Verengela remained silent for a moment before speaking in a low voice, “…Countess, don’t throw baseless accusations at the Count.”
“Then check the validity of my accusations for yourself.”
Rachel impatiently held out the ledger for Verengela to take.
Verengela hardened her expression in disbelief and stayed motionless for a while. Her pride was deeply hurt, but in the end, she finally reached out to take the ledger.
At the same time, the ledger fell to the floor.
“My apologies, my hands suddenly started shaking. I’m feeling a bit overwhelmed since this ledger contains the details of my husband’s embezzlement and tax evasion.”
“…I will not take this lightly if I discover any of the contents to be false.”
A maid who was restlessly standing in the back, rushed forward and picked up the ledger from the floor, then handed it to Verengela. Rachel turned around without any hesitation and left the living room.
Verengela sat in the living room, for quite some time, looking at Rachel’s ledger.
Theodore hurried back to the mansion with his hands full of food, but he arrived only after Verengela had read through the ledger.
“M-Mother! I bought all the dishes that are currently popular in the capital! Am I perhaps too late…?”
“…Count. Is this how I raised you?”
That was only the beginning. The residents of the Elosa mansion continued to hear Verengela physically punishing her son until late into the night.
Late at night, the clinking of jewelry could be heard coming from the office of the Grand Duke of Dicarsinyak.
The clear sounds loudly pierced the silence at short intervals.
Sian, who was leaning leisurely back his chair, snatched the small object mid-air and held it up in the moonlight. It was a dazzling cufflink adorned with a light pink diamond.
Rachel asked for a gift that could be regarded as a token of her love. The pink diamond cufflink, which was the talk of the town these days, perfectly fit her needs.
However, even after completing the task a few days ago, Sian had yet to report the result of his findings.
It was quite difficult to acquire a pink diamond of this size as it was rare and expensive. If one used normal methods, of course.
It wasn’t difficult for Sian, the sole grand duke of the empire and an informant of the guild. Even if the cost was equivalent to the value of the Elosa Mansion, it wouldn’t be an issue for him.
The problem lies in the fact that the precious item would soon belong to Theodore.
And that felt unpleasant.
He recalled catching sight of Theodore fondling Jane, his lover, in a secluded back alley. The thought of this pink cufflink fastened to his shirt made him sick.
He didn’t want to hand it over.
There was one more reason to delay his report even after the item had been found. It was Rachel.
He had investigated her once again and found nothing.
‘No one has ever been this difficult to investigate.’
It was quite an unfamiliar feeling for Sian, who even had information related to Emperor Sigerna and the Great Sage Titienith.
In high society, Rachel was nothing more than a woman who adored her husband. She was indifferent to rumors and barely showed herself in public. She also had little to no friends. Traces of her mistakes were found here and there.
‘It’s unusual that she has a connection to Bishop Lyles Van of the Yenith Church, but… Perhaps he’s just a personal acquaintance of Rachel’s father.’
There was no evidence that Rachel Elosa was a smart, wise, and resourceful woman. She hadn’t revealed her true colors, not even once, in 20 years.
Yet, she was smart enough to see through Sian’s identity and pick up on the senate’s suspicions, but pretended to be a fool on the outside? It was impossible to guess how meticulous one had to be to pull that off.
‘It was arrogant of me to think I knew all the talented people of the Empire.’
Once again, the cufflinks were thrown in the air, only to be snatched midair and squeezed tightly in his hand.
As if he had Rachel in his hand, he felt pleasure run through his spine.
‘I want to hold on to her.’
He had Huizius become a guild leader to gather information, Stefan as a merchant to make money, and appointed Nick as an aide to closely help him with his work.
He lost track of time trying to figure out how to deal with Rachel.
‘There was a time when I considered this type of ambition as a necessary virtue for an emperor.’
It was a pointless story now that Sigerna, Sian’s brother had ascended the throne.
He allowed his mind to wander until he heard a familiar voice, at the door.
The only person who would open his office door and come in without permission was his daughter, Dolorosa.
“…Dolly, why are you still up?”
“I had to use the bathroom. Why aren’t you sleeping, papa?”
Dolorosa, who only turned seven years old this year, was brighter and wiser than her peers. Sian was grateful for it but sometimes it saddened him.
The child never asked about who and what her mother was like. She seemed to know well that she would not get an answer even if asked. Perhaps she also knew that Sian wasn’t her real father.
The footsteps of tiny rabbit-shaped slippers began to grow closer.
“Sleeping late is not good for your health, Dolly doesn’t want papa to be sick.”
“I was just a little busy thinking. I’m sorry. I’ll go to bed now.”
“Okay. Good night, Papa. I’ll go back to sleep, too. I’m so sleepy.”
“Sleep tight. I love you, Dolly.”
“I love you, too.”
Left alone in the office, Sian put the cufflinks on his shirt’s cuff. The pink diamond, the token of love, sparkled brightly.
He had spent enough time thinking about what to do.
It was time to go see Rachel.
The next day, Theodore could not go to work at the palace because his face and calves were swollen from the beatings he received from Verengela.
During breakfast, Verengela had a fierce expression as if she could explode from anger at any moment, and Theodore was trembling like the grass in the wind.
Among them, the only people who looked happy were Rachel and Graham.
“Here, Graham. It’s beef, your favorite. I’ll cut it for you.”
“Mom, you should have some too, I’ll eat one and you can eat the rest.”
“I’m an adult so I don’t have to eat a lot. You need to grow, so you have to eat a lot.”
“Hmm… Then I’ll eat two so I can grow big and protect you.”
Rachel rubbed her cheek against his as he sat next to her.
After watching the duo, Verengela eventually threw her knife down without even finishing half of her meal.
“The chef at this house is terrible at cooking. The rotten smell in the food is making me sick. Fire him right now.”
“Y-Yes, mother. I’ll fire him right away, and hire a good che-”
Theodore, whose cheeks were swollen, groveled helplessly.
Verengela gave her son a pitiful look before turning away to leave the dining room.
As soon as the door closed, Theodore jumped from his seat.
The table shook, and the tableware and dishes crashed into each other.
“Rachel, have you gone mad? What’s wrong with you these days?”
It was amusing to see him act angry with just his wife and child around when he couldn’t muster a sound when Verengela was here.
Rachel frowned and hid Graham behind her back.
“I have no idea what you’re talking about, but we’re eating. Let’s discuss this later when we’re alone.”
“Does it look like I can eat properly, right now?”
Theodore’s cheeks were so swollen that it seemed impossible for him to chew his food, let alone swallow.
“You should wait, though. Graham and I haven’t finished yet.”
“Last time I brought Jane here, you embarrassed her, and now you brought my mother some ridiculous ledger? What the hell are you up to?”
“I’m not up to anything. As I said before, Jane was rude to me first, and I gave your mother the ledger because she’s an elder of the Count family. Shouldn’t the person with the most authority be aware of household problems?”
“Do you think you’ve done something good?! Because of you, do you have any idea how much mother…!”
“Aren’t you the one who created the problem in the first place? You invited a rude woman into the house, then proceeded to poke holes in the family’s finances, and evaded taxes as well.”
In addition to that, he ignores his wife, who only loves him, and goes out to cheat.
Theodore’s face, which was already red from the beating, reddened further with anger this time.
Theodore flipped out and threw a silver cup full of water at her.
It happened so suddenly that Rachel couldn’t avoid it and stiffened as she watched the cup come flying towards her.
The moment she expected it to fly into her face….
A sharp sound was heard, and the silver cup rolled across the floor of the dining room.
Rachel opened her eyes wide at the incredible sight. Graham, who had been shivering behind her back just a few seconds ago, was standing on the table with the silver knife that was used to cut his beef in his hand.
“Daddy, you’re bad!”
Graham stretched a long knife toward Theodore. The child’s blue eyes gave him a chill.
Even though he knew the silver knife was not a threat, Theodore backed away.
“Graham…put it down now.”
“I-I don’t want to.”
“Throwing things at people is bad! Didn’t you learn that from your mom?”
Was Graham saying this because he knew Verengela was Theodore’s mother?
“If someone does something bad, they get scolded! If Daddy does something bad, I’m going to punish you as well!”
It was a cute threat made with a trembling voice, but the atmosphere was intense. Even Rachel froze because of the murderous energy he emitted from his soft, small body.
Rachel’s death wasn’t the only reason he became a killer in the original story.
Graham was blessed with many incredible talents such as keen eyesight, natural athletic abilities, and strength, but he was cursed with bloodthirsty energy that made those he encountered freeze in shock.
Graham’s talents, which remained hidden during the peaceful times, emerged when his mother, Rachel, was facing danger.
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