It was hard work but at least I got something out of it.

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‘I’ was once a loner with no connections other than this guild. 

‘Wasn’t it wrong to say that ‘you’ were a runaway slave?’

‘I’ had no identity, just like a runaway slave.
I unintentionally told Ian a lie that was close to the truth and above all, the most important information. 

‘I didn’t know who that voice was.’

Was it Nine?

It was most likely Nine, one of the many dark guilds.
In the novel, Nine was a group that tormented the heroine terribly.

A group of assassins known throughout the continent as the greatest dark guild.
They didn’t hesitate to do inhumane things to get the heroine.

And they were the ones who turned Ian into a tyrant after putting him under a terrible black magic curse.

‘It’s supposed to be Nine.’

This was way too big.

‘You can’t get away from us no matter where you go.’

The voice of the shadow came back again.
I got goosebumps all over my body.

“I’m freaking out.” I muttered, biting my lips.

Suddenly, I felt pain in my thigh that was burning earlier.

“What is it?”

I lifted at the hem of my clothes and was surprised the next moment.

“Argh!”

A number was engraved on my thigh.
The number ’76’ is very clear.

“Lady Irene! What’s going on!”

Someone vigorously kicked the door open.
Then I hurriedly pulled the hem back down.
Suddenly a girl came running to me.

“Lady Irene, are you all right?”

“Wh-who are you?” 

“Ah, my name is Annette.
I will serve Lady Irene from today on.
Please – no, no.
Not this! I just heard you scream! Are you alright!”

Annette is wide-eyed full of worry.
I have to reassure the girl first. 

“It’s fine.
I found….
a bug.”

“What? A bug?”

Annette had a sullen expression on her face.
But she clenched her fists firmly as soon as it happened.

“Where are you! I, Annette, will exterminate you immediately!”

“I think it’s already run away.”

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“Is that so?”

Although her fists clenched fairly tightly, Annette was visibly relieved.
She was a cute girl.
But I didn’t have time to have a friendly conversation with Annette now.

“Miss Annette.
I apologize for saying this when we’ve just met, but please take me to Sir Ian.”

“Yep! Understood! I’ll guide you to the Commander’s room now!”

I organized my thoughts as I headed to Ian’s room.
The number ’76’ was engraved on my thigh.
It was likely to be evidence of a curse. 

‘You said you put a time-limited curse on me.’

In the original story, there was a person who was put with the same curse by Nine.
The man, who failed to complete the task in the allotted time, caught fire from the area where the cursed tattoo was engraved, and his entire body was consumed by the flames.
The vivid, terrifying description made me break out in a cold sweat.

‘Did it say I had a year to end Ian?’

Ian is not easy to deal with.
If I tried to do something like that, I’d definitely die.

“They are absolutely ridiculous.
They can do it themselves!”

Or at least give me some money for this!

Do you intend to let me handle this horrendous task without any support? 

I muttered unknowingly as I burst out in anger. 

“Yes? Lady Irene, what did you say?”

“Ah.
It’s nothing.”

As I smiled at Annette gently, she blinked her eyes quickly in embarrassment. 

‘What is this strangely adorable creature?’

I felt like I was being hurt and healed in such a desperate situation.

“Oh my, that’s…”

“She is the Commander’s lover.”

The people I just saw in the hall were whispering again.
It was not pleasant chatter, but it was easy to get out of the hallway as the crowd split up every time I went out. 

I soon arrived in front of Ian’s office.
The knights guarding the front of the office informed him of my visit.

“Commander, she is here.”

The knights referred to me with the very strange word ‘She’.

‘It seems like I’m having a secret meeting with a real lover.’

Soon, the door opened.
Ian greeted me with a surprised expression. 

“Have you already thought about it?….What happened? You look as white as a sheet, as if you’ve seen a ghost.”

For a moment, I faced Ian silently without saying a word.
The way he talks freely to me, meanwhile being the Commander of the Holy Knight Division. 

In a situation where priests of a certain religion deny the existence of ghosts, even mentioning it, makes it seem as though they are not particularly religious.
However, Ian is indeed the best knight of the Empire.
The sword he wears around his waist draws attention.

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Ian in the original novel was strong enough to deal with a battalion alone with just that ordinary sword.
Furthermore, no one dared to confront him when he was equipped with the Real Holy Sword, which is now asleep in a secluded space.

Even so, he eventually fell for the evil trick that Nine had planted… but that was because a lot of things were twisted.

“Lady Irene.”

Ian’s unfriendly face seemed to soften a little at the moment while he called my name.

‘Okay, calm down.
Let’s calm down Lee Seo-yeon.’

I comforted myself.
Let’s think about the options I had.
First, ‘end’ Ian as ordered by Nine.
This is nonsense.

The original number 76 might have some mysterious talent, but I don’t have any.
Now, I am just an ordinary person who doesn’t even know how to hold a sword. 

Moreover, it cannot be guaranteed that Ian would be finished even if an army came.
He is known as the strongest in the world. 

So option number 1 was definitely eliminated. 

‘Second option, run away.’

This isn’t a wise choice either.
Nine is a dark guild that has roots all over the continent.
If I ran away clumsily, I would be caught in their hands soon. 

And lastly, the third option.
I burst out laughing as I was thinking of it.

This ridiculous option seemed to be the most attractive option right now.
This is crazy.

“Commander.”

“Yes.
Please speak.”

This is the best option right now.
I clenched my fists and said,

“Let’s do it.”

“Yes?”

“The Engagement, let’s do it.”

“….All of a sudden?”

Ian raised one eyebrow. 

“You asked me to do it.
Did you decide to change your mind?”

“Of course not, but…”

Ian took one step closer to me.
He came close to my nose and whispered in a low voice.

“I hope this decision was made wisely.
You are saying that you want to be my wife.
Are you serious?”

I got goosebumps down my spine.
Perhaps it was like entering a tiger’s mouth to avoid a lion.
But I firmly hid my trembling.

My gut told me, this is the best way for me to survive now.

“Yes, I meant it.”

Then Ian raised the corners of his lips with satisfaction.
I hastened to add more.

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“Instead.”

“Instead?”

Ian tilted his head slightly.

“Please ensure my safety.”

Ian’s expression darkened as if he heard something unexpected.
I quickly added.

“If I become the fiancée of the Commander of the Holy Knights, I will get a lot of attention.
Don’t you know you have a lot of enemies as the Commander? There could be a lot of people who can’t hurt you, and they would try to hold me as a hostage, as I’m relatively weak.”

“Don’t worry about it.
As long as you decide to be in the same boat as me, no one will dare to touch a single hair of yours.”

Thank you for your bragging…..
Honestly, the next person who I’m scared of is the person in front of me.

I tried to shake off those thoughts and say.

“Please give me an escort.
Someone who can always protect me.
It would be better for someone with magical powers or strength!”

I can’t be helplessly attacked by a guy who infiltrates with shadow magic like before.
Ian looked a little surprised again.
I added beforehand. 

“I’m very sensitive to safety.
I really am.”

“….All right.
I will give an escort for you, so don’t worry.
More than that….”

Ian lowered his waist a little.

Like jewels, those sky blue eyes looked at me closer.
I held my breath and stared into them without realizing it.

“Are you sure about breaking up with your boyfriend?”

“Ah.”

I lied that I had a lover.
I wasn’t sure at the time, but now that I’d recalled 76 memories twice, I was certain. 

Number 76 was a loner.
A complete loner to the extent that no one knows the true form of number 76 other than Nine. 

‘That means there’s no need to worry about a previous relationship.’

Of course, there will be no original lover who will come running after hearing about our engagement and say, ‘How could you do this to me!’.

Thanks to this, I could talk to Ian confidently.

“I will break up with him.”

“Didn’t you say that you have a boyfriend that you can’t live without even after death?”

I don’t think I’ve ever said that…

I cleared my throat and answered.

“Um.
It hurts my heart, but we have to say goodbye.
For the sake of the plan.”

“Hm…”

Ian looked at me intently.

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Ah, I’m sure you would think about it if you were really getting engaged, but why are you examining everything so closely when this is fake?

After a while, Ian said something ridiculous.

“You can’t cheat on me!.”

“…….Can’t cheat on you.
After all, Isn’t what I’m doing with Sir Ian a fake engagement?”

“Anyway, no.
Don’t you know that trust is the soul of a relationship like this?”

Huh, true.

Well, I didn’t mean to date around anyway, so I nodded vigorously.

‘You’re the only one who loses.’

It wasn’t me who had to waste my natural face and body at best. 

“Great.
Let’s do that.”

Ian shrugged, clearly pleased with my gracious answer. 

“Now, let’s hear the requirements.”

“Ah.”

Right.
The most important step remained.
Ian looked at me like he noticed something.

“I don’t think money is the only thing that has changed your mind…What has moved your mind?”

“Hmm, hmm.”

I cleared my throat.

“Then I will tell you my requirements from now on.”

Ian’s eyes glowed with an interesting light.
Lucian was also pricking up his ears.

I cleared my throat slightly and opened my mouth.

“First of all, I shall gratefully accept the amount you proposed.”

“Great.
10 million Mars, and what else?”

“I already asked you for an escort knight with excellent skills…”

“Don’t worry, I’ll also give you the best defense artifacts.
For a fiancée who is safety-sensitive”

“Thank you.
And, finally.”

This was the most important part.
Maybe more than 10 million Mars.

“Help me disappear from the Empire in a year.”

“…….”

This may have been unexpected as their eyes grew slightly.

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