Bang. Rain poured down at the same time the sound of gunfire parted the dark cloud-filled sky.

A frightened deer fled from the direction of the muzzle. Theodore narrowed his brows as he watched the beast disappear.


It was not unusual for the falling raindrops to stop the attempt the failed kill again.

It was dirty and unlucky all day long.

This hunt was futile. The fact that he would have to return empty-handed only made him angry  today. But Theodore was not foolish enough to wander through the rainy forest.

Rather, he was rational and objective enough to figure out what the problem was himself. And that was because he had come out to the hunting grounds just before the sun set in the first place.

However, today was a day when it seemed like he had to kill something to loosen his temper.

From the looks of it, it was also wrong to return to the mansion. He would have to spend the night in a small cabin located on the hunting grounds.


The only thing he did well today was kicking out the warden to have the empty cabin for himself.


Theodore turned back, cursing the muddy ground. He intended to throw away his muddy boots and go to sleep with a glass of hard liquor.


But God was not terribly on his side today.

It happened when he opened the cabin door roughly.


There was a person in the cabin that no one should be. It was a woman whose face Theodore also knew.

She was a beautiful woman who glowed gorgeously even on a dark, damp day. Even in the dreary weather, her hair shone as if it had stolen and painted the sun that the dark clouds hid.

She was Annette Scheringen, famous for three things: her beauty, her family’s reputation, and her unrequited love for the Crown Prince.

Theodore sometimes found her comical due to the fact that she was the daughter of the Marquis of Scheringen and that she loved the Crown Prince, but he had no intention to insult her looks. She was too perfectly pretty to deny it.


“I didn’t call for a courtesan.”


Her blonde hair was dry without a trace of moisture. It meant that she had been waiting for Theodore in the cabin before it rained.


“Of course, the Grand Duke is not one to call women to his hunting grounds.”


She did not back down even when being called a courtesan. She was quite a shameless person. Theodore thought.


“If you know, then leave. I failed to kill the beast and I’m inclined to shoot even people.”


“What if I came here as a courtesan?”


Annette chuckled. Even her mouth was full of bewitchment. It was as if she were a woman born to seduce men. In fact, there were plenty of men who were willing to lay themselves at her feet.

Of course, that did not seem to be the purpose of Annette’s visit today.


“Knowing Your Highness’ temperament, I’ll skip the unnecessary regards. Just because it’s a beautiful day doesn’t mean I can joke around with the Grand Duke.”


“What business does the daughter of the Marquis of Scheringen have with me?”

The mention of last name Scheringen meant that she and Theodore were political rivals, the title Marquis meant that her father was of such a valuable status that he could be counted among the fingers in the Audentian Empire, and the word daughter meant that she had little contact with Theodore.

Since it was mainly her father who clashed with Theodore for political reasons.

Still, the reason Theodore remembered her was for Hugo’s sake.

A woman who stood out even when she stayed quiet behind closed doors because of her beauty was making a big deal about loving the Crown Prince, so even Theodore, no matter how indifferent he was to other people’s love interests, couldn’t have known.

He heard that she was busy these days, harassing the Crown Prince’s lover, Yvone. Theodore did not know how such an empty-headed woman had entered his personal hunting grounds.


“I asked what your business was.”


“I have a favor to ask of you. If I disappear in the near future, please find me.”


“You mean you want to play hide-and-seek with me?”


“I suppose so, so to speak.”


“Does playing 

hide-and-seek with a hunter in the hunting grounds mean it’s okay to catch and kill?”


Theodore weighed whether he had more bullets or patience left. Why did she suddenly come here asking him to find her?

He detested people without context or logic.

Theodore took off his muddy boots and threw them next to Annette. The chair that was hit by his shoes was slightly pushed out.


It was a sign of dissatisfaction with bullsh*t. 


“There’s no point in threatening me.” Annette smiled again without blinking. 

Theodore’s mood was as low as her smile.


“Five minutes. That’s how much time I have left before my patience is triggered. If you have anything to say, finish it and leave immediately.”


“That’s enough for me.”

Annette took another step closer to Theodore. That was kind of interesting.

Theodore was a man who could commit all kinds of evil and still didn’t like to deal with women.


Nothing a woman could give him, from love to body, could satisfy him.

Despite his appearance that made them want to touch him, the women did not dare to touch him because they knew of his nasty disposition.


It had been a long time since a woman was not afraid to come in such close proximity with him.


“Would Your Highness believe me if I told you that this world is a world in a book?”


“Four minutes.”


“In fact, this world is nothing more than a stage created for a certain protagonist. What do you think is the role of Your Highness and I on that stage?”


“If you don’t hurry and talk, your nonsense should be your last will and testament.”


“We are the villains. The main character is Yvone.”


“Well, then, I guess the male protagonist is Crown Prince Hugo, the love of Lady Yvone.”


“Yes. The Crown Prince is precisely Yvone’s fixed partner and male protagonist. That is why Your Highness Theodore cannot defeat the Crown Prince even if he dies.”


Theodore stopped being sarcastic and immediately picked up his long hunting rifle. The notion that he couldn’t beat Hugo provoked him.


The last vestige of reason he held shook as he thought about the glass of wine he would drink after the woman left.

Hugo was Theodore’s nephew of the same age. The foolish nephew who had been promised the position of crown prince from birth because of his bloodline.

Theodore, on the other hand, was the son of the late emperor.

The late Emperor was very fond of his son (Theodore) who came from his beautiful mistress, but that was all. Because the throne was surely given to his eldest son, Theodore’s half brother, Filibert. (*Filibert is Cp Hugo’s father)

Barring any unusual circumstances, the next emperor would be Hugo.


No one thought Theodore, who was neither a legitimate son nor the eldest son, could take the throne.

Except for Theodore himself.


“I have run out of patience. I won’t listen to you for one more second, so get out now.”


The muzzle of the gun that had aimed at the deer went to Annette. But she did not run away, unlike the frightened deer.


“I heard that another vein of gold was found on the Crown Prince’s land today? Isn’t it really an amazing coincidence that gold suddenly appears from land that was once a wasteland when it belonged to Your Highness the Grand Duke?”


Theodore’s hands tightened.

An unprecedented huge vein of gold had been discovered in a poor southern town. Memmingen had originally belonged to Theodore, but the land had been taken from him in a bet with Hugo. It was barren when it was his, but the moment it came into Hugo’s hands, it was transformed into a gold mine.


And today, the very reason he visited the hunting grounds late in the day to vent his anger was the gold vein found in Memmingen.

It was always like this. Theodore was smarter and fitter than Hugo, but no matter what he did, the victory always belonged to Hugo, as far as this was concerned.

Every victory at the hunting festival, every imperial rivalry, even the empire, every shining thing seemed to be a gift prepared for Hugo.

A man who had no interest in the imperial throne was naturally given the title of crown prince.

Theodore, on the other hand, was treated as a sinner just for being greedy for the imperial power.

He wondered all his life why his heart was subject to judgment when he was born with an emperor as his father.


 “The Grand Duke can never surpass the Crown Prince. Just like no matter how much evil I’ve done, I can’t beat Yvone to become Crown Princess.”


“This is your last warning. I don’t want to declare war on the Marquis of Scheringen, so leave now.”


“My father will be dead soon. And of course, so will I.”

Annette looked sad as she spoke of the Marquis’ death. But it was not enough to make an angry Theodore sympathetic. Precisely because he could not see her sadness, and even if he did, it was not something he cared about.


 “Today will be my first and last conversation with the Grand Duke. The next time you see me, it won’t be me.”


Annette lifted the  hood of the cloak she had worn.

“I’m tired of playing the villain. But the Grand Duke is well suited for the role. As a show of support, I’ll let you in on a secret of the world I’ve  learned the hard way.”

Annette pushed away the muzzle of the gun pointed at her head and approached Theodore.

Then she whispered in his ear.

Theodore’s expression changed slightly as he listened to her. It was an obvious bullsh*t.


After finishing the whispering, Annette picked up a handgun from among the weapons on the table.

“I will take this as payment for the threat to my life. Now, goodbye.”

Annette, with the gun in her hand, disappeared into the rain. It was as if someone was going somewhere far away.


* * *

The residence of the Marquis of Scheringen, a few days after the day Annette visited the hunting grounds.

Someone who was not her, awoke in Annette’s body.


She blinked blankly. After correcting her blurry vision, she tried to raise her body, but it was too hard to support her limbs.

The moment she finally raised her hands slowly with stiff movements.



A horrible scream rang out.

Opening her heavy eyelids, she was met with Marquis Burhardt Scheringen, who had fallen from a gunshot wound, and the blood that was running down his body.


A corpse. The Marquis was dead without even closing his eyes as he was clutching his distorted wound to keep the blood from flowing.

Witnessing the horrific scene, she hoped that this moment was a nightmare. But what began at that moment was a reality more horrifying than a nightmare.

It was the day the Marquis of Scheringen died.

His only daughter, Annette Scheringen, was accused of the crime.

Tap the screen to use advanced tools Tip: You can use left and right keyboard keys to browse between chapters.

You'll Also Like