Chapter 1. The beginning of everything
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After his meeting with the emperor, Chaylen left the palace with a much lighter step.
His feet soon found themselves not at the exit of the Imperial Palace, but in a completely different direction. And unlike when he had been with Terban earlier, his face was full of joy.
Ellea was in her room comfortably but suddenly heard an urgent knock. Jane came in with a tense face.
“What is it? What’s wrong?”
“That person is here.”
“Who’s that person?”
Ellea didn’t understand Jane’s reference to that person, so she asked with a sense of urgency.
“Duke I mentioned earlier.”
Ellea, too, was startled by the news of Chaylen’s arrival and immediately went outside. True to Jane’s word, there was Chaylen in the palace.
She hurried over to him, and Chaylen also spotted Ellea approaching.
“I am here to see the Princess. I apologize for coming so suddenly.”
“Jane, I have something else to discuss with the Duke, could you please step out for a moment?”
“Yes. Have a pleasant conversation.”
As Jane moved away, Ellea, seeing that there were no other people around, hurried to ask Chaylen.
‘’What are you here all of a sudden, Duke?”
“Just speak freely, as you did before. I’m still very uncomfortable. I’m sure you are too. It’s kind of funny.”
That was the first thing Chaylen said when he was alone with Ellea. He didn’t like the idea of being formal to each other.
Ellea smiled and nodded, as if she had given up. The situation was just as awkward now, as if she was wearing clothes that didn’t fit as he had said.
“I completely agree with you. I got goosebumps when you called me Princess.”
“Well, that’s mutual, I suppose. Still, seeing you here makes me realize that you are an Imperial Princess.”
“That’s what I’m going to say. And why are you here?”
Ellea had a casual conversation with Chaylen, as usual, and finally asked him why he had come to visit.
“I came to see His Majesty, but I also have something to ask you.”
“What is it?”
“I’m going to hold a banquet at the mansion. I need to let people know that I’m back.”
Ellea thought it was typical of him that Chaylen spoke as if he was an amazing person, and she eventually laughed.
Sitting her as Princess and Duke was a situation she didn’t expect at all, but she felt comfortable because he was treating her as Ellea, not the Princess.
“So you want me to come?”
“Yes. I’d like to invite you.”
“I hope I’m not the only one who’s coming.”
“No, of course not. There’s a line of people who want to come.”
Actually, Chaylen wanted to invite only Ellea, but unfortunately the situation didn’t allow him to do so. Ellea hesitated, as it would be a situation with more people present than any other. It would be very troublesome.
“I appreciate the invitation, but I’m not sure I’m up for it….”
“I really want you to come. You’re the only person here I can say I’m close to.”
Elle was troubled, too, because she could no longer see the mischievous look she had seen earlier from Chaylen when he said that. She was also curious about his past, which she happened to have overheard, and she felt that he was similar to her who was alone here. Finally, after much hesitation, Ellea made her decision.
“Okay. It’s not too hard to do, but I have a condition.”
“What is it?”
Chaylen asked immediately, determined to do whatever he could to invite Ellea.
“Never reveal what you saw outside before. How about it?”
It seemed that Ellea was afraid people would know about how she didn’t act like a Princess outside, but Chaylen didn’t have any intention to tell anyone about it in the beginning, so he gladly agreed. Because he was the only person who knew enough about her true form.
“Sure. Are you coming then?”
“I was actually worried that you were going to distance yourself from me because I’m a Duke. Of course, I wasn’t deliberately trying to hide it. I had my own reasons for doing so.” (Chaylen)
Ellea was surprised by Chaylen’s words. Because he had the same thought as hers.
‘Maybe he’s just like me.’
“Okay, I’ll see you then.” (Ellea)
“There are quite a few eyes looking at me from behind. Then I will see you later. Your Imperial Highness.”
Unlike earlier, Chaylen greeted Ellea in the manner reserved for an imperial Princess, and quickly left the palace.
“What is it?”
Chaylen’s sudden change in behavior caused her to tilt her head, and she knew why as soon as she turned around. The maids were watching them in the distance. It was cute to see them peeking out quietly from behind the wall, and Ellea laughed as she approached them.
It seemed that they were very curious about Chaylen’s appearance.
Marie finished her work and came out, approaching curiously to see her colleagues gathered at the entrance.
“What’s going on? Why are you all gathered here?”
“Marie, do you know who came to visit the Princess?”
“Who is it that you all make a fuss?”
“It’s the Duke of Kaicher.”
Marie had naturally heard the rumor, so she looked at her colleague in surprise.
She then saw Ellea and Chaylen laughing and conversing as if they were quite close.
“Huh? Is he close enough to the Imperial Princess to visit her personally?”
Marie was curious and immediately asked Jane.
”Jane, did you know that the Princess was close to the Duke?”
“No, I didn’t know either. I was so surprised to see him all of a sudden.”
‘How on earth did they know each other, if even Jane, who’s the Princess’s maid, doesn’t know?’
Marie sensed at once that there was something going on between them. Meanwhile, having finished her conversation, Ellea came over to them.
“What is it you want to know so badly that you are gathering here?”
“What brought the Duke here, Princess?”
Jane asked, unable to contain her curiosity. Ellea could also see the curiosity in the eyes of the other maids, and she simply told them the reason for Chaylen’s visit.
“He’s holding a party to celebrate his return, and I was invited.”
“Really? Is that why he came in person?”
“We ran into each other the other day, but he had to come to the Imperial Palace today for some work, so he was just visiting out of courtesy.”
Afraid that the maids would misunderstand, Ellea emphasized that she and Chaylen were not very close. Then the maids’ attention was immediately drawn to the invitation.
“Then we must prepare for that day now. What dress shall I prepare for the Princess this time?”
“Please make it appropriate for me.”
With that, Ellea walked by and went up to her room, and the maids were scattered with excitement.
Marie was the only one left there standing there. She looked at Ellea with a strange look in her eyes as she moved away.
Meanwhile, as soon as Chaylen returned to the mansion, he gave Arun the news out of the blue with a casual look.
“What? What did you just say?”
“We’re having a banquet to celebrate my return. Why are you so surprised? You were the one who brought it up first.”
“No, you didn’t acknowledge it when I told you about it. So I wasn’t prepared for any of this.”
It was true, but Arun couldn’t understand Chaylen’s sudden change of words….just what Arun was worried about…
“Then we can do it after the people from the territories have arrived. Many nobles will be present, but even those who guard this place just in case………..”
“The number of people present is enough for that. Besides, I already invited some people.”
Arun was even more surprised by the last statement.
“Who the hell did you invite when we haven’t prepared anything yet?”
“You’ll find that out later. Please, Arun.”
“The accident was caused by the Duke, and now it’s my job again to clean up after him?”
Seeing that Chaylen didn’t care at all, it was Arun who gave up first. Then he asked the most important part.
“Assuming, then, that the rest of the people will come. Are you going to invite Duke Raymir as well?”
Despite Arun’s worries, Chaylen’s answer was quite clear.
“Of course. Isn’t it funny to leave him out? There is no more reason for us to avoid him.”
The time was pressing, and Arun knew he had to start preparations immediately, so he organized what needed to be done in his mind and left the office.
Chaylen waited for the day with two different anticipations.
“Duke Chaylen came to visit the Princess?”
“Yes. Not only I saw him, but also other maids. The Princess said they weren’t close, but from what I saw, they were quite intimate. It’s obvious she’s hiding something.”
Marie’s words made Shanil, who was sitting on the sofa, look curious. She couldn’t believe the Duke, who had just appeared, was already close to the Princess.
“Why did the Duke come?”
“A banquet hosted by the Duke will be held soon, and he wanted to invite the Princess.”
“He came in person to invite the Princess?”
Listening to Marie’s story made Shanil even more curious. The Duke could have just sent the invitation, but he came to invite Ellea in person.
‘Is there something going on between the two?’
Shanil turned to Marie, who was doing her job admirably, just as she wanted.
“Marie. I knew you would do as well. It’s really reassuring.”
“Thank you very much. I’ll work harder.”
“That’s right. Please help me from now on. I want this to be resolved soon so that I can have Marie by my side.”
Marie was so touched by Shanil’s words that she bowed her head formally, then quickly left the room. As soon as she was gone, the compassionate smile Shanil had earlier disappeared in an instant.
‘It’s nothing like a servant like that to be able to move around as I want.’
Satisfied to see Marie able to do the job properly, Shanil’s attention soon shifted to the relationship between Ellea and Chaylen.
The Duke was the person her father was most wary of these days, and of all people, that person had something to do with Ellea.
‘There’s something fishy going on.’
Shanil felt the need to attend the banquet where Ellea was going in order to confirm exactly what this was.
‘I’m sure I’ll get an invitation.’
As expected, a few days later, invitations arrived for her and Raymir as well. They both naturally thought it was a good opportunity and readily accepted the invitation.
Shanil then shared this news with Terban as well.
“So the invitation came, and I think I’ll go.”
“Is it the banquet hosted by Duke Chaylen?”
They were eating together, and Shanil broke the news that she would be attending a banquet that Chaylen would be hosting.
Terban remembered what Chaylen had said to him earlier.
‘Did he say Princess Ellea will be invited as well?’
“I haven’t seen the Duke yet, so I can’t wait to see what he’s like.” (Shanil)
”I’ll go with you.” (Terban)
“Hm? Terban will attend in person?” (Shanil)
Shanil couldn’t help but be surprised by the unexpected words that Terban brought up.
Normally, Terban would send his aide to congratulate them, but this time he was going to attend in person.
“Yes. It’s a meaningful banquet.” (Terban)
Shanil immediately nodded happily at his words.
“I like it too. I’m looking forward to having Terban with me as my partner.”
She thought it was a rather good opportunity, knowing that if she and Terban appeared together, everyone’s eyes and envy would be on her.
Little did she know that there were other reasons in the corner of Terban’s mind.