It was lunchtime the day after the ball.
A lot had happened to her the day before.

However, the new sunrise told her that today was the day.
She picked out a gemstone from the atelier’s display case.
She slipped it into a pouch with a string and tied the string around her wrist.
The gem pouch hung from her wrist.

‘Now to make an offer to the knightly order.’

They say to strike while the iron is hot.

“Since Gemma hasn’t woken up yet, shall we start with something else first?”

The pendant containing Gemma was silent.
It would be some time before Gemma awoke.
High-ranking noble ladies had left messages at Citrina’s atelier.
This also happened the day after the ball.
In other words, there was still time to deal with it.

‘Then first, let’s find out what Feinmann is thinking of doing.’

Citrina had scammed Feinmann, so she was prepared, assuming he would hold her accountable.
Anyway, it was strange.
On the night of the festival, at the ball, Feinmann’s actions were too subdued.
Citrina had to be concerned about Feinmann to some extent as her life depended on it.

‘Desian too…I’m curious about that.’

Desian Pietro, with his innocent face and demeanor, but there was still his notoriety to think about.
She felt like she was playing a game of chase with him.

“For now, let’s find Feinmann.”

Muttering to herself, she carefully placed the craft paper back into the cupboard in her workroom.
Then, after temporarily locking the atelier door, she walked slowly down the street.
Her destination was Feinmann’s shop.
She didn’t plan to get too close, just enough to see if it was open.
But when she got near Feinmann’s shop, someone called out to Citrina.

“Young miss, don’t go there.”

Citrina looked back at the old woman who had called out to her.
From her colorful earrings to her beautiful necklace, she looked to be another shop owner.

“You must be that young lady.
The one who had the big scuffle with Feinmann!”
“Aah… yes.”

She didn’t want to be well known because of this sort of thing.
Citrina shook her head silently.
The old woman put her hands to her mouth and whispered.

“Feinmann’s shop is a goner.
Don’t you dare set foot over there!”

If she didn’t go this way, was there any way she could step outside?

Before Citrina had a chance to be puzzled, the old woman loosened her purse.

“Oh yeah! Did you hear about the incident with the blue topaz? Feinmann claimed it had the same effect as the blue diamond and sold it! I’m not an expert, but the newspapers said he dared to dupe an aristocrat.”

The old woman in front of her didn’t seem to know that Citrina was also an aristocrat.
Well, she didn’t really care.
As she listened to the old woman’s whispers, Citrina pondered.
It was all over the gossip papers.
If Phantemang had the press on her side, Feinmann was certainly doomed.
In the Petrosha Empire, the press was a powerful force.

“Hmm… is that so?”
“I heard a noble got their hands on Feinmann, so he’s as good as dead.
There’s a difference in class.”

The noble was likely Phantemang, as Citrina assumed.
Whatever Feinmann had sold her, it must have cost a fortune and it did not have the intended effect.
If Feinmann was dead, her death flag would be suspended for now.
If he was alive, Feinmann would try to kill her.

‘If he’s alive, he’s definitely a death flag.
What to do….’

Citrina pondered.
Then the shopkeeper tapped her on the shoulder.

“Ah! There he is.
The one who was being harassed.”

It was Adilac and Lita, probably on their way to work.
The pair stood in front of Feinmann’s store.
Citrina slowly made her way toward him.
Adilac looked at her, puzzled.
Citrina slowly reached out and patted Lita on the shoulder.

“She said the person who was bothering you is gone, Lita.”

Lita stared at the door of the shop for a moment.
He soon turned back to Citrina.
Relief, sorrow, and even a hint of joy were mixed on his face.
Citrina had a vague idea of what he was feeling.

“I, I feel….”
“It’s okay.
You can do it.”

She wanted to say that it wasn’t bad to feel something over a person’s death.
Citrina patted Lita’s shoulder gently.

“Let’s go back to the atelier.”

Adilac slowly led Lita, with Citrina leading the way.
She helped Lita calm down at the atelier and set out once more.
Now, her destination was clear.
After dropping Citrina off, Desian returned to the duke’s mansion.
His mansion which remained locked in the same state as when Citrina had rehabilitated him, seemed cold today.
The temperature inside his office was just fine, but it felt empty.
Desian moved calmly to the window.
Opening the black curtains, he could see the falling petals from the flowers on the tree.

Autumn would be here soon.

‘Soon, an envoy from the Holy Kingdom will come.’

That envoy would include Elaina.
Her younger sister, Elaina, was still interested in Citrina.
However, when she realized Desian Pietro and Citrina were close, she would act prudently.
All that remained to be seen was to understand how Citrina felt about Elaina.

‘I’ll have to ask her sooner or later.’

If Citrina loved Elaina, it would be difficult to deal with.
The corners of his mouth lifted like a hungry beast.
For the time being, everything was moving as expected.
But there was one person he couldn’t predict.
Desian looked out the window.
He saw a small figure step out of a carriage.
All that he could see was a silhouette, but he knew who it was.
He turned and sat in his office chair, and slowly, he dawned a mask of friendliness.
A gentle smile started to form on his stern face.
Twelve minutes later, there was a knock on the door.

“Come in.”
“Del, I need to ask you something.”
Make yourself comfortable.”

He guided her over to the sofa in the office.
Facing each other across the coffee table, a long silence endured.
Citrina did not know where to begin.

‘Should I tell you straight away that I can be of help to you?’

Citrina felt the weight of the jewels hanging from her wrist.
As if aware of her situation, Desian spoke softly.

“So how was the ball yesterday?”
“Everything was fine.
It was good.”

Could they talk about Elaina?
Citrina whispered through dry lips.

“I have a younger sister.
And I happened to hear some news about her.”
“Did it make you feel bad?”
“No, it’s just ok.”

Nothing described their relationship better than the word ‘ok’.
Citrina and Elaina parted ways as if they would never see each other again.
Elaina despised Citrina, and Citrina didn’t like Elaina.
However, time was a terrible thing.
There was no animosity for her sister anymore.

“They said she became a paladin.”
The words came out more cool-headed than she thought they would.
Citrina knew.
Elaina had always had divine powers.
So it must have been Elaina who cursed Aaron’s sword with bad luck back then.
Desian gave Citrina an observant glance, though he didn’t try to continue the conversation.
Citrina cheerfully changed the subject.

“By the way, do you remember what you said to me?”
“What did I say?”

There were so many things they had talked about.
Desian’s words made the tips of Citrina’s ears flush red.
Come to think of it, the time they had spent together was quite long.
Once she realized that, she felt strangely relieved.
She blurted out.

“What you said about using you.”

Citrina gave a small smile.

“I’m here to return the favor.
I have a pretty good offer for you, so why don’t you use me?”

Desian slowly brought his fingertips to her face.
They met exactly at the corners of her eyes.
Were there tears welling up?
His fingertips rubbed them away as if to erase the moisture.

“How dare I take advantage of you?”

Citrina didn’t avert her gaze until he pulled his hands away.

‘ you… I’m confused about who you are.’

Though avoiding him just because she wasn’t sure was not her preference.
Desian slowly put his hands back in his lap, speaking softly.

“Tell me what you think is a good offer.”

Citrina looked at his face.
Hints about the person behind the mask were growing.
And her heart felt strange.
It was as if a veil from childhood had been lifted from her eyes, one inch at a time.
Citrina closed her eyes for a while and opened them again.
Now was the time to talk about work, not to have these thoughts.

“I’ve heard that most knightly orders use luck charms, but they weigh a lot and the amount of luck is minimal, so it isn’t very practical.”
“If the knights under your control use these sorts of stones, I can change them out for accessories that are light, comfortable, and full of luck.”

“This is with your spirit’s luck and the craftworker that you hired, right?”
Desian was smart.
He understood her suggestion in a flash.

“That’s great, Rina.”

A dark shadow fell on Desian’s face.

“You’re just in time.
We got word that some remnants were hiding in the dark tower.”
“Then it would make a good debut for our lucky stones, right?”
“It would make a good debut.
Discuss the cost with the butler and you can charge however much you want.”

‘Charge however much I want?’

“However much you charge, I don’t mind.”

He really didn’t care.
Desian was indeed the giving tree.
Note: For those who haven’t read it, this is a reference to “The Giving Tree” by Shel Silverstein.]
He offered to pay her so much money even though her lucky bracelet hadn’t been verified.
He seemed to have somehow become a little more generous with Citrina.
Citrina resolved to stay by Desian’s side and try to steer him in the right direction.
She had a vague sense of guilt drifting in her mind.

“Then can you show me the knights?”
“Yeah, now!”

Citrina smiled brightly.
Desian’s face seemed to oddly stiffen, but perhaps that was her imagination?
For the time being, it seemed that she was mistaken.
That’s because Desian gave her a smile like melting snow.

“Okay, Rina.
I’ll show you around.”

Desian led the way.
There was a sense of sneakiness in the way he opened the door.
Citrina slowly accepted his escort and stepped out of the office.
Th, then he was going to show her around the knights? Wouldn’t there be a lot of seriously fit men?

-…I suppose.
-It’s boring, but I’ll work hard on it.

Gemma normally didn’t let herself get carried away in the Pietro mansion, but today she was very excited.

-Watch carefully while we work.
-Of course, I’ll watch carefully!
We’ll have to keep an eye on each person and see what kind of luck they are having.
Trust me!

Gemma was confident, but she never came out of the pendant.
Citrina slowly walked down the hallway with Desian.

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