‘Is he a player?’ She thought.
But judging by his earnest look, it seemed unlikely.

Kiel looked down at the basket and said, “Thank you so much.
I really wasn’t much of a help…”

Of course, it wasn’t a remarkable gift, even more so considering his ‘status’.
Among the countless gifts piled up in his manor, there wasn’t a single thing that wasn’t luxurious.
But how long had it been since he received such a sincere gift?

‘My mind is already in disarray as it is.’

He smiled at the pleasant feeling he hadn’t experienced in a long time and took a bite of the cookie.

”…!” His eyes widened slightly.

“Is it… okay?” Marie asked in a tentative voice.

“It’s really delicious,” he answered after a moment.


“Yes, I’m not usually one to enjoy sweets… but this one… is so delicious.”

It didn’t seem like he only said it out of courtesy.
He closed his eyes as he savored the taste of the cookie.
‘This… it tastes similar to the cookies my mother used to make.’

When he was young, his late mother often made sweets for him.
They used to taste like Marie’s, so full of love and care.

“That’s a relief.
I was worried…”

Kiel smiled as he looked at the girl who spoke bashfully.
“Thank you so much.
I will make sure to cherish this.”

He said, “Is there anything you want? If there’s something you wish in return for this precious gift, I will grant it if it’s within my capacity.”

“Something I want?”

I swear under my name that if it’s possible, I will give you anything you want.”

It was the kind of declaration that would make one’s eyes widen in shock.

An oath under his name.

The weight it carried should not be taken lightly, and Kiel knew that too.
However, he was so grateful to the girl who’d put so much effort into making sweets for him, that he wanted to give something in return.


The girl seemed hesitant about his sudden offer, but then she cautiously said, “Actually… I don’t really want anything, but… there’s something I want to tell you.”

“What is it?”

“If I may?”

“Yes, go ahead.”

Kiel wondered what she wanted to say.

However, the words that came out of the girl’s mouth were something he’d never expected.
“Um… if you’re going through a hard time, I hope you feel better soon.”

“Pardon?” He asked in surprise.

“I-I mean… you seemed to be going through a hard time.
I could be wrong, and I might be overstepping my bounds as someone who just met you a few days ago… but still, I hope you feel better soon,” the girl replied in a flustered tone.


She hesitated for a moment before adding, “I’m sorry if I offended you for being presumptuous over something I know nothing about…”

Kiel shook his head after a moment of silence.
“I don’t feel offended at all.

He looked at the girl’s cute and innocent face.
It was already firmly imprinted in his mind.
“It may take me a while to cheer up, but… thank you.

Next was the golden-haired ghost’s turn.

“…What’s this?” Marie immediately regretted giving him the sweets at his cold reception.

‘As expected, I shouldn’t have made sweets for him.’

Actually, she’d deliberated about whether to make him sweets or not.
In the case of Kiel, she had a reason to make him sweets—to express her gratitude for helping her—but in the blond man’s case, she had no reason at all.
However, since she was making them anyway, she decided to include him, but as expected, his reaction was lukewarm.

“I-I made sweets.
I just thought… If you don’t want them, you don’t have to take them.”

The man silently stared at the basket for a long time.

When Marie thought about his usual cold attitude, she naturally thought he would refuse.

But the man said something unexpected.
“You must’ve worked hard for this.
I’ll eat this right away.”

“..!” Marie looked at him in surprise.
It was such an unexpected reaction.

But that was not the end of it.

The man muttered, “What a coincidence…” His voice contained a hint of nostalgic sadness.

Marie cocked her head.
What did he mean by that?


“Nothing.” As usual, the man turned his back without responding.
But before he disappeared, he said something that made Marie more astonished.

“Thank you for cleaning up the garden.”

Marie was puzzled as he vanished.
‘Thank you for what?’

It didn’t seem like he was thanking her for the sweets.
Sure, she worked diligently at cleaning the garden, but she was only doing her job, so why was he thanking her?

The blond man, Rael, who came out of the Swan Garden, murmured as he looked at the basket of sweets.
“Why sweets?”

He remembered the girl who handed him a basket of sweets.
Baking sweets was the hobby of his younger sister, the 7th princess, who died unjustly in the Swan Garden.

He’d been visiting the garden lately to honor her sister’s death, not expecting at all that he would receive sweets as a gift.

As he thought about it, he took out a cookie and tasted it.

Asak (Crunch).

“..!” He was slightly surprised when he tasted the cookie.
It tasted better than he thought.

‘Not bad.
It’s much better than the pastries at the Lion Palace, which are overly sweet.’

What surprised him even more was that the taste of the cookies reminded him of the sweets his sister used to make a long time ago.

Of course, objectively speaking, these cookies were far superior to her sister’s.
He liked them, but she wasn’t particularly skilled at baking.
The reason why the cookies reminded him of her was simple: the taste of sincerity.

Although they looked simple, he could feel that they were made with a lot of care.

‘Older brother! Ran! Try this!’

‘Huh, did you burn it again?’

‘Still, try it.
I made it with all my heart.’

Rael closed his eyes for a moment at the memory of his sister, whom he hadn’t thought of for a long time.

“Marie, was it?”

It was the name he’d learned from the last composer incident.
When he investigated her, he found out that the same maid was also present in the sculptor incident.
‘It’s strange how she’s everywhere.’

He took out another cookie and tasted the buttery flavor in his mouth.
“Thanks for these cookies anyway.”

After enjoying the cookies for a while, he stood up and murmured, “Is it time already?”

The warmth in his face from reminiscing about old memories suddenly turned extremely cold.

Turning back to the persona of the Crown Prince of Blood and its infamy for the terror it brings, he spoke in a cold voice.
“Long time no see.
Have you been well?”

As soon as he said so, a figure appeared from the dark.

He was a man with handsome, chiseled face and luminous silver hair.

Surprisingly, it was Kiel, who was just talking to Marie earlier!

Kiel addressed him formally with a stiff face.
“I greet His Highness, the Crown Prince of the Empire.”


Rael looked down at him with disdain as he knelt.

“Marquis Kierhan, the commander of the Imperial Guards.”

If Marie had heard what the Crown Prince said, she would never have believed it.

Marquis Kierhan!

The name belonged to the commander of Imperial Guards, the strongest knights of the empire that defended the Northwest region.
The number of knights belonging to the family alone was as high as 30,000!

He was none other than Kiel, the man with the beautiful silver hair who was undoubtedly the greatest knight in the Empire, possessing the strongest military power in the Empire next to the imperial family.

Crown Prince Rael looked down disdainfully at Kiel, who was still kneeling, and said, “You’ve been coming to the Swan Garden a lot lately.”


“Why does a mongrel who failed to protect its own master keep hovering around?”

A mongrel that failed to protect its own master!

Kiel’s expression twisted in agony at those words.
When the 7th Princess met her end, her knight was none other than Kierhan.

“I’m sorry.”

Crown Prince Rael let out a deep sigh.

“That’s enough.
I didn’t summon you here to blame you for what happened back then,” he said in a cold voice.
“Have you thought about the offer I made you last time?”


Kiel’s eyes trembled as he lowered his head.
Seeing him unable to speak, Rael frowned.

“Answer me.
I’ve given you enough time.”

Eventually, Kiel bit his lip and replied, “I’m sorry, I can’t.”

Rael’s blue eyes sank.

“Why are you holding on to such pointless loyalty?”

“Because it’s my duty.”

“Duty?” Rael’s eyebrow rose.
There was a heavy rage in his voice.

“Are you talking about the code of the Seyton family, where you must blindly follow the emperor, even if it doesn’t make sense?”


“So you’re going against me for an emperor who wouldn’t even wake up? Just because Emperor Thorne II didn’t recognize me as the Crown Prince?”

Kierhan did not answer.

Rael could understand where he’s coming from.
The Seyton family, which had protected the Emperor since the empire’s founding, would only recognize someone as a legitimate successor if he’s directly appointed by the Emperor as Crown Prince.

Meanwhile, Rael assassinated the previous Crown Prince to claim the title for himself.
For that reason, to Kierhan of the Seyton family, Rael was not the Crown Prince, but a mere bloodthirsty usurper.

I already got the message.”

“I’m sorry, Your Highness.”

“Let me tell you one thing, Kierhan—no—Kiel, my friend.”

“What is it?”

The Crown Prince of Blood spoke in a low tone.
It’s devoid of any emotion, making it feel even more frigid.

“Why do you think I made such an offer to you? Do you really think I need your help?”


“No, I don’t need your help at all.
If I wanted to, I could take off Emperor Thorne II’s crown right now and become the Emperor myself.
You’re aware of that, aren’t you?”

Kierhan listened to him in silence.

“The only reason I made you such an offer was because as your former close friend, I didn’t want to have to slit your throat.”


“Do you think I can’t kill you?”

If Your Highness wills it, I know you’ll make it happen.”

“I will ask you one last time.
Will you not yield, Marquis Kierhan?” Rael said, his blue eyes gleaming coldly.

Kierhan bit his sculpted lips.

“…I’m sorry, Your Highness.”

“I see.
I respect you and your family’s decision.”

Rael turned around and walked away.
As a result, the two went from being friends to enemies who must kill each other one day.

“Haa.” Once he’s alone, Kierhan sighed deeply.

“Ran,” he bitterly mumbled the Crown Prince’s childhood name.
Him, the Crown Prince, Prime Minister Oren, and the 7th Princess, all used to be close friends.

When they were young, they used to hang out in the Swan Garden and share the sweets baked by the 7th princess.

But that happiness didn’t last long.
The ruthless actions of the imperial family drove the 7th Princess to death, taking all the joy with her.

“How frustrating,” he muttered.
“So so frustrating.”

Suddenly, the maid’s remarks came to his mind.
She said, ‘…If you’re going through a hard time, I hope you feel better soon.’

It had been a long time since he’d received such caring words.

“Marie… was it?” He recalled what she looked like.
She’s cute and strong despite having a petite body that didn’t reach half of his size.

“I’d like to eat her sweets again,” he murmured.

t/n: for the record im not kinkshaming nor am i generalizing, but i’ve noticed how a lot of koreans have size [difference] kink.
brace yourselves bc her smallness & frail body will be pointed out a lot (kinda an ick for me tbh but i don’t yuck someone’s yum)

there’s nothing worse than a friendship breakup

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