For now, the fateful encounter in the library had been fulfilled, so Mariabelle slowly undressed and changed.

After that, she was going to spend some time with Therese.

Renato, on the other hand, had just arrived at Count Fidelo's household, but since he had rushed to come here, he didn't have time to spare.

Since they wanted to proceed with the discussion of the marriage contract, they decided to borrow the reception room of the Fidelo family and had a meeting with James in a hurry.

"The wedding will take place a year from now. I'm sorry, but I'm supposed to be in mourning for my fiancée, so the engagement ceremony will be held only with my family."

"I don't have a choice. When should the engagement be scheduled?"

In the kingdom, the faction that supports the Republic of Morvia, led by Duke Danzel, was gaining power.

The fact that they will try to prevent the marriage between the crown prince of the Galleria Empire and Mariabelle was quite inevitable.

Until now, the Berkeley family has been the leader of a faction that could be called the royal faction, so the Republic of Morvia's houses wouldn't expect that they would suddenly make a connection with the empire.

Even James, the head of the Berkeley family, was surprised at how quickly things progressed.

If Mariabelle's engagement was finalized, the Marquisate of Berkeley will switch to the pro-imperial faction immediately.

Although they haven't made contact with the pro-imperial houses in the kingdom yet, they are talking about this terribly talented crown prince. The arrangements were probably in place already.

I agree that Renato and Mariabelle's engagement should be kept within the family, so the pro-Republicans won't interfere with it.

Besides, Mariabelle had a bad reputation in the kingdom.

Even if it were the empire that held the engagement ceremony, she would be exposed to a lot of ill will.

For that reason, James wants to make the wedding less of a big deal.

"How about we fix the engagement to be ten days from now."


James thought he had heard wrong.

"In ten days, we will take the oath of betrothal at the church in the imperial capital."

"Isn't that far too soon? They would think that you were thinking in Mariabelle before your previous fiancée died."

"No, there is no need to worry. The day after the engagement ceremony, a play based on our story will be staged to prevent that impression." Renato folded his hands and continued, "For the past six months, my ex-fiancée has been so sick that she couldn't even get up, and it was said that she was in a situation where she doesn't know when she will die. Everyone knows that my ex-fiancée has been sick for a long time, and considering my age, I can say that I was sincere to her. Since I am the heir to this empire, the people should be able to understand that I need a new fiancée right away, and I am sure they will be happy that I finally have a new one."

Renato then laughed and said that he would have the play performed to make them think so.

It wasn't the gentle smile he had always worn for Mariabelle, but the smile of a man who had been through many rough times as a member of the royal family.

He added, "Furthermore, I'm having a popular author write a romantic novel modeled after ours. It won't be ready in time for our engagement ceremony, but it will be ready by next month."

"The works of the writer known as the Queen of Romance were so popular that they sold out quickly. The book 'Smile of the Rose' that Mariabelle had with her at the library was also the work of that author."

"I see..."

"The only setback is that the only attendee will be Lord Berkeley, but I hope that his family in the territory will be able to attend the wedding."

With the current situation, it will be difficult for all family members to attend a wedding in the empire.

Only James and his wife would be able to attend... for now.

"I understand. By the way, let's talk about the daughter's dowry for the marriage."

With that, James collected a document from a civil official standing behind him.

He handed the document to Renato and watched as Renato's expression changed as he read its content.

"How do you like it?"

James smiled at Renato, who looked up after reading the document.

"...This could be taken as treason against the kingdom, you know."

Renato looked at James with questioning eyes.

James, however, didn't change his calm demeanor.

"It doesn't mean that the Marquisate of Berkeley belongs to the empire. It's just that we will have a small portion of the territory as a dowry for Mariabelle."

"The kingdom won't be satisfied with that. This land in the south should have a particularly high production volume, even in Berkeley's territory."

"As expected, Your Highness is well acquainted with our lands. This is indeed the most valuable area of Berkeley. But don't worry, I am to be given the royal family's direct domain as a consolation prize for breaking off my daughter's engagement to prince Edward."

"Oh, yes. May I ask where?"

"The place is quite great; it was an area that the princess was given when she was married into the royal family, but it wasn't connected to the Berkeley estate."

"Ohh... I see. There was a sapphire mine there? The connection would have made it easier to transport and process the sapphires."

"Yes. It would also make it easier to fight bandits."

"The princess's dowry included a mine where sapphires could be extracted."

"However, because it was a bit far from Berkeley's territory, even if you mined the sapphires, you would have to pay a large toll from other families when transporting them, and for some reason, you would often encounter bandits."

"If it were connected to Berkeley's land, mining would be more active."

"But that wasn't the case with this land at all."

Renato narrowed his eyes as if to figure out James' thoughts.