urse, like me, Theodore had a royal position, and Vivian had to navigate the social world.
However, this did not mean that we lost all contact.
Although we corresponded occasionally, it became difficult to meet each other as freely as we did when we were children.
We were no longer 11- or 16-year-olds.
We were now adults of twenty and twenty-five and our positions were different from before.
As our positions changed, it was natural that the work to be done increased as well.
I was myself, Theodore was Theodore, Vivian was Vivian.
“Still, things were slowly coming to an end.”
I stretched out and leaned back against the headboard of my bed.
The warm morning sunlight, the chirping of birds sitting on the railing outside the window, and the warm temperature.
All of this seemed to be the welcome to a long break.
It had been one month.
A group of nobles had been visiting me every day to make connections and to sort out the paperwork my father hadn't finished.
Was it because of that effort? There was no great difficulty in gradually establishing myself as the 'young duke' in this castle.
But it wasn't all over. One thing remained.
“Duke, did you cough?”
It was not Emma who entered my room. It was a young girl.
She was an attractive child with auburn hair, brown eyes, and freckles.
She is Emma's granddaughter who came up from the countryside and became the new dedicated lady-in-waiting, 'Anna'.
Anna looked at me sitting on the bed and blushed.
Then she asked anxiously, “Duke, it's nice to see you looking so pretty, but should you really sleep so defenselessly like this?”
As I grew up, there was no space left on my fingers and especially not on my ears.
This was only natural because there were so many jewelry-shaped magic tools on them.
This was out of necessity, but they were cumbersome when it came to sleeping.
It was fine now though.
Whenever I felt uncomfortable, I could remove the earrings and rings at will.
There was no more Emma to nag.
“It is not good for me to be defenseless, but not being able to sleep comfortably isn’t good either.”
“That is also true.”
Anna smiled broadly and nodded her head.
Then, with the jewelry box, that had been on the table, in her arms, she held out a hand mirror to me.
It was definitely my face, but it was unfamiliar.
The slightly raised eyebrows, a nose that falls in a pretty curve, and tightly closed lips gave a severe impression.
That didn't mean it looked ferocious.
It's because the calm blue hair and purple eyes made it a calm image as if to offset the feeling of severity.
“Here you go. This, this, this, this… and this is the last one.”
I started putting on the accessories one by one.
My jawline seemed to be thicker than before and my Adam’s apple was protruding from my neck.
After going through all the other changes in turn, I was transformed into the image of the Duke of Rosenta, Estella, whom everyone was familiar with.
I organized my long hair and got up.
“Anna, get ready to go to the imperial palace.”
It was time to go finish my last remaining work.
Among the 4 dukes, Duke Estella was the only not to manage his own territory.
I didn't know exactly why.
I've only heard that it's been like that since the time of my ancestors.
Instead, the castle of Estella existed near the outskirts of the capital and stayed close to the imperial family.
The royal family and the Estella duchy had been in a symbiotic relationship for hundreds of years.
Maybe that's why the Estella family visited the emperor directly whenever the duke changed.
To share good wishes for the future.
“Long time no see, Your Majesty.”
Like the dukes before me, I also came to see Emperor Theodore.
However, the moment I greeted him upon arriving at the imperial palace, he was deeply troubled.
Did I get the timing wrong?
Theodore looked distraught.
Even while receiving my greeting, Theodore's eyes and hands were not resting.
Even so, there were still stacks of papers piled high like a mountain in front of him.
I felt like I had to say something first. I began speaking slowly.
“You seem to have a lot of work.”
Only then did Theodore take his eyes off the papers.
A haggard golden eye turned to me.
A bitter smile hung on his lips and then he ruffled his golden hair as if in agony.
It was a very pained gesture.
“Yeah. There are many documents that I have never seen before so I have to go back through the records that have been collected since my father's reign. This just increases the papers I’m buried in.”
He sighed in despair and hung his head.
That look made me sad.
Is that why? Without much thought, I spat out useless words.
“Can I help you?”
It was said as a pleasantry, out of politeness.
There was no way he didn't know that, so I assumed Theodore would refuse.
I thought he would say that it was his job so he would try his best to the end…
Theodore lifted his head as soon as I finished my words.
His golden eyes, which seemed to have lost their vitality from fatigue, even flashed.
“Your consideration of me is very commendable. I wouldn't dare refuse.”
He smiled so much that it was as though the agony he had suffered until now had been a lie.
Only then did I realize that this smirking Theodore had set a trap.
Theodore waved the bell on his desk as if he was afraid I might run away.
Even though the bell had not even rang a few times, an attendant entered the office as if he had been waiting.
“Bring me a table and a chair for the Duke to sit on.”
After letting out a light sigh, I took off my coat and laid it on the sofa.
It couldn’t be helped.
There was nothing to do but assist.
Rolling up the sleeves of my shirt, I approached Theodore.
Then I pointed to the messy piles of papers and asked.
“What should I start with?”
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