Chapter 16. One sword and two hands

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Ellea’s body stiffened at Terban’s sudden action, and for a moment she didn’t feel like leaving.

 

In a situation where they were looking at each other without knowing anything, it was Ellea who noticed first. She saw that her wrists had been grabbed, and she stepped back, widening the distance.

 

Ellea tried to get out of his grasp, but Terban wouldn’t let go for some reason.

 

“Can you let go of my hand?”

 

Hearing Ellea’s voice, Terban finally realized what he had done and let go of her wrist in confusion. Strangely enough, he seemed even more surprised when he pulled Ellea.

 

“May I ask why you grabbed me?”

 

“It’s…..”

 

There was no way Terban could say why. He heard the Princess’ voice overlapping with someone else’s, and his body moved first, without him even knowing it.

 

Instead of a reason, he apologized to Ellea, who was watching him warily, leaving all those thoughts behind.

 

“I’m sorry.”

 

“It’s fine. It’s been quite a while, I think we should leave.”

 

Ellea couldn’t imagine why Terban had acted the way he had, so she decided to end the conversation at this point and return to the group. Because from the look on his face, it was unlikely that she would hear what she wanted to.

 

As the two of them left to go back to where the group was waiting, there was a hint of awkwardness in the air because of what happened earlier.

 

Ellea continued on, unable to let go of the tension, but she could hear Terban’s voice as he walked ahead of her.

 

“What I saw in the papers isn’t everything.” (Terban)

 

“Huh?”

 

When she looked at him at a sudden remark, Terban, who stopped walking, came up with an excuse for the action.

 

“I saw the Princess in the past. It was when I went to the Zevenica Empire.” (Terban)

 

“For the same reason I did?” (El)

 

“Yes. Although at the time, the Princess was not feeling well, so I picked the day when I could see her.” (Terban)

 

Terban, of course, was no exception to the promise between the two empires. The two of them naturally walked side by side as they talked about those days.

 

“You’ve definitely changed a lot since then. You rarely did outside activities, and you didn’t get close to strangers because you were wary.” (Terban)

 

“Really? I was just a child, so I don’t remember much about it.” (El)

 

She felt bad inwardly when she spoke of the real Ellea, but she never let it show on her face.

 

Then, afraid of creating doubts, Ellea switched the subject to something else. 

 

“By the way, from what I’ve heard, Your Majesty was much younger when you came to Zevenica.” (El)

 

“Yes, I was.” (Terban)

 

“Was there any particular reason?” (El)

 

She didn’t know anything in detail except that it was very unusual for Terban to go to Zevenica when he was so young.

 

“It was something I had to do.” (Terban)

 

Even though he was very young at the time, he was tormented by a life of coercion simply because he was the Crown Prince, and at some point, it came close to choking him.

 

So he made an impulsive decision to go to Zevenica. It didn’t matter where he went as long as he could get out of this situation.

 

The former Rubain emperor disapproved, but due to Terban’s strong will, the former Emperor reluctantly agreed. And that was how he ended up going to Zevenica like running away. He didn’t know what kind of courage it took for him to do so at that moment.

 

“So how was your life in Zevenica then?” (El)

 

Ellea’s question brought back memories of the past, even Terban didn’t think of it in a long time. At first, he thought the Zevenica imperial family would be wary of him.

 

But it was completely different from his worries, and he was left with impressive memories. All the time there.

 

“To be honest, it was good.” (Terban)

 

“Really?”

 

Ellea was very surprised that he would just say it was good, given his personality.

 

But there was a good reason for him to say this.

 

“It was peaceful. Everything there was peaceful. The Emperor and Empress were very kind.” (Terban)

 

“I don’t have to see it to know what it was like.” (El)

 

As an emperor himself, Terban could not understand their behavior. Why did they treat him so warmly?

 

But then again, as emperor, the most important thing to him was the safety of the Rubain Empire, so he deliberately didn’t care about his memories there.

 

When he recalled that time after a long time, another person came to his mind. There was a boy who looked just like Ellea, but acted completely different.

 

“Is Prince Bellea still around? In a way, he was amazing. He always chased me around recklessly or shouted at me.” (Terban)

 

 Ellea couldn’t help but laugh, as she could easily imagine Bellea as a child. Given his personality, he wouldn’t care about Terban at all.

 

“I think he’s still the same. Not much different from back then.” (El)

 

It was the first time Terban saw a smile from Ellea when she talked about her family. Terban could sense how much she cared about her family just from that small action.

 

‘Surely, Bellea could have come here.’

 

While they were conversing, they arrived at the place where the knights were waiting, finished their maintenance, and left again.

 

Perhaps because she was less tense than earlier, Ellea was able to maintain calmness even when she was alone with Terban.

 

The group ran diligently for two days. Today, as noon approached, they decided to rest for a while in a city along the way, as well as eat.

 

The carriage was parked far away so as not to be seen, and Ellea and Terban, as well as the knights, wore long robes to enter the city.

 

The group chose a suitable diner and went inside, naturally sitting at a table and ordering their food.

 

“The city is quite large. I thought it would be smaller with all the mountains around.”

 

“I think because it belongs to the Duke of Kaicher.”

 

“So this was the duchy of Kaicher?”

 

‘There’s a city like this in a place where the mountains are kind of steep.’

 

As Ellea waited for the food to be served with this in mind, she naturally heard the conversation of the people sitting at the table behind her.

 

“Did you hear the news? They’re lowering the taxes starting this month.”

 

“Of course. How can I not know that good news?”

 

“But isn’t it strange? It’s been going up all this time, so why the sudden drop? Is it possible that they have some kind of ulterior motive?”

 

Three men were in the middle of a dialogue, and Ellea agreed with the last person. Because given the personality of the Duke of Kaicher, he would never just lower the taxes for no reason.

 

Terban was thinking the same.

 

“That’s surprising. I’m not sure the Duke is that kind of person.”

 

“I agree. Aren’t you going to meet the Duke?”

 

“Yes, I am. It’s just too much trouble since I have to meet him. Let’s just pass by quietly.”

 

 While Terban and Bandel were conversing, the food was served and they finished their delicious meal and left their seats.

 

After leaving the diner, Ellea was looking at the vibrant city when Bandel approached her.

 

“Would you like to go back first? We’re going to buy some things for our itinerary.”

 

“Then, may I have a look at the city?” (El)

 

At her suggestion, Bandel looked to Terban for permission, and before he could say anything, she beat him to it and said.

 

“Of course I won’t be running away or anything. I’m alone, so there’s nothing to worry about.” (El)

 

At Ellea’s words, Terban nodded after much consideration. Perhaps there was nothing to worry about because he saw how she handled the sword earlier.

 

It was a short time they met each other, but he didn’t feel like she would run away.

 

“Then, see you later. I’ll meet you back here.” (El)

 

With that, Ellea walked off on her own, and they watched her from behind.

 

Bandel spoke frankly about what he had seen and felt about Ellea so far.

 

“What can I say, she seems a bit different from what I had in mind for a princess.”

 

“I agree with you.”

 

Terban’s gaze was fixed on Ellea for a long time, who was looking around the city. 

 

***

 

“It’s much bigger than I thought.”

 

As if to show the dignity of the Duke of Kaicher, there was an unbelievably large city surrounded by mountains.

 

As such, Ellea walked on a busy street and looked around, one of which stopped Ellea’s steps.

 

“That place….”

 

She walked into the store with an expectant look in her eyes. The owner greeted her happily as she entered, pulled down the hood that hid her face.

 

“Welcome.”

 

“Hello.”

 

The shopkeeper turned his head to look at Ellea as she walked in, then approached her and asked, 

 

“Is there something in particular you are looking for?”

 

It was natural for the shopkeeper to look at Ellea and wonder. As it was a store that sold swords and other weapons of all kinds.

 

A person who seemed to be a noblewoman at a quick glance came in, so he approached and asked just in case.

 

Sensing the reason, Ellea answered naturally.

 

“Not really, but I want to give someone a present. Do you mind if I look around for a while?”

 

“Of course. Call me if you need anything.”

 

 

The shop owner moved away and Ellea effortlessly took a look at the various types of swords in the store. 

 

‘Actually, I’m trying to buy one for myself, but if I say so, it’ll only arouse curiosity.’

 

Since leaving Zevenica, Ellea’s eyes have taken on the most intense liveliness. She couldn’t really carry a sword with her because she was conscious of people, but this was an opportunity. She wanted to get one small enough to use it in an emergency.

 

“There’s quite a variety of them.”

 

She held each one in her hand and swung it around gently, trying to find something that would fit her, but she didn’t see anything that stood out.

 

“I don’t see anything that I particularly like.”

 

As she looked around slowly, her eyes caught a sight of a dagger that was small enough to fit in her pocket. The handle was inlaid with a small blue gem.

 

As if possessed by something, she reached out and grabbed it, but at the same time, there was another hand holding the dagger. She immediately saw the owner of the hand, and so did the other.

 

A man with dark purple hair and blue-green eyes was staring at her. Ellea intuitively sensed at that moment that the person in front of her was not an ordinary person.

 

‘A nobleman?’

 

She recalled the people in the Imperial Palace when she was El, the man was not someone she remembered, as she searched her memory, and the man spoke first.

 

“I caught it first.”

 

When the man claimed ownership of the dagger, Ellea naturally did not retreat.

 

“That’s what I want to say. I grabbed it first. My hand is further down.” (El)

 

Ellea was right, the man’s hand was on top of hers.

 

“I really like this dagger, would you be willing to give it to me?”

 

“No. I also like this dagger the most.”

 

The two of them began to engage in a nerve battle, not taking a step back from one another, with one sword between them.