Chapter 1. The beginning of everything
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Ellea began to dance gently with Chaylen.
Perhaps the dance with Terban before helped, she now wasn’t embarrassed and moved her feet quite naturally.
But now she had something that was more pressing than dancing. So, as if she had been waiting, she immediately began to question Chaylen.
“I signaled you to stop. You knew what I meant and you did it on purpose, didn’t you?”
“Of course I did. That’s why I’m grateful now. I think if I stay in that gap longer, it would go crazy.”
Ellea nodded in understanding, knowing that the gap he was referring to was where the ladies were gathering, though that didn’t make it any less reprehensible.
“I’m worried about how to explain this situation. You should explain it well later.”
“Don’t worry about it. As a nobleman of Rubain, I’m sure everyone would understand if I asked the Princess to dance as a courtesy. No one can say anything if I say that.”
Ellea ended up raising her hands at Chaylen’s confidence.
“Well, that’s fine then. Still, it’s true that I helped you, so you have to help me later.”
‘What do I have to help with? You’re the Imperial Princess of the Empire.”
“I’ll decide what you should do, so don’t pretend like you don’t know later.”
“Fine. Anything I can do to help.”
Having gotten a promise from Chaylen, Ellea finally relaxed a bit. The sight of her made Chaylen feel at ease and able to focus on the dance.
In fact, asking her to dance was impulsive.
Because even in a situation where he was surrounded by so many women, he could only see Ellea.
So he held out his hand, knowing that she would not like it. He was nervous she would refuse, but it wasn’t in his nature to pass up an opportunity like this.
“Honestly, I thought you’d say no.”
“Why? Am I in a position to refuse? Then again, I didn’t think it would be right to do that.”
Chaylen’s hands tightened as he heard Ellea’s thoughts. And the more he danced, the closer he got to her.
At that moment, regardless of his will, his heart started beating faster, and for some reason he couldn’t face Ellea anymore, so he ended up avoiding her eyes.
“Are you tired already? Why is your face so red?”
“It’s not like that.”
“Yes, your face is red.”
Feeling strange, Ellea raised her hand and touched his face gently.
The hand startled Chaylen to a halt, and Ellea bumped her forehead against his chest.
“Ah! Why did you stop so suddenly?”
“I think this is enough. Anyway, thank you for your help.”
As soon as the music ended, Chaylen let go of Ellea’s hand and walked away as if escaping.
She looked at him strangely, and quickly returned to her original position.
While talking to other aristocrats, Terban felt that the eyes around him were directed to one place and turned his head.
At the center of it all were Ellea and Chaylen, who were dancing.
‘So you knew each other after all.’
Before this, Ellea told him that they had met by chance and had only had a brief conversation, but he could feel that she was hiding the truth.
With that thought, Terban’s gaze lingered on Ellea as she laughed and conversed with Chaylen. That was, until she parted from him and returned to her seat.
At the same time, there were two pairs of eyes who were particularly focused on the sight of Ellea and Chaylen dancing, and that was Duke Raymir and Shanil.
Shenil had been talking to Raymir, leaving her seat for a while so that Terban could have a comfortable conversation with the nobles.
Then, as Chaylen and Ellea danced and parted, Shanil said to Raymir.
“Isn’t that what I told you before, father? That there is something between the two.”
“I see. It’s not a wrong guess at all.”
Raymir’s eyes were shining sharply as he thought of their casual conversation during the dance.
When Shanil had first told him about the two of them, he was skeptical. Because they had no connection at all.
‘But there might be something going on.’
Raymir hurried up to Chaylen before the others could approach him. He was going to explore his thoughts for once.
“I think today is special, Duke Chaylen.”
“Yes. With such a large crowd celebrating, it makes me feel like I’m really back.”
Chaylen replied calmly, as he always did, even when he saw Raymir approach him unexpectedly. Of course, in his heart, he did not relax his guard against him.
“How is the banquet today? I prepared it in a hurry, so it may not be enough for the Duke’s eyes.”
“It’s wonderful. However, with the Duke in the capital, I’m sure the territory is empty.”
“I let the people I could trust sort out what was left. It’s taken me a little while to figure out how my uncle has been managed so far.”
While exchanging formal stories, Chaylen mentioned Peisen. However, Raymir was not very embarrassed because he had already expected it.
‘I figured you would, so I took care of it from the beginning. You’re just a little boy who doesn’t know any better.’
This time, as if fighting back, Raymir mentioned Ellea.
“Thank you for your efforts. Oh, by the way, what kind of friendship do you have with the Imperial Princess? You two danced very intimately.”
Chaylen naturally expected the question, so he calmly explained the reason. Because he already knew his ulterior motives.
“I only briefly exchanged greetings with the Princess at the Imperial Palace. As a nobleman of Rubain, I asked her to dance out of courtesy.”
“I see. I thought you two were close friends, but I see that you’re not.”
“It hasn’t been long since I moved to the capital, and my ducal and private duties have been piling up, keeping me busy.”
“That’s true. Oh no, I’ve been holding the Duke for too long. Then I’ll see you again later.”
And as soon as Raymir moved away, the smile instantly disappeared from Chaylen’s face.
‘That’s the way I figured it would go. But ….he seemed to be showing quite a bit of interest in Ellea.’
He knew Raymir would ask when he saw them dance, but it was something different than that. It wasn’t because Raymir was really curious, but because he was exploring something.
It was as if Raymir was convinced that there was something going on between Ellea and him (Chaylen).
Chaylen averted his gaze from Raymir, and engaged in conversation with those who approached.
After parting ways with Chaylen, Ellea returned to where Heris was, and as expected, she was met with Heris’s heated gaze. Even if she tried to turn a blind eye, she could feel what her eyes were saying.
“Heris, don’t look at me like that. It’s going to pierce my face.”
“Then tell me quickly. What is going on?”
Ellea was troubled. But she felt that Heris was trustworthy, so she told her the truth.
“Actually, we’ve met several times outside the Imperial Palace. We had no idea about our real identities. I was surprised when I found out who he was.”
“Really? I’m surprised that happened. That’s why he asked you to dance.”
“I signaled desperately for him not to come, but he did it anyway.”
Ellea’s reaction was that she was annoyed, and Heris found the situation funny and laughed.
“I’m fine with it, but the people around are more of a problem.”
Heris was right, and as Ellea looked around, she saw several of the ladies gathered around, glancing at her.
She noticed the significance of their gazes, of course.
“I knew it would be like this.”
Ellea finally swallowed the sigh that was building up and told Heris that she thought it would be best to avoid her position for a while.
“I’ll take refuge in the break room before I go back.”
“Okay. I think that would be better.”
Ellea left the banquet hall and headed down the hallway to the break room right next door.
Unlike the glamorous banquet hall, the hallway where the break room was located was dark, quiet and calming.
Entering the room, Ellea went straight to the terrace without turning on any lights and took in the cool breeze.
“It’s nice. I’ll have to spend some time here until people lose interest.”
Ellea was silently looking at the night sky, and shortly after, she heard the door open behind her.
Someone immediately came in, seemingly oblivious to her on the terrace because it was dark.
‘Who came in?’
Ellea realized then that she didn’t give any indication that this place was in use, she tried to let the person who came in know that she was there before it was too late. However, the voice she heard first stopped her.
“Shanil, we’ll have to keep an eye on them as you say.”
Ellea hid behind the wall instead of reaching for the terrace door.
Then she peeked inside, paying attention to the names she heard, and it was Raymir and Shanil who had entered.
Ellea was surprised, but then she was curious about what Raymir had just said.
‘Who are they going to keep an eye on?’
The two engaged in a secret conversation, not imagining that Ellea was in the same space.
“It is clear that there are some connections between Duke Chaylen and the Princess.”
‘Me and Chaylen?’
Ellea became more and more suspicious when she realized that the subject of their conversation was herself and Chaylen.
“Yes. But you figured it out sooner than I thought, Shanil.”
“No matter how much I think about it, it’s still strange. Duke Chaylen had personally come to the palace to invite the Princess. As a matter of fact, I’ve had my eye on her since before that, since I was suspicious of her going out alone.”
“Very well. You never know when and what will happen in the imperial palace.”
‘Now wait a minute.’
Ellea found something strange about Shanil’s words. It sounded like Shanil knew too much about what happened in her (Ellea) palace.
Most importantly, she (Ellea) had asked Borence to make sure that the story about Chaylen visiting her would not get out.
‘That means I have a rat in my palace.’
Ellea immediately realized that Shanil had planted someone in her palace. It was to find out what she was hiding.
‘You end up irritating me with my quiet time.’
Thinking about Shanil offending her, Ellea felt like she was getting angry. But the father and daughter’s conversation did not end there.
“By the way, are you sure you want to leave Duke Chaylen as he is?”
“Of course not. I already made my move. Now that the Duke’s people are concentrated in the banquet hall, now is our chance. We need to find out the weakness of the Duke, and how much he knows.”
“Come to think of it, on a hectic day like today, the security on that side will be light.”
As she listened to their words, Ellea quickly came to one fact.
‘It meant someone has broken into the Duke’s residence.’
Ellea was convinced that there was something going on between Raymir and Chaylen, and at the same time, she knew what they were planning.
So that meant….
‘I don’t have much time.’
Realizing that there would be no further delay, Ellea decided to give up on listening to their conversation and move on.
‘If I move after talking to Chaylen, it might be too late.’
Ellea took off her cumbersome shoes and jumped off the terrace without hesitation, once she was sure that the two people were unaware of her presence.