“Iris, I’m sorry, but I think I should go inside because I’m tired.”


Carinne opened her mouth first.

“That doesn’t seem like a good idea.”

“…I don’t really want to do it.”

As if they had agreed beforehand, all three of them opposed at the same time.

Maybe because all three of them didn’t want to do it, Iris seemed a little surprised.
She froze as if she couldn’t believe it before realizing a common expression on everyone’s face and soon lowered her head.

 

“Oh, I’m sorry.
You all must be tired, and I didn’t think it through.
I’ve heard that I’m not very good at realizing things…”

Iris uttered softly.

She knew very well that there was something wrong with her personality.
The reason why the clueless Iris was able to gain readers’ support in the novel was because of her attempts to change her personality.

Her effort generated sympathy from readers, and there were more people who felt sorry for her than those who considered her a nuisance.

However, knowing the problem and fixing it was completely different, and after several failures, Iris gave up on making friends.
While dating Duke Lucas, she gradually improved, but at first, she was hopeless.

And now, sitting next to Carinne, Iris was the same as she was at the beginning of the novel.

“That’s why I don’t have any friends… I read about what friends do in a book, and it looked fun, so I said that…”

Her gentle purple eyes were about to be filled with tears as Iris sniffled and buried her face in her hands.

“No, now that I think about it, I’m not that tired.
I think I can stay a little longer.”

Carinne hurriedly opened her mouth.

“It wouldn’t be bad to try it once.”

Soon, Archen added, rubbing his forehead with his hand.

“….”

Duke Lucas didn’t say anything.
He rested his chin in his hand and tried to avert his gaze, but Iris accepted that as implicit agreement.

“But… are you sure it’s okay?”

“I’m sure, just one question.
I’ll do it. Hmm, let me think.
Ask away.”

Carinne offered herself up as a sacrificial lamb with a sense of enthusiasm.
She had never played twenty questions with a friend as long as she lived, so why not try it?

As Iris stopped crying quickly, she smiled happily like a lost child who had met her mother.

“Thanks, Carinne.
Is it a person, by any chance?”

“Yes.”

“Um, is it a man?”

“Yes.”

“Is he a famous person?”


“You could say that.”

“Hmm…”

Iris seemed to be thinking hard about something.

“What do you think, Your Excellency? What would be a good question to ask?”

The Duke who was called had a reluctant expression, but he couldn’t ignore Iris, who asked with an innocent face and said briefly.

“Does he have a beard?”

“Wow, that’s a good idea! Carinne, does he have a beard?”

“Did he have one…?”

“What? Did you ask a question without even knowing the answer?”

“Wait, let me think.
I saw this person today.”

Did the King have a beard? He seemed to have a short goatee.

“He has one.
I’m sure of it.”

After thinking about it, Carinne said to her.

“Who is it? I really don’t know.
Since you said he’s a famous person, is it His Majesty?”

‘Oh?’

Unexpectedly, Iris guessed the answer too easily.

“That’s right.”

“Wow, I got it!”

Iris was delighted as she jumped up and down.

“Did you see His Majesty recently?”

There was one more unexpected thing.
At the same time, the Duke showed interest in the fact that she met the King today.

Well, she did attend the meeting earlier.

Carinne recalled what had happened a few hours ago.

 

 

* * *

 

 

A few hours ago, Carinne arrived at the meeting room and chose an empty seat to sit quietly.
She ignored the people who were giving her a sidelong glance, wondering why she was here as she fixed her gaze on the door and eagerly waited for Duke Lucas to arrive.

If the Duke entered the meeting room, it meant that Archen was nearby.


However, no unlucky face came into the meeting room, no matter how much she blinked her eyes.

‘…Why isn’t he coming?’

Until then, Carinne had thought that perhaps the Duke was just running a little late.

“Well then, let’s begin the meeting today.
The first agenda is…”

Oh, how boring.

Carinne crossed her arms and barely held back a yawn.

“…We have five hundred gold left in the budget, does anyone have any good suggestions on where to use it?”

There was nothing to do.
So, Carinne carefully scrutinized the other people in the meeting room.
Most of the well-dressed nobles looked to be in their middle age, all with solemn and serious faces.
There was also one important thing… there wasn’t a single participant in the meeting who was Carinne’s age.

‘…He sent his daughter to a place like this?’

What kind of father would send his daughter to a place like this without any preparation? And for the reason of going out to have fun, no less.

Duke Tricia was extremely unreliable.
To hell with his political connections, he was more concerned about his own safety than his daughter’s.

As expected of a father like him.

While thinking of Duke Tricia, Carinne shook her head back and forth, and one by one, the nobles began to speak up.

“Let’s change the tableware we use to silverware.”

“How about making a new bed out of the finest walnut wood? Since we’re building a new annex, we’ll need new furniture, won’t we?”

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“There’s not much time left until the festival.
How about getting new ceremonial robes for His Majesty?”

 

They were all trying their best to impress the King.
As someone who had read the original story, Carinne wasn’t particularly surprised by the scene.

“Enough, enough, I understand your hearts, lords… I’m fine with anything, so just do as you please.”

The man sitting at the center of the conference table spoke in a voice that sounded like he had enough.
From the looks of it, that person was none other than the King of Esmeril, who seemed just as disinterested in the meeting as her.

He was lying down like a sick person, and there was no strength in his eyes.
His appearance was like that of an old spinach.

In the end, as the nobles argued with each other, they eventually came to a consensus that they couldn’t give up on any of the options and decided to purchase the silverware, bed, and ceremonial robe.

The moderator of the meeting, who had been silently observing the nobles, looked puzzled.

“That will cost over five hundred gold coins.”

“How about reducing the size of the knight order during this opportunity? We are in a time of peace, after all.”

“That won’t do.”

The King opened his mouth first.
He said to the noble who had suggested reducing the knight order and then firmly opposed the idea with a clear gaze.

“We cannot reduce the size of the knight order.”

As the attention of the audience focused on the King, he cleared his throat as if he were embarrassed and avoided the gaze of the nobles.


“Instead of reducing the number of knights, we can reduce the cost of maintaining the knight order.”

After finishing his words, he returned to his lifeless state and the nobles began to chatter noisily again as if asking why they were being scolded due to the knight order that had nothing to do.
Carinne could even hear someone whispering those without any fear.

Well, it was because the Knight Commander and the King had a good relationship.

She yawned and muttered to herself.
Come to think of it, the only important person in the novel that she hadn’t met yet was Knight Commander Marta.

Marta was her favorite character.

Unfortunately, Carinne’s taste was extremely unlucky.
If there was a character that was underutilized after Archen in the novel, it was her.
She wished she could meet her once.
Well, time was abundant, so she’d wait for an opportunity.

Thinking so, she leaned back on the backrest of her chair and relaxed.
At that moment, the King, who had been listening quietly to the nobles, asked.

“How’s the country doing these days? Is it running well?”

The nobles gathered their voices and replied.

“Thanks to Your Majesty’s grace, it’s running very smoothly.”

“This year, they say there is no need to worry about a poor harvest.”

“Since everyone is living well and eating well, Your Majesty doesn’t have to worry too much.”

“I see, then.”

The King nodded as if he understood and sank into his chair.

As the King distanced himself from the ruling, the nobles had an easier time taking care of their own interests.

This was precisely why the nobles were careful to please him.
In the same context as earlier, when they bought various things for the King, half of the budget probably went into the pockets of the nobles during the process of purchasing goods.

However, whether Esmeril’s treasury was empty or not was irrelevant to her.

Carinne waited for Duke Lucas to arrive, tilting her chin and glancing at the meeting room door, but he never showed up.
So, after the meeting was over, she wandered around outside the door, hoping the Duke would show up late, but when she heard someone talking, she became gloomy.

“What happened to Duke Lucas today?”

“He went out on a territorial patrol.”

The small talk ended there.

 

 

* * *

 

 

Returning to reality, Carinne pretended not to hear the Duke’s question on purpose.

‘Why did he come here to ask such a shameless question after ignoring me?’

Instead of answering the Duke’s question, she congratulated Iris.


“You’re amazing.
You got it really fast.”

“It was fun! Let’s do it again next time.

Iris smiled brightly, making Carinne feel like she had gained a naive younger sister.

“His Majesty’s schedule today has nothing else, there should only be the cabinet meeting.
Did you attend that?”

As the Duke persisted, Carinne reluctantly answered.

“Right, I did go to the meeting.
What’s the problem?”

She asked half sarcastically.

It wasn’t worth listening to his thoughts.
Since they had finished playing the game of twenty questions, Carinne decided to go ahead with what she was planning to do earlier.

“Iris, I’ll guide you to a place where you can rest now.”

She hadn’t wanted to go this far for Iris, who was fond of Duke Lucas, but since she didn’t know where Iris might go, it was better to separate her from Archen.

Carinne hoped Iris would rest comfortably.

“Duke and Archen, please get up.
I’ll prepare the room for you.”

However, it was a mistake to casually mention Archen’s name.

“Not Archenas, but Archen?”

When Duke Lucas said to her, Carinne suddenly regained her senses as he continued, “I didn’t realize you were close friends.”

‘…It was inappropriate to call him ‘Archen’ in front of the Duke, even if it was someone else.’

Archen immediately defended himself against the Duke’s complaint as if he was unjustly accused.

“No, Your Excellency.
We just met once when she visited your mansion, and I didn’t tell her my name.”

He said they had only met once when she visited the Duke’s mansion, but why did he exclude the time they met at the ballroom? Thinking that, Carinne spoke out of frustration.

“I have no reason to go around shouting your name.”

The Duke retorted.

“Well, that’s enough of that.”

Carinne didn’t want to explain how she learned Archen’s nickname.
She tried to wrap up the conversation, but the Duke didn’t seem to hear her.

“When did the lady visit my mansion? This is the first time I’ve heard of it.”

“…Huh? Hold on a second.”

This wasn’t the time to care about nicknames.
The Duke showed great interest in Archen’s words, or rather, the fact that she had come to the mansion.

‘No way! What’s happening now?!’

 

If she weren’t careful, the incident that happened during her first meeting with Archen would be revealed one by one, and it would be Archen who would reveal it in front of everyone.

Carinne clasped her cheeks with both hands and silently groaned.

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