nto a wide road along the riverbank filled with the shadows of tall trees that lined both sides of the path.
His eyes, full of drowsiness and fatigue, watched the scene where light and shadows flickered as the carriage passed by quickly.
Seeing the dark green forest, he realized that summer was approaching, which also meant that these peaceful days would soon come to an end.

The royal family was due to visit Schuber during the weekend and the summer palace where they would stay was located inside the residence of the Grand Duke.
Even though the two buildings were far enough that they needed a carriage to travel back and forth, they would still end up living inside the same territory.
Thanks to this, Bjorn had no choice but to get caught up with a lot of troublesome work whenever it was summer.

It was one of the duties assigned to him as the Grand Duke.

With his tired eyes resting shut, the carriage soon crossed the bridge across the Arbit River and entered the entrance to the palace.
An expansive garden lined with geometric patterns unfolded after they passed through the large ornate entrance decorated with the royal coat of arms.
Soon, the clear sound of water flowing from the fountains which were installed in various places was transmitted to their ears together with a gentle breeze.

Bjorn slowly opened his eyes as the wind brushed away his messy hair.
Their carriage continued towards the southern end of the city where the Arbit River and Schber Bay meet.
This is where the Grand Duke’s Mansion, which was also known as the Water Palace, was located.
The mansion got its name thanks to its location where a clear view of both the river and the sea could be seen.
Additionally, the place had various gardens that were decorated with numerous fountains and waterways connecting to the streams.

“Are you here, Prince?”

The door of the carriage, which had arrived at its destination, eventually opened.
For some reason Mrs.
Fitz’s greeting, which was unusually not mixed with reproach, was heard.
He lazily got off the carriage and looked at the odd maid with questioning eyes.

“A guest has visited and is now waiting for you”

Fitz breathed deeply and continued speaking with apprehension.

“Well… … It is Princess Gladys.
She is currently waiting for you in the library.”

Her added statement stopped Bjorn, who had just entered the central hall, on his tracks.
He lifted his head slowly and put his hands in the pockets of his trousers.
The lights of the huge chandelier that never goes out sharply pierced his eyes with irritation.

“I’m sorry, Prince.
We… … .”

“I know.” He cut off Mrs.
Fitz’s words, which were insignificant for his current situation.
There was hardly any emotion in his eyes as he slowly started to climb the carpeted stairs.

“A cup of tea, please.
Make it strong.” To Mrs.
Fitz, who followed with a worried face, Bjorn gave a calm command.
Unlike his lips that were softly curved in a calm smile, his cold eyes did not contain any hint of emotion.

“As you wish, Your Highness.”

Swallowing the words she wanted to say, she took a step back and hurriedly went away to fulfill what she was ordered.
Bjorn, on the other hand, soon disappeared after passing through the door of the study.




“In the end, I should still apologize..
Right?” Erna raised another question full of caution.

“What do you mean by apologizing?! You don’t have to do that, miss!” Lisa answered more adamantly after she returned from her trip to the kitchen.

Startled, Erna appeared troubled as she fiddled with the teacup she was currently holding.
She felt sorry for the mistakes she had made to His Highness during the ball and wanted to personally apologize.
In the end, she couldn’t find a suitable opportunity as he was always surrounded by a lot of people and Erna never had the courage to approach him.

‘Perhaps the result would still be the same even if he was alone.’ She thought as she looked down at her trembling fingertips.
Just making eye contact with His Highness reminded her of that day which made her heart sink even more.

How could she face His Highness personally with such a shameful memory haunting her?

No matter how hard she tried, she would always end up running away in a hurry when she finally came to her senses.
During those times, that embarrassing debutante dress also came to her mind without fail.
Together with His Highness’ calm gaze who casually glanced at her exposed body, she couldn’t help but to feel like she would die of embarrassment.

What a vulgar place the metropolis really was!!

“I think I still have to apologize, Lisa.
I must have caused so much trouble for him.” After thinking for a while, she still came up with the same decision in the end.
She didn’t really have the courage to face him, but it’s rude to make a mistake and continue acting as if she was not aware of it.

Wait a minute, miss.” Lisa stood up and hurriedly left the bedroom.
After a while, she returned carrying a large box in her arms.

“It’s a present for you but you have to return them after reading.
If you want them, I’ll give some to you, but they’re shared items that the maids tirelessly saved up for unfortunately.” Lisa seriously explained to the bewildered Erna.

“Is this for me? Why?”

“You must study.
I’ve collected and studied various news and gossip when I’m not busy.
I now know all sorts of stories.” The maid held out the magazine at the top of the box in front of her.
It was a weekly magazine with an in-depth article about the Poisonous Mushroom Prince, Prince Bjorn.
Erna, in the end, had no choice but to accept it.
After flipping through a few pages, a page filled with holes appeared in front of her.

“This hole… … ”

“Ah! It’s because of those damna- no..
bad maids who cut out pictures of His Highness.
Everyone is swearing at him but once a picture of the Poisonous Mushroom Prince was posted, this is what would happen.” Lisa criticized the immoral maids.
After a few condemning words, she suddenly became pensive and hurriedly stood up.

“Okay! While you are studying I’ll go run an errand for you, miss!” Before Erna could say anything, the maid urgently left the bedroom.

Erna, who was left alone, looked down at the weekly magazine on her lap with a bewildered expression.
Just a quick glance at it could tell her that it was a magazine filled with fairly provocative gossip.
Struggling between the thought that it was not right to pry on other people’s lives this way and the curiosity she couldn’t shake off, Erna eventually ended up turning the page to the next article.
The photos were gone and there were gaps on the pages here and there, but she didn’t find it difficult to discern the full context of the whole article.

She carefully read the magazines while the tea on the table cooled down.
Various scandals and incidents involving Schuber socialites, brilliant advertisements, horoscopes, and even dating counseling; the magazine contained all kinds of miscellaneous news.
It was quite a shocking new world for her, a completely different view from the magazines she used to buy back in her hometown.

By the time she put down the last magazine, she was able to get a rough idea of the troublemakers in Schuber’s social circle.
The most prominent one was of course the Poisonous Mushroom Prince, Bjorn Dniester.

Not all of the stories in these magazines were true but some of the articles were far beyond Erna’s comprehension, especially those stories concerning His Highness, Prince Bjorn.
Information about him disturbed her the most, since he was apparently a father who abandoned his own child.
After his divorce from Princess Gladys, the Prince said that he had never met his son.
Even when the child died of an illness without seeing his father for several years, the Prince still ignored him even at his funeral.

Erna, who was quietly looking down at the stack of magazines, bit her lips involuntarily.
It was considered shallow to judge someone you only met a few times, much more someone who you had not interacted with frequently.
However, the pendulum inside her heart had already tilted towards one direction after learning such distressing information.

The Prince seemed to be a bad person.
A very bad person.

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