Chapter 1. The beginning of everything
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Terban, who was listening to the conversation between Ellea and Chaylen, calmly pointed out the current situation. He wanted to let them know that what they wanted might be an ideal, not an illusion.
“If the two of you are here, there’s nothing to worry about. But what are you going to do after that? There are many nurseries in the capital alone. And if the number of children increases from here, will you be able to take care of each and every one of them as you do now? That is, until those children are fully independent.”
Ellea finally had no answer to his sharp remarks, actually she knew that everything Terban had said was correct.
It was the part she had always thought about too. There would be a limit to this method at some point.
“And the princess will leave this country at some point. Will you still take responsibility for the children to the end?”
In spite of this, Ellea never wanted to give up.
“I still want to do the best I can. Because if I back out, saying it’s impossible from the start, then those children will lose even the hope of dreaming of a future.”
Terban could feel Ellea’s firm determination. At that moment, Chaylen, who was listening to their conversation, interrupted them.
“I have the same idea. It won’t be an essential solution, but it will be a start. We can find the way from now on.”
When Chaylen supported Ellea’s opinion, Terban was able to firmly decide what he had previously thought.
“We should start by looking at the current state of the nurseries where the children are living, starting with the capital.”
“What? What does that mean?”
Ellea as well as Chaylen were curious about Terban’s sudden words.
“It’s an idea I’ve been thinking about since I first went there. Because it is impossible for an individual to help, but if the empire comes forward, we can systematically come up with ways to help.”
“Is that true…?”
Ellea’s face brightened when he heard that Terban was willto help.
“Yes. Not only financial support, but also creating a space for them to live, educating them through teachers, and sending people to check on the actual situation on a regular basis. I’m thinking up to here for now.”
In her position, she was just grateful. It was obvious that if the emperor of the empire helped, it would be much better.
It would still take a long time, but that time would gather and change many things.
“Thank you. I didn’t expect you to go to such lengths to help us.”
“They’re the people of Rubain, so it’s natural for me to step up.”
“I’m here too, so don’t worry about those who oppose it.”
Ellea felt overwhelmed when even Chaylen, who was willing to endure the opposition of the nobles, joined in.
What could she do here was limited, and she felt troubled.
‘I wasn’t expecting anyone to help me.’
Perhaps because she was excited, she even acted more comfortably than she would not normally do.
“I hope things will go well in the future!”
Ellea raised her glass in a toast.
The two men shook their heads at the buoyant young lady and clinked their glasses.
The problem that had been worrying her all this time was now solved, and Ellea drank several glasses of alcohol with joy.
She ended up getting so drunk that her face turned red. They noticed the change and stopped Ellea from drinking.
“I think you’d better stop drinking now.”
“Me? I’m not drunk…”
However, they didn’t believe her when they saw Ellea’s expression unraveling and her words dripping.
While they were thinking about what to do, Ellea was drunk and couldn’t even see that there were two people.
And when she looked at the cup, one face naturally came to her mind.
“Now that I think about it, I’ve never had a drink with him.”
While the two were expressing doubts, Ellea drank her drink with a slightly subdued look.
What that look meant was nostalgia, but they didn’t notice.
However, they were also very curious about who ‘him’ was that she mentioned.
“Someone I miss very much.”
“And who is that?”
When Ellea said that, Chaylen asked hurriedly.
But now, completely intoxicated, she slumped down on the table and mumbled.
“I miss you.”
Eventually, all they could hear was the sound of her breathing, as if she had fallen asleep in a drunken state.
Chaylen shook Ellea’s body in surprise, but there was no sign of her waking up. She just kept repeating that she missed someone.
“Who the hell is that?”
At that moment, Terban blocked Chaylen’s hand.
“Stop it. I don’t think she’s in any condition to answer anymore.”
With Ellea’s face flushed and closed eyes, Chaylen couldn’t wake her up either, so he pulled back. Now that she was like this, it was time for this sitting to end.
Both of them were very curious with the last thing Ellea had said, but they had to send her to the palace first.
“I’ll go get the carriage.”
As Chaylen went out to call the carriage, Terban watched the sleeping Ellea. His mind was full of complications as he wondered if it meant that she trusted them to sleep without any amount of caution.
Actually, his decision to go to nursery today was a bit impulsive. As he finished his scheduled work today, he suddenly remembered the date when Ellea was going to the nursery.
He wasn’t sure if she would really be there, but his feet were already on the road to the nursery. When he got there, he found Ellea there as he expected.
However, Chaylen’s presence was unexpected. His expectant heart was instantly hardened at the friendly and casual conversation of the two.
‘What’s wrong with me?’
Ever since Ellea appeared, he became confused. It was as if even his daily life was being shaken.
Terban’s eyes, looking at Ellea who fell asleep, had a soft light unlike before. And as soon as he tried to reach out to her without realizing it, Ellea turned her head with a groaning sound.
Terban flinched and immediately withdrew his hand. He was very surprised by his own behavior.
“Am I drunk too?”
He quickly paid the bill and decided to take Ellea outside. Fortunately, she woke up at this time.
“You’re up. You’re very drunk.”
“What? I’m not drunk. Look? It’s fine, right?”
Ellea said and got up from her seat, but despite her words, her legs were shaking dangerously.
As Terban hurried out, Chaylen approached him with a troubled expression.
“It’s late and there are no carriages.”
“We are in trouble.”
“It’s not trouble, but I’ll… I’ll go now.”
Ellea’s said in a cheerful voice, as if the two men’s troubled looks had nothing to do with her.
Then the two men hurriedly seized Ellea, who was walking alone with a staggering gait.
There was no way they were going to let her go alone in that state.
“Then you’ll have to ride in my carriage………….”
At that, Ellea’s cut off Chaylen’s words at once.
“I can’t do that. If anyone sees me coming in the carriage of the Duke of Kaicher, we’ll be in trouble.”
She fumed, but she was worried that Raymir and Shanil would find out about her friendship with Chaylen.
Terban had no choice but to choose one way.
“Then let the Princess ride with me. We’re on the same path anyway.”
Chaylen didn’t like it, but he had to agree.
“Yes, I think that would be a good idea.”
Terban pulled his horse, and Ellea mounted it surprisingly obediently. Without thinking she might regret riding a horse with him the next day. Terban followed suit and climbed up behind her.
“Then I’ll get going.”
“Yes, please take good care of Ellea.”
Terban’s gaze met Chaylen at the words, “Please take care of her.” Terban didn’t reply, but just left.
Cheren stood there and watched until the two were gone.
While riding, Terban saw Ellea’s body wobbling as if she was still drunk. She kept a reasonable distance from him, as if her mind was still sharp.
But it was dangerous to leave her like that, so Terban said.
“It’s okay, you can lean on me.”
“I can take this much.”
For no reason, Ellea blamed her body that wasn’t used to drinking. She didn’t drink that much, but she was this drunk.
At Ellea’s stubbornness, Terban had no choice but to wrap one of his hands around her waist and force her to lean against him.
Ellea was startled and tried to move, so he hastily stopped her.
“Stay still. You haven’t forgotten that you’re on a horse now, have you?”
Not wanting to create a dangerous situation, Ellea’s had no choice but to lean on Terban’s chest.
She didn’t have the energy to think about anything else as her mind was dazed due to the alcohol.
Even at that moment, Terban’s arm around Ellea’s waist was still strong. As if he still thought she would fall off.
“Yes. Why did you drink so much when you couldn’t win?”
“For the record, I’m not drunk.”
“Well, let’s put it that way.”
“You don’t seem to believe me at all.”
When Terban didn’t respond, Ellea also gave up, and didn’t say anything else.
This reminded Ellea of the day she first met him.
She had no choice but to ride the horse with him. At that time, she thought it was the last time she would ever see him again. She felt more relaxed than she had expected and confided her feelings to him.
“I was very nervous at that time.”
“At the border, when we rode the horse together. Maybe you could hear my heartbeat. That’s why I kept my distance.”
At those words, Terban lowered his head and looked at Ellea, but she had closed her eyes.
Perhaps because her vision was blocked, she could hear Terban’s heartbeat clearly in her ears.
Thump. Thump. Thump.
When Ellea said so, he became conscious for no reason. And the heartbeat began to speed up at her voice.
Gradually, little by little, Ellea could hear it more clearly.
“Huh? It seems to be faster than before?”
Ellea opened her closed eyes to the quickening heartbeat and raised her head to make eye contact with Terban.
At that moment, it was Terban who averted his eyes first. It was with an expression that said he was fine.
Ellea closed her eyes again at his slight reaction. Though, his heart was still pounding at a fast rate. The sound seemed to comfort her like a lullaby putting a child to sleep.
‘I feel at ease for some reason.’
Ellea couldn’t see Terban’s upbeat expression because she continued closing her eyes and concentrating on the sound.
Meanwhile, the horse was running fast, arriving at the imperial palace.
The horse stopped, and Terban was about to dismount, but Ellea made no move.
When he looked closely, she was asleep with her eyes closed.
he saw that she was asleep before he knew it with her eyes closed. As if it was not uncomfortable at all on the horse.
She probably was the only one who could sleep peacefully on a horse.
So instead of waking Ellea, Terban just let her lean on his arms and stared at her sleeping face.