Leaving Adilac sleeping on the couch after the weariness of the trip, Citrina headed to Dartrin Street in the capital.
‘Citrina and Oslo’s Gemstone Atelier’ would soon be built here.
With the new tenants, the space was being remodeled though it was small.
Dartrin Street was a commercial street where various types of business took place.
She had heard many jewelers had settled here.
In order for Citrina to set up her own atelier, it was essential for her to inspect the area and gather information about jewel mines.
She headed down Dartrin Street.
There were colorful signs, beautiful statues, and a fountain in the middle of the street along with perfectly painted marble buildings.
Citrina looked around and felt a bit of admiration.
Still she felt a little bit out of place.
‘Is it because four years have passed? But it’s a little strange.’
-What’s so strange, Citrina?
Gemma asked cautiously, whispering in Citrina’s head.
-From what I remember…there was an isolated alley of here.
But now it’s really clean.
In the past, Citrina had frequented this area from time to time to sell the baron’s jewelry.
She remembered rats wandering around this back alley.
However, now even the alleys were clean and the trash that had been scattered through the city was picked up.
Citrina tilted her head to the side.
-For now…let’s take a look at what’s popular these days.
I’ll show you a lot of jewels.
Citrina walked from place to place on Dartrin Street.
She also picked up some rather useful information.
It was thanks to a merchant standing in front of her on Dartrin Street.
The merchant who introduced himself as ‘Jeffrey’ told her quite a bit about the rumors she had been concerned about.
As Citrina had guessed, Jeffrey really seemed to be in the know.
He appeared very pleased by the short remarks she made while looking at the jewelry display.
“It seems that the streets have become much cleaner.”
“Yes, that’s right.
He didn’t say much.
Citrina tilted her head and looked him in the eye.
The man grinned and added a bit more of an explanation.
“The duke has helped us all out! It’s a big deal!”
There was only one duke of the empire that he was talking about.
“Yes, I’m talking about ‘that’ Duke Pietro.
Duke Pietro has fully sponsored this area.
The whole area was cleaned and new signs were set up.
Even the alleys were cleaned.”
“You must be happy.”
“We’re really happy.
I don’t know the reasoning behind it, but it’s made us really glad.”
Gemma looked at the jewels with sparkling eyes.
“He’s really sponsoring it.”
Come to think of it, who had become the Duke of Pietro?
The merchant listened to Citrina talk with a big smile.
I heard not only our street but also Ellent Jewel Street and Pine Street were sponsored.
Thanks to him, everyone is grinning ear to ear these days.”
“That’s a good thing.”
She smiled softly.
But on the inside, Citrina was troubled.
The contents of the book must have changed, but she had no knowledge as to how it had happened.
Therefore she had no choice but to ask other people.
‘Who was the current Duke Pietro?’ was a question without an answer at present.
It was a matter for the high ranking nobility.
Consequently, Citrina decided to stir through the rumors about the duke.
“Duke Pietro must be a good man.”
But as she threw out her bait, the merchant clammed up.
“I don’t know about that either.
I can’t speak for the upper nobility.”
Citrina bit her lips.
What was the significance fo the fact that Duke Pietro seemed to be a great man, but no one felt they could speak easily about him?
Stuck on that point, Citrina tried to catch the merchant’s eyes.
“Is there a problem?”
“Nothing at all.”
His gaze avoided hers.
His voice was even off.
There was definitely something here.
But it seemed she wouldn’t find out more here.
He appeared to have his lips sealed on the subject.
Citrina bowed her head and thanked him.
It would take several days for the atelier’s remodel to be finished and for Adilac to rest up.
Therefore, now was the time to make good on her promise to the dwarf.
The next day, Citrina wrote a letter.
The recipient was Count Hailey.
She was writing as the dwarf’s agent, asking to sign a mining contract and inspect the territory.
It was obvious that this way would lead to sponsorship.
This was the perfect way to announce that she was the dwarf’s disciple and to present her contract with Oslo.
In fact, there were few spirits in this world, and even fewer who could use alchemy through a contract with spirits.
Therefore, she had to reveal it at the most impactful time.
-Citrina, are you finished with the letter? A person is coming.
As soon as Gemma finished speaking, Citrina heard the sound of footsteps.
The sound of footsteps slowly got closer to the door.
Citrina glanced at the tightly shut bedroom door.
Adilac was making up for her lack of sleep by resting all day.
-Is that Adilac’s family?
I don’t think so, Citrina!
She heard someone knock on the front door.
“Yes, come in.”
Citrina opened the door after making eye contract with Gemma.
The man in front of her was wearing a knight’s uniform.
“Are you Lady Citrina Foluin?”
“…Who might you be?”
Citrina’s face stiffened as she heard the man spout the name Foluin.
‘The baron, baroness, and Elaina all don’t know my whereabouts.
I didn’t even tell them that I was back in the capital.
So why are you looking for me? What happened?’
There was no person who would search for Citrina.
Her best guess would be that it was from Baron Foluin.
But Baron Foluin had no reason to send a knight.
He also wasn’t in a position to hire a knight.
“Nice to meet you.
I am Arte Pianan, vice captain of the spear knights of the imperial palace.”
Citrina thought for a moment.
His introduction was fairly neat and clear.
She remembered hearing about the spear knights.
They were a spear carrying unit, and were an elite force at the imperial palace.
This person was the vice captain of such a unit.
In other words, Citrina Foluin was a person way below his level.
Then…why had this guy come to see her?
“Can you show your identification?”
“I’ve brought my knight’s badge.”
The man waved a round jewel through the door.
The blue fluorescent lights sparkled like fireflies.
But what caught Citrina’s attention was the short sword next to his pack.
Citrina could recognize the sword at a glance.
“That’s…a sword made by a dwarf.”
“…Ah, yes, that’s right.”
The man readily agreed.
His face lit up with pride as his dwarf-made sword was mentioned.
‘That’s the sword I finished up myself.’
That sword had wound up in the hands of this person.
Her wariness quickly diminished.
Looking at Arte, Citrina opened the door once more.
Arte stepped through the doorway.
The man walked into her living room with quick, measured steps, then smiled refreshingly and lowered his head.
“Nice to meet you.”
After giving a stiff answer, Citrina slowly grasped both sides of her dress and bobbed up and down in a curtsy.
It was a basic etiquette in acknowledgment of his greeting.
“I’m here to present you with an invitation.”
This is an invitation to the Summer Ball at Lection Flower Garden.”
The knight presented her with an invitation.
It wasn’t the courtesy of a knight to a lady, but it was a very polite attitude.
He didn’t need to do that.
Besides, there was weight to his words.
“It’s an invitation…”
Citrina tilted her head as she accepted the invitation.
This was an incomprehensible thing that she couldn’t understand.
The Summer Ball at Lection Garden was a space for high ranking nobles.
Citrina Foluin was a baron’s daughter, though even that was nominal to be honest.
It was an unconventional situation.
Citrina quickly sealed her lips.
There was no way someone would want to trip her up.
After all, she was still at the bottom of the social pyramid.
However, she had to deal with the possibility of a trap seriously.
Citrina asked cautiously.
“… Who sent the invitation?”
The knight’s face hardened a little.
Citrina looked him.
Nevertheless, the words from the knight’s mouth were unexpected.
“The emperor himself sent it.”
“Yes, that’s right.”
Citrina peered at the knight’s face.
He didn’t seem to be telling a lie.
It was a serious crime to impersonate the imperial family.
Faced with Citrina’s mysterious gaze, Arte cleared his throat.
The knight must be inexperienced in managing his facial expressions.
He must also not know why had had come to this townhouse.
He spoke with an air of ambiguity.
“I’m following orders as His Majesty’s knight.”
“Yes, I understand.”
An invitation to Lection Garden had been sent to Citrina, who was merely a baron’s daughter.
Citrina smoothed out a look of embarrassment off her face.
No noble would dare to doubt the intentions of the emperor.
“Your dress and accessories will arrive soon.”
“Are these also given by His Majesty?”
Arte’s eyes veered strangely away from her.
He began to speak with a hint of disapproval.
“I don’t think that’s something I can answer, Lady Citrina Foluin.”
“…What do you mean by that? I’m terribly intrigued.”
Citrina’s gaze was on him.
The atmosphere was tense.
However, it was easily broken by the knight’s response.
“I’m heading back now.
I’ll come back to escort you when you go to Lection Garden.”
Arte bowed with a troubled look on his face.
He seemed to be in a hurry, as if he couldn’t speak even if she questioned him.
The door closed.
Long after the door had been shut, Citrina opened the invitation in her hand.
Lady Citrina Foluin,
On bright green day when the wind blows beautifully,
We invite you to attend the Imperial Palace’s Summer Ball held at Lection Flower Garden.
May you please grace the ball with your beauty.
x month x day, summer.
Banquet Room Inside the Palace.
It was an invitation to the banquet inside the palace, bearing the emperor’s seal.
Citrina looked at the invitation.
No matter how much she looked at it, it didn’t seem like a counterfeit.
‘Did some unwritten rule about Lection Garden get broken? This couldn’t be true.’
Citrina leaned back slowly against the wall.
Then Gemma who had been silently holding her breathe, revealed herself.
-Citrina, isn’t it all thanks to me?
-Why do you think so, Gemma?
-Isn’t everyone doing this to see the great Gemma in person? It means you’re rumored to have a contract with a spirit.
-You think there’s rumors I’m working with a spirit?
Citrina stared intently at the invitation.
Somehow, Gemma’s ego had risen, but it didn’t make sense.
Spirits and alchemists were rare in the empire.
Therefore, they were certain to have some level of clout.
‘No one knows yet about Gemma, and while they may have heard about the alchemy….’
Citrina hadn’t told anyone but Oslo that she had awakened the jewel spirit.
She had learned some alchemy as a disciple of the dwarf, but she hadn’t told anyone she knew how to do it.
‘What the hell is going on?’
Confused, Citrina shook her head a few times.
Gemma was looking at her with happy eyes.
-It’s all thanks to me! It’s because I’ve brought luck to our future!
-Alright, let’s do that.
Citrina gave a small smile.
Before the Summer Ball, she wanted to send a letter to Count Hailey.
She glanced towards the bedroom.
She could already imagine Adilac’s surprised reaction when she heard about the Summer Ball.
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