Chapter 1. The beginning of everything
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Ellea was at a loss for words at the moment, then asked in a clear tone.
“What? Why did you do that for?”
“Because you said nonsense.”
“No, what on earth is it?”
She did not know why Bellea reacted in this way, because what she said wasn’t nonsense.
“You still don’t understand what I’m saying, do you? You’re my sister, you’re family.” ( Bellea)
“Even family members are capable of having such thoughts. Moreover, you are the Crown Prince. It is not easy to make such a decision.” (El)
At Ellea’s words, Bellea bowed his head with a sigh and ruffled his hair. The sight of him gave Ellea a brief but frank confession of what she felt from Bellea.
“Bellea, you take too good care of me. Of course I was very sick, but I think it is not unusual for you to care for me like that all the time.” (El)
Bellea, who was silently listening to Ellea, raised his head and made eye contact with her. And for the first time, he showed his true feelings.
“You and I are twins.”
“Then I had this feeling. I wondered if maybe it was my fault that you were sick.”
Ellea was surprised, but she noticed that Bellea’s eyes and voice became more serious, so she decided to listen to him quietly.
“Every time I saw you in pain, I always felt overwhelmed. In fact, I think I’ve made you that way.” (Bellea)
“While watching parents worrying about you, I thought maybe if I wasn’t there from the beginning, you’d be healthy….ouch! What is it all of a sudden?” (Bellea)
Realizing what Bellea was trying to say, Ellea replied in the same way he had just done. She flicked his forehead.
But on the contrary, she put as much force into it as possible. And then she said the same thing to Bellea, who was bewildered.
“Because you were saying nonsense.” (El)
“But I did it gently. You put too much force into it.”(Bellea)
“Anyway, don’t ever think that again, and don’t ever say it. I bet our parents will be really happy when they find out that you had been thinking all along.” (El)
Ellea deliberately mentioned their parents, and as expected, Bellea tried to stop her from speaking.
“What I said today is an absolute secret. Do you understand?” (Bellea)
Ellea was relieved when he returned to his normal mood, but she had never thought he had such thoughts. The reason why she had said that earlier was because she wanted to make sure that Bellea would not blame himself.
“Well, I’ll think about it if you can convince me to go to Rubain.”
“That’s cheap, using people’s weakness.”
“─ So don’t even think about it, lest it become a weakness. Because I am only grateful to you.”
The last words came from the bottom of her heart, as Bellea was the first person to show such true feelings since she had woken up in this body.
“Please don’t look so touched. It’s embarrassing for me.”
With those last words from Ellea, their eyes met and they both burst into laughter at the same time. And when the laughter stopped, Bellea asked seriously.
“Won’t you regret your choice?”
Realizing what he was asking, Ellea said with conviction, not avoiding Bellea’s eyes.
“Of course not. You know better than anyone else that avoiding it doesn’t work.”
“Why are you so fearless? I’m sure something will happen when you get there.”
“‘Nothing has ever happened there, history has proven that. And it’s the same with people who live there. “
“You are really…”
With a small sigh at Ellea’s stubborn words, Bellea had no choice but to spit out words of permission. Because he realized for sure now that he would never be able to bend Ellea’s strong will.
“I allow it.”
“What, you’re not surprised?.”
“Because I didn’t even need your permission from the beginning.”
Ellea, who got the answer she wanted from him, had nothing to hesitate about now. Despite Ellea’s confident appearance, Bellea could not shake off his worries.
“Because you don’t even know how terrifying the world outside the Imperial Palace can be.”
Ellea almost laughed at Bellea’s words.That was because she knew it better than anyone else. How harsh the world was out there, unlike here.
“Still, you have to persuade mother and father.” (Bellea)
“I’m going to do that anyway. From the standpoint of the empire, even the two of them can’t help it.”
“You seem to be forgetting again, but before that, they’re our parents.”
Despite Bellea’s concerns, Ellea was confident he could convince them. Ellea comforted Bellea who still couldn’t let go of his worries.
“It’s not like it will take a whole lifetime anyway. It’s only a year. It’ll go by quickly.”
“I know that. However…”
For some reason, the moment she left here, Bellea’s mind filled with the image that Ellea was walking down a road that she would never return. No matter how much he called out to her in the shadows, she wouldn’t stop and would keep moving away.
“I don’t know why I feel like you’re leaving me forever. It’s just an unfounded fear of mine.” (Bellea)
Ellea laughed at Bellea’s words, but she couldn’t deny it. Instead, she changed the subject and told him something that made him feel at ease.
“Don’t worry. Nothing will happen.”
“Yes. As your family, I will have to trust you.”
“We are family.”
It occurred to Ellea that she might have been assimilated by these people for a short time. Especially with the warmth they gave her.
The next day, Ellea immediately informed the Emperor and Empress of her decision.
“So I think it’s better that I go as it was promised. This is also my will.”
At first, they too were opposed to the idea of the unwell Ellea leaving, but they finally trusted and allowed her as they felt her sincerity.
“Yes, if that’s your choice.”
Ellea thought she would have to convince them for a long time, but unexpectedly, they gave her permission at once.
“Were you surprised that we agreed so easily?”
“Yes, a little. I thought you would oppose it to the end.”
“We believe in our daughter.”
That one word, “believe,” brought to mind the face of Terban that Ellea thought she’d forgotten. His voice, too, as he said he believed in her.
“I believe you.”
After struggling to put the thoughts of him out of her mind, Ellea thanked her parents wholeheartedly.
And so it was decided that Ellea would go to Rubain, and preparations began that day for her departure. And the news was immediately conveyed to the Rubain Empire.
“So the Princess, who has regained her health, is coming here as promised.”
Terban sat in his office and listened to his aide’s report. He didn’t like the idea that the Princess, not the Crown Prince, would come. But it had been decided a long time ago so he had no other choice.
“It’s a pity. It would have been better if the Crown Prince came.”
As he gave other instructions to the aide, one name came up naturally at the end.
“There, that part is for El…”
At that moment, Terban realized who’s name he had mentioned and immediately stopped speaking. After some time had passed and he heard nothing, the aide cautiously called out to him.
“Your Majesty? What’s wrong all of a sudden?”
“No, nothing.Then make the preparations as you should.”
“Yes, Your Majesty.”
Terban, who was about to grab a pen to deal with the accumulated work after the aide left, stood up and looked out the window.
It had been some time since El’s death, a month now.
The Knights were shocked by El’s sudden death, but when Terban was around, they didn’t mention anything about her out of concern.
In the meantime, the poisoning case was completely settled.
Since El had admitted her guilt and committed suicide, there was no point in further investigation.
To be sure, they also checked her office afterwards, but nothing special came out, and so it was concluded that El was the culprit.
However, the sight of her bloody hands, touched him wistfully, still confused Terban.
“What you see is not the whole truth.”
He still did not know what El meant when she said those words just before she died.
But the long years they had spent together would not disappear in an instant, and so sometimes, as earlier, El’s presence invaded his mind. As if it permeated very deeply and did not fall out.
As thoughts continued to deepen, Terban shook his head and sat down again. And he tried to concentrate on his work somehow to erase the thoughts that filled his mind.
“Forget about me in your memory, Your Majesty. Everything from the beginning until now.”
“You still ask me for hard favors when you die.”
In that moment, he felt as if the pain he had felt when he witnessed El’s death came back again.
Ellea had been busy getting ready to go to Rubain, and before she knew it, the night before her departure had arrived.
She had to start her far journey tomorrow, so she lay in bed early, but the fact that she was going back to Rubain again made it hard to sleep.
“I still can’t.”
Tossing and turning in her bed, Ellea finally roused herself and, despite it being the middle of the night, changed into her training uniform and walked out of the palace, away from the eyes of others. She headed for the performance hall, which she was quite familiar with by now.
And she immediately took out her wooden sword and walked to the center, swinging it leisurely.
The princess’s body quickly became tired after just a little bit of movement, but that didn’t mean she was going to give up.
She continued to practice, pushing herself to the limit with a single minded determination to “get it done somehow,” and as she got used to it to some extent, her abilities improved day by day.
In particular, the memories and experiences she had when she was El really helped her greatly this process. She had become so good at hiding her abilities.
“I didn’t think that what I struggled with when I was little would help me so much.”
As she moved as if she was one with the sword, she felt as if the worries that had filled her head earlier were being removed.
“After all, when your mind is bothering you, it’s best to move your body.”
Before she knew it, Ellea was concentrating on her sword, and she began to see El instead of the princess.
The atmosphere had changed so much that anyone who had been watching the Princess for a long time, was confused whether she was the Princess they knew.
‘It’s okay, he’ll know that I’m El.’
Ellea’s breathing began to become increasingly ragged as she was moving quickly. She stopped the wooden sword only after swinging countless times with a threatening sound as if it were a real sword.
“So, a tragic death is……….”
“There won’t be any more.”
Ellea stood still in the performance hall for a while in silence. In her mind, she repeated the same vow over and over again.
After a night filled with such complicated thoughts, the morning that seemed to never come dawned.