It was the first words the Empress said.
"I'll stop here, so leave Angenas alone."
The usual loft tone and smile had already been thrown out of the carriage.
Her face was frustrated, leaving only a look of exhaustion.
"We've already lost half of our territory. At this rate, Angenas will not pose a major threat to your future."
Perez did not answer.
Instead, he slowly moved his body, crossed his legs and looked at Empress Lavigne with an oblique gaze.
The empress, who has been receiving the gaze for a while, said, "I promise."
Finally, Perez's tight-lipped mouth opened.
"What exactly do you promise?"
Empress Lavigne's eyelids trembled at Perez's question as if they could not stand the humiliation.
Empress Lavigne's voice shook so gently that her sympathy could be justified
"Angenas will live silently without standing to the center in the future."
"I will stamp the first sign of Angenas's approval in the motion to appoint the Crown Prince with your name written on it."
Perez cynically asked again.
"What more do you want to hear?"
Empress Lavigne asked, raising her voice.
But Perez only shook his head leisurely.
"Aren't the things you are presenting too meager, Empress? I'm holding on to the Empress's breath in my hand right now."
There was even a faint smile in his voice.
The Empress glared as if she would kill Perez any minute now.
But that's also for a while.
Soon Lavigne breathed out a resigned breath.
"I will step down from my position as the Empress."
This time it was unexpected.
The Empress handed out a better card than I thought.
Quiet red eyes looked at the Empress.
And threw a word.
"That's not how you apologize. Get down on your knees."
At Perez's words, the Empress opened her eyes.
But that's all.
There was no such thing as 'lowly' or 'humble' words that usually follow.
The Empress sighed as if trying to calm down.
Her eyes, which were staring at Perez, also closed tightly.
The Empress got up from her seat and knelt on the floor of the carriage.
"I-I apologize. So, please..."
Lavigne, with her head lowered slightly, uttered word per word as if struggling with pain.
Perez looked down at the figure with cold eyes.
There was no sense of triumph on his face that the Empress could see.
While staring at the Empress for a moment, Perez suddenly looked out of the carriage window.
A knight, who continued to look back at the carriage with an anxious face, was seen turning his head in a hurry when Perez met his eyes.
"What do you want?"
"Please stop the conference, nothing else."
"...That's a reasonable price."
Empress Lavigne's face glowed when Perez said so.
"Well, that's what I'm going to do..."
"My mother, who died apologizing to the Empress, will not return alive."
"You...you..." (A/N: Here we go again. Lol.)
The Empress was angry and tried to get up from her seat.
But with no time for Lavigne to escape, Perez leaned over to her face right away.
"I will tell you the future of the Empress."
The red eyes shone eerily.
"Yes, it would be better to start with Angenas first."
Perez said as if he had decided.
And he lifted one index finger straight out.
"In a year's time, the name of Angenas will disappear completely from this land. It will not be found on the map, as well as on the aristocratic register. In a few years or so, even the commoners who you say are so dirty will say, 'Is there such a family?'"
"It's not over yet."
Perez shook his head and covered the Empress's mouth.
"And when Angenas is scattered, I will search in the Imperial Palace. And we will remove those who are loyal to the Empress like an animal bone. One by one. Everything."
Perez did not laugh.
"I'm sending Astana to the battlefield on the periphery. If you have a talent, you can survive. On the battlefield, you don't know who will stab you in the back."
But he was enjoying himself.
Watching the fear spread over the Empress's face.
"And you who are left alone."
At that moment, Empress Lavigne felt a chill running down her spine.
It was because Perez was slowly smiling in front of her.
"You will be trapped in a place no one knows. Where no one can help, no one can hear you."
Like how I was left alone in that falling palace.
"And just die alone there, Empress. This is your future that has already been decided."
Perez clicked his tongue.
At that time, the carriage rattled loudly once.
"We've arrived at the palace."
With Perez's horse, the carriage was slowly slowing down.
"But you'll have to thank me for my haste. At least everything will end quickly."
The carriage came to a complete stop.
However, there was no attendant running with a footstool.
The Imperial Knights weren't getting close enough with it's unsatisfying momentum.
I can't help it.
Perez lifted himself up with such a short murmur.
"But don't ask me for mercy, Empress."
Perez's hand twisted the doorknob of the carriage.
"From the beginning, wasn't it a game that ends when one of us disappears?"
Then he politely opened the carriage door for the Empress and said, "Please get off. There's no turning back already."
With the door wide open without a chance to stop, the Imperial knights and the servants who were standing further away have witnessed it.
The figure of the Empress kneeling before Perez.
Their eyes widen in astonishment.
"Then I'll get off first. Goodbye."
Perez said so and he stepped off the carriage.
Then he gave a word to the attendant.
"The Empress will need a foothold. Attend to her, quickly."
Leaving that word alone, Perez took a step towards the Poylac Palace.
The three members of the Academy, who were waiting in advance, quickly joined after that.
But a sense of wonder crossed their faces.
It was because Perez's face was getting cold.
The Empress knelt down in front of him, why the hell?
Perez, who was walking in the lead, said in a low voice, "Lignite."
"Yes, Your Grace."
"Make more thorough surveillance on Astana."
"The silly brother? Why?"
Perez replied with the sound of heavy footsteps walking on the stone path of the Imperial Palace.
"She didn't ask for Astana's situation to be spare even though she was kneeling down to her knees."
Perez didn't believe for a single moment that the Empress's acting was sincere.
I've seen the Empress too long to do that.
The Empress never gives up on Astana.
Lavigne wants absolute power and without Astana she can't hold it in her hand.
She just wanted to keep Perez off his guard and make some time.
"Sooner or later, the Empress will move."
Of all the things the Empress said in the carriage, there's only one truth.
It was just that, she was frightened of what would be the outcome of the conference.
At the meeting room in Lombardi Mansion.
No one easily answered my Grandfather's question.
"Everyone must have a lot on their minds."
Grandfather nodded and said, "Okay, I wouldn't have called you all like this if it had been just to make the Deputy Patriarch. I hope you all get it."
At my grandfather's words, the lords were stirred up again.
"Are you talking about...succession?"
Everyone held their breath and waited for Grandpa's answer.
The same case with me.
Like a student waiting for her report card, I looked at my Grandfather's mouth with a trembling heart.
My heat was about to pop out of my mouth.
I knew it!
I clenched my fists under the table.
Not just a Deputy Patriarch, but the successor to Lombardi.
Oh, I love it!
The words I heard directly from my Grandfather's mouth were so sweet that I felt like I was about to faint.
'Done! It's done!'
I want to stand up and shout.
I managed to swallow the cheers and instead smiled quietly.
"Tia." Grandpa called me.
"Everyone seems anxious."
I looked back at the people with a nod.
I meant it from the bottom of my heart.
I would be worried as well.
Skipping the son and daughter of the householder and moving to the granddaughter below them. And to me, who is still ridiculously young.
"I understand it because you care for the Lombardi family."
Because I know well what can happen when a wrong person becomes the householder.
"Well, let me ask you a few questions. Answer that question honestly."
"How do you think Lombardi should behave in the current situation?"
"Lombardi..." I tried to answer right away but I shut up again.
It was because I remembered my previous life that I wanted to shout out what I was about to say.
I pretended to be coughing and took my breath.
If I didn't do that, I felt like I would burst out the old resentment that I had forgotten for a while.
"The path that Lombardi has to go now is so simple and clear."
In my previous life, they couldn't do this simple thing which led the Lombardi family to shut down.
Because I can't do this easy thing.
My great Lombardi had to disappear into history.
I spoke to my Grandfather and the vassals who were looking at me.
"The Second Prince will be the Crown Prince, so you can maintain a friendly relationship with Second Prince Perez and take advantage of it. That's all."
But in this life, there is no such a thing.
I came back for this moment, and I ran all the way here.
N/A: For this chapter, there was a part here that I was really confused. And that is what Perez said to Lavigne about his mother. The sentence in the translation is a mess, I'm telling you. So I tried analyzing it on my own.
Actually, I already finished reading the whole story but I forgot the chapter where Perez reminisced about his mom. Once we get there, I'll tell you and update this chapter. For now, let's enjoy what will happen next!