Penelope let out a sigh and shook her head. “I was really hoping things would work out between Eleanor and Ethan. I mean, Ethan was always such a popular character, but it was hard to reconcile the Ethan I know in real life with the Ethan I read about in the novel. The Ethan I know is a bit of a troublemaker and he’s had his fair share of issues with women. It’s just…” She trailed off, frowning.
It’s the same with Aaron, I thought. When he started walking with a limp and wielding a sword, when he became fixated on the Princess… It all feels so familiar to the novel Penelope had read.
And I can’t help but wonder, did the Princess tell him about the novel? Did she tell him he had to act a certain way, and he just went along with it? That would be so strange.
Nothing makes sense. And the Princess becoming a good queen… I just don’t see how that’s possible. Someone who would participate in the murder of her own uncle could never be a good queen, right? Do you need to be a little more politically savvy to be a good queen?
I looked at Penelope and asked, “Does Grand Duke Glouster also appear in the novel?”
“Oh yes, the Grand Duke is a very important character,” Penelope replied.
I was hoping she would tell me that he’s not the one trying to go after the Princess in real life. Even if there’s no chance of that happening, I don’t even want to think about it. Aaron is enough.
But unfortunately, Penelope’s answer was even worse than I had feared.
“The Grand Duke is the worst villain in the book,” she said, her voice filled with disgust. “He’s the one who competes for the throne against the Princess, and it was he who killed the King during the riot, all so he could seize power for himself. Even after the Princess takes the throne, he continues to grow in power and sends assassins to try and kill her, all while secretly fomenting unrest. He wants to become king when the country descends into chaos.”
I couldn’t help but feel a sense of understanding wash over me. No wonder the Princess was so hostile towards the Grand Duke, if she knew the story. And now I understood why she had such an odd smile on her face when she looked at him – she must have thought he would eventually be defeated by her.
But does the Princess really know all about this? I wondered to myself. If she does, shouldn’t she at least try to act like a good princess for a little while? She shouldn’t be so openly hostile. She should hide her intentions from her enemies.
“It’s hard to follow, right?” Penelope asked, flashing me a playful, childlike smile. I returned the smile, but it was a bitter one.
“Yes, so far,” I replied.
“It’s okay,” Penelope said, brushing. “It took me a long time to piece everything together and make sense of how my present relates to all of this. And I’m one of the people who is changing the story, too.”
Penelope seemed to suddenly remember something and asked, “What if we move? Since Schway is the place where the riots are happening, wouldn’t it be safer to go to another city?”
“Does the novel mention other cities?” I asked.
Penelope thought for a moment before answering, “It does mention the estate of Wishburn a few times, and our estate of Ayble as well. They weren’t in great shape, but they were described as being relatively calm compared to other estates where riots happened. Maybe I should go back to the estate? But if I asked Father… No, he wouldn’t go. The main base for the merchant business is here.” Penelope mumbled to herself, lost in thought.
I suggested, “What about somewhere abroad? Don’t they do business with foreign merchants? If they have a base there, wouldn’t it be okay to go check on that?”
“Abroad?” Penelope said, her face lighting up. “Ah, that’s also a good plan!”
Just then, the door to the room burst open, and I instinctively grabbed the handle of my dagger in my pocket. But it was just a well-dressed child who ran in.
“Mommy, mommy!” the child cried.
“Claire, Mommy is seeing a guest,” Penelope said, lifting the child onto her lap. The child had blue eyes, just like her mother, and her hair was styled in pigtails. She looked at me and smiled, sucking her thumb.
Children are such wondrous, mysterious beings. I really don’t know much about them.
“Sorry, Alice,” Penelope said. “She’s at an age where she won’t stay away from her parents.”
“It’s okay,” I said, smiling.
I internally wondered: she’s not at an age where she would understand, right? That’s probably why Penelope is keeping the servants out while holding the child.
“On one hand, I know this is all just a web novel, but on the other hand, it’s a world I live in. I live in it, my husband lives in it, and my child lives in it. So I was hoping it wouldn’t go according to the original story, or at least I want to keep my family safe. I’m thinking that the reason I remembered my past memories while giving birth was so that I could protect my family.”