Even beyond this chaos, Radis’ expression was serene.
But it didn’t mean that this serenity was something that she always had before.
She wasn’t the same Radis who always had her head down, with a distracted, anxious look on her face.
Right now, Radis was looking at Klein with her chin up, her eyes unwavering.
Radis opened her lips once more.
“I am not David Tilrod.
My name is Radis.”
Klein still had a dumbfounded look on his face, still not understanding the situation.
“Miss Radis, what are you doing? David’s admission to the Imperial Academy is an esteemed honor that his family should also celebrate.
But you… you tore up the certificate of admission…!”
No, Mister Klein Rockton.”
Klein tried to continue berating her, but Radis cut him off.
“I remember you.
You kindly guided me to the test site while I was looking for the field where the practical test was being held.
You even tapped me on the shoulder after the exam.”
“It’s not just now.
It wasn’t David back then, either.
It was me.”
The loud noise from the stairs drew people’s attention.
It was the sound of the door closing behind Yurhi.
But it wasn’t just her standing there.
So was David.
David, who had yet to grasp the situation, raised his voice cheerfully with his arms outstretched.
“Yes, it’s me! The Tilrod family’s darling son, David Tilrod!”
He ignored Yurhi’s hand even though he was supposed to escort her and walked down the stairs, straight to the admissions officer.
“Are you the admissions officer? Nice to meet you! Where is my certificate? Why are you so still over there?”
As he approached them, David saw Radis and grimaced.
“What—Why are you here? Why are you wearing my armor? You’re kicking up a fuss?!”
Radis shook her head.
I’m going back to my room.”
“Well, good! Because today is my day!”
Humming lightheartedly, David looked at Klein.
“So, my admission certificate?”
On David’s outstretched hand, Radis placed the torn piece of paper.
This time, it wasn’t from Yurhi again.
It was the sound of the door banging behind Margaret as she left.
* * *
As if it was a sigh, Radis laughed despondently.
“What… So it was that easy?”
She was looking back at what just happened in this dream of hers before she died.
And it made her recall the memories of her whole life.
So she closed her eyes.
It was easy.
The only thing she had to do was to stop closing her lips and shutting her eyes.
“I can’t afford to die now.”
Radis lay in her bed with her arms wide open, looking at the evening sky through the small window.
Her face was serene.
She never felt so relieved.
But it was strange…
The dream still hadn’t ended.
Margaret, with her whole face red, kicked the door and rushed inside.
Radis stared at her, who was running wild with her forehead wrinkled.
‘Even though my life’s flashing behind my eyes, I don’t want to see this again.’
“You’re insane! You can’t do that without being insane! How could you do that to your brother?!”
Margaret screeched at the top of her lungs.
“How could you mess up every single path your brother takes? Can you still call yourself David’s sister?! Do you even know what you did?!! The admission has been cancelled! And besides that our family has been branded as illegal test takers! All because of you!!!”
Radis smiled bitterly.
“Why is it because of me?”
“It was you who asked me to do that—to take the test in David’s place.
Did you even know what you were asking for? You wanted an unqualified kid to enter the academy.”
Radis stood up from her seat.
Her eyes were so cold that Margaret flinched.
Radis said in a stern voice.
Blinded by greed, Margaret glared at Radis with her mouth agape.
But Radis didn’t shy away from that stare.
Radis hoped that her feelings would be conveyed to Margaret if only she could see beyond her own eyes.
She wanted Margaret to accept and understand what she just said.
Even if this was a dream.
Even if this was only her life flashing behind her eyes.
She hoped for Margaret to realize it.
Then, Margaret finally spoke.
“You… deserve… to die…!!”
As Margaret shouted, she raised her hand.
Radis could have avoided it, but she didn’t on purpose.
‘It’s just a dream anyway.’
Margaret screamed again.
“You made a mess! Now look your mother in the eye and realize what you’ve done wrong!”
Radis’ eyes widened.
It’s a dream, but… why did it hurt?
Margaret’s verbal abuse went from one ear to the other because Radis was frozen in astonishment.
“What, huh? Huh? Was it greed? You’ll only come to your senses if your mouth’s ripped open, huh?! Scissors, get me a pair of scissors! I’ll rip your mouth off!”
Radis touched her swollen cheek.
It really, really hurt.
The pain seemed to clear her mind.
“If you’ll tear me apart, please try it.”
Margaret’s mouth opened wide.
‘But isn’t this really just a dream?’
Everything was too vivid to say it was just a dream.
“Ohhh, sure! You don’t want to live anymore, huh?! Sure, sure, you should die today!”
Even her heart was hurting.
But Radis no longer intended to let herself be torn to shreds and shattered to pieces.
She grabbed Margaret’s hand, which motioned to grab Radis’ hair.
Margaret’s eyes were wide open.
Radis was sixteen years old by the time David entered the academy.
Although she was terribly thin because she couldn’t eat well, her body was magnificently disciplined.
Margaret, who was a noble lady, couldn’t compare.
Margaret’s face gradually grew pale as she struggled to retract her hand.
In the end, she couldn’t grab Radis by the hair.
Radis looked at her mother’s face.
“As you instructed me, I went to the Imperial Academy and got a certificate of admission.
All on my own!”
“Do you know what that means? Do you really think I let you hit me because I couldn’t think straight or that I had no power?”
“Let go! I said let me go!!”
“I put up with it all because you’re my mother.
All of it, until the very end!”
Margaret gritted her teeth and struggled to pull out her wrist.
But she couldn’t move a muscle.
Margaret ended up yelling.
“How dare you do this to your mother!”
Radis let go of her.
Margaret, who used all of her strength to pull back her wrist, recoiled and stumbled back.
Then, after she screamed, there was a heavy silence.
Margaret plopped on the floor and looked up at Radis.
Radis was no different from any other night.
Her hair was still a mess from the haircut she had right before taking the entrance examination, her skin damaged and dry.
Only one thing changed.
The look in her eyes.
They weren’t the same eyes that always looked at Margaret, hoping for something.
Just like the night sky, her black eyes held no emotion.
Radis similarly spoke emotionlessly in a low voice.
“I can’t stand it anymore.”
Margaret’s face crumpled, flushing red.
And eventually, she burst into tears.
The maids, who heard Margaret crying, entered the room in shock.
It was Margaret who fell on her own, but she gasped and wept as though she was assaulted.
Eventually, the maids had to call more servants to carry her away.
Radis sighed deeply at the sight.
If this was truly a dream, she hoped it would end here.
But after one day… two days…
The dream continued.
On the third day, Radis had to accept this as her new reality.
* * *
Radis’ right cheek was still swollen, and in front of her, the maid threw down a bowl of soup haphazardly.
Radis glanced down at the gray watery soup, where some lumps of vegetable rinds floated here and there.
The food they gave to Radis had already been terrible before, but now, it was even worse.
It was almost like a treat from Margaret.
‘It doesn’t even look like food anymore.’
Radis stared at the maid who brought the soup.
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“Enjoy your meal.”
It’s been a long time since Radis saw her.
She was Margaret’s favorite maid, and the one who gave a helping hand in terms of turning Radis’ childhood into a living hell.
‘If you sent Irene, then you’re really set on tormenting me.’
Margaret’s intentions were so obvious that Radis could only sigh.
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