Chapter 1. The beginning of everything
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With an angry voice, a noble woman, judging only by her appearance, was pressing a man who was larger than her.
Looking at the blood on the sword in the woman’s hand, the man’s wound also looked like it was made by her. As soon as Terban heard the whole story, he understood what was going on and why the woman was angry.
“But that woman is certain….”
So he found it more surprising. Because as soon as he saw her, he knew right away she was the Princess of the Zevenica Empire.
The different appearance from what he expected was surprising, but when Ellea suspected it was Rubain who sent the attackers, Terban approached her, interrupting the situation naturally.
And he could see the look of obvious surprise on her face as she looked at him.
But Terban had no idea what kind of meaning was implied in that look. On the other hand, Ellea, who didn’t know how he got here, couldn’t believe it when she saw him.
In her mind, she thought that he couldn’t possibly be here, but despite her wishes, the person in front of her was definitely Terban.
She wasn’t ready to meet him yet, so she even let go of the sword she was carrying and stared at him as if time had stopped.
‘How are you here?’
She even rubbed her eyes, just in case, but Terban’s image only became clearer instead.
On the other hand, Terban heard the title that came out of Ellea’s mouth and realized that she knew who he was.
So he observed her figure carefully.
He noticed her slightly disheveled appearance, her bloody hands, and finally his eyes met hers. He was surprised to see her silvery eyes, which were revealing her trembling.
‘Surely she had to be surprised, now that I suddenly appeared.’
With that thought, Terban approached Ellea.
“You seem to know me, Princess Ellea Zevenica.”
The group of men was surprised and shaken by the fact that the identity of the person they were after was a Princess, but Ellea had no time to worry about that.
‘Indeed, His Majesty is right in front of me.’
She expected to meet him in Rubain, but when she was suddenly confronted like this, she froze and was able to come back to her senses as if she had been splashed with cold water by Terban’s voice calling her.
There was nowhere to run now that they had met.
Ellea finally opened her mouth, trying to keep her voice as calm as possible.
“How can I not know who the Emperor of the Rubain Empire is? Greetings, Your Majesty. I am Ellea Zevenica, Imperial Princess of the Zevenica Empire. Please understand that I greet you under these circumstances.”
Fortunately, through her efforts, the look in her eyes as she faced Terban was only calm.
“Let’s sort out the situation first before greetings.”
Ellea, who turned to the men along Terban, approached them and first checked the condition of the knights.
“Are you okay where you were injured?”
“Yes. It’s probably because he’s not an expert with swords, it didn’t pierce as deeply as I thought it would.”
“That’s a relief.”
Relieved by this fact, Ellea decided to organize the complicated situations first as she ordered the knights.
“Take them to the nearest city. Take the carriage with you and heal your wound there. I’ll go with His Majesty.”
“No, I will escort the Princess to the end.”
“I’ll be fine, don’t worry. And the treatment comes first.”
Ellea worried about the knight’s wound. She didn’t planned to do this from the beginning and she wasn’t injured, so it was okay if she didn’t have escorts.
“Ask the lord there to help them……”
Finally, she looked at the men and ordered the knights.
“Take their families with you. Find them a place to live and ask the lord to find them a job. If you tell them my name, they’ll do as you say.”
“Understood, Your Highness.”
The knights hurried to prepare to leave, following Ellea’s orders.
Terban watched as Ellea commanded the knights skillfully without missing a beat. Before he knew it, his blue eyes had a strange light.
Meanwhile, Ellea gave her final advice to those who were preparing to leave.
“I will only give you one chance. It is up to you how you seize that opportunity. So try to live hard. You will have to protect your family.”
“Why don’t you punish us, we have really committed a great crime against the Princess.”
The man spoke, feeling guilty.
Ellea smiled and replied.
“The wound I inflicted on you is enough of a punishment. It is the fault of our royal family that you are living like this. And maybe this opportunity will change your destiny. That’s why you should take it.”
Tears immediately spilled from the man’s eyes as he heard Ellea’s kind words. He wiped away the tears, bowed down deeply and said,
“Really………………..Thank you so much and I’m sorry.”
“It’s enough. You can apologize to my knights.”
With those words, Ellea moved away from them. The knights were still bothered by the idea of leaving the Princess behind, but they had to give up on her stubborn decision.
“And you know right? What happened today is an absolute secret. Please tell them I arrived safe and sound.”
“Yes. Then I’ll be leaving, Your Highness. Please be healthy there. I look forward to the day when we meet again.”
Ellea stood still until the people moved away and disappeared from sight. She hoped that a chance like her own would change those people’s lives.
When they disappeared from sight completely, silence came over the forest again. Ellea was truly alone with Terban.
With everything taken care of, her heart finally began to pound. So much so that she didn’t even have the courage to turn her head to where Terban was.
It was Terban who broke the silence.
“Why did you do that? They are the ones who threatened the Princess.”
“What I said earlier is the whole reason. The knight was injured, but it was nothing serious.”
“You looked very angry earlier.”
“Did you see it all?”
Ellea was worried that he might have seen her handling the sword more than anything else, for it was a sight that could not be seen in front of Terban if possible.
‘He might notice something suspicious just by looking at my movements. I have to be careful.’
“Well, from the way the Princess overpowered the man with her hands and became greatly angry.”
Fortunately, Terban seemed to have not seen what she was worried about, so she continued with great relief.
“Earlier I got all worked up. That’s all. Also, I’d like to apologize for doubting Rubain earlier.”
“Now that the misunderstanding has been cleared up, that’s fine. More importantly, I didn’t expect the Imperial Princess to handle a sword.”
“I’m still not good enough.”
Ellea didn’t deny that she’d already been found out, and Terban found that most surprising.
He had not received any reports from anywhere that the weak Princess knew how to handle a sword. Moreover, the appearance of the Princess earlier, it looked like she had been holding a sword for a long time.
“If I hadn’t known it was the Imperial Princess and heard those words just now, I would have thought you were a knight.”
“I just said what I saw and learned while spending time with the knights in my homeland. But where are the others? I don’t think Your Majesty is here alone.”
“The carriage and the other knights are waiting at the appointed place.”
Ellea’s mouth dropped open at the realization that Terban had come all this way alone. She thought the knights and carriages would be in the vicinity, so she sent her the guards out first.
It was quite a distance to walk to the meeting place.
“How are we going to get there then? I’m at a loss for words.”
Ellea was now dumbfounded, and asked Terban as if complaining.
Terban gave her a look as to why she asked him that. The one who sent the knights away along with the carriage was none other than the Princess herself.
“But it’s a long way there…”
Ellea looked down at her attire, wondering if she should walk, but Terban, holding the horse reins, approached and offered a way, as he had no choice.
“Come with me on horseback.”
“With you, Your Majesty?”
“Is there another way, then? I’m sure you don’t want your schedule to be delayed like this, either.”
Ellea didn’t have any other choice either, but the thought of riding that horse alone with Terban made her hesitate.
However, she had no choice but to follow Terban’s words. If she walked, she would not be able to make it through this forest by nightfall.
This was the only way to go the meeting place, and she didn’t want
to waste anymore time.
‘I’m still trying to resist the urge to collapse, and now I have to ride with him.’
Terban saw the worried look on Ellea’s face and interpreted it to mean something else entirely.
“You can’t ride a horse? I’ll hold the reins anyway, you don’t have to worry.”
“No, it’s not like that.”
Riding a horse was as easy as taking a breath for Ellea.
After a few moments of struggle, she quickly made up her mind and mounted the horse. And so Terban climbed up and sat behind her.
Just as she had feared, the distance between the two of them instantly drew closer, and Ellea, to avoid touching as much as possible, leaned her body forward.
“Let’s leave quickly. Everyone must be waiting for you.”
Terban glanced at her once and hurried the horse. The horse ran vigorously with the two on board.
Ellea tried not to pay attention to him behind her as the cool breeze blew.
‘I can’t believe things are going wrong from the start.’
Meanwhile, perhaps it was the wind blowing from the front, but Terban could smell the scent of Ellea.
Perhaps it was because it wasn’t the artificial scent of perfume or cosmetics that was usually used by noble ladies, but he didn’t find it oddly unpleasant.
And as if this was an opportunity, Terban carefully looked at Ellea’s appearance. Her posture was very steady, as if it really wasn’t a lie about being able to ride a horse.
‘This princess knows how to use a sword.’
Honestly, Terban wouldn’t have believed it if he hadn’t seen the scene with his own eyes. From what he heard, he had vaguely assumed that she must be weak and fragile, but in reality, it was completely opposite.
‘I suppose it’s more realistic to say that she’s been faking her illness until now.’
Moreover, he had heard that she was a beloved Princess, but the number of people escorting her was too small. She had no maidservants, and her luggage was so small that it could be hung on a horse.
She might have looked like an abandoned Princess, but Terban was sure that was not the case, based on the reaction Zevenica had shown him so far.
He was getting more and more convinced that he would completely overturn the information about her and conduct a new investigation when he returned to Rubain.