Thank you Puppynado85 for the kofis! (2/6)
These cold-hearted people.
As usual, taking painkillers didn’t do much. I did manage to fall asleep, groaning all the while, and time seemed to have flown by when I finally woke up. I knew the banquet would start at nightfall, but looking out of the window, it looked like the sun was already setting. I would have gotten up earlier, if only someone had come by to tell me to get ready.
That head maid probably lied and made up an excuse to Ellenia saying that I was sick and in no condition to attend the banquet, managing to bar the servants from entering my room to care for me. Well, it was true that I wasn’t feeling well, so it wouldn’t be a complete lie.
Or maybe what she told me was indeed the truth.
Either way, I couldn’t stay still. I had to check with him first. Fortunately, the pain was more bearable than before after having slept the day away.
“Did you call for me, My Lady?”
Even though I instinctively knew that the maids had most likely been banned from entering my quarters, I still pulled on the rope to call for one, just in case. To my surprise, Lucille appeared immediately. She came in so fast that I wondered if she had been waiting outside of the door all this time.
“Ah… Can you help me get dressed? It’s already late so I’m in a hurry.”
“But, My Lady, I heard…” Lucille trailed off, eyeing me with apprehension. She looked troubled.
I didn’t know whether Izek really wanted me to stay in this room or whether that head maid had lied about it to everyone or if all of the servants were banding together to keep me inside of here. What I did know, was that even if Martha had lied, there were only a handful of people on my side anyway. So I couldn’t rely on anyone. I had to do this myself.
I had to reconcile with my husband somehow. Now that he’d shown me a tiny amount of emotion, I had to latch on to it and never let go.
I will just check how he’s doing. Only check…
“I know. Just help me put on a dress.”
“My Lady, I—”
“I haven’t left my room in so long, I feel so stuffy. I just want to go there and cheer myself up a bit. I’ll come back quickly, so I beg of you.”
Lucille looked hesitant, but as soon as I pulled out a diamond hairpin, she quickly got me changed into a new gown and helped me sneak out to the garden.
The grounds outside of the Omerta Castle were like a misty forest straight out of a fairytale, overflowing and abundant with trees and shrubs and floras and greenery. The dewiness in the air made the flowers sparkle like gemstones and green flames held in lanterns lit up the dark night sky.
The building where the banquet was being held was hidden amongst bushes filled with lilac-colored hydrangeas. No one was on this side of the garden, since all the guards were stationed at the west side of the estate.
Tucking the embroidered handkerchief and heartfelt letter in my sleeve, I set out to cross the wet garden and reach the manor house seen in the distance.
Haa, what the hell am I doing?
Acting like a fan was so hard. Not to mention my waist and lower stomach continuously throbbing, making it hard to walk in these shoes.
I just had to take a peek, maybe check up on him, act a little cute and… And… I’ll just deliver the gift and go back to my room.
It was his birthday, but seeing as how I’m supposed to be a lovesick fan, I had to give him a present as to make it a little more believable. I finally had some results from my tireless efforts, so I had to see him no matter what the circumstances were. I couldn’t just sit still and wait around while I drowned from nervousness and let this opportunity pass me by. The silence from him was killing me.
I hadn’t eaten much in the past few days, but I still felt like puking everything in my stomach out. It would have been much better if I were to get whipped, honestly. This feeling was simply unbearable.
Darting through the moist blades of grass and bushes, a sudden and deafening crackle of lightning echoed through the air.
God, you really hate me, don’t you?
What luck did I have for the skies to open up and soak me to the bone? Why did there have to be a rain shower out of the blue right now? The sky had turned pitch-black in the blink of an eye, dark clouds veiling the stars lighting up my path, and a storm came raging.
I was sopping wet, drenched all the way through, and frantic as I tried to protect the gift wrapped in my sleeve. To avoid the downpour as much as possible, I walked on the side of the trees with thick branches hanging above my head, but it didn’t protect me much.
Nearing the building the banquet was being held in, I could hear the sounds of festivities.
Guests were laughing, joking that even the heavens knew whose birthday it was for it to torrent and thunder this much. Someone said it was a good joke.
I hid behind a nearby tree and peeked into the entrance of the building.
People dressed in glamorous attire were walking by, cheery and jovial, noisy and boisterous. I wondered what made them this happy.
They went inside and up the stairs, the foyer emptying out quickly. I hid myself behind a pillar again as they approached the entryway, not really knowing why I did so, and peeped into the ballroom. The great hall was decorated and adorned with golden ornaments, overflowing with luxuriousness from floor to ceiling, and the guests looked up in awe, the room filling up with the sounds of gasps and lively chatter.
Right across from the doorway I hadn’t entered yet, all the way on the other side of the room, stood a grand staircase leading down from the upper floors. A group of Paladins in black armor, and some clad in silver, were walking down the steps, escorting two women. I could see the pride they oozed out from all the way here.
Ellenia, surrounded by knights, was dressed in a beautiful blue dress. She looked like a goddess, and so did Freya, her pale blonde hair twisted elegantly and donning a pretty pink dress whose design matched Ellenia’s. They truly looked like the best of friends.
They went down the stairs, reaching the center of the room, approaching the man I hadn’t seen in a long while. The group of friends burst into laughter as Sir Ivan said something, and Freya smacked my husband on the shoulder as if she had done that a million times before.
I couldn’t see his face as Izek turned his head towards her, but he seemed happy.
I felt weird.
Similar to how I felt on the last day of high school in my previous life. On the night of prom, I had hidden in the garden, having been abandoned by my partner, and stayed outside the entire evening as I watched all of my classmates have the time of their lives.
The door of the banquet hall slowly closed. I snapped out of my reminiscing of the past and came back to the present, the loud thud settling in my bones.
I should head back. It would only be a disgrace to show up like this. What the head maid had said seemed to be true, in the end.
The rainfall eased up as I walked back with heavy steps.
My sore back ached and I leaned on a pillar for a moment to catch my breath. My mind wandered as I massaged the area, feeling the wet gift in my sleeve jostle around from the movement. It was ruined by now probably, so there was no way I could give it to him.
Haa, I shouldn’t have done this. It was my fault for forgetting how cold-hearted he was.
Even if Martha was antagonistic and didn’t like me, it was too much to dare tell a lie like that. I had been foolish to have had hope that it wasn’t true. I knew what he was like, so why did I even think to come all the way here? I had unintentionally become an embarrassment of a joke.
Trying to come up with a new plan of what to do in the future, the light drizzle suddenly became heavy again and my nose itched before I let out a sneeze.
Great, just great. I couldn’t stop the tears from creeping up as I thought about how humiliating this all was. From the pain in my stomach, to the neglect of the maids, the hatred in Martha’s eyes, having to bribe Lucille just to get me dressed, getting soaked to the bone, the gift I had stayed up all night preparing being ruined to seeing them all being happy together.
My heart hurt.
Wiping away the annoying tears falling down my cheeks, I noticed that I couldn’t recognize where I was. This wasn’t the road I had taken before…
Wake up, you idiot.
The frustration of getting lost in this big garden only made my heart ache more and I hit my forehead with my fist, trying to get it together. The only thing that did was make more tears fall, since it hurt like crazy.
Looking around aimlessly, it seemed like I was walking in circles around the building. What the hell was I even doing? I drew in a long breath to calm myself down and marched forward, hoping that no one had glanced through the window, seeing me standing around here like a loser.
As I turned the corner, I hit my shoulder against something hard.
Ouch! That hurt!
Why was everyone and everything against me today?
The pungent smell of smoke filled my nose. Was that a torch? I knew that those green flames wouldn’t go out even if you were to pour water on it.
Suddenly, the thought of wanting to see Popo crossed my mind. Although it was a demonic monster that carried around corpses in its mouth, no one had been as kind to me as the little guy had been. It had even pressed a leaf on my forehead to stop the bleeding back then, my God.
I kept walking without stopping. I didn’t know who it was, but God please, I just hoped that they’d leave me alone. I also hoped that they had not seen the stupidity I had showcased today. Ugh, my back was about to break.
“Lady… Lady Rudbeckia?”
So annoyingly persistent. Why couldn’t he just ignore me?
Turning my head while trying to hide my growing irritation, a familiar face greeted me. Pale blond hair covering his temples, round violet-colored eyes as wide as saucers. Ah, it was him. I really had run out of luck today it seemed.
“Are you ill?”
I observed Lorenzo for a moment. He seemed to be laughing at me. I wanted to snap at him and ask him what was so funny, but the lump in my throat had me stopping that thought immediately. This brother and sister duo were really out to make my life miserable, it looks like. Why were they in every corner that I saw?
“You can curse.”
“You can curse me out, it’s okay. You don’t have to be respectful, and you don’t have to sing a song like you did last time again. I get it, so it’s okay.”
“L-Lady, what… what are you…”
The corners of his mouth twitched and his nostrils flared, as if he was speechless. It looked hilarious, to be honest. Was he embarrassed? He had no problem singing that disgusting song and clearly showing that he hated me back then, so what was wrong now?
I averted my eyes and gave him a weak smile.
“My Lady, what kind of misunderstanding is this? When did I…”
“It’s okay. I know everyone hates me. I’m good at knowing things like that. I won’t be greedy and I will live as if I’m dead, so don’t worry.”
My vision blurred and my voice grew small.
What was I saying to this kid? Perhaps, due to Mother Nature’s attack, my sanity was dwindling today. It was useless to look pathetic in front of this boy, but I couldn’t help but be like this.
Yes, look at me like I’m a fool. Can you go tell your sister how insignificant and unimportant I am as well?
Because I don’t want to die.
I don’t want to die. I want to live. I would do anything just to live.
I pressed my cold fingers to my teary eyes and turned away from the young teen, having had enough of it all. The scene that greeted me had me rooted to the spot, though. For a moment, I thought I was hallucinating. Why were these guys out here? I was sure they were in the ballroom a while ago…
The prideful Paladins seemed more surprised than I was by this unexpected scene.
It was a bit funny seeing each of them gawking stupidly, their faces frozen and leaf cigarettes dangling from their lips. Had that been the source of all the smoke?
Sir Ivan in particular seemed to have no idea of how frozen he was, the cigarette stick almost completely burning out and falling from his open mouth. Andymion was even worse. The fire on the matchstick he had been holding up for his seniors had almost reached his fingertips.
Oh God. This was the worst scenario ever. I knew I looked bad, really, really bad and I was already embarrassed enough about tonight, but they’d probably heard everything I said as well.
Can the ground just swallow me whole? I’m about to die of shame!
Ed./N: Leaf cigarettes aren’t a thing. The original Korean talks about leaf tobacco, and that’s used to smoke pipes with. I decided to keep the translation as leaf cigarettes, because one, the visual is cool, and two, a smoking pipe is such an old man thing to use like I really can’t see these young adults with such a grandpa tool and think, oh they’re badass knights lmfao. Little bit of trivia: while inhaling cannabis fumes was common, tobacco and directly smoking it from the lips wasn’t introduced to Eurasia until the 16th century from the Americas. The modern-day cigarette was invented in the 1830s. This story takes place in the Renaissance era (if you guys remember from chapter 1), so technically, the boys would be smoking a pipe instead of a cigarette. But like I said, I think the visual of a “leaf cigarette” suits them much better and holds more mystique and is fantasy-like, so I will continue to use that term.