Petra Liefer was in a good mood for the first time in a long while.
Her long, black hair, which was healthy and glossy for someone her age, reached down to the small of her back.
She’d taken it out of her usual updo.
Tea in hand, she was savoring the peaceful morning.
There were two reasons for her relaxation.
The first was that Apollonia, who’d been a thorn in her side for years, had finally been dealt with.
Although they weren’t technically engaged yet, the agreement between Gaius and the foreign king meant that Apollonia would never sit on the throne.
Petra didn’t love her niece.
But she didn’t hate her, either.
Her feelings towards the girl were different from Gaius’s, who hated his own daughter simply for being the granddaughter of the late emperor.
Actually, she felt no emotion at all towards her.
What Petra sought was the same thing that all women of the Liefer had sought before her – the glory of the family.
There was only one thing a woman could do to bring honor to her family.
To help her father, her brothers, and her sons succeed.
Every woman in the family had that ingrained in them from childhood.
Work for your brothers, choose a partner that will benefit you the most, and give everything to your family.
Petra’s intelligence, business sense, and skill at politics were second to none.
But her family tradition was rooted in her heart.
She did great things with her own hands, and in her own name, but in the end, everything was for the family, and for Gaius.
Just like the women of the Liefer family had been for generations, Petra had devoted her life to the glory of her brother, Gaius.
She was a talented and skilled woman, and she used those skills to gather immense wealth.
She’d found Gaius countless competent aides, and constantly supported and invested in him.
Petra may have followed the old traditions, but she was more successful than any Liefer woman before her.
She’d orchestrated the meeting between Gaius and Princess Elenia.
She’d transformed a poor count of a border region into the prince consort, and later – into an emperor.
Liefer had become the most prominent dukedom in the empire, all thanks to her efforts.
It was hard to imagine a woman more successful than her.
In order to preserve that success, Paris’ smooth ascension to the throne was imperative.
Paris was Gaius’s beloved son, raised by the emperor himself since childhood.
He wasn’t officially a part of the royal family, but he would always be backed by the Liefer family.
But Apollonia was different.
She was the daughter of Princess Elenia, and as such, not only had she inherited the blood of the royal family, but she was also the royal heir chosen by the late emperor himself.
She was stubborn and strong-willed, and she’d spent her childhood under the teachings of the previous emperor.
She could never be a woman of Liefer.
That’s why Apollonia was so bothersome.
In the past, it had been enough for Petra to threaten Apollonia into submission, but it’d be a different story if people realized that she possessed the traits of the royal bloodline.
Her beautiful appearance, inherited from her mother, didn’t help either.
She had to completely disappear from the imperial family.
The assassination had failed, but the engagement would have the same effect.
Either way, she would be completely removed from the line of succession.
In the meantime, that weak princess had claimed she wanted to visit the remote and rugged Lishan province.
Petra was suspicious of Apollonia’s intentions, but it was a good thing that Apollonia would be far away from the palace until the engagement ceremony.
It would reduce the number of variables she needed to concern herself with.
The second reason she was enjoying her rest was because of that thing she’d sent to Apollonia.
Safiro’s assassin had gone missing after the attempt, but she’d received news that he’d died.
It was excellent news.
It would be a source of trouble if he’d survived.
She wasn’t surprised, though.
She’d already heard the report from one of her wizards.
“I can’t feel any energy from his mark.
He must be dead.
It was probably suicide.”