“I told His Majesty that I want you as my wife.
I think this might be the answer to your question.”

“Hmm, I guess it wasn’t something worth mentioning in front of me then.”

As she shrugged, Sheldrick sighed in awkward.

With this kind of reaction, she was even more curious about what kind of rumours were circulating.

But Sheldrick avoided her gaze and changed the subject.

“The doctor you sent me was very competent.
He made a treatment on a trial basis, and it seems to be quite effective.”

“That’s fortunate.”

“You don’t seem surprised at all.”

Of course.
Because she knew that doctor must invent a cure.

“I told you that he is a competent doctor.
He is especially versed in infectious diseases.”

“But I guess my men didn’t seem to expect much.”

“What about you? Did you have any expectation, Your Grace?”

“Because I talked to you in person.
It didn’t sound like you were lying as you were really confident.
I thought you must have had a good reason.
Or maybe you’re just a good scammer.”

“I’m glad I don’t turn out to be a scammer.”

“I’d like to thank you on behalf of all the people of the Grand Duchy.
This has allowed us to put a stop to the pandemic before more people were sacrificed.”

Sheldrick slightly bowed at her.
His gratitude was sincere.

“Etzel is thorough in reciprocation.
Whether it be a favour or a grudge.
You helped us first, so I will help you with all my heart.”

I was the one who advised the second prince to spread the plague in the first place though.

It was uncomfortable receiving such kind words.

What could have been done indiscriminately because it was a game suddenly became the reality.

She couldn’t help but feel guilty in the corner of her heart.

Before I leave, it’s better to correct what I’ve done wrong, right?

In that case, she wanted to use this chance to make amends as much as she could during her stay in the Grand Duchy.

With that in mind, she bowed, and Sheldrick touched his necked awkwardly with his hand.

“By the way, what brought you here today? If it’s about the marriage issue, we were going to send someone to the duke’s residence soon…”

He went over her outfit again, blurring the end of his words.

“I don’t think you are here for a good reason.”

“…That would be correct.
The Duke wants me to marry the Crown Prince.
He told me to persuade the Duke to change his mind.”

“But you’ve come anyway?”

“We can meet and discuss countermeasures.
There is no reason to refuse since they’ve created perfect opportunities for us.”

“Countermeasures…”

Sheldrick, who tilted his head to one side as if contemplating for a moment, looked back at her with a strange expression.

“You seem to have thought of countermeasures, haven’t you?”

“Indeed.”

“Then please do tell me right away.”  said Sheldrick without hesitation.

It seemed that the doctor sent to the Grand Duchy had established a great trust toward her for making good results.

“You might be angry after hearing this… so please make a promise that you won’t get angry first.”

“I promise.”

“Really? You answered so quickly that I cannot sense any sincerity.”

“…I promise.”

This time, the answer came back one beat slower.

I was just playing around, but that sure is a rewarding response.

Suppressing a laugh inside, she came up with a solution that she had been thinking about since leaving the duke’s house.

“You can choose one of the two.”

“There are two options? Let’s hear it first.”

Sheldrick nodded and lifted the teacup.

She parted her lips as she watched him elegantly sipping tea in a textbook-like upright posture.

“The first way is for me and the Duke to spend the night together in the same room tonight.”

“(Cough!)”

As soon as she finished speaking, Sheldrick started coughing.
Hard.

He could barely calm down as he seemed to have gotten choked.
Once, he finally managed to catch his breath, he set the teacup down on the saucer.

“What kind of… bizarre solution is this?”

“I’m not really going to sleep with you.
I’m just trying to get people to believe that.”

Once that happened, neither the Emperor nor the Duke will be able to get their hands on them.

Rather, the emperor himself will come forward and prevent me and the prince from marrying.

The emperor valued honour.

He would never tolerate the Crown Princess’s honour falling to the ground due to a scandal.

But Sheldrick shook his head resolutely.

“We will do it the second way.”

“You still don’t know what the second one is, do you?”

“One way or the other, it’s better than the first.
Let’s go with the second.”

“Okay.
Personally, I think the first is the better way, but if that’s the Grand Duke’s wish, I shall respect it.”

She nodded obediently and offered the second solution as he wanted.

“I want you to confine me.”

“…Pardon?”

“That’s the second way I’m proposing.”

“Are you serious?”

“I am serious.”

The Grand Duke has requested this by the Meritorious Right, so technically, it could be said that it was a legitimate act to have her.

The Emperor would not be able to actively deny this, and even the Duke of Basel could not take her out by force.

And sword-wielding in the capital was out of the question because the emperor would not want it.

Sheldrick was staring into her eyes with disbelief as if he was trying to gauge the truth.
Briefly after, he rubbed his head with a long sigh.

He had seemed to realise that she was not joking.

“What are all the solutions so… extreme?”

“To phrase it, they are bold.”

She realised it while playing the game.

If one were to play the game in a clumsy way, they would surely be beaten by their opponent.

Players could carry out their plans successfully only if they put forward a powerful move that could never be undone.

She decided to make a bold decision based on the strategy that had led her to success.

“Sleeping option it is.
I’m ready.”

She smiled lightly.

However, Sheldrick, who was speechlessly staring at her, suddenly frowned for some reason.

His gaze landed on her left cheek.

“Your cheek…”

“My cheek?”

Naturally, she touched her cheek to see what that meant, belatedly realising why.

It was the exact spot where the duke had slapped her.
Even though it was covered with makeup as much as possible, it seemed like it was showing.

Sheldrick continued without taking his gaze off her cheek.

“The Duke of Basel is said to value and pamper his stepdaughter too much.
That’s why his stepdaughter always acts recklessly and wastes her family fortune immaturely.
People often find her ignorant and laughable.”

“Have there been such rumours?”

This must have been one of the stories that Sheldrick could not bring up in front of her.

Vivian always took along Violet when she was invited to a tea party or ball.

It was rude for anyone who wasn’t invited to attend, but Vivian always said, ‘It’s nice to have Violet with me’, and ended up going with her stepsister.

Rumours of ignorant behavior must have come from here.

The one about her spending her family’s fortune immaturely was probably because of the clothes or accessories that Vivian gave her.
She always said to her, ‘This looks perfect on you!’

“I thought Duke Basel was an unbiased gentleman.”

“To correct you, he wants to be seen like that.”

The Duke of Basel was a character that resembled the emperor in that respect.

He valued practical gains, what could truly benefit him, but how he was seen was important as well.
He could be said to be very aristocratic.

Sheldrick, who was looking at her quietly as she answered, lowered his eyes slightly and fell into thought.

After a while tapping the table with his long, thin fingers, he soon came to a conclusion.

“Fine.
I’m going to keep you confined like this.
His Majesty won’t be able to drag you out with you in my hand.”

“The second way is to defame the Duke, are you really okay with that?”

“Your reputation will be tarnished first.
Now it’s our turn to repay you, so it’s right for me to be at some degree of loss.
Good reputation doesn’t matter to me anyway.”

In fact, she was also not very interested in having a good reputation.

The capital, the center of the struggle for the throne, was a dangerous place to get caught up in, so even after leaving the Grand Duchy, she did not plan to return.

There was no need for her to step forward and stop the other party from saying they were willing to take the loss.
However, she just wondered why he was so uninterested in the affairs of the capital.

This part was not revealed even when playing the game.

The nobles of the empire always strain their ears for news about central politics.

It was because of this tendency that everyone flocked to the capital during the season when the House of Lords was held to socialise.

His father, the predecessor of the Grand Duchy, also had a great deal of influence in central politics, but Sheldrick was an exception.

Perhaps if I had chosen Sheldrick’s route, I would have known all the hidden stories… 

Since she poured everything into the second Prince Yediel route, she didn’t know much about the other routes.

In the case of the Crown Prince, she knew a lot of things because she used Violet as a spy, but there was still a lot of uncovered information about Sheldrick.

Is it possible to learn this gradually in the future?

“If there is something you must bring from the dukedom, I will send my subordinates to get them.”

“There is nothing in particular though.”

If she were the real Violet, there might be some things she wanted to bring, but to her, all of them were meaningless.

Thanks to Duke Basel and Vivian sending her to the Grand Duke whilst adorning her with expensive clothes and accessories, she would already have a decent saving from it.

With this as the basis, it is called independent funds.

Wasn’t that a great plan?

“By the way, how were you planning to get the items from the duke’s mansion if I were to need something? The duke won’t open the door for you.”

As she tilted her head at the sudden thought, Sheldrick slightly raised one corner of his mouth.

“Who knows.”

He did not say much, but she thought it wouldn’t be a very elegant way whatsoever.

“…I shall not pry further then.”

Sometimes one’s better off not knowing.

“Right, Your Grace.
I have a place I need to stop by for a while.
It’s important.”

“At this point, it won’t be a confinement, but an outing.”

Sheldrick said with a smirk.

“I will tell the coachman.
If you want to go somewhere, just tell him.”

“Aren’t we going together?”

“Do you want me to come along?”

“No… It’s just that you trust me a bit too much.”

Sheldrick stared at her, questioning.

“What I’m trying to say is…I know I’m suspicious.
I came out of nowhere and asked you to marry me.
This is going to be a confrontation with His Majesty, so you might think that I am trying to create a conflict.”

“You knew that and still made the offer?”

“There was no other way.
I thought I would put up with a little bit of doubt.
So you can openly monitor me for anything suspicious.
At least that way, I won’t feel bad.”

Shedrick’s mouth stayed shut for a moment as he stared deep into her eyes.

She too looked straight ahead without averting his gaze.
His brow furrowed slightly.

“…there were no rumours that you were such an assertive person.”

“Right, like I would expect the rumours to say that.”

“I have never heard of someone so confident.”

Sheldrick smirked, but it did not last long.

“I contemplated for a while whether I needed to repay you even when I had to go as far as confronting His Majesty, but… I have no regrets now.”

Before she could even ask why, Sheldrick looked at her and said.

“It would be such a waste for you to become the Crown Princess, my lady.”

It was as if there was a faint smile on the corner of Sheldrick’s lips when he said that.

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