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Completed ― Welcome to Olivia’s Magic Stone Jewelry Store

Prologue Part 1: Introduction of the Characters

Contains spoilers. Please be warned.

▼ Olivia Carter

・Gray hair close to black with blue eyes

・She is a magic tool maker by profession and inherited the talent of his father, who was also a magic tool maker. Specializing in jewelry made from magic stones. She loves to create and design.

・When her parents died, her uncle and his family acted as guardians, took over her house and store, took her design and fiancé by her stepsister, and kicked her out.

▼ Elliot Dixx

・A tall, blond-haired, handsome young man.

・His trademark is a pair of green round tinted glasses and a brown hunting cap in the style of a merchant.

・Poses as the third son of the Dixx family, who run a Great Chamber of Commerce.

・Olivia’s friend. He often invites her to dinner.

▼Sally

・A cheerful woman with red hair and green eyes.

・She runs a business called “Sally’s Bridal store.”

・A Good friend of Olivia’s.

▼Lottie

・A petite girl with dark hair and eyes.

・She became an employee at Olivia’s store through Elliot’s referral.

・Unassuming, but super competent.

・A bit like a black cat.

▼Nikka

Sally’s lover and member of the Order of Knights.

・Good guy, so to speak.

▼Gordon.

・A tall, strong, middle-aged man.

Owner of the largest magic tools store in the royal capital called [Gordon’s Great magic tools Store].

・He is a close friend to Olivia’s father and has been asked to help Olivia in any way he can.

▼Catherine (stepsister)

・Beautiful girl with strawberry blonde and green eyes.

Olivia’s stepsister who stole her fiancé and her designs.

・She is shallow-minded, but clever.

▼ Henry (former fiance)

・A blond-haired, blue-eyed, prince-like young man.

Olivia’s former fiancé, the fourth son of Viscount Bergor.

・He falls in love with Catherine and breaks off his engagement to Olivia.

▼ Viscount Bergor.

・Henry’s father, lord of the Daregas region.

・Forceful and calculating.

・The person who pushed Olivia and Henry’s engagement forward.

・He’s trying to get a promotion.

▼ Baronet Carter (step-father)

・Olivia’s uncle, brother of Olivia’s father.

・After Olivia’s father died, he moved into the house with his wife and daughter Catherine as Olivia’s guardian.

・Take over the magic tool store and start a business for aristocrats

▼Jack

Elderly employee of Carter’s Great magic tools Store.

・He was an ally of Olivia, but collapsed from exhaustion from the hard work and returned to the countryside.

▼Sara

・Cousin of Olivia, daughter of her mother’s brother.

・Lives pretty far away, but is good friends with Olivia.

・With many children

Prologue Part 2: I’m Not Getting Kicked Out, I’m Leaving

(Ugh, it’s dazzling…)

Olivia couldn’t help but narrow her eyes.

In her blue eyes, she sees the drawing room of her house, which she hasn’t entered in almost a year.

Gilded wallpaper and a gleaming chandelier. The golden antiques on the shelves are closely lined up, and a huge magic stone lamp lights up the room as if it were daylight. 

Olivia comes home from work tired, and the room is not very friendly to her eyes.

(…What a taste for the rich. There is nothing left of the original, elegant drawing room. If my father and mother had lived, none of this would have happened.)

Olivia sighs. 

Her attitude irked someone.

An older, bearded man in a gold-embroidered jacket, sitting on a sofa in the middle of the room, shouted at her. 

“Are you listening to me, Olivia?!”

“Yes, I’m listening.” 

Olivia looked at the four people sitting on the sofa. 

Her uncle and stepfather, Baronet Carter, was blushing and angry. 

Her step-mother was sitting with a wicked smile on her face. 

Olivia’s fiancé, Henry, and his stepsister, Catherine, sit close to Henry and look up at her, wearing a womanly sweet mask. 

Olivia opened her mouth, thinking that it was a disgusting combination.

“I’m sorry, but could you repeat that just in case?” 

Her stepfather turned red and shouted.

“I don’t like your aloof attitude! Listen to me! You’re fired for today! Get out of here right now!”

“…May I ask why?” 

Olivia asked calmly, and her stepfather smiled triumphantly.

“I heard! The magic stone jewelry you said you designed was all Catherine’s idea! You’re no better than a wrench, taking credit for your sister’s ideas!”

Henry, her fiancé, who had been sitting there in silence, spoke up with a grim expression on his face. 

“I’ve heard that you’ve been bullying Catherine for years. You’ve abused her every chance you get and taken things from her. You’re disgusting.” 

“Henry-sama. I’ve had a really hard time.” 

Catherine, her strawberry blonde hair shaking and her green eyes spilling tears of loveliness.

Olivia looked at the four of them with a blank expression. 

(… I wonder if these people are serious.)

Catherine, her cousin and stepsister, is a girl who only cares about her looks and dressing up.

She never came to the store nor asked her about her work. 

There’s no way she could design a magic tool if she’s not interested in making one.

(… And I’m the one who’s had it rough.)

Shortly after her parents died a year and a half ago, her uncle and his family took advantage of the fact that Olivia was still a minor and came to the house as the “guardian’s in-laws.” 

They robbed her of all sorts of things.

A sunny room, her favorite dresses and accessories, and the right to manage her father’s [Carter Great Magic’s Tool Store] and the store’s sales.

All she’s left with is a small, sunless room and a nominal position as “assistant manager”. a job title that implies only hard work and a meager salary

It’s Olivia who’s been abused and taken away.

Olivia’s silence has made him angry.

Her stepfather yelled at her. 

“As the owner of Carter’s Great magic tools Store, I hereby terminate your employment, Assistant Manager Olivia. And I declare myself as your stepfather. As of today, I am cutting all ties with you! Get out right now!”

“I also declare. I’m breaking off our engagement. I’ve had enough of you!”

Henry says loudly, holding Catherine protectively with a smile on his face.

Olivia narrows her eyes. 

She has a lot to say.

But they’ve never listened to anything she’s said, and if she says it again, it would only lead to another farce. 

(For the past year, I’ve put up with a lot to protect my father’s store, but I’ve reached my limit. I’m sorry father.)

Olivia looked up with a start.

(In the end, let’s leave with an open mind. I’m not getting kicked out, I’m leaving.)

She straightened up, looked her stepfather in the eye, and said matter-of-factly. 

“Yes, I understand.” 

“…what?”

The four of them look at each other in shock, perhaps because they did not expect Olivia’s words.

Her stepmother twisted her face and cried out. 

“You! Do you know what you just said?!”

“Yes—Leaving the store and the house and breaking off the engagement, is that right?”

“…Y-Yes, that’s right.” 

Olivia’s composure startled her stepmother. 

Catherine shouted.

“Why?!”

“What?”

“Why are you being so normal?” 

(Obviously, she thought I was going to cry and scream.) Olivia shrugged and thought. 

“Well, to be honest, there’s no reason to be surprised.” 

“What?” 

(For the last time. I think we’re done here. I’ve said all I have to say.)

Olivia looked calmly at her stepfather. 

“When you brought two new people into the store two months ago, I knew something was wrong. It’s strange that my stepfather, who barely pays me a salary, would hire someone for such a humanitarian reason [because Olivia is having a hard time]. He brought them with the intention of having them work in my place, didn’t he?” 

Exasperated, her stepfather looked away. 

“Henry-sama, too. You haven’t visited me, written to me, or given me a gift in the last six months. I had even forgotten that we were engaged. You’ve been going out with Catherine a lot, so I guess you’ve been busy.” 

“T-That’s…” 

Henry mumbles in his mouth, turning red and blue.

Her stepmother stood up, looking like a demon.

“Olivia, don’t be rude!” 

Olivia gave her stepmother an emotionless look. 

“By the way, yesterday stepmother, you asked me to lend you money. You were going to kick me out of the house and asked me to lend you the money so you wouldn’t have to pay me back. Unfortunately, I didn’t have any money to lend you. “

“…!” 

Olivia is about to leave the room when she sees her stepmother’s mouth agape with anger.

Her stepfather yelled.

“Wait! —Where are you going?” 

“To my room. I’m going to get my things.”

“That won’t be necessary! Your bags are packed. We can’t let a thief get up there.”

a sudden change from a furious look. Her stepmother begins to grin.

“I helped too,” said Catherine, with a nasty smile.

Olivia takes one look at her suitcase in the corner of the room and shrugs. 

“I don’t want it.”

“Huh?”

“I said, ‘I don’t want it’. It’s just stuffed with rubbish anyway, isn’t it?”

With those words, Olivia brought the suitcase to the center of the room and opened it for all to see. 

Inside are a number of items that look like junk, such as faded clothes, underwear, and patched up scraps of paper. 

“T-This is…” Henry is speechless and her stepmother and Catherine turn pale. 

Olivia quickly moved her eyes, thinking to herself that she also didn’t expect it to be this bad.

(I knew the design book was not in here. I didn’t sign it, so I can’t argue with them if they say it’s Catherine’s drawing. But it’s my fault for not having it with me and leaving it in my room. I’ll just have to give it up…) 

Then, Olivia asked.

“Where is the bank note? It was in my room, wasn’t it?” 

Her stepmother looked sullen.

“I don’t know. I didn’t see it. Where did you put it? Tell me and I’ll find it for you.”

“No, thank you.” 

Olivia ignored her stepmother’s looks and looked at Catherine. 

“I look forward to seeing your future designs. I’m sure the next watch design will have a rainbow motif. I had a hard time thinking of it, but I had to give it to you.”

“Oh, that’s terrible. It’s something I made!”

Catherine bursts into tears and leans against Henry. 

Without looking at her, Olivia laid the two keys in front of her stepfather.

“Here are the keys to the house, and here are the keys to the store. I gave them back to you. And Henry-sama—you will be my witness, won’t you?” 

“Y-Yes.” 

Henry nods with his eyes wide open, holding Catherine in his arms.

Olivia’s stepfather is taken aback by Olivia’s grace.

Olivia gives them a cold look and moves to the entrance of the room.

She turned and bowed politely toward the inside.

“Have a good day. I wish you all well.” 

Leaving the four of them speechless, Olivia walked toward the front door with her back straight. 

She walks out, closes the door and sighs, “I’m tired…”

She turns on her heel and disappears into the night without turning around.

Chapter 1: Washing Your Face in a Park Fountain Cause You to Smell Green

The early morning sun begins to rise in the east.

The chirping of the small birds

Olivia washes her face in a deserted park fountain while listening to the birds chirp.

(Hmm. It’s a little refreshing. I’m glad it’s not winter.)

After leaving the house.

She spent the night in this park near the town center.

She considered staying in a hotel, but she didn’t want to be accosted by anyone, so she wandered around the town and ended up in this park.

“I never imagined the day would come when I would sleep on a park bench…”

Olivia is sitting on the edge of the fountain, wiping her face with a handkerchief from her bag and mumbling to herself.

She stood up and double-checked her attire.

The outfit is completed by a plain white blouse, a short navy blue jacket, and a long flared navy blue skirt. hat in navy blue with blue floral trim.

The wrinkles in her clothes won’t be visible thanks to the crease-resistant material, and she can hide her almost black-gray hair in a variety of ways by braiding it horizontally and wearing a hat.

The only things that bother her are the dark circles under her eyes and the algae odor of the fountain water she washed her face in.

(Now is not the time to think that.)

Olivia cheers herself up by slapping her cheeks with both hands in the morning sun.

(Let’s move on!)

She first goes to the bank in the town center.

The goal is to report the loss of a banknote and issue a replacement.

As it looked yesterday, her in-laws had not been able to find the banknote in her room.

She can protect the money in the account and the contents of the safe deposit box if she blocks the banknote first thing in the morning.

She walked across the central square in the early morning sun and into the deserted bank, where a familiar bank teller sat at the reception desk and smiled at her.

“Isn’t it, Olivia-san? What an unusual sight at this hour.”

“Yes. I misplaced my banknote and would like to switch accounts.”

The bank teller looked apologetic.

“…I’m sorry, but we’ll have to speak with the person who misplaced the banknote. Could you please accompany me to another room?”

She shifted her gaze to the other room, where an elderly man in a bank uniform awaited her.

“I apologize. They’re becoming increasingly strict about lost banknotes.”

The man claimed that banknote counterfeiting, which has become common in neighboring countries, is also prevalent in this country.

“Simply put, [the bills are temporarily lost, and then the entire amount of money is withdrawn]. Rich merchants and storekeepers are frequently targeted.”

“I see.”

“That is why, when a banknote is lost, we have a uniform questioning system in place, and if someone shows up with the lost banknote, we will question them.”

Olivia quietly laughed to herself as she thought about her stepmother and stepfather being stuck behind the counter and trying to make up excuses.

(It’s a shame, but they deserved it if they attempted to withdraw funds from an account without permission.)

In response to the man’s question, she carefully explains the circumstances surrounding her loss and the fact that her family “has never seen it or heard anything about its disappearance.”

After being questioned, the man stood up.

“That’s all I have to ask. I just confirmed that the money in Olivia-san’s account is safe, so please be patient while we set up your new account.”

Olivia then notices the bank teller at the front desk opening a new account, and she sighs as she watches the teller leave the room with the paperwork.

(What should I do now?)

For the time being, she secured her money.

She has enough savings to last a year or so, but at this rate, they will dwindle.

(I must work somewhere…But where will I be working?)

It’s absurd, but she was let go from the store for a reason. Working as a magic tool maker in this town right now would be difficult.

She might be able to find work other than as a magic tool maker, but finding work other than as a magic tool maker is impossible for someone who loves magic stone jewelry and design.

She considers visiting her maternal cousin in town, but she cannot bother her cousin, who has just had a baby.

(Sigh… What shall I do?

In the face of the situation, she sighed involuntarily.

―and then, her father’s words before his death came to her mind.

[Open this letter if you are in trouble.]

On his sickbed, her father had given her an envelope.

After he died, it was painful to look at, so she kept it in a safe deposit box along with the money.

(That’s right! Now’s the time to open it!)

Olivia requests to see the safe deposit box from the bank teller, who brings her a new banknote.

She was led to the safe-deposit box, which she opened with the freshly made bill.

(Wow. I miss it…)

Inside are precious metals and watches from her parents.

When her in-laws tried to take them away from her, she quickly hid them here.

She took out the white envelope her father had given her, a little nervously.

When the envelope was opened, it revealed another sealed envelope and a letter.

The letter was written in shaky handwriting.

[In case of emergency, take the enclosed letter to Gordon’s store in the royal capital. I spoke with him.]

The address of Gordon’s store in the capital is printed on the back of the letter.

(Father, did you say anything to Gordon-san?)

She also recalled greeting a magic tool maker named Gordon who came from the royal capital to attend her father’s funeral.

(I think I was told to ask if there was anything I needed.)

She was deep in thought as she examined the letter.

(…I don’t think visiting the royal capital is a bad idea.)

The royal capital is said to be many times larger than this town.

(There must be places where I can work as a magic tool maker.)

Olivia slips the letter and envelope into her pocket before closing the safe deposit box.

She thanked the bank teller who was standing nearby and exited the building.

The sun has already risen, and there are many people and horses on the cobblestones.

The sky is a deep blue when you look up.

Olivia made her decision while gazing at the sky.

“Let’s go to the capital.”

Even though she’s been kicked out, she can’t bear to leave her father’s store.

However, if she stopped making magic tools and stayed in this town, she would only be sorry, and her father, who was also a magic tool maker, would probably be sad.

If that’s the case, she’ll have to buy a ticket to the capital and work as a magic tool maker for a while.

With a determined look on her face, Olivia quickly walks to the train station

―She is unaware of it at this time.

“I am not a madam!”

About three hours later, on the platform of the train station, she yells at the man at the top of her lungs.

Chapter 2: I Am Not a Madam!

Olivia went to the train station, where the railroad carriages were, as soon as she left the bank.

A railway carriage is a vehicle that travels on two rails that are laid on the ground.

It is very fast because it runs on rails and can take them to the capital in less than ten hours, which would normally take two days.

Olivia told the station’s receptionist that she wanted to visit the royal capital, and the bespectacled receptionist quickly replied,

“In three hours, the next carriage will depart. Is that okay with you?”

“Please, yes.”

Olivia buys a ticket, enough to feed a family of four for a month. Then she dashed to the cemetery on the outskirts of town and told her parents’ graves, “I’m off.”

Then she went back to the station building again, and after the ticket gate, she entered the platform, which had a simple roof.

Several railway carriages are lined up on the platform, and passengers are getting on and off quickly.

(This is my first time going to the royal capital. I’ve heard it’s a big city. I’m curious what it’s like…)

Olivia stood there, anxious and anticipatory, when she heard the voices of a man and a woman behind her.

“Hey, Oniisan, where are you headed?”

“Hello there, miss. I’m just getting home.”

“So, will you be returning here? I thought we could get together for dinner.”

“Thank you for inviting me, but I won’t be returning here.”

“Oh my goodness. That’s a real shame. How about right now?”

Olivia frowns at the man and woman’s lighthearted conversation.

Her ex-fiancé Henry and stepsister Catherine’s faces flash through her mind.

(This is exactly what I don’t want to hear right now.)

She puts on her hat and closes her eyes to conceal her irritation.

tingly, tingly, tingling

An attendant’s voice was heard over the sound of a rattling bell.

“We’re off to the royal capital!”

Four large horses, each pulling two carriages, charge towards the platform where she is standing.

TL: Horse-drawn trains existed in the past.

(…!)

The sheer force of the scene causes Olivia to stumble backwards.

She desperately grasped her legs to keep herself from falling backwards, and that’s when…

“Oops.”

Strong arms wrapped around her back.

“Are you all right?”

A young man’s voice called out to her.

Olivia sat up with the help of the arm that was supporting her and quickly lowered her head.

“T-Thank you. You saved me from falling down.”

“No. You’re very welcome. I’m glad you’re okay. madam.”

“…Eh?”

Olivia tensed in her prone position.

“Hm? No, I’m just glad you’re alright, madam. “

The man was perplexed by Olivia’s stern response.

Perhaps it was because he was the one who irritated Olivia by making light comments behind her back.

Perhaps it’s because “madam” is a word for a “married woman over 30”.

Or maybe she was just cranky after a sleepless night in the park.

Olivia looked up at a man who was more than a head taller than her.

The man gasps when he realizes how young she was.

“I am not a madam!”

Neigh!

Olivia’s screams and the horse’s neighing echoed throughout the station.

***

“I’m very sorry,” the man apologized. Olivia boarded the other of the two carriages after the man apologized.

The carriage was long and narrow, with six-seater couches on either side, and could seat 12 people.

There were seven people on board, including Olivia, and there was plenty of room, most likely because it was late in the day.

Olivia sat at the far end of the carriage, leaning against the wall, sighing.

(I just lost my temper. No matter how rude he was to me, yelling like that wasn’t nice.)

She then laughed at herself, full of remorse.

(…I suppose it’s not too much of a stretch to address me as madam.)

Olivia’s clothes are unfashionable at best and tacky at worst these days.

She used to dress fashionably, but after one of her employees abruptly quit, she didn’t have time to take care of herself and began dressing like this.

She was also exhausted from the lack of sleep she had gotten the night before.

Tacky outfit, exhausted posterior.

It’s not surprising that the man mistook her for a [madam].

(…Perhaps Henry-sama chose Catherine because I am this way…)

As she gazed out the window of the moving carriage, she remembered her ex-fiancé, Henry.

Olivia was fifteen years old five years ago.

Her magic stone jewelry ring took first place in a prestigious competition in the town for its innovative design.

Her award delighted the entire community.

Olivia was then commissioned by the town to design a watch, which is a specialty of the town.

Her good taste and the fact that she introduced a new design every year made her famous, and watch sales in the town skyrocketed.

This piqued the interest of Henry’s father, Viscount Bergor, who ruled over the town and the surrounding area.

He wanted to bring Olivia’s talents into his household. 

“Your daughter has excellent taste. I want her to marry my son Henry.” 

Olivia’s father holds the title of baronet. So there is a two-level difference in status between him and the Viscount.

Aristocratic marriages are typically limited to one level of status distinction.

Although Henry is the fourth son, marriage between the children of a viscount and a baronet would be difficult, but Olivia’s great prize covered this.

They were happily engaged. 

Olivia sighs as she recalls those times.

(Henry-sama is so handsome, I was really nervous when I first met him.)

They began dating under the direction of the Viscount after their engagement.

They exchanged birthday gifts and went out about once a month.

When they went out, Henry did the majority of the talking while Olivia did the majority of the listening.

Henry was a good-natured but slight man who mostly talked nonsense, but she had a good time because he talked a lot about a world she didn’t know.

Olivia reflected as the relationship progressed smoothly and without incident,

(He’s good-looking, and I don’t mind being with him. Perhaps he’s the ideal man to marry.)

However, a year after their engagement.

Her parents died one after the other from an epidemic, and her uncle’s family moved into the house, worsening the situation.

And Henry’s attitude gradually shifted.

The monthly visits were reduced to every two months, then every three months, with no birthday presents.

There were rumors that he and Catherine had been walking together, and finally the engagement was called off.

(I pretended to be okay, but I’m still shocked…)

Her appearance is, indeed, common.

Her gray-black hair is straight, and her eyes are the typical blue color.

She lacks Catherine’s striking features.

She was, however, proud of the fact that she had studied and worked hard her entire life.

(But did it really matter?)

Henry chose Catherine, a liar who is only interested in dressing up.

She has the impression that her efforts are in vain.

(…I’m curious what it is. This sense of helplessness is…)

Olivia looks out the window.

The carriage is making its way to the capital, changing horses several times along the way.

Nine hours have passed.

when the sky starts to turn rose-colored.

Olivia’s railway carriage arrived in the royal capital.

Chapter 3: First Visit to the Royal Capital

(So this is the Royal Capital…!)

approximately half a day after leaving Daregas.

At dusk, the sky turns rose-colored.

Olivia’s train carriage has arrived in the royal capital.

Olivia steps out of the train car, exits the station building, and rolls her eyes as the signal sounds.

(Wow! It’s enormous!)

high ceilings, thick columns, and an infinite number of platforms.

She had never seen such massive structures before.

Furthermore, there are so many people that you have to wonder if it’s a festival day.

Then she joined the long line under the sign “Exit.”

Give the ticket to the unfriendly station personnel and exit the building.

The scene in front of her eyes causes her mouth to open.

(Amazing…! This is too much!)

In the vast square that could house at least ten of Olivia’s houses, there are more people walking around in front of the station than she has ever seen before.

(And the buildings are enormous!)

The tallest buildings in Daregas were three stories tall. Many of them had only one story.

But here in the Royal City, as far as the eye can see, all the buildings are five-story stone structures lined up in a neatly arranged city.

She was surprised when she saw it from the carriage window, but even more so when she got down on her own two feet.

“… It’s no surprise that Daregas is described as a country town…”

Olivia stood at the edge of the square, her bags in hand.

The sight, which exceeds anything she could have imagined, both surprises and concerns her.

(…I’m not sure if I’ll be able to make it here.)

And then her gaze was drawn to something familiar.

(…! That’s a magic tool!)

It was a lamppost, evenly spaced along the cobblestones’ edge. The magical structure is undeniably that of a magic tool.

The familiarity draws her closer.

She carefully placed her hand on the pillar and looked up.

(Wow! It’s cutting-edge!)

She then realized

She notices people on the street wielding magic tools she has never seen before.

(That’s a stick that can detect poison in whatever you hit! That’s something I’ve never seen before!

I’ve never seen those earrings before! Maybe they’re popular here?!)

Olivia is too preoccupied with other people’s jewelry to notice what’s going on around her.

It’s not until she’s startled by a “Hi, are you okay?” that she realizes what’s going on.

She noticed that people on the street were giving her a blank stare.

(Oh my goodness! I’m so embarrassed!)

Her face flushed as she realized how dangerous she appeared.

She felt like she had screwed up as soon as she arrived at the royal capital.

The person who had shaken her and informed her of the incident sounded relieved.

“I thought you were in a strange mood because you walked up to the pole and stopped moving.”

He removed his hat and bowed politely.

It’s the rude young man who approached Olivia and called her “madam.”

“Hello. Miss. I’m sorry about earlier.”

“N-No. Don’t be concerned. I should be the one to apologize for yelling.”

Olivia leans back and looks away uncomfortably.

It’s rather embarrassing to be perceived in that light.

The young man inquires politely.

“Please excuse me, miss. Where are you going?”

“Well…”

Olivia paused.

She wasn’t sure if telling a complete stranger where she was going was appropriate.

Perhaps sensing her emotions, the young man smiled to reassure her.

“Don’t worry. It’s my way of making amends for what I said earlier. Despite my appearance, I am well-versed in the royal capital.”

She returned her gaze to the young man.

He was tall and dressed in a brown suit with fine stripes and a matching hunting cap.

His hair was tousled and blond, peeking out of his hat, and he wore the green-tinted glasses that many business people wear.

The leather attaché case and his outfit indicate that he was a merchant.

He’s most likely a little older than she is.

He has a very attractive face and appears to have been raised in a good family.

(… He apologized to me previously, and he doesn’t appear to be a bad guy.)

She’d never visited the royal capital before. She has no idea where she is.

She’d appreciate it if someone who knows the city could point her in the right direction.

(Fortunately, I travel light and have very little luggage. If something goes wrong, I can simply flee.)

“…In that case, I’ll take your word for it. This piece of paper contains the address.”

She handed him a piece of paper with the address on it from her pocket, and the young man looked at it.

“It’s right in the center of downtown. It would be faster to walk from here. It’s about a ten-minute walk—Are you alright?”

“Yes, I’m fine.”

“All right, then let’s get going.”

The young man begins to walk slowly.

Olivia follows a little behind him.

Everything she sees while walking is fascinating, and she can’t take her gaze away from it.

(I wonder how meticulous her necklace is. I’m sure there’s a skilled craftsman out there.)

Look at that bracelet! It even includes a security feature! They’re popular here?!)

The young man inquired, amusedly watching Olivia examine the jewelry of the people on the street.

“Do you have an interest in jewelry?”

“Not jewelry, but magic stone jewelry.”

“Magic stone jewelry?! That’s quite technical. Excuse me, what is your occupation?”

“I’m a magic tool maker.”

Olivia stares at the earrings of the lady on the street while answering the question blankly.

“I see.” The young man nods in agreement.

“I see you’re watching with great enthusiasm.”

“Yes—It’s something you don’t see very often in Daregas, so it’s a great learning experience.”

And enough of walking through the city’s hustle and bustle.

Olivia was in front of a magnificent five-story building.

“Gordon’s Great Magic Tools Store” is written in beautiful gold letters on a beautiful sign in front of a large window filled with magic tools.

Olivia’s eyes widened unintentionally.

(Wow! It’s enormous! It’s ten times the size of our store!)

The young man opens his mouth and looks up at the store.

“After all, it’s the Gordon’s Great Magic Tools Store.”

“Do you know of it?”

“Yeah.”

“Is it well-known?”

“It’s one of the two most famous magic tool stores in the royal capital. Do you plan to work here?”

“… No. Well… It’s not like that. “

Olivia’s eyes were downcast.

She is proud of her experience as a maker of magic tools.

She has faith in the abilities she inherited from her father.

But then again, she is a rural magic tool maker.

She is unsure if she will be able to survive in the royal capital, where everything is so advanced.

The young man looked at her with narrowed eyes.

“I don’t think you have anything to worry about.”

“Huh?”

“I’m confident you’ll have no problems in the royal capital or anywhere else. I have a keen sense of people you see.”

The young man smiles.

He then points to a building at the end of the street.

“That hotel has a reputation for serving cheap and tasty food. I strongly recommend it.”

“Well, I’ll be leaving now,” he says. and walks away briskly, turning on his heel.

By the time Olivia comes to her senses and tries to stop him, he has already disappeared into the crowd.

She sighs.

She barely had time to thank him for showing her the hotel.

(I didn’t want to be addressed as madam, but he was a pleasant, friendly man.)

Olivia adopted an apologetic demeanor.

(If I ever get the chance to meet him, I’d like to thank him.)

Afterwards.

Olivia decided that going to the store in the evening was not a good idea, so she checked into the hotel that had been recommended to her.

She decided to stop by again the next morning..

Chapter 4: Gordon’s Great Magic Tools Store

the morning after her arrival in the capital.

Olivia went to Gordon’s Great Magic Tools Store after leaving the hotel.

(I thought so yesterday, but it’s a really nice place.)

It is a five-story stone structure with a magnificent gold-lettered signboard.

It is one of the largest stores on the street.

(I wonder if I’ll really be allowed in.)

Olivia tried her hardest to keep her spirits up despite her fears.

(Keep going, Olivia! You’ve come this far!)

Exhaling slightly, she opens the wooden front door to the light ringing of bells.

Olivia walks into the store and pauses for a moment.

(It’s enormous! Are these all magic tools?!)

The first floor, which is large enough to accommodate a railway carriage and its horses, is filled with magic tools.

You can find most of the magic tools you need here. That’s Olivia’s impression.

Olivia notices a woman in a blue suit standing up at the counter near the entrance and smiling at her.

“Welcome to Gordon’s Great Magic Tools Store. If you’re looking for something, I’ll be happy to show you around.”

Olivia came to her senses and took the letter from her bag that was addressed to Gordon.

“Hello, my name is Olivia Carter. Could you please pass this along to Gordon-san?”

The woman took the envelope and led Olivia to what appeared to be a business room in a store corner.

“Please wait here. Would you like something to drink?”

(They offer you a drink? That’s the capital for you.) However, she politely declines.

She takes her time looking around the store after the woman has left.

(Isn’t the one on the first floor a household magic tool?)

The numerous lamps hanging from the ceiling illuminate the store.

Lamps, hair dryers, razors, and other accessories in a variety of styles are available.

All of the products are displayed so that you can easily try them, and the staff enthusiastically explains them to you.

The store appears to be very popular, as there are more than ten customers in the store even though it is early in the morning.

Olivia has been to magic tool stores before, but this one is very different in size and number of customers.

(I had no idea it was so large from the inside…)

She began to feel uneasy.

Gordon and she had only met briefly at her father’s funeral.

Despite having a letter of recommendation from her father, she wondered if he would mind that she was from the countryside.

Then the woman from earlier appeared.

“I apologize for keeping you waiting. The manager is expecting you.”

Olivia stood up, carried her bag, and followed the woman upstairs.

“This way, please.”

When the woman opens the door, she enters what appears to be a modest drawing room.

Inside, sitting slumped on a sofa, was a well-built man.

He has a bushy beard and a gleaming bald head. He has the appearance of a craftsman and is a dynamic-looking middle-aged man.

“She’s here, sir,” the woman said. The man rose to his feet and extended his hand to Olivia.

“It’s been a long time, Olivia, since your father’s funeral?”

“Yes, um. It’s been almost a year and a half.”

Olivia grabs the outstretched hand quickly.

She feels a sense of security in his big, burly, hard-working hands, just like her father’s.

Gordon invites Olivia to join him on the sofa and starts talking.

“I heard about you from your father. Are you here because you’re in trouble?”

“…Yes.”

“Please explain what happened.”

“…Well… I don’t know what to say, I got fired.”

“What?!”

Gordon’s eyes widened.

“Fired? But wasn’t that your store to begin with?”

“I was still a minor when my father died. My uncle was appointed as my guardian and the title deeds were changed.”

“Uncle? Was there such a person?”

“Yes—He’s my father’s brother, and we’ve been estranged for a long time, and then he appears out of nowhere a month after the funeral…”

Gordon frowned, as if he knew what had happened when he noticed Olivia’s trembling expression.

“…What happened to Jack, the employee?”

Carter’s Great Magic Tools Store had an old employee.

His name was Jack, and he was a skilled craftsman whom Olivia adored like a father.

However, after her father died,

Her stepfather started sourcing a lot of work for the nobility in the form of dog collars, gate keys, and other magic tools, and the workload skyrocketed.

As a result of his efforts to protect Olivia, Jack became ill from overwork and was forced to return to the countryside.

Gordon has a solemn expression on his face as he listens to Olivia’s story.

He spoke slowly after a brief pause.

“…I understand the situation. And what do you want to do now?”

Olivia responded immediately.

“I want to work in the royal capital.”

“Hmm. I see.” Gordon brushes his beard.

“The royal capital’s a tough place, you know? Are you up for it?”

Olivia nodded with a serious expression.

She’s been thinking about it a lot the last two days.

Gordon closes his eyes, is silent for a moment, as if hesitating, and then continues speaking.

“Your father told me you mostly make jewelry out of magic stones.”

“Yes.”

“Why?”

“Because I like magic stone jewelry.”

Gordon’s mouth twists into a sort of smile when Olivia responds immediately.

“Hmm. I see. That much is obvious. I’m curious to see how good you are. How about a little experiment?”

“Alright.”

Olivia vigorously nodded.

Olivia came from the countryside. She’s not sure if she’ll be able to make it. But it would be beneficial for Gordon, who will look after her, to see what Olivia is capable of.”

Gordon smiled.

“All right, that’s the spirit. Let’s get started.”

Gordon stood up and opened the back room door.

A large workroom with shelves and drawers lining the walls can be found in the back.

Several men and women who appeared to be craftsmen were working diligently on something at a large worktable in the center.

“This and part of the third floor are used as workstores,”

Gordon explains, stopping the craftsmen from getting up to greet him with his hand.

He placed Olivia in front of a large worktable in the center of the room.

“Right. Let us give it a shot.”

Gordon took out a black velvet tray with a blue bird’s feather and a fingernail-sized blue cabochon-cut magic stone.

Olivia fixed her gaze on the tray.

“Isn’t it an ice bird feather and a magic stone sapphire?”

“Yes—Both are A-quality. “When its owner is about to be harmed, a magic stone core activates.” That’s what we’re here to make. This paper describes the conditions for activation as well as what it does.

Olivia is given a piece of paper with a lot of words on it, which she reads over and over until she understands it completely, and then she looks up at Gordon.

“I understand. Is it okay if I make it here?”

“Yeah.” Gordon replies, stepping back.

Olivia walked over to the worktable and held her hand over the tray.

“<Levitation>.”

Softly.

Feathers and the magic stone float at eye level, wrapped in Olivia’s magic.

What she’s going to do now is create a magic stone core.

She extracts the magical power from the ice bird’s feathers, which contain ice magic, and passes it along with the activation conditions to the magic stone.

In terms of difficulty, this work is rated “somewhat high.”

The ice feathers require dexterity and put the magic tool maker’s skill to the test.

“<Grant Effect Extraction>”.

The magic power is extracted from the ice bird’s feathers and applied to the magic stone.

And then the job is finished.

The end result is a bluish-colored magic stone.

She took it in her fingers and held it up to the light.

(I think it worked very well because of the stone and the material is of high quality.)

“It’s finished.”

Gordon stared in awe as Olivia held out the magic stone to him.

“I knew you were good at this because you were his daughter, but you’re even better than I thought.”

“I see you’ve been working really hard.” Gordon murmurs.

After carefully examining the stone from several angles, Gordon turned to one of the craftsmen, who was frozen in astonishment.

“All right. Let’s take a look at it—Come with me.”

***

The trio walked out of the store and down the basement stairs that led from the back door.

The basement is surrounded by massive stone walls, some of which have burn marks.

It appears to be a testing ground for magic tools.

He tells Olivia to watch by the wall, and Gordon stands in the middle of the room.

He slid the box of magic stones he’d brought into his pocket and called out to the craftsman who’d accompanied him.

“All right, then go ahead and do it.”

A craftsman from a distance throws a ball at Gordon.

beep-beep

Just before the ball hits Gordon, it freezes and falls to the ground.

“Hmm. very nice. great activation speed. Let’s keep going.”

“Yes.”

They experiment with various sizes and types of balls.

Olivia observes nervously, occasionally assisting.

After about ten minutes.

Gordon gives a nod.

“Outstanding work. Even though some of the methods are outdated, the quality is excellent.”

The craftsman mutters “Well, that’s quite an achievement for someone so young…”

(Alright, I did it right.)

Olivia is relieved.

Gordon then holds out his hand to Olivia.

“OK, you’re hired, no doubt about it! You are now an employee of Gordon’s Great Magic Tools Store!”

“Eh?”

“Did you not notice? That is the recruitment test.”

Olivia’s eyes widened.

“Can I work here?”

“Of course! Rather, I wouldn’t want such a capable magic tool maker working in another store!”

Gordon declares solemnly, and the craftsman next to him nods in agreement.

Olivia’s vision trembles.

She is at a loss for words, her chest filled with a mixture of emotions, including gratitude and relief.

Gordon pats Olivia on the back gently.

“All right. Let’s go back upstairs. Let us discuss the future.”

Trying to hide the tears that threatened to flow, Olivia bowed her head in gratitude.

“Thank you! I’ll do my best!”

Gordon then told Olivia about her salary, treatment, and so on.

Olivia has been offered a room on the fifth floor of the store in the craftsman’s dormitory to live in and work as a magic tool maker.

Chapter 5: First Vacation and Young Elliot

“Where am I exactly?”

On a busy thoroughfare

Olivia stood there in a daze, map in hand.

“I must be completely lost…”

***

Life in the royal capital began well.

The day she was hired, Olivia entered the fifth-floor dormitory of the magic tool store with her small luggage.

She began working the next day.

“Hello, my name is Olivia, and it’s a pleasure to meet you all.”

She introduces herself to the senior magic tool makers, who look at her with curious eyes.

Olivia learned her job as an assistant to her seniors at Gordon’s discretion.

They welcomed her as a young, eager student.

They actively cared for her, showed her how to do her job, and accompanied her to the store to buy a navy blue suit.

She is constantly amazed at the new skills she acquires while assisting her seniors.

On the other hand, she suffered from insomnia and nightmares.

The reason for this was, of course, her stepfamily and Henry, and she sometimes couldn’t sleep until morning due to frustration and regret over losing her father’s business.

Olivia’s first vacation was a long time coming.

The Gordon’s Great Magic Tools Store gives its employees two days off every ten days, and this was her first vacation after ten days of work.

(I haven’t had a day off in a long time; how will I spend it?)

Olivia is seeking a change of scenery due to insomnia and nightmares.

When she asks her senior how she spends her vacation, she replies, “I frequently go to a café.”

It’s said that on holidays in the capital, it’s customary to have a leisurely lunch at a café.

When Olivia hears this, she remembers.

Olivia’s good cousin boasted, “I went to a café in the royal capital!”

(Well, I’ve come all this way. I want to do something royal-capital-esque.)

“…all right. Here we go. Cafe.”

So she inquires about cafes, and the receptionist tells her about a cafe with excellent pancakes.

She set out early, map in hand, hoping to get in before it got too crowded…

“Huh? Is there no road? “

“It doesn’t look right, but this is the direction…”

As a result of this mysterious confidence and intuition, she lost track of where she was.

(In any case, I should know where I am.)

Olivia scans the surroundings for a landmark, trying to figure out where she is.

She compares the map to her current location to determine where she is.

But she has no idea where she is, no matter how hard she tries.

(What should I do?)

just when she was about to give up.

“Hello.”

From behind her, she hears a quiet male voice.

(Eh? Who is it?)

She looked up from the map and turned around to see a tall, handsome young man in a brown jacket and green-tinted glasses standing there.

She bowed quickly after realizing it was the young man who had called Olivia [madam] and given her directions.

“Hello. Thank you for taking me to the store the other day. I cannot thank you enough.”

“I’m sorry as well. The directions were intended as an apology, so please don’t worry about it.”

The young man replies calmly, one hand resting lightly on his brown hunting cap.

“What are you doing in the middle of the street?”

“Well… I’m, um… I got a little lost…”

“Let me look,” the young man says, bending down to examine the map.

“You’re here now. Do you want to go to this circled place?”

“Yes.”

The young man mumbles.

He slowly opens his mouth after a brief moment of thought.

“…All right, then, let me show you around.”

“I’m sorry, but it’s quite far away.”

Olivia was startled and panicked.

She feels bad about asking a man she barely knows twice to show her the way.

The young man inquired.

“Excuse me, but where did you leave today?”

“At the Gordon’s Great Magic Tools Store.”

“I knew it,” the young man said, nodding.

He indicated the map.

“This is Gordon’s Great Magic Tools Store, and this is your destination; in other words, this is the polar opposite of where you’re going.”

“…Quite the contrary.”

“Yes, the royal city is a maze of streets; not to be arrogant, but perhaps I should take you there.”

Olivia looked down at her eyes in embarrassment.

She had noticed for some time that she lacked a good sense of direction.

(Perhaps he’s right, and I should ask him to show me the way.)

She bowed her head straight.

“…Thank you very much, I’ll take your word for it.”

“You can rely on me.”

They start walking side by side, at some distance from each other.

The young man asks Olivia as he walks slowly, matching her steps.

“Did you end up working at Gordon’s Great Magic Tools Store?”

“Yes, thanks to you.”

“That’s great; working for that store is a mark of excellence.”

(That’s true, after all.)

Olivia is convinced because the store’s senior magic tool makers are too good.

“Do you have any specialized magic tools?”

“I’m good at… I mean, I enjoy creating magic stone jewelry.”

“I see. The wedding industry is on the rise in the royal capital right now, so it might be a good idea to go into that area; that’s probably the area that’ll grow the most this year and next, so it’s not a bad idea to get in while you can.”

Olivia was taken aback by how well-informed he appeared to be.

She had assumed he was just a friendly but laid-back young man, but he could be a serious type of man at work.

The young man inquired.

“Speaking of which, I heard that locks with magic stones, which are popular right now, are extremely difficult to make?”

Olivia responded, thinking this was a very technical question.

“Difficult isn’t quite right. I believe it is more accurate to say it [requires] aptitude. If you have the aptitude, you can do it quickly, but it takes a lot of effort if you don’t.”

“I see. So that’s how it is. How many of them are qualified? “

“I’m not sure what percentage, but all of the magic tool makers at Gordon’s Great Magic Tools Store are qualified. But in Daregas, where I was, I believe it was less than one in ten.”

The young man expressed his admiration.

“I see. You’re very good at explaining.”

“Is that so?”

“Yes. There are many people who can’t explain well to others, even if they’re good at it.”

Olivia chuckles when she thinks about the faces of the store seniors. That might be so.

(They’re all fantastic, but sometimes their explanations are frequently incomprehensible.)

So the two continue on their way, having a rather technical conversation.

They then enter an elegant street, where the young man points to a store.

“We’ve arrived. That’s most likely it.”

(!! Stylish!)

Pink and white potted flowers complement the light blue walls and white wooden door.

There’s a very sweet smell coming from inside the store.

Olivia rushes over, her eyes sparkling.

It looks even better than she had hoped.

When she sees the sign on the door, her shoulders slump.

[fully booked, now a two-hour wait]

(Sigh… I left early, but I got lost, and the crowds had arrived.)

Olivia is disappointed, and the young man looks at her, silently thinking.

Then he muttered, “Is it some kind of fate?” and opened his mouth.

“Let’s go inside.”

“Eh? But there’s a two-hour wait…”

“Well, just follow me.”

A young man opens the door and walks in.

He says something to the receptionist, and a middle-aged man appears from behind him.

“It’s been a while, Dixx-sama. How is your father?”

“Yes, he’s fine. Is “that” room available?”

“Yes, of course. This way and your companion please.”

Olivia follows the man, looking on blankly, and is led into an elegant room with a table and chairs by the window.

The young man motioned for Olivia to take a seat and then opened the menu on the table.

“What do you want?”

“Uh, um…”

She looked at the young man’s well-groomed face, unable to keep up.

(Isn’t this a VIP room? Who is this man?)

Seeing Olivia’s confusion, the young man murmured, “Ah, that’s right”

“This is a business financed by our trading company. That’s why we were given a special room.”

“I-I see… Please excuse me, sir…”

“I know. It’s weird that we’re having dinner together and we don’t even know each other’s name.”

The young man gracefully placed his hand on his chest.

“Please allow me to repeat my name: Elliot Dixx, third son of the Dixx Trading Company.”

“M-My name is Olivia Carter, and I’m a magic tool maker at Gordon’s Great Magic Tools Store.”

Olivia manages to introduce herself with a stutter.

Then she was convinced.

Even Olivia, who has only been in the royal capital for half a month, has heard of the Dixx Trading Company.

It has to be a large trading firm.

As a trader, it stands to reason that he is familiar with bridles and magic tools.

Then she asked anxiously.

“Um…Excuse me. Do you happen to have a peerage?”

“My father holds the title of baronet. Olivia-san? “

“Ah. Yes. My father is also a baronet.”

Olivia patted her chest in relief.

She wondered what she would have done if he had been a highborn aristocrat, but they appeared to be in the same position.

(But he’s from the capital, and he’s far more aristocratic than I am, despite the fact that we’re both baronets.)

Following that, the two of them ordered the pancake set, which is the restaurant’s specialty.

When she sees the food being brought to her, Olivia’s eyes light up.

(It looks delicious!)

Two layers of well-browned pancakes filled with cream.

It has jam, honey, nuts, and berries on top.

“Itadakimasu (Bon Appetit).”

Olivia carefully cuts the pancake with a knife and puts it in her mouth.

The sweet taste in her mouth makes her gasp.

(Ah… the joy…)

It goes well with tea, and the taste changes depending on what you put on it.

It’s an excellent meal.

Olivia eats sparingly at first in Elliot’s presence, but by the time half the pancakes are gone, she’s blown away. She loses track of him and becomes engrossed in the pancakes.

“You’re a very good eater. I’ve never seen a woman eat so much,” Elliot says happily when he sees Olivia like that.

“You may have another.” and “Shall I order some tea?” And so on and so forth; he looks after her well.

An hour later,

Olivia satisfiedly placed her fork on her plate after finishing two plates of pancakes and three cakes.

(Sigh. It was delicious. It was a happy time.)

Elliot smiles and happily pours tea into Olivia’s cup.

The sight brought Olivia to her senses.

She’d almost forgotten he existed.

(It’s too rude to ignore the people you’re eating with and just keep eating in silence.)

Olivia looks away, uncomfortably sorry.

Elliot raised the corners of his mouth, sensing Olivia’s emotions.

“Don’t worry about it. I had a good time as well.”

“…But, you only ate one pancake.”

“With due respect, but this is standard.”

They then leave the restaurant and make their way to Gordon’s Great Magic Tools Store.

On the way back, the topic of conversation was still magic tools and business.

Olivia discusses magic tools, whereas Elliot’s knowledge is wide-ranging..

And,

“Please excuse me here. I thoroughly enjoyed your company. I’m looking forward to exchanging more information with you. Next time, let’s go to a cake roll shop.”

“Cake roll! Please! Thank you very much for today.”

Elliot’s broad back is seen off after a conversation.

She had an epiphany.

“On that subject,today, I couldn’t recall anything about Henry-sama or my uncle’s family.”

Their faces kept popping up to torment Olivia while she was working or alone in her room.

But that hadn’t happened once today.

She is both mentally and physically lighter.

(I guess I’ve had my fill of good food.)

Olivia expresses gratitude to Elliot for inviting her in.

She was able to feel so satisfied because of him.

That night, she stayed up late drafting for the first time in a long time.

And she fell asleep quietly for the first time in a month.

***

At around the same time

in a simple but magnificent office with a wall-mounted bookshelf.

A young man named Elliot laughed, reminiscing in the light of a magic lamp.

(Today was really interesting.)

He recalled her vivid blue eyes as she ate her pancakes.

(I’ve never seen a woman eat so boldly.)

In general, women are advised to eat small meals, and when they do, they typically take small pieces of food and place them in their mouths one at a time.

This is especially true for the nobility.

But she is unconcerned about it.

She slashes them into large pieces and shoves them into her mouth as quickly as she can.

When he offered her a second helping of pancakes, which she devoured, she ate not only the pancakes but also several pieces of cake.

Her happy expression made him happy as well.

After the meal, she did not pry into his affairs or look at his face.

Her expressions and behavior are genuine, and her only interests are cakes and magic tools.

(I’ve never been happier or more at ease with a woman.)

He almost burst out laughing as he remembered the sparkle in her eyes when he said, “Next time we’ll have cake rolls.”

She was well-versed in magic tools and told him many fascinating stories.

Her unpretentious demeanor was also very appealing.

Combined with her pleasant eating habits, he looks forward to their next meeting.

“…I’ll have to ask the maids where the cake rolls are located.”

Elliot murmurs to himself quietly, then smiles and turns back to his work.

Chapter 6: [Other side], Baronet Carter

The day after Olivia’s departure for the royal capital

in a gilded reception room with opulent taste.

Olivia’s uncle and stepfather, Baronet Carter, told Henry’s father, Viscount Bergor, about the affair.

Viscount Bergor, dressed in a fine suit, gave the Baron a cold stare.

“So Catherine designed the majority of the magic stone ornaments in Carter’s Great Magic Tool Store, not Olivia?”

“Yes—Catherine was responsible for all of the designs created in the last year and a half. The award-winning design, for example, was originally designed by Catherine.”

“…What does Catherine have to say?”

“She was too afraid to speak.”

Viscount Bergor snorted.

“Hmm. She doesn’t strike me as a fragile young lady. And I hear she’s made friends with Henry, her stepsister’s fiance. I can’t imagine such a girl remaining silent about her designs being stolen. Is the story accurate?”

“Y-Yes, that is correct.”

The baronet continues to wipe the sweat from his brow.

His wife, who was sitting next to him, said calmly.

“It’s true. Please look here.”

She placed a small sketchbook on the low table.

There are drawings of various jewelry designs inside.

“All of these are Catherine’s drawings. They were taken in this manner.”

The viscount took up the sketchbook and began flipping through it.

“Is that it?”

“No, that includes all of them.”

She arranges a dozen or so sketchbooks on the low table.

“I can assure you that these were drawn by Catherine. I’ve seen them numerous times.”

“I see.” The Viscount thinks for a moment.

He turns to the Baronet after checking the signature “Catherine Carter” on the back of the sketchbook.

“The same thing was said by Henry. If two people who are close to each other say the same thing, there should be no doubt… Henry’s fiancée was created by me due to her exceptional sense of design—If the designs are Catherine’s, there is no reason for him to stay engaged to Olivia, so I will dissolve the engagement and make Catherine his fiancée.”

“Oh, thank you!”

“However, if they get engaged too soon after the engagement is called off, rumors of mistreatment may circulate. They won’t be officially engaged for another year, and their wedding will be a year after that.”

“I understand.” The baronet and his wife smile broadly.

Catherine clenched her fists as she listened in the next room.

(I did! I am officially engaged to Henry-sama!)

She then hugged Henry, who was delighted to be with her.

“Henry-sama. I’m so happy!”

“Yes, I’m happy too.”

Henry wrinkles his nose as he hugs Catherine.

Catherine bursts out laughing into his chest.

(I did it. I finally have everything.)

Catherine’s family used to live in poverty in a remote part of town because her father, who couldn’t work, didn’t make much money.

She wears clothes that have been mended numerous times and has difficulty finding bread every day.

One day,

Catherine ran into Olivia in town.

She felt angry in the pit of her stomach when she saw her happily walking with her fiancé in her beautiful clothes.

(How unfair that I should have to go through this!)

Olivia’s parents died suddenly of an epidemic a year later.

Catherine knew what she had to do when she arrived at her house.

“Take everything from Olivia.”

She stole her room, clothes, and jewelry.

She took her fiancé, collaborated with her mother to steal her designs, and drove her out of the house and out of the store.

And she officially took Henry’s fiancée’s place today.

Catherine returned to her room after Henry had left and opened a drawer.

There are ten design books inside.

There are over 200 designs available, including rings, necklaces, and earrings.

Even if ten works were published in a year, it would last twenty years.

(Now I can do it as a genius designer too.)

Olivia’s designs have many fans.

Catherine, who acquired the design, seems to have been promised security as a designer.

(Now, if only we could find the bank note, everything would be perfect, but we’ll have to wait and see.)

With the bank notes, she can withdraw her savings and rob the safe-deposit box.

Olivia will be left with nothing once that is completed.

She tosses her design book aside and chuckles mischievously.

“Thank you very much. stepsister. Goodbye.”

(It’s now time to start living the good life.)

―a week later.

“Oh, there it is!”

“She snuck it in here!”

Catherine and her mother discovered the banknote on Olivia’s bookshelf.

Then they ran up to the bank teller and exclaimed,

“The card was reported stolen.”

“That’s funny. Olivia-sama herself informed me that your family was also unaware.”

They were still unaware that they would be subjected to extensive questioning.

Chapter 7: Prologue: A Year Later, Day Off

A year after her arrival in the capital, Olivia walks alone through the city.

Her destination is a small square with a fountain that is only a few minutes away from the store.

As she walks, she squints around the city.

The trees along the streets had turned the color of new leaves, and the gentle wind swayed their tender greenery back and forth.

(It’s spring already.)

She walks into the greener square and sees a tall young man standing by the fountain, waving cheerfully at her.

“Olivia!”

“Elliot! I’m sorry to keep you waiting.”

“Don’t worry. I just arrived… It’s been a while. Your hair has grown significantly.

Elliot looks at Olivia with the corners of his mouth loosened.

Over the course of a year, she became close to this attractive young man she met by chance at the Daregas station.

They have dinner once or twice a month to exchange information, such as today.

The topics of conversation are mostly about work, and he’s one of Olivia’s few friends with whom she feels comfortable talking.

Elliot asks,

“The restaurant for today is about a 20-minute walk from here. Do you want to use a horse-drawn carriage?”

“Today is my day off, and I’d rather go for a walk. I haven’t been exercising enough lately.”

“All right, then let’s walk.”

Feeling the spring breeze on their skin, they begin a walk around the city.

Elliot’s mouth opened as he walked slowly to match Olivia’s stride.

“By the way, thanks for fixing my watch the other day. It works perfectly now, thanks to you.”

“That’s great. All of my efforts have paid off.”

“Our resident’s magic tool maker was taken aback and exclaimed, ‘Is there a magic tool maker who can make this thing work?’”

“Fufu. My father made me do a lot of watch maintenance work when I was younger, so I’m pretty good at it.”

The two continued to talk happily.

After about 20 minutes, they arrive at a cafe famous for its cheese, which is currently popular.

Olivia’s eyes glowed.

“Wonderful! I’ve always wanted to come here! Did you remember that I wanted cheese?”

Elliot smiled happily when he saw her broad smile.

“Of course I did. We’re talking about a very important friend of mine. Let’s go inside now.”

Lunch has passed, and the two of them enter the restaurant, which is becoming somewhat empty.

They sit across from each other by the window, looking at the menu.

And,

“I’ll have a fried chicken set and a glass of red wine, please.”

“Cheese pizza, soufflé cheesecake, baked cheesecake, cinnamon cheesecake, and tea, please.”

The waiter is surprised by the order.

Olivia’s eyes twinkled as she saw the pizza being delivered.

“Itadakimasu!”

They started eating.

“Mmm! Delicious! The cheese is delicious!”

Elliot’s eyes narrow as he watches Olivia happily eat her pizza.

He inquired as he carved the meat with deft dexterity.

“How’s it going at work?”

“Things have been hectic, but things are going well. The day before yesterday, I finally succeeded in granting the phoenix’s feathers.”

“How difficult is it to grant a phoenix feather?”

“Yeah, I’m told it’s rare to find someone who can do it… Well, all of the magic tool makers in the store can.

Olivia laughs while speaking.

She makes every effort, but she is still no match for the seniors.

And as the meal comes to an end,

Elliot placed his coffee cup on the table with grace and opened his mouth as if remembering.

“By the way, Olivia arrived in the royal capital exactly one year ago today.”

“Eh? Is that so?”

“Yes—I realized this while organizing my notebooks yesterday. It’s also the day I returned from Daregas.”

“I see…” Olivia mumbles.

(It’s already been a year.)

She arrived in the royal capital after her engagement was broken and she was evicted from her store and home.

She had no choice but to work hard, and she has been working hard for a year.

It all happened so quickly.

(It’s been a hectic year, but it’s also been a lot of fun.)

She’s been exposed to a lot of new techniques, and she believes she’s grown as a magician.

It’s been an eventful and enjoyable year.

Looking out the window, she notices pink and white spring flowers blooming.

(Come to think of it)

Olivia thinks to herself as she recalls that these flowers were in bloom this time last year.

“I’m hoping that this year will be another good one.”

“…Yes, I’m hoping so.”

Elliot looks gently at Olivia’s profile as he interjects.

Olivia has begun her second year in the royal capital.

Chapter 8: Sudden Approach

Upstairs in Gordon’s Great Magic Tools Store, in a reception room with leather couches.

Olivia, dressed in a long navy blue skirt and white gloves, shows a young man and woman sitting across from her a row of rings on a black velvet tray.

“Here’s what’s in fashion now.”

“Oh my! They’re all so lovely! Nothing like this can be found in any store! Did Olivia-san design all this?”

“Yes, I did.”

“How lovely… The base is carved with a pattern.”

“Yes—This pattern is ivy, but it can be changed to flowers, stars, or any other pattern you want. You can use any stone you want, but the one here is a magic stone with detoxifying properties… Do you want to try it on?”

The woman’s eyes lit up.

“Are you sure?!”

“Yes, of course.”

Olivia extends her gloved hand to the woman and hands her the ring.

The woman looks shocked as she slips the ring on the ring finger of her right hand.

“It’s lovely… It’s slim and doesn’t appear to interfere with everyday wear.”

“Yes—It’s a popular shape since the beginning of this year, and unlike the traditional shape where the stone is placed on a base, the stone is embedded in the metal part, so it doesn’t get stuck when worn every day.”

“What kind of stones do you have?”

Olivia takes a small display case from the shelf.

Small magic stones of various colors can be found inside.

“I think a ring would go well with these.”

“Oh my! There are so many! Look! It matches the color of your eyes!”

“Oh. That’s true. And this one is your color.”

A young man and woman look at the stones in a harmonious manner.

Olivia, smiling, explains the magic stone in turn.

And then an hour later.

Olivia sees them off at the store’s first-floor entrance.

A smiling woman shakes Olivia’s hand.

“Thank you incredibly much! Coming to you was the right decision!”

“I’d like to thank you as well. It’s a thoughtful gift for her.”

The man smiled and tugged at his hat.

Olivia smiled.

“Thank you. It is very encouraging to hear that. Thank you for continuing to patronize Gordon’s Great Magic Tools Store.”

***

After seeing them joyfully enter the carriage.

Olivia went back to the drawing room.

She removes a tray containing three items from the locked cabinet: the ring pattern chosen by the woman, a ring measuring stick, and a magical metal that can be worked with magical power.

(*Ring measuring stick: a stick used to determine ring size)

Her good friend, a senior magic tool maker in the drawing room, looks up.

“Oh, Olivia. Granting?”

“No. I’m metalworking. If you have a minute, could you take a look?”

“Yes, of course.”

The female magic tool maker stands next to Olivia.

Olivia breathes out slightly.

“Okay, let’s start metalworking.”

―For the past year.

She has worked very hard to perfect her craft. When she looked at her seniors, she saw that there were still some techniques she didn’t know.

She begged her seniors to teach her, and she practiced until she was dizzy, until Gordon said, “You need to take a break!”

As a result, Olivia’s abilities have far surpassed those of a year ago.

Olivia deftly runs the magic through the metal, wraps it around the ring gauge, and then slowly carves a pattern on it under the watchful eyes of her senior.

“It’s finished.”

The finished ring is held between the fingers of the female magic tool maker.

She gives Olivia a friendly smile.

“…Yes. It’s very well done. No waste of magic. It’s perfect.”

“Thank you!”

Olivia smiles shyly, then a young magic tool maker with glasses appears.

“Oh, did Olivia do this?”

“Yes.”

“That’s incredible. It’s unusual to get this good in a year. Also, why don’t we go out to dinner tonight to celebrate Olivia’s progress? I’ll pay for your drink. I know a fantastic location.”

The female magic tool maker throws a white eye at a young magician who is delivering a meaningless pickup line.

Olivia looks apologetic.

“I’m sorry. I have a meeting with Manager Gordon after work tonight.”

“Eh? Is that right? Perhaps after that…”

“I’m not sure when I’ll be finished. I sincerely apologize.”

Olivia bows to the young magic tool maker.

The young magic tool maker stiffens, bows to the female magic tool maker, who motions for him to leave, and walks out of the room quickly.

Then she mutters under her breath as she places the tray on the shelf in the next room.

(There’s a lot going on, but I’m having a good time every day.)

Six months ago, Olivia was asked by Gordon to design a ring.

“Someone close to me is getting married. Please make it for me.”

It is customary in this country for the man to give the woman magic stone jewelry, particularly a ring, on their wedding day.

Gordon’s acquaintance desired a ring with a distinctive design.

Olivia was determined.

After days of researching and thinking about trends, she created a ring so original and beautiful that the man was overjoyed.

The woman who received the ring boasted that “Gordon’s Great Magic Tools Store houses some of the world’s best magic tool makers who make great jewelry.” As a result, rumors spread.

Olivia received jewelry orders from customers.

She attends carefully to the growing number of customers. Day after day, she spends her nights designing.

So, she rarely thinks about her in-laws or Henry, and she no longer has trouble sleeping or bad dreams.

In the midst of these hectic but rewarding days, Olivia began to wonder,

“I hope to own my own store one day, like my father.”

(…well, it’s still a long time away.)

Starting a business in the capital is extremely difficult.

There are a lot of people, but there are also a lot of competing businesses.

She has seen many new startups open and then fail.

(If I want to open a store, I need to sharpen my skills and prepare myself. I’ll have to put in a lot of effort here for the next five years.)

Olivia has a very solid and serious attitude.

That night, Gordon asks her,

“Would you like to own your own store?”

“Eh?”

She almost dropped the teacup she was holding.

(What? What now…? A store?)

Olivia’s eyes are wider than they’ve ever been, and Gordon, amused, says, “Your eyes are about to pop out of your head.”

Olivia can’t stop herself from pressing him.

“Wait, wait a minute—by store, do you mean my own store?”

“Yeah, technically, it’s going to be our sister store. In a nutshell, it’s a division of labor.”

“Division.”

Olivia keeps repeating herself without thinking.

Gordon folded his arms and leaned against the back of the sofa.

“Do you know who my regular customers are?”

“Wealthy men and their families, right?”

“That’s correct. That’s why we’ve tailored everything to their preferences.”

“Yes, that’s right.” Olivia gives a nod.

The store’s decor and furnishings are exactly what these wealthy men and their families want.

“However, the store has recently attracted a different type of customer.”

“You mean young ladies?”

“That’s correct. They’ve come to see the magic stone jewelry you created. My guess is that the demand for the magic stone jewelry you create will continue to rise. However, as long as you sell them in this store, they will eventually reach their limit.”

Olivia pondered.

True, the store does not attract young women.

Gordon’s prediction that “it’s going to hit its ceiling early…” could be correct.

“And a sister store?”

“Oh, yes. It is preferable to keep those things separate so that both parties benefit from increased sales. And…well, I wanted you to have your own store here as well.”

The last one was so quiet that she could hardly hear him.

Pretending not to hear the voice, Olivia thought.

By any chance, Gordon felt guilty that her father’s store had been stolen.

(This isn’t Gordon-san’s fault. It’s my fault for not doing enough and failing to contact him sooner.)

But Gordon, with his strong sense of responsibility, probably regretted that he couldn’t help her during her times of need, even if he didn’t express it.

“What do you think? That’s not a bad idea. Why not give it a shot?”

Gordon gives Olivia a serious look.

She took a breath.

She really wanted to work here for five more years.

But Gordon was right, and there was a good chance she’d have to split sooner or later.

Besides, she wants to live up to the expectations of her benefactor, Gordon.

Olivia nodded firmly.

“…All right. I’ll consider it positively.”

“Alright!” Gordon smiled brightly.

“It’s getting late. Let’s have dinner and talk about it. I’ll take you somewhere nice!”

“Really, fufufu? I’ve heard Gordon-san has a very refined palate when it comes to food.”

“What the hell! All right! I’ll take you to the best restaurant in town!”

They laugh as they leave the room.

Later.

They have dinner at Gordon’s favorite tavern, which looks rundown but the food tastes great.

They talk about this and that over drinks and food.

The next day, they decide to look at available real estate in the city.

Chapter 9: A New Store and My Friend Sally

She talked with Gordon about the new store and about two months later.

An early summer afternoon in the sun.

Olivia stood in front of a store on a busy street, dressed in a long navy blue skirt suit and a white hat.

[Sally’s Bridal Boutique]

The shadowgraph on the white sign shows a man and a woman standing next to each other in a friendly way.

The display windows are adorned with lovely wedding gowns made of abundant lace.

Olivia entered the store, and a young female store clerk in a uniform emerged.

“Good day, Olivia-san. Are you looking for the manager?”

“Yeah, I’ve got something for her.”

“Certainly. Please wait here.”

Olivia sits on a sofa at the end of the store where she was shown.

She can hear happy men and women’s voices from the back of the store, where wedding dresses and accessories are lined up.

“This pink gown is also lovely. Dear, which do you prefer, the white or the pink?”

“You’d look great in either.”

“Come on! You must select the right one! This is a once-in-a-lifetime wedding gown!”

Olivia almost burst out laughing at the sound of the woman’s voice, which seemed to be complaining but not too full of complaints.

The clerk from earlier returned as she put her hands over her mouth and also tried not to laugh.

“The manager is waiting for you. Please come this way.”

She was led into a large office at the far end, which had pretty pink wallpaper.

Torsos with dresses in the work are stacked up against the wall.

(*Torso: Western-style dressmaking mannequin)

A vivacious-looking woman with magnificent red hair, who was sitting at her desk, stood up happily when she saw Olivia.

“Welcome Olivia, please have a seat!”

Sally is the name of this lady.

He is a wedding fashion designer, and despite her youth, she is an accomplished woman who has opened her own store.

She was initially Elliot’s acquaintance, and since he introduced her to Olivia, they’ve worked together frequently and are good friends both publicly and privately.

Olivia smiles and says, “Thank you.” and sits down on the pink chair in front of her desk.

She takes a small box from her security bag and opens it.

“I brought Baroness Cate’s ring today, as you requested.”

“Oh, my God! It’s finally here. May I see it?”

“Of course.” Olivia opens the box and shows her what’s inside.

Sally appears overjoyed.

“It’s stunning. This ring’s curves are very artistic. It looks great with the dress!”

“Fufufu. Thank you very much. It was well worth the effort.”

Sally places the ring box in her room safe after signing the receipt.

She asks the clerk to bring her some tea and asks Olivia.

“How is the new store coming along? You previously stated that you couldn’t find a location.”

“Actually, the old magic tool store on Ramiris Street was put up for sale last week. We eventually decided to go.

“Well. It’s ideal. It’s close to home, and there’s a guardhouse nearby.”

“I’m glad you found a good place.” Sally is as happy as if it were her own.

“How about the store’s name?”

“Gordon-san said that since it’s a sister store, I can name it whatever I want.”

“Oh, that’s great! It’s fun to think of a name for the store”.

Over a cup of tea, the two have a pleasant conversation.

They chat and exchange work-related information.

Olivia then says, “I’d better get going,” and leaves.

Outside, dusk has already arrived.

A light breeze is blowing, and the narrow sky, which is obscured by tall buildings, is turning pink.

(It’s already evening, isn’t it?)

Olivia continues walking on the cobblestones while looking up at the sky.

She turns onto Ramiris Street, in the opposite direction from the Gordon’s Great Magic Tools Store.

Ramiris Street, which is lined with cafes and clothing stores, is a popular street for young women, with many women still walking happily in the late afternoon.

Olivia was standing in front of a store that had a small display window in one corner.

(Here.)

She pulls a well-worn key from her bag and opens the slightly peeling paint door.

Jingle, jingle.

The ringing of a bell can be heard throughout the empty store.

She walks in quietly and shuts the door.

The store’s interior is dark and quiet, making it seem like the busy atmosphere outside is a lie.

The air has a dusty odor, possibly from the store being vacant for so long.

(… I’m not sure what this feeling is. It’s nostalgic, and it makes my heart race).

She squinted at the strange sensation of smelling damp spring soil.

She sighed lightly as she looked around the store slowly.

(…I can’t believe this will be my store.)

The craftsmen will arrive tomorrow to install the shelves and counters that Olivia has ordered.

(Will I realize it’s my store if that happens? Or will I recognize it as my shop once the sign is up?)

“… I’ll have to come up with a name…”

Olivia mumbles in a low voice.

―And two weeks later. The renovation is complete.

A signboard hung on the door of the store, painted cobalt blue

[Welcome to Olivia’s Magic Stone Jewelry Store].

Chapter 10: The Day Before the Opening and a Visit From Friends

(It’s grown to be a larger store than I anticipated.)

The end of summer is approaching, and the weather is improving.

the morning before [Olivia’s Magic Stone Jewelry Store] opens.

Olivia looked around her store and let out a breath of admiration.

Her gaze is drawn to the store’s interior, which is decorated with soothing cobalt blue wallpaper.

It looks like a fashionable tea salon frequented by aristocratic ladies.

(I can’t believe this is my store.)

As she opens one of the many boxes piled in a corner of the room, she muses.

Inside are her jewelry and other creations from Gordon’s Great Magic Tools Store.

“Come on. Let’s put the merchandise on display.”

Olivia opens the glass doors of the cabinets against the wall, occasionally stepping back to take in the scene and arrange the necklaces, bangles, and trinkets she purchased for the occasion. She tries to match or lighten the colors so they look good and are easy to spot.

The first shelf is done, and she’s about to start on the second shelf when….

Tingling, tingling

The doorbell rang all the way through the store.

“Coming.”

Olivia comes to a halt and opens the door to the store where the magical security stone is embedded.

Standing outside are her friend Sally and her fiancé Nikka, a tall, brown-haired young man who is also a knight.

Sally smiles and extends a basket of flowers to her.

“Olivia! Congratulations on your new store!”

“Thank you very much. What beautiful flowers!”

She holds up the basket of flowers and invites them in.

As she walked into the store, Sally rolled her eyes.

“Cute! It’s even better than I could have imagined!”

Olivia gave a shy smile.

“Thank you very much. I’ve been looking for ideas in a lot of cafes.”

Nikka opened his mouth to speak.

“Is there anything I can do for you?”

Olivia took another look at Sally’s outfit.

She was dressed in a lovely, fashionable dress and carried a fancy parasol.

Nikka is also well-dressed.

It’s clearly a date.

(I suppose I shouldn’t let you help me on my date?)

Olivia chuckled.

“Thank you. But that’s fine. All I have to do is assemble some items and store the tools.”

“Really? Are you sure you can do this by yourself?”

“I’m all right.”

Then, after some small talk, Olivia doesn’t want to bother them, so Sally and Nikka leave the store, and Olivia waves them off before returning her attention to the store’s decorations and displays.

She arranges the rings and earrings in the display cases and struggles to place them. The store is almost ready.

And the storefront decorations are nearly complete.

She was about to carry the boxes containing the materials and tools needed to make the magical tool to the back of the store when….

Tinkling, tinkling

The bell rang once more.

“Coming.”

Olivia comes to a halt and opens the store door.

There stands Elliot with a basket of flowers and a large box.

He removes his brown hunting cap with one hand, and a smile appears on his shapely mouth.

“Good day, Olivia. Congratulations on the store’s opening. I brought you a congratulatory present.”

“Thank you for coming. The flowers are beautiful. What about the box?”

“It’s a cake from a café I’ve been to before. I figured now would be a good time for a snack.”

Olivia’s eyes sparkled.

Eliot, as expected. He’s very considerate.

(Come to think of it, I’ve barely eaten since this morning.)

“You really are honest, aren’t you?” He says, his eyes narrowing happily as he looks at Olivia, who is more interested in the smell of the box than the flowers.

“Is there anything I can do to help?”

Olivia pondered as she checked the cake in the box.

“…I believe so. Could you please carry the boxes that are stacked there to the back while I make the tea? We’ll have tea when you’re finished.”

***

(Isn’t Elliott incredibly strong?)

A few minutes later, he moved to the work area in the back of the store.

Olivia was exclaiming in admiration as she brewed a cup of tea on the work desk in the middle of the room.

Elliot in front of her, jacketless and sleeves rolled up, carries two boxes at once, whereas Olivia could barely carry one.

He appears lean in his clothes, but the muscles on his powerful shoulders and arms indicate that he works out frequently.

(I wonder how much heavy lifting merchants do.)

The boxes are carried out in a flash.

Then, after he said, “I’m done carrying it,” she said, “Thank you”. They sit down at the work table and begin drinking tea.

“I appreciate it very much. I would have been in big trouble if I had been alone—Eliot is quite strong, isn’t he?”

“N-No, it’s not a big deal. Thank you for making some tea for me.”

Elliot, who appears slightly embarrassed, turns away from Olivia and peers into the store through the open door.

“It’s turned into a wonderful place.”

“Yes—I’m surprised as well.”

“I see you gave it the name [Olivia’s Magic Stone Jewelry store].”

“I gave it a lot of thought, but I wanted to name it after what my parents gave me.”

“I think it’s lovely. It’s a beautiful name.”

“T-Thank you very much.” Olivia smiles, her cheeks blushing.

She considered naming it after a flower or a constellation, but she eventually settled on this name.

Although she was embarrassed to give her own name, she appreciated the compliment.

Elliot smiles at her and opens his mouth with emotion.

“When I met you a year ago, I didn’t expect you to have your own store in such a short time.”

“Neither did I.”

Olivia gave a heartfelt nod.

(Sometimes I think I’m dreaming.)

Elliot grinned.

“I know it’ll be difficult, but you can count on me for anything. I’ll assist you.”

“Thanks, but you’ve already introduced me to a fantastic interior designer, and I feel bad asking for your assistance again.”

Elliot laughed as Olivia said it in a reserved tone.

“You don’t know how to rely on others, do you? We’re friends; please don’t say that.”

“But…”

“No buts. In times of need, friends assist each other. You can count on them.”

Olivia smiled gratefully at Elliot.

She considers herself extremely fortunate to have a friend who says that to her.

(My good fortune was to run into him the day I arrived in the Royal Capital.”)

“OK, fine. Thank you very much. Eliot. I have a “really good friend.”

“……Me too, Olivia.”

Elliot gives a sad smile.

Afterwards

Elliot leaves, and Olivia spends the remainder of the evening cleaning up.

and the following morning.

Olivia’s Magic Stone Jewelry Store, which was lavishly decorated with flowers, has successfully opened.

Chapter 11: Stepsister and Former Fiancée Side

Olivia has been in the royal capital for almost a year and a half.

summer evening.

at a local bakery with a good reputation, located just outside Daregas’s town center.

The lady storekeeper was sweeping the floor.

(Let’s finish cleaning up and head home.)

She quickly cleans up and sweeps before leaving the bakery.

She had just locked the door and was about to leave when…

“Excuse me.”

She was called out from behind.

When she turned around, three young women were standing there.

They were all dressed elegantly and lavishly.

“Please excuse me. Can you tell me when the magic tool store over there opens?”

One of the women points diagonally across the street to Carter’s Great Magic Tools Store.

The door is slammed shut, and the interior is dark and silent.

The lady sighed bitterly.

“It’s been closed for quite some time. According to rumors, the owner’s daughter is getting married, and they don’t have time to open the store.”

“Oh! Then, by any chance, Olivia-san?

“Not Olivia, apparently it’s her stepsister.”

“I see.” The woman looks disappointed.

She had purchased a pair of Olivia’s earrings and was so pleased with them that she returned with a friend to buy them again.

“Thank you very much.”

“No, no. I apologize for not being able to assist you.”

They express gratitude to one another.

The lady shopkeeper sees them off leaves.

Then she exhales deeply.

“…I still can’t believe it. I wonder what’s going on.”

Approximately two and a half years ago.

The Carter’s Great Magic Tools Store’s owner and his wife died in quick succession.

Fortunately, their daughter Olivia is a great magic tool maker.

When she was younger, Jack, an older employee, assisted her, and the two worked together to run the store.

But a month or two later, the ownership changes abruptly and without warning.

The new owner was a pompous man who claimed to be Olivia’s father’s brother, and the atmosphere in the store became increasingly depressing.

Olivia gradually stopped smiling, and Jack began to look exhausted.

When the lady shopkeeper noticed that things were clearly not going well, she became worried.

She kept bringing them bread from the store and asking if they were all right.

Olivia claims that she has no time to rest because her uncle is constantly trying to get her to do jobs for the aristocrats.

Eventually, Jack retired due to overwork.

A few months later, Olivia suddenly disappeared, and rumors circulated that she had stolen her stepsister’s designs.

The lady shopkeeper was very upset.

“Oh my goodness! This can’t be right!”

Olivia, who worked so hard and so diligently, would never do something like that.

Furthermore, Henry, the lord’s son, is said to have broken off the engagement.

“The poor thing. Of course she was hurt.”

You wanted to console her, but she was no longer there.

When she asked her stepsister, Catherine, who had come to the store instead, about Olivia, she replied with a scowl that belied her lovely face.

“I do the designs, and my sister will never return!”

However, she only went to the store on a regular basis for about six months.

At some point, the number of customers decreased, the store closed often, and lately it was no longer open.

The lady shopkeeper looked worriedly at Carter’s Great Magic Tools Store, which was already looking a little run down.

“I hope you’re doing well, Olivia…”

***

Meanwhile

in a coffee shop on Daregas’ main street.

Catherine and Olivia’s ex-fiancé, Henry, were having tea.

A year after the engagement was broken off, they became engaged at the insistence of Viscount Bergor.

They have now sent out wedding invitations and are in the midst of wedding preparations.

Normally, this would be a busy but happy time, but Henry had a bad complexion.

“When are you going to reopen the store, Catherine?”

Catherine apologized to Henry, who had a frown on his face.

“I apologize. With all of the wedding preparations and studying, I simply haven’t had the time to go to the store…”

“Can’t you just come in once a week? My father has inquired. “When are you going to reopen your store?”

Catherine’s face tightens at the mention of Viscount Bergor’s name, and Henry looks at her with concern.

“Is there something wrong with you, Catherine? Have you been doing the designs you said you liked lately?”

Catherine had always carried a small sketchbook with her and seemed to draw something every now and then.

She hasn’t been seen drawing or even looking in her sketchbook in a while.

Catherine looked down at the ground for a moment, then up at Henry with her green eyes moist.

“… Actually, something is going through my head, and I can’t concentrate on the design any longer…”

Henry was taken aback.

He had no idea she had such a problem because she was always smiling.

“What exactly is it? What’s on your mind?”

“…It’s about my stepsister.”

Henry frowned at the sound of Catherine’s fading voice.

“Olivia is no longer in town. She won’t be bullied anymore, will she?”

“No,. I know it’s not how it’s supposed to be, but I’d like her to be at my wedding.”

Henry’s eyes widened as he heard the unexpected words.

“Are you serious?”

“Yes—I’m serious. Because I feel sorry for my stepsister.

“…Well, maybe that’s true, but I believe she deserves what she gets.”

“I think so too. But even if we were stepsisters, I’m worried about her.”

Henry thought as he looked at Catherine, who was holding her eyes sadly.

(That’s very kind of Catherine.

She has most likely been heartbroken for a long time.

I’ve heard that design is all about imagination.

Maybe this kind of thing bothers her.

I really don’t want to see Olivia’s face, but it’s for Catherine’s sake. I have no choice.)

Henry gives a hesitant nod.

“…Alright. I understand. I don’t like it, but I’ll talk to my father about it—He seems to care about Olivia, so I doubt he’ll say no.”

“Thank you very much!”

Catherine shakes Henry’s hand with a big smile on her face.

Henry felt better after having his hand held, and he mentally praised himself.

(I’m a good person for forgiving that horrible woman and even inviting her to my wedding. )

As a result, he didn’t notice.

Catherine’s lips were twisted in the cruelest way possible.

Chapter 12: Two Years Later, a Letter

(Huh…)

Olivia has been in the Royal Capital for nearly two years, and the magic stone jewelry store has been open for nearly a year.

A dreary, rainy afternoon at the end of winter.

on the second floor of the store.

Olivia, dressed in a long navy blue skirt suit for work, was lying on her back on the bed, unconcerned about her wrinkled clothes.

An open envelope and two sheets of letter paper were scattered around her.

She muttered as she looked up at the ceiling.

“I wonder what those people are thinking…”

***

that very morning.

Olivia is paying a visit to a certain baroness at her estate.

There were four ladies waiting for her at the mansion.

They were all friends who had banded together to purchase Olivia’s new collection before the social season began.

“This ring is adorable! It’s very fashionable. It also has a recovery feature!”

“These earrings are also quite lovely. I was told to wear detoxifying jewelry; can you do so?”

Olivia smiles as she tells the ladies about the products.

―for the past six months.

Olivia’s Magic Stone Jewelry Store has seen an increase in customers.

It all began with a visit from a fashion-conscious noblewoman who came through Sally’s salon.

When she began wearing items from Olivia’s store, the ladies of the nobility began asking for them as well.

As a result, the number of noble women calling her to their homes has increased.

The ladies converse happily as they listen to Olivia’s explanations.

They devote a significant amount of time to trying them on and matching them with their own clothes.

Then she starts getting a lot of orders.

“We’ll get them to you as soon as possible.”

“I appreciate it.”

Following that conversation, Olivia got into the carriage that the hostess had set up for her, along with the new samples and the magical stone she had brought.

“Phew. I’m finally finished.”

“Thank you for all your hard work.”

Lottie, a clerk who had come along to help, bows.

Olivia smiles.

“Well done, Lottie. You must be exhausted after standing there all day.”

“I’m fine, I’m used to it.”

Lottie responds casually.

By the way, she’s the girl Elliot introduced her to about 6 months ago.

She has brown, almost black hair, brown eyes, and a cat-like face, and she has worked as a maid in a nobleman’s house for a long time.

Olivia hired her on the spot because the number of aristocratic clients was growing at the time.

She has been tending to the store, cleaning, escorting, and attending to the nobles’ houses, as well as doing simple bookkeeping, since then.

She is a very capable person, despite her lack of expression and modesty.

The aristocratic district is traversed by a carriage carrying two people.

It’s making its way to Ramiris Street.

And when they get to the store.

A boy from Gordon’s Great Magic Tools Store was waiting for them.

“Hello, Olivia-san, long time no see.”

“I’m sorry. Did I make you wait?”

“No. Please don’t be concerned; I came here on my own.”

The boy politely bowed and took a letter from his pocket.

“This was sent to you… Gordon-san advised you to hurry.”

Olivia examined the surface of the letter.

[Gordon’s Great Magic Tools Store, Olivia Carter] was written in sloppy handwriting.

(It’s definitely me, but I’m curious who the letter is from.)

Olivia flips it over and freezes when she sees the return address on the back.

[Baronet Daniel Carter]

(…Huh? Isn’t that my uncle’s name?)

That’s the name of Olivia’s uncle, who threw her out of the store and out of the house.

She asks the boy, taking a deep breath to hide her agitation.

“What’s wrong with it?”

“It arrived at the store via regular mail…Gordon-san believes “they believe you still work for us.”

“…I see.”

Olivia’s face twisted.

She has not spoken to her uncle or his family in over two years.

So how are they going to find out where she works?

(… How unsettling)

She shudders uncontrollably, and the boy looks perplexed.

Lottie opens her mouth as she finishes carrying the bags into the store.

“Olivia-sama…it’s going to rain soon; is it okay if I ask the messenger to leave?”

“Huh, um, yes.”

Olivia comes to her senses and responds quickly.

“I’ll ask him to leave with a thank-you gift. Olivia-sama is probably tired, so please rest in your room. I’ll handle everything here.”

“Oh, yes. Thank you very much.”

Olivia thanked the capable Lottie and returned to her room on the store’s second floor.

As she closed the door behind her, she frowned at the letter.

(What on earth…

You fired me. You can’t possibly expect me to return and work for you, can you?

Maybe ask for money? But there will be income as long as the store is open.)

She has a bad feeling about it, but now that Gordon has brought it to her attention, she can’t stop reading it.

She opened the sealed envelope, took out the letter, and quickly ran her eyes over it.

[Catherine and Henry-sama are marrying.

You must attend as a witness.

Date and time 00/00:00

Location: Viscount Daregas’ main residence

Baronet Carter]

“…what?”

Olivia raised her eyebrows.

(I don’t understand this.

Isn’t this a wedding invitation? Am I supposed to attend the wedding of my ex-fiancee and stepsister who stole my designs? As a witness? After a month and a half?)

The sheer craziness of it all causes her brain to feel jolted.

It is customary to invite family members to a wedding.

even if she is her stepsister. It’s no surprise she asked her sister to be a witness.

But it’s a different story when it’s your ex-fiancé and step-sister’s wedding.

And, while invitations are usually sent out a year in advance, this one was sent out only a month and a half later.

To put it bluntly, this is nothing short of harassment.

(What on earth is this…)

Olivia is stunned as she listens to the sound of rain beginning to fall.

The daily routine she’s established for herself over the last two years is beginning to sway and fall apart.

Chapter 13: I’ll Go

“Olivia-sama, you have cream in your cheek.”

“Huh?”

“Also, the teapot is about to overflow.”

“How? Oh! It’s true!”

Olivia stood up in a panic as Lottie pointed out.

Then she went outside to get a rag.

“Ow!”

She stubbed her toe as hard as she could into the corner and crouched down with a contorted face.

“Are you all right?” Lottie looks worried.

“Olivia-sama. You were acting strange the day before yesterday, but you’re acting even stranger today.”

“N-Nothing, it’s nothing. I just couldn’t sleep. I’m fine. I’m awake now.”

Olivia forced a smile while wiping up the spilled tea with a cloth.

Lottie sighed.

“… I don’t think she’s all right.”

“Huh?”

“Olivia-sama’s shoes. The right and left are reversed.”

***

(Sigh. Today was a disaster.)

Olivia sighed deeply as it was time to close the store.

She nearly knocked over an inkwell and nearly smashed a trash can with her foot. It had been a particularly sloppy day.

(Huh. I’m really vulnerable to this kind of damage…)

She didn’t sleep well last night. She woke up halfway through and she’s dizzy from lack of sleep.

(Let’s forget about dinner tonight and just go to bed.)

She was just thinking about that when…

Tingling, tingling

The store’s doorbell rang.

(I thought I put a [closed] card on the door. I wonder if it’s an urgent customer.)

“Welcome,” Lottie says as she opens the door for Olivia.

There stood Sally, Nikka, and Elliot.

(… Huh? )

Olivia is taken aback by her friends’ unexpected arrival.

It was the first time the three of them came together without warning.

Sally sighed deeply when she saw Olivia’s face.

“You look just as bad as I heard. You’re not sleeping, are you? What happened?”

Olivia blinks at Sally’s words, then stares at Lottie.

“You. You told Sally when you went to run an errand?!”

“Yes. I couldn’t handle it on my own, so I sought advice from Sally.” Lottie replies sullenly.

Sally said soothingly.

“Lottie approached me because she was worried about you. Her store’s owner wears her shoes in reverse and reads the newspaper backwards. It’s impossible not to be worried.”

Olivia’s breath catches as she recalls a day of blunders.

And she sighed in resignation when she saw Sally’s face, as if to say, “I’m not going anywhere if you don’t talk to me.”

(I really don’t want anyone to know about this petty family affair.

But the problem is too large for me to handle on my own. I need someone to listen to me.)

Olivia retrieved a letter from her house upstairs and handed it to Sally.

“This is the reason. When you read it, you’ll understand.”

“Excuse me,” Sally says as she opens the letter.

As soon as she read what was inside, she turned red and became angry.

“Hey, what the hell!”

Nikka and Elliot, who read the letter from behind Sally, tilted their heads, “Isn’t it just a wedding invitation?”

(Well, we’ve come this far. I can’t help it now)

Olivia begins to tell them a story about herself that she had previously only told Sally.

・My uncle and his family took over our house and store after my parents died.

・Being falsely accused of stealing her own designs, having the engagement annulled, and being evicted from the house

・I traveled to the Royal Capital to ask Gordon, my father’s best friend, for assistance.

Elliot’s handsome face shows his anger when he hears Olivia’s story.

Nikka’s expression is also becoming glum.

Sally groaned and opened her mouth.

“Just ignore that invitation. You don’t have to go.”

The two men agreed with a nod.

Olivia, on the other hand, vigorously shakes her head.

“That’s something I can’t do. Take a look at the second note.”

Sally says, “I see you have another sheet” and unfolds the second sheet of paper quizzically.

When she read it, she looked astonished.

“This is…”

It was a letter with a noble seal from Viscount Bergor, the family of her former fiancé, Henry.

Olivia was instructed to attend the wedding.

Olivia cowered self-mockingly.

“To put it bluntly, it’s a lord’s letter of command.”

“That is absurd. It’s an abuse of authority!”

“I agree, but this happens all the time in the countryside.”

Nikka frowns as he opens his mouth.

“…This is my guess, but in the worst-case scenario, you won’t be able to return.”

“Why would you think that?” Olivia murmurs.

Nikka points to the letter.

“I doubt a nobleman would write a letter with a noble seal like this just to invite someone to a wedding. There must be some hidden agenda.”

“What’s the purpose behind this?”

“I’m not sure, but I’m sure it’s bad for Olivia.”

“Can’t you cancel it?”

“…I don’t think so. There’s no reason for it. All it says is [attend a relative’s wedding].

The store falls silent.

Nikka frowns.

“…In the meantime, you shouldn’t go alone. Don’t you have any relatives you can rely on?”

“If there’s no one, I’ll go!”

Sally vigorously raises her hand.

Olivia gives her a grateful look.

She is very grateful for Sally’s offer, as she has only her distant and pregnant cousin to rely on.

But she can’t let the busy Sally miss work due to a minor family crisis.

(It’s okay. I can do my best by myself.)

So Olivia says, “Thanks, but I’ll be fine on my own.”

Elliot, who had been silent and grimacing, slowly opened his mouth.

“….I’ll accompany you.”

“…Eh?”

“I’ll accompany Olivia.”

Olivia is taken aback by this unexpected offer.

Nikka looked at Elliot’s serious face and crossed his arms with a “hmm”.

“…you’d be much safer if Elliot accompanied you, but… Are you sure?”

“Yeah—No worries.”

Elliot gives Nikka a determined nod.

Olivia panicked.

“Wait a second! I understand your sentiment, but don’t you have to take time off work in the meantime?”

“Isn’t it about a week after a month and a half? Then there is no issue.

“But—but I can’t cause you any trouble…”

Elliot looked straight into her eyes.

“Please don’t say no, Olivia. You’re not troubling me. I’d like to go.”

Olivia is at a loss for words as a result of the gravity of his expression.

Nikka laughs and whistles.

Sally pats Olivia on the shoulder, as if soothing a small child.

“You know, if you’re not going to rely on your friends now, when will you?”

“B-But…”

“No buts! Just say yes!”

Her energy gets the better of her and she finally nods “Yes”.

Sally nodded as if to say, “I have something to say,” and looked around the room with a brave expression on her face.

“Now that we’ve decided that, let’s talk about the future… Lottie, are you okay with working for us for the time being?”

“Yes, of course.”

“First and foremost, there are the clothes. You should dress the part if you’re going to be a witness at a wedding. Let’s get some nice stuff and give them a big whoop. Yeah!”

Lottie, who is standing next to Sally, speaks up calmly.

“Perhaps we should also stay current on trends in the Royal Capital.”

“Yeah, Lottie’s right. If we’re going to dress like in the Royal Capital, we should talk about the royal style, too. Elliot, can you do that for me?”

“Yes, of course.”

Olivia is shaken by the unexpected turn of events as the four of them talk excitedly.

In the absence of the other half, two decisions are made:

・Sally and Olivia are going shopping for clothes and cosmetics.

・Elliott and Olivia are going to see a popular play.

Chapter 14: Friends

Not long after leaving Olivia’s Magic Stone jewelry store,

Elliot, who had been walking silently behind Sally and Nikka, abruptly spoke up.

“… How about we have a little talk?”

“Yeah, I don’t mind. “

“Well, I suppose so. Given that it’s late at night, how about we get something to eat?”

They all go to a nearby restaurant for dinner.

They take a seat at a table and place their order.

After an appetizer toast, Elliot asks Sally. “Do you know the story about Olivia?”

“Yes—I knew about it. I learned about it about six months ago. I’m surprised you didn’t know.”

“I tried not to get too deep into it.” Elliot mutters.

Nikka frowned.

“To be honest, what did you think when you heard that story?”

“I thought it was an odd story. Many things don’t add up.”

“I agree. And who is this Viscount Bergor?”

“He’s an elderly noble who reigns over the Daregas region. He’s had a lot of success in recent years, and I hear he’s been shortlisted for a promotion this year.”

Sally’s anxiety increased.

“Gordon-san told me that Olivia is a fantastic magic tool maker and one of the best in the last twenty years. They say that magic tool makers are easy to use as political tools, and I believe that she’s being targeted.”

Elliot is silent, with a grim look on his face.

Nikka comforted Sally by patting her on the shoulder.

“Olivia has a store here and she has many customers from the nobility. Above all, there is Gordon-san, who is well-connected with the nobility. It won’t be that simple.”

Elliot reflected as he overheard their conversation.

(There is, without a doubt, no straightforward way out of this situation. And I doubt the aristocrat who sends such invitations will make the moral decision. He may even attempt to impose his other sons on her on the spot.)

Elliot imagines a strange man standing next to Olivia, and he feels an unfathomable sensation.

Afterwards

The three talk about their future plans.

“If I hear anything else, I’ll call you.”

“Yes, please.”

After this conversation, Elliot leaves Sally and Nikka behind and walks around the city alone at night, thinking about Olivia.

He’s been keeping an eye on her for the past two years.

He’s seen how hard she works.

Before she owned her own store, she trained to exhaustion to improve her skills.

She has worked hard to open her own store. She has shown her work at design exhibitions and learned how to deal with customers.

It is outrageous that a greedy aristocrat would use the fruits of her labor for his own advancement.

(This should never be permitted.

I thought I could at least look out for her as a friend.

I was prepared for that.

But that’s not enough anymore. I can’t protect her.

I should make up my mind.

I must be prepared to push on and be hated.)

Elliot takes a deep breath.

Then, squinting his eyes, he looked in the direction of Olivia’s store before slowly disappearing into the night.

Chapter 15: Unexpected Good Fortune

“It’s done! It looks pretty good.”

The day after she told her friends about her situation.

Olivia was sketching designs in her study in the back of the store.

She was making earrings and a necklace for a young lady.

It was requested as a gift for her mother’s birthday.

Because her mother loves flowers, she created a design with a rose motif.

The standard “disinfection” worn by the nobility will be granted upon the magical stone.

Olivia returns with the completed design.

“Could you look at this, Lottie?”

“Yes.” Lottie approaches her and admires the design.

“It’s very nice, in my opinion. The design is serene yet delicate.”

“Fufufu. Thank you. Then I’ll take this tomorrow.”

Olivia smiles.

“So, about yesterday… Thank you for informing Sally.”

Olivia slept well last night without having any nightmares. She may have been relieved that her friends had agreed to help her.

Her physical condition, which had been shaken the day before, had improved.

She got through a long day at work without incident.

“If Lottie hadn’t told them, I would have been on my own and self-destructive.”

“No, and I apologize for taking the liberty of doing so.”

“Please do not apologize. I’m grateful… Okay, I know it’s early, but let’s call it a night.”

“Yes.”

After hanging a [Closed] sign at the store’s entrance, the two begin cleaning up.

They were done cleaning up and ready to rest.

Tinkling, tinkling

The doorbell abruptly rings.

Lottie opened the door to find a cheerful Sally standing there.

“Oh, I see you’ve already done your cleaning. Olivia. How are things going?”

“Thank you very much. I slept well last night, so I’m in good spirits.”

Sally smiled and looked relieved.

“Well, show me what’s in your home closet.”

“…Huh?”

Olivia blinks, not understanding what Sally is saying.

“You need a lot of things like moving clothes when you go to a wedding, don’t you? I want to know what Olivia has so that I don’t buy clothes that are similar to hers.”

“Well, I think the clothes I’m wearing now will be sufficient for moving…”

Sally shook her head, as if it were nonsense.

“You’re currently dressed in a work suit. A woman who is going to a wedding should not be dressed like this, even if it is for work. Don’t you think so, Lottie?”

“Yes—You’re right.”

Lottie gives a deep nod.

Olivia sighs in resignation at the two vs. one situation.

“…Okay. Come upstairs.

She leads Sally upstairs.

Then, when she unlocked the room door and turned around.

“Please come in.”

“I’m sorry to bother you.” Sally enters and looks at the room, which is so empty you’d think no one lived in it, and she looks surprised.

“What? Isn’t this Olivia’s room?”

“Yes—It is, indeed.”

“Do you really live here? There’s hardly any furniture or fixtures.”

Olivia looks away uncomfortably.

“…I was going to buy some furniture I liked, but I didn’t have time to go shopping. “

“How about those boxes in the corner of the room?”

“That’s from Gordon’s Great Magic Tools Store, where I got everything when I first moved in.”

“…”

“Yes, I know what you mean. But I really didn’t have time to clean up.”

In fact, she had plenty of time.

However

“Today I have to read a book on magical stones.”

“I’ll practice granting newly acquired materials today.”

There were so many work-related tasks to complete that the room had to be put on hold.

“A-Anyway, here’s my clothes.”

Deceptively, she pushes Sally back and leads her to the closet.

“Everything is in here.”

“Okay. I’ll take a look.”

Sally opens the closet door as if trying to gather her thoughts.

Then she looks inside and makes a startled noise.

“It’s all black… I thought the only clothes you had other than black and navy blue were blouses. And you’re almost always in a suit, aren’t you?”

“For some reason, when I go shopping, I always buy them. It’s safe and I can wear it to work.”

Olivia is making slurred explanations for why she did nothing wrong.

“Oh. But I’m wearing the clothes I bought when I went shopping with Sally.”

“Those are winter clothes.”

Sally grinned bitterly, “I never in my wildest dreams thought those would be your only clothes, since I usually see you after work.”

“Well, it’s easy to understand, because it means that you won’t wear anything other than black and navy blue.”

“…”

“It’s also very satisfying to know you’re almost starting from scratch.”

“Well, let’s go buy some stuff then.” Sally’s heading for the exit.

“Eh? to buy? No way, now?”

Sally smiles as Olivia rolls her eyes.

“Yes—We only have about a month and a half left, and we need to get your sizes corrected. Let’s go get you some clothes and makeup today!”

***

(Sigh… I’m exhausted…)

Two hours after being taken out of the store.

Olivia sat slumped in a chair inside Sally’s favorite clothing store.

(I think this may be the first time I’ve ever worn so many different clothes.)

The clothing store owner and Sally are arguing about Olivia’s clothes in front of her.

“Olivia is fair-complexioned, so I think she would look better in light colors.

“No. Bright colors make her face look blurry. I think she should have clothes in clear colors too.”

Olivia reflected deeply as she listened to the conversation.

(… Before coming to the Royal Capital, I didn’t give much thought to myself.)

She was a hard-working woman who was unconcerned about her surroundings.

She has been working too hard and not caring since she arrived here.

She keeps up with the latest fashion trends in her designs, but she never wears them herself.

All the clothes she wears are similar in black and navy because she can wear them at work and they are safe.

Because of this, Olivia now did not even know what kind of clothes or makeup would look good on her.

(Perhaps I should take this opportunity to properly consider it.)

Olivia becomes unusually positive, other than at work.

After choosing some clothes, Sally and she go to the beauty salon where she has made reservations.

They select the appropriate powder or lipstick for their skin tone and show them how to apply makeup.

And then, out of the store.

“Well, I guess I’ll go back to work.”

Olivia started walking back to the store after seeing Sally off. She was carrying a paper bag with the makeup she had just bought in it.

The sun is already setting outside, and there is a pale spring twilight in the air.

The footsteps of people passing through the city are also somewhat busy.

(I’m so tired, I think I’ll leave work for tomorrow and go to bed early again today.)

With these thoughts in mind, she walks along the cobblestones until she reaches the entrance to Ramiris Street, which houses the store.

She sees a familiar man walking in front of her.

(Is that…? Elliot?)

He was tall with surprisingly stocky shoulders and long limbs. brown hunting cap.

Without a doubt, that’s Elliot.

A man looks forward, perhaps noticing Olivia’s gaze.

He stops and smiles cheerfully.

“Good evening, Olivia. “

“Yes—Sally took me shopping.”

She noticed Elliot was a little tipsy as she approached him with these words.

“Are you drunk, Elliott?”

“Yes—I had a few drinks with some friends.

“Is it work-related?”

“No. with swordsmen.”

Olivia’s eyes sparkled at the unexpected reply.

“Are you learning to use a sword, Elliott?”

“Yes—I went there today for the first time in a long time, and they made me drink a lot as a punishment for skipping training for so long.”

Olivia looked sympathetically at Elliot.

“That’s terrible. Did they give you a drink at one of the places around here?”

Elliot gave a small smile.

“…No. The place I had a drink at was far away, but I felt compelled to stop here.”

(Speaking of which), Olivia tilted her head, remembering that this had also happened about a year ago.

“That’s strange. Is there something around here?

“Let me help you.” Elliot reaches out and takes Olivia’s bags in her hand.

“Let’s go.”

“Thank you.”

They began walking together under the streetlights.

Olivia walks silently next to Elliot, who is unusually silent, worried that he’s probably drunk and tired.

As they walk, children run past, laughing.

They finally arrived at the store.

“Thank you very much, Elliot; you’ve been a great help.”

“No, no. It was an unexpected turn of events for me. You helped me make up my mind.”

“?? That’s good, right?”

Following what may or may not have been a convoluted conversation,

Olivia entered the store.

And Elliot disappeared alone into the evening.

Chapter 16: Sweet Play

(…I’m feeling a little uneasy)

She had made an appointment with Elliott to go to the theater that morning.

Olivia is standing in front of the store’s large mirror.

She didn’t wear her usual long navy blue skirt suit today.

She is wearing a trendy blue dress with gathers around the waist, selected by Sally.

Her face, which usually does not wear make-up, is made up as taught in the beauty salon.

The hair is tied up in bunches to keep it out of the way, but some of it is let down on the advice of the hair salon staff.

(I’ve done my best to fully utilize the skills I’ve acquired for the first time, but… I don’t feel like myself.

I’ve never dressed stylishly from head to toe.

I feel like I’m being controlled by my clothes.

I’m not sure if I look good…)

just as she was getting worried.

Tinkling, tinkling

The doorbell rings again, and a familiar voice says, “Hello.”

(It’s Elliott.)

She thought as she opened the door.

From what she’s seen, Elliot doesn’t seem to care what Olivia is wearing.

Whether it suits her or not, he smiles politely and says, “It suits you.”

She believes it will do so again this time.

Her prediction, however, proved to be completely incorrect.

When he sees Olivia all dressed up, his eyes widen for a moment, and he smiles happily.

“I see you’ve changed your style—You looked beautiful.”

(Eh?!)

Olivia is stunned by the unexpected reaction.

Elliot looked at her with narrowed eyes and relaxed his mouth.

“Olivia is white, so the blue color suits her well. The color matches her eyes, and she looks very beautiful.

“T-Thank you very much.”

The answer is given in a slurred manner, with eyes swimming.

The unexpected high praise causes her to feel as if all of her blood is concentrated in her face.

Elliot looks at her with a loving expression on his face as she turns over with her cheeks dyed red.

He took Olivia’s small handbag and gently extended his hand.

“There’s a carriage waiting outside. Let’s go.”

***

(…Whew. I finally calmed down.

Following a brief ride in the carriage.

Olivia exhales softly as she looks out the window.

(I was really surprised earlier…)

Elliot, who doesn’t usually compliment her on her appearance, did so this time.

It was also an unexpected compliment.

(I’ve known him for about two years, but I’ve never received such a compliment on my appearance.)

Olivia wonders what’s going on as she looks out the glass window that reflects Elliot’s handsome profile.

The horse-drawn carriage carries them to the center of the city.

It goes through a series of large buildings before coming to a halt in front of a large white theater.

“All right, let’s go.”

Elliot is the first to exit the carriage and extends his hand to Olivia, who takes it and steps out.

“Thank you.” She thanks him and tries to pull her hand away, but Elliot gently holds it.

“Olivia, may I be your escort?”

“…Huh?”

Olivia’s eyes widened in response to this unprecedented offer.

(E-Escort? What’s the matter with Elliott today?!)

Elliott had previously assisted her in getting out of a carriage. But she’s usually on her own after that.

(I’ve never been escorted before, nor have I ever wanted to be.

Then why does he suddenly offer to escort me?)

Olivia is taken aback, and Elliot stares at her as if to say, “Can I?”

Olivia nodded awkwardly, unable to say no to the somewhat expectant look in his eyes.

“Oh, p-please…”

Elliot twists his mouth in delight at her slightly squeaky response.

He took her hand in his palm and held it gently, as if it were something precious.

“…”

Olivia’s shoulders twitch as she is wrapped in his warm, large hands.

She feels strangely uneasy, possibly because she isn’t used to this.

Elliot smiles as he looks at Olivia, whose cheeks are slightly discolored.

“Let’s go.”

***

Despite an unexpected escort upon entering the theater, the play ended normally.

After they exit the theater, Elliot takes Olivia to a trendy cafe with delicious cakes. But…

(I knew something was wrong…)

Elliott’s condition remained abnormal.

Always on the move, escorting.

She was eating her tart when she suddenly felt a gaze on her and looked up to see.

(…!)

The gentle and sweet look directed at her caused her to fall on her face involuntarily.

(I know I’m always being watched while eating, but this time it’s different…)

She thought he was smiling at her strangely, but she didn’t think much of it.

But there was something about Elliot’s profile today that made Olivia blush.

(I-I wonder what’s going on.)

After the apple tart, she eats a banana tart and muses.

Elliot’s unusual behavior intrigues her.

Then she thinks for a while. She comes up with an idea.

(…I wonder if he is too tired and sleepy to be in a good mood, which happens to me occasionally.

Maybe he made time for me despite his busy schedule.

If that’s the case, I feel bad for him.)

And when dinner is finished, Olivia smiled gratefully at Elliot.

“Thank you, Elliot; the play was enjoyable, and the tarts were delicious, but…”

She averted her gaze.

“I’m worried that you’re very tired. You’ve been overworked, haven’t you?”

Elliot raised his eyebrows.

“Why?”

“I noticed Elliot was behaving differently than usual.”

“…What did you notice that was different?”

Asked calmly, Olivia crossed her arms and pondered.

“Hmm. There is something strange about it.”

“Strange.”

Elliot babbled back involuntarily, placing a hand lightly on his brow and bursting out laughing.

“I see. Is that so?”

Olivia is taken aback to see him laughing as hard as she has ever seen him laugh before.

Elliot chuckles softly and mumbles.

“Well, I’ve stopped holding back, but it’s hard.”

“Eh? What?”

“No, nothing.

“Excuse me,” Elliott said, apologizing to Olivia, who was perplexed because she couldn’t understand what he was saying.

He slowly opened his mouth after some hesitation.

“Let me ask you one question. Did I make you feel bad today?”

He appears to ask casually, but the atmosphere is tense.

Olivia was lost in thought, feeling the need to respond seriously.

Elliot was acting strangely today.

He was strangely flattering, companionable, and sweet.

(…But I didn’t feel bad about it.)

“I don’t think I had a bad time.”

“I see,” Elliot says, relieved by Olivia’s response.

He smiled at her.

“Well, don’t worry about it. I’m not exhausted. I’m in excellent health. I just haven’t quite figured out “my approach” yet.”

“I hope so,” Olivia says with a nod.

Following that, the dinner proceeds as if nothing had happened.

The topic of conversation is work, as usual.

Seeing Elliot speaking so normally, she felt relieved.

He was odd earlier, but now he appears to be back to normal.

(I guess we’re going to leave the store like this today and split up as usual.)

But things went in a different direction than anticipated.

On the way home that day.

at the entrance of Olivia’s Magic Stone jewelry store.

“Thanks for the ride. I really enjoyed it.”

“It was my pleasure. I had a good time as well.”

Following the usual conversation.

“Bye”. Olivia was on her way back to the store when Elliot stopped her.

“Could you please give me a minute, Olivia?”

(That’s unusual.)

Olivia comes to a halt, puzzled, “What’s the matter?”

Elliot exhaled lightly and appeared nervous.

“…May I say my goodbye?”

“What? Say goodbye?”

Olivia nodded subconsciously, not really understanding what was being said but at least saying goodbye.

Elliot smiled happily and gently took her right hand in his.

Olivia felt the touch and looked at her hand.

Elliot’s handsome face is at the end of the hand that is slowly lifted up.

(…? Huh?)

The soft touch of his lips on her fingertips overwhelms her.

And the ensuing passionate gaze, visible even through the colored glasses.

“…!!!!”

Olivia is speechless; she can’t think of anything else to say.

He looks her in the eyes and says, “I’ll contact you later.” Elliot leaves with a regretful look on his face.

After seeing him off.

Olivia runs up the stairs to her room and throws herself into bed with an inaudible scream.

She rolled onto her back, clutching a pillow.

“Geez! What on earth was that?! Elliot, I knew he was weird!”

―And from that day forward, Olivia frequently blushed as a result of Elliot’s behavior.

Chapter 17: Lottie’s Life Advice

(Sigh…)

The customers have left, the work has been completed, and it is time for tea.

Olivia sighed as she sipped the tea Lottie had made.

Elliot is on her mind.

It’s been a little over a month since they went to the theater.

Since then, Elliot has taken Olivia to a variety of locations.

Circus, opera, and good restaurants.

Olivia is very busy at the moment. 

She’s working twice as hard as she usually does.

She can only relax in moderation because of Elliot’s invitation.

She enjoys going out once in a while and doesn’t think about the dreaded wedding as much anymore. 

(I can only be grateful to Elliot for this.)

But

On the other hand, Elliot’s attitude has changed dramatically.

To begin with, he no longer accepts splitting the bill.

Until now, they had taken turns paying for their monthly dinners.

(I had no reason to ask for it, and I thought it was normal.)

But ever since they decided to go to the wedding together, Elliot doesn’t want her to pay the bill. 

Every time she wanted to pay, he had already paid the bill. 

When he refused to let her pay for the third time, she insisted, “I’ll pay,” and he said, “Well, please pay for the tea.”

Because Olivia consumes two-thirds of the tea money, it doesn’t make much sense, and the theater and circus are, of course, more expensive.

In addition, Elliot is very sweet.

He always escorts her and looks after her.

Kissing her hand goodbye is just the beginning, and he made Olivia blush the other day when he knelt down to tie her open shoelaces.

When Olivia recalls that moment, she can’t help but blush.

She’d never had a man do anything like that to her before.

She was only surprised the first time she saw the play, but after two or three times, Olivia began to notice.

In terms of both frequency and content, this is clearly beyond the level of a friend.

(We were friends, weren’t we? Why is this happening?)

Olivia slumps at her desk, unable to get herself together after Elliot changed his mind so quickly.

“What’s the matter, Olivia-sama?”

Lottie tilts her head as she prepares another cup of tea for herself.

Looking up at the steady girl, Olivia thought.

(I can’t keep this to myself any longer; my thoughts are always in circles. Let’s get someone to talk to, like Lottie, and see what she thinks.)

“Well, actually… Please don’t tell anyone, okay?” 

Olivia began to describe Elliot’s recent behavior.

Lottie nods as she listens.

When Olivia was finished, she crossed her arms in a “hmm” motion.

“You’re clearly more than friends. To be honest, you’re being seduced.”

“I had a feeling.” Olivia mumbles.

“But I believe Elliot-sama has had feelings for Olivia-sama for quite some time.

In fact, when I first met you six months ago, I mistook Olivia-sama for Elliot-sama’s lover.” 

“Eh! Why?!”

“Because Elliot-sama was always worried about Olivia-sama.” 

“Worried?”

“Yes, like: she appears to be solid, but she has some issues, or she won’t eat if left alone, or she has an uncommon sense of direction.”

Olivia smiles bitterly, her heart grateful, derogatory, and complex.

“So I asked. [Is Olivia-sama Elliot-sama’s lover?] But Elliot-sama responded, “She is a “dear friend” of mine.”

Olivia nodded as she heard this.

“Elliot has said that for a long time, and I thought we were friends. But he no longer uses the word [friend]…”

Elliot has undergone yet another transformation.

He no longer refers to himself as a “friend.”

“How long has this been going on?”

“I guess since we decided to go to the wedding together.”

Lottie nodded convincingly.

“I believe he saw Olivia-sama in danger and felt compelled to protect her. The head maid who used to look after me once told me, “Men are creatures who want to protect women when they see them weak.”

“I-Is that so?” 

“Yes, because Olivia-sama may flee if he suddenly says, “I like you.” I believe he is carefully making a move on Olivia-sama so that she will see him as a member of the opposite sex, not just a friend.”

“You’re amazing.” Lottie’s sharp opinions impress Olivia.

(…This appears to be the case.)

Lottie opened her mouth as she thought.

“… I think it’s Olivia-sama’s feelings that are important—It’s how Olivia-sama feels about Elliot-sama.”

Olivia was lost in thought. 

Of course, Olivia has nothing against him; in fact, she adores him.

She enjoys talking to him, gets along well with him, and has faith in him.

He has a gentle and kind personality, and he is attractive.

If you ask her if it’s her “preferences” for the opposite sex, she honestly doesn’t know.

(Because I’ve always thought of him as a friend, I can’t see him as the opposite sex…)

Seeing Olivia’s distress, Lottie mutters, “I see”. 

“Why don’t we just go with the flow here? I believe the answer is that there is no answer. The chief maid stated. [A man and a woman can only get along if they want to].

“I see.” Olivia gives a serious nod.

It is extremely helpful information for her because she has never been in a relationship.

Furthermore, this appears to be the most natural approach.

“Yes. It’s worth considering. That head maid has a wealth of knowledge.”

“Yeah. I’ve noticed that she has a lot of romance novels in her room.”

“….Eh? Then, she’s…”

“Well, she’s single and has no boyfriend.”

“…”

Olivia is uneasy about the source of the information, but she decides to go with the flow for the time being.

―Afterwards

She is so engrossed in her work that she has no time to think about anything else in order to complete an urgent order that came in unexpectedly.

A week has passed before she realizes it.

Finally, the big event arrives: attending her ex-fiancé and stepsister’s wedding.

Chapter 18: Arrival in a Private Room

The wedding is two days away.

Olivia, who had finally finished her last job in the morning, was holding a large suitcase near the entrance of the railroad carriage station in the capital’s center.

(…Finally)

Olivia looks at the slightly overcast sky and exhales thinly, trying to calm herself down.

“Olivia, be careful. Take out your dress and straighten your wrinkles as soon as you arrive at the hotel.”

“Be careful what you say. Don’t let anyone talk you out of it.”

Sally and Nikka, who had come to say goodbye, appeared concerned.

“By the way, where’s Elliot?” Nikka inquires.

“I received a letter instructing me to meet him in the waiting room. He stated that he is extremely busy and that everything would be done at the last minute.”

“Is the ticket okay?”

“Yes—As an apology, he said he’d book it for me.”

Olivia then walks through the station’s barriers, is waved off, and asks one of the porters standing nearby to carry her luggage into the waiting room.

She looks around as she walks behind the porters carrying her luggage.

(This has not changed.)

The high ceilings and thick columns are the same as they were two years ago.

She recalls the day she first arrived here.

Olivia’s mouth relaxes as she recalls how overwhelmed she was, unsure of what was right or wrong.

(I really did look like a goofball, didn’t I?)

A porter leads her to the platform’s waiting room, where she sits in a chair.

As she looked at the platform and the people walking by, she remembered her father’s store back home.

(I’m curious if it’s changed since I left. Perhaps it has become a store for the aristocracy only…)

And then she remembered the night before she came to the Royal Capital, the incident of the broken engagement and banishment.

The lord’s son ended their engagement, and she was thrown out of the house and store for stealing her own designs.

She tried not to think about it, but she’s sure there have been some bad rumors.

(It’s downright depressing…)

She sighed involuntarily.

(It’s pointless to think about something that happened two years ago.) She tells herself this, but her emotions are becoming more intense.

―and then.

“Sorry I’m late.”

A calm male voice speaks from above.

Relieved, she looks up at the familiar sound and sees Elliot standing there with a suitcase.

“Thank you for your patience.”

“It’s okay, I didn’t wait that long. Thank you for coming.”

Elliot’s eyes narrowed in concern as he saw Olivia.

“…You don’t look well. Are you all right?”

“Yeah, I’m perfectly fine. Perhaps I’m just dizzy from the crowd.”

“Then maybe it’s a good idea to get into the carriage first.”

“All right, let’s go.” Elliot takes Olivia’s luggage and begins to walk slowly.

She sighs with relief as she walks behind his broad back.

(I’m glad Elliot promised to come. I would have been very nervous if I had been alone.)

Olivia gives Elliot a grateful look.

She tilted her head as she studied his profile.

(It feels different than usual.)

“…Elliot. You’re in a different mood today.”

“Yes—It’s probably because of the color of my clothes.”

As this is said, she looks at Elliot’s clothes.

He didn’t wear his usual brown suit today.

He’s dressed in a dark blue jacket of the highest quality she’s ever seen.

“You’re not dressed normally today.”

“Yes—After all, I’m attending a wedding.”

They were having a conversation while weaving their way through the crowd.

They finally arrive at their destination platform.

Olivia couldn’t help but shout when she saw the railroad carriage parked there.

“Eh! Is that a special class?”

A typical railroad carriage is made up of two train cars.

Each car can seat 12 people, with a total capacity of 24.

However, the carriage ahead is part of a three-car train. Each carriage is a private compartment, a type of train car that only aristocrats and wealthy people can ride.

(I think they cost more than twice the normal price. I’m not sure if I can afford it…)

Elliot says lightly, perhaps sensing Olivia’s concern. “Oh. Well, don’t worry about it. I booked it myself, so I’ll pay for it.”

“N-No, I can’t do that! You already took time off from work to accompany me. I’ll cover the cost.”

This is not a negotiable point. Olivia was unwavering.

Elliot nodded as if to say. “I understand.”

“Please pay for the standard car now. I’ll cover the rest.

“But…”

“I’m a man too. Let me put something on. Besides, I’ll have something to say.”

Olivia gave a nod.

(I also have a few questions.

However, continuing to take advantage of favors is not a good idea. When I return, I should properly thank him.)

Elliot is the first to get into the car and places their luggage on the roof rack.

The car is a spacious four-seater with front-facing leather seats that appear to be of higher quality than those found in a standard car.

Olivia sits on the opposite side of Elliot from where she thanked him for helping her load her bags.

She took a deep breath and turned to face the window.

(It’s time to leave.)

The image that comes to mind is of her in-laws with their mean grins and her stupid ex-fiancé Henry.

Her stomach tightens just thinking about them bothering her, and she can’t help but frown.

Elliot softly called her name.

“May I sit next to you, Olivia?”

“Huh? Yes, sure.”

Olivia shifts slightly to the side, her eyes wide open at the unexpected remark.

Elliot sits down next to her and gently takes her hand.

(…!)

Olivia stiffens slightly in response to his unexpected action.

Elliot takes her small hand in both of his and says calmly, “It’s okay. I’m here.”

Olivia feels her shoulders relax and her heavy heart lighten with those words and the warmth of his large hands.

She leans against Elliot’s toned shoulder, looks out the window, and murmurs.

“Thank you so much, Elliot; I’m glad you came with me. I might have cried if I had been alone.”

Elliot shakes Olivia’s hand without saying anything, but he lets feelings wash over her.

Jingling, jingling, jingling.

The sound of a bell ringing

The carriage begins to move with the neigh of a horse.

People and traffic lights outside the window move slowly at first, then faster and faster.

Olivia leans against Elliot and watches without saying anything.

Eliot snuggles his head against hers.

And after some time,

The railroad carriages that had previously traversed the royal city began to travel through the countryside.

Then, she suddenly came to her senses.

(Now that I think about it, am I not doing something extremely embarrassing?!)

They lean against each other and hold hands like two lovers.

(Oh my goodness!)

Olivia stands up and covers her face with her hands, her cheeks hot as if she has a fever.

She sighed and sat back down as casually as she could, diagonally across from Elliot.

“C-Come to think of it, Elliott, you mentioned earlier that you had something to tell me, but I’m not sure what it is.”

Olivia tries to act as if nothing happened, while Elliot turns away from her and shakes his shoulders.

“Please accept my apologies.” He then apologized to Olivia, who glared at him with resentment and opened his mouth.

“You get to go first. You also mentioned earlier that you wanted to ask me a question.”

Olivia coughed lightly as she remembered.

“What I wanted to know was about Elliot. We don’t talk much about each other, so we barely know each other. It seems strange not to know the bridesmaid you are partnering with.”

“I suppose so,” I say. Elliot mumbles.

“All right, let us reintroduce ourselves.”

Chapter 19: Travel in a Private Carriage

Olivia’s mouth opened.

“What I wanted to know was about Elliot. We don’t talk much about each other, so we barely know each other. It seems strange not to know the bridesmaid you are partnering with.”

“I suppose so.” Elliot mumbles.

He slowly opened his mouth after some hesitation.

“Let me first introduce myself. My name is Elliot Dixx, and despite being the Dixx family’s third son, I was adopted and sent to work for the Dixx family.

“Eh!”

Olivia’s eyes widened as she heard the unexpected confession.

It’s common to hear about gifted children from low-income families being adopted into the service of wealthy relatives.

But she had no idea that the aristocratic Elliot would be one of them.

(… I wonder if it’s right to ask.)

It’s a common story, but it doesn’t always sound good.

Many people discriminate against adopted children, referring to them as “lowly people in the skin of nobility”. It is common practice to conceal one’s adoption status.

Besides, it seems to him that being sent out to be adopted from his former home is not a very good memory for him either.

Elliot smiles as he notices Olivia’s worried expression.

“Oh. Don’t worry about it. I’m glad I was adopted.”

“R-Really?”

“Yes. My original family is quite unique. My father always said, “A man should speak with his fist.”

“With his fists?”

“Yes. We would duel whenever there was a disagreement, and our days were full of raw wounds.”

Olivia is surprised to hear about his family, which she never expected from the mild-mannered Elliot.

By the way, he has two brothers, all of whom seem to be muscle heads.

Elliot gave a distant look.

“It’s a duel if the size of the snack differs. It’s your birthday, so you’re having a duel. Every three days, you are involved in a duel…”

“I-I see.”

“Yes—So the Dixx family is much more sensible. At the very least, we can talk things out without making fists.”

Olivia giggled uncontrollably.

(I thought he was big and strong, but there was a reason for it.

He’s much more aristocratic than I am. Appearances are not always what they seem.)

Then, when the story is finished.

He opened his mouth to speak.

“It’s now my turn. I have two inquiries. One concerns Olivia’s ex-fiancé.”

Olivia’s eyes fluttered.

“What, you mean Henry-sama?”

“Yes. I thought you forgot to inquire about the engagement.”

“… It isn’t a big deal.”

“I don’t mind. I just want to know.”

Elliot’s voice is soothing but slightly strained.

It’s really no big deal. Olivia opens her mouth.

“I won a prize in a local design competition, and I heard that he was so impressed with my abilities that he asked me to marry him. My father was opposed to it, but as the son of a lord, he was quite firm in his decision.”

“… So it’s not a case of falling in love and getting married.”

“Yes—I met Henry-sama only after we got engaged.”

“I understand.” Elliot smiles reassuringly.

His face looks strangely handsome and Olivia turns her head.

(I still think he looks different than usual. Maybe it’s the clothes, but his eyes sparkle.)

And then it occurred to her.

Because he always wears colored glasses, she never saw his eyes.

(I’ve wondered about that before, but it’s a strange thing to wonder about today.)

While Olivia is thinking about it, Elliot asks.

“And I have one more question for you.”

“Yes, I wonder what it is.”

“How the store was robbed. I thought I should be know.”

(Maybe he should know about it.)

It’s not a great story. She started speaking matter-of-factly.

・My father ran a small magic tool store, where I worked.

・My uncle took over the store after my parents passed away.

・I did everything I could to protect my father’s store, but I was fired and couldn’t work as a magic tool maker in the town, so I came to the royal capital.

Elliot’s brow furrows as he listens to her story.

He exhales slightly to control his anger.

“…Wasn’t there an adult on whom you could rely? Even if you are a good magic tool maker, how can you run a store even if you’re a minor?”

“There was a guy named Jack, about my father’s age, who was a magic tool maker and worked in the store for a long time. I worked with him for three months before he was fired.”

“And how did your uncle even get to take over the store?”

Olivia exhaled a sigh.

“Without my knowledge, the title deeds were rewritten. When Jack discovered this, he approached the authorities and protested. However, the officials turned him down. They claimed they couldn’t change it any longer.”

“…”

“Then my uncle began bringing in a lot of work from the nobility, and we got very busy. Then Jack became ill and abruptly quit. When I came here, I sent him letters of condolence, but he never responded…”

Olivia’s eyes were sad.

(Jack had a family. I hope he didn’t lose his way.)

“I see.” Elliot is deafeningly quiet, muttering to himself.

He looked up and smiled after a brief pause.

“Well. We have some extra time, so let’s stop by Jack’s house on our way back from the wedding.

“I-Is that all right?”

“Yes—Where is it?”

“In Rojas, a small town an hour’s drive from Daregas.”

“Okay. Then, I’ll look into it.”

Olivia thanked him with relief.

Jack’s abrupt departure had been bothering her for some time.

It would be a great pleasure for her to meet and speak with him again.

Afterwards, they conversed as usual.

They bought some food at the station and ate it together.

“Hey, Elliot, take off your glasses.”

“What is it? All of a sudden. No It’s embarrassing.”

They are having a pleasant conversation.

―Following that,

“Olivia, we’re almost there.”

Elliot, who has been sitting next to her for some time, looks up from his shoulder.

An orange sunset illuminates the town outside the window.

They’ve finally arrived in Daregas.

Chapter 20: Maybe I’m the One Who’s Weird

“Fu~a. I haven’t had a good night’s sleep in a long time.”

The following day, after arriving in Daregas

in a room on the first floor of a hotel on the outskirts of town.

Olivia gets out of bed and stretches.

Her blue eyes see a large, clean room with clothes hung on the wall, illuminated by morning light streaming through the curtains.

As she rose from her bed and opened the curtains, she murmured softly.

“I’m so glad everything went so smoothly.”

***

Olivia and Elliot took a carriage to their hotel just outside the Daregas train station.

She was relieved as soon as they checked in and went to their room.

(Thank God. I didn’t run into anyone I knew.)

She lost her job, and the lord’s son had called off the engagement.

There was a lot of negative press.

(It doesn’t matter because it’s nonsense. I managed to sort it out in my own way.

But it would take too much effort for me to subject myself to unjustified criticism, and I don’t want Elliot to feel bad about being with me.

If possible, I’d prefer not to go out again today, but it’s difficult with dinner and everything…)

Olivia is scratching her head, trying to figure out where she can go without seeing anyone she knows.

“Let’s eat at the hotel cafeteria today,” Elliot suggested, possibly sensing Olivia’s feelings.

“I’m tired today,” he said after dinner. “let’s go back to our room and get some sleep.”

Thanks to this, Olivia didn’t have to go outside or worry about anything, and she was able to sleep peacefully.

***

Olivia gets dressed after washing her face at the sink in her room.

She wears her hair in a half-updo and fastens it with a blue hair clip with a flower ornament while wearing a blue dress.

She then went to the window, where there was a makeup table, to apply her makeup.

She looks out the window as she takes out her makeup bag and notices something.

(Wait, is that Elliot?)

In her peripheral vision, she sees a tall young man wearing a familiar hat.

He’s standing under a large tree near the hotel, animatedly conversing with a man she doesn’t know.

Olivia shakes her head.

(Who is this?)

Elliot is a member of the Dixx Chamber of Commerce, which is quite large.

Maybe they have a branch in Daregas.

Feeling bad about looking at them, she turned her eyes away from the window and concentrated on applying makeup, such as applying face powder and drawing her brows.

Then she went down to the dining room, where Elliot was already waiting for me.

“Good morning, Olivia.”

“Good morning, Elliot. Did you wait for me?”

“No. I just got here—How are you doing?”

“Thanks to you; it’s very good.”

Olivia sits down in front of him, somehow thinking she doesn’t want to mention what she just saw.

When she turned to face him, his eyes twinkled.

(… Huh? )

Elliot, the same old Elliot.

But something isn’t right.

(I think he looks a little cooler than when we were in the Royal Capital.)

Elliot’s eyes met hers as she stared at him.

“What’s the problem?”

“I-It is nothing.”

Olivia quickly averted her gaze, embarrassed.

When their gazes met, she felt a rush of excitement in her chest.

Besides, she couldn’t stop wondering what Elliot looked like without his glasses.

(I’m curious what they look like.

Nothing like this has ever happened before.

What’s going on…)

Breakfast is brought to Olivia while she mulls over this.

Fresh toast with thick butter, steamed vegetable soup

Her eyes light up as she forgets all her thoughts in the face of the ideal breakfast.

As Olivia spreads butter on the freshly baked toast, Elliot smiles and opens his mouth.

“What are your plans for today? Is there anything else you’d like to do?”

“Yeah.” Olivia puts the spoon down and makes a serious face at Elliot.

“…In fact, there are two places I’d like to visit.”

“Places to visit. Where do you want to go?”

“Yes—The first is my parents’ grave.”

(I haven’t visited in two years. They must be concerned.

I’d like to go there and report that I’m happy in the capital.)

“The second is my father’s store. I was just curious how things were going.”

(When I go to the store, I know I’ll run into someone I know.

I’m sure the store has changed. But I feel like if I don’t go and check it out, I won’t be able to make up my mind.)

“I see.” Elliot thinks to himself.

“Well, I’ll get you a carriage later.”

A carriage would be less noticeable.

Olivia gives Elliot a grateful look.

“Let me thank you again. Thank you so much. If Elliot hadn’t come with me, I wouldn’t have known what to do.”

(It was because of him that I got a good night’s sleep with peace of mind, and it was also because of him that I could go out like this.

I can’t express how grateful I am to him.)

Olivia bowed her head, and Elliot’s mouth dropped open.

“It’s fine. As I previously stated, I’m doing this because I want to.”

“I can’t do that. I’ll give you something in return when I get home.”

Elliot smiles mischievously at her serious face.

“I believe I’ve already received your gratitude.”

“Huh?”

“I can stay with you for a week. I couldn’t have asked for a more suitable reward.”

This appears to be light banter at first glance.

But the eager look in Elliot’s eyes, visible through his tinted glasses, told her it wasn’t a joke.

“….!”

Olivia blushes involuntarily and lowers her eyes.

Normally she would have joked, “What are you talking about?” But for some reason, she can’t.

Her heart starts beating like a fast bell.

Breathing lightly, she manages to calm herself and thinks.

(Perhaps it’s not him, and maybe it’s just me.)

…probably so. I changed.

Is it tiredness? Nervous about the wedding? Or perhaps…)

―a few hours later.

Something happens that completely disrupts this train of thought.

“W-What is this?”

The horse-drawn carriage took them to a small abandoned store.

The Carter’s Great Magic Tools Store, once a thriving business in town, is now a mere shadow of its former self.

Chapter 21: The Store Has Changed

“How come this is…”

Olivia is standing in front of a small store on a narrow street.

The paint is peeling and discolored, and some walls crumble.

The windows are rusted shut, and you can see things on the floor and shelves scattered through the faded curtains.

The dust is so thick that you can see it from the outside.

Olivia is too shocked to speak, and Elliot, grimacing, holds her in his arms as if to comfort her.

Looking around, he notices a bakery diagonally across the street.

“I believe you mentioned a baker who treated you well. So they’re certain to know what happened.”

“…Yes, I know. I’ll ask her.”

Olivia comes to her senses and goes to the bakery, adjusting to the fact that everything has changed.

(I thought they only stopped dealing with anything other than lamps.

But I never expected it to be abandoned either.)

This is clearly an unusual circumstance.

(What on earth happened?)

Olivia walks through the door of the bakery that Elliot opened for her and sees a familiar face inside.

“Welcome—The cream bagels are hot out of the oven.”

A woman extends a warm greeting to both of them.

She looks at Olivia for a moment before returning to the counter, a surprised expression on her face.

“You’re Olivia! How have you been?! I’ve been worried sick about you!”

“Obaa-chan!”

Olivia hugged her, and the woman patted her on the head.

“I’m glad you’re safe—everyone was worried.”

“… I’m sorry.”

“It’s fine. It’s all right, and you’re safe now. Here. Wipe your tears with this. You’re all clean, but you’ll be in shambles once more if you cry.”

As Olivia accepted the handkerchief and wiped her tears, Elliot inquired on her behalf.

“Can you tell me what happened at the Carter’s Great Magic Tools Store?”

The woman sighed.

“It’s exactly as you see it. After Olivia left, it was only open for about a year. Some people used to come here looking for Olivia, but with the way the store is now, I guess they gave up.”

“I see.” Elliot thanks the owner and buys a freshly baked cream bagel, a strawberry Danish, and an apple pie before leaving the store.

Elliot opened his mouth as he supported Olivia as she walked unsteadily.

“Why don’t we go somewhere and have a little chat—we have some tea prepared by the hotel, so let’s have a quick lunch.”

“… I guess so. Let’s do that. There’s a garden outside the town; we can go there.”

Olivia manages to reply.

The situation is so unexpected that she is at a loss for words.

They get into the carriage and take a short ride.

They arrive in front of a large hillside garden.

“This is quite large. Does that look like the State Guest House?”

“Yes—I heard some foreign dignitaries used to stay here. The reason it’s open to the public is to show off the connection between the lord and the great men.”

Erik laughs at this straightforward explanation.

Elliot requests the carriage wait for them, and they enter the gardens with a food basket.

They walk past the blossoming trees and admire the spring flowers that are just starting to bloom.

Then they went into a little high bower, and Elliot let out an involuntary yelp.

“It’s a nice view. You have a panoramic view of the town, don’t you?”

“Yes. You can even see the big mountains over there when the weather is nice.”

Olivia squinted as she gazed down at the town of Daregas below.

It reminds her of her parents’ visits and makes her feel a little better.

They sit next to each other on a bench in the gazebo and start eating the bread they bought while admiring the view.

“Delicious! Oba-chan’s bread is delectable! She used to always bring it to me.”

“This Danish is appealing to me.”

She then finished her bread. Finally, she sipped tea from a bottle she had brought from the hotel.

Olivia muttered something to herself.

“…I knew… the designs would not work in the long run. I just knew…”

“Why is that?”

“The designs I drew were popular at the time. However, trends can shift in six months and look completely different in a year.”

Olivia had anticipated it.

Stolen? The design book would only be good for a year.

“But there was already a lot of work in the magic tool store. Many people had been using our lamps for a long time, and we had done a lot of maintenance on them. Then there’s the aristocratic work that my uncle brings in. So I assumed the store would continue, even if the format changed.”

The magic store is stable with customers.

So she thought that the store would still operate normally even if the magical stone jewelry were no longer available.

“However, I never imagined it would come to this…”

Olivia slumps her shoulders in disappointment, feeling guilty because she thinks the store would be in better shape if she had been more patient and worked harder.

Elliot gives her a gentle hug on the shoulder.

“Olivia has worked hard enough. Generally, she quits before being fired.”

“…But everything has gone so wrong.”

Olivia turns around, her hands covering her face.

Elliot gives her a regretful look, exhales slightly, and mutters quietly.

“…Would you like to take it back?”

“…Eh?”

Olivia raises her head in response to these unexpected words.

“I can do it. If you so desire.”

Elliot gives her the most piercing stare she’s ever seen.

She casts a downward glance.

(If you’re wondering if I want it back, the answer is yes. I wish I could fly to the store right now and polish it.)

Elliot’s Dixx Trading Company is a massive conglomerate.

He’ll get it back, without a doubt.

(… But this is something I’ll have to figure out for myself.)

It was three years ago. She had no idea what was happening and was shocked when the store was taken away from her.

(There must be something I can do right now.)

She exhales slightly and smiles gratefully at Elliot.

“Thank you very much, Elliot. But you know what? I want to give it my all. I didn’t know what I was doing back then and was beaten up, but I think I can do something about it now.”

Elliot’s expression softened.

“…I know. You were that kind of person. But you’ll have to take it easy and talk to me about it first.”

Elliot strokes her hair while lovingly narrowing his eyes.

Olivia leans against him and closes her eyes in response to his reassuring touch, and after a brief moment. Olivia’s blue eyes meet his.

“…Elliot, could you please remove your glasses?”

The words came out more naturally than thoughtfully.

Elliot is taken aback by Olivia’s sudden request.

After a moment’s hesitation, he slowly takes off his glasses.

“…”

His eyes were as clear as an amethyst.

The strength and beauty of his face, which was hidden by the spectacles, were unmistakably striking.

Elliot’s eyes narrow when he notices Olivia blushing.

His purple eyes are feverish.

They’ve gotten closer in the blink of an eye.

The next thing she knew, Olivia found herself embraced by two strong arms.

“E-Elliot?”

“…”

Elliot says nothing but wraps his arms around her gently.

The beating heart, his or her own.

(… This is strange. I’m nervous, but I’m not afraid.)

Olivia leans her cheek against his broad chest.

Elliot’s warmth envelops her as she gently closes her eyes.

Lovingly, Elliot rains a kiss on Olivia’s forehead.

Afterward, the two share the warmth and gaze at the beautiful landscape.

And hand in hand, they slowly walked back to the carriage.

Chapter 22: The Beginning of the Wedding Ceremony

(This is excellent.)

On the wedding day, in the morning.

Olivia has finished her makeup and is standing in front of the hotel room’s dressing pavilion.

She is dressed in a gleaming blue dress and silver shoes.

The dress is modest for a bridesmaid, but it is of the sleek variety that is popular these days.

Her hair was cut into a beautiful style by an experienced hairdresser employed by the hotel.

As per bridesmaid etiquette, only a simple necklace is required.

According to Elliot and Nikka, it has detoxifying, paralytic, and anti-sleep properties.

She also keeps a magical tool in her purse to protect herself from attackers.

Olivia looks at herself in the mirror, a little uneasy.

(Finally, I wonder what will happen.)

She’s not sure how this wedding will turn out, but something in her will undoubtedly change after it.

And at the time,

Knock-knock

The sound of a familiar voice follows a knock on the door.

“It’s me.”

(It’s Elliot.)

Olivia dashes at the front door.

When she saw who was standing there, she opened her mouth wide.

(Wait, who?)

A man in a gleaming gray suit stands there.

He had neatly coiffed blond hair and violet eyes behind silver-rimmed glasses.

He has a gentle smile on his lips.

Olivia’s piercing stare caused the man, Elliot, to turn his head away.

“Can you please stop staring at me? I’m embarrassed.”

Olivia’s surprise at his elegant and sexy gesture made her forget her shyness.

(…How wonderful; he looks like a prince.)

Olivia can’t take her gaze away from Elliot, who looks at her with an embarrassed expression.

“Come on, a carriage is waiting for us,” he says, urging her to get ready to leave.

They then got into the carriage and drove away from the hotel.

Elliot opened his mouth to speak.

“…Have you settled down a little?”

“Yeah, to some extent.”

Olivia responds, followed by a question that had been bothering her the day before.

“What’s with Elliot always wearing colored glasses?”

“…I believe merchants wear colored glasses.”

“I suppose so, but you’ll be more popular if they can see your eyes.”

Elliot chuckled bitterly.

“I don’t need to be popular with an unknown number of people; I just need to be popular with one.”

Olivia’s pupils constricted, and she couldn’t help but stare at him.

Elliot’s violet eyes flashed with heat.

“I didn’t get a chance to tell you this before, but you’re so beautiful that I wish I could just take you and leave.”

“T-thank you,” she says as she turns her head to the side, her ears red.

(Seriously, my heart feels like it’s going to explode.)

She feels embarrassed since the incident in the garden yesterday.

She’s embarrassed to make eye contact, and it’s even more awkward to hear him say her name.

The fact that she is still being watched makes her heart race no matter what she does. Even taking a deep breath doesn’t help.

(I feel like my heart is racing—I’m not sure if it’s safe to attend a wedding in this state.)

The carriage is beginning to slow down.

She could see a magnificent mansion and a crowd of well-dressed people through the window.

(We’ve arrived.)

Elliot took Olivia’s nervous hand in his.

Olivia felt something slip on her ring finger and looked up to see a beautiful purple stone set in an elegant ring.

“…This?”

“Here’s a gift; it’s sad that I’m wearing your color while you don’t have mine.”

“T-Thank you.”

Olivia blushes as she notices his cufflinks and necktie pin are the same blue as her eyes.

Elliot narrowed his eyes lovingly and gently took her hand in his.

“Come on. Let’s go.”

***

With Elliot’s help, she gets out of the carriage and finds herself at the front door of the Viscount’s Mansion.

People in suits are gathered here and there, chatting happily.

(I recognized several of the faces.)

A young man approached them as Olivia stood in Elliot’s shadow, holding a piece of paper with what appeared to be a list of attendees on it.

“Please excuse me. Could you please tell me your name? “

“Yes, Olivia Carter.”

“…?!”

The young man stares at her with a blank expression.

Elliot gives a cold smile.

“Sir. Staring at a lady, no matter how lovely she is, is impolite.

“… I-I’m sorry; you seem different from the last time we met.”

The young man bowed his head hurriedly.

And then he inhaled, and he shouted.

“Miss Olivia Carter has arrived!”

The entrance was buzzing.

[It’s Olivia.]

[How dare she come here. Shameless.]

In the background, the guests turn around and whisper.

And when they saw you two standing there, their mouths dropped open in disbelief.

[Is that Olivia?!]

[You’ve got to be kidding; she’s completely different!]

[Who’s that guy next to her? He’s the most handsome guy I’ve ever seen!]

Elliot stands in front of Olivia to shield her from the whispers.

[… !!!!]

Yellow cries of “Caw!” come out of nowhere.

Despite the attention, he smiled and extended his hand to Olivia with the grace of a fairy tale prince.

“Come on. Let’s go.”

“Y-Yeah.”

Olivia enters the building slowly, accompanied by Elliot’s warm hand.

She gives him a strange smile and whispers.

“You surprised me, Elliot. You’re amazing.”

“It’s nothing to worry about.”

She expressed her heartfelt gratitude to him.

He must have done it to keep Olivia out of the spotlight.

She had no idea he’d be so protective of her.

They walk down a red-carpeted corridor and into the hall where the wedding will be held.

Seeing Olivia, a young woman in a cream-colored dress ran up to her.

“Olivia! Thank God you’re okay!”

Olivia’s cousin Sara, a distant cousin on her mother’s side, was the only relative Olivia had made contact with when she was living in the Royal Capital.

“I’m sorry for worrying you; how is the baby?”

“When I heard Olivia was coming, I left the baby with my mother.”

Then her cousin, who looked next to Olivia, made a face of blatant surprise and bowed politely to Elliott.

“Hello, my name is Sara Burton, and this is my husband, John.”

“Nice to meet you. I’m Elliot from the Dixx Trading Company.”

John smiles and extends his hand.

“From Dixx? Thank you for your continued support.”

“It’s a pleasure to meet you; I assume you’re referring to the Barton family, who rule the famous grape-growing region to the south.”

“That’s right; you’re well aware of it.”

Elliot strikes up a conversation with John and a few other men.

Sara elbowed Olivia.

“Hey, you have a nice guy with you. You scared the hell out of me.”

“…I met him at the Royal Capital.”

“That’s the Royal Capital for you; I’ve never seen a man like him.”

Later, Olivia and Sara talk with some young women about the Royal Capital’s famous food and plays.

One of the women says admiringly.

“As expected, you live in the royal capital. You know so much.”

“Yes—It’s a pleasure to listen to you.”

“Your makeup and dress are all current fashions, and you look great.”

Olivia is relieved.

Training over the last month and a half have paid off.

She thanks her friends once more.

Then, Sara’s father, her uncle from her mother’s side of the family, approaches her.

“Olivia, you look well.”

“Yes—it’s been a long time, Oji-sama.”

Olivia bowed politely as she moved away from the chatting ladies.

Olivia’s uncle fixed his gaze on her.

“When I heard from Sarah, I was worried, but I guess it wasn’t necessary.”

He motioned with his thumb to Elliot, who was speaking to the men.

“He’s a good man. He’s perceptive and knowledgeable. He’s won over a lot of loud old men in no time.”

“Well, It’s unusual for my father to compliment a man.”

Sarah teases her father, and his face relaxes.

“Well, it’s true. That Henry guy is nothing compared to him—Good for you, Olivia,”

“That’s true,” Olivia says with a wry smile.

She looks over at Elliot. Their eyes meet, and he smiles at her, making her blush.

The mere sight of his eyes makes her heart leap.

Elliot leaves the men and approaches Olivia.

He stands next to her and whispers in her ear.

“How are things going?”

“Yes, thanks to you. I’m enjoying it more than I expected.”

“That’s good,” Elliot says, squinting.

Olivia raises her moist blue eyes to meet those gentle purple eyes.

A sweet breeze blows between them.

Olivia finally realizes under Elliot’s hot gaze.

(… Aren’t I hopelessly in love with this man?)

Following that,

“Thank you for coming, Oneesama!”

A familiar high-pitched voice echoes down the corridor.

(… She’s here!)

Olivia stiffened as she turned around and saw Catherine standing there with her face scrunched up and Henry with a furrowed brow..

Chapter 23: Catherine’s Point of View

“… What the hell is that?”

Catherine couldn’t stop staring.

Out of the corner of her eye, she sees her stepsister, Olivia.

She’s transformed from a tired, skinny woman dressed in plain, out-of-date clothing to a classy woman dressed in the latest fashions and luxury goods.

Also, the man next to her is the most stylish and attractive man she has ever seen, and he is much better than Henry.

People were whispering, much to Catherine’s surprise.

[Olivia-sama, you have become truly beautiful.]

[I hear she lives in the Royal Capital. I admire her. She’s so knowledgeable about fashion.]

[That Elliot guy’s a real piece of work for a young guy. I learned a lot from him.]

[He’s really cool. He looks like a prince. I envy Olivia-sama.]

All she hears is unadulterated praise.

She feels like she’s about to erupt in a rage.

This past year

Nothing was going right for Catherine.

Things went wrong about a year and a half ago.

They were no longer selling the magic stone jewelry they had created based on Olivia’s designs.

Customers who used to buy the products as soon as they saw them now tilt their heads and walk away.

They didn’t figure out why for another six months.

Olivia was working on a yearly design for the Watch Union.

The union’s head looked at the design Catherine had brought from the stolen design book with her with a scowl on his face.

“Round watches are popular these days. It is not a good idea to create a square watch.”

Catherine realized at this point that the designs in Olivia’s design book were outdated.

“My daughter is not well,” said her father, who was with her at the time. The union devised a plan to redesign the square into a circle, but it would not work the next time.

Also, the craftsmen didn’t like how rude the Baronet was or how the jewelry didn’t sell, so they quit one by one. This caused the store to close.

Catherine, who had been pushed into a corner, trembled with rage.

(She definitely did it on purpose!)

Catherine thinks she left such a useless design book on purpose to make things hard for herself.

(Unforgivable.)

Catherine discussed it with her mother, who offered an idea. “We should invite Olivia to the wedding. We can “persuade” her to listen to us and draw designs.”

“Oh, dear mother. That’s a good idea. Let’s do that.”

Catherine laughed.

(I heard from my father that she is in the royal capital, but I bet she still looks boring. She must be living a shabby life without a boyfriend. I’ll invite her to be the maid of honor at the wedding and humiliate her at best. And… I will show her how beautiful and happy I am.)

“Fufufu, a beautiful young sister and a dull, old sister. They’d make an excellent counterpoint.”

But then she opens the door, and there she is, more beautiful than ever, with the most handsome man you’ve ever seen.

The dress, the decorations, everything is better than her.

(This is unacceptable.)

With a demon-like face, she glares at Olivia, who is chatting with Sara.

“What’s the matter, Catherine?”

Then Henry appeared behind her.

Catherine gives him a quick smile, slightly brightening her mood.

But…

(…!)

There was Henry, stunned, staring at Olivia.

His eyes are filled with surprise, emotion, and regret.

Catherine was stunned, as if she had been struck by lightning, and she erupted in a murderous rage.

She lifted the corner of her mouth and said it with a smile.

“My stepsister has arrived. May we come in and say hello?”

“A-Ah, yes…”

Henry nodded, his gaze still fixed on Olivia.

Catherine walked towards Olivia with a dark smile on her face.

(I won’t let you ruin my happiness. I’m the star of this party.)

Chapter 24: I Could Understand If It Had Been the Other Way Around

“Oneesama! Thank you so much for coming!”

(She’s here.)

Catherine approached Olivia with a deliberate smile, which made Olivia stiffen.

She could tell she wasn’t thinking clearly.

Elliot whispered.

“Is that your stepsister Catherine?”

“Yes.”

“Well… That wasn’t quite what I was expecting.”

Olivia fixed her gaze on Catherine.

Strawberry blonde curls and eye-catching dark makeup.

Her wedding dress has too much lace and artificial flowers, making it look like something a wealthy, fashionable older woman would wear.

(…Perhaps it’s the dress and makeup. She appears to be quite old. She used to be much more attractive.)

Catherine smiles mockingly, oblivious to the fact that she is being thought of in this manner.

She then smiled and extended her hand to Elliot, who was standing next to her.

“Welcome sir; my name is Catherine.”

Elliot’s mouth turns cold when he sees a hint of calculation and lust in her mocking green eyes.

He ignores the offered hand and bows formally and stiffly.

“It’s a pleasure to meet you. My name is Elliot—Congratulations on your wedding.”

Catherine’s complexion shifts quickly.

Olivia is taken aback by the response’s borderline rudeness.

Elliot averted his gaze from Catherine and whispered softly to Olivia.

“I heard that the gardens here are lovely. Let’s check them out before the ceremony starts.”

“Y-Yeah.”

When Elliott is angry, he can be frightening. Olivia thought for a moment and nodded her head.

And as she was being led to the door that leads to the garden.

Catherine threw a bomb at her, who was upset and red-faced.

“Onesama, please apologize to me!”

The audience fell silent as a hysterical scream echoed through the air.

“Please apologize to me and make amends for your sins!”

The participants are excited as they look at Catherine, who is screaming like a tragic heroine, as if saying, “Something interesting has begun.”

Olivia looks at Catherine in disgust, who pulls up the corners of her mouth in triumph.

(…does she understand what she’s doing?)

She not only ruins her wedding, but she also humiliates Henry’s father, Viscount Bergor, the host and lord. This is a ridiculous blunder.

Catherine’s father, who had taken over the store, dashed out the door.

“Catherine, today is a special day. We’ll talk about it later in the house.”

Olivia was relieved.

She despised Catherine, but this was a party with many irrelevant people. Nobody wants to cause a scene.

But it’s not going to be easy.

“No! I’m the star of the show today!”

Catherine, who was screaming like that, embraced Henry, who was standing dumbfounded.

“Henry-sama. My stepsister doesn’t want to. I’m so sad…”

Henry comes to his senses, and upon seeing Catherine’s tears, he yells loudly and decisively.

“Olivia owes Catherine an apology!”

“Henry-sama~”

Catherine’s eyes well up with tears as she wraps her arms around him and presses her breasts against his arms.

Olivia looked away.

She always thought Henry was a fool, but she had no idea it had gotten this far.

Elliot looks disgusted.

Henry took a commanding stance to protect Catherine and yelled angrily at Olivia.

“Olivia, apologize to Catherine!”

Elliot stepped forward to protect Olivia, his icy gaze fixed on Henry.

Sara, standing next to them, gave Henry an angry look.

“Excuse me. Apologize? What in the world did Olivia do?!?”

“O-Olivia stole Catherine’s designs and took credit for them!”

Henry screams frantically as the intensity of Elliott and Sarah pushes him over the edge.

(You leave me no choice.) Olivia quietly opens her mouth.

“Henry-sama. I don’t remember plagiarizing designs, as I stated many times two years ago.”

“Don’t lie to me!”

“I’m not lying. I swear to my late parents that I am telling the truth.”

Henry stutters as he hears the most solemn of oaths.

Olivia gives Catherine a cold stare.

“If you can design, why are the Carter’s Great Magic Tools Store such a mess? I saw it yesterday, and it looks abandoned.”

Those words sparked interest in the audience.

[I heard Carter’s Great Magic Tools Store had been closed for quite some time.]

[The necklace I ordered was also not very good because the shape was outdated.]

[Me too. I feel like the design has gone downhill from what it used to be.]

Catherine’s eyes swam as she tried desperately to persuade them.

“W-Wait, that’s it! I had no choice because the craftsmen had quit…”

Elliot stated in a cold tone.

“You may not be aware, but Olivia owns a store in the Royal Capital.”

“…Huh?”

“It’s a well-known magical stone jewelry store in the Royal Capital, frequented by fashionable young ladies. Of course, Olivia designed everything in the store.”

“No, you’re lying! My father said she works at a magic tool store called Gordon’s.”

When Catherine called the name “Gordon’s,” the crowd began to murmur again.

[Isn’t Gordon’s the largest magic tool store in the capital?]

[You must be excellent if you work there, right?]

[Is Olivia-san’s shop Olivia’s Magic Stone Jewelry Store? Wow! It’s a well-known store!]

When Catherine hears this, she loses her color.

Elliot shrugs his shoulders.

“You heard correctly. Why would Olivia steal your designs if she could open a store in the Royal Capital? If it were the other way around, I could understand.”

“I-I don’t know! I don’t know! I’ve really been robbed!”

Catherine screams hysterically, her face whiter than her dress.

After all this time, Henry notices that the people around him are staring at them coldly, and his eyes well up with dismay.

Catherine’s father wipes sweat from his brow with a pale face, and his wife is equally pale and wobbly.

Olivia sighs as she looks at the four of them, who appear to be on the verge of collapsing.

(…This is enough for me. I’m not interested in getting involved any longer.)

Olivia’s plagiarism allegations appear to have been resolved based on the reactions of those around her.

(That’s all for now.

Let’s just go outside, let things cool down, and return when the ceremony begins.)

When she was thinking about it,

“You’re making quite a racket.”

A deep male voice can be heard echoing.

Olivia turns to see a middle-aged man with a sly smile standing in front of her: Viscount Bergor, the town’s lord and Henry’s father.

Chapter 25: Viscount Bergor

“You’re making quite a racket.”

A deep male voice can be heard echoing.

Olivia turns to see a middle-aged man with a sly smile standing in front of her: Viscount Bergor, the town’s lord and Henry’s father.

“My lord!”

Viscount Bergor casts a scornful glance at Catherine’s father.

“From what you’ve just told us, doesn’t that suggest that Catherine was stealing Olivia’s designs?”

“N-No, Olivia stole them!”

Catherine’s father shook, struggling to keep his voice steady.

Viscount Bergor gave Olivia a cold stare.

“What are your thoughts, Olivia?”

“I didn’t steal it, and I don’t have to,” Olivia says, straightening her back.

Viscount Bergor nodded, touching his beard.

“I’ve been wondering the same thing for the past six months or so: why is the Carter’s Great Magic Tools Store the way it is? If Catherine stole the design, it makes sense.”

“No, it isn’t!”

Catherine screamed in frustration, and the Viscount gave her a cold stare.

“I can let you two draw the designs right here. Can you do that?”

“T-That’s…”

Henry looks incredulously at Catherine, who is blue-faced and silent.

The Viscount sighs deeply.

“I never imagined in my wildest dreams that you would plot against me, your lord, or Henry.”

Henry wants to say something, but is silenced by the Viscount’s stern, fearful expression.

The Viscount made a troubled expression.

“But then I cannot allow Henry and Catherine to marry, can I?”

“W-Why?!”

With astonishment on his face, Henry exclaims.

Viscount Bergor sighs.

“There are two ranks between Catherine and Henry, and Catherine’s design ability filled that gap. However, I cannot allow them to marry now that I know that was a lie.”

“N-No…!”

Catherine sits pale on the floor, and Henry’s eyes widen.

Viscount Bergor smiled smugly as he looked at Olivia.

“However, if Olivia created the design, then her marriage to Henry is not in question.”

He smiled at the audience and asked the question aloud.

“As you can see, the situation is as you see it, so let’s call this Olivia and Henry’s wedding, shall we?”

(…!)

Olivia looked at the Viscount in disbelief.

She knew it was strange.

She wondered why the Viscount would be so stupid as to call her.

(After seeing through Catherine’s lies, the Viscount summoned me here to force me to marry Henry-sama.)

The venue is quiet and still.

The audience is taken aback by the unexpected turn of events.

But when the servants started clapping their hands to show that they agreed, the number of people clapping slowly grew.

Her cousin Sara desperately tries to stop the applause.

Some people frown and do not clap.

But no one can loudly oppose Viscount Bergor’s will, who will be promoted to the rank of “Count” next year.

Or perhaps those who are capable of resisting are not called.

Olivia is taken aback when she realizes this.

(What on earth am I supposed to do?)

The applause becomes increasingly loud.

While Olivia was helpless as she stood there.

―That’s when.

“… Don’t worry.”

A deep, calm voice rang out from above.

She looks up to see Elliot, who has a strange smile on his face that she has never seen before.

He gently places his hand on Olivia’s surprised back as if to say, “It’s okay” and steps forward to shield her.

“Who are you?” The Viscount looks at him, puzzled.

The room is deafeningly quiet again as if something strange is happening.

And as the audience looks on,

Elliot smiles coldly at the Viscount and slowly opens his mouth.

“… It’s been a long time, Viscount Bergor, and it was a great sideshow.”

Chapter 26: Frerance

(Elliot…?)

When Elliot suddenly steps forward, Olivia is taken aback.

Elliot gives Olivia a slight smile before changing his expression and looking at Viscount Bergor with an emotionless smile.

“Viscount Bergor, it’s been a long time. I’m glad you haven’t changed.”

An elderly man dressed in a butler’s uniform shouted loudly with a blue streak in his voice.

“Know your place! You’re disrespectful!”

Elliot gave a cold smile to the butler.

“It seems the Bergor family doesn’t raise their servants well.”

He then removed his glasses.

“Excuse me. You would not recognize me with them.”

The Viscount’s brow furrows as he stares at Elliot’s face.

Then his face contorted in surprise.

“Y-You’re Elliot Frerance-sama!”

[Frerance?!]

[Are you referring to the Dukes of France?!]

The audience lets out a startled murmur.

Olivia’s eyes widened.

The Frerance family is one of the country’s four great dukes.

Even she, who is unfamiliar with the higher nobility, has heard of them.

“Please forgive me!”

The butler bows with a pale face.

Elliot smiled and spoke to Viscount Bergor, who froze in surprise.

“We haven’t seen each other since the party at the royal castle last year, have we?”

“Y-Yes, we have, sir. I apologize. I would have sent an escort if I had known you were coming.”

The Viscount smiles warmly and bows lower than Olivia has ever seen him bow.

Elliot waved his hand with grace, as if he didn’t mind.

“I’m here today as Olivia’s partner. So you don’t have to be concerned about that.”

Viscount Bergor’s face twitched in response to Elliot’s words.

“…I beg your pardon, but does Elliot-sama have a good relationship with Olivia?”

“Yes. Very good.”

Elliot’s handsome face is adorned with a lovely smile.

“Excuse me, but what is your relationship with…”

“You ask a lot of questions, you know… Don’t you see?”

Elliott’s large hands clasp Olivia’s befuddled waist in a protective grip.

As he looked at the Viscount, the corners of his mouth lifted, and his face contorted.

“By the way, it was a very entertaining sideshow. Trying to persuade your son to marry her again, whom he dumped after falsely accusing her of breaking off an engagement because she wasn’t useful—Very entertaining indeed.”

Viscount Bergor tries to speak up, but Elliot’s overwhelming aura of superiority prevents him.

He had complete command of the situation.

Elliot raised the corners of his mouth.

“Duke Justin would be upset if this were true and not a sideshow. After all, he is well-known for his devotion to his wife. In that case, the Bergors will almost certainly have to retain the title of [Viscount] for the time being.”

For a brief moment, the Viscount appears enraged.

But his face quickly returned to normal, and he began to laugh cheerfully.

“Hahaha. I’m glad you liked it. That, of course, was just a sideshow!”

“I see. That’s great. I thought I would lose my job as the bride’s maid escort. Do you believe it, do you?”

Elliot keeps his smile and his sharp gaze.

“Of course, yes.” Viscount Bergor nods and exclaims cheerfully.

“Gentlemen and ladies, I appreciate your patience. This discussion has concluded. We will now proceed with my son Henry’s wedding to Miss Catherine!”

The audience buzzed as if they were awake.

Time, which appeared to have stopped, began to move again.

Chapter 27: The Man Above the Clouds

“Thank you for your patience, ladies and gentlemen; the ceremony is about to begin; please proceed to the garden.”

When the butler’s voice is heard, the crowd begins to move as if they have just awoken from a dream.

Elliott looked worriedly into Olivia’s eyes.

“Are you okay?”

Olivia is able to nod.

“Let me explain later, please,” he says quietly, but she can’t think straight because of all that has happened.

She was aware that she had been saved.

She’s also aware that her uncle’s family and Viscount Bergor will not be able to harm her in the future.

So [Thank you for your help.]

Olivia knows she should say something, but the words won’t come out.

When Elliott sees Olivia stunned, he bites his lips lightly and makes a sad face.

He’s about to open his mouth to say something when,

“This way, Elliot-sama!”

Viscount Bergor enters with a big smile, and Elliot’s mouth is closed.

They are then led into the garden.

The wedding ceremony began in the church room built into the garden. 

The bride and groom arrive, Catherine with a lifeless white face and Henry distraught.

Her aunt and uncle, who are in the guardianship seat, are as pale as if they had been painted. 

The pastor, who has no idea what’s going on, performs the marriage rites.

While those in attendance look puzzled and curiously at Olivia and Elliot, who are sitting on the witness stand a little further away.

In the midst of it all,

Olivia does nothing but sit in her chair.

All she can think about is the incredible event that just occurred in front of her eyes.

(…Elliot is related to the Duke of Flarence?)

She struggles to move her paralyzed head. 

She didn’t realize that there was no such person as Elliott Dixx.

And that, for Olivia, a baronet’s daughter, Elliot was a man above her, someone she couldn’t even talk to, someone she wasn’t allowed to have feelings for.

(…)

She feels a sharp pain in her chest and presses it involuntarily.

It’s all she can do to maintain her expression.

Afterward

As witnesses, Olivia and Elliot sign the marriage certificate.

“It is a great pleasure for me to have Elliot-sama’s signature as a witness,” says Viscount Bellegarde, but Olivia can’t get it through her head.

The signing concludes the ceremony.

The participants are making their way to the main building’s dining room for dinner.

Olivia and Elliot are escorted to a special table in the dining room.

The most lavish meal is served, but it tastes like you’re eating sand.

She manages to keep her face composed, but her eyes seem to well up if she isn’t careful.

Elliot gives Olivia a concerned look.

“Are you okay, Olivia?”

“I’m fine,” Olivia says as brightly as she can.

“I’m just too surprised to think clearly right now.”

“Is that so?” Elliot asks, looking down painfully.

He tried to speak to her several times, but he was so preoccupied with the people who came to greet him that he didn’t have time to talk.

When the meal is finished, it’s time to leave.

Elliot was the first to rise, reaching out a hand to Olivia.

“Let’s go.” 

Olivia fixed her gaze on the extended hand.

It’s the big, warm hand that had shielded her.

But now she’s afraid she’ll cry if she touches it.

She shook her head and stood up herself.

“… I’m going to the restroom for a bit.” 

She didn’t really need to use the restroom, but she needed some alone time.

Elliot looked worried.

“Are you sure you want to go alone? Do you want me to accompany you?

“I’m fine,” Olivia says, pointing to the green door at the end of the open corridor.

“The restroom is through that green door over there.”

“Oh, it’s close, isn’t it?”

Elliot looks relieved. 

“Well, I’ll be back in a bit.”

“Yes—be careful.”

Olivia feels Elliot’s gaze on her back as she walks to the venue’s door.

The floor is hazy, and her balance is off, but she tries to appear normal.

also at the restroom entrance.

A maid stands at the door and says, 

“Your luggage, please.” 

She hands over her handbag, opens the door to the restroom, and walks in.

The moment she closed the door, she got a shock. 

Her body receives a jolt.

Then there was darkness.

“It was successful.”

“Take her with you.”

with men’s voices saying that

Olivia passed out.

Chapter 28: Unexpected Reunion

“…livia! Olivia-san! Please wake up!”

Olivia’s submerged consciousness gradually awakens to the distant sound of a man’s voice, a voice she has heard before.

(…That voice.)

She opens her eyes, stunned, to see a jagged stone ceiling.

(…What is this place?)

Olivia, staring blankly at the unknown ceiling, heard a relieved voice beside her.

“Thank goodness. I was surprised when you were brought in unconscious.”

She slowly turned her gaze to look at the voice. Then, she sprang to her feet with her eyes wide open.

“Jack!”

It was Jack, the former longtime Carter’s Great Magic Tools Store employee. He looked a little older than she remembered.

He was a magic tool maker who became ill while working tirelessly to protect Olivia two and a half years ago.

One day, he suddenly stopped coming to the store, and her uncle informed her that he had “fallen ill and had to return to the countryside.”

(Why is Jack here? Where am I?)

She looked around, perplexed, and discovered herself in a large room.

It appears to be a magic tool workshop or something based on the large workbench and the numerous items commonly used by magic tool makers.

Other furnishings include a table, a chest of drawers, and a sofa on which to sit, and it appears that people live in the room.

(… What’s going on? Where am I?)

Jack looked worriedly at Olivia, who had her head in her hands.

“… I’m not sure what happened, but you were brought here about ten minutes ago. I looked at your face, and it was Olivia-san, and I was shocked. And her hands were bleeding…”

Olivia examines her hand and notices a white cloth wrapped around the back of it.

She remembered more and more as she thanked Jack for his assistance.

(That’s right! I walked into the restroom and was immediately hit in the back…!)

She turned blue when she realized she had given the maid her handbag, which held the defensive magic tool, without realizing it.

(This is obviously a kidnapping.)

Exasperated, she inquired.

“Jack, where are we?”

Jack looked down at the ground as if he didn’t want to say anything.

“…This is my, uh, confinement facility.”

“…Confinement?”

Olivia repeats the unbelievable response.

Jack’s face contorts in pain.

“I was held captive here for a long time, with my family as hostages.”

“…!”

Olivia exclaimed, her eyes wide open.

Her blood began to freeze all over her body, and her heart palpitations became more severe.

She forced her dry lips to move and inquired.

“S-Since how long?”

“…Two and a half years ago.”

(That is, two and a half years since he stopped coming to the store!)

Then it struck Olivia.

Perhaps her uncle knew where she was because he had read the letter she had sent to Jack without her knowledge.

“W-Wait, how did that happen?”

“That’s…”

Jack appears distressed and is about to explain himself when…

There was a loud noise outside.

(Someone is approaching!)

Olivia tenses.

The door opened with a creak.

There stood Viscount Bergor, with a grim countenance, and her uncle with a blank expression.

(…! Are you saying those two are in on it?)

Viscount Bergor stormed into the room and gave Olivia a cold stare as if he despised her.

“Hmph. Little b*tch… You’ve given me a lot of trouble. Of all people to be so friendly with the Flarence’s son. That’s not what you said!”

The Viscount yells at him:

“I’m sorry!” Her uncle bowed his head.

He crawled to his feet and then stared at Olivia.

“It’s all your fault! You went to the Royal Capital all by yourself!”

Olivia bit her lower lip.

“… Wasn’t it my uncle who fired me and kicked me out?”

“S-Shut up!”

Viscount Bergor kicked her uncle in the face.

“Stop talking! Move out of my way!”

“…!”

Her uncle is back on the floor, shaking and trembling, clutching the side where he was kicked again.

The Viscount looks down at him stupidly and turns to Jack, standing in front of Olivia, protecting her.

“You go into the next room.”

“B-But…”

“She’s a well-known magic tool maker. So, I won’t be rough with her. But I’ll take her somewhere else if you don’t leave.”

Jack glares at the Viscount in frustration.

He whispers to Olivia, “Shout out if anything happens,” and disappears behind a door at the back of the room.

The Viscount sighed and looked at Olivia, his eyes clouded.

“Olivia. You will begin working here today.”

“…What?”

The Viscount’s mouth twists as Olivia blinks, not understanding what he’s saying.

“The plot is as follows. You sneak out of the wedding hall by yourself, leave town, and disappear—we can’t find you no matter how hard we look, and you’re declared dead three years later.”

Like a blow to the head, a shock ran through Olivia’s body.

(Don’t tell me he’s going to fake my death?!)

She insisted desperately.

“Please let me go! I have a store!”

“Hmph. You had it coming. It’s your fault for seducing House Flarence’s son.”

“Huh?! I didn’t seduce him…”

Olivia looks annoyed, and the Viscount shrugs.

“Well, a duke’s son would never take a countryside baronet’s daughter seriously. I’m sure he’s just having fun.”

Olivia fell silent.

(No, he’s not that kind of person…)

But she can’t say anything because of the difference in status.

The Viscount looks down at her and mockingly smiles at her.

“Well, you’re going to have to work hard from now on,” he says as he walks away.

―That’s when.

“We’ve got a problem!”

A pale-faced butler burst into the room, followed by the sound of hard shoes running down a stone corridor.

Viscount Bergor frowned. “What’s all the racket?!”

The butler screamed and gasped.

“Knights! The knights are on their way!”

The Viscount was taken aback.

“What do you mean!”

“I also don’t understand. They just show up out of nowhere and claim to be aware of the illegal production of… Gghh.”

In the middle of his speech, the butler groans and collapses.

A person is standing next to the collapsed butler.

Olivia raises her head in surprise.

Elliot stood there, sword in hand, a cold, deadly expression on his handsome face.

“…I have found you, at last, Viscount Bergor. You made a fool of me, didn’t you.?”

Chapter 29: Thank You Very Much for Your Cooperation

(Elliot…? Why is he here?) 

Olivia’s eyes widen unintentionally, and Viscount Bergor’s face contorts in surprise.

Elliot appears to be relieved to see Olivia.

He enters the room without looking at Olivia’s uncle, who is crawling on the floor, and he looks down at the Viscount with a blank face.

“You’ve made a fool of me. I knew you were a dangerous man of means, but I didn’t expect you to go this far.”

“T-This isn’t what it appears to be! This woman is free to do whatever she wants…”

The Viscount steps back, muttering incomprehensible excuses.

Elliot steps forward with a blank expression and pauses to examine the white cloth wrapped around Olivia’s hand.

He inquires coldly.

“…May I ask what you have done with her?” 

“… !”

“I ask you, what have you done to her?!”

The Viscount shivers in the face of the icy stare.

He leans against the wall.

Olivia feels like he might stab his sword at him, so she quickly clasps Elliot around the waist. 

“It’s all right! I’m perfectly fine!”

As if regaining his composure, Elliot steps back from the Viscount.

Before he puts his sword back in its sheath at his waist and takes off his coat, he talks with the knights, who rush in with loud footsteps.

“Olivia, here.”

He wrapped her completely in the jacket he had removed and carefully sat her in the chair in the corner of the room.

He knelt in front of her and looked her in the eyes with concern.

“Let me see your hand.” 

Elliot carefully takes the white cloth wrapped around her hand, examines the abrasions on it, and asks in a concerned tone.

“…Is there anything else hurting?”

“N-No, I don’t think so.” 

Elliot smiled and gently hugged Olivia.

“I’m glad… I’m really sorry for the pain you’ve been through.”

Wrapped in Elliot’s warmth, Olivia realizes she is finally saved. 

The knights hold her uncle, who is crawling trembling on the floor, and Viscount Bergor, who is sitting against the wall..

They also save Jack, who is in the adjacent room.

One of the knights approaches Elliot, salutes him, and declares loudly.

“We’ve got everyone in the house! We’re also sending people to the main residence!”

“Yes, I understand.”

Elliot sighed and whispered something into Olivia’s ear.

“I’d like to stay with you, but my job prevents me from doing so. I’ll apologize once more when I return to the hotel. Then, I’ll explain everything.”

Olivia nodded in confusion. 

Elliot turned to face the knights.

“Anybody.”

“Ha! Sir!”

A young man of knightly stature stepped forward.

“Give her treatment. Then, take her to the hotel after that. The Rose Hotel, just south of the city center. Send her off with great courtesy.”

“Yes, sir!” 

The knight smiled at Olivia as he saluted Elliot cheerfully.

“Now, miss! Come this way!”

“…Yes.”

A worried-looking Elliot saw her off, and Olivia left the room.

As she follows the knight down the corridor, she notices a group of pale-faced servants chained up against the wall.

She frowned in bewilderment.

She has no idea what’s going on here. 

(What exactly is going on?)

Despite her reservations, she has the wounds on her hands healed with a magical healing tool that appears to be of the Order and climbs into the carriage provided for her by the knight.

There are men in knight’s uniforms and the Viscount’s men tied up outside the carriage window.

(Does this mean that everyone in the house has been apprehended?)

For a brief moment, she suspected it had something to do with the fact that she had been kidnapped.

But it’s difficult to imagine a single person being kidnapped being such a big deal.

(Do you mean there was another big thing going on…?)

The carriage had just left the house and was on its way downtown.

The knight, diagonally across from the perplexed Olivia, opens his mouth and smiles.

“Thank you so much for your cooperation!” 

“…. Huh?”

(Cooperation?)

Olivia is perplexed by the knight’s words.

The knight began to speak with a smile, paying no attention to her.

“That was an outstanding performance along with the Deputy Knight Commander!”

“Deputy Knight Commander?”

Olivia cocked her head at the strange word, to which the knight smiled.

“It’s Elliot Freelance-sama! I’ve been a knight for four years and I’ve never witnessed a more brilliant operation!”

(… Elliot is a knight?) 

That’s why he and Nikka got along so well. While Olivia is silent, the knight is cheerfully blabbering on.

“Well, Viscount Bergor is very cunning indeed. The Order has been having a hard time keeping track of him. And now this wedding! We are extremely grateful that you have become bait!”

Olivia’s brow furrowed in response to those incomprehensible words.

“…Bait?”

“Yes—Not only did you attend with Elliot-sama at the wedding, but you were also captured and taken to the enemy’s stronghold, which not everyone can do! You are the definition of bait! It was fantastic!”

Like a blow to the head, a strong shock shot through Olivia’s entire body.

Her heart is pounding as if it’s broken.

(…Do you mean he used me as bait?)

The knight laughed and went on.

“How typical of Elliot-sama to solve the problem so well! That’s right. You’ll be rewarded for being bait, so consider what you’d like.”

Olivia gripped her chest tightly.

The words pierced her weakened heart like a knife.

“Are you okay? You don’t look so good.”

He is asked, but she can only nod in shock. 

The carriage soon arrives at the hotel.

She was able to thank the knight, get the keys from the front desk, and stagger up the stairs.

When she walked into the room, she collapsed against the door.

(… What did he just say…)

The knight’s “Thank you for your cooperation” and “You are the definition of a bait!” run round and round in her head.

(This cannot be. He’s not the type of person to do something like that. Right…?)

What comes to mind, however, are the various doubts and suspicions she has been harboring in the back of her mind.

[This morning, he was talking with a man outside, whom I did not know, but I think it was a meeting about this case.]

[I was wondering why he was accompanying me to Daregas this time, but I think it was to take advantage of this opportunity.]

[I thought it was an extraordinary coincidence that I became friends with someone I had just met at Daregas station, but I guess it was not a coincidence but a way to get closer to Viscount Bergor.]

(N-No. He’s not that type of guy!)

Nevertheless, the knight said, “We’re very grateful that you’ve become a bait!”

In addition, the words of the Viscount, “A duke’s son would never take a countryside baronet’s daughter seriously. I’m sure he’s just having fun..”

And the fact that she was lied to about his status and profession for two years bothers her and makes him unbelievable.

Olivia’s hands cover her face in confusion and sadness.

She has seen far too many events today.

Viscount Bergor, Jack, Elliot, and her in-laws

Her mind is in shambles right now.

Elliot promised to tell her everything and that she should wait for him at the hotel.

There could be a reason for this.

But she lacks the strength to accept it right now.

No matter what he says, she’ll cry out loud.

She might burst into tears the moment she sees him.

(… I have to go home.)

Olivia takes a shaky step forward.

(I can’t do it any longer. My heart can no longer take it.)

Afterward

She packs her belongings and leaves without waiting for Elliot.

“I’m sorry. I’m going to go ahead—Thank you so much for the hospitality,” and left his jacket and the ring and ran back to the Royal Capital.

Chapter 30: How It Came About

A full day following her return to the Royal Capital.

Olivia was lying in bed.

She had initially planned to take the day off and was so tired.

However, she didn’t sleep well the whole time but had nightmares that she couldn’t tell if they were real or a dream, and she kept jumping out of bed in a sweat, only to fall back into bed.

The second day following her return home.

When Olivia finally got up, she was visited by a uniformed man who looked like a civil servant.

He wanted to know what had happened at Daregas.

It was painful to recall, but she felt obligated to accompany him to the Knights’ building.

She was taken to a reception area where she was questioned by two men dressed as civil servants.

・The engagement to Henry.

・When her uncle took over the business.

・about the aristocratic work her uncle brought.

・About Viscount Bergor.

Olivia answers without hesitation, though she occasionally frowns.

And after the question has been answered.

Olivia inquired, “What happened at Daregas?”

The two officers exchanged nodding glances.

“You, too, are a victim, so I’d like to give you an idea of what’s going on; please don’t tell anyone.”

“Yes,” Olivia said with a nod, and one of the officers spoke up.

“Have you heard about the banknote counterfeiting that’s been going on for a few years?”

When asked about it, she recalled.

(I believe I heard about it at the bank before arriving at the Royal Capital.)

“Yes—I heard about it.”

“Thank you for informing me so quickly; Viscount Bergor was the prime suspect in the case.”

“…What?!”

Olivia’s eyes widened in response to the unexpected mention.

According to the officer, the Viscount smuggled counterfeiting technology from another country and had his captive Jack forge them.

“And you said earlier that Baronet Carter had instructed Jack-san to make [dog collars for the nobility].”

“Yes.”

“Count Bergor was involved in several illegal activities—They were slave collars used in the slave trade, and when Jack-san discovered this and protested, he was kidnapped and imprisoned.”

She was taken aback by the story’s absurdity, but then she had an epiphany.

“…Could it also be related to my uncle’s easy takeover of Carter’s Great Magic Tools Store?”

“Yes. It appears that the Viscount is also involved in this. In the first place, it is illegal for an uncle to rewrite and take his niece’s property. It is impossible without the participation of a powerful local noble.

Olivia recalls how often Jack was turned away when attempting to protest at the town hall.

It occurred to her that the Viscount must have been involved.

The official continued.

“You needed a good magic tool maker to commit crimes, but neither you nor your father would accept a commission of dubious origin, so they turned to your uncle, who seemed easy to use and was also in great financial trouble, so he accepted the job immediately.”

“…So that’s exactly what happened.”

“Yes, at first, he intended to use a trusted, well-established magic tool store as a front for counterfeiting and illegal manufacture, but that became unnecessary when they imprisoned and forced Jack-san, a competent magic tool maker, to work for them.”

According to the official, her uncle and his wife are also being investigated for their involvement in the illegal act.

Catherine is reportedly being held under house arrest as a key witness.

The story then comes to an end.

Olivia is escorted away by the officers and enters the carriage alone, curling up in her seat with her head in her hands.

(… I don’t know what’s going on anymore.)

She can’t keep up with everything that’s going on.

She never imagined that she, a person who leads a normal and serious life, would be caught up in such a major incident.

She can’t sort out her feelings and thoughts.

(Normally, I’d speak with Sally or Lottie.)

She wished they would listen to her, but she was unsure.

(I think it’s a well-kept secret that Elliot is descended from the Duke of Frerance.)

Nikka, a member of the Order, may know, but Sally and Lottie don’t, based on what they’ve said and done thus far.

(I don’t think talking to them is a good idea if they don’t know what’s going on.)

Olivia sighs, gazing out the carriage window at the city.

Looking out at the city as the sun sets reminds her of Elliott.

(…I must have liked Elliot a lot to miss him even in these circumstances.)

She sighed several times.

She then returned to the store.

“I’ll tell Lottie I’m back, just in case,” she says as she opens the door to find a worried-looking Sally in front of her.

“Thank God, Olivia! You’re safe!”

Olivia’s eyes widened as she saw Sally’s relieved expression.

(How did she know?)

Lottie responded to her question.

“I noticed you getting into the carriage outside the store and informed Sally-sama.”

Olivia chuckled. (She’s as competent as ever.)

Sally’s eyes widened when she noticed Olivia’s pallid skin.

“What’s wrong with you, Olivia? You look so pale!”

“Well, there’s been a lot going on,” Olivia says as she looks down.

Sally’s eyes became solemn.

“Please explain what happened.”

***

They shut the store down and went to the back workroom.

Olivia stood there watching as Lottie brewed a cup of tea and began to tell her story.

She wasn’t sure whether she should speak up or not, but she couldn’t keep it to herself and needed someone to hear her out.

So what she talked about is…

・At the wedding, she was almost forced to marry her ex-fiancé, Henry.

・And when she refused, Olivia was kidnapped and rescued by Elliot and the knights.

・The knight who sent it to her said: “Thank you very much for being the bait.”

・that she was shocked by the knight’s words and left Elliot behind.

As for the part where Elliot’s identification as a member of the Dukes of France and the matter that the official has just told her not to discuss, she blurts out, “I can’t tell you because of the nature of the case.”

Sally’s brow furrows and Lottie listens silently as she places the tea on the table.

And when she’s finished speaking.

“Oh my God,” Sally exclaimed, clutching Olivia’s hand with a pained expression.

“I know it must have been difficult for you, Olivia, and I’m so sorry for what you’ve gone through; I’m crying just listening to you.”

Then, with an angry expression, she slammed the table.

“And that Elliot guy! He’s a jerk!”

Lottie also grimaced as she nodded beside the enraged Sally.

“I’ve never heard such a horrific story; I’m glad you’re okay.”

Olivia’s eyes welled up with tears.

She can feel her heart beginning to heal.

Afterward, Olivia discusses the wedding and other topics.

The two are paying close attention.

Finally, after everything has been said and done, Lottie, who had been quiet as if thinking, finally speaks up.

“…However, it’s strange that Elliot-sama, who is so [extremely] protective of Olivia-sama, is using Olivia-sama as bait.”

Olivia nods, still in disbelief.

She, too, could not believe it.

Sally mumbled.

“Indeed, the more I hear about it, the stranger it sounds. I’ve heard Nikka mention bait operations a few times, but the bait is supposed to be played by a female knight in disguise, and I doubt they’d use an amateur like Olivia as bait.”

“That’s true; she needs to be able to defend herself to some extent, or she won’t be able to escape in an emergency.”

“That’s true, and I also believed that using Olivia as bait was not Elliot’s style.”

Olivia’s eyes were sad.

(When you think about it calmly, they’re right: things are definitely strange.)

Olivia has always been there for Elliot over the last two years.

He cheered her up when she was down and assisted her when she needed it. There were no lies or calculations involved.

He concealed his identity and profession, but everything else was genuine.

(Because of all the shocks, I wasn’t calm; I should have asked him directly.)

Olivia takes a deep breath.

(But, I’m honestly afraid to talk to him.)

She would have been shocked beyond comprehension if she had been truly used as bait.

(However, I’m sure there are many things you don’t understand unless you ask.)

She looked gratefully at the two worried faces.

“I thank you; now that you’ve listened to me, I’m a little calmer; I’m a little scared, but I’ll ask Elliot directly when he returns.”

“Right, I think that’s a good idea; I’ll ask Nikka as well.”

“Mm-hmm.” Lottie nods.

Afterwards

The three close the store and go out at Sally and Lottie’s suggestion.

They’re going on a girls’ night out to a fancy restaurant nearby.

They talked until late at night.

Chapter 31: The Chasing Game

“Oh my goodness, Elliot! What was he thinking? He hasn’t shown up in over a month!”

in the pretty pink-walled office at the back of Sally’s Bridal Boutique.

Sally was enraged and red in the face.

“If Nikka were here, I’d grab his neck and drag him along, but he’s on a mission right now!”

Olivia gives a wry smile in response to Sally’s momentum.

He did say to wait, but a month seems excessive.

***

A few days after Olivia’s return to the Royal Capital. 

Elliot’s letter arrived.

In the letter, written in careful handwriting, he says he’s sorry for not protecting her at the wedding, scaring her, and hiding who he is and what he does.

Concerning his status and occupation, he stated, “I can’t write in detail,” and then wrote that he was forced to work two jobs due to his family’s policy.

The previous sentence concluded with the words,

――――

The case has spread faster than we anticipated, and my position makes it difficult for me to leave Daregas for a few more days.

I also have some things to do when I return. 

I will definitely visit you when they are finished, so could you please wait a little longer?

I sincerely apologize.

Elliot

――――

Olivia felt relieved after reading this letter.

Elliot wasn’t trying to deceive her.

A common misconception is that one can only have one status, but a duke can have two.

Then it’s no lie that he was a merchant of the Dixx Trading Company and that the “martial family” he told her about in the railroad car were the Dukes of Florence. 

(Maybe he was telling me a last-minute story.)

What she doesn’t get is the knight’s remark [thank you for your role as bait].

What was the point of that?

After some hesitation, she quietly asked Nikka, who seemed to know what was going on, and he replied, 

“It’s impossible for the Order’s reputation to have Olivia as bait. That knight is full of horsesh*t.” 

He said this bitterly.

She inquired as to why Elliot was in Daregas two years ago.

“I’m not sure why, but I believe it was because Daregas was the location of the first counterfeit bill case.”

Viscount Bergor appears to have only recently emerged as a suspect in the case.

Olivia is relieved by her suspicions that “He made himself a friend to have a connection with the Viscount.” is just her imagination. 

(In the meantime, let’s hear directly from Elliot. From the letter’s contents, I’d say he’ll be here in a week or two.)

However, he did not appear for two or three weeks. He did, however, send Olivia some delicious sweets, which she thoroughly enjoyed.

Finally, after about a month.

Sally asked, “What happened?” and replied, “I haven’t seen him yet.”

She raised her eyes and said, “What the hell is he thinking?!”

***

Afterward

Soothing Sally’s rage,

“When he gets back, let him buy you something expensive!”

“I’ll think about it.” 

Olivia leaves Sally’s store. 

She stretches and takes in the sights of the city.

The sun is already shining far away, casting long, slanted reflections of shadowy figures on the cobblestones.

She mumbles softly as she walks on, staring blankly at the shadowy figure.

“…Elliot, I’m curious what he’s up to now.”

From the letter and Nikka’s story, she knew that Elliot had been faithful to her. 

She realized he couldn’t reveal his true identity to anyone.

She wonders if it has anything to do with the fact that he hasn’t arrived yet.

(…But the question is, what do I do now?)

Olivia still liked hhim,even when she learned about her status difference with Elliot.

(He’s good-natured, kind, and reliable. And he helps me like that. So how can I not like him?)

However, the difference between the ranks of dukes and baronets is five levels.

In fairy tales, it is common for royalty to fall in love with and marry a commoner’s daughter.

But that’s just a fairy tale. 

In reality, the maximum difference permitted is two ranks.

A difference of three or more levels is considered insane.

You will be called a “fool,” and you will face strong opposition from those around you.

In other words, Olivia and Elliot had little chance of ever being together, no matter how much they loved each other.

(Perhaps this is why Elliot used the word [friend] before.)

She doesn’t know why Elliot has recently attempted to break through the friendship barrier.

But he’s the type of guy who never does anything illogical.

After much deliberation, he may have concluded that protecting Olivia with only a friend status, in this case of Viscount Bergor would be difficult.

Now that the case has been resolved, what will happen to their relationship now that they’ve crossed the line?

It would be best if they could continue as “friends” as before. 

All the better if things could be restored to their previous state.

(…but it’s impossible, isn’t it?)

Olivia laughs as she strolls through the city at dusk.

(If I like him this much, I’m not sure I can treat him as a friend, and Elliot probably feels the same way.)

And if they stay together, Olivia, who is just the daughter of a baronet, will be a burden to Elliot.

Bringing the man she loves down.

That is something she does not want to happen.

(… and I can’t quit being a magic tool maker.)

She enjoys her job as a magic tool maker, and she has a store that she was able to open with the help of many people.

She enjoys both making customers happy and designing.

She considers it her responsibility to carry on her father’s knowledge and magic tool-making skills.

(…Perhaps it’s best if we don’t see each other anymore…)

Olivia slumps her shoulders. 

(Then again, I think we should meet at least once so I can listen to him and thank him. But it’s probably best if we don’t see each other again after that…)

It hurts her to consider leaving, but it’s better than dragging him down with her.

She can’t help but like him now, but she’s confident she’ll be able to forget him after a few years of work.

(Sigh. I can’t believe I will have to make an effort to forget about it as soon as I realize how I feel.)

Olivia staggers back into the store with a heavy heart, checks the mailbox in front of the store, realizes there is no delivery from Elliot, and sighs.

Then open the door and go in,

“…!”

She gasps. 

She saw the back of a tall young man talking to Lottie. 

Elliot, the young man, notices the door is open and slowly turns around.

His golden hair, which has been slightly lengthened, swings slightly.

He looks at Olivia standing in the doorway and smiles happily. 

“Olivia!”

Olivia’s blood rushed to her head as she saw the purple eyes behind the silver-rimmed glasses narrow sweetly.

Her eyes widened as she backed away involuntarily.

(What should I do? I’m so embarrassed!)

She was both embarrassed to be seen and embarrassed about herself.

Finally, she can’t take it any longer.

“Lottie, stop Elliot!” 

She yells and dashes out of the store like a rabbit.

Coming from behind her, “O-Olivia?! Let me go, Lottie!” and “No, you’ll be staying for a while.” 

Olivia is unconcerned and runs through the crowd in the evening.

She is worried inside. 

(… Oh, God. What am I doing?!)

The moment she saw Elliot, she was embarrassed beyond reason.

He was so cool to her, partly because he was wearing silver-rimmed glasses instead of the usual green ones, and she thought she would die of a heart attack when he called her name.

And the next thing she knows, she’s fleeing.

(He must have been surprised. I did something wrong…)

Olivia reflects deeply.

(But I can’t do it—if I see him like this, I’ll not only forget him, but I’ll never forget him.)

It’s preferable to wait until things settle down a little.

She pondered.

(It’ll be better to see him when I’m not so in love. So when I get home, I’ll write him a letter. I’m a little sorry, but he hasn’t shown up in a month. So I suppose it makes both of us responsible. But first, I need to figure out how to thank him.)

Olivia pauses, breathing on her shoulder as she makes her decision.

She then looked up and blinked at the cityscape in front of her.

(W-Wait, where am I?)

She finds herself in an unfamiliar location.

When she looked to the side, she noticed a large canal running through the city’s south side, which was illuminated by the setting sun.

(I was so absorbed in running that I came all the way here.)

She walks slowly and looks at the canal. 

The canal is tranquil at dusk, with an occasional breeze that causes the river’s surface to wrinkle finely.

Large street lamps have been placed at regular intervals along the riverside path, which has already begun to glow.

(It’s a nostalgic sight.) 

As if drawn in, she descends the steps to the canal-side walkway.

And she begins to walk to one of the benches to rest when…

“Olivia!”

A familiar voice can be heard echoing through the air.

In a panic, she turned to see Elliot standing at the top of the stairs, breathing heavily.

Chapter 32: By the Canal

She descends the steps to the canal-side walkway as if drawn in.

And she begins to walk to one of the benches to rest when

“Olivia!”

A familiar voice can be heard echoing through the air.

In a panic, she turned to see Elliot standing at the top of the stairs, breathing heavily.

(…. !)

Olivia tries to flee instinctively.

“Wait a minute!”

Elliot sounds desperate.

“I’m sorry for chasing you; I should probably come back, but I had a feeling I wouldn’t see you again if I didn’t talk to you today.”

(Good intuition.) Olivia looked away as she began to run.

That’s precisely what she was about to do.

“I’m sorry you’ve had to wait so long, and I know it’s not fair for you. But please, listen to me!” “

She looks into Elliot’s clinging eyes and sighs, “It’s not fair to be cool at a time like this.”

She really wants to give herself more time to think things through.

But she doesn’t think it’s appropriate to reject him right now.

(We’ve come this far; let’s make up our minds.)

“…Okay.”

“Thank you.”

Elliot approaches and descends the stairs slowly.

Olivia turns her head and exhales to release the tension.

Then, ready to face the situation, she looks up at Elliot standing in front of her.

“Eh!” Her mouth opened wide.

“What’s wrong with you, Elliot? You’re covered in bruises!”

On his eyes, there is a large bruise.

When you look more closely, you can see that he has another bruise on the side of his face and many minor bruises.

The same can be seen on his arms and hands through the rolled-up sleeves, and his right arm is even bandaged.

“… Although this is still quite obvious, many things have happened…”

Elliot casts an awkward glance away.

“Let’s sit down for now,” he says to a stunned Olivia, and after a brief pause, she sits.

He bowed his head and turned his body towards Olivia.

“First and foremost, please accept my apologies for scaring you at Daregas.”

“…I’m also sorry for not thanking you for saving my life,” Olivia bows her head as well.

“How much do you know about what happened?”

“I’ve heard the majority of it from civilian officials. And Elliot went into great detail about it in his letter, and I believe I understand what happened.

―um, more importantly, why are you covered in bruises? What happened to you? Does it have something to do with why you’re late? “

Under Olivia’s concerned gaze, Elliot looks embarrassed and mutters,

“Should we start with this?”

He opened his mouth slowly, looking out over the canal at dusk in front of him.

“…When I returned from Daregas, I returned to the Frerance household. I told my family that I would court Baronet Olivia Carter.”

“….!”

Olivia’s eyes widened as she heard the unexpected words.

(…? Courtship?! He told his family?!)

“As I said, the Frerances are a martial family, and my father said, [if you want to carry out your will, you must first beat me!] and so we fought.”

“Did you fight?”

“Yes—I fought and eventually defeated my father—He’s a skilled fighter, but he can’t seem to beat the passage of time.”

Olivia, who is at a loss for words, only nods, “I-I see.”

“Yes. But then my eldest brother appeared. [You must defeat me, the next duke, or you will not be recognized]… I don’t think he was opposed to it; I think he simply wanted to fight me.”

“…. Huh.”

“However, unlike my father, he’s stronger and slightly better with a sword than me; after five days, I still couldn’t defeat him, so I used my last option.”

“What is the last option?”

“Yes. I abandoned my defense and went all-in on offense. I won as a result, but my face swelled up. I couldn’t come here with that face, so I spent the next few days trying to keep my face cool.”

Elliot rubs his bruised cheek.

Olivia was surprised.

Wounds can only be healed magically a few times per month at most.

Perhaps his other injuries were severe enough that magic couldn’t penetrate the surface bruises and wounds, forcing him to heal naturally.

“…That explains why it took so long.”

“I apologize for the delay, but I felt it would be irresponsible if I didn’t come to you with closure.”

Elliot exhales, and a cool spring breeze gently ruffles his blond hair.

Then, with a determined expression on his face, he kneels in front of Olivia on the bench and looks her in the eyes.

“Olivia, I’ve always loved you; will you please stay with me?”

Olivia gasped.

The sound disappears as if there are only two people in the world.

She feels a shattering joy.

But then she looks sadly down at the ground.

“…But I’m the daughter of a baronet, so I’m going to drag you down and make life difficult for you.”

Elliot smiled.

“You know, life is a struggle.”

“But…”

“And if anyone says anything, I’ll silence them; I can’t fight them as I did last, but there are other options.”

“…But I’m a magic tool maker, so I can’t be a noblewoman…”

Elliot smiled at Olivia, who was looking painfully at the ground.

“Of course, I’m aware of that; I’ve always admired your commitment and hard work.”

Elliot takes her small, downcast hand, in his gently.

When Olivia looks up, she is captivated by his eager eyes.

“I love you for being a magic tool maker, the manager of Olivia’s Magic Stone jewelry store, and the daughter of a baronet, so let me protect you and everything you cherish.”

Like the straightest amethyst, his eyes are a powerful inspiration to Olivia.

Feeling warmth welling up in her chest, she smiled, her moist eyes narrowing.

“I have no sense of direction, and I get lost just as easily as I did today.”

“I know.”

“…I eat a lot, you know?”

“Yes—That’s what I like about you.”

Elliot smiles softly and affectionately kisses Olivia’s hand.

Olivia met those kind purple eyes.

(I want to be with this person. I want to accept everything about him.)

At that moment, a cold wind blows between them.

Olivia’s hair is blowing in the breeze.

As if in a panic, Elliot jumped to his feet.

“It’s not good to be cold, so let’s go back.”

Olivia nods and rises.

Following a brief pause, she mumbles in a low voice, her ears turning red.

“I don’t know what to say at this point—I want to stay with you, too.”

“…”

Elliot is overcome with emotion and pulls Olivia into his arms, embracing her tightly.

Olivia places a gentle hand on his back.

In the pale purple sky, the stars begin to twinkle.

In the distance, the sound of bells in the wind tells the time.

The canal was silently flowing as if it was watching over the two embracings.

Afterwards

Viscount Bergor, his associates, and his uncle’s family were tried.

The Bergor family has been annihilated.

The accused viscount and his uncle received life sentences.

Her aunt, Henry, and Catherine were all transferred to a frontier settlement.

The knight who said to Olivia, “Thank you for playing bait.”

“There was talk of entrapment against the Viscounts of Bergor, so I figured they could have used her.”

He stated this.

He acted the entire time as if he had no idea what was wrong.

“Even though he could have helped, protected, and led others, he hurt them by spreading lies based on his own assumptions.”

“He lacks the moral fortitude of a knight and is unworthy of character.”

He was suspended, fined, and demoted, and he had to start over as a member of the Guard, a group of subordinate knights.

Olivia and Elliot also paid a visit to the Frerances.

while being thrown about by the abrupt start of another duel.

For the time being, Elliot has agreed to take over the Viscountcy of the Frerance family.

Olivia was given a higher title after she was knighted for her achievements as a magic tool maker.

Chapter 33: Epilogue

Several months after the Daregas fiasco,

The sky is clear and bright blue in spring, and hazy clouds float above.

The town of Daregas is in full bloom with colorful flowers.

Olivia, dressed in blue, and Elliot, dressed in gray, stand outside Carter’s Great Magic Tools.

“Have they returned?”

Elliot smiled as he looked into the blue eyes staring back at him.

“Yes—Without a doubt. This store is entirely yours.”

As Olivia looks up at the store, her eyes widen.

(Oh. It has returned.)

Olivia’s house and the Carter’s Great Magic Tools store have been returned to her as the wrongfully taken property.

“Come on”. Elliot urged her.

Olivia inserted the key into the lock with trepidation.

She hears a familiar click and slowly opens the door.

Her eyes widen as she looks around the dimly lit store.

“Well, it’s lovely!”

“Even if it was only for research purposes, the knights trampled on it. So I requested that someone clean it up for you.”

It’s a far cry from the dusty, run-down shop they last saw.

To keep dust at bay, the floors have been meticulously swept, and the furniture has been draped in white clothes.

Through the curtains, polished glass shines.

Seeing Olivia, who looks very moved, Elliot says softly,

“I’m going to go outside for a bit.”

“Yes—Thank you very much.”

Olivia expresses gratitude to Elliot for leaving her alone.

She walks into the store and takes a gentle sniff of the air.

(Ah. I can smell the antique wood. You’ve returned.)

With blurred vision, she opens the curtains and windows to let in the warm sunshine and a spring-scented breeze.

Olivia turns one of the white pieces of fabric beside her as she listens to the cheerful chirping of birds outside.

(This is the design desk. When my father was designing magic tools, he used to sit on it.)

(This enchanted stone box. I used to put the magical stones in here and let the customers choose.)

(All of these lamps suspended from the ceiling…)

Olivia looks around the store, flipping through the fabric, looking up and down, holding back the tears of nostalgia.

Elliot comes back from outside, watching her with narrowed eyes.

And after she’s finished browsing the store,

Elliot inquires.

“What are your plans for the store, Olivia?”

“Well.” Olivia lowers her head, as if she’s thinking.

“First and foremost, I’m considering opening once a month for a few days. Then, I’ll bring some magical stone jewelry to display.”

“I’m sure it’ll be popular.” Elliot gave a nod.

“When it gets back on track, I will hire someone. I’m going to speak with Jack. Gordon-san agreed to assist me as well. I believe I can make it work.”

(To be honest, I’m not sure how well it’ll work. But I want this magic tool store to be like the old days, where customers leave happy.)

“I’m confident Olivia can pull it off. So please allow me to assist you.” Elliot gives her a friendly smile.

Olivia looked up into his kind purple eyes as she approached him.

“I couldn’t have gotten this far without you, Elliot.”

“What are you on about? You gave it your all.”

They exchanged smiles.

The white curtains sway in the breeze of spring.

In the warm spring sunlight streaming through the cracks,

They exchanged gentle kisses.

~The End~

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