The next day, Lucerne sent the children back to their original palace, as if nothing had happened, and returned to Santuris.
Despite knowing my true identity, Lucerne still called me “Astia”.
It hurt to be ignored as Hyerim, but there was nothing I could do.
He wanted Astia, not Hyerim.


I was grateful just to have survived.
I stayed by Lucerne’s side, eating, sleeping, taking care of the children, and smiling as best as I could.
Even my forced smile looked stiff to me, but it was the best I could do.

Early in the morning, we finished breakfast and spent time in the reception room.
I read the adventure of the new knight that Lucerne had given me, while he leaned back in a comfortable chair and repeatedly read and signed documents with a serious expression, holding a pen.

During the uncomfortably quiet time, someone knocked on the reception room door.
“Your Majesty, it’s Caleb,” the voice outside said.

Normally, Caleb wouldn’t come in without being summoned.
Even if he had something to say, he would wait outside the door until Lucerne left the reception room to avoid interrupting our time together.

Lucerne’s voice was sharp with irritation.
“What’s the matter?”

“I have important news to share,” Caleb replied.

“Come in then.”

Lucerne sat up straight in his chair.

Caleb entered quietly and approached Lucerne.
He seemed like he was about to say something but glanced at me and hesitated.

I stood up, thinking it might be something I shouldn’t hear.

“No need for that,” Caleb said in a flat tone.
“I’ll tell you straight.
A suspicious person has been found near Santuris.”

“A suspicious person?” Lucerne’s face hardened instantly.
A sharp, blue aura seemed to appear around him.

“Early this morning, a Southern knight on patrol near Santuris noticed someone wandering around under a shady tree.
When the knights approached, the suspect tried to escape, but was caught.
He swallowed poison and committed suicide before he could be interrogated.”

“That’s extremely suspicious.
Was he an assassin?”

“It seems that way.
A poison-tipped sword was found on the body,” Caleb replied.


“To come into Santuris and attempt an assassination without fear.
Could it be another noble faction?” Lucerne asked.

“There was no emblem to identify a certain family.
The suspect’s clothing was difficult to distinguish by status or region.
However…”

“However?” Lucerne prompted after a pause, sensing that Caleb had more to say.

Caleb hesitated for a moment before speaking.
“Recently, Lady Collis was seen in the area.”

“Lady Collis?” Both Lucerne and I were surprised.

Caleb, a loyal servant, had patiently waited for his master to regain his composure.
Lucerne, who had been pondering something with a serious expression, shook his head as if trying to dispel his thoughts.

“Why did Lady Collis come to Santuris? I had asked her not to come near the area,” Lucerne said.

“She asked if she could meet with you once to check on your well-being.
When I conveyed your request to her not to approach the area, she left without saying a word.
She also asked me to keep her visit a secret, as she was concerned that it might upset you.
I apologize,” Caleb explained.

Lucerne sighed and rubbed his forehead with his hand.
“I see.
For now, we need to strengthen the borders of Santuris and the nearby gardens.
I will meet with Lady Collis myself.”

“Understood,” Caleb said before quietly leaving the room.

Lucerne stood up from his chair.
“I’m sorry, but I need to step out for a moment.
I hope she didn’t send the assassin, but I need to investigate to make sure.”

I nodded, feeling tense and worried.
“Please be careful.”

“Okay.”

Lucerne left the lounge in his comfortable attire.
He had his usual expressionless face, but his hurried footsteps betrayed his anxiety.

* * *

Knock, knock!

The sound of a neat knock was heard.


Collis, who was reading a book, brightened up as she saw who it was.

“Lucerne?”

“Yes, sister.
May I come in for a moment?”

“Come on in.”

Lucerne, who entered after opening the door, looked a little disheveled compared to usual.
He seemed to have rushed over.
It had been a long time since Collis had seen her brother like this since they were children.

Collis closed her book and gestured for Lucerne to take the chair opposite hers.

“I’m glad you came to see me.
It feels like we’ve gone back in time.”

“Did you not expect me to come?”

“I did.
I can recognize your footsteps from anyone else’s.”

Despite the affectionate words, Lucerne did not smile.
If it were like before, he would have smiled kindly and made eye contact.

“If it were like before, he would have answered with a kind smile and said, ‘Yes, that’s right.’ But it was all because of that demanding person.
She clenched their fists tightly so as not to show it.

‘Shall I prepare some tea?’

‘No need for tea.
I came because there’s something I wanted to ask you.’

‘Go ahead.’

‘I heard that you went to Santuris recently.’ He paused for a moment and then tilted his head.

She thought of the old advisor whom she asked to keep it a secret, but held back her anger.
Collis didn’t want to ruin the time they had to talk quietly with her beloved sibling after a long time.

‘Yes, I did.’

‘Why did you come? I asked you not to come near Santuris or the gardens.’


‘I know.
But I came all this way to the palace and I thought since it’s harvest festival time, you might be too busy.
I just wanted to see your face for a moment and have a chat with you.’

‘Were you here for an investigation?’

‘…Investigation?’ This time, even Collis couldn’t force a smile.
It seemed like her sibling’s visit wasn’t just to have a warm conversation.

‘You’ve been acting really strange lately.
Did I say something about investigating Santuris? Were you afraid that I was going to attack you?’

‘It might not have been me, but Astia that you were trying to attack.’

‘…’

 It was true that Collis wanted to get rid of that person.

When Collis didn’t answer, Lucerne sighed.

“My dear brother, why are you making that expression? Is it because of that woman? I should have gotten rid of her earlier, but I couldn’t because she was living far away.
It’s my fault that I left her alone until you got to this point.
I’m sorry, Lutz.”

Collis looked at Lucerne with sad eyes, not sure if he understood her feelings.
Lucerne leaned forward, placing his elbows on his thighs and clasping his hands.
His opal-colored eyes, the most beautiful eyes in the world, kept shaking.

After a while, Lucerne looked down at the floor and spoke.

“Your Highness, an assassin was found near Santuris in the early morning.”

Collis stopped thinking and stiffened her body.
Fortunately, Lucerne wasn’t looking at her, or he would have noticed her surprise if they had made eye contact.

“Damn assassin.
He was so confident in his skills, but was he caught?” She bit her tongue, thinking about the advance payment she had given to the assassin.

Lucerne hesitated to speak.
“At first, I thought it might be the work of the nobles, but no signs were found.
You know how much I hate assassinations, so I wanted to check just in case.”

“What are you saying?”

“Did you send an assassin to Santuris?”


“Yes, I did.
I wanted to get rid of that woman who had you under her spell.”

But since the plan failed, there was no need to reveal it.
The assassin would have died without leaving any evidence, so Collis could deny it if necessary.

“I would never do that.
The nobles who still want to pull you down from the throne even after Isaac’s death might have done it.”

“Is that so?”

“These clueless nobles, it looks like the time is coming for us to teach them a lesson.”

When Lucerne was ten years old, an assassin sent by the nobles had hidden in his room.
The assassin had tried to kill the ten-year-old boy, but failed.
Lucerne, who was already powerful thanks to his own magical abilities and the magical powers gifted by Collis, was unmatched.

Since then, every time Lucerne thought of that incident, he would clutch his throat.
Collis couldn’t even imagine the fear and terror that the child must have felt.

Collis knew that sending an assassin to where her younger brother lived would leave a lifelong trauma, but she had no choice.
She had to get rid of that woman.

She believed that once that woman was gone, everything would be peaceful again.

Lucerne stood up from his seat, touching his throat a few times, and looked at Collis with a sad face.

“I’ll go now.
Just in case, I’ll say it again.
Please don’t come to Santuris until I contact you.”

“Lutz, it seems like you’re still delaying the disposal of that woman.”

“I’ll take care of it.
Your Highness, please don’t worry.
Goodbye.”

Lucerne bowed and left the room.

Collis leaned back deeply into her chair as she watched her beloved brother leave.

“‘I’ll take care of it’?” It was an absurd statement.
Lucerne was still under the spell of that woman.
The fact that he had been prevented from coming to Santuris and that the woman was still alive was evidence of that.

It was only a matter of time before he started talking nonsense about loving that woman again, just like before.

Before Lucerne gets distracted by her again, she had to get rid of her.

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