Chapter 1. The beginning of everything
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Ellea arrived at the palace where she would stay under the guidance of Borence.
It wasn’t dazzlingly gorgeous, but it had a beautiful white color to it. And the arched windows, which didn’t feel simple, stood out, and the pillars were beautifully carved.
Ellea liked the appearance, as if they had known beforehand that she would like it.
As she followed Borence inside, she saw that not only the exterior but also the interior was well cared for and so clean that there was not a speck of dust.
“It’s quite well maintained.”
“Yes, it is. This is where the royal families from the Zevenica Empire have been staying for generations, and it is usually thoroughly managed.”
“This is the room where the Princess will be staying.”
The room, like the building, was more old-fashioned than glamorous.
Ellea walked in and looked around the room, then opened the door to the terrace. Keeping her eyes fixed on the open landscape, she said.
“I like it very much.”
“I’m glad to hear you like it.”
“Do I have any other schedule today?”
“I’m sure you’re tired from your travels today, so please get some rest. And there will be a banquet for the Princess soon.”
Ellea thought all they had to do was greet her, but a banquet… Ellea, who had already been bothered by the word banquet, said with a sigh.
“I understand. I’d like to rest for a bit until we eat.”
“Then let the maid…”
‘No, I prefer to be alone. I’ll call you later if I need you.”
“Yes, Your Highness. Have a good rest.”
Finally relieved of her tension after Borence left, Ellea lay down on the bed. She pinched her cheek, hoping that if this situation was a dream, she could still feel the pain immediately.
‘Surely, it’s hard to believe that I opened my eyes as Ellea.’
She thought it wasn’t hard coming to the Imperial Palace, but she was so tired that she closed her eyes and fell asleep easily.
When Borence came out of Ellea’s room, the maidservants who had been waiting for her to come out approached her. They all looked curious to know more about their new master.
When she had arrived at the palace earlier, all she had done was greet them from afar and briefly look at their faces.
“Head maid, what is the princess like?”
“I’m very curious. I saw her from a distance just now, and she is very beautiful.”
“Everyone, be careful. Since she’s the master of this palace from today.”
Borence calmed down the excited maids and thought about what she had just seen of Ellea.
She was actually worried inwardly about what kind of person the Princess was, but she didn’t seem to treat people carelessly, so Borence felt relieved.
However, Borence, who had spent a long time as head maid at the Imperial Palace, felt there was something different about the Princess.
‘She has grace, but that doesn’t seem to be all she has.’
Soon after, there was something more urgent than that, so she erased her useless thoughts and drew the attention of the maids.
“Now, calm down and hurry up with your preparations while the Princess rests, and Jane.”
Jane replied vigorously to Borence’s call. With her short brown hair and neatly dressed in her maid uniform, Jane looked vibrant.
“From this day forward, you will be taking care of the Princess. Do you remember what I asked you to say?”
“Yes, of course.
Thus, the maidservants and servants began to move busily for Ellea.
As soon as he arrived at the palace, Terban took care of the things that had been put off by his absence from the Imperial Palace for several days, and breathed a sigh of relief when he finally saw the end in sight.
He had expected this to happen, but the freedom he had felt outside the palace was long gone.
‘If only El was here at a time like this.’
Terban shook his head in shock as he continued his thoughts unknowingly.
He trusted her enough to entrust her alone with his secret matters, and even if he tried to deny it, he had to admit it. El’s vacancy was very large.
“What’s wrong, Your Majesty?”
Bandel asked, tilting his head when Terban’s hand kept stopping, and Ternan asked something else instead of replying.
“Are you okay now? You look better than before the trip.”
“Do you think so?”
“I think you know that better than I do. I guess the suffocation went away when you left the imperial palace.”
Terban noticed at once that Bandel’s mood had changed since before he left to pick up the Princess. He was finally relieved to see his face looking better than before.
“I certainly feel more comfortable than before.”
In fact, Bandel was able to come to his senses thanks to Ellea, who stood up to the knights. Because if El had seen himself now, she would have scolded him for it.
Then he sorted out the thoughts in his head and bowed deeply towards Terban.
“I’m sorry for causing you to worry until now. Your Majesty.”
“That’s enough. You know now you have to lead the Knights. As the leader, not the vice-leader.”
Yes, Your Majesty. I’ll do my best to assist you.”
Terban was glad that Bandel, who had been wandering after El’s death, seemed to have calmed down after this trip. He was also worried about Bandel.
“What do you think of her?”
Bandel thought of Ellea from his past trip. From being kind to everyone, to the way she showed her dignity as an Imperial Princess. She had a very different appearance than he expected, but he could see that she was a good person. But that thought reached the end.
“What should I say? It seemed like she was deliberately distancing herself from us.”
“I felt the same way.”
Terban had the same opinion. On the surface the Princess was acting polite and smiling, but there seemed to be an invisible line. She would not pass that line, nor anyone could pass it.
Most importantly, she also showed subtle tremors and nervousness when she was with him.
“I just assumed she had that reaction because she was sitting with me, but I wonder if there were other reasons.”
Anyway, she was never an opponent to be underestimated. It was an unchangeable fact that she was the Princess of the Zevenica Empire, so there was no telling what kind of intentions she might be hiding.
“We mustn’t let our guard down.”
Today’s schedule was over, and Terban was having dinner with Shanil. They engaged in a conversation about Terban’s itinerary for the last few days.
“I see. It must not have been easy.”
“It was okay. I think it was nice because it’s been a while since I went outside.”
“I know you’ve had a tough time lately.”
Seeing Shanil’s concern, Terban just shook his head. He didn’t want to make her worry any more than she already was.
“I’m fine, just worry about yourself. Is your body okay?”
“Yes. I’m feeling much better now. But ………..”
When Shanil slurred her words, Terban stopped eating and looked at her.
“The palace physician says there’s nothing particularly wrong with me, but my legs seem to hurt sometimes. Ever since it collapsed from the poison.”
Actually, it was a lie to get Terban’s attention, but Terban, who couldn’t possibly know that, was disturbed by the words,
“Exactly where does it hurt?”
Shanil hastened to calm him down.
“It’s nothing to worry about. It’s just a temporary symptom and it will get better with time.”
“Why are you telling me this now?”
“I didn’t want to make you worry, you seem so busy lately. And the Princess was coming.”
Shanil knew perfectly well that Terban would feel increasingly sorry hearing this.
“I’m sorry. I couldn’t take care of you.”
“No. I think it’s enough that you’re with me now.”
When Shanil got the answer she wanted from Terban, she drank water to calm down, fearing that the joy she could not hide would leak out.
Then she naturally switched the subject to Ellea so that her lie would not be discovered.
“More importantly, I’m a little disappointed that I couldn’t talk much to the Princess.”
“Do you want to get to know the Imperial Princess?”
“The Princess is here alone, and I have noticed that she is anxious. And it would be good for Rubain.”
Shanil spoke like that, emphasizing that she was doing entirely for Terban’s benefit.
Terban was grateful for those words, but he didn’t want her to go out of her way to do that for him. Because she had barely regained her stability due to various things.
“It’s okay. You don’t have to do that.”
“I really want to get to know her. By the way, what kind of person do you think the Princess is?”
Shanil asked, thinking of their casual conversation earlier, and waited for his answer in frustration.
“Well, she’s very different from my expectations.”
“Is that so?”
‘And someone who looks at me strangely.’
Not knowing what Terban was thinking, Shanil tried to guess what he meant and quickly decided to pass it lightly.
She was sure that it was unlikely that Terban would let anyone else near him besides herself.
More importantly, there was something else she wanted to ask. But she wrapped it up as if it were of no interest to her.
“By the way, what did you decide to do with the Captain’s seat in the Order?”
At the mention of El, Terban’s hand, which had been moving the tableware, stopped moving. Then, with effort, he pretended to be casual and asked Shanil.
“Why all of a sudden?”
“It’s an important place very close to you, so I don’t think it should be kept vacant.”
“I’ve decided to leave it in the hands of Bandel, the deputy commander.”
“Oh, I see.”
Terban was slightly bowing his head, so he didn’t notice Shanil’s change of expression.
Her eyes revealed confusion and displeasure.
“I’m surprised you even bothered.”
When Shanil asked about the Knights, which she usually didn’t pay any attention to, Terban tilted his head.
As the question became clearer, she said a reason she had thought of beforehand.
“It’s hard to trust people, but you should find someone with good skills to share the burden. I’m worried about you working until late at night.”
“I’m sure it’ll be fine now that Bandel is in charge.”
“That’s a relief.”
Shanil wanted to somehow change the situation that was going differently from her intentions, but she couldn’t show it to Terban.
But she couldn’t just give up, so she asked in a concerned tone.
“But Lord Bandel…he seemed to be in a lot of pain since Sir El died, don’t you think he needs some time to rest?”
“I think his heart has tightened up after this trip with me”
“That’s a relief. I can relax now. Then you, too, should rest while working.”
“Rest while working, Your Majesty.” (El)
Obviously, Shanil had said it, but Terban heard El’s voice, who was worried about him, overlapped again. It was as if she was mocking him, thinking that he had already dispelled her completely.
‘I don’t know what I’m going to do from now on either.’
Some time later, after finishing her meal with Terban, Shanil returned to her palace. As she did so, her expression became nervous, as if she was being chased by something.