Chapter 1. The beginning of everything
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Feeling their eyes on her, Ellea finally managed to stifle a laugh.
“It’s funny that we’re together, and trying so hard to hide our presence from the kids so we don’t get caught. It looks like we’ve been practicing hard for this.”
Ellea couldn’t stop laughing at the sight of themselves, or precisely at herself, who used her skills in Rubain, trying not to be discovered by the children.
It was a situation she really couldn’t have imagined when she was El.
When the two men saw Ellea laughing like a child, they smiled as much as she did. They were both stunned by this situation.
Playing with the children, sitting on the ground, such a peaceful time off.
It was something that the two of them were not allowed to do.
And at the center of it all was Ellea.
“It’s strange, isn’t it?”
“It’s hard to believe.”
It was then that they heard the seeker’s cry from behind.
”Ha! I found three of them!”
The child said and ran away, Ellea hurriedly got up, but it was already too late.
It seemed that the seeker heard the three of them talking. As the three of them approached, most of the children were caught and gathered around.
The children quickly lost interest and begged them to play something else. In the end, the three adults were swept this way and that by the children.
The game was over by the time the sun was set, after having fun without knowing the passage of time. Ellea was also very tired after spending a long time at the nursery.
Now it was time for the kids to finish their day, so the three decided it was time to leave. The children were disappointed, but their faces were full of smiles, as if they had enjoyed the time they spent together today.
“Please come again.”
“We really had a great time today.”
They left the nursery promising the children to come next time, but the awkwardness lingered as only three people were left again.
Ellea decided to leave first, as it seemed that staying with the two men longer could only complicate the situation for no reason.
“Thank you for your time today. Thanks to you, the children were very happy. I’ll leave first.”
Ellea got in the carriage and said her thanks.
“Thank you for your time, Your Majesty, Chaylen. I’m very grateful.”
Only the two remained as they watched Ellea’s carriage move away.
Then as if there was nothing else to do, Terban mounted his horse to leave, but Chaylen caught him.
“Why did you come here, Your Majesty? Honestly, I don’t understand.”
“I don’t think there’s a reason why I should say it. And I’m still watching what the Duke is hiding.”
Terban’s words made Chaylen’s expression stiffen, but he paid no heed and left at ease.
Chaylen watched him as he clenched his hands.
Leaning against the window and sighing in exhaustion, Ellea’s tension dissipated when she was alone.
She couldn’t believe that what happened today was real. She still had questions.
‘Why on earth did His Majesty come?’
She didn’t know why Terban had shown up, let alone Chaylen.
She didn’t think he would come to the nursery anymore. There was nothing particularly to talk about as the children rejoiced at his appearance, but her head felt even more complicated in that place where she tried to enjoy her time there.
She suddenly had a desire to get rid of this depressing feeling right now.
Quickly deciding, Ellea said to the horseman.
“Can you please stop for a moment?”
Not knowing why, but the horseman slowly stopped the carriage and Ellea got out, wearing the long robe she brought.
“I have some business to do here, so can you go back to the palace and tell them I’ll be a little late?”
“What? But it’s already dark.”
The horseman was right, the sky that had been sunset earlier was now turning black.
Despite the horseman’s concerns, Ellea shook her head as if not to worry.
“It’s because I want to be alone. I’ll try not to be too late.”
The horseman couldn’t help but to leave for the imperial Palace at Ellea’s stubbornness.
Alone, she breathed in the cold night air and quickly walked through the streets of the capital.
‘If I go back like this, I’m not going to be able to sleep.’
Ellea walked alone into a familiar tavern and sat down. Then she ordered drinks casually.
On a day she had many thoughts like today, she desperately needed alcohol. She was like a thirsty person.
When the alcohol was served, she poured it into a cup and drank it all at once.
‘Oh, it’s good. After all, this tastes much better than expensive alcohol.’
It wasn’t so bad to end the day like this. The alcohol felt even sweeter when she drank it after playing with children so hard and exhausted.
When the feel-good drunkenness came, just as she was about to pour the alcohol into the cup and drink it again, there was a hand that snatched the cup at once.
Ellea felt a déjà vu in that hand that she had felt a long time ago.
At the same time, there were two people sitting in the empty chair across from her. Their appearance startled Ellea so much that she could barely speak.
“Oh, no. Why are you two here….?”
“I should ask you that. Why are you here and not in the Imperial Palace?”
As they demanded an answer, Ellea spoke with a small voice as if she had sinned.
“I wanted a drink….”
“I don’t think this is a place for the Princess to come alone.”
“Liquor? You went through that the other day, and you came here alone again? “
Ellea gasped at the sight of Terban and Chaylen, who immediately jumped on her before she could finish her words.
She couldn’t understand why they were doing this to her and took the cup back from Chaylen and said.
“People will think you two are my guards. And I need time like this once in a while too.”
With that, Ellea drank his drink, not paying attention to the two of them. Terban and Chaylen were speechless at the sight of the imperial Princess and her completely unsuitable appearance.
It was Ellea who wanted to ask them questions. So she put the cup down aloud and asked.
“Why are you two here, by the way? Did you follow me?”
Ellea’s words made them both clam up in unison. Because she was right. When they saw the carriage in front of them stop, they spotted Ellea going somewhere alone.
They were worried about where she was going at this time of night, so before they knew it, they followed her.
“There’s nothing to worry about, so now you can both leave. I want to be alone.”
Even with Ellea’s words, the two men just sat still like guards and seemed to have no intention of leaving at all.
All Ellea wanted to do was relax and enjoy this time alone, but the appearance of the two men drained her once again.
She could feel people’s gazes shifting slightly because of the presence of two good looking men.
‘I don’t know anymore.’
Ellea drank nonchalantly as the situation was already going this way. Chaylen knew he couldn’t stop her, so he changed his plan and ordered more drinks and glasses.
As soon as the order was served, Chaylen poured the liquor into Terban’s glass as well as his own.
Terban’s gaze turned to him, and Chaylen said as if there was no choice.
“Drink. I don’t think anyone can stop her.”
“You’re quite calm, aren’t you?”
“It’s not the first time I’ve been in this situation. We’ve run into each other here before.”
Chaylen didn’t hesitate anymore and didn’t hide his friendship with Ellea.
“So it wasn’t the first time you two met at the Imperial Palace, after all.”
When Terban found out why they were close, he drank his cup in one gulp as if he felt thirsty.
“It’s bitter, but why are you drinking it like it’s good?”
To Terban, who had drunk the finest liquor up to this point, it was just alcohol that tasted bitter.
Ellea said, forgetting how many cups she had been drinking.
“Drink to that taste. Isn’t something like this good once in a while?”
‘’I suppose it’s the same with the Princess. I feel uncomfortable in a place like this.”
“But it’s not bad to drink. Perhaps I am better suited here.”
Ellea drank her drink, leaving behind words that Terban did not understand. Her expression was as if she had given up on the two of them being there.
Rather, she broke off the conversation first, determined to discuss it emphatically.
“How was your day, both of you? My impressions of having a good time with the kids, I mean.”
Ellea was curious to know how they felt about the day. Did they really feel the same as she did?
“To be honest, I was a bit confused at first, but as time went by I found myself laughing and playing with the kids comfortably. I felt relieved as the kids seemed bright and cheerful.”
This was enough to break down the prejudices that Chaylen had been harboring.
The vague environment and appearance of the children were not visible. Rather, their present life seemed happy enough.
And that was the part Ellea cared about the most.
“I also thought it was most important for children to be happy. Of course, there may be things I can’t solve completely, but at least I wanted you to know they weren’t unhappy.”
For this reason, Ellea did not only miss out on financial support, but other things as well. It was solely for the sake of the children.
“As you know, because of the surrounding environment, children are easy targets for crime.”
Ellea’s concern was a very real issue. Not only the environment of the nursery, but children who had to leave at a certain age were prone to bad temptations.
There was also a lack of opportunities to learn by starting work at a very young age.
“Don’t worry now, I will sponsor them well. Just tell me whatever you need.”
“Thank you very much. Actually, if it was Zevenica, I would have been able to help more, but not now.”
Suddenly, Terban, who had been listening intently to their conversation until then, spoke. It was rather a cold voice.
“Will that solve the basics?”
“What do you mean by that?”
Even with Chaylen’s question, Terban’s gaze remained fixed on Ellea the entire time.