Chapter 1. The beginning of everything
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Ellea said with her own wishes at the look Bandel gave her.
“If you smile like that, it looks much better. In fact, when I first saw you, I was worried because your expression didn’t look good. I wondered if you didn’t want to come to the border to pick me up.”
Of course, the last part Ellea said was a joke, but Bandel seriously replied, perhaps he thought she was genuinely offended.
“I apologize for causing you concern over my personal affairs. However, it is never for that reason that the Princess thinks.”
Bandel admitted his mistake and bowed his head seriously, which was still typical of Bandel. Then Ellea hastily added so that he would not misunderstand.
“It was just a joke in the hope to relieve your tension, so raise your head. It was true that I was worried, but I’m relieved to hear that you’re okay.”
‘Is this really the Princess?’
Bandel couldn’t help but feel that Ellea’s reaction to him was so natural that it didn’t feel like she was someone with the title of Princess.
And the conversation was so comfortable that he couldn’t believe that he was meeting her for the first time. No, rather ……….
‘Why is it so easy? It’s like we’ve known each other for a long time.’
“Anyway, thank you for coming forward on my behalf. If you didn’t, I probably wouldn’t have been able to hold it in. The person they talked about is very precious to me.”
Ellea could see in Bandel’s eyes that he was about to burst into tears, and she was sorry that she couldn’t tell him about herself in this situation.
It was then that they heard another voice behind them.
“What are you doing there?”
Bandel, realizing who the owner of the voice coming from the darkness was, quickly bowed his head. Terban approached, looked alternately at the two of them together at this hour, and then turned to Ellea and asked.
“Did something happen?”
‘I shouldn’t talk about what happened earlier.’
Bandel flinched and waited for Ellea’s reply, and as if she knew his earnestness, she said as if nothing had happened.
“No. I went out for a bit to get some fresh air and ran into Lord Bandel, and we had a chat. Then, I’ll go in first.”
As Ellea moved away after exchanging greetings, Bandel continued to follow her with his eyes as she moved away.
Somehow, he felt like her afterimage was not going to disappear any time soon.
‘Who is this person….?’
The last night of the itinerary passed and the group continued on, speeding further towards the destination.
Ellea felt a rush of mixed and subtle emotions as she began to see the familiar landscape.
‘It’s still the same.’
There was one thing she noticed about the unchanging figure. The only thing that had changed here was not El, but herself back as Ellea Zevenica.
‘I’m really back. I thought it was really over.’
Since she chose to live as Ellea, she firmly decided that she will never come to Terban. It didn’t end well, but she had no idea how she should look at the people who were close to her, let alone Terban.
‘Is it a good thing that they don’t know that I’m El?’
While she was struggling, the carriage arrived safely at the capital. Her heart began to race even faster as she began to see the Imperial Palace in the distance.
‘It really is the Imperial Palace.’
Ellea turned away from the window, closed her eyes and calmed down.
‘It’s okay, just stay quiet and then go home. That’s all I need to think about.’
Terban was looking at the restless Ellea from the opposite side. For some reason, she seemed more nervous than when she met him.
Meanwhile, the carriage slowed down noticeably and stopped slowly, as if it had reached its immediate destination.
Feeling the movement, Ellea opened her eyes and stepped out the open carriage door along Terban.
Bandel held out his hand for her and she naturally grasped it and stepped out of the carriage . Then she slowly turned away and began to look around.
Even Rubain’s imperial palace was still not as different from her own memory as the capital city.
Aside from its expansive size, the appearance of the Imperial Palace was enough to overwhelm people with a sense of dignity yet golden glamour.
“What do you mean by right?”
“I really came to the Rubain Empire. To be honest, it didn’t feel very real, but when I saw the Imperial Palace, I could believe it……..”
‘I’m back again.’
As Terban listened to Ellea, he felt a strange emotion in her voice. If it wasn’t more of a nervousness than a fear of leaving her home for the first time and coming to a strange place, it was a feeling that could not be clearly defined.
At that moment, a woman who looked like a maid approached the group.
“I’m greeting His Majesty the Emperor and Princess Ellea. I am Borence Rev, the head maid who will now serve the Princess.”
Ellea looked at Borence, as she was the one she would be spending her time with while she was here. Fortunately, the initial feeling wasn’t too bad.
“It’s a pleasure to meet you as well, Borence.”
“Yes, Your Highness. Then I will take you to your palace I have prepared in advance.”
Ellea was about to greet Terban before following Borence, but a bright voice interrupted her in the meantime. At that moment, she couldn’t help but to immediately shudder.
‘I’m sure this voice is ………….’
As Ellea slowly turned her head to the familiar voice, she saw a young lady approaching from afar. Shanil, who still boasted a beautiful appearance, and the smile on her face that made everyone’s heart fluttered.
Ellea felt her whole body go into reverse. The hand that was squeezed tightly turned red.
Unaware of Ellea’s gaze, Shanil approached at a faster pace than usual, and at the sight of her, Terban approached her first.
The two of them looked dazzlingly good together, and this was how Ellea came to face them again.
‘You’re still the same.’
Resentment rose instantly as Ellea saw the happy smile on Shanil’s face as she pushed El to her death.
The appearance of smiling brightly as if nothing had happened, and the appearance of no guilt.
“You’ll get hurt if you walk so fast.” (Terban)
“How can I stay still when Terban is back. You had a good trip, right?”
“Yes. Nothing to worry about.”
Just as Shanil was relieved to see Terban back safe and sound, she spotted Ellea staring at her from a short distance away.
Shanil looked Ellea up and down with a numb gaze that no one else noticed, but now Ellea knew the meaning behind that gaze.
It was the precision and brutality with which Shanil hid behind that smile, assessing the position of the other person and determining whether or not they would be harmful to her.
In the past, Ellea would have bowed to Shanil’s noble status, but not now. For there was no more reason to avoid Shanil, no more reason to bow to her. So Ellea approached them first.
“May I ask who she is, Your Majesty?”
Ellea asked, and Shanil stepped forward before Terban could answer.
‘Because I quite like the position of Imperial Princess.’ (Shanil)
Shanil decided to go with the one she liked for once. Perhaps the Princess could be a connection to help her*. (*Shanil)
”Nice to meet you. My name is Shanil Raymir of the house of Raymir. Welcome to Rubain.”
“I see. My name is Ellea Zevenica.”
“It is an honor to meet you, Princess. I’m living at the Imperial Palace, so I hope we can meet often.”
Ellea just listened to what Shanil said, but didn’t show any particular reaction. It was as if she could tell what Shanil was really thinking.
So instead of replying, Ellea smiled as she looked at Terban.
“Thank you for coming with me on this long journey, Your Majesty. It is thanks to you that I have come safely and comfortably.”
Shanil’s expression instantly distorted as she saw Ellea turn away from her and greet Terban.
But she quickly hid it before the others could notice.
“Well, you didn’t look comfortable at all to me.” (Terban)
“I can’t deny it. But wouldn’t anyone react the same way I did if they were alone in a carriage with Your Majesty?” (El)
Still, Ellea answered without losing to him, perhaps because she was a little used to being here with him.
Terban who seemed to have grasped what kind of person Elur was wasn’t offended by her answer.
‘What is it?’
Shanil, on the other hand, was a little confused when she saw the two of them looked much closer than she expected. Above all, Terban was not the kind of person to talk like this to anyone.
Except for herself.
Ellea turne to greet Bandel, who was standing beside her.
“Thank you as well, Sir Bandel.”
“No, it was the natural thing to do as a knight.”
‘If I see you again, will you be able to greet me more happily than you do now?’
But the question was only audible in Ellea’s mind, and ultimately never came out of her mouth. She was exceptionally close to him and wanted to spend time with him as close as before.
But since he was also involved with El, she had to keep her distance, just like to Terban.
She wasn’t sure she could do as she thought.
“I will now go to my lodgings, then. Your Majesty.”
“Yes. It must have been a difficult journey, but you did a great job.”
Ellea moved away after her greeting, and Shanil gave her a cold look as she left, ignoring her.
Not noticing the look, Terban spoke to Shanil, who was standing next to him when Ellea was out of sight.
“I need to finish up some accumulated work, so we can talk later at mealtime.”
“Yes. You must be tired. Please don’t overdo it.”
She wanted to immediately ask him if something had happened with Princess Ellea, but for now she just nodded.
As soon as Terban and Bandel were gone, Shenil’s worried smile disappeared at once, and her gaze went to where Ellea had disappeared.
What she showed was a clear disregard. It was as if she was saying that the imperial Princess wasn’t her match.
‘I’ll see how long you’ll be so confident. You’ll drop your tail soon.’
Shanil was already convinced. It didn’t matter if the girl was a Princess, because once she came to Rubain, the Princess was no match for her. She was going to show the Princess clearly what had been done so far.