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“It was not as peaceful as the monastery you grew up in. Merha wanted to control me, so violence and hunger were a matter of course.”
Elisha’s eyes were downcast. Then, without realizing it, her grip on the sheet in her hand tightened.
“You wish for his ruin.”
“Do you want revenge on Merha?”
“Rather, it’s a race for survival. There may be some royal family members who are able to survive the battle for the throne but there is no such thing amongst the Cartiers. Uncle Merha is just someone I have to get rid of someday in order to live. Revenge is just a perk.”
“Then should I make his disposal as painful as possible?”
“I’m not desperate enough to leave it in your hands, but that’s the aim.”
“Tell me more. Are there any weaknesses of Merha and Marco?”
“Even in the temple, education was mandatory,”
Lucerne said calmly.
“At the time, Marco was a boy priest, and he never beat me no matter what he did. In studying, archery, and even memorizing the temple’s scriptures. Each time, Merha scolded Marco, and he would rush at me afterward to pick a fight.”
“I guess you beat him up.”
“Marco grew up getting beaten up a lot by me.”
Elisha laughed involuntarily. It was fortunate that he was not the type of child to be unilaterally bullied.
‘Speaking of which, Marco’s weakness is also his sense of inferiority. Especially if he grew up being compared to Lucerne. He doesn’t have much of an advantage. He’s just a timid second child.’
While she concealed her thoughts, she asked,
“Was it bearable?”
“Was there ever a time when it wasn’t?”
Lucerne’s mouth closed. Unconsciously, Elisha pressed him impatiently:
“You said you would tell me anything.”
After a moment, Lucerne opened his mouth again and continued,
“Just once. There was a time when I was truly terrified.”
He traced the memory of his distant past.
“One day, after Merha chastised him excessively, Marco poisoned my meal.”
“Uh, that’s… … . a bit excessive.”
“It was not deadly poison. But it was a narcotic that made me blind and my body ache for a few days. At that time I was……. I was very young. I thought I had lost my sight forever.”
“How old were you then?”
Elisha was shocked. Truly, the Cartiers were worse than beasts.
How did 9-year-old Lucerne feel when he became sightless overnight?
By all accounts, he would have been terrified.
“No matter what they did to me, I didn’t care. But there are days when everyone gets weak,”
Lucerne said softly.
“So that day… … . was scary.”
“Then… what did you do?”
“I ran away,”
Lucerne said indifferently, his voice even as he buttoned his sleeves. Elisha got up and fastened the rest of his cuffs.
“Naturally I didn’t get very far. In the hallway, I grabbed and held on to anyone that happened to be walking down the corridor. Asking them to call a doctor and begging. Crying that I couldn’t see.”
Lucerne showed no sign of fear or shame about it.
“What did you beg for?”
“Well. I don’t know. I can’t remember.”
“… … .”
“I think I pleaded with them to save me. That my vision was dark… … . —Yeah, that’s what happened.”
She hid her clenched fist under a sheet.
“But no one helped me. It was like paying expensive tuition for a lesson with blood and tears.”
“In the Cartier household, survival is a personal responsibility. From then on, I didn’t cry or act emotional.”
Elisha took a breath. She couldn’t keep a straight face.
“Why?” [t1v: he’s probably asking why she looks like that or why she’s curious]
She shook her head.
“Then it’s your turn to make Marco pay tuition.”
“Yes. That’s right… So, your strategy. I approve.”
“… … .”
“Keeping Marco and Arien in the dark about the vault. Passing this off as a simple squabble; threatening ‘I’m going to thwart your plans and steal what you want,’ right?”
She was impressed he understood her fragmented words during their passionate affair earlier.
“We need to make the spectacle bigger.”
“I can bring Jacob in. Oh, didn’t you say Carola already knew about this? Then it will be easy.”
Elisha almost lost herself and was about to smile widely. When crafting their scheme, they thought on the same wavelength and were on the same page.
This fight could have been a simple task for the Lucerne couple.
But the Jacobs would be happy to intervene in their feud. Jacob was a coward, but he wouldn’t want the two to quarrel without him because his self-consciousness and insecure pride were bigger than anyone else’s.
“Then shall we go provoke?”
Lucerne looked down at Elisha and remarked,
“We will have to go to the party.”
“… … .”
“Dress yourself up beautifully. Wear something new. Like they do now, make other men envy me.”
Lucerne whispered. At times like this, like watching a snake, she could not guess his intentions. Elisha nodded.
Lucerne said lowly.
“I will follow your plan. There’s one condition though.”
“… … What?”
“You are forbidden to smile at Marco.”