Chapter 1 - Part 1
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Lelia couldn’t answer anything as big tears fell from her eyes. She could not think of anything to say.
It was just that… she was very happy that she looked like her mother, and felt sad too… She couldn’t help but cry…
The duke looked at the silently crying child and said;
“That’s why I want to ask. Who are you, my dear?”
Lelia blinked nervously.
“I… I… I’m….”
She wanted to tell him the truth, but her lips were trembling. She had never imagined anyone would notice her presence before the nanny returned. As Lelia failed to answer and kept shedding tears, the old knight reached out.
His wrinkled, but large and thick hands swept Lelia’s cheek and wiped away her tears.
“There’s no need to feel forced.”
As she raised her head, she saw the face of the old duke smiling kindly. Seeing that, Lelia no longer felt afraid of him.
She wanted to tell him the truth.
[I am her daughter. She was my mother…]
Somehow she really thought he would believe her without any evidence.
But for so long, Lelia just cried silently. The old knight stroked Lelia on the cheek and head. It was a very warm, caring touch.
A long time has passed…
Lelia fell asleep, exhausted from crying, and Duke Superion laid the child on a fluffy blanket.
The duke’s expression grew a bit cold when his eyes fell on the slightly rounded cheeks of a child who had obviously been eating well the past few days
Initially, he had only thought she resembled her.
He couldn’t help but think about their similar expressions. He thought of the child he had sent away, his dead daughter who hated him.
He took in this girl as an aide out of pure guilt that he had felt towards his daughter.
But now it felt even more peculiar.
This child resembled his dead daughter too much.
When he looked closely, it was not just her fearful expression, her face, or even her startling yellow-green eyes.
But her elated expressions when she gulps down something delicious, or when she beams and the corners of her eyes crinkle in happiness.
To be exact, she resembled Elizabeth when she was a child. Elizabeth was very naughty when she was a child, but when she grew up she turned into a completely different person.
The duke’s spirits dampened every time he thought about his daughter’s lively self from the past. He felt immense regret.
The Duke of Superion admitted that it was he who was in the wrong. It was his fault for raising his daughter in such a cold manner.
But this girl had the same warm smile as his daughter.
Every moment when he caught a glimpse of this smiling child’s face alongside the weary knights’, the Duke of Superion felt his heart sink and fall to the ground.
Once she started eating properly her cheeks, which had been too thin, started to look fuller and she looked even more like Elizabeth.
At the time he thought it was strange. He was told that the Emperor was looking for a child. Unlike Lelia, who was greatly surprised at the checkpoint, Duke Superion had been aware of the news for a while.
He thought she had nothing to do with it. But when he heard that there was a checkpoint going on at the gate, he saw Lelia’s face turn pale. It felt strange…
But when he pulled the crying child out of the secret space of the carriage, his jumbled thoughts became more clear. Maybe it was all a huge delusion caused by guilt.
So he thought about it.
Lelia; the girl and his daughter are very alike.
As soon as he pulled her out, and he saw Lelia crying, he was convinced.
‘This child is Elizabeth’s blood.’
It was obvious that she knew something. Otherwise, she wouldn’t make such a sad face while crying silently. Duke Superion raised his big hands and clenched his fists.
“How on earth has my granddaughter lived and why is she being chased by the Emperor?”
His eyes shone like a fierce lion.
Suddenly, he remembered what she said on the first day when they had found the child.
[Actually… oh, my dad hates me. So I was running away.]
[…did he abuse you?]
Recalling the words, Duke Superion closed his eyes tightly.
When he opened his eyes again, there was a mixture of deep resentment and betrayal in his eyes.
‘He was unable to protect my daughter….’
The Duke of Superion had opposed the marriage of Perseus and his daughter from the beginning. Maybe he instinctively predicted the death of his daughter.
It was purely because of his grandchildren that he helped Emperor Perseus regain the throne.
The twin brothers were thought to be Elizabeth’s only descendants.
But they weren’t the only ones Elizabeth had left behind.
He didn’t know the details, but it’s clear that the child, who everyone thought had died a short time before Elizabeth, had survived.
When she woke up again, the Duke of Superion no longer asked Lelia questions.
[Is this an illusion? Because I didn’t tell him the truth?]
Lelia was feeling anxious, but her anxiety soon subsided.
This was because Duke Superion took care of Lelia with a more friendly look and tone than before.
As if he knows without asking me.
As if I don’t have to tell him.
As if he will wait for Lelia to speak up about it and tell him in time.
This made her feel at ease for the first time since she had returned from the temple.
On the other hand, the Duke of Superion was so kind that Lelia felt like she was with her mother whom she had never met.
When she thought that her maternal grandfather really recognized her, Lelia’s heart felt overwhelmed and it was hard to breathe.
[I should have told him the truth.]
She tried to say it many times, but the words wouldn’t come out. It was because she knew she would cry if she were to talk about it.
[If my friends find out, they won’t call me Captain anymore…]
It seems like it was just yesterday that she was teased for being a crybaby. If they knew that she had cried again… she could imagine how much her friends would make fun of her.
[We won’t see each other again anyway…]
After she returned to her home country from the temple, perhaps because her friends weren’t there, she had the illusion that she had returned to her younger days.
It was clear to her that people became smaller and younger whenever they were lonely and tired. As she lived in the Imperial Palace, her body and mind shrank.
[I’m glad I ran away.]
Lelia thought and swore she would never cry again.
The knights wrinkled their brows when they saw the Duke of Superion, who was behaving especially kind to Lelia.
“What’s the matter?”
“Did I hear something wrong?”
“It scares me even more when he smiles.”
The knights were bewildered by the gentle Duke of Superion, who always acted like a vicious bear towards them.
Eventually they arrived in Crete, the last big city before they continued on to the Superion estate.
The carriage stopped in front of a shop.
The Duke of Superion took Lelia in his arms, and lifted her out of the carriage. He took her by the hand, and they headed off somewhere.
Lelia looked up at her grandfather with a smile.