The duke shouted in anger for some reason.
I thought I could hear the crown prince saying things such as ‘how noisy’ somewhere.
I quickly responded.
“It, it was me who got into his nerves in the first place.”
“We could demand the crown prince for a favor, using how he was a harm to you, as a threat. You’ve become a great member of an Eckart, Penelope.”
I was about to go crazy at the duke’s unexpected reply, each time he spoke.
“We needed to take down a peg or two of his someday anyway. He became way too prideful after gaining the title as a hero of the war.”
Those were the words that could bring chaos to this family if anyone else were to hear them. Those were an insult to the royals.
The duke continued with his speech as if nothing happened, unlike me who was flustered inside.
“Penelope, you should know that us Eckarts aren’t on anyone’s side. We are just sitting on the fence, neutral.”
“Yes, of course.”
Nope. I didn’t actually, not at all.
“Though that’s the case, it’s hard to resist anything if we don’t have a backup. Her majesty the first empress has passed away, and people who supported the crown prince have decreased in numbers.”
(NOTE: The first empress is the first wife of the emperor, also the deceased mother of Calisto [the crown prince].
The current empress is the second wife of the emperor, the second prince’s mother.)
“No one knows who would become the next emperor at the moment.”
I didn’t know the crown prince had this kind of a backstory.
It was because that damn game was about nothing but capturing the heart of the male leads.
‘Of course. He had a reason for acting like a mad dog at the banquet.’
I didn’t understand why the empress and the second prince sent a murderer to the crown prince at first.
“So, you continue to be you onwards as well.”
With that said, the duke put on a smile of satisfaction as he changed the topic of the conversation.
“You’ve acted well in this case, so I shall reward you than to punish you. Do you have anything in mind to ask for?”
I came here, expecting to be punished. I didn’t think I’d be rewarded like this.
I just sat there, staring blankly at him when he slightly nodded his head once.
“Do you want a jeweler to visit again? Or do you perhaps want to throw out all of your dresses and order some new ones since this season’s coming to its end?”
My jaw dropped at the reward options of a different scale of what I could think of.
‘What a windfall.’
However, Penelope already had so many of both the jewels and dresses of those she bought before that those that the duke offered weren’t really needed.
I thought of what I wanted as my reward, and soon answered thoughtfully.
“I’ll tell you what I want as my reward later, after giving it some more time to think about it.”
Ca-chak, the duke and I were finished with our talk, and I just closed the office door behind me when a white box appeared before me out of nowhere.
Your fame has been +5 due to the reformation of your relationship with the people working in this mansion. (total : 5)
A feigned laugh escaped my mouth from the ridiculousness of this situation.
‘Just what did I do for me to earn this?’
I really didn’t try and improve my relationships with the people around me. If I had to think of one thing I did, then it’d be threatening them a little so that they don’t look down on me…… .
‘Was me being wounded a little by the crown prince really that of a big deal?’
I was fascinated by many things flowing in an unexpected way, including the way the duke acted.
While at it, I also somewhat felt a little proud of myself in a way.
Since, be it interest or fame, plus (+) always meant something good here.
‘Great. Let’s continue with this flow of things onwards as well.’
“Lady, you’re back.”
Emily welcomed me who just stepped into my room.
I nodded my head half-heartedly as I hurried to my desk and sat on the chair.
It was because I had a lot to think about besides thinking of what I want as my reward as well.
“Lady. This…… .”
Emily followed along and handed something to me.
“The thing you held against your neck on the day you fell unconscious. The first young master told me to just throw it away, but I washed and kept it just in case.”
I stared at what Emily handed to me.
A white handkerchief.
It was the one Buinter Verdandi lent me. I totally forgot about it.
I complimented Emily who’ve done thanks-worth thing. Her expression brightened when I did.
The handkerchief that was once soaked in blood was clean white now. I thought of what to do with it as I looked at it.
‘I do need to return the courtesy somehow.’
It was unwanted care, but I still needed to be polite about it.
Besides, there was a need to meet him at least once more since he was also one of the capture targets.
“Emily, can you tell the butler right now to bring in a jeweler tomorrow?”
Emily tilted her head from my request that came out from the blue, then clapped once.
“Ah! Are you planning to buy some new accessories for the upcoming festival?”
Emily answered me immediately when I asked in confusion.
“The festival celebrating for the birth of this country is held next week! I heard that the festival will be held on a much bigger scale due to his highness the crown prince’s return…… .”
“Don’t mention the crown prince.”
Emily gasped her mouth shut from my tone of voice that suddenly turned cold.
I was sick of even thinking of the crown prince. I motioned my hand, annoyed, towards Emily who started to study my face.
“Go to the butler now.”
“Okay! I’ll be right back!”
Emily left and the silence greeted me in my room.
I tapped on the desk with my one finger and got lost in deep thought.
“So next week’s the festival, huh…… .”
In the game, the episodes specified for meeting with each of the capture targets are unlocked in an order.
For instance, I had to get through with some of the episodes in Rennald and Derrick’s route for the crown prince’s route to be unlocked.
That’s why it was sort of unexpected that I met Buinter right away after I met with the crown prince.
But he was a character I’d meet in the banquet that day anyway, so nothing much changed within the story as it flowed the same up until right now.
All that’s left now was the last capture target, Eclise- the knight, who appears after the meeting with Buinter.
It was around when the festival took place when the last capture target was brought in to the mansion.
“What did Penelope did during the festival again…… ?”
In the hard mode of the game, I was only notified that the duke brought in the new capture target and was never able to see him. I was too busy dying while playing the episode ‘Festival Day Together’ with either Rennald or Derrick.
“I feel my blood boiling thinking about that again.”
In the end, the result was I was never able to have even just one single peaceful date at the festival with anyone.
I hurriedly opened a drawer and took out a piece of paper I hid before.
I went threw my writing at a fast speed and muttered.
“I need to get him before the duke does.”
I decided on something after almost being killed by the crown prince.
To finish one route as soon as possible and get out of this damn place, since I can’t try and die anymore.
To do that, I need to focus on raising the interest of the most manageable capture target.
My eyes sparked, looking at his name written on the paper.
“I choose you.”
I was busy exploring the mansion lately.
I wouldn’t be exaggerating even if I said that the Eckart mansion was the size of a town.
The training area for the knights and their dorms along with a small forest could be seen when you pass the beautifully decorated garden and a wide field of grass.
‘There must be an escape hole somewhere…… .”
I was doing this in order to find a secret way out of the mansion grounds before the day of the festival.
Though, it wasn’t easy since this place was so big.
I walked back to the gardens with droopy steps after failing to find an escape hole again today.
Then I requested Emily for a little snack and tea setup and read a book under a big tree afterward.
It was around when the story was reaching its climax. I heard a little rustle behind me.
“Emily. Can you hand me a bookmark?”
I was close to finishing the chapter that I kept my eyes on the book while I reached my hand towards where Emily should be at.
No reply came back though, even until I finished the last page of the chapter.
I closed the book and turned my head.
“Are you…… okay now?”
Beside me stood a person holding a tray with some snacks. It wasn’t Emily, but someone I didn’t expect to see here.
I let out an idiotic sound seeing the interest gauge bar above Derrick who I haven’t seen in days.
It was at 6% the last time I saw him. I didn’t know what caused it to rise.
Whoosh-. A cool breeze held the faint scent of flowers as it whooshed between me and Derrick.
My sight was momentarily blocked by my hair fluttering before me, and thanks to that, I was able to get back to my senses.
I realized that I was idiotically staring up at him and stood up.
Derrick stopped me when I did.
“No. You don’t need to get up.”
“It’s fine. I was going to go back in now anyways.”
“Then do you not want the desserts?”
I creased my brows, moving my gaze onto the tray he was holding.
‘It had to be him who brought this out of all the others!’
“Did Emily requested you to do such a thing?”
“No. I told her that I’d bring this to you since I had something I need to talk to you about.”
What does he, who hates Penelope to his death, have to say to me?
But that curiosity didn’t last long as I figured out what he’d meant.
“It’s about what happened the other day, right?”
Though the duke let it be and even gave me a reward, Derrick would surely not let go of this matter.
“Haa. Let’s just think of this as the continuing of an apology of what I was going to do in front of the duke.’
I held back a sigh as I carefully chose my words. Then I babbled out the words like a robot, soullessly.
“I apologize that I made a fuss when you told me especially not to.”
“You must’ve been flustered, first young master. I spoke to father and told him that I’d give myself a timeout by staying within the mansion grounds. If you think that I deserve a harsher punishment…… .”
He coldly cut through my line.
“That’s not what I was going to say.”
He was faintly frowning when I took a look at his face.