Persis was riding in a carriage on his way to the palace.
His thoughts were in disarray, as if his memories were intermittently interrupted.
He wondered if it was because of the nightmares he had been having for the past few days.


Nightmares he hadn’t had since adopting May.
Dreams of Viche abandoning him

For the first time in five years, he had been having these dreams again, disturbing his sleep.

It happened for two days, then three, then four, repeating over and over.
How could he stay sane?

‘Why am I going to the palace?’

Was it for some business? But he hadn’t created any reason to go to the palace recently.
Then what could be the reason?

‘Come to think of it…’

A servant had delivered a message to him this morning.
It was clearly about May, and after hearing it, he got into the carriage.

Ah, that’s right.
May must have asked him to bring her back.
It must have been inconvenient for her to stay anywhere other than Flotina.

Thinking about bringing the child back brought a smile to hia otherwise expressionless face.

He should probably tell her not to stay out overnight.
There are many ominous things in the world…

With that thought, he once again lost his focus and drifted away.

When he closed his eyes and opened them again, he found himself in the Emperor’s audience chamber.
Before he could regain his composure, the Emperor’s hearty laughter filled the room.

“Hahaha – It seems even the Duke can be a bit absent-minded.
I called for him, but I don’t recall doing so.”

“But…”

“Young Lord of Flotina managed to defeat Gliw-gon and deliver the bounty reward to him.
Did you come after seeing the amount?”

“That’s not…”

To the sudden news, he felt dizzy, and next to the Emperor, Princess Isabella burst into laughter.

“Young Master Flotina is so cool! I discreetly asked him a question when he came to the palace last time, and he said he wouldn’t use any of it and would give all the money to Your Grace.”

“…To me?”

Why would that person make such a decision? Why didn’t his servant inform him of this news?

…No.
The servant had informed him.


‘Just now, the carriage sent by the palace has arrived.
The Young Lord captured Gliw-gon and sent the bounty reward’ the servant had said this morning.

He couldn’t remember clearly because his mind was in disarray, but the servant had delivered the news that the Prince sent the bounty reward from the palace.

For the past few days, the Emperor had been concerned about Persis’s changed complexion.

“You don’t look well, Duke.
Don’t immerse yourself too much in work, take some rest.
I’ll understand if you get caught up in the Founding Festival starting tomorrow.”

It was only now that Persis realized the Founding Festival would begin tomorrow.

His mind was not clear, and he had been feeling as if May was about to leave ever since the incident.

* * *

Persis’s tired energy was fully transmitted to Floa.
Floa couldn’t sleep properly either, even though not as bad as Persis.

Floa had hoped that their relationship would improve as Persis made efforts to get along with May, and they could finally become a harmonious family.
But it must have been a delusion.
It seemed May was planning to leave until her birthday.

The five-year separation from dressing as a man and the cut-off communication with her father must have been tough.
Therefore, Floa couldn’t dare stop her from moving forward.

It had been a long time since he had seen her smiling.
He didn’t have the energy for that anymore.
He was unsure if letting her leave would be for the better.

But when he thought about the days when he struggled with the aftermath of Pasabea’s disappearance before meeting her, he knew he had to hold on to her.

Because he didn’t want to live as a burden again.
In the midst of such inner conflict, Floa couldn’t fall asleep.

Eventually, he attended the annual Guardians’ Assembly meeting, but he couldn’t focus.
He was lost in his thoughts without even knowing what the meeting was about.

After everyone else had left the meeting, leaving only Iris, Cassius, and Floa behind, Cassius called out to him loudly, trying to wake him up.

“Floa!”

It took four calls before Floa finally snapped out of it.

Floa looked around with a dazed expression.

“Uh… the meeting?”

“It’s already over.”

“Already…?”

“What were you thinking about that you couldn’t concentrate on the meeting?”


Floa’s complexion darkened gradually.
He hesitated to respond, but eventually revealed the truth.

“It seems like Lady May is going to leave.”

Floa explained what had happened recently.

Persis had finally regained his senses and was trying to reconcile with his child, but May wasn’t willing to accept his efforts, which made it difficult for him.

However, the consolation Floa received from Iris and Cassius wasn’t what he had hoped for.

“I expected this… So that’s what happened.”

Cassius prepared to leave the meeting room, treating it like it was no big deal.

“Well, there’s nothing we can do.
It was bound to happen.”

“What…?”

“You should have worked on preventing this from the beginning.
If you’re going to raise a daughter like a son or adopt a child, you have to communicate with them.
Floa should have continued to talk to her from the beginning, so they could reconsider.
That’s your role, protecting the Flotina family.”

“…”

“You know that May was going to leave.”

Iris also pointed out sharply.

“Besides, you had a big part in why things went sour in the first place.”

Floa tried to rationalize his weakness by saying his mind had been weakened and that he was unable to do anything due to his fatigue, but ultimately, it was his laziness that led May down a difficult path.

‘You’re going to pay for this, Floa.’

For breaking the promise he made with the heavily pregnant Viche, and for breaking a promise he had no intention of keeping.

“See you later.”

Iris and Caius left the meeting room.

Left alone, Flora felt like she had been hit on the back of her head with a bat.

…To receive punishment.

Soon, he lost half of his consciousness.

* * *


Finally, the day of the National Founding Festival arrived.
The festival would last for three days, and there would be a ball at the palace every night.
Each night, attendees were required to wear designated accessories.

The designated accessories were a ribbon on the first day, a mask on the second day, and a brooch on the third day.

Before entering the grand Crystal Hall at the palace that evening, May checked if the red ribbon tied to her wrist was still in place.

Having confirmed that it was securely tied, May entered the ballroom.

As soon as she entered, she caught the attention of nearby nobles who flocked around her, making her feel uncomfortable.

“Isn’t he the rumored Young Lord Flotina Duke?”

“Duke Flotina had a child?”

“Oh my, Countess Cecil, didn’t you know? His Excellency secretly adopted a child.
It has been a topic of conversation for months.”

May shifted uncomfortably under their scrutinizing gazes, but the curious nobles wouldn’t leave her alone.

They gathered around her, offering greetings and compliments, making Mei wish she could leave already.

She forced a smile and looked around.

‘When will Stella come…?’

Looking for her only friend to help alleviate the awkward situation, May spotted someone and immediately froze.

‘Isn’t that woman…?’

At the end of her gaze was a dirty blonde-haired woman, the same color as the wicked woman who had come looking for Persis Flotina once before.

She was chatting with other nobles, including her brother.

“Young Lady Penso, you’re truly beautiful.”

“Hohoho, I know.
I take after our mother and father.”

“The Count has a remarkable presence.
Master Penso looks even more handsome than before.”

“Haha, you flatter me.”

May unconsciously moved towards where she was.
In the blink of an eye, she stood in front of the dirty blonde-haired woman.

The woman looked at May with a gaze that seemed to say, ‘Who are you?’


“Nice to meet you.”

May deliberately spoke to her.
She knew very well that this woman was the trash who killed the original Mei.

“I am Clara Penso.”

May showed her the viscera.
The fierce-looking woman who stood before the origin of all her misfortunes should not be intimidated.
Instead, May should behave with confidence.

“I am May Flotina.”

It was an opportunity to show how much she had grown since the time when she was beaten to death by her.

Upon hearing May’s name, Clara’s expression turned sour.

Clara had heard from Clovin that May had ignored him.

‘For someone who ignored my older brother to greet me first…’

Ignoring her older brother Clovin was tantamount to ignoring Penso as well, which meant she was ignoring herself.

‘You won’t get away with this.’

“I heard that you are the rumored Young Lord Flotina.
You were adopted, right… I’m curious, may I ask?”

“If you can ask straightforwardly, go ahead.”

“I’ve never been adopted, so I wonder how it feels to be adopted.
How does it feel to be adopted into the Flotina family without any blood relations to them?”

Even to a third party, Clara’s question seemed impolite, and the people around them exchanged glances.
However, knowing Clara’s nasty personality, no one dared to step forward to stop her.

May responded brightly as if asking what the problem was.

“You must be incredibly delighted.
You were adopted into the prestigious Flotina family.”

But soon, May’s expression changed.

“Now, let me ask you a question.
I’m curious about something.”

“If you can ask straightforwardly, go ahead.”

Clara glared at May as if she wouldn’t back down.

“How does it feel to live as a lady in a family that acquires many slaves?”

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