Chapter 1. The beginning of everything
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“So you were here. I can’t believe you’re sleeping comfortably without knowing that everyone is looking for you.”
El could certainly hear a familiar voice talking to her even in her sleep.
‘This voice is…’
In an instant, she recognized the owner of the voice, but she couldn’t wake up and said in her sleep.
“Are you awake? Now everyone is ……….”
“Did you come to find me?”
Terban lowered his body to eye level with El, whose eyes were still closed, and said.
“Yes, I came to find you…”
El laughed and opened her eyes. Then she found blue eyes smiling at her.
Meanwhile, someone had stepped into that place where Ellea was sleeping. It was Terban. The reason he had come here was simple. It was the only place in the Imperial Palace where no one else was. So when he felt suffocated, he often came here.
‘It’s been quite a while since I’ve been here.’
It was the first time Terban came here after El’s death.
He hated coming here because of the memories he had with El, but when he finally saw the familiar scenery, he felt a little calmer.
Terban walked deeper into the lush expanse of grass. At the end of the path, there was a tree that was incomparably larger than the others.
As soon as he saw the tree, memories related to El naturally came to his mind.
When El was young, she often came here.
When El came to the Imperial Palace and started practicing, she seemed to have a hard time, but she didn’t give up.
So he thought that she was following along reasonably well. Of course, she didn’t feel that way.
Then one day, El left the training grounds in the middle of a training session, and the knight who was teaching her hurriedly informed Terban of the fact.
Then he also hurried around looking for El and found her sleeping here.
‘I can’t believe you asked me if I came to find you in the situation you escaped…’
She asked him as if he had wanted to find her, and Terban, who tried to scold her, had no choice but to say yes.
How could he scold her for running away from practice when she smiled brightly at his answer?
As he approached the tree, recalling those memories of El, Terban thought he had a vision.
But then he looked again and saw someone under the tree. When he approached to check, he saw that it was Ellea.
She was sleeping very soundly, unprotected on all sides. He was rather worried about the people watching her.
‘Why is she sleeping here?’
And he thought it was a truly wonderful coincidence to see Ellea sleeping in the same place where El had slept.
Terban decided to wake Ellea up before anyone else saw her, since it was an open area.
Terban called out to her, however, she was in a daze as if she wasn’t fully awake yet.
Seeing this, just as Terban was about to call her again, Ella murmured in a small voice.
“Did you come to find me?”
“Did you come to find me?” (El)
At that moment, Terban couldn’t move. Ellea’s voice and El’s voice overlapped at once. Even their appearance looked similar.
While Terban stood still in shock, Ellea woke up fully and spontaneously stretched out both arms.
“Ah, I slept well. When did I fall asleep?”
She didn’t remember the words she had said in her dream, then she looked around and spotted the shoes in front of her.
“Huh? Why are my shoes….”
With suspicion, Ellea slowly turned her gaze upwards. Her eyes passed the long legs and the jacket….then met the person’s eyes.
And when she realized that the person standing in front of her was Terban, she was too surprised to even think about getting up right away.
It was only after they silently looked at each other for some time, she called him.
Ellea called loudly, and Terban finally snapped out of his old memories. He found himself looking at Ellea, who was also looking at him with a clear gaze.
“Why are you here, Your Majesty?”
Ellea’s question completely freed Terban from his earlier thoughts, and he rather asked her the same thing. Because he was the one who really wanted to know that.
“That’s what I want to ask. Why is the Princess sleeping here?”
Ellea was embarrassed, knowing Terban had seen her sleeping, came up with an excuse while avoiding his gaze.
“I found this place by accident, the weather was nice and the breeze was cool, so I guess I just fell asleep without realizing it.”
“Even the Princess can sleep here, this must be the best place to sleep.”
Sitting alone and awkwardly looking up at Terban, Ellea tried to get up, however before she could, he sat down some distance away.
After the banquet ended last night at the Duke of Kaicher’s residence, Chaylen was working in his office. And Arun stood in front of him, reporting.
“Duke, I’ve taken care of what you ordered.”
“You didn’t get caught?”
“Of course not. I put it in a natural place, away from people’s eyes. I’m sure they’ll find it soon.”
At Arun’s reply, Chaylen smiled with amusement.
‘Now, what will your reaction be?’
“He should like the gift that I carefully prepared.”
At the same time, at the Duke of Raymir’s residence, Raymir was hurrying to get ready to go to the Imperial Palace in the approaching afternoon.
But something didn’t sit well with him.
‘I thought he would be here soon after yesterday’s banquet, why on earth he hasn’t come?’
Raymir waited for the person he had sent to the Duke of Kaicher’s mansion yesterday, but in the end, he did not come.
“What’s the matter?”
When he was in the banquet hall yesterday, he kept his eyes on Chaylen until the end of the day, and Chaylen didn’t seem to suspect anything.
‘He didn’t get caught, did he?’
While he was thinking, he heard an imminent voice with a knock on the door.
“Duke, we’re in trouble.”
“What’s the matter?”
“It’s…I think you’ll have to go out in person and check.”
When the person had trouble speaking, Raymir came out and saw the butler standing there with a frightened expression on his face.
Puzzled by the appearance, Raymir followed the butler outside.
Soon they arrived at a deserted area behind the Duke’s residence. There was an old cart sitting there.
“I was surprised to see it, so I moved it to this spot so it wouldn’t be seen by anyone. Someone put it in front of the Duke’s residence and the servants found it.”
The look on the butler’s face was anything but ordinary, so Raymir approached with caution and took off the cloth covering the top of the cart.
Then, startled by what was inside, he dropped the cloth and backed away.
“What the hell is this ……?”
What was in the cart was the body of a man. He was dead with his eyes open, covered in blood. He was surprised to see it for a moment, but when he looked closer, it was the same face he knew. It was the person he had waited so long to see in the morning.
As soon as he realized this fact, his hands began to shake as he guessed who had sent the cart.
‘Duke Chaylen, how dare you?’
“Duke, what should we do with this person?”
“Get rid of it. Be careful not to be seen by others.”
With that, Raymir left the corpse behind and walked away. Along with his anger at Chaylen.
‘So this is how it’s going to go? Well, then, I’ve been given a gift, and of course I have to return it many times over.’
“Why are you looking at me like that?”
“No…..Your Majesty is sitting here.”
“I gave someone my handkerchief so I don’t have anything to put on the floor to sit on.”
Ellea was momentarily at a loss for words when Terban mentioned the handkerchief.
When Ellea looked flustered, as expected, Terban couldn’t hold back and laughed out loud.
Realizing that Terban was teasing her, Ellea raised an eyebrow.
“Are you teasing me now?”
“Then I’m leaving. I don’t feel like being teased too much.”
With that, Ellea got up, and Terban caught her wrist before he had time to think about it.
Ellea looked at Telvan in surprise at the cold touch she could feel for a moment, and when their eyes met, he hastily released her hand.
“No, I thought you were going to rest here.”
“That’s true, but…….”
“Then stay. I don’t want to hear that I kicked you out later.”
When the words sounded like teasing again, Ellea grew stubborn instead and sat down in her original seat again.
“I can’t help it, since Your Majesty says so.”
As Ellea relaxed into her seat, Terban’s gaze went to her feet.
“How’s your wound?”
“My wound? Oh, I went to the palace doctor today to get it treated, and he told me it would be fine as long as I kept it under control. Thanks to it, I’ve been getting a lot of nagging from both the attendants and the palace doctor this morning.”
When Ellea replied and looked up, Terban also raised his head. But all he could see was branches and leaves.
“What on earth are we looking at? I can’t see the sky because the leaves are blocking it.”
“The sun’s rays are shining through the leaves. Isn’t it rather more beautiful this way?”
When Terban looked up again, he could see the sparkling sun rays, and yes, it was beautiful.
“Indeed, it is.”
“Just looking at it puts my mind at ease, and I seem to have fallen asleep without even knowing it. It’s so quiet that I want to come here often.”
Ellea replied to Terban’s words. She thought she understood the reason for Terban’s coming here at this time, so she asked.
“Did Your Majesty also come here to cool your head?”
“How do you know?”
“I suddenly remembered Bellea. Whenever Bellea feels frustrated, he rests under a tree like this.”
When Terban wondered how she knew, Ellea used Bellea as an excuse.
Terban was soon convinced, and Ellea leaned against the tree and closed her eyes.
“This is the only place I can forget about everything, so I come here sometimes.” (Terban)
Terban folded his arms, and closed his eyes with his legs crossed. Silence came between them again.