Within a four year time frame, Aaron’s approach towards her had changed distinctly.
It was plainly different from his attitude towards Citrina when they had first met and he had been so cautious.
Citrina took a deep breath.
She had two things she wanted to ask Aaron.
“You know, Aaron,”
One of the things she was curious about was the rumors surrounding the Pietro Duchy and Desian Pietro.
And then there was the other thing.
“Aren’t you supposed to be at the academy right now?”
It was rude to bring up rumors about the duke no matter how close they were personally.
It was a little better to ask about Aaron.
Aaron paused at Citrina’s direct question.
It wasn’t autumn when the academy began and ended.
Maybe, the school year had changed without her being aware.
Citrina asked softly instead of complaining.
The boy didn’t say much in response.
Citrina waited calmly for his answer.
“There was a commotion at the academy so the graduation ceremony got moved up.”
“The graduation ceremony was moved up?”
“Oh, yeah… that’s why I got here early.”
Aaron was clearly hiding something.
He refused to look her in the eye.
However, Citrina knew instinctively that he would never give her a straight answer.
‘I’ll have to look into what happened.’
More than anything, this was problematic for her.
With the academy graduation moved up, Princess Iana would be returning quickly.
‘If the princess’s return is sped up, will my plans be messed up?’
Citrina frowned slightly.
“Aaron, are you the only one who came back early?”
I saw a newspaper at the academy.
I read you had started an atelier.”
Oh, that was why Aaron had showed up at Citrina’s atelier.
To be honest, Citrina had hoped that Princess Iana rather than Aaron would subscribe to the magazine
But this unexpected harvest wasn’t a bad thing.
“So is that way you came straight here?”
“The last requirement for the academy is to pledge your oath as a knight.
Isn’t that important?”
“How did you know? Umm…..”
Aaron dodged Citrina’s gaze.
“Anyway, I have someone to perform the knight’s oath, so I can do it later.”
Who is it?”
“It’s still a secret.”
It’s not a dangerous person, right?”
Seeing him affirm it so readily, there really must be someone.
Since she had changed his fate, she hoped he could achieve a different happiness in this life.
“If you’re happy with that decision, then it’s fine.”
Aaron’s cheeks were red.
He spoke in a low voice with a shy expression.
“Well I thought I would get in trouble.”
“You’re also an adult now.”
“… yeah, that’s right.”
“Then when will the others arrive?”
That way, she could guess when the princess would come.
If the academy’s graduation was sooner than the original work, the princess’s arrival would be pushed forward as well; but there was also a high possibility that her schedule would be messed up too.
Her mouth went dry from anxiety.
“Some may come a little later, but it usually takes around two weeks.”
So this week…”
This week, she was sure they were preparing a party for the princess’s return.
Her newspaper article had definitely reached the academy, so Citrina decided to wait a little longer.
“Then after seeing the newspaper article you came to me first?”
“Yeah! Ah, I have something to ask of you.”
“What sort of request?”
“It a bit strange since the sword is old.”
As if he remembered what he was here to say, Aaron handed over a sword.
The sword on the table looked worn at a glance.
“At that time, this was the sword I ordered from the dwarf’s atelier.
Do you remember?”
“Of course I remember.”
“The sword’s condition is not good.”
“The condition is not good?”
“Yeah, I was thinking of contacting the dwarf’s atelier…and then saw the newspaper.”
A sword was like a precious life to a knight.
But Aaron preferred to meet with Citrina rather than taking it to the dwarf’s atelier.
That fact along made Citrina think that Aaron’s affection for her was greater than she predicted.
It was a little strange and embarrassing.
For better or worse though, Citrina knew how to hide her embarrassment.
“Thanks, I’ll take the sword.”
Citrina calmly examined the sword.
She was not certain about the blade.
On the hilt of the sword, she could see an elegantly crafted gem.
Thanks to the simple method the dwarf had taught her, Citrina could appraise gemstones to some extent.
However, it was difficult to fully understand magic gems.
-Gemma, what do you think?
Gemma hovered around Citrina and landed in front of the sword with a pale face.
-This… the durability looks similar, so I think it’s not a big problem.
I’ll check into it more.
-Yeah, please do!
– One sec!
Gemma slowly placed herself on top of the mana stone.
“… it’s not bad.”
“I’m not sure.”
Aaron’s face darkened when he heard those words.
He must have agonized about it for a long time.
As Citrina was thinking about how to respond, Aaron blurted out.
“It’s just… it feels like the sword is getting in my way.”
“Is it when you strike with the sword?”
“Yeah, whenever I spar, it feels like the sword is getting in my way.”
“What about the blade?””
“There’s no problems with the blade.”
Citrina also saw this was the case.
The blade was certainly bluish and sharp.
It was also reasonable to assume that if there was a problem it would be with the mana stone.
Citrina looked at the little spirit hovering over the mana stone.
“Is that so…”
Citrina tilted her head to the side.
She had a strange feeling.
It was subtle, abrupt, and not very pleasant feeling.
It felt like the energy of someone mischievous.
Nevertheless, she was an ordinary person with no mana in her body.
Gemma raised her head towards Citrina.
-Someone’s been playing a prank.
-Who do you think it is?
-It seems like someone who is new to these divine powers.
The phrase divine power was a bit unfamiliar to her.
Citrina tilted her head to the side.
-Yeah, it’s not easy to cast a spell of bad luck with divine power, but it makes it hard for humans to notice it.
Citrina whispered to herself as she listened to Gemma.
Aaron opened his eyes wide as he listened attentively to her whisper.
It seemed like something he had not imagined.
“What do you mean, bad luck?”
“I think someone marked the sword as unlucky through their divine power.”
“Um, I see…”
-There’s no reason to mess with lovely gems, so what kind of grudge did he pick up?
“I don’t think there’s anyone who would do something like that…ah.”
Aaron closed his mouth.
It seemed he had an idea as to who it could be.
“Do you have an idea who it is?”
Aaron looked sad as he said that.
Citrina also had an idea who it could be almost immediately after she heard the word bad luck.
It was a person who pretended to be Aaron and a person who could use divine power.
However, it wasn’t a name she could say out loud.
Gemma continued peacefully as she still sat on the jewel.
– It’s not something that only people you are close with could do.
-I guess so.
-So this mark, can you break it?
“I think I can undo the bad luck stigma.
But take care of yourself.
Use a different sword, okay?”
“Then leave the sword here.
After breaking the magic, I will send it along with a letter to the dwarf.
Let’s ask for an inspection.”
“Yeah! Then can I come back to get the sword?”
“Yes, come back.”
Aaron answered in a bright voice.
Then he looked at her as if he was worried about something.
“The sword won’t hurt you, will it?”
You know it won’t.”
The stigma would only hurt the owner.
“But take care of yourself, Citrina.”
After answering, there was a silence between the two.
After talking for an extended amount of time, the awkwardness of not seeing each other for many years resurfaced.
Citrina silently lifted her teacup from the table.
‘What should I do now? The advanced arrival of the princess means I don’t have enough time to prepare.’
In a way, it was a small emergency that the princess’s arrival had been sped up.
On one hand Citrina’s business was in its infancy.
Therefore, it was a house of cards that could be disturbed by a small wind.
Citrina could easily use Aaron.
If she asked for help from Aaron or Desian, her business would be at the top of the food chain instantly.
Although the duke’s kindness might not last forever, it was obvious their goodwill would need to be paid back at a tremendous price.
‘I’ve decided not to rely on other’s kindness and I don’t want to leave it as is.
In the world of business, there has to be give and take.’
Aaron would soon emerge as the perfect idol of the capital.
Citrina was eagerly awaiting for the future ahead of him.
Citrina tried to reconcile all of her plans for the future with the current circumstances.
She had a fairly good outcome planned in her head.
Citrina would enlist Aaron’s help and paint a beautiful future for Aaron.
“If there was something that benefits us both, what do you think of that?”
“I like everything that helps you!”
Can you come back in a week?”
“In one week?”
“Yup, one week.”
If she was given about a week, then the situation would be worth a try.
“Come for lunch in a week.
Aaron smiled brightly like a little boy waiting for a lunch with all of his family members.
He rose from the table.
Throughout his academy life, he had been raised from a boy to a man with good manners.
“It seems like you’re busy, Citrina, so I’ll come back soon.”
“I’m really, really glad.”
Aaron smiled brightly.
Citrina chuckled at him.
Aaron’s face was beaming with laughter.
He was about to return to the Pietro Duchy.
The duke who was his older brother, Desian Pietro.
‘I have to bring my older brother!’
Aaron’s eyes twinkled.
He wanted to see them meet with his own eyes since he thought it would be really fun.
Though upon his life he didn’t know the future ahead of him.
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