I stirred five sugar cubes into a new cup of coffee. Hmm. I think these are enough reports for today.
“I know it’s hard to accept, Rion, but I’m a busy person. I’ve got to deal with Dylan and demand the duke treat you better. Familiarize yourself with the maids once you return.”
“Wait, Young Mistress. This is all too sudden…”
“You will accompany me and see how things work around the estate starting tomorrow. I will give you a week. Once you’ve settled in, you will be assigned a tutor.”
Rion had much to learn. He had to learn proper etiquette and how to fight to protect himself. He also needed a basic education that was long overdue. The most urgent lessons were horseback riding and dancing. I had to find a royal banquet to broadcast Rion’s status without a moment’s delay. If I didn’t, I’d have my hands full with shitty men buzzing around him. The best way to get rid of flies was to have Rion make his high-society debut.
The important thing was to make it crystal clear that the entirety of the House of Roxburg was fully, excessively, and terrifyingly protective of him. The only way to keep Rion safe, at the bare minimum, was to make it clear that anyone who messed with Rion, even as a joke, would suffer from the House of Roxburg’s wrath, and we would wipe out their entire family.
This was the lesson I learned, having lived as long as I have. Not that it deterred Shitbag #3 or the one stud. I crinkled my brows and grunted in disgust as I sipped my coffee. Just thinking about Shitbag #3 ruined my mood. Yuck. What an asshole.
“Perhaps you’re mistaken, Young Mistress? Or are you teasing me because… I grew up here without a mother?”
After picturing Shitbag #3’s sneaky smile, Rion’s appearance, like a deer in headlights, immediately cheered me up. I felt the urge to tease him again as he gibbered on, crying about how he could never be my little brother. I couldn’t believe this cute little creature would grow up to be a tall, mysterious, and handsome silver-haired man.
“Are you saying I called you in just to lie to you? Do I look like I have that much free time?”
“No, Young Mistress! I would never—”
“Then call me your older sister.”
I glared at Rion. Rion looked at me, then at Dame Aster, and back at me.
“Sister…” he said through trembling lips.
I smirked, satisfied, and stood up after finishing my coffee. It was almost four o’clock. It was time to see the duke.
“Dame Aster, grab the reports and your certificate of appointment. Rion, follow three steps behind me. Lily, Violet, I’ll be leaving now.”
“We shall be waiting, Young Mistress.”
I opened the door and headed toward the duke’s office. Aster loaded her arms with the papers, and Rion followed behind me, carefully counting and matching three steps. It was adorable.
“What’d you call me for, Little Miss of the lineal family?”
I lifted my middle finger as a response to Dylan, who was waiting outside the duke’s office, and told the duke we were coming in. Dylan’s brows furrowed at my behavior, and his face scrunched up further after seeing Rion behind me, but he couldn’t leave. As a resident guest, he must follow the orders of the master of the House. I opened the door, bringing in a train of people, and spoke to the duke, who didn’t even look up from his desk.
“I hope you are at peace, oh one of the Kingdom’s Four Pillars, the Brightest Star of the House of Roxburg—”
“Skip the introductions. I’m busy, Rosalite.”
“I have come before your esteemed face to—”
Damn, let a person talk. I gave up trying to curtsey
nicely and straightened up. I also took the time to give Rion a small lesson about our family.
“Listen carefully, Rion. Our family’s biggest habit is saying, ‘I’m busy!’ And on extra busy days, we don’t even have the time to say we’re busy. We work ourselves to the bone until we are hugging the toilet, puking up our insides due to stress-induced gastric spasms, and that’s why we’re all skin and bones. So for the duke to speak means that he has time to spare.”
“Rosalite. The point.”
I felt chills looking at the droopy bags under the duke’s eyes because they reminded me of my future. I am an eye bag-free, rosy-cheeked beauty right now. However, after a few years at the House, I always end up looking like that. That was also why I tried so hard to go to the Magic Tower. That was where normal people lived.
“First, please take a look at this.”
I glanced at Aster, and she handed the duke the documents. He put down his pen and quickly flipped through the pile of pages I had written so diligently, his eyes darting back and forth. That’s Papa duke for you. He read the documents at an unnaturally quick speed.
“I request that you use your authority as duke to add Asterion to our family register and eliminate Dylan from this world, down to the last molecule.”
“What!” Dylan burst out angrily at my words.
He shouted that I had finally gone insane and was full of shit. He called out for his uncle, but his dear uncle, the duke, did not respond, flipping the report’s pages. Once done, he raised a hand to silence Dylan and threw the papers onto his desk. He rubbed the bridge of his nose, apparently tired from all the reading, and sighed. He motioned for Aster to retrieve the pile of papers and spoke to me.
“I’ll proceed with Asterion’s registration by my authority. As for Dylan’s disposal, I need Louis’s concurrence.”
“Dylan will be incarcerated by the authority of the duke of Roxburg until you get consent. You have one day.”
I thanked the duke when given his permission and decided to share another lesson with Rion. He needed to know this if he would live here.
“Did you observe well, Rion? The House of Roxburg is a crazy house full of government officials, so none of us can even put down a spoon unless it’s under their authority. You must grow up to be a responsible adult.”
“Rosalite. I don’t think you have time to chat.”
He was right. I knew things would turn out like this, but I thought he would give me more time to finish the task.
“Dame Aster, prepare a carriage.”
I wanted to hurry up and proceed with the plans, but Dylan had no such thought. He charged at me in a fit of rage, only to be stopped by Dame Aster, to no surprise. Did he think I brought her just for show?
“Your Grace, I request the authority to break Dylan’s right leg so he does not attempt to escape.”
With the duke’s permission, I nodded to Aster, and she mercilessly snapped his leg. Dylan’s cries reverberated around the office. The duke, annoyed with the racket, told me to hurry up and call someone to remove Dylan.
“Oh, I almost forgot.”
I gave the duke the certificate to appoint Aster Brown as my knight as a goodbye present. He sighed. I grinned, seeing how fed up he was with the Brown family. Oh no. I can’t burst out laughing at the thought of him being called Young Master right now!
“Yeah, yeah, I’m leaving,” I said lethargically at the duke’s order for me to get lost.
Then I saw Rion, pale and shaking like a leaf. I approached him, and he stumbled backwards, fear in his eyes. I had brought him along to make him feel better by seeing how I dealt with Dylan. Still, maybe just being in the same room scared him? Hmm… I didn’t really think about how Rion would feel as a victim.
I hugged Rion and patted him on the back to calm him down. There, there, no one would dare defy you now. You’re safe now.
He mumbled “sister” as I continued rubbing his back. The shivering stopped, his body warmed up a bit, and he finally seemed relaxed. My goodness, what an adorable kid!
“Go back to the annex. It’s safe now.”
I patted him twice more on the back, sorrowful to have to leave him behind. I told him I was off to our uncle’s house, and we said our goodbyes. I’d take the report along with me and reuse it. It had all the things Dylan said to Rion as he harassed him, word for word, as well as a list of witnesses. Once he saw all this, Uncle Louis would want to kill Dylan himself out of humiliation.
Even so, I couldn’t just barge in and ask him for consent to kill his son without prior notice. I had sent a carrier pigeon to his house before getting into the carriage. By now, a letter saying “I deeply regret the late night visit, etcetera, etcetera. Yours truly, Rosalite Roxburg” would have arrived. In the meantime, back to work.
“What are you doing, Little Miss?” asked Aster, lounging across from me while languidly chewing on an apple. She was too carefree, even for a Brown. “You’ll write crookedly if you write in the carriage.”
Was Sir William like this in front of the duke? Will Aster call me Little Miss even when I’m a grandma? I really hope that day comes.
“It’s fine. It’s just a rough draft.”
“A rough draft for what?”
“A love letter.”
“What is it really?”
I paraphrased my letter: “Your royal highness, Crown Prince! Please get married! Preferably with someone from our House!”
“Oh yeah, the duke is sending a whole bunch of stuff like that to him too.”
Well, obviously. Shitbag #3 was way past his prime. It didn’t matter to other people, but it was common sense that the damn Crown Prince would get married at eighteen to some lady, with consideration to the nation’s power balance and international circumstances. Just pick someone to direct the ladies of the court and then fill the rest with people you like. Or have noble families send more people to further their own power in the court, but just get the ball rolling.
“Wants to choose someone he truly loves, my ass. I wonder where this young one gets his idiotic ideas.”
“Why, isn’t it romantic? It’s cute.”
“It’s not cute. He’s just testing the waters.”
The man who confidently won the bronze in my show, “Who’s the Greatest Shitbag of Them All?” is Shitbag #3. Theodore, the Smiling Face. He just enjoyed watching the four dukedoms fight. He could loosen ties between the dukes, and if shit hit the fan and a rift formed between the only four dukes of the kingdom, the nobles would be scattered and divided into factions. The royal family could swoop in and swallow up the small and medium-sized noble Houses. He could have his cake and eat it without lifting a finger.
My family and the House of Edanelli down south knew what his game was, so we didn’t earnestly participate in the whole wife-picking fiesta. Still, the headstrong Mr. Knight of the north and the big-headed Mr. Age of Exploration of the east were fighting tooth and nail. Truthfully, that asshole Crown Prince once selected a wife from our House after making those two fight for neaarly ten years. We almost died—seriously. There would have been a civil war if we hadn’t been given monetary support from the House of Edanelli.
“Ah… I hope he chooses soon.”
“Yeah, the east and north are getting savage.”
Savage was putting it lightly. The heads of the Houses would fight like rabid dogs. And I remembered from my first or second life that there was some bullshit about making Rion the Crown Princess, which caused quite an uproar.
We hope you enjoyed this preview of Touch My Brother and You Die! The entire volume one is available on our web reader.