Chapter 1. The beginning of everything
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Shanil turned her head to the side, noticing that Terban’s attention had turned elsewhere.
At the end of his gaze stood Ellea. Before he knew it, she was conversing with Bandel.
At the sight of him, Shanil hurriedly called Terban. He averted his gaze from them and turned to look at Shanil.
Shanil asked with a calm smile, as if she had no intention.
“By the way, what did you and the Princess talk about when you danced?”
“With the Princess?”
“Yes. You lookEd happy. Oh, you don’t have to tell me if it’s important.”
Her words reminded Terban of the dance with Ellea earlier. How could there be such a gap from Ellea, who seemed so perfect on the surface.
‘I really didn’t expect that…’
At first, he thought it was something she didn’t like, but it was fortunate because it wasn’t.
And the sight of Ellea earlier made him smile again.
‘It’s that expression again …….’ (Shanil)
Shanil’s mind raced for no apparent reason as Terban smiled, unsure of what he was thinking. What did the Princess tell him that made him react this way?
“What’s wrong?” (Shanil)
“No, nothing, there wasn’t much to talk about.” (Terban)
“Is that so?” (Shanil)
Terban gladly decided to keep the matter a secret. He didn’t have a taste for revealing Ellea’s weaknesses, the way she looked nervous and disappointed, afraid she might make a mistake.
Shanil had no way to question him further because Terban said so. But oddly enough, she felt strange as if she missed something.
In the meantime, Ellea and Bandel parted as they had finished their conversation, and many of the people who had taken advantage of the opportunity rushed to her.
Eventually, as Bandel approached Terban’s side, he asked.
“Have you become so close to the Princess already?” (Terban)
“I only went because she was alone.” (Bandel)
“Is that so?” (Terban)
No sooner had Terban finished than Shanil interrupted him, asking about Ellea.
“What kind of conversation did you have with her? You seemed happy.” (Shanil)
“There was nothing special.” (Bandel)
“I see.” (Shanil)
While measuring his relationship with Bandel, Shanil saw Ellea walking toward the entrance, leaving the crowd behind. It looked like she was going to get some air.
Shanil pondered for a moment, then said in a small voice as the other nobles approached Terban.
“I’m going now. Let’s talk more later.”
Shanil smiled and walked out into the dark hallway where it was less crowded. The smile from earlier was long gone from her face. Immediately, she began to think about what had happened with Ellea.
‘It’s all really bothering me.’
Shanil approached Ellea, but only with the intention to show Ellea where she belonged. She wasn’t someone Ellea could ignore like that. The fact that Ellea was an Imperial Princess was already unimportant to Shanil.
She didn’t like it even more when Ellea took Heris’s side and ignore her*. (*Shanil)
Shanil intended to make it clear that choosing Heris instead of her was a foolish move.
‘You’re still not quite sure where you stand, I’ll have to show you then.’
Shanil was thinking like that, and just in time, a person came into her eyes. She then approached him with a covert smile on her face.
‘Oh, it’s refreshing.’
Walking out of the banquet hall, where she felt excessive stares and interest, Ellea took a deep breath in and exhaled.
Then, the slightly frustrated feeling and possibly any remaining anxiety seemed to fly away.
She walked into the garden and looked up at the sky comfortably, making sure that she was completely cut off from people’s view. The stars sparkled in the night sky when she looked up.
“The sky is the same here and in Zevenica. High, wide, and never reachable.”
As she said this, she reached for the sky, and she really wanted to reach it somehow. Though, she soon realized that she would never be able to do so and put her hand down.
As Ellea was enjoying this silence in the dark, she felt footsteps approaching her location.
As soon as she sensed the presence, she turned around to where she heard the sound.
“Who is it?”
Just in case she was alert, a man soon appeared. Ellea had never seen the man before, but from his appearance he looked like a nobleman attending the banquet.
But what raised her eyebrows was precisely the wobbly gait of the man.
And when he got close enough to make some kind of identification, the man’s face was red from alcohol, just as Ellea had expected.
Ellea was about to leave, thinking that her rest was over here, when the man suddenly caught her wrist.
Ellea felt an unpleasant sensation and immediately roughly shook off the man’s hand. Then she said in a cold voice.
“What are you doing now?” (Ellea)
As he stood nearby, she could smell the strong scent of alcohol wafting from the man. Thinking it was a waste of time to deal with him, she tried to go on, but for some reason, the man staggered to his feet and stood in front of her.
Ellea called out to him this time instead of avoiding him. She looked at the man in front of her with a look of pity, as if this situation didn’t scare her at all.
“I asked what you were doing.”
‘What are you playing so hard to get? Isn’t that why you came all the way out here to this dark place anyway?” (The drunk man)
‘He’s lost his mind.’
The man was so drunk and didn’t seem to realize who Ellea was at all, and he terribly misunderstood her.
Of course, he should never have acted this way, even if the person out here wasn’t Ellea.
“That’s rude. I came out here to get some fresh air.” (Ellea)
“You don’t have to pretend you don’t know me on purpose. While everyone else knows.” (The drunk man)
“I think you’d better stop for your own good.” (Ellea)
Ellea meant it as a final warning, but the man was completely oblivious to the seriousness of the mood. Then he foolishly ignored her warning and reached out his hand.
‘Well, so much for patience, I suppose.’
She grabbed his hand and folded it at once, and the man screamed in intense pain.
The sound of agony didn’t cause any kind of change in Ellea’s expression, and she threw the man as if she were brushing off a dirty foreign object, and he lost his balance and fell straight to the ground.
“This. You know who I am and you do this!” (The drunk man)
“It’s none of my business, but have you decided to go quietly?” (Ellea)
“You, you won’t get away with this!” (The drunk man)
As the man staggered and got up, Ellea’s intention to leave quietly disappeared completely.
He had struck a nerve in her that she had been trying to keep in check.
‘When I’m already under a lot of stress from coming to the banquet.’
Thinking that now was rather a good time, Ellea pulled out the hairpin that was holding her hair in place.
At that moment, her tied hair flowed down her back, but she kept her eyes only on the man in front of her.
“Do you think that’s going to work?” (The drunk man)
Ellea reciprocated the man’s taunt without meaning to. She was looking forward to seeing what would happen to those who still hadn’t grasped the situation because of the alcohol.
The angry man jumped at her, not knowing if it was his fault or not, and Ellea just watched him calmly.
No, she waited for him to get into her range.
Then, as he came closer, she stabbed the man mercilessly with her hairpin, forcing him to suffer without much harm. Her emotions were clearly reflected in this.
Of course, not even the man’s pawns could graze Ellea.
The man stepped back in pain each time he was stabbed, but he was still restless and refused to give up.
“You think you’re safe from all this?” (The drunk man)
“At this point I’m curious too. Do you really think you will be safe in the end? Because I don’t have much patience left.” (Ellea)
Now there was only anger in the man’s mind that he would not leave Ellea alone.
Just as Ellea was about to deliver the final blow to the man who was attacking her again, undaunted by her warnings, the action was immediately stopped by a voice from behind her.
“What are you doing here now?”
She then turned around reflexively to identify the owner of the voice.
At the moment when she turned in surprise, the drunk man did not stop moving, as if the voice had not reached him.
However, just before his hand reached Ellea, there was a force that pulled on Ellea, who was standing still.
With the hand that pulled on her arm, Ellea was able to dodge the drunk man’s attack.
However, she came into the man’s arms immediately by force. She was on the verge of being held by him.
Slowly she raised her head and faced Terban’s blue eyes.
In his arms, they stared at each other in silence.
‘We met again.’
It had been that way since their first encounter, and now she wondered as to why she was so involved with this man.
No matter how much she thought about it, it looked like God was not going to hear her wishes until the end.
The silence between them was broken by the sound of the drunk man’s voice behind them.
It was only then that Terban looked behind him and spotted the drunkenly staggering man. He quickly took turns looking at the two of them, and understood the situation.
“What is the meaning of this? It’s not like you don’t know who this person is.” (Terban)
“Your Majesty, this is because……..” (the drunk man)
A tremor could be felt in the drunk man’s voice as he finally realized that the person in front of him was the Emperor. But the look in Terban’s eyes was already dark. If he had not come, what would have happened?
“You’d better not use the excuse that you were drunk.”
“I’m sorry. I’m …………..”
For Terban, the mercy of listening to the man was long gone. So he called for someone right away.
“Are you there? Take this man away.”
“Yes, Your Majesty.”
At Terban’s call, a knight appeared from somewhere. He dragged the drunken man and disappeared quickly.
Silence came again after the man, who was trying to give an excuse until the end, disappeared completely.
Ellea’s feelings of surprise at Terban’s sudden appearance gradually calmed down, and she retreated back some distance from Terban.
Finally, he let go of her arm that he had been holding.
“Thank you, Your Majesty. I was in a bit of trouble.”
‘Of course, you didn’t need to help at all.’ (Ellea)
Hiding her true feelings, Ellea thanked Terban for helping her in what had been a dangerous situation.
“No need to be thankful. I’ll make him pay the price for the rudeness he had committed to the Princess.”
With Terban’s brief reply came silence again.
Ellea naturally expected him to return to the banquet hall. But for some reason, Terban just stood in front of her without moving.