Roseline looked up at Melchor.
The feeling of intimidation, whenever she looked at him, was still present.
But she felt a certain comfort in him.
Was there ever a moment when this man wavered Did he get anxious when he thought about the uncertain future
If he did, who did he share these moments with
“Are you still looking for her” Melchor’s heart and soul.
The person who shared the same name as her.
“Why It’s your first love!”
Melchor looked bewildered at her comment.
“My First love It’s not like that.”
“Didn’t you love her”
“Again, it’s not like that.
She was… my Master.”
“A teacher, you mean”
“More like a friend.”
“You seem to be quite obsessed with her.”
Anyone could tell that the absent Roseline meant more to him than a friend.
It was visible in his eyes whenever the present Roseline performed the same sort of swordsmanship as the ‘other’ Roseline.
“Roseline… oh, I meant the other Roseline, not you.”
“I got it.
But Melchor, it’s confusing sometimes.
Maybe I should change my name.”
“You want to change your name”
“It’s bothersome to correct you every time.
Wouldn’t it be better if you gave her a nickname instead”
Melchor had married Roseline because he found her the same in all aspects as the other Roseline in his memory.
She couldn’t tell Melchor to stop thinking about the other Roseline.
But when the name popped up repeatedly, it was troublesome.
Melchor seemed to agonize for a moment before spitting out a name softly.
“Roseline is also called Roselyne in the eastern accent.”
The empire’s territory was so wide that even if the same characters were used for the same name, the pronunciations were different for different ethnicities.
There was a standard language but the way a name was pronounced differed by region.
Roseline’s name was read in the Western way.
In the Eastern way, it was ‘Roselyne’.
The name is the same but at least I can be rid of my worries of hearing the same name again and again.
“Anyway… Rose—,” Melchor corrected himself.
“No, Roselyne is not who you think she is.
She is my benefactor.
I just want to repay a favor.”
Melchor was trying hard to deny it but Roseline understood the depth of his emotion.
She hadn’t gotten married of her own free will anyway.
She knew that she was just a substitute for his ‘Roselyne’.
That didn’t stop her from feeling uneasy when both of them were called by the same name.
It was alright as long as they were called differently for now.
Roseline wondered why she felt such discomfort and tried to understand it.
* * *
The moon shone brightly.
The silver light reached the Imperial Palace.
However, the beautiful moonlight was meaningless for the four people who had covered all the windows with dark curtains and huddled together with red lights illuminating the room.
Empress Wilhelmine, a middle-aged woman wearing a platinum tiara with her gray hair gracefully curled, sighed as she touched her forehead.
“The Duke of Postenmeyer and the daughter of Count Crimson Rose are married.
His Majesty has approved it.”
“Sister, what should we do” asked Count Vigelhofen, the Empress’ younger brother.
He was gray-haired and had dark eyes.
He was small and stout.
“Was there nothing found on the Countess Crimson Rose and her son” asked Marquis Auberweichman, the closest aide to the Empress.
Antonin, a middle-aged knight in a blue cape, shook his head.
“Nothing was found in the mansion as well.”
“The only one left is Roseline Crimson Rose.
But the Grand Duke of Postenmeyer took her away like that…”
“What do you want me to do, sister If Count Crimson Rose is dead and the ‘power’ isn’t back, there’s only one…”
I have a headache,” said the Empress and hit Count Vigelhofen with her fan.
The deep wrinkles on her skin did not hide her years, her brother mostly caused them.
When the case was opened, evidence of gambling was presented.
The Empress couldn’t possibly get entangled in that.
The Count was killed and the rest of the family was heavily fined.
The gambling stakes were returned to the Empire treasury.
On the surface, the case seemed to be settled.
The problem was…
“I couldn’t get back the ‘power’ that His Majesty had given me years ago.”
She couldn’t get back the most important stake in her gambling.
The Empress thought it would be the end of the Count of Crimson Rose when he died, but seeing that nothing had changed, it was clear that it had passed on to his successor.
“His Majesty cherished it and handed it to you.
Do you mean you lost it because you lost the bet” asked Count Vigelhofen.
Empress Wilhelmine frowned at her right wrist.
Her skin visible through the golden bracelet was stained with a red rose.