Chapter 1 - Part 1
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Lelia was frozen in place.
Perhaps it was because of the noise from outside, Kalix opened the door and stood up crookedly, looking at her.
He looked like a thug passing by.
Kalix frowned as he saw Ruth, Cedric and Damien surrounding Lelia threateningly. He then hurried over and pushed Ruth, Cedric and Damien on their shoulders, forcing them out of his way and almost knocking them over.
Such a disrespectful and arrogant attitude towards the royal family. Lelia was astonished.
But what Cedric had said a little while ago was even more worrying.
[Who did you say wants to see me?]
Perhaps it felt worse to be pushed around than she thought, Damien made a very strong command.
“What did you think you were doing? How dare you lay hands on the Imperial family?”
“There were three people surrounding a single person. So I thought you were all thugs, not a part of the Imperial family.” Kalix said sarcastically.
He had a more thug-like tone and expression when he said that.
[T/N: Go, Kalix! YES!]
Whether Damian was dumbfounded or not, Kalix grabbed Lelia’s arm and pulled her behind him in a protective stance.
Seeing that, Cedric and Damien’s voices became louder.
“It’s the Emperor’s command. You better follow me before they drag you there instead.”
At Damien’s words, Lelia swallowed hard. She tried so hard not to be seen by Emperor Perseus. Luckily, it was almost impossible to meet them.
No matter how many guests stayed in the Imperial Palace, they were not like Romeo or Kalix. Nor were they heroes who participated in the subjugation of the Light Dragon.
People who worked in the Main Palace were lucky if they even walked past the emperor, his daily schedule was just that busy.
Even if someone tried to meet the emperor, the reality is that it’s near impossible.
[Is Julianna crazy?]
Yesterday she looked at Lelia with a sneer on her face, and now she wants Lelia to be her fiancé?
There were times when “women” were a mystery. Lelia recalled the medicine she had prepared in case of a crisis situation.
Kalix turned his body and looked at Lelia. He put his hand down when he realised that Lelia was holding his sleeve anxiously.
“Hey, what have you done?”
At Kalix’s question, Lelia shook her head.
“Then what are you so scared of?”
“That… that… the Emperor is calling me, so it’s no wonder… .”
“Do you… want me to come with you?”
Kalix asked with a slightly unsteady expression.
Lelia tried to say no. Contrary to what she was thinking, she was nodding her head like crazy.
Kalix spoke to Cedric and Damian and then pushed Lelia towards her room, she was able to pull it together enough to go in.
Fortunately, she seemed to have enough wits about her that she was able to dress appropriately for a meeting with the emperor. She thought she could forget all about the royal family, because she was being rude to Cedric and Damian.
Lelia tied her cravat with her trembling hands and went outside. She also didn’t forget to make sure she has her medicines in her inventory.
When she exited her room nervously, she saw Kalix had exited his room before her.
Surprisingly, he was wearing a cravat.
Although he abandoned his life as royalty by his own choosing, Kalix still had the blood of an Imperial family. Maybe that’s why when he was well-dressed he didn’t look like a thug, but rather like a dignified Imperial family member. It must have been because he was so tall and big, and he looked more dignified than Cedric and Damian, who were scrawny.
[Are you arguing with Cedric and Demian, who have been waiting against the wall?]
Come to think of it, Cedric, Damian, Ruth, and Kalix, these four people were all acquaintances.
They all participated in the Dragon subjugation together.
But their relationship didn’t seem very good.
“Why don’t you behave yourself if you’re staying as a guest?”
“Am I here as a criminal? Why are you trying to intimidate me?”
In fact, it was the Emperor that asked him to stay in the Imperial Palace if he wanted to stay in the capital. It would be meaningful for the royal family to have heroes from other countries stay in Auraria for as long as possible. Especially at a time when the tug-of-war between the five empires and the temple was so tense.
Lelia staggered with them towards the main hall.
She never thought that Kalix would say that he would go with her though. She felt relieved having him with her.
Ruth was staring at Lelia without saying a word the whole time.
[Up until yesterday, he treated me like a benefactor… Now you are treating me like an enemy.]
Lelia hid behind Kalix, pretending not to see Ruth’s gaze.
Looking how furious Ruth was, Kalix asked Lelia in a quiet voice.
“Did you borrow money from him? What’s wrong with him?”
“Princess Julianna… made me a candidate for being her fiancé.”
Kalix burst out laughing. He wasn’t supposed to make any loud noises, so he covered his mouth with his big hands. When Lelia saw him smile with his eyes closed, it was so funny.
Because of Kalix’s laughter, Ruth glared at Lelia with an even stronger fury.
[He thinks we’re laughing at him.]
[I don’t know anymore…]
Lelia blinked slowly like a person who had given up.
As expected, Lelia was glad that she didn’t take the medicine out of the inventory beforehand.
In front of the main hall, the Emperor’s knights lightly searched Lelia and Kalix’s body.
Cedric, Damien and Ruth stared at Lelia and went somewhere together.
Lelia sighed inwardly.
In any case, Ruth must have been liked by those two princes. For now, it’s like they were on one side.
“Come this way, please.”
As they followed the servant through the big door, she saw fancy furniture all over the place. The large space, which looked like a vast drawing room, was decorated with colorful carpets, and the sofa and the table were arranged harmoniously.
As she turned to look around, she saw the edge of the couch just inside a large open arch.
That area seems to be a little more private than this space.
Lelia clenched her hands that were trembling with tension.
Kalix, on the other hand, looked relaxed.
The servant led the two of them to an audience room just inside the arch doorway.
The emperor was sitting on the sofa reading a document, when he heard them enter he raised his head.
Lelia gulped down her fear.
It was her second reunion with the emperor since she fled the Imperial palace as a child.
The first reunion was the night when she went to the cabin to find her last ingredient.
The feeling of the drunken emperor grabbing her ankle was still vivid. Lelia found it difficult to calm her pounding heart as the memory of the fear she felt at that night returned.
Emperor Perseus, in a good condition, did not look much different from her childhood.
After such a long time, he still looked young. It did look like he had lost some weight.
Emperor Perseus’ forehead wrinkled.
‘Sir Raymond… who I’ve only heard of….’
‘Yes, he looks quite similar to the painting that my secretaries once reported is in fashion.’
‘But in reality, it looks more like someone else than the painting.’
Why did he think of his dead wife the first time he set eyes on this young man?
His eyes and hair color were completely different, but he was overwhelmed with strange emotions.
Doubts arose over whether his late wife had hidden a son from him.
All kinds of doubts quickly dominated his mind.
The atmosphere and expression around this man felt similar.
Suddenly, he remembered the woman he saw on that drunken night at the cabin who looked like Elizabeth. After they sealed off the capital, they tried to find a woman with green eyes, but the woman who looked like his wife disappeared without a trace.
So he concluded that he must have been really drunk and misunderstood.
But what if…
The silence lasted too long.
Kalix, who couldn’t stand waiting any longer, called out to the emperor in curiosity.
Still, the emperor looked blank.
Kalix turned his head toward Lelia and asked with his eyes.
‘You’ve been caught being a woman, haven’t you?’
Lelia couldn’t understand because he said it with his eyes. She awkwardly smiled back, the corners of her mouth shivered.
Lelia was also feeling uncomfortable with Emperor Perseus’ persistent gaze.
When Emperor Perseus came to his senses, he said.
“Sir Kalix… You’re here with him.”
“I came with my friend because he felt weak.”
“Okay… Thank you, but could you wait over there?”
Kalix looked at Lelia, and went to wait outside the arch. Fortunately, it was an open archway, so it wasn’t just the two of them in an enclosed space. Lelia relaxed at the idea of Kalix being nearby. She sat in the seat that the emperor indicated.
The emperor sat down and looked at her with a strange look.
Lelia wasn’t sure what he was thinking.
Then, Emperor Perseus sprang up and walked to the window like a disturbed man.
[Now is my chance…]
Lelia opened the inventory window and pulled out the item.
A drug that lets her be mistaken for a man.
She had a hunch that he might know.
[He might suspect something’s wrong with me because I look so much like my mother. He might suspect that I’m a woman.]
In order to open the lid when she had an opportunity, Lelia hid the bottle of medicine inside her sleeve.
Emperor Perseus, who had been hanging around the window for a long time, turned his head and looked at her.
It seems that the reason why he originally called Lord Raymond had finally come to mind.
“I heard that Princess Julianna likes you.”
“I hate to say it myself… but I have a very complicated relationship with women. I appreciate her interest, but….”
“Complicated relationships with women?”
Emperor Perseus asked, frowning. Well, it would be ridiculous to say that when he called him as a candidate for his son-in-law.
But Emperor Perseus brought up another point.
“You look very much like someone I know… You’re from the aristocracy of the Roseberry Empire?
“Yes, I’ve been hearing that from everyone. They say I look like a painting?”
Lelia smiled and pretended to be innocent.
Emperor Perseus tilted his head to the other side with his arms folded.
“You’re not hiding anything from me?”
Emperor Perseus said, after a moment’s hesitation.
“I hope that someone flawless will be Princess Julianna’s partner. But you’re….”
[What? Who wants to be her partner?]
Lelia waited for the emperor’s words with a look of dismay.
“I’m asking. Are you sure you’re a man?”
“In my eyes… you look like a woman who came in hiding her gender.”
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