Episode 21: Chapter 4.
Events in Rete
As those words came to an end, silence descended upon the room.
Unlike the three who seemed to know something, Cordelia, growing frustrated and unable to stand it any longer, suddenly stood up.
“What was that you just said? Explain it in a way that’s easy to understand!”
The three pairs of eyes turned to Cordelia as she boldly exclaimed with Noah’s face.
Franz’s expressionless face made a subtle gesture toward Noah.
“I couldn’t help but wonder if you really didn’t say anything at all.”
“I thought it might be better to part without knowing.
That’s why I didn’t explain.”
“Are you being sincere?”
“We’re in a situation where we’re unavoidably connected.
If there’s a chance not to know, isn’t it better not to know? I believe you, older brother, also understand this.”
Even in the midst of this, Cordelia voiced her dissatisfaction to the king and Noah, who were conversing privately.
“Hey, I hate this kind of atmosphere, you know? Everyone knows something, and I’m the only one left completely in the dark!”
The voice that had grown emotionally charged gradually calmed down.
“Unless you’re just teasing me, tell me quickly.
I feel like there’s something I need to know.”
Although she probably already had a strong sense of it, Noah couldn’t ultimately avoid Cordelia’s gaze, which seemed to insist on hearing it from his mouth.
Suppressing the desire to avert his gaze, he answered calmly.
“Cordelia, I’m undoubtedly Noah Epherman, but there’s another name.”
“What is it?”
His lips hesitated for a moment as if holding the royal surname on his tongue before he quietly uttered it.
“My father is King Kendrick Linaen, and my mother… is Irene Borderois-Linaen.
Although our family name has been stripped from us.”
The moment Cordelia heard the name Borderois, her expression changed.
How could she forget Borderois and Viscount Deje, the culprits of the rebellion incident revealed eight years ago? The king set an example by executing and stripping their noble titles, including from the entire clan.
The first daughter of the former Queen Borderois and the young prince, both once connected to the reigning king, had their privileges and statuses taken away, utterly dismantled.
“Just a moment, so you’re saying…”
“He’s a monarch.
Though he has a different mother.”
A more direct explanation came from the king.
Hearing his words, Cordelia scrutinized the king’s face almost rudely.
Then she blurted out.
“…You do look alike.”
While the king was more grandiose, their overall facial features were quite similar.
Cordelia recalled the face of Queen Irene, whom she had seen at a gala when she was much younger, and noted the resemblance.
With the memory overlapping Noah’s face, Cordelia began to accept things to some extent.
Other facts also came to mind.
The solemn guards and servants at the mansion, the almost desolate interior due to the lack of activity when their bodies were switched, Noah’s assertion that he couldn’t go out, and his attempts to dissuade her from going to the palace.
That mansion had truly been a prison.
The vague suspicions solidified into a concrete reality, hitting her like a blow to the back of her head.
“Since I can’t use my real name… I created a new one.
Thanks to the convenience, I can go outside as well.
I’m sorry I didn’t tell you in advance.
I know that no excuse matters, but…”
Observing Noah bowing his head as if being cautious, Cordelia pursed her lips in mild annoyance.
Stepping toward Noah, she held his cheeks in both hands and lowered her head to meet his gaze.
Within her naturally blue irises was the face of a man.
“Don’t do that to my face.”
While Noah’s eyes were calm like a tranquil lake, Cordelia’s pupils flickered like burning flames.
“Right now, you’re Cordelia Weichen.
Always confident, a woman who lives in the world with her sense of pride.
I can’t accept you bowing your head over something like this! “
Her resolute voice held Noah’s gaze firmly.
Letting go of his face with a slight nod, Cordelia turned her eyes away.
The vague unease coalesced into a clear form.
If everything is sorted out, was he planning to never see her again?
She couldn’t understand why the mere thought of what kind of relationship they had could trigger such a sense of betrayal.
Wasn’t it ridiculous to have such feelings for someone she had only known for a week?
It’s enough to make her heart skip a beat.
Cordelia shook her head in disbelief, banishing the thought.
Yes, this is what this face is all about.
Cordelia took out a box containing a bracelet from her bag and handed it to Franz.
As he accepted it, he looked puzzled and asked:
Cordelia spoke confidently and stared directly at Franz.
Because Noah’s body was almost the same height, she could meet his gaze comfortably.
Even though she knew it was impolite, Cordelia reiterated her response to Franz without pointing it out.
“Just as Noah said, I came here on my own accord.
Noah is here because of my request.
So, if you’re asking about the responsibility of this body being in the palace, you should ask me.”
As Noah urgently shouted, Cordelia extended her hand as if to say it was fine.
She placed her hand against his ear, hesitated, then lowered it.
“I’ll give this to you.
It’s a gem made into a piece of jewelry that’s said to bring happiness when shared with a loved one.
Now that you’ve received it, please consider it as if you haven’t seen anything.”
Franz shrugged his shoulders as he looked at Cordelia making a brazen request with his younger brother’s face, saying that since he had already received it, there was no way to avoid it.
“Even without receiving something like this, we would have settled today’s matter anyway.
There’s no need to spoil this solemn day.”
Handing the box back to Cordelia, Franz added a light remark.
“So, let this gift be given to your sister rather than me.”
Cordelia initially seemed surprised by the nonchalant response, but then her expression turned into a playful smile.
* * *
In the parlor where only the two were left, Jerania glanced briefly at Cordelia, who was sitting quietly.
‘Now that there are many people, it would be wise to give them some time and leave.
Jerania, please stay here with the Lady.
I have matters to discuss with this fellow.’
As the conversation seemed to be wrapping up, Cordelia stopped Franz, who was gesturing to leave with Noah.
A suspicious glance turned toward the king.
‘Surely you’re not thinking of taking Noah to prison?’
‘Putting him in prison? Lady, have you forgotten who Ian is with right now?’
‘Even if I were to do that, Duke Weichen would surely enjoy the spectacle.’
Upon hearing Frederick’s name, Cordelia reflexively furrowed her brow.
Franz, noticing the genuine disgust on her face, didn’t say anything further and left the room.
Since the two had disappeared like that, the atmosphere had remained this way.
Cordelia, who was usually calm even in the most difficult situations, not saying a word while sitting still—this was truly a serious sight, even coupled with her humorless expression.
Though she was known for her positive personality, perhaps she couldn’t avoid being shocked.
Cordelia turned to Jerania, who had a concerned expression on her face.
“Is this causing issues in the family tree?”
An unexpectedly odd question burst out.
Jerania, who usually grasped context immediately, unknowingly replied in confusion.
“Well, you know…”
“Call him whatever makes you comfortable.”
“Yeah, Noah! I mean, the situation arose accidentally, but his face fits my taste.
I mean, I’ve never had a pretty face in my life that I didn’t have to compromise with.”
Her enthusiastic chatter was as usual.
Quietly relieved, Jerania agreed for now.
“I tried provoking him in every way possible, but he never showed any interest.
This must have been the reason.
Seriously, it’s ridiculous!”
Now suddenly, anger flared up like intermittent flames.
While she couldn’t quite follow her younger sister’s train of thought as she rambled on, Jerania played along.
He messed up.”
“Right? Ah, now I feel better.
Now that I know the reason, all that’s left is to clean up.”
“…Yeah, right, sure?”
For a moment, Jerania thought she had misheard.
However, looking at Cordelia’s smirking expression, she realized it wasn’t a joke.
No matter how exceptional she might be, even though her face was completely different from her younger sibling’s, Jerania was familiar enough with it not to feel uncomfortable.
“Cordy, you couldn’t possibly…”
“As you know, sis, I have to do what I want to feel satisfied.
I finally found a handsome man I like, and I can’t just step back without doing anything.
Cordelia Weichen can’t stand for that!”
Why does she have to drag her name into this?
Quickly sensing Jerania’s confusion, Cordelia firmly grasped her sister’s hand and her eyes sparkled.
“So, sis, do you trust me?”
Does she trust her?
Doubt filled the green eyes.
Of course, Cordelia didn’t mind.
“To be honest, I always thought I had quite an active imagination.
But reality is surpassing fiction.
I wonder how people would react if I used this as material and wrote a story.
No one would believe it, right?”
“Just kidding, just kidding.”
Jerania grabbed both sides of Cordelia’s cheeks and pouted.
“Even in this situation, you manage to crack jokes!”
In this rare moment of being scolded by her sister, Cordelia blinked her eyes in surprise.
Perhaps because of Noah’s condition, Jerania let go of Cordelia’s cheeks when she said it hurt.
A sigh escaped from the usually gentle demeanor.
“Seriously, think about it a bit more seriously.
I know you’ll handle things your way, but it’s natural to have concerns.”
“It’s not like I’m getting married right away, so what’s the harm? Even if I were to be found out, it wouldn’t be taken too seriously, thanks to my manly charm.
This time, I hope it doesn’t go too far; it would be a relief if we don’t end up betting on it.”
Jerania tilted her head at her sister’s nonchalant words.
“Why are you saying things like that? Despite your casual attitude, I know you’ve always been serious about relationships, and you know that too, don’t you?”
The tender voice tugged at Cordelia’s heartstrings.
She felt like she wanted to pour her heart out to her sister, but she held back.
After all, it was someone else’s body she was in!
“Anyway, I know we have to think about the future, but… I don’t want to just pragmatically pursue physical satisfaction.
And reacting excessively to something that’s not Noah’s or even Ian’s fault is funny.”
Facing her face, tinted with guilt, felt even more subtle than expected.
Of course, she knew well why Noah had that expression.
In normal circumstances, it would be a situation he’d avoid and distance himself from.
But no matter how much she thought about it, she didn’t want that.
Beyond just appearances, perhaps because she already knew that he was truly a good person.
Even though she had entered the royal palace of her own accord, seeing him try to take responsibility in some way and the way he clung to that responsibility, Cordelia couldn’t help but feel a bit embarrassed.
How many men had she known around her who were as responsible as him? Seeing him carrying an undue burden for something that wasn’t even his fault made her heartache.
As if making a promise, Cordelia spoke.
I’ll do my best not to cause any accidents.”
“Okay, for now, I understand.”
She had nothing more to say, having spoken to this extent.
Jerania called someone to bring the necessary items.
As they continued chatting for a while, the door opened, and Noah poked his head in.
When asked what they were discussing, he avoided answering, saying it was a royal order.
Jerania, with a gentle smile, looked alternately at the bewildered faces of Noah and Cordelia as they took their seats.
She spread out a map she had prepared beforehand on the table and spoke.
“Well then, shall we start planning?”
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