Chapter 1. I was abandoned by my family
“I heard people change a lot when they get married, but I didn’t think it would be to this extent.”
Elle muttered as she walked around the square with a displeased look. If things had gone as originally planned, she’d be walking with Leticia next to her, not alone.
‘This is all my brother’s fault.’
Enoch said pathetically that he hadn’t had a day off in a long time, and in a moment of weakness Leticia had given in, and asked if she could go with her next time.
When Elle pointed her finger at him, Enoch made an effort to look pitiful before telling Leticia that it would be okay for her to go.
He was her brother, but he was abominable.
‘Someday, I’ll get revenge.’
Enoch thought she’d just let it go? No way.
Elle released a long sigh. Since this happened, she was going to prepare a birthday present for Leticia in advance.
‘What present would be good?’
She already looked around twice, but there wasn’t anything that caught her eye. She wanted to give Leticia a gift that she would like, but Leticia preferred sincere letters or homemade gifts over expensive items.
‘That’s why I want to make a cake.’
If she made it, it was clear that Enoch or Ian would stop Leticia from eating it. Just imagining that scene in her head made Elle feel annoyed.
‘Anyways, they’re still my brothers.’
She didn’t like either of them. It seemed that she’d have to rub their noses with the birthday present she’d prepare for Leticia.
At that time, the gentle sound of music reached her ears. As Elle followed the sound slowly, she saw a store that was selling music boxes.
Elle stood in front of the store, and smoothed her lips. Come to think of it, she didn’t think it would be a bad idea as a birthday gift.
“Welcome, my lady.”
As soon as Elle entered, the owner greeted her with a bright smile. Even before she could say anything, he showed her the most popular music box these days.
‘I like this one quite a bit.’
It was a music box that had a carving of a child playing a flute in the forest. She thought Leticia would like the calming music that came out of it.
“So, how much is it?”
“Two silver coins.”
It wasn’t a bad price, but it wasn’t a good price either. Eventually, Elle left the store after saying she would come back a little later.
She looked around some other place that she thought might have better gifts, but she didn’t find anything she liked.
‘As expected, only the music box is good.’
Elle returned to the store again, and planned to buy the music box she’d seen before. However, she could see a man, who’d arrived after she’d left, standing in front of it.
‘Oh, I should’ve bought it earlier.’
For a moment, Elle glanced up and down at the man.
As soon as she’d seen him, she thought he stood out. He was quite tall and well built, perhaps that’s why she was eyeing him.
“How much is it?”
She couldn’t see his face properly because he was wearing a hood, but his voice was quite pleasant to listen to.
“Three silver coins.”
Elle, who was looking at another music box, looked at the owner and wondered if she’d heard it wrong. The owner hadn’t noticed Elle enter, he’d lied with a straight face and stated a higher price.
“Excuse me. The price is two silver coins, don’t be fooled.”
“You have to do business honestly.”
Elle said this firmly, cutting off the owner’s words when he tried to explain himself. The owner, who was looking at Elle and the man alternately, bowed his head.
“Sorry, I’m sorry. In fact, the price is two silver coins.”
When he honestly admitted his mistake, the man paused while trying to pay. Elle could clearly feel that he was quite confused by the way he faltered, even though she couldn’t see his expression.
Elle thought the man was embarrassed because he was almost deceived.
“I’ll come back next time.”
While talking, the man seemed to be in a difficult situation. As soon as Elle was about to ask if something was wrong.
“I forgot my money.”
Elle didn’t think it would be for such an absurd reason, and she looked up at the man in shock. The man just smiled casually at Elle, and told her.
“Thank you for your help, my lady.”
A voice that resonated gently, with no highs or lows, as the corners of his mouth raised smoothly.
The man smiled at Elle once again, and left the store. When she came to, the man had already disappeared.
“Oh, his name.”
She should’ve asked for his name. That’s too bad.
“Your Highness, why did you suddenly disappear?”
“Shh… You have to call me young master while we’re outside.”
As soon as he excited the music box store, an escort knight quickly approached him. The man put his index finger to his mouth, and cautioned him.
“I’m sorry. I thought it would be nice to give one to my sister, then she might stop pestering me.”
“To her highness the princess?”
“I told you to call me young master, so you should call her young lady.”
“I’m sorry. So, did you buy it?”
“No, I couldn’t buy it.”
It’s not that he didn’t buy it, but that he couldn’t buy it, that caused the knight to look like he didn’t understand.
In response, the man burst into laughter and shrugged lightly. He wondered why his escort was so dumbfounded.
“I forgot that you had the money.”
Leaving behind the embarrassed escort knight, the man walked away with a big grin.
‘Come to think of it, I should’ve asked for her name.’
He had the impression that he’d seen her somewhere, but strangely, he couldn’t remember from where.
‘If it’s meant to be.’
We’ll meet again one day.
He only hoped it would be someone he would see again.
“You seem to think that just because you’ve been popular lately, you’ve become something.”
Ian never thought that becoming an Imperial official would be the end of his misfortune, and the beginning of his happiness, but he didn’t think he’d be kept in check this way.
Ian just did his best in his current position. As a result, his bosses appreciated and trusted him.
To be so openly dismissive, as if they couldn’t stand to see it, was so insignificant that Ian couldn’t help but laugh.
“I’d rather be a corrupt than be incompetent at my job like you guys.”
“Now see here!”
One of the civil servants couldn’t stand it anymore, and raised his hand in the air. Ian saw the blow coming, and tried to back away. Unlike his head, which thought rather quickly, Ian’s body was slow to react.
As soon as he realized this, he knew he’d end up being hit.
“Wow, it’s amazing that four people are bothering one person together.”
The sound of light clapping turned everyone’s attention towards the approaching person. It was none other than Keena who was now walking up with a big grin.
“Get lost if you don’t have anything better to do.”
Ian’s peer, who still wanted to hit him, just glared at her grimly. The other civil servants next to him were astonished, and they looked frightened.
“Are you crazy?”
“What did I do?”
“Are you saying that because you really don’t know?”
When she looked at the civil servant as if she really didn’t know, he said in a frustrated tone.
“You’ve only recently had the false accusation against you rescinded, and regained your position as a duke you know.”
It was only then that she could understand why the man was making such a fuss. She was officially the head of the Erebos family, so she was a great source of gossip. Even so, her family had already been destroyed once. Even if being the head was a badge of honor, the stigma would never go away.
“Oh, are you done? Don’t interrupt my work for no reason, and just go on your way… Ugh!”
As soon as the man gestured for her to leave, he was pushed against the wall at high speed. He was so startled that he didn’t even have time to lift his head, and he couldn’t even catch his breath from the force violently tightening around his neck.
Even though it was only a single word, it was so intimidating that he naturally cringed. Incredibly, the man began to feel chilled as if he were standing before the mouth of a ravenous beast.
“If you open your mouth again, I’ll break your neck.”
“Put me down…”
“You’re not listening to me, are you?”
Keena, who stopped talking for a while, had a fierce smile on her face.
“My specialty is breaking necks with my bare hands.
Keena’s red eyes brightened, the hand around the man’s neck began to tighten, and his face started to turn blue.
“Let’s test whether it’s a lie or not.”
Without relaxing her hand, she whispered that softly to him, causing goosebumps to raise all over his body. When he felt the threat to his life, a servile voice escaped his mouth.
“Sorry, I’m sorry. I’m sorry.”
Keena pointed towards Ian with cool eyes. Only then did the man notice that the subject of his apology was wrong, and he immediately apologized to Ian.
When Keena finally let him go after much crying and begging, the colleagues who’d bothered Ian quickly ran away.
“No matter where you go, there are always people like that.”
“Are you okay?”
Keena, who watched until the men had completely disappeared, clicked her tongue and asked Ian. However, Ian was making a complicated expression and calmly replied.
“Thank you for your help.”
“You don’t look grateful.”
“I’m serious about saying thank you.”
Ian couldn’t hide how ashamed he felt that he couldn’t do anything.
He tried to calm down, and return home, but he felt concerned when Keena followed behind him.
“Why are you following me?”
“I’m not following you.”
Ian stared disapprovingly at Keena, who was following him with her hands behind her head.
“Then what are you doing?”
“I’m definitely going because I was invited to dinner.”
Ian already had a headache at the thought of going to the mansion with a person who’d witnessed this inconvenience. Before that, there was something to be solved first.
“Please don’t tell my family about today.”
“Because I’m sure it’ll worry them.”
Everyone was finally happy, he didn’t want that perfect happiness to be broken because of him.
“Isn’t that unfair to you?”
“No, you don’t have to answer.”
Ian was embarrassed by the unexpected words that came out, and he shook his head quickly. She never wanted to hear the answer because she knew what the answer would be.
However, Keena’s next words were unexpected.
“I’m not smart, and I’m only good at using my body. Do you think I’m pathetic?”
Keena, who was standing next to him, asked this question out of the blue. As soon as their eyes met, Ian instantly replied.
He never thought like that. All he could do was read books because he wasn’t very good at using his body.
Rather, he envied people who were talented at swordsmanship. He always wished he’d had the power to protect himself and the people dear to him.
Keena destroyed that idea all at once.
“See? It’s the same as me.”
“You’re good at what I can’t do, so it looks great to me.”
He didn’t realize that she would feel similarly to him, so Ian stopped walking and looked at Keena without realizing it. He felt a firm sincerity in her red eyes, and that she didn’t say those words just to soothe him.
From that day forward, Ian looked at Keena in a different light.
That day was the starting point for Ian to find his own way to protect himself and the people he cared about. The method was easier and simpler than he thought.
“The results of the promotion came out today.”
“But the name on it…”
To stand over the heads of those people.
The peers that had bothered Ian were fed up with blue faces. Ian, who stood leisurely next to them, checked the list as the corners of his mouth rose crookedly. His name was written on the promotion list, it seemed the results of his hard work had paid off.
“Ah, life at the Imperial Palace sounds fun. Right?”
Ian smiled brightly, and tapped his colleagues on the shoulders. He was going to give back as much as he received.
That evening, when Ian returned to the mansion, he snooped at the door after hearing that Keena had been invited over. He murmured in his mind that he was definitely not waiting for her, but his eyes kept looking outside.
At that moment, he heard a cute voice next to him,
“Are you waiting for me?”
When she appeared in an unexpected place, Ian was surprised and stiffened. He quickly returned to his original expression.
“I think you’ve been waiting for me.”
“What would change if I said I was waiting for you?”
Before Ian could ask what, Keena said.
“How I feel.”
“I think it would feel good if you said you’d been waiting.”
With those unexpected words, he faintly heard his heart thumping in his mind. Ian, who couldn’t take his eyes off the gaze that faced him, quickly turned away with a puzzled expression that was very unlike his usual self. He felt embarrassed because his body seemed to be burning up.
Keena, who was walking alongside him, said teasingly, as if she might understand his feelings or not.
“Oh? Your face turned red.”
“Even your ears are red.”
She poked Ian’s arm as he continued to walk forward, but her small laugh stayed with him.