Jung Sua’s expression was a sight to see.
Her face resembled the look of a split second of realization after accidentally stepping off a cliff.
“Did you not say you lost your parents when you were young? Did you not say you were the same as me?”
“What about your younger sister? Did you not say her condition was so critical that you could not come when the draft call was made?”
“That’s not it! I mean, that is not correct, Your Majesty.”
“Then what is it?”
Charlotte Aria asked as if she still wanted to believe Jung Sua.
“If that’s not it, then…”
She asked a second time. However, Jung Sua only repeatedly opened and closed her mouth like a goldfish.
“Then what is it!?”
Startled by the sudden outburst, Jung Sua fell on her butt. Her legs had gone limp.
‘Say something. Tell me a reasonable excuse.’ Charlotte Aria urged her in her mind and asked three times, but Jung Sua failed to meet the queen’s expectations.
They both knew that there was no meaning in trying to cover it up now.
Jung Sua had nothing she could say to her. Now that she admitted everything with her own mouth, she knew that whatever she would say would be nothing more than a meaningless excuse.
Charlotte Aria’s sad gaze slowly became cold.
“Really a liar.”
The death sentence finally fell.
Jung Sua’s tears had dried up at some point, and she was feebly attempting to push herself away with her legs.
All the effort she put in over numerous years had suddenly evaporated in some 10 minutes.
It was an incredibly harsh consequence for a single slip of her tongue, but she surprisingly didn’t seem too shocked at the outcome. Only, the feelings of urgency and vanity were written clearly on her face.
Even while hurriedly trying to flee, Jung Sua could not meet the queen’s gaze and shifted her eyes away. This made Charlotte Aria feel hurt even more.
Jung Sua abruptly stopped. Her face visibly started to tremble.
—I guess you still have some conscience left?
A voice flowed out of the crystal.
—I thought you’d try to unreasonably cling to her again.
Those words were the final blow.
Jung Sua shot her eyes open. She hurriedly got up from the ground like a colt stung by a bee and darted her eyes around.
It was obvious what would happen to her now.
The weak-hearted queen would not kill her if she cried and pleaded, but she was sure she would be thrown out.
[Or do you want to be dragged out in tears and snot after suffering all sorts of nasty things?]
[I can’t count the number of people who acted so arrogantly in front of me without knowing their place and ended up going through hell.]
She finally understood what Kim Hannah meant. Everything had spiraled out of her control and was irreversible.
As a liar without any options remaining, the final card she chose to play was…
…to run. She turned around and quickly escaped.
Charlotte Aria screamed.
But Jung Sua didn’t respond and disappeared like the wind. She had chosen to abandon everything and escape rather than experience all kinds of humiliation.
Her quick decision-making skill was remarkable, to say the least.
Charlotte Aria, whose eyes had been tearing up and lips trembling, finally could not hold it in any longer and started to wail.
Seol Jihu chewed his lips. His mouth was bitter.
He had expected her to be shocked, yet seeing her cry didn’t make him feel too good.
“You liar… You liar…”
Charlotte Aria kept crying while repeating the same words.
Thus, their meeting ended up in total ruin. They couldn’t just go ahead and ask to have a friendly meal together in this situation.
While Sorg Kühne, who had been waiting outside, settled the situation, Seol Jihu and Kim Hannah quietly left the palace.
Jung Sua had failed to escape in the end. In truth, no matter what she chose to do, she would only be running inside Buddha’s palm.
As Kim Hannah had already notified Sorg Kühne of the plan, Jung Sua was caught by the soldiers that Sorg Kühne had placed around the palace.
Seol Jihu and Kim Hannah turned back after seeing the viciously struggling and yelling Jung Sua thrown into a cell.
“In the end, she was only a bitch of this level.”
Kim Hannah started talking once they left the palace.
“This is the reason people say, those who live by the sword, die by the sword.”
She was right. Those who lived by politics died by politics.
The only reason Jung Sua was able to climb to her position was that she hadn’t missed her opportunity to form a bond of sympathy with Charlotte Aria.
While it could be attributed to her ability, it was only possible because of the void left by Evangeline Rose and her target, Charlotte Aria, being a naive and gullible person.
With the foundation of their bond broken down, there was nothing Jung Sua could do anymore.
“Oh right, I have a request.”
Kim Hannah suddenly asked.
“That Jung Sua. Can you let me deal with her?”
Seol Jihu expressed his confusion.
“Well, it doesn’t really matter, but aren’t prisoners under the royal family’s jurisdiction?”
“I asked Sorg Kühne. He said I could do whatever I want.”
“And the queen?”
“We’ll hide it from her.”
“Sorg Kühne and I decided to tell her that Jung Sua escaped to Earth and would never be coming back. Our queen is too softhearted, after all.”
Right, there was a possibility that Charlotte Aria would just set her free.
“How do you plan on doing that? She’s stuck in her cell right now.”
“The queen doesn’t care about the administration of her own city, so why would she care about the prison? We just need to keep it under wraps.”
Kim Hannah grinned.
“It’s fine even if we get caught. We can just say that she escaped and then we caught her secretly trying to re-enter Paradise. We’re going to issue a Red Notice today anyway.”
Seol Jihu marveled at her. Kim Hannah didn’t know such a thing as a middle ground. Either you die or I die. Once she started an attack, she saw it through to the end.
'Looks like the Parasites accepted her for a reason.’
He suddenly became curious and asked her.
“So what are you going to do with Jung Sua?”
Kim Hannah suddenly shut her mouth tight.
“Do I really need to tell you?”
It was an unexpected response.
“I can tell you if you want me to… but it’s not exactly a pleasant topic.”
“What’s there to be pleasant or not about it?”
“I’d tell you straight out if I was going to use her or do something to her with a specific purpose in mind, but this time, I’m going to use her purely to satisfy my personal desires.”
“I’m a human being too.”
Kim Hannah continued in a gloomy voice.
“As long as I’m human, I get stressed. And an appropriate hobby is a very effective solution to relieve stress.”
“You’re making me even more curious now.”
Seol Jihu poked Kim Hannah on her side.
“Can’t you explain it briefly?”
Kim Hannah smacked her lips.
“I’m going to make her shit blood.”
Seol Jihu’s face soured.
“I feel like I’ll be satisfied then. My personality is just that messed up.”
After apathetically saying so, she glanced at him sideways.
“Why, is it weird?”
“It’s my penchant, so respect it. You go crazy for boobs too.”
“No, I don’t mean that, but your speaking habit.”
“My speaking habit?”
Kim Hannah furrowed her brows.
“You always include shit as a figure of speech whenever you describe your enemies. You’ve done it before too: shit, feces, poop…”
Seol Jihu nodded with a serious face.
“Do I really do that? I didn’t know.”
Kim Hannah tilted her head before she burst out laughing.
‘I guess it really is my speaking habit.’
She then raised her arms towards the sky and stretched.
“In any case, buy me a meal before we head back. We didn’t even have lunch. I’m starving after going all out today.”
She twisted her slender waist left and right and walked while swinging her arms.
Just like Kim Hannah said, a Red Notice for Jung Sua was issued before the day even went by.
It wasn’t until a few days later that Seol Jihu visited the palace again. The primary reason was Sorg Kühne requesting for help, but Kim Hannah also pushed him to go, telling him it was time to reap the harvest.
'I didn’t have to visit the palace this much when I was at Haramark.’
Seol Jihu arrived at the palace while fidgeting with the hairpin that he had in his pocket.
Surprisingly, the place that the royal administrator guided him to wasn’t the grand hall but a bedroom.
He asked whether it was fine to go into the queen’s personal bedroom without permission, but Sorg Kühne just replied, ‘It’s fine,’ and announced his arrival.
The air in the room was depressing. It was so suffocating and lifeless that he himself felt heavier.
Seol Jihu carefully entered the room and soon found Charlotte Aria with her face buried in her bed.
She didn’t respond in the slightest even when she definitely had heard the public administrator speak.
“Are you sleeping? If so…”
Before he could say he would visit again later, he heard her reply.
“You rude scoundrel, how dare you enter this place without permission!”
“The royal administrator brought me here.”
Charlotte Aria pulled her blanket over her head.
She didn’t look like she had any intention of talking, but her body was surrounded by an aura that said, ‘I’m distressed. Quickly come and comfort me.’
'Let’s believe in Sorg Kühne.’
Seol Jihu resolved himself and firmly stepped forward.
“Since I’ve been rude anyways, let me be rude once more.”
Seol Jihu grabbed the blanket without hesitation and gently pulled it.
Charlotte Aria resisted with all her might, but she couldn’t defeat Seol Jihu in strength.
“Why are you doing this!? Do not bully me!”
He felt it several times before, but just like how Teresa wasn’t princess-like, Charlotte Aria was a failure of a queen.
However, Seol Jihu decided to stop paying attention to such matters. It would be better to think of her as he thought of his little sister Seol Jinhee, the queen of priggery.
Charlotte Aria looked haggard as if she had abstained from eating and drinking for several days. Her eyes were also swollen from crying for a long time.
“Please talk with me for a bit.”
And as expected, Charlotte Aria got up from her bed as if she had been waiting for him to say those words. She started speaking while sniffling with her red nose.
“I shall not hold it against you since the royal administrator sent you.”
She looked up with watery eyes and mumbled.
“But I wish to be alone. No. I wish to never see anyone ever again.”
Seol Jihu shut his eyes.
He didn’t say, ‘Sure. I’ll leave now.’ From his experience with Teresa, that was the one choice he should never make.
Seol Jihu got on one knee and matched his eye level with hers. He was showing his determination not to leave.
Charlotte Aria pouted.
“I am tired. I no longer have the confidence to live in this cruel world.”
Seol Jihu barely restrained himself from tilting his head up and staring at the ceiling.
“Why? Why did Jung Sua deceive me? Was there a reason she needed to go that far?”
“Because I am the queen?”
“You know it… I mean, yes. It is because Charlotte Aria-nim is the queen.”
“I am a queen with no power.”
“But you are still a queen.”
Seol Jihu calmly spoke.
“A queen is a figure worshiped by the masses. The queen’s name alone holds tremendous influence on the world, and whoever stands alongside her can borrow her authority. Jung Sua approached you to exploit this fact.”
He spoke of things that she already knew. It probably wasn’t what Charlotte Aria wanted to hear.
Was she calling Jung Sua who deceived her terrible, or was she calling him terrible because he failed to comfort her? He felt it was more likely the latter judging by her crestfallen expression.
“You have to cheer up.”
As he spoke after letting out a short sigh…
He heard a rebellious voice.
“I said no.”
Her voice became clearer. He didn’t know what suddenly happened with her, but he saw her with her mouth clamped shut.
Charlotte Aria glared at Seol Jihu for a while before snorting.
“Sure, it is easy to say that. But, what isn’t easy to say?”
She had a hoarse yet very angry voice.
“If you were me, would you be able to suddenly cheer up as you suggested?”
“Smile. Cheer up. I hate these two phrases the most. Do you know why? Because ultimately, the motive behind those words is deception.”
“Why, do you think that is not the case? Those are words simply thrown out by people that observe from afar without helping, not even sympathizing with the person. What is it if not deception?”
Seol Jihu became speechless.
“Sure. As you said, I am the queen. So what?”
“Cheer up, Your Majesty. What am I supposed to do if I cannot cheer up? Get well, My Queen. How am I supposed to get well?”
“Is a queen some kind of God? Am I some transcendent being that can cheer up and feel better if I wish so?”
Charlotte Aria poured out a barrage of words as her pent-up frustrations finally erupted.
“That is not the case. A queen is still human. I am still human!”
Her eyes began filling with tears as if she felt sorrowful as she spoke.
“I’m tired! I’m so tired that I just want to die right now! I didn’t even want this position in the first place…!”
She squeezed out a complaint before falling back on the bed. She tightly grabbed her blanket and started to loudly wail.
Seol Jihu looked at the crying child with a renewed gaze. He lowered his head as he rubbed his chin. He didn’t expect to sympathize with her last sentence.
Charlotte Aria’s body flinched at the sincere affirmation.
“Yes. Human emotions are difficult to control. I was the same. I was told to calm down and relax, but it was easier said than done.”
He spoke as he recalled his memories when he had snuck in the Delphinion Duchy Laboratory. He remembered how shocked he was when he saw Kazuki slit his little sister’s throat without hesitation.
Charlotte Aria carefully looked up.
“I know, right? Isn’t it hard?”
Seol Jihu grinned.
To respond like that when he had only sided with her once… He would have never understood her if he hadn’t looked at her Status Window.
This was a good opportunity.
Seol Jihu said as he put his hand in his pocket.
“Then let’s do this.”
“Since you said you aren’t feeling well, then I’ll make you well.”
Charlotte Aria’s eyes widened.
Her eyes sparkled.
Seol Jihu took out the hairpin and presented it to her.
“It’s a gift.”
Charlotte Aria’s face sunk again, but she still received his gift.
“I am grateful for the thought, but I think I am past the age to feel better over a gift.”
‘Liar. You had such a look of anticipation a moment ago.’ Seol Jihu shook his head.
“It’s not just any hairpin. It’s a hairpin holding a very special power.”
“A special power?”
“Well, it’ll take too long to explain, but…”
Seol Jihu pondered how to explain it to her before deciding to match it to her level.
“Don’t you want to make a secret friend?”
“A secret friend?”
“You’ll meet a friend if you hold onto that hairpin.”
Charlotte Aria looked up at Seol Jihu speechlessly. She had a face that plainly asked what dog-eating-grass nonsense was he trying to sell.
“It’s not a lie. I told you, didn’t I? I came to help you on behalf of a friend.”
As if she just remembered, Charlotte Aria asked him a question.
“Are you talking about Teresa Unni?”
“Then is it you?”
“It’s not me either.”
Charlotte Aria tilted her head.
“Then I do not have anyone else that I can call a friend…”
Seol Jihu wanted to ask, ‘Since when was I your friend?’ But he held back because she sounded too pitiful.
“Neither Princess Teresa nor I can become your friend. It is because we view you as the queen. However, this person can become your friend.”
“Because this person isn’t waiting for Charlotte Aria-nim as a queen. That’s why you can become friends.”
Charlotte Aria’s curiosity was piqued by his words.
“Just who is this person…? Why didn’t you bring this person here? No, bring this person here. I need to see this person’s face.”
She must be interested as she didn’t refuse.
“I can’t. She is unable to come here.”
“It’ll be better if you go and hear the answer to that question yourself.”
“I really cannot understand you. You are saying she cannot show herself, yet she will appear if I just hold onto his hairpin?”
Charlotte Aria narrowed her eyes.
“You’ll find out whether I’m a liar or not if you wait and see. Well, if you don’t want to, then please give it back.”
Charlotte Aria hurriedly hid the hairpin in her arms as Seol Jihu extended his hand.
“W-Who said I did not want to? I was simply a little skeptical.”
She stuck out her lower lip and pouted.
“And I am also curious as to what kind of person she is…”
Seol Jihu laughed as he spoke.
“Meet her once if you’re curious. Listen to what she has to say. She will tell you why she wanted me to help you and why she wants to be your friend. You’ll understand if you see and hear it for yourself.”
“If I see and hear it for myself…”
Charlotte Aria mumbled while fidgeting with the hairpin. But as if she was still curious about this mysterious friend, she cautiously asked.
“Do I only need to hold onto this hairpin?”
Seol Jihu smiled.
After successfully completing Roselle’s request, Seol Jihu returned to Valhalla’s building. Because he had to wrangle with Charlotte Aria for a long time even after he gave her the hairpin, it was already dark by the time he came outside.
After a simple dinner, he talked with Kim Hannah for a bit before going to bed.
That night, Seol Jihu had a dream.
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