Chapter 1. The beginning of everything
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As Ellea left Chaylen’s room, the Duke’s mansion was still quiet and she was glad that she wasn’t discovered.
As she hurried back to the banquet hall, she felt pain in her foot.
She hurriedly checked the soles of her feet and saw that it looked like she had stepped on a piece of the broken vase earlier, unseen because it was dark. She was so busy that she felt the pain only now.
Fortunately, the wound was shallow, and once she was sure the bleeding had stopped, Ellea slipped out of the main building.
As she was walking, wondering who she should tell about this, she saw someone walking towards the main building and hurried up to him.
“Your Highness? What are you doing here……..?”
Arun had some business to attend to and was on his way to the main building, and was surprised to see Ellea. Then he was even more surprised when he saw her up close.
At Arun’s question, Ellea looked at herself. Her hair was disheveled and her dress was in disarray, as if she had been hit by a strong wind.
“It’s nothing serious, don’t worry about it.”
Hastily adjusting her hair and dress, she realized that now was not the time for this, and decided to tell Arun what had happened.
“Listen calmly, Arun. Someone broke into the main building.”
“What? Is that true?”
Seeing that Arun was very surprised, Ellea hurriedly calmed him down.
“You don’t have to worry about it, I’ve taken care of it.”
Arun was by far the most surprised by this fact.
It made him wonder if Ellea was the same person he had seen in the banquet hall when she said she had dealt with the intruder with a casual look.
“I’ve tied him up in Chaylen’s bedroom, so he can tell you more. He talks easily when threatened.”
“One moment, please. I’m not sure I understand …………..”
“Tell Chaylen I’ve solved it and he’ll understand. And since there are still many people in the banquet hall, it would be good to let him know when the banquet is over.”
At Ellea’s thorough explanation, he nodded as if possessed by something.
“Then please take care of the mess. If anything happens, tell Chaylen to send a letter to the Imperial Palace.”
“Yes, thank you very much.”
After finishing, Ellea greeted Arun and leisurely walked away. He felt that he could understand why Chaylen and Ellea were close to each other.
‘It’s clear that you’re not normal like Master Chaylen.’
Arun watched Ellea walking away blankly for a moment then hurried to the main building.
Outside the banquet hall, Ellea looked for her shoes and immediately tried to return to the Imperial Palace.
Seeing Arun’s surprise at seeing her earlier, she realized for sure that she should not return to the banquet hall in this state.
Fortunately, her shoes were still among the bushes where she had hidden them, and she picked them up and looked around.
‘Let’s catch my breath first.’
Her feet were sore and she needed to clear her thoughts, so she found a place in the garden where she could rest and headed there.
There was a garden bench underneath the arched space, and Ellea sat down as if collapsed.
She tossed her shoes to the ground and looked up at the night sky.
‘Duke Raymir is in motion. And so is that woman, Shanil.’
Today was a sure thing.
She wasn’t sure how it happened, but she knew that Raymir’s target was Chaylen, and that Shanil was also after him.
‘Is it from the tea party?’
‘No, maybe since that first time she met Ellea.’
There was only one reason why Shanil was targeting Ellea. It was just like in the past when she killed El.
It meant that he was just as bad to look at as he once was to kill himself.
‘You haven’t changed.’
‘It probably won’t end.’
Ellea knew better than anyone. It was only a matter of time before Shanil’s sword headed for her neck.
It was her (Ellea) goal to stay here quietly and leave, but the wind was blowing dangerously without her even realizing it.
‘Do you really think I want things to be that difficult?’
Now that she knew this, there was only one option left. To stand up to Shanil, just as she had chosen to live Ellea’s life.
She knew that Shanil’s sword would go beyond her to Zevenica if she wanted to.
‘So that’s the only way after all?’
It wasn’t enough that she had stigmatized El, it was her (Shanil) who had sent El to her death. And, she (Shanil) was once again threatening her (Ellea)with a new life.
‘Is that so? One death at your hands is enough.’
Ellea’s eyes shone with determination as she looked at the night sky. But even at this moment.
‘Why am I worried about His Majesty?’
Why was she worried about someone who pushed her away?
At that moment, Ellea laughed bitterly. Then she leaned back comfortably against the bench, closed her eyes, and felt the wind graze her.
How much time had passed? Perhaps it was because her eyes were closed, or perhaps it was because it was so quiet around her, but Ellea could feel someone’s footsteps approaching her.
‘I’m sure of this sound…’
Maybe it was because she had been thinking about it for a while, but she realized at once who it was that was approaching her just by the sound of their footsteps.
Ellea knew that the footsteps had stopped in front of her, but she didn’t open her eyes. She thought the opponent would talk to her first, but it was just silence. Eventually, she opened her eyes.
However, something that she saw in front of her startled her in a way that was incomparable to what she had seen earlier.
Without warning, blue eyes were staring directly at her.
Ellea reflexively tried to back away, but the bench blocked her and there was no place to avoid it.
Without avoiding Terban, the two pairs of eyes were looking at each other.
Terban was on his way back to the banquet hall after sorting through his complicated mind when he happened to spot someone sitting on a bench.
And he realized that this person was Ellea, who had been running through his head all along.
As soon as he knew it, he stopped and began to ponder. Should he just pretend that he didn’t know and walk on by?
But he quickly made up his mind and walked over and stopped in front of her.
But even at that moment, Ellea just kept her eyes closed.
‘Is she sleeping?’
Terban spontaneously moved closer to her to check. Thanks to it, he was able to see Ellea’s face in detail.
As soon as his gaze went past her hair, forehead, and her eyes, Ellea woke up and unexpectedly met his gaze.
It was as if he was under a spell, Terban couldn’t take his eyes off Ellea. He himself didn’t know why.
That eye contact only ended with Ellea saying in surprise.
“What’s with you all of a sudden? Your Majesty startled me.”
Taken aback by her reaction, Terban stepped back. However, he did not take his eyes off Ellea.
“I thought you were asleep because you were so still.”
“That can’t be. This is not the Imperial Palace, and I was just thinking for a while.”
“The Princess must have had a lot on your mind. Seeing that you even took off your shoes.”
When she saw the shoes laying randomly on the ground, Ellea felt embarrassed and tried to leave.
“Hmm, well, I’m about to leave.”
But it was much faster for Terban to take the seat next to her than it was for Ellea to get up. And he cut to the chase.
“I have something to say to the Princess.”
At these words, Ellea stopped getting up and sat down on the bench again.
She couldn’t look at Terban for some reason, so she looked at the front and waited for him to say what he needed to say.
‘What the hell is going on?’
She waited nervously, wondering if it was because of the last incident, but what she heard from Terban was unexpected.
“What? What are you saying……”
“I’m sorry. I’m apologizing.”
At first she thought she had misheard, because Terban, no one else, had apologized to her.
When he saw that Ellea was more surprised than when she had just found him, Terban laughed strangely, even though he was in a serious mood.
“That’s the look that said I couldn’t have said what I said.”
“Of course. Because Your Majesty apologized to me. I wonder if the person in front of me is actually Your Majesty.”
At her words, Terban was now laughing aloud, and she, watching him, was just as perplexed as ever.
When Terban finally stopped laughing, he seriously pieced together what he had said earlier.
“To be honest, as the princess said, it was awkward. It’s the first time I’ve ever apologized to anyone.”
“Then why did you suddenly say it to me?”
“You said you chose to be misunderstood by me.”
When Terban brought up what Ellea said that day, Ellea’s expression stiffened a little more than before.
“Then why are you apologizing?”
“I knew what the Princess had heard that day. I was astonished to hear it, and I understood how you must have felt when you heard it.”
“It’s only natural for you to be angry, since I blamed the Princess for a situation I didn’t even know well. It was an obvious mistake on my part and I thought it was right to apologize. Even the mark caused by my strong grip at the time.”
Ellea was momentarily at a loss for words at Terban’s heartfelt apology. Even though he explained it, she still couldn’t believe he actually apologized to her personally.
Honestly, he could have just pretended not to know. Ellea had already told him that she wouldn’t report it to Zevenica.
‘Still, he apologized to me directly?’
Terban waited with a certain amount of nervousness to see what Ellea would say, but instead of a reply, she asked him another question.
“But it could be true, couldn’t it? I may have gone out of my way to get close to you, but how can you be sure that I didn’t?”
Ellea asked with a trembling heart, but Terban’s voice was surprisingly firm.
“Why is that?”
“Because I’ve heard it from the Order, and most importantly, I’ve felt that the Princess I’ve seen is not that kind of person.”
Terban said as he looked at her, and for some reason Ellea couldn’t look at him for long, so she turned away. Her behavior was strange, so Terban called her.
“Yes. I understand what you have told me, so I will leave now……….”
Ellea got up without thinking of the wound on her feet, because she wanted to get out of here as quickly as possible, but immediately felt the pain.
Terban immediately stood up at her words and hurriedly sat Ellea down on the bench.
Ellea was bewildered by the behavior he showed. Terban was kneeling on one knee and looking at her feet.