At that time, in the Grand Duke’s office.
“Are you certain you checked, Ren?”
“Of course, Your Highness. I sent people to all the management offices in the capital to check, but while there have been reports of lost blonde children, no one possesses green eyes.”
“Hmm, that’s strange.”
With her looks, the fabric she wore, and her demeanor adept at manipulating people. That wandering child who has nowhere to go is unmistakably an aristocrat.
“But how come there is no family who reported it? Besides, the child doesn’t seem to know anything.”
After some thought, the Grand Duke tapped the armrest of the sofa with his index finger and slowly parted his lips.
“Is there something wrong?”
“…It’s possible that they abandoned the child.”
“Yes? How is it possible.”
Felibenian nobles have long been known for caring about their blood relatives, as bloodline became valuable due to the war that had been raging for decades even before the country’s founding.
“But abandonment is ridiculous.”
Ren shook his head firmly. However, he couldn’t help but pick up on what the Grand Duke was saying.
“Otherwise, there was no reason not to look for that child. After all, no matter how noble aristocrats value bloodlines, there are some things that cannot be welcomed.”
It refers to illegitimate children or deformed children.
Although they are valued offspring, they were a disgrace to the high-nosed nobles. The deformed children will be abandoned in an unknown location as soon as they are born, and the treatment of the illegitimate child will be determined by the family situation. They could be listed in the family register if there were no direct children to succeed the family, which was rare to happen, but most of them will be in the same situation as deformed children.
“…She was clearly not a deformed child.”
“It’s possible that she’s an illegitimate child.”
Ren’s expression darkened.
If they had decided to discard her, that child would have nowhere to go. She won’t be able to avoid going to the monastery…
‘This is intolerable.’
Even with the support of the imperial family and nobles, the monastery where many orphans, the sick, and the homeless were gathered is inevitably in poor condition. They had to fight tooth and nail just to get another slice of bread, and if they got sick, they couldn’t even get proper treatment.
[t/n: “fight tooth and nail” is an idiom which means fight fiercely or fight with all of one’s might.]
‘How could I send a small child to such a horrible place?’
A sense of guilt came over him. The Grand Duke opened his mouth while staring at Ren, who was staring at the floor.
“Perhaps we should keep her a little longer. Who knows, her parents might show up even if it’s late.”
“Yes, my lord.”
Ren shook his head and pondered.
He’s hoping he don’t have to send that lovely child to a monastery. He wish she wasn’t an illegitimate child, but rather a long-lost child.
However, he had no idea that the child had already become the Grand Duke’s the illegitimate child.
Meanwhile, rumors about the illegitimate child quickly spread and reached the ears of the Grand Duke’s only son, Ahin Claudif.
“Does father really have an illegitimate child?”
“Yes, according to the servants who have seen it for themselves, they look exactly alike!”
Indignantly, Henrik exclaimed.
According to the national law of the Felibenian Empire, a woman or an illegitimate child could inherit the family with the permission of the state or head of the family.
That means the illegitimate child could possibly be Ahin’s competitor.
So from the perspective of Henrik, who has been by Ahin’s side since he was a baby, this could not have been a pleasant situation.
‘Your Highness is too much. How could he not discuss this matter with the young master?’
It was too much of an act to bring an illegitimate child without even saying a word to his successor, no matter how high he was.
Henrik looked at Ahin with concern, worried that the young master might have been upset, however…
“I’m glad my father wasn’t into sodomy, as rumors says.”
Ahin turned the page gracefully, muttering as if it were nothing.
“Eh, that’s just your reaction?”
Henrik’s mouth widened as Ahin asked without taking his gaze away from the book. How come a book piqued his interest more than the appearance of a competitor who could threaten his position?
“Young master, you misheard me did you? His Highness directly brought in an illegitimate child!”
He tried to say it again because he thought Ahin couldn’t understand the situation, but the reaction he got back was not much different from what it had been a while ago.
“So what? Do you want me to compete with a mere illegitimate child for the successor position? I, the eldest son of the Grand Duke?”
“Of course not…”
“The discussion about the successor was already over two years ago. Even if that little child gets into the family register, he can’t threaten my position.”
“That’s true, but…”
Henrik, who was at a loss for words for a moment and had his tail blurred, refuted again.
“However, it could be something you don’t know, but if His Highness, who values honor above all else, brought in an illegitimate child, he must care about that child very much.”
“What are you arguing against a kid who hasn’t even dried up the blood on its head yet? My father is not the type to reverse a statement he once made.”
[t/n: by ‘a kid who hasn’t even dried up the blood on its head yet’, ahin is referring the illegitimate child (ariel) as someone very young. the blood on its head literally refers to the blood found on babies’ heads. and this phrase is frequently used only when there is a situation or statement that is offensive that can pull off the ‘I’m older’ card as a refute. as a result, ahin must have been offended that henrik is panicking and believing that a young kid can threaten his solid position.]
Henrik’s mouth closed tightly at that point. But based on his sullen expression, he still appeared dissatisfied.
“However, it is an illegitimate child.”
Ahin clicked his tongue but didn’t rebuke anymore, knowing it was all a ruse.
“Well, a wish like that, I have no reason not to grant it…”
He was actually curious as well. Not to the illegitimate child, but to the child’s birth mother. How much of a great beauty is she to make that stone-like father fall in love?
‘That illegitimate child must have resembled its birth mother.’
After some thought, Ahin stood up and closed the book he was reading.
“Let’s do what you want, Henrik.”
“Yes? What exactly is that?”
“I’m going to see that humble face for myself.”
Henrik’s face, which had pouty lips in dissatisfaction, instantly brightened.
“Yes, young master!”
Ahin secretly raised his mouth as Henrik opened the door. When Ahin arrived at the guest room where the illegitimate child was staying, he knocked loudly on the door.
But there was no response, so Ahin grabbed the doorknob without further delay. He had no reason to be polite to an illegitimate child who suddenly rolled in.
He opened the door and entered the room, but it was empty. Ahin took a look around the empty room, sat on the sofa, and stretched his legs on the table.
He was going to wait until the illegitimate child arrived, but something unusual caught his attention.
“What exactly is this?”
The plate on the table was piled high with chocolate cookies.
“What kind of cookies are you so ignorant about? Who eats like this?”
It was when Ahin picked up the cookie with a puzzled expression.
“What are you doing now, you punk?”
When he turned around, he was startled to see a girl with bright blonde hair staring at him.
‘What is that?’
Ahin, who had lost his temper for a brief moment, realized that the child was the illegitimate child mentioned by Henrik.
But Ahin couldn’t say a word. It was because he lost his sense of reality.
Who is he?
He is the only child of Bardel Claudif, the empire’s only Grand Duke. He was chosen as the successor early on, and even the emperor’s favor was carried on his back because he is his only nephew. His position was absolute. No one would have been so callously rude to him.
‘How dare you, an illegitimate child…’
Ahin’s lips twisted wildly. He take back what he had just said to Henrik.
If he didn’t tell this kid, who doesn’t know him, and ran wild, it will be troublesome later.
“Didn’t I ask what you were up to? Are you not going to respond to me right away? “
The illegitimate child once again didn’t gave him any face before he could introduce himself.
Henrik called in a bewildered voice, but he could hardly open his mouth. His lips clung to each other, as if they had been cast by a spell that did not fall off.
That’s when the enraged illegitimate child, stomping her feet like a mad foal, pointed her finger at Henrik.
“Yes, yes? Are you talking about me?”
Where did the image of him running wildly saying that they had to immediately eliminate the threat went? Henrik’s voice at that time was filled with enthusiasm.
But the illegitimate child arrogantly moved her finger as he quietly get down on his knees and when she whispered to his ears.
Ahin, who came to his senses belatedly, was watching him still.
“Uhm, young master.”
Henrik looked at him and wept.
This is not like him, who’s fluttering everytime and everywhere. He looked very depressed.
‘What the hell did she say?’
Ahin asked nervously.
“What is it?”
He thought about how great would have been the thing she said, but…
“Leave right now.”
Ahin’s shoulders twitched at the stronger-than-expected remark.
But right when he was about to open his lips to refute this mere illegitimate child, she whispered again to Henrik’s ears.
Ahin inquired, struggling to keep his anxiety at bay.
Henrik didn’t answer right away. With his head bowed, he hesitated for a while before he pointed somewhere with his index finger. It was the same table Ahin had put his feet on a while ago.
“The footprints on the table, please wipe them yourself.”
Ahin then realized.
The ‘little kid who still has blood on his head’ brought by his father was not someone to underestimate.