Chapter 1. The beginning of everything
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Terban’s gaze, which had been on Ellea, immediately went to the hairpin she was holding. It was certainly adorning her hair in the banquet hall, and it looked like she had taken it out to counter the man.
As was the case the other day, she was bothered for no reason by the way she tried to solve a dangerous situation on her own, instead of asking for help from those around her.
No matter how confident she was in her abilities, just now she was in a situation where she was fully capable of asking for help.
Noticing his gaze, Ellea hastily hid her hands behind her back. But from the way he looked at her, it seemed like he had already grasped what the situation was.
‘It bothered me.’
She knew well that it was best to avoid the situation before he asked her something else, so she decided to get out of this position first.
“Well then, everything is taken care of so I’ll be on my way. It’s a bit chilly after being outside for so long.”
Ellea tried to get over the situation as quickly as possible, but Terban’s voice was faster to hold her back.
“Why didn’t you ask for help? Any imperial Princess would have come running to ask for help.”
“I didn’t want to ruin the mood of the banquet because of me. And it was something that I could have solved on my own.”
Ellea sensed some sort of judgment in Terban’s words and refuted him once and for all. She wasn’t weak and she didn’t need help in the first place.
To Terban, however, it seemed that she was just being stubborn.
“Like what happened at the border, why is the Princess always so reckless?”
‘I don’t know why you say that, Your Majesty. It has nothing to do with His Majesty in the first place.”
“I’m speaking objectively and calmly, because in a critical situation, running away is also a way.”
The moment he finished, Terban sensed something different about Ellea’s appearance. He didn’t know why, but the way she looked at him had changed in an instant. It was just like that time when she had cornered the man so violently at the border.
Ellea felt as if Terban was telling her she had acted recklessly. That word, that she had chosen not to run away, touched a memory of a past time when he had chosen to die. So she spoke without realizing it. Something she should never have said in front of Terban.
“I don’t know why I have to hear that from Your Majesty. And you never know the Goddess of Victory might choose me just for that moment.” (Ellea)
“You will never know the Goddess of Victory will choose me just for this moment.” (El)
Ellea said nonchalantly and was about to head back when she felt a strong pull from behind her. When she turned around, she saw Terban standing there with a different, more hostile expression than before.
“What’s wrong?” (Ellea)
She hurried to pull her arm out of his grasp at the momentary change in the atmosphere, but Terban had such a strong grip on her that she couldn’t shake him off easily.
Terban was in a state of confusion. Those were the words that El had said before.
“How do you know that?” (Terban)
“Huh? What is it?” (Ellea)
“I’m asking about those words the Princess said earlier. The Goddess of Victory will choose you.” (Terban)
“Why ……..” (Ellea)
At that moment, realizing what she had said in front of him, Ellea felt as if her heart had suddenly dropped.
She felt like crying for a moment, because she had said something that she should never have said as Ellea.
It was something she had been saying as a habit since she was a child, and she was not even aware of it.
‘I need to stop before he knows it too.”
It was obvious that she had let her guard down too much with the recent series of events.
Now they were having a conversation without a care in the world, but the thing was that Terban and her couldn’t even be together like this.
But the water had already spilled, and if she shrank further here, she was bound to get suspicious. At times like this, she had to come out confidently pretending to know nothing.
And Terban seemed unwilling to let go until he got an answer.
“Was that so strange to you? I’m not sure. Perhaps you’re asking because Rubain doesn’t have this saying?” (Ellea)
Ellea deliberately showed a calm appearance. No matter how much she thought about it, she couldn’t understand why he would react this way.
“Yes, but people wouldn’t normally use that expression. The only person who says it was……”
Terban tried to speak further, but quickly fell silent. He struggled to hold back the attempt to mention El’s name.
He realized that he was in a ridiculous situation, although he was unknowingly worked up, so he was going to ask the Princess in front of him about someone who was already dead.
However, out of a confused feeling that he couldn’t just overlook the situation, he asked a question that certainly seemed strange from Ellea’s point of view.
“Who are you?” (Terban)
Her cold voice jumped out at Telvan’s question.
“I’m afraid I don’t quite understand what you’re saying, Your Majesty.” (Ellea)
There was a strange tension between the two as they stood facing each other in the moonlight.
Ellea just wanted to get out of this place as soon as possible, but Terban was different. He was not going to leave until he heard the proper answer.
Why did the princess of Zenvenica, a completely different person, say the same words El said? Perhaps there was some connection that he didn’t know….
“I will ask again. Who the hell are you?” (Terban)
At the question, Ellea’s heart was already beating wildly, out of its master’s control. And so, unable to answer anything, she clenched her hand and stared at the man in front of her. At the same time, she was confident that he would never recognize her. She asked Terban.
“I don’t know, either. Who does Your Majesty see me as? The Imperial Princess who came here alone to keep the promise of her ancestors, or…?”
‘Is it someone who liked you and followed you?’
Terban’s grip on Ellea’s hand relaxed at her answer. The calmness in her voice finally made Terban come to his senses.
Come to think of it, it was a ridiculous assumption in the first place. The fact that there was an unknown contact between the Princess and El.
He thought perhaps if Ellea knew El, she could tell him what El’s last words meant, so he lost his reasons without knowing it.
“I apologize. I’m afraid I misunderstood something.” (Terban)
“No, for I too have shouted at you, Your Majesty. And thank you very much for helping me earlier.” (Ellea)
When Terban was seen calming down, Ellea also said as dignified as a Princess.
“It’s just a misunderstanding. It is merely a coincidence.” (Terban)
“I can’t believe I acted like that in front of the Imperial Princess.” (Terban)
Ellea looked at Terban, who mumbled in a small voice, and strangely she couldn’t move her feet. She had to leave but why did she keep looking at him?
“Are you okay?” (Ellea)
‘And why am I comforting him?’
Terban’s gaze turned to Ellea at the sudden voice.
“I don’t know what remains in Your Majesty’s heart, but if you tried to forget but couldn’t, I think it would have its own reason. So wouldn’t it be okay to let it remain in your heart and stay where it is? That’s how memories are.” (Ellea)
It was a truly ironic thing for Ellea to say. Because she had wished Terban would forget her existence, but she just told him to leave it as it was.
Was this El’s wish that Terban would not forget her, or was it just because she couldn’t pass the pitiful look of the Emperor in front of her?
‘It’s that look in his eyes again.’
The complicated look that had appeared again when Ellea walked into the banquet hall and greeted him earlier.
The moment when the two looked at each other silently and Terban tried to speak.
At the sound of another voice, Ellea turned and saw Shanil standing some distance away. She (Shanil) was staring at the two people together unexpectedly in a deserted place.
As soon as Shanil saw that the person with Terban was Ellea, she approached him and naturally stood beside him. Then she asked, only looking at Terban.
“Why are you here? There are people waiting for you inside.”
“It was frustrating, so I went outside for a while.”
Instead of continuing with his next words, his gaze went to Ellea, and Shanil finally reacted as if she had noticed her.
It was as if she didn’t see Ellea was there from the start.
“Oh, the Princess was here too. So why are you two together ……….?”
The two’s gazes collided at Shanil’s question, but it was Terban who answered.
“We had a bit of a problem. It was due to a drunken nobleman who acted rudely towards the Princess.”
“Oh my. Are you okay, Princess?”
“Yes. Fortunately, nothing happened. By the way, what brings you here, Lady Shanil?”
Rather curious about this situation where she had appeared, Ellea asked Shenil. Why would she come all the way here, and at such a time?
There seemed to be no reason at all for Shanil to come so deep into the garden, so at that moment, a small doubt passed Ellea’s mind.
“I was looking for His Majesty since he wasn’t in the banquet hall, but somehow I ended up here.”
“I see. Your Majesty, may I go back to my palace first? I’m tired. I don’t think I can stay here longer.” (Ellea)
Ellea decided to return to her palace as soon as possible whether Shanil’s words were true or not.
As soon as Terban’s permission was granted, Ellea left the garden without a second thought.
‘Is it a coincidence that Shanil appeared at this time?’
Ellea somehow had a feeling that it would not end like this with Shanil. As long as she was in the imperial Palace, they would bump into each other again.
Still, she was sure that nothing would change. Because she no longer had any reason to fear them.
And as if she understood Ellea’s thoughts, Shanil looked at the back of Ellea, who was moving away leisurely, until the end.
After safely leaving the banquet hall, Ellea returned to her palace in a carriage. She deliberately laughed at her panicked appearance when Jane saw her returning earlier than expected.
“I told you so. I might be back sooner than you think.”
With Jane’s help, Ellea changed and bathed. Then she immediately laid down on the bed.
It was not long before she opened her closed eyes and remembered what had happened with Terban earlier.
‘I didn’t know he’d react to that.’
It was a part that even she hadn’t thought of. But she had to admit that it was her fault.
‘No, it was my mistake. I was too relaxed.’
El’s habit that came out every moment may have been okay in Zenvenica, but she realized that she had to be extra careful here in Rubain.
‘No way they would know that I’m El…’
Then Ellea repeated what she had said earlier.
“It’s okay. I’m sure the Goddess of Victory will choose me.”
Little did she know that the words that had sustained her would come back to poison her in this way.
On the one hand, she felt that there was no Goddess of Victory from the moment she first met Terban.
Otherwise, she wouldn’t have died such a tragic death, nor would she have come back to life and saw Terban again as a stranger.
Ellea closed his eyes, hoping that time would pass quickly and the day would come when she returned to Zevenica.