by ambition to tarnish Dianel’s reputation, sent shivers down her spine.

So, she deliberately fueled Erin’s misunderstanding, pretending to be surprised. 

“Wow, it’s the first time I’ve seen that child send a gift to someone.” 

Erin asked in surprise, 


And it’s a pair of white silk gloves.
Isn’t that something you give to someone you care about?” 

“Y-yes! His Highness must like me too.” 

“Yes, my son is more shy than he appears, so he wouldn’t show it easily.”

Empress Yertina nodded with a smile, but she still had a puzzled expression as she spoke at length. 

“By the way… I heard rumors about His Highness and Siara being lovers in the palace.
It seems even the distinguished noble ladies from the Izbe family are plotting with His Highness.
But I’ve never heard any rumors about Erin….” 

“Well… it’s because…” 

Erin couldn’t find an excuse and stuttered, but a thought quickly came to her mind. 

“It’s because Siara has other things going on!” 

“Other things?” 

She seduced the Crown Prince and the High Priest to spend time with her.
I’m sure she’s trying to show herself well to both of them.” 

“I see.”

The Empress feigned surprise.
It wasn’t the first time she had heard such a story.
She had recently heard secret rumors circulating in the palace. 

They praised Siara as a healer with incredible abilities, capable of healing the collapsed Administrator with a single touch.
They said that if anything happened to Administrator, the sorcerers would immediately seek out Siara. 

Furthermore, she was busy with the High Priest day and night. 

The High Priest was not only busy but also good at drawing lines.
For such a person to handle even the meals of Siara at North Palace… It was unusual, to say the least.

She found herself genuinely interested in Siara, who had rejected her proposal.
But it was simply because she had been “persistent.” 

‘Could there be such a thing?’

In the first place, the High Priest and Administrator, along with Dianel, had worked together, so Dianel had no reason to go through the trouble of using Siara to get close to them. 

Empress Yertina barely suppressed a smirk and further provoked Erin’s thoughts. 

“That noblewoman was quite something.
Her striking appearance made a lasting impression from the moment I first saw her.
I’ve never seen anyone as beautiful as her in my entire life.”

When the Empress praised Siara, Erin’s expression quickly turned grim.
The Empress leaned back against the backrest and raised her teacup gently. 

“Anyway, Siara has the power to support herself not only in appearance but also in connections.
In contrast, Erin, what do you have to offer?” 


“I heard that you were also expelled from the party by Izbe ladies.
It’s not that your family is lacking, but you don’t have the remarkable connections such as the High Priest and Administrator.” 

The Empress murmured, pondering Erin’s situation. 

“It seems difficult for you to become a Crown Princess.
If His Majesty personally requests a marriage with you, it might be different.” 

The Empress smiled and continued, 

“As a mother, I consider His Majesty’s feelings most important.”

Erin’s face turned pale.
She couldn’t even muster the courage to glance at Dianel, whom she found annoying.
Looking at his cold face, she couldn’t even gather the courage to look at him. 

Suddenly, a hint of concern appeared in the Empress’s eyes.
She thought of her deceased son, who had died in Dianel’s arms. 

That child had suffered a fatal wound from the transformed Dianel, who had turned into a monster and had suffered in agony before dying.
He had always been a timid child who was afraid of Dianel and never even approached him.

And yet, Dianel possessed a power comparable to the invited Emperor and was revered just like before the accident.
The Emperor heard the news and hardened his expression, but he didn’t punish Dianel. 

Yertina understood the Emperor’s intentions.
Dianel had preemptively settled many internal conflicts that might arise in the future with his overwhelming abilities.
If it weren’t for him, no matter who became Emperor, it would have been a situation where numerous children of the Emperor would surely cause turmoil. 

Moreover, Dianel was also selected as the leader of the subjugation corps at that time.
The damage caused by the monsters that had come out of the evil forest and inflicted on the people was serious.
Sealing the Demon King was a necessary task.

If her son’s death was an inevitable event, Dianel becoming the Emperor was a necessary step for the sake of justice. 

Therefore, Yertina tried to think differently about him, swallowing her tears if Dianel truly regretted that event. 

One day, before the expedition, Yertina subtly approached Dianel about that event.
However, Dianel didn’t utter a word of apology.
Instead, he left without saying a word, his expression devoid of emotion. 

After all, since Dianel didn’t even shed a single tear at his own mother’s funeral, he probably didn’t even care about the death of his unknown brother.

Yertina’s gaze shifted to Erin after the reminiscence.
Her trembling hands betrayed her thoughts.
From her awkward appearance, it was obvious how things would end. 

When Dianel judged that he disliked someone, that person would disappear without a trace. 

After a brief silence, the Empress spoke again. 

“…Do you want my support?” 

Erin’s eyes widened at the long-awaited words.
If it was the words of the leader of the social circle, even the Izbe ladies would be envious. 

Moreover, the position of the Crown Princess was not something the Crown Prince alone could decide.
In the palace, the one with the decision-making authority equal to Dianel on that matter was none other than Empress Yertina.

Therefore, Erin desperately needed Yertina’s help.
She looked at the Empress with a desperate expression and asked, 

“What should I do? How can I gain Your Majesty’s support?” 

Even though she had been involved in the social circle since she was young, she was still a child.
With her desires stirred up, her true feelings were revealed. 

Satisfied with her direct request, the Empress raised the corners of her mouth smoothly and whispered, 

“My dear Erin, let me give you some advice.
Soon, rumors will spread that Prince Dianel and Lady Siara were not dating.
At that time, no matter what means you use, spread the rumor that the secret lover was you.”


Erin became frightened all of a sudden.
She was afraid of being restrained by those who aimed for the position of Crown Princess. 

Understanding her well, the Empress encouraged her with a gentle voice, 

“Don’t worry.
I will help you.” 

Those words gave her great strength, and Erin nodded with a determined expression. 

‘As I thought, I’m going to be the Crown Princess.’ 

After that, Empress Yertina excused herself, claiming to be tired. 

Even after bidding her farewell, Erin couldn’t leave the garden for a while.
Everything looked colorful and beautiful. 

It felt as if the whole world was supporting her.

Erin couldn’t hide her excitement. 

Afterward, rumors spread that Dianel and Erin were secretly dating.
The fact about the white silk gloves with the Crown Prince’s signature also became widely known. 

The ladies who received the same gloves remained tight-lipped for some reason, and even the Izbe ladies didn’t say a word. 

Once the interference disappeared, the rumors spread like wildfire.
Even the children on the streets knew about Dianel and Erin’s news. 

Given the situation, Siara, who was training with Adandito, also heard the news.
She had planned to leave for Astita immediately but had to stay in the capital due to Therid’s engagement.

Siara interpreted the rumors differently. 

‘I told them not to involve me, but they ended up involving Erin.
They didn’t need to go that far.’

Nonetheless, Siara didn’t pay much attention to the matter.
Dianel didn’t explain himself since she didn’t ask. 

Meanwhile, the Astita family successfully engaged with a central noble family after some time had passed.

As time went by, it was a week before Siara’s departure from the capital, during the morning prayer time. 

Siara struggled to stay awake and kept dozing off. 

Adandito pretended not to notice her.
He knew that Eora was by her side. 

In Adandito’s eyes, the deity appeared very blurry, barely distinguishable due to the hazy mist. 

She often had conversations with the deity when she dozed off during prayers, and because of that, Adandito knew that Siara could see Eora in great detail.
It was the same at that moment.

“Eora, you have more wrinkles now? Is it because of me? Don’t blame me for that.
It’s because of your nature to gather all sorts of tasks… Ah! It hurts!”

Today’s content was quite disrespectful.
Adandito coughed lightly and made an effort to focus on his prayers. 

Since Eora was present in the sky, on the ground, and in the air, only the figure beside Siara was not a deity.
However, the following conversation scattered Adandito’s concentration.

“He desires annihilation? …In the end, it might come to that.
The ‘end’ may not be far away.”

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