“Yes, Your Highness.”
The Crown Prince asked, “Is it possible that someone from the orchestra did it?”
“Not at all,” Vahan answered firmly.
“Because the piece’s quality is extremely high.
No one in the orchestra, including myself, can compose a piece at that level.”
“It’s such a masterpiece that I think an angel came down from heaven and left me a present.
Even though I wrote the first movement, the themes that developed after are beyond my capabilities.”
Still, it could’ve been done by a member of the orchestra, so you should go back and double check.”
“Yes, Your Highness!” Vahan bowed his head deeply and withdrew.
Marie, who had been left alone in front of the Crown Prince and the Prime Minister, was nonplussed.
‘Did he summon me because of the piece I played yesterday?’ It was really fortunate that she hadn’t been caught.
It was perplexing though.
‘How does His Highness the Crown Prince know what I played yesterday? I was sure no one’s there.’
To think that she would get caught by the Crown Prince, no less! Her face went blank.
Then, the Crown Prince turned to the Prime Minister and said, “It’s strange.”
”Indeed, Your Highness.
It’s the same pattern as the sculptor.”
“Right, how strange.
What the hell is going on?” Their conversation made her internally swallow, since she’s the culprit in question, as was the case with the sculpture.
Then, the Crown Prince looked at her.
“And you are…”
My name is Marie.” She bowed her head in deference, trying to hide her inner turmoil.
‘I can’t get caught.
Especially to that Crown Prince.’
Even up to this day, she could still vividly see him searching for her with his blood-soaked blade.
She vowed to never get caught and draw his attention.
Marie, you’ve heard the piano last night too, haven’t you? The piece that I just played.”
“…Yes, Your Highness.”
“Then have you seen who played it?”
Marie unconsciously clenched her fists.
She must provide a thorough response since she’s in a precarious situation*
*direct translation – she was dragged into the tiger’s den.
Suddenly, a calm voice came out of her mouth.
“I have not seen them, Your Highness.”
“Yes, I did hear the music after I finished cleaning the rehearsal room, but no one came in when I was still cleaning.”
In response, the Crown Prince looked into Marie’s eyes.
“…” The cold blue eyes gleamed behind the iron mask.
For some reason, she had a feeling she’d seen those blue eyes before, but she didn’t have the time to think deeply of it since she was nervous.
“Is that so?”
“…Yes, Your Highness.”
Marie’s heart violently thrashed when he asked that.
‘He hasn’t noticed anything strange, has he? No, no matter how smart the Crown Prince is, how would he guess that I, a mere maid, did it?’
The Crown Prince looked at her silently for a moment and nodded.
Then you may leave.”
“Yes, Your Highness.”
‘I survived!’ Marie bowed her head, holding back the urge to let out a big sigh of relief.
But as she was about to head out as deferential as possible, a low voice stopped her.
It was the Crown Prince.
“Try to play the piano before you go out.”
“P-Play the piano?” Marie asked in confusion.
The Crown Prince nodded.
B-But why? ‘Did I get caught?’ Marie’s mind was in shambles.
‘I-I can’t do it.
I might get caught.’
Each performer had their own style, just as each person had unique facial features.
It’s like a fingerprint that she couldn’t hide if she tried.
If the Crown Prince, who’s well versed in music, heard it, he’d catch the similarities to yesterday’s performance.
But who would dare to refuse him? When he stared at her, Marie was forced to sit in front of the piano.
She said, “Your Highness, my piano skills are poor.
I am afraid I’ll rupture your ears.”
Feel free to play.“
How could she play without pressure!
Marie’s face went pale, thinking, ‘What should I do? What should I do??’
Her hands on the piano trembled from anxiety.
Her head was swimming, not knowing what to do.
‘Should I play it wrong on purpose? No, he might notice.
What should I do?’
As she was starting to panic, the Crown Prince said, “Alright that’s enough.
You’re too nervous.
You may go.”
Marie, who was nonplussed, blinked at the Crown Prince.
“You can go back to your work.”
“Yes, Your Highness.”
Just in case he changed his mind, she briskly walked out of his office.
Watching her go, the Crown Prince frowned under the iron mask.
“That maid, Marie.”
Duke Oren tilted his head.
“I don’t think so? Didn’t she panic when you suddenly asked her to play in front of Your Highness?”
The Crown Prince nodded.
“Right, there’s nothing strange about that.”
He was well aware of his infamy.
Anyone would be nervous if they’re suddenly asked to play the piano in front of him, the so-called Crown Prince of Blood.
“Then what makes you think it’s strange?”
Rael was about to say something, but closed his mouth.
He wasn’t even sure himself.
‘Her eyes.’ Rael thought to himself.
He recalled the maid’s eyes as they exchanged words before asking her to play the piano.
Her eyes were calm and clear, making it hard to believe she’s facing his infamous persona.
Those clear eyes expressed so much depth, making it difficult to regard her as nothing but an ordinary maid.
‘Why does it feel so strange? Was I imagining things?’
Rael thought as his fingers tapped on the iron mask.
Oren asked, “Then why did you suddenly ask her to play the piano, Your Highness?”
At that question, Rael became speechless for a moment.
There was no particular reason, other than a gut feeling.
‘Could she have done it?’ He considered it for a moment.
However, he thought it was absurd, so he asked her to stop halfway through.
She was trembling and so nervous that it was hard to believe that she’s the musician who played last night.
‘I have no idea at this point.’
Oren, who looked determined, said, “Well, I swear under my name, I will find both the sculptor and the musician.”
Then he muttered to himself, ‘Marie?’ The name caught his attention.
‘I’ll have to keep an eye on her for a while.’
Thus marked the beginning of Marie’s involvement with the Crown Prince.
Several weeks had passed since then.
The festival was just around the corner, and Marie was given a new assignment after finishing her work at the Crystal Palace.
‘I’m finally leaving the Crystal Palace.’ Marie let out a sigh.
Fortunately for her, she remained undetected until the end.
Vahan brilliantly completed the rest of the symphony based on the themes she‘d composed.
Everything went well, save for his determination to track down the mystery composer: “I’ll definitely find them and become their pupil!” shouting like so.
It was amazing that he had the look of someone who’d been devoting his soul to music, but Marie was mortified.
‘Anyway, I’m glad everything went well.’
She sighed in relief.
The symphony to be performed at the festival was excellently finished, and most of all, it was a relief that she didn’t get caught.
‘I’ll have to be careful from now on.’ She recalled the Crown Prince’s iron mask.
She’d already attracted his attention twice in a row, including the sculpture incident.
It was fortunate that she wasn’t discovered, but she absolutely refused to get further involved with the Crown Prince.
‘Where will my next assignment be? Since my work at the Crystal Palace is over, I’ll help prepare for the festival elsewhere.’
Then she thought, ‘It doesn’t matter if it’s a tough place to work, I just hope I can be invisible this time.’
Perhaps thanks to that wish, she was assigned to a quiet place with no people.
There was just one problem.
“The Swan Garden?”
All the other maids are occupied with other prep work.
There’s no one else to take the job but you.
It won’t be too difficult since all you have to do is clean up the cluttered garden.”
At that time, unlike her usual temperament, her superior, Susan, spoke tentatively, “O-Of course, there are rumors that ghosts sometimes appear, but those are baseless rumors, so don’t worry too much.”
There’s one problem.
It’s the rumors surrounding the Swan Garden.
There are ghosts in the swan garden! Rumors like this were circulating among the maids of the imperial palace.
‘What nonsense…’ Marie kept her mouth shut.
The Swan Garden was located in the most secluded part of the Imperial Palace, and had been neglected for more than five years after the 7th Princess got poisoned there.
The garden, covered with vines resembling a witch’s hair, became the fodder for gossip among the maids due to its creepy atmosphere similar to a haunted house.
“R-Recently, rumors have been circulating about a silver-haired ghost… Don’t worry, it’s all hearsay.”
Marie started to look at her superior, Susan, differently.
She’s more stern than all of the terror instructors combined, but she’s afraid of ghosts!
‘I think Miss Susan would be far scarier than ghosts…’ She recalled how Susan often scolded her whenever she made a mistake.
She was so terrifying that even ghosts would ran away if she yelled and made eye contact with them.
Of course, it doesn’t mean that she didn’t believe in ghosts.
But still, she found it hard to believe that there’s one in the palace.
That’s a little too much, wasn’t it?
‘And the Crown Prince is much scarier than ghosts.’
Recalling the cold iron mask, she shuddered.
If there really was an apparition living in the palace, it would be the Crown Prince.
Or vengeful spirits killed by his sword.
‘There’s absolutely no way I’d encounter the Crown Prince in the Swan Garden.’ Thinking so, Marie lowered her head.
“Alright, shall I go to the Swan Garden tomorrow?”
It’s been a long time since she dreamed of another person.
‘What kind of dream will it be this time?’ Even when she’s dreaming, Marie was fairly lucid.
She’s getting used to experiencing lucid dreams since she’d been having them lately.
‘Don’t tell me it’s related to the ghost stories I’ve been hearing all day?’ She was concerned of its possibility but fortunately, that didn’t seem to be the case.
“Mil! Van! Eat before you go out!”
“I’m busy, Mom!”
“No, but what if you skip meals? Take this egg bread.
‘What kind of dream is this?’
t/n: you know what, marie is right.
there’s no way anyone would think a maid can play the piano, when they don’t have the time & resources.
but she had no excuse with the mask adhdhfkdlld (in this instance sure, cause she’s scared out of her wits.
but later on when they continuously meet both with & without mask, she no longer has an excuse).
the egg bread (gyeranppang) in question (*´﹃｀*):
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