Which relationship is more distant, a relationship with a stranger or a relationship with a senior?
Artizea thought about this every time she had a chance to have a conversation with Lawrence.
Her relationship with Miraila was like a relationship between strangers. And her relationship with Lawrence was like a relationship with a senior.
From childhood, the relationship between the two had been formed by Artizea’s one-sided desire.
By the time Artizea began to understand the world, Lawrence was already the happiest and highest status child in the Empire.
He still knew nothing about issues such as illegitimate children, inheritance or succession. He also didn’t care about the people around him.
Even once, he sat on the Emperor’s lap and played a joke on him by taking away his crown.
In Artizea’s eyes, Lawrence was the most enviable person in the world.
She did not yet know the difference between her and her brother. So, she thought that if her brother was loved, it was as if she was loved too.
And she loved Lawrence like her mother did.
「If your brother’s doing well, you’ll do well too.」
Back then, she really believed in those words.
Even when she grew up, she kept using those words as a guide in her life.
She convinced herself of it, justifying it with the fact that being the sister of the next Emperor would be beneficial. And that because they were related by blood, she had to make Lawrence the next Emperor anyway to survive.
But it wasn’t the same. As a little girl, she genuinely believed in those words.
She thought that love was mutual.
However, Lawrence never cared for Artizea.
Now that she thought about it, it was only natural. Why would he care about her?
Miraila’s love and attention was only for her son. Besides, she didn’t teach him to be a real older brother either.
In childhood, Lawrence acted like Artizea didn’t exist. As they grew older, they sometimes ate or drank tea together, but only had formal conversations.
The times Miraila would beat Artizea, he would calmly observe.
Occasionally, he would offer her words of comfort while she cried.
「Mother doesn’t do it because she hates you.」
‘What would it be like if I were a stranger?’
While she was thinking about it, Artizea went to see Lawrence.
After Cedric left, Lawrence sent for her and she didn’t have time to change her clothes.
Artizea adjusted the dress she was about to take off, then with her hair in a hairnet and slippers, she headed to Lawrence’s studio.
Artizea adjusted the dress she was about to take off, then with her hair pulled up in a hairnet and slippers, she headed to Lawrence’s study.
Lawrence was impatient, so she had to rush.
Lawrence greeted her coldly. More than angry with Artizea, he didn’t seem to be in a very good mood.
Artizea greeted him politely and asked him,
“Is something wrong?”
“I heard you went out with the Grand Duke Evron.”
“Ah, yes. You probably heard it from the butler. We met at Count Enda’s estate, and then went for a little walk together.”
A family that really cared about an 18-year-old girl would have to question the fact that she went out alone with a strange man without saying where she was going.
However, Lawrence didn’t care what Artizea did with her personal life.
He wasn’t cautious of her either. The current Lawrence, did not know the true face of Artizea.
The incident with Countess Eunice, the reason she had been considered ‘something useful’ in her past life, had not developed in the same way this time.
Instead of being used as a tool to carry out schemes, this time she could be used as a tool in a marriage of convenience.
Although she thought and planned to do so, Artizea got goosebumps from Lawrence’s soulless look at her.
She smiled bitterly in her mind.
In the past, 18-year-old Artizea would jump for joy when Lawrence looked at her that way.
She thought she was being praised. She felt she was being useful.
But now she had a different idea.
‘If one looks at one’s subordinates in that way, one will not get their loyalty.’
Unless one was a slow person and unable to read people’s expressions, who would be loyal to someone who doesn’t value one?
There are many reasons why a person follows someone. Money, power, hope, relationships and many more.
Lawrence had almost all of them.
Most of his followers sought to become worthy subjects of the next Emperor and receive rewards for it.
Also the enemies of the Grand Duke Roygar, supported Lawrence, with the purpose of preventing the Grand Duke Roygar from becoming the Emperor.
Of course, in a sense, they expected something in return.
Only a few people followed him without expecting something in return.
However, they did not do it for him, those were people loyal to Emperor Gregor, who understood the Emperor’s wishes and took care of his favorite son.
Artizea had been no exception.
She also expected something in return. She expected the love of her family.
But, for someone to become a true monarch, more than that was needed.
It was necessary to have at least some loyal subjects, who were willing to give their lives selflessly. Only they could act in critical moments without regard to consequences.
And such loyalty could not be obtained by those who considered others merely a tool.
In case one wanted to share one’s true feelings, one should at least hide one’s contempt for the other person.
Lawrence did neither. In that sense, Roygar was much better.
Artizea could not help but smile.
Lawrence spoke, without even imagining what she was thinking.
“I would have liked you to invite him home.”
“I have heard that he is in a military camp outside the capital. It is difficult to cross the forest paths when the sun sets completely, so I thought it would be better if he returned as soon as possible.”
Lawrence seemed to think for a moment.
“Are you going to meet him again?”
Artizea deliberately asked carefully.
From Lawrence’s attitude, it seemed that someone had already advised him on the benefits of a marriage of convenience between her and Cedric.
Lawrence disliked Cedric. However, probably because of the benefits he could get, he had wanted to invite him home.
Lawrence shook his head.
“There’s nothing you can’t do. You’re 18 now.”
“Thank you, brother. ”
“You should invite him home next time. Grand Duke Evron rarely stays in the capital, and even when he stays, he doesn’t usually attend social events, so we haven’t had a chance to get acquainted.”
Lawrence nodded his head when Artizea responded obediently. Then, he gestured for her to leave.
Artizea said cautiously.
“Before I leave, I have a favor to ask you, brother.”
Lawrence spoke with indifference.
“I would like to hire some servants and maids. To take care of me personally. It’s a little uncomfortable for me to be away from home, since I only have one person at the moment.”
For the first time, Lawrence showed a puzzled face.
Lawrence was not related to that, so it was not strange that he did not know.
“I will talk to my mother.”
“Do you need our mother’s help for this? Besides, brother, you know… her too. Our mother is busy.”
Lawrence understood perfectly what she meant by Miraila being ‘busy’. And he nodded his head.
“You are right. Take care of it yourself. And if my mother says anything, let me know.”
“Yes. Thank you, brother.”
“Don’t worry, it’s my duty as a older brother.”
Although the resources of the Marquisate Rosan were used to hire the employees, Lawrence had spoken without shame, as if he were being condescending.
At that moment, Miraila could be heard screaming in the distance.
Artizea was startled. Seeing this, Lawrence said coldly.
“She is hysterical. It’s not a day or two thing. You don’t need to concern yourself with that.”
“It wouldn’t be convenient if Grand Duke Evron noticed a bruise on your face or somewhere else.”
After that, Artizea retired.
She then went to Miraila’s room.
Miraila kept screaming loudly, unable to control her anger. One could also hear the sound of something breaking and the wailing of a maid being beaten.
Miraila would occasionally get angry in this way, beating people and destroying the rooms.
In the past, Artizea tried to calm Miraila in these moments.
The anger was not good for health. She wanted to hug Miraila. She thought that by doing so, Miraila would calm down a bit. However, the only thing she got was for Miraila to beat her worse than usual.
Artizea stopped for a moment in front of the door.
The other maids looked at Artizea, holding their breath.
Once Artizea entered the room, Miraila would direct your attention to her and she would not see anyone else.
Therefore, the maids begged wholeheartedly for this to happen.
However, Artizea turned around.
A maid stopped her.
“Miss, aren’t you going in?”
“Do you think I should go in and be beaten instead?”
“Oh, no, I didn’t mean that…”
“You better get that girl out of there before the situation gets worse.”
“B-But, miss. If I do that…”
“You’re not the only maid here, right? If you all take the beating, your injuries won’t be as serious. I will cover the medical expenses and give you generous compensation. I will even let you take a break from your work until you recover. After that, tell that girl to come and see me.”
The maids gulped. This time, they knew that Artizea would not be the scapegoat.
Artizea suddenly remembered what Cedric had told her in the past.
「Miraila is dead. I heard that she was still scolding Lawrence on the subject of women.」
Was Miraila resentful of Lawrence when she died?
Had she ever imagined that Lawrence would kill her? Did she still love him despite his actions?
Or had she simply turned a blind eye to reality until the end?
Had she repented at the time of her death, even a little, having mistreated Artizea?
Artizea had tried to protect her to the end. Had she regretted losing that shield?
Or had she even considered it?
Now it was irrelevant that she still thought about it. That was in the past.
Artizea again turned around and left.
Even in blood relations, as between mother and daughter, there were limits. Besides, Miraila had never taken her hand before.
Artizea now realized that she could really leave her mother.
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