Published at 13th of December 2020 10:31:29 AM
Translator and Editor: Mily and Ailxxi
The attendant led us to a room where the royal couple was waiting .
“Your Majesty, the Emperor . Your Majesty, the Empress . Have you been well?”
“We have, thank you . ”
Marianne greeted them first, followed by Sharon, Rudolphe, and myself . The two royals greeted us warmly .
“You’re here . Welcome . ”
“It’s been a while . Please have a seat . Oh my, older Young Miss, are you unwell?”
“Yes, my leg is a little… . It’s nothing serious so please don’t be concerned, Your Majesty . ”
Each one of us took our designated seats .
The seat of honor was obviously taken by the Emperor . To his left sat the Empress and to his right sat Leonhart .
The higher your position, the closer you were to the royals . We sat according to the hierarchy in our household . The closest to them was Marianne, followed by myself, then Sharon and Rudolph .
Once Rudolphe becomes the official heir, his rank would be higher than mine, but that was not the case yet .
“Cynthia had another appointment so she couldn’t join us today . She apologizes for her absence . ”
“She desperately wanted to join us that she even thought about canceling her other plans, but things didn’t work out as she desired . It looks like she thoroughly enjoyed tea time with the older Young Miss last time . ”
“Oh! Cyn is very picky about the people she mingles with so this is really a big deal . Please get along well with her in the future as well, older Young Miss . ”
“Most certainly,” I replied as the Emperor chuckled good-naturedly .
As we spoke about Princess Cynthia, Marianne and Sharon, who were pushed out of the conversation, sat there with an awkward smile .
Grilled Duck was prepared as the main dish . It was one of Marianne’s favorite dishes and Sharon also seemed to like it a lot .
Perhaps His Majesty the Emperor instructed the Palace to prepare the meal based on the preference of the Head of the Family .
For main courses, I prefer lightly flavored meat . At the moment, the only person who knew this was my older brother .
“I firmly told the Head Chef to be attentive to your preferences, but I don’t know if it suits your palate . ”
“With the skills of the Head Chef of the Royal Palace, there’s no way the food won’t be delicious, Your Majesty . I am flattered that you cared to this extent . ”
The Emperor held Marianne in high regard . That’s because when my father decided to take in a second wife, he was concerned about the public’s opinion so he focused on managing her public image . Thanks to that, she was viewed as a wise and virtuous woman .
I can’t say Marianne was a smart woman but she had quite a few tricks up her sleeves and she was eloquent . Therefore, even if she was mocked as being a low-class aristocrat, she had been able to maintain a good reputation .
That was one of the many reasons why I cannot recklessly reveal her real conduct behind closed doors . If I did, I might be accused of slandering an innocent stepmother, who had done nothing wrong, simply because I hated her . Doing so would harm my reputation instead .
We ate our meal peacefully . When we were done, the attendants and the handmaidens collected the tableware and left . Soon after, an impressive display of refreshments was laid out . The portions were dainty, but they were decorated so beautifully it felt like a pity to eat them .
The Emperor started a conversation with Marianne about the state of affairs of the Empire .
Usually, Marianne was utterly disinterested in such matters, but just so she can converse with the Emperor, she had been studying potential conversation topics from three days prior . Needless to say, she’s going to forget everything once we go back .
During their conversation, I was sure she’d subtly bring up the subject of Magnolia Merchant’s cotton distribution .
“The young ladies must be bored . It’s okay if you want to do something else,” the Emperor said when he saw me absentmindedly drinking my tea .
Hearing the Emperor’s words, Sharon lowered her gaze modestly .
“Thank you for the offer, Your Majesty . I’d like to sit here and continue to listen attentively at the ongoing conversation . ”
“O-Oh, I see . Indeed, even if it’s a little boring, if you listen carefully, these words will prove to be rather beneficial and valuable later . The attitude of Young Miss is very admirable and pleasing . ”
I see . Her strategy was to play coy . In reality, Sharon who resembled Marianne in her interests did not care for these topics at all . She was just pretending .
Rudolphe, on the other hand, could not hide his disinterest . Unfortunately, as he was going to be the head of the family in the future, he had no choice but to stay .
Although he may not fully understand the contents of the conversation, it would be useful for him to listen to such discussions .
I didn’t really have a reason to insist on staying in my seat, so I decided to leave .
“In that case, I’ll take a short stroll outside . ”
“As you wish . ”
Pretending not to notice Rudolphe’s jealous expression, I bowed courteously and waved at the attendant nearby so he could pull my wheelchair .
“Older Young Miss, just a moment . ”
Hearing Leonhart’s voice, the attendant stopped and turned the wheelchair in his direction .
“Yes, Sir Leonhart . ”
“I want to assign my Escort Knight as the escort for Young Miss if you’d please allow it?”
Leonhart’s offer was unexpected . When I glanced at the Escort Knight, who had been standing by in the back, he seemed to have a calm and composed expression, as if this matter had already been discussed .
I wanted to ask why, but to do so in front of the Emperor and the Empress would be rude . I decided to accept the offer without question .
“I will gratefully accept your offer, Your Highness . ”
As soon as the words left my lips, Leonhart’s Escort Knight approached me . The attendant moved away and the Escort Knight took over . He made the exit greetings to the Royals and the members of the Crescente family per the protocol and pushed the wheelchair out of the room .
When he pushed the wheelchair, I felt that the Escort pushed it more confidently than the attendant . I wondered if it was because of the fundamental difference in their strength, but it felt like I was being pushed more smoothly .
“Where should I escort you, Young Miss? Is there a place, in particular, you would like to visit?”
From his voice and speech, I could surmise that the Escort Knight had quite a pleasant personality .
“Well, it would be nice if it was a place where there aren’t too many people . ”
“A place with not too many people . I understand . ”
Looking at the way he was pushing gave me the impression that I was about to take off but he was actually pushing me carefully . He was even humming .
The place the Escort brought me to was the garden where I had tea with Leonhart last time .
“This place is so tranquil . Such a beautiful garden . ”
“This place is not open to outsiders . ”
“…then is it okay to come here?”
“Leon – His Highness will turn a blind eye to this, so it’s okay . ”
“My Lord, you and Prince Leonhart must be extremely close . ”
“We trained under the same fencing master . ”
The Escort Knight introduced himself and said his name was ‘Andrew Right’ .
When I addressed him as Lord Right, he bold-facedly asked me to call him Lord Andrew .
It was the kind of attitude that some people would consider rude but to someone like me who lived a long time without any friends, this kind of cordial and friendly attitude was extremely delightful and welcome .
“I have known His Highness for about 10 years now . ”
“For 10 years?”
That’s why they seemed to share such a pleasant relationship . Since Leonhart was 21 years old now… They really had known each for a long time .
“What kind of person was Prince Leonhart 10 years ago?”
“Hmm, at that time, the Prince was rash and reckless . ”
A reckless Leonhart was hard to imagine, given his appearance today .
“There was a time when I had a fight with His Majesty the First Prince and was struck by him . After that, I gritted my teeth and focused on sharpening my fencing skills . ”
“However as my skills grew and I was getting ready to challenge him again, His Majesty the First Prince left for Arsentia . That made me furious . Argh . ”
“Oh no . ”
“Well, thanks to that, my skills became as good as they are now . If it wasn’t for His Majesty the First Prince, I wouldn’t have learned to fence that diligently . ”
Hmm… But there’s something strange about that . From what Lord Andrew was saying, it sounded like Leonhart and Claudian shared a good relationship .
The two people I knew before shared a fierce relationship where they wanted to bite each other’s heads off, fighting over the position of the Crown Prince .
“Lord Andrew, over there…”
I was about to clarify their relationship when I was interrupted by a blue light emanating from Lord Andrew’s arm . It wasn’t a light that was reflected from somewhere else, but a light that came out of the bracelet itself .
“Ah, the Prince is trying to contact me . It’s a magical tool, this one . ”
“A magical tool?”
“Yes . It’s something that helps you communicate even if you’re far apart, so it was given to the Imperial Escort Knights . ”
-Hey, Andrew . Where are you?
“The garden behind the Imperial Palace . ”
-Got it . I’ll go there now .
The light from the bracelet vanished . The communication seemed to have ended .
“…Prince Leonhart is coming here?”
“Yes . He appointed me to escort you only so that he could contact me directly to meet you privately, Young Miss . ”
“Ah, I see . ”
“This guy… Uh-umm, His Majesty seems to like you very much, Young Miss . ”
“Well . ”
Perhaps because my reaction was ambiguous, Lord Andrew continued further .
“Since Young Miss is an attractive and charming person, His Majesty isn’t just approaching you strategically as a potential wife . His Majesty only goes this far for those that he has a favorable impression of as a person . ”
“A favorable impression of as a person?”
It was so unexpected that, without realizing it, I revealed my curiosity . As if excited by my reaction, Lord Andrew enthusiastically started telling me things that I hadn’t even asked about .
“Actually, His Majesty is good at dealing with the people of lower rank but, he doesn’t have many friends among people of equal rank . Perhaps because of that, he doesn’t know how to show his favor to people . ”
“I know he’s asked you to get engaged with him several times, leaving the impression it’s only a marriage of convenience . The truth is that he asked because he holds you in high regard . ”
“Andrew . ”
A cool voice brought us back to reality . Lord Andrew immediately shut his mouth .
“You’re here, Your Highness . You got here faster than I expected . ”
“I hope you forget the useless words this fellow just mentioned, Young Miss . ”
“…I’ll try my best to do that but it doesn’t seem like something that is easily forgotten . ”
Leonhart sighed, sending a light look of reproach towards Lord Andrew . Lord Andrew feigned indifference .
“Why did you come out? Sharon will be disappointed . ”
“Because there wasn’t exactly a reason for me to continue to remain there . The subject of the conversation has moved completely to the business of the Crescente Family, so the resolution of that problem will be figured out by the Royal officials,” Leonhart responded with a rather disinterested expression .
Sharon was only glued to her seat so that the Emperor and Leonhart would look at her favorably . Since Leonhart had come out here, she must be crying her heart out internally .
“I also wanted to have a discussion with you, Young Miss . What do you think about talking as we walk?”
“Did you forget already? It’s a little hard for me to walk . ”
“Hmm . ”
Leonhart was momentarily lost in thought, then he looked at my feet and spoke, “There’s an insect crawling up the hem of your dress, Young Miss . ”
Hearing that, I was so shocked I immediately stood right up and started dusting the hem of my dress . However, I didn’t see an insect, only a few blades of grass which fluttered and fell to the ground .