Chapter 05: Under a cold face
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“Unnie!! What do you mean by that!!!”
I wasn’t the only one surprised by Asena’s remarks, Keirsey also quickly got up in anger.
Asena stared at me without any playfulness, as if she were looking at a nobleman from another family.
…I was stunned and couldn’t say anything.
Perhaps the shock I was getting was reflected on my face.
I didn’t even think to hide it.
Asena stared at me for a moment, then lowered her eyes and looked away.
It looked like she was waiting for my response.
“What does that mean?”
Unknowingly, my voice came out threateningly, but Asena did not waver.
She didn’t even change her words.
“…it literally means what I said.
You must be noble to graduate from the academy, so I won’t take the family surname until then.
But once you graduate… then Oppa must return it.
What a sad word.
'I am your family,' I wanted to say.
'I didn’t borrow the name, it belonged to me.'
My body trembled unknowingly, and Keirsey, who was startled seeing me in such a state, clung to me.
Asena also stood up from her seat.
Then, she closed her eyes tightly, shook her head quickly, and sat down again.
The more I saw her actions, the more despair I felt.
“Asena, is that true? If it’s a joke, stop it now, it’s no fun.”
“Why the hell are you doing this!”
“…I’m sorry, Oppa But it was a decision I made after thinking about it.”
“What did I do wrong?!”
“Oppa, I’m just taking 'Pryster' name off, I don’t mean to hate you or to expel you from the family.”
“But isn’t it how you get kicked out of the family?”
“I'm not lying.
After that, you can stay with us as we are now.
Even if you return the surname, we will treat you the same way.
So… do as I say.”
Even with her excuses, I felt betrayed.
It's been more than 10 years since I became a member of the Pryster family.
The time I spent in this family and the emotions I shared were enough to make me think of myself as a Pryster.
In fact, I was proud to have the Pryster surname after my first name.
This was the name grandma gave me, but Asena, the head of the House, wanted to take it back.
It was even more shocking for me because I always treated both Asena and Keirsey as priceless jewels.
As the power gradually loosened from my body, Keirsey's worries grew stronger.
She even began to shout at Asena.
“Unnie!! What the hell are you talking about!! To Oppa-“
“Keirsey, be quiet.
This is between me and Oppa.”
I’m the Pryster too?! It matters to me as well!!”
“And I’m the head of the Prysters, and I'm telling you to shut up.”
When Asena talked to Keirsey, she showed the same coldness she never showed to me, and even now, her way of talking to me was clearly different.
So I could not even understand what exactly was wrong.
“…Asena, we were good until yesterday.
What did I do wrong…”
As soon as I opened my mouth, Asena’s expression subtly weakened.
But the words that came out of her mouth were firm.
It seemed to show her ruthlessness, which I had only read in the novel.
-Asena Pryster never changes her mind.
“…I told you, Oppa.
You didn’t do anything wrong.
So, you don’t have to blame yourself.
Though I won’t change my decision no matter how many times you ask me to.”
“…Then tell me why, Asena?”
Asena shut her mouth again.
Ugh!! It’s so frustrating.
“Shit! I am so angry!!!”
Unable to hold back my anger for a moment, I shouted in frustration.
To which, Asena grabbed the hem of her skirt while biting her lips.
However, there was no way to take back my words, now.
Keirsey looked and clung to me.
She snuggled up to my side and comforted me.
At the same time, she gave Asena a sharp glare.
But Asena didn't say anything.
“…I was only that much to you?”
When I complained to Asena in frustration, Keirsey increased the strength in her arms and said, “Oppa!! It's not true!!”
She shook her cute head in denial again and again.
Tears welled up in her eyes as if she felt that my anger was directed at her.
“Not you, Keirsey.
Asena, was I only that much?”
“I said it wasn’t like that…”
“Then, why are you doing this?”
Slowly she answered.
“……For the future.”
After entrusting Asena and Keirsey with politics, I gave up on the struggle between the families.
I didn’t know why Asena made this choice, but at the words 'for the future,' the flames inside me died a little.
I completely trusted Asena.
If it was her, I thought there must be a reason why she chose this method.
Honestly, I believed that there was a good reason… but I still couldn’t deny my feelings; I still felt betrayed.
“Would it be a huge blow to the family if I didn't give up on the Pryster surname?”
It may not matter much, but I was curious.
After all, according to me, there were more advantages for the family if I had the Pryster surname.
Could it be that the family still can’t stand the damages I was inflicting on it?
But, thinking about it again, unlike me, who knew the future, Asena didn't know.
So no one would know how I changed them.
But, the damage I was doing would be in plain sight to see.
But I was sad nonetheless.
I felt like Prysters didn't protect me.
I could risk my life for them now, but it seemed, Asena didn't want to risk anything.
As much as I loved them, it hurt that they didn’t seem to reciprocate my feelings.
Asena still didn’t answer.
That was also an answer.
It seemed like she chose silence because she didn’t want to hurt me.
Well, I hadn’t thought about it until now, but I was starting to resent myself for being a commoner.
For the first time, I hated being possessed by a body called Cayden.
I couldn’t even stand proudly by the side of my family.
Did Hong Gil-dong feel the same way?
[T/N: Hong Gil-dong was the illegitimate son of Hong Sang-jik, and was born around the year 1443.
He made the army of commoners and raided nobles and government treasuries many times.
That's why some historians also compare him to Robin hood.]
My laughter leaked out at such a mindless thought.
Asena and Keirsey couldn’t keep up with my laughter and only looked at me blankly.
…Certainly, they were not the twins of the novel.
In the novel, they never showed such a blank look even when they saw someone's miserable death.
But there were still some similarities.
I could see how important was the family for Asena through the words she had told me.
Though, it’s the same for me too…
If it was for the family's future, perhaps I could handle it.
Even the disappointment I felt for Asena was about to disappear.
Because she, too, made a choice for the family.
Though, that didn’t mean that the frustration vanished.
And in such frustration, I spat a lot of words to myself.
“I resent being born as a commoner.”
It was the first time I showed any weakness to the twins.
Asena and Keirsey simultaneously had tears in their eyes at seeing my state.
But I couldn't comfort them.
For now, I needed some alone time.
The fact that I would have to remove Pryster from my name was too big of a shock for me.
I opened the door of the running carriage, and a guard looked at me in surprise.
“Young Lord, may I help you?”
“Is there a free horse?”
“Prepare for me.”
Then, I jumped out of the wagon.
Other knights hurriedly slowed down and tried to help me, but I signaled them to go on.
Asena and Keirsey looked at me from the carriage, but I did not look back.
The wagon carrying them was getting farther and farther away.
If I talked to Asena now, it seemed like I would only get angrier.
I only felt sorry for Keirsey, whom I had to leave alone with Asena.
But it couldn't be helped.
I needed some alone time to get rid of my feelings.
Soon after, a guard appeared with his horse.
I got on the horse and pondered what Asena had just said to me.
It seemed more shocking the more I thought about it, but unfortunately, it wasn’t something I, who was born as a commoner, could refute.
In this worldview, the class system was that strict.
✧ ✧ ✧
Asena looked out of the window blankly.
Even for the sake of the future, she didn’t want to offend Cayden that much.
Still, Asena knew, it was a hill she had to climb someday.
Now, the die was already cast, and she couldn't go back.
It’s been years since she wanted to say this.
Ever since becoming the head of state, she'd been preparing herself.
In the meantime, she had been waiting only for the right moment.
But now that they had to go to the academy, she couldn’t put it off any longer.
Cayden Pryster had to remove the Pryster surname.
He didn’t seem to accept it yet… But it had to be said.
Even though Cayden was angry, he calmed his anger when she said ‘for the future’.
He seemed to think about the future of the ‘family’.
However, Asena’s true intentions were different.
During her reign, she had no desire to make the family any stronger.
It was enough for the family to be able to protect their family members and their subordinates.
She didn’t want to take his surname away for such a grand reason: for the sake of the family.
Rather, it was for a selfish, personal, and dark reason.
What she thought was the future of ‘she’ and ‘Cayden’.
As the head of the household, she sacrificed a lot and gave up a lot of dreams, but this time, she wanted to be greedy.
In the past, Asena thought that Cayden would be the head of the household, but he didn’t.
Thankfully, she was very fortunate that she became the head of the house, not Kersey.
In this way, she would be able to use the power of her position to make her dreams come true, and she had only one dream.
She wanted to spend the rest of her life with Cayden.
For her, it was impossible to imagine a life without him.
But she found, how unstable her relationship with Cayden was; she and Cayden were siblings.
If they were able to spend the rest of their lives together through this relationship, she would probably have been satisfied with it.
However, the relationship between siblings was an unstable relationship that could not cross certain boundaries from the moment they became adults.
So, the ties between siblings were to be cut with one’s own hands, and a new relationship was needed.
The method she found was marriage.
The mere fact of being able to live with him didn’t lead to the idea of marriage.
Perhaps, all of this was Asena’s excuse.
She just wanted to leave everything else behind and be the most precious person for Cayden.
She always wanted her to be his number one priority, and she wanted to take all the love he could give.
Asena realized her feelings for Cayden from an early age.
She couldn’t help it.
Cayden was the person who shook her heart that she thought would never move.
Cayden was the person who became her family when she thought she was alone.
He was the only one who took care of her when she was just a spoiled brat and no one could handle her tantrums.
No matter how irritated she was, he came to her with a smile, complimented her, and poured all the love.
At first, she wanted to know how could he do that even though they were strangers.
But such doubts melted because of Cayden's efforts.
Now, it didn’t matter why.
With him, all of Asena's painful thoughts ceased to arise.
He lifted her again.
She couldn’t even imagine what kind of person she would be without Cayden.
He was like a jewel, and it was a blessing that only she and Keirsey knew about him.
Even as they got older, he was the same.
Whenever she was having a hard time, he always came to her and encouraged her.
When she was bored, he played with her and filled her head with joy.
When she was afraid, he was there.
He was the person Asena could not ignore.
She couldn’t help but love him.
There was no other option.
But she didn’t know until then what kind of love it was.
She only vaguely felt it.
Even though she loved her father, she loved her mother, she loved Keirsey and all her family, and she always felt a special love towards Cayden.
At first, she thought it was just because Cayden was a new family member.
So she thought her love would clearly be a little different.
But the older she got, both physically and mentally, the more concrete her feelings became.
If it was just the family love, only hearing his voice would not make her day happy.
She wouldn't have constant thoughts about him swi rling in her head.
… And she wouldn’t want to go to him every night to kiss him.
She wouldn't imagine having a child with him, and she wouldn't get hot at night while thinking about him.
It had been a long time since she let go of the guilt that she shouldn't have such thoughts.
They were not blood-related, anyway.
Although they grew up like siblings, she never had familial love for him.
Cayden had the same 'Pryster' last name, but for her, they were more of childhood friends than siblings.
But the surname Pryster was always blocking her.
The name she was always proud of was her biggest obstacle.
So the name must be removed.
Because they couldn't marry if they both had the same 'Pryster' surname.
…and today, finally, she spat those words out.
Cayden was furious.
She had never seen him so angry before.
Hundreds of times she had the desire to return to a position where she was not hated again.
But she had to think about the future with him.
If she could not endure this ordeal, it was as if cutting their future with her own hand.
When she imagined Cayden loving her more than now and whispering loving words to her, she was able to endure it.
Her heart began pounding like it was going to explode when she thought about such a future with Cayden.
She, who was insensitive to emotional changes, never thought that there would be something so heart-pounding.
What would Cayden think if he found out about this greedy heart?
Would he be shocked, or would he be scared?
… Hence, it was a heart that could not be revealed yet.
Keirsey also continued to express dissatisfaction with her choice.
But ignoring her was not difficult for Asena.
Except for Cayden, the feelings of other people didn’t matter that much.
But now, Asena was more worried about how to ease Cayden's anger.
She stared blankly out of the window, hiding countless thoughts under a cold face.
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