Chapter 1. The beginning of everything
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Kenley showed regret at Ellea’s sudden departure. When she was completely gone, he looked at Terban, believed Terban was the cause of Ellea’s hurry departure.
“Your Majesty’s sudden appearance seems to have surprised the Princess. We didn’t even get a chance to say goodbye.”
“I see you’ve grown quite close to her.”
“Yes, I was surprised by her sudden visit. She even brought cold drinks for us today.”
With the knights’ praises for Ellea, Bandel calmed them down.
He asked Terban.
“What brought you here, Your Majesty?”
“Nothing important. I came here to move my body a bit for the first time in a long time, and Kenley should be able to handle me.”
When Terban nominated Kenley as his training partner, Kenley reacted with more intensity than ever. His expression alone was enough to show that he really didn’t want to.
“Yes. You look like you’re in good shape today.”
“I just got my bandages undone. There are so many people here besides me.”
“Hurry up and get ready.”
But Terban let Kenley’s words fall on one ear, and Kenley’s companions tapped him on the shoulder as if they could see what was going to happen to Kenley.
“I knew it the moment he said that to His Majesty.”
“I know you’re teasing me now. But I may not be able to wake up tomorrow.”
“Then warm up quickly and do your best. Because that’s the only thing you can afford.”
Fighting against Terban was quite notorious in the Order.
He did not tolerate whoever he was dealing with, and mercy was no more. So the fate of the other party was obvious even without seeing it.
Terban was also warming up while Kenley was sighing deeply. Somehow, yesterday’s frustration didn’t seem to go away, so he (Terban) ended up coming to the training grounds. But unexpectedly, he came here and faced the source of that frustration, Ellea…
‘I’ve come this far.’
He had only briefly seen her from afar earlier, but Ellea seemed to be very comfortable with the knights. As if it was her place.
‘You really do show me a lot of unexpected things no matter how many times I see you.’
When he thought about it, his encounters with Ellea always took place in the most unexpected places. The border, the nursery school, and now even the performance hall.
‘You look completely different from yesterday.’
Terban felt a funny emotion at the sight of her making himself look like a liar, drawing a line to stay away from her, but on the contrary, making friends with the knights.
Then she quickly left when she saw him.
‘Speaking of which…..’
“Your Majesty, are you ready?”
Before Terban could continue his thought, Bandel approached, seeing that Kenley had finished all the preparations. Terban erased all the thoughts in his head and gripped his sword seriously.
The first thing he did was to step into the center of the performance hall to dispel all these unpleasant feelings.
“If you’re free tomorrow, let’s eat outside if the weather is nice.”
“What were you thinking so hard that you couldn’t even hear what I was saying?”
Shanil couldn’t help but wonder about Terban, who hadn’t been talking much today, even while they were having dinner together. He didn’t even eat much.
“It’s not that. I was just thinking about something.”
Is there something on your mind?”
Shanil asked, worried why he was lost in thoughts while being with her, but Terban just shook his head.
He’d been training and exercising for quite some time, but it seemed to be to no avail.
“Do you want to eat together?”
“Yes. How about tomorrow? You’ve been so busy lately that you haven’t had much time to do so.”
Terban hesitated for a moment at the mention of tomorrow, but then said no.
“I’m sorry I don’t think I can do it tomorrow.”
“You don’t have time to eat together?”
“No. Let’s eat together next time.”
“Okay. You promised first.”
Shanil said so, but in her heart she doubted it a little. Except in very special cases, Terban would prioritize time with her, but he turned her down like this? Not only that, but he wouldn’t tell her what was going on.
“What is it that you can’t even tell me?”
Although she was only pondering, Terban, without any intention whatsoever, mentioned the events of earlier in the day.
“Princess Ellea came to the training hall a while ago.”
Shanil was filled with wonder at the mention of Ellea’s appearance at the performance hall. And she immediately suspected it. There was no reason for a Princess to go there of all places.
“I think she’s become friendly with Bandel.”
“Come to think of it, they were together at the banquet hall last time.”
“She looked comfortable around them.”
Shanil was more reluctant to talk about Ellea than anything else.
“I think she’s gotten used to bringing drinks and spending time with the knights in Zenvenica.”
“I see. Anyway, it’s good to see she’s getting familiar with the Imperial Palace.”
Shanil spoke as if if happy for the Princess, but of course she didn’t like Ellea’s behavior.
Knowing how much Terban cared for the Knights, especially his direct Order, she was worried this would be an excuse for them to make connections.
She wondered if that was what Ellea was aiming for all along.
Not wanting to leave Ellea in a state of constant distraction, Shanil hastily decided to move as planned.
Going to see the children regularly became a routine for Ellea. And there were still only a few people who knew about it.
The people closest to her were Borence and Jane, who assisted her. And even Terban.
And today, as she rode in the carriage to the nursery, Ellea’s heart was unusually heavy.
She proudly told Terban that he didn’t need to come, but she wondered what to say to the children.
‘I think the children will be disappointed.’
As soon as she reached her destination, the carriage stopped and she dismounted with another day full of things for the children.
As she was walking along, she saw a familiar figure in front of the building.
Ellea thought for a moment that she was mistaken, so she shook her head and looked in front again, but nothing changed.
In the meantime, the other person had spotted Ellea and approached her.
“………..why are you here, Your Majesty?”
Despite Ellea’s panicked question, Terban just looked at her.
It was only natural for her to react this way. How could he be here when he had indeed said let’s pretend this never happened?
But even with her reaction, Terban was unconcerned.
“I’m only here to keep the promise I made.”
“Didn’t I say let’s pretend it never happened?”
“How can the Princess decide what to do with the promise I made on her own?”
If Terban said that, she had nothing to say, but that didn’t mean she could understand his actions.
There was no one to say anything even if he didn’t keep his promise, so why did he have to do this? At that time, Terban returned what she had said.
“I didn’t make the promise I couldn’t keep.”
At that moment, they stared at each other in silence, and it was Ellea who gave up first. She knew very well that there was nothing she could do to stop him after he already came this far.
When he didn’t seem to want to go at all, Ellea asked with the feeling that it was really the last time.
“Are you sure you won’t regret it?”
“Then I lost.”
One thing she found interesting was the way Terban kept his promise because he didn’t want to lose to her. He was like a stubborn child.
“I lost, didn’t I? In return, you are absolutely not allowed to go back in the middle of the game.”
“Okay. What’s in the package?”
“They’re gifts for the children. Come on in, they’re waiting for you.”
The moment Ellea was about to walk past Terban and lead the way, her weighted hands instantly became lighter.
Without saying a word, Terban took the package from her. She was startled and tried to take it back.
“I’ll carry it. It’s not even that heavy.”
Instead of replying, Terban avoided her hand and walked leisurely away. Ellea had no choice but to follow him.
As soon as they reached the front of the building and knocked on the door, they heard rushing footsteps towards the door. Ellea got used to the sound and stepped back from the door. Then she hurriedly said to Terban, who was standing still.
“Your Majesty, please step back quickly.”
“You will find out later, so hurry up.”
Terban wondered, but followed her.
At that moment the door opened quickly. Then, as if it was déjà vu from that day, the children tried to go out first, but they pushed each other and fell forward.
“Get off me.”
“I told you I’d open the door.”
‘What is this…’
When the surroundings became noisy in an instant due to the sudden flood of children, Terban just stood still in bewilderment.
In that situation, Ellea calmly raised the children up one by one.
“I told you to be careful when you open the door. You could get hurt.”
“Miss El, I said I would do it.”
“No. From now on, Karin should open the door. You got it?”
“Yes, I understand.”
The children were in the middle of listening to Ellea’s petulant words when they spotted Terban standing beside her, and all at once their gazes were drawn to him.
“Huh? That’s him….”
“Why are you so surprised? Isn’t he the one you’ve been waiting for so long?”
At her words, the children quickly crowded in front of Terban. With a burst of energy, Terban took a step back.
He was not used to this situation, and he regretted it a bit.
‘Maybe I shouldn’t have brought it up.’
It was Ellea who answered Terban’s troubled appearance.
“I’ll introduce you later, so let’s go in.”
At her command, the children went inside in a row, and Ellea turned to Terban and asked anxiously,
“Are you all right? You must be surprised.”
“I can’t say I wasn’t.”
“You’ll get used to it. I was the same at first. Let’s hurry and go in.”
It was a very familiar situation for Ellea, so she went inside without hesitation.
Terban walked into the building where many things were going to happen today, thinking that he might regret coming here even though he meant it from the beginning.