"Though things are going in favor of His Highness the Second Prince, it is the Emperor who eventually will make the final decision."
Patriarch Bray, who was listening in silence, said, "And even though the lands of Angenas have been reduced and demoralized, isn't the representative family of the West is still Angenas?"
"I think so too."
Herringa's Patriarch also agreed with the statement.
"If the lands now owned by the Angenas and Browns are about the same size, the Emperor will favor the Angenas."
Everyone seemed to agree.
Because Angenas was still the Empress's family.
"No, the Western representatives will change."
At this conference, no matter what.
But at my words, Herringa's Patriarch shook his head.
"It's going to be difficult under the current situation, Lady Florentia."
It was a polite but firm assurance.
"It's gonna change."
"Even if it will be difficult?"
"Oh God, it will be change."
"Even if you say so, it's difficult!"
Oh, I'm getting a little emotional.
I smiled a little bitterly and asked.
"Then do you want to make a bet with me, Lord Herringa?"
"Well, shall we!"
As the atmosphere spread like this, the heads of the vassal family started asking me questions freely.
"Then can I hear what you think of the other parts of the country except the west?"
It was Romassie Dillard.
As a man who runs the Lombardi throughout the Empire, he knows how to look at the bigger picture.
"The most worrying thing is the South."
"If it's in the South, do you mean the Sushou?"
"Yes, currently, the grain of the Sushou is spreading throughout the empire. The West, in particular, is accustomed to lower grain prices because of the close agreement between the Empress and the Patriarch of Sushou. But what will happen when the Patriarch of Sushou raises the price of grain?"
"Uh..." Low-pitched sounds flowed from place to place.
"Of course, I am not just talking about the financial gains from price differences. There's something more frightening than that."
"It's the initiative taken by Sushou." Dillard said, rubbing his beard.
"Yes, that's right. There's no other place in the South that can produce large amounts of grain right now without worrying about the drought."
Everyone nodded as if they agreed with me.
"Then what about the East and the North?"
"There will be no big difference in the North for the time being. The new Ivan Patriarch has just been stated and recovering from the devastating damage caused by the landslide will be overwhelming and the East..."
I once again looked at Dillard and said, "The top owner needs to work harder."
At my thorny words, I saw Dillard clenched his lips tightly.
"I don't know what it would be like to use pungent words at a place like this, but my Grandfather told me to answer honestly."
"Yes, you should." My grandfather laughed satisfactorily.
"Continuing to say, how many upper branches of Lombardi are currently located in the East?"
"I see. I was expecting ten places by now."
Dillard narrowed his eyebrows.
"It's definitely worth reflecting on the fact that we have not yet taken the initiative in Eastern trade from the Pellets. Is the top of Lombardi behind in the scale compared to the top of the Pellets or in the fund?"
Even though it's my company.
The Pellet market is still smaller compared to the top of Lombardi.
However, it was a serious problem that the Lombardi's top had not yet taken the initiative in an important market like the East.
"I heard that the Dillard Patriarch is also looking for a successor. Your first son has been running the top for the past few years, right? Is it because of that?"
If so, then it only means that his eldest son is not qualified to lead the top of Lombardi.
I asked the next question without waiting for an answer.
"The Pellet Corporation has secured three ports in Chesail Harbor and we know it will increase to four by next month. So how many designated ports do we have at the top of Lombardi?"
Dillard's voice was a little somber.
I said with a smile, though, with courtesy.
"I don't have to tell you more, you know, right?"
"...I will correct it."
Dillard replied, bowing his head completely in front of me, who was known for his fastidious attitude and stiffness.
At that time, the Patriarch of the Devon family, Klang Devon, called me with a little hesitation.
"Lady Florentia, may I ask you a question that might be a little rude?"
"Yes, go ahead."
"If you become the Patriarch and the official successor....what will happen to your engagement to the Second Prince?"
Everyone looks at me eagerly, turning their heads curiously.
I reflexively curled the corners of my mouth a little.
I must be smiling right now.
Although, I also felt a bit of anxiety.
"The most important thing for me is Lombardi."
I tried to speak as calmly as possible.
"I will never abandon the mansion of Lombardi."
I heard Klang Devon exhaling a small sigh of relief.
After that, several questions came and went.
There was nothing difficult for me to answer.
"Then I'll ask you the last question." My grandfather said, taking himself off the back of the chair.
"Lombardi is the closest family to the Imperial family, but at the same time, is the only family that can keep them in check. The nobles of the empire depend a lot on us, Lombardi."
No aristocrat wants the emperor to wield all of its power at will.
"But at the same time, they don't want Lombardi to have more power than the Imperial family. Because we already have a lot of things."
My grandfather's words made all the lords laugh a little.
"But, as you said, if the Second Prince becomes the Crown Prince and rises as the Emperor in the future, there will be voices of concern that the Patriarch of Lombardi and the Emperor are too close. The Patriarch of Lombardi is able to do whatever she wants to the emperor, so it looks like a dangerous power. What do you think about this matter?"
My grandfather was already asking, assuming that Perez became the Emperor and when I became the Patriarch, not a successor.
I was lost in thought.
However, the worries were not that long.
"First and foremost, Lombardi is not a place to ask permission from the other nobles in the Empire. There is no reason for me to soothe their worries."
"Uhuh, that's right."
"But their 'fear' is definitely something to be wary of."
"It doesn't matter if Lombardi's power is an object of envy and jealousy to the nobles of the Empire, but if it becomes a threat, unnecessary noise can arise."
Isolated power does not last long.
Because Lombardi's mighty power comes from maintaining its current position as a representative of the nobility.
"But I'm not too worried. Because over time, the nobles will find that I am a pretty smart person. But if they still sound bitter, I would rather ask."
I watched the nobles sitting around and finally made eye contact with my grandfather.
"I wonder if there ever seems to be someone sitting on the throne that Lombardi didn't allow?"
Grandfather didn't say anything for a moment.
He was just looking at me with a smile as always.
And at some point, the smile grew deeper and my grandfather looked back at the lords and said, "Can it be more perfect that this?"
"The official announcement will be made tomorrow. You've had a hard time, so go home and rest, Tia."
My grandfather stroked my head.
I greeted my grandfather and the vassals before going out of the conference room.
The tense that I had endured burst out with a big breath at once.
In my hand, I held a heavy package of papers from my grandfather.
Of course, these were things I had already read and known in my previous life.
"Let's go back to the room."
I'm going to look through the documents just in case there's something I've never seen before.
I slowly started walking into my room.
It was a day of nothing special.
The employees of the mansion who curled up in the chilly weather saw me and greeted me with joy.
I also greeted each other with a smile on my face.
But my body got heavier and heavier.
Like a cotton in the water, it was difficult to climb the stairs later.
When I finally arrived at my room, I even stumbled a little.
I leaned against the closed door behind my back and took my breath.
From the conference room to here.
I just slowly walked a short distance.
Yet, I was exhausted as if I had been on a long, long journey.
"Shall I take a break?"
Originally, I was thinking of going through the documents as soon as I arrived.
As it is now, it was obvious that even a single letter wouldn't come into my eyes.
I put the papers down on the table and lay down on my bed as if I was falling.
"I'm going to take a break."
The moment I muttered those words, feeling the soft blanket, and the feeling of fatigue finally struck me as I fell asleep.
It was already dark when I came back to my senses.
My head was still in haze.
As soon as I opened my eyes, I saw Perez in front of me.
He was lying in my bed, facing me.
Red eyes were shining like jewels in the moonlight.
I muttered like a sigh.
"Is it a dream?"
But Perez didn't answer.
His eyes, which were always excited with joy when he saw me, were subdued.
It must be a dream.
I thought so and slowly reached out.
Soon Perez's cheek touched my palm.
Every day when something important happens, we lay face to face like this.
So was the day when Perez was rescued from the cold and terrible palace and the day he found my father's cure.
Me and Perez lay together like this and fell asleep.
I spoke in a slightly dazed tone because of my somberness.
"I've officially become the Deputy Patriarch. The succession will be announced tomorrow."
Then his red lips, which had stopped like pictures, moved slowly.
It was a low voice.
"You have achieved your dream."
Still, I couldn't smile.
"I chose Lombardi."
Perez blinked his eyes.
"When the announcement is made, the fake engagement between you and me is over."
"I never thought it was fake."
"You know I can't be the Empress."
Without realizing it, we're having a pep talk.
"The emperor cannot change the Imperial laws that will only apply to him."
Just as Yovanes couldn't escape monogamy even if he wanted to.
But his red eyes are just looking at me.
"I'm sorry, Perez."
When he asked me back, I hesitated for a moment.
And I brought up the words that I couldn't say to the real Perez.
"I'm sorry I like you."
But then he laughed.
A smile spread as if a paint was spreading on his hardened face like a white statue.
"Why are you laughing?"
"Because you said you liked me."
"...Like a fool, really."
I'm so emotional.
Something came up inside me.
"Don't you hate me?"
Instead of answering, Perez kissed my finger with the tip of his lips.
Keep your eyes on me for a moment and be careful.
The body temperature that touched my fingertips was so regrettable that I dug into
Just like what he did to me once.
I rubbed my face in Perez's arms like a child.
I buried my face and mumbled where I could hear a low heartbeat.
"I don't regret it."
At the end of this life, I'll wish for a next life where I am next to you.
I'd like you to look at me again with those glimmering eyes.
I just want to hold your hand and find happiness in that warmth.
Because not in this life.
I'm going to be the Matriarch of Lombardi.
Then Perez called me quietly.
His hand stroked my head.
As if you were reading my mind.
He whispered, "Don't worry about anything."
"Don't think about anything. Sleep a little longer. From tomorrow, you'll get even more busy again."
At that moment, I fell asleep like a lie.
In an instant, as if the waves were coming back.
"Trust me, And have a good dream."
I closed my eyes again to the gentle touch and soft voice that soothed me.
Feeling the warmth of Perez on the tip of his nose.
And when I opened my eyes again, I was alone.
That afternoon, grandfather announced his succession in the name of the Patriarch of Lombardi.
He appointed Florentia Lombardi as the Deputy of the state and the official successor to the Lombardi family.
A/N: Oh God, I wanna stare into nothingness. Geez, that's a lot of emotion, and Florentia finally said she likes Perez for real! Well, do you think that was a dream? Hehe. Anyways, my real advice to you Tia, trust the male lead! It's Perez! LMAO.
I wasn't planning to update 3 chapters again today but because I thought the last chapter is a huge cliffhanger, I chose to update Chapter 214 too. So here yah go! After all, Perez and Tia has moments here. Oh and look forward to the next one! *winks
Now, Florentia's the official successor! Cheers! See you on the next chapter!