YCKTML Chapter 18
There were about ten days left until the Empress’s birthday ball.
To pass the time, I decided to read through the books and learn some general knowledge I needed to live in this world. So I studied history, culture, a brief genealogy of each noble family, manners and etiquette in social circles, and magic she couldn’t understand with just pages on a paper.
And just in case, I also got all the latest romance novels from this famous author.
I knew that reading it alone wasn’t enough, but it was far less daunting than going to the ball completely unprepared. In the meantime, I took out the last book and opened it.
“What is this?”
It was a pretty thick and uninteresting book, but I certainly didn’t borrow it. Was it brought along by mistake?
I opened it to see information about laws on Imperial and noble inheritance. Disputes over the inheritance of titles and property often happened in aristocratic society, so it seemed that the items were compiled separately.
I brightened the magic lamp; it was already past midnight. This magic lamp, one of the two in the mansion, really was quite useful.
“Inheritance of a title can be made by determining the order of the spouse, children, grandchildren, spouse of a child, and other relatives. If a person dies without a will, the titles are succeeded in the above order. If there are multiple titles, they will be succeeded in order of highest rank.”
I purposely read the sentence aloud to fight the headache and yawn caused by the complicated sentences.
With my eyes wide open, I kept reading the sentence that constantly flew over my head. Spouse, children, grandchildren, spouse of children…
The Duchess of Clifford had already died, and the only survivors of the Duchess were her husband, the current Duke, her only son Rupert and Rupert’s wife, Erin Spilet.
However, the Duke had not yet written a will. Rupert was the only son of the Duke and thus, was considered the heir apparent, but currently, Rupert was merely a Count, much like Erin.
I wondered if Erin had thought this far.
The main reason Erin decided to marry Rupert in the novel was money. But when if money was the only reason, it didn’t have to be Rupert.
Since Erin herself was a Count, it was okay to choose a wealthy merchant.
In the novel, Erin said she chose Rupert because she had feelings for him. But given Erin’s character, it wouldn’t be surprising if the Duke status was among her reasons for choosing Rupert.
“No, I’m probably overthinking.”
The Duke and Rupert were estranged, but Erin was fine.
In the novel, the Duke died suddenly before Erin did, so Rupert naturally became the Duke. And soon Chloe became the Duchess instead of Erin, who Rupert had divorced for failing to meet the one-year deadline.
Then… the Duke’s death was not far off. I think I need to meet him at least once before then.
I was too absorbed in my thoughts, and my head started to throb. I massaged my temples then went out of the study with the lamp to go to the bedroom.
There were only two days left until the ball.
And the morning of the ball was bright.
The party was scheduled to begin at sunset and continue until dawn the next day.
I sat at the table by the window in my bedroom in the main building, enjoying my morning tea, watching the busy maids coming and going from below.
I didn’t know what else they were carrying, but it seemed that Chloe in that annex ordered many things.
Jenny, who was next to me, looked up and said, “…this is just too much. The invitation was originally for you, but if she’d steal it, shouldn’t she be more subtle about it?”
“Ms. Chloe will probably be excited about attending such a party for the first time.”
“Aha, that must be true.”
When Jenny saw my relaxed appearance, she smiled and looked down the window.
I hadn’t even told Jenny that I had been invited. Come to think of it, I didn’t tell anyone, not just Jenny.
With that in mind, I put down the teacup with a clink. I don’t think I even told the Crown Prince, but he already knew I was coming and asked me to be his partner.
Did he send the invitation? Then what about Madam Plada’s business card?
But, on the other hand, I thought that since he’s the Crown Prince, he would know. He could easily get a list of invitations and see if I was invited or not.
After letting Jenny go, I opened up the dance book again with a calm mind. Even if I studied and imagined things in my head, could I actually dance this?
While holding the book, I moved around, mimicking the poses shown in the picture. Fortunately, Erin’s body remembered it, and I was dancing the steps as if I had practiced it countless times.
Then I put down the book in relief.
“Hmm, now I have to slowly prepare.”
I didn’t have to, but I didn’t tell Rupert and intended to go and run into him there. Imagining the surprised look on his face brought a smile to my lips.
It wasn’t until the carriage that carried Rupert and Chloe left that I went outside. It didn’t feel bad to see the eyes of passers-by widen.
Madam Plada added silk to the dress I had seen before to accentuate Erin’s elegance further. Even though I had only seen the dress, I somehow seemed to understand her intentions.
If Chloe’s dress was bright and glamorous, a dress for a beloved lover, mine was meant to emphasize the noble and elegant beauty, ultimately showing that I was the hostess; I was the wife.
Well, maybe it was just my overthinking.
I rolled up the hem of my dress and walked across the garden. There was a carriage engraved with the royal emblem. However, it looked different from the one I rode.
There, someone opened the door and stepped out. I calmed my pounding heart and curtsied.
“I greet His Highness, the Imperial Crown Prince of the Empire.”
“Count, you’re not as surprised as I thought.”
“I knew you were well prepared.”
Enoch smiled brightly and reached out and held out his hand. I accepted his offer and smiled back.
Honestly, I wasn’t surprised. I was impressed, but I acted nonchalantly to hide it.
“But you forgot one thing.”
Before getting on the carriage, I stepped up the stairs and looked down at him. The red afternoon sunlight fell like paint on his dark hair.
And his emerald-colored eyes looking up at me fluttered so innocently.
“Today, Your Highness is very handsome and wonderful. I accept you as my partner.”
Hearing my words, he made an ‘ah’ sound, turning his head, his ears turning red.
It was a rare sight for him, who was always confident, to be shy. I waited for him, staring at him so as not to miss his expression.
As he took a deep breath and turned back to me, I could see every single moment.
“It’s not that I didn’t compliment you on purpose. It’s just that you’re always so beautiful that I didn’t even think of it. Of course, today, you’re even more…”
It must be because of the red sunset. That’s probably why my cheeks looked red in his eyes.
Without answering Enoch’s words, I quickly got into the carriage. Then he sat down next to me, not across from me, and knocked on the roof.
This time, it was probably not a carriage with a magic device, and while it was a little wobbly, it was rather fortunate. Otherwise, he would have heard my rapidly beating heart.
“His Highness, Imperial Crown Prince Enoch Dwell Rikephoros and Count Erin Spilet will enter.”
At the shout announcing our entrance, the buzzing crowd became quiet in an instant. And everyone turned their heads and looked at Enoch.
I had been through something similar a while ago, but I felt lightheaded.
“Count, raise your head proudly,” a voice only I could hear brought me back to my senses. It was expected anyway, and it was also something I was aiming for. I kept my composure and put on my best smile.
People looked to Enoch and me, and then turned to Rupert. It was a pity that I couldn’t see his expression in detail because he was too far away.
The Ducal heir entered with his lover instead of his wife, and the Ducal heir’s wife came with the Crown Prince. What did people think when they saw this dysfunctional family?
Fortunately, the nobles looked like they were having fun, but they looked at Rupert and clicked their tongues.
The Duchess of Clifford supported the Crown Prince from the beginning, and it was admirable for the future Duchess Clifford to build a relationship with the Crown Prince.
But Rupert left his wife alone and went to the ball hand-in-hand with his lover.
No matter how common it was to have mistresses, it was customary to treat wives in public properly.
If I hadn’t showed up, they would have been fine. Anyway, I was hoping someone would pass this on to the Duke’s ears.
“The Emperor and Her Majesty the Empress enter!”
A little commotion and silence passed, but the party was in full swing as soon as the Emperor and Empress entered.
I was worried that the Emperor or the Empress would take offense with the prince’s partner, but the Empress’s gaze stayed on me for a while, but she didn’t look displeased.
But Prince Enoch couldn’t stay with me just because he was my partner, and I had to be alone until it was time to dance because Enoch had business to attend to.
I was hanging out with people, leaning against a quiet corridor column to take a little rest.
But where was Rupert? Just as I was thinking about it, someone grabbed my arm and started pulling me away.
 Erin described it as ‘콩가루’, which literally means ‘bean flour’, an idiom describing a broken/messy family.