Editor: Aaghna & Nila
It wasn’t long before the room became quiet.
I lowered my arms that were wrapped around my head and my eyes grew wide.
The intruder was slowly disintegrating, falling to the floor like a dead moth, black smoke rising from its remains.
A man standing with a shining blue sword turned his body towards me.
My heart pounded. I didn’t know if it was because of what just happened or because of this unexpected first encounter.
Or was it because of the overwhelming aura that flowed from him? His silvery white hair, clear red eyes, sharp jawline, and defined facial features were similar to Ellenia’s.
However, their dispositions were quite different. If Ellenia was like a fairy-like, cool-headed ice goddess, this man felt much more barbaric and dangerous. His gaze directed at me was so overwhelming that it made me inadvertently flinch.
Why are you staring at me like that?
“What’s the reason?”
“Why did you turn that off?”
Had I been the culprit that had turned off the flames, that tone of voice would have reduced me to a blubbering mess, not even being able to give a proper excuse.
Do you think I made this fuss on purpose?
“I don’t know why…”
“You didn’t even have to do this. Don’t you have enough attention already? Or is this one of your excuses to use for later?”
He seemed to be of the opinion that I was already trying to figure out a way to divorce. I knew he wouldn’t like me, but this was one of the worst first impressions that I had ever made.
Ah, I still have a long way to go.
Ellenia walked up to me and facing the monster of a man, she declared calmly, “Don’t rush her, Brother. We don’t know who did it yet. Even if she did, she wouldn’t have expected this to happen. In Romagna, they wouldn’t have had green flames like we do here.”
I love you, Ellen. Even if I die, I will save you first and then die.
I reached out to Ellenia’s back and clasped her dress. She was wearing casual clothes, not pajamas, to my surprise. It was long past midnight, so what was she doing up?
“It was just so cold that I woke up…”
“What? Speak up.”
He was quite the character.
I took a short breath. It was very natural for tears to form around my eyes. But it was not just acting that made my voice tremble.
Standing there, holding his sword and giving me a heated glare, was my husband. He looked like Satan incarnate who had just crawled his way up from Hell.
Tch, Cesare’s equivalent was right there.
“I woke up from the cold and saw that the fire had died out…”
“Ah, so it was someone else. Who was it? My sister? Me?”
“I-I’m sorry, I didn’t mean it like that. I guess I turned it off because it was too hot. I’m sorry for the disturbance. I wasn’t thinking. I won’t let this happen again.” There was a moment of silence as I replied with a sniffle and a pitiful look on my face.
Izek looked at me, biting his bottom lip as if he was searching for something, while Ellenia gently stroked my shoulder.
My face would start bleeding if he stared at me this much.
“There’s something I want to ask you…” he started.
“… No, leave it.” He left the room, clicking his tongue and giving me one last glance.
What was he trying to ask?
After our unexpected first meeting, my husband seemed to have disappeared again.
I had breakfast alone with Ellenia.
It was silent for a while.
Ellenia focused on her meal with an expressionless look, making it hard for me to figure out what she was thinking. I was too conscious of what had happened last night so I ate as quietly as possible.
If I ate, I had a good excuse to throw up anyway…
“It’s not going to happen again,” Ellenia said after a moment.
“Waking up from the cold.”
I gently lowered my fork and raised my head.
Ellenia was still stirring the mushroom soup with her eyes cast down.
So, she noticed that someone was playing around.
I had never expected for someone to do such a childish thing in the first place, but, I responded with, “Thank you.”
“You’ll be attending the court banquet in four days. Let me know if you need anything by then.”
Right, there was a banquet. As the royal family had arranged this marriage, it was only natural to go to greet the king.
At the same time, it was a banquet to celebrate the wedding anniversary of the king and his wife.
“Ellen, if you do not mind, could you introduce me to a seamstress?”
“Yes. As you know, the only clothes I brought with me are southern ones, so it would stand out too much. I also heard that the summers here are very short.”
A moment passed where no one said anything. Ellenia, looking at my face plastered with a careful smile, turned her eyes away.
Somehow, it felt embarrassing.
“You’re right. I should have thought about it in advance and prepared for it. I’m ashamed of myself.”
Of course she didn’t think about it. Goddamn, they’re all betting on when I’ll go back to Romagna.
Furthermore, as I recall, the original Rudbeckia didn’t care about northern customs anyway.
“I’ll call my own seamstress, but it will be difficult to make new clothes in four days.”
“It can’t be helped this time. Thank you.”
“I’d love to lend you my dress, but it seems like it would be too big for you. To be honest, Ruby, you are quite thin. You need to eat more to survive through Elendale’s winter.”
Indeed, our heights were quite dissimilar. If I wore Ellenia’s clothes, I would probably look like an awkward and immature little girl who stole her big sister’s dress. That would just be sad.
At any rate, since it will be my first time showing my face to Britannia’s aristocracy, I would have to be careful to make a good impression.
On the contrary, my husband, the most important person for my survival, seemed to have the worst impression of me already.
“Then, yesterday, Lord Izek… I mean…”
“I hope you don’t mind what happened last night. He just overreacted because he is particularly sensitive to security. The flames don’t extinguish so easily, so it is very rare for a demon to break in. We were also very surprised.”
Ellenia seemed to have concluded that I was terrified of Izek.
Were his arms bent inside out? He must be a very sensitive fellow.
Haa, what an ideal brother and sister duo.
“I’m not offended. I’m just a little sad because I think he misunderstood me. I’m sure he doesn’t like me, but…”
“Brother doesn’t hate Ruby,” she interjected quickly. It was quite the serious tone for such an empty consolation.
My eyes widened in surprise as Ellenia gave me a troubled look. “He’s a person who avoids people he really hates. You never know when he’ll lash out.”
What an extraordinary and unique personality. Turns out he was even more twisted than I had originally thought.
“He just doesn’t like the current situation, so he’s looking at everything in a crooked way. I don’t know about you, but I never could have imagined my brother getting married. Even if it was with anyone other than Ruby. It must be difficult for him.”
It didn’t really make any sense.
He was from an ordinary family, unlike me. But if he were someone ordinary, he wouldn’t have misunderstood that I was already trying to find a way to break us up.
I guess he would have been nicer if I had been his childhood friend.
Nevertheless, if Ellenia’s testimony of Izek’s unusual behavior was true, I felt a little bit relieved. Even if there were endless reasons for why he disapproved of our marriage, there was still hope if his hostility wasn’t directed at me only.
How should I deal with him from now on? First of all, I had to understand his temperament.
“Ellen, I have a favor to ask of you.”
After all, you have to figure out your opponent first to be able to play the game.
My ultimate goal now was to not die at the hands of my husband.
Trying to look as harmless as possible was an insurance policy of some kind. I couldn’t continue to live here if I couldn’t prevent Ellenia’s death.
The history of the Borgia family’s assassinations were an open secret, anyway.
For example, Cardinal Iliope, who came to know the secret of my birth, was officially declared to have been killed through stabbing in a brothel. However, rumor has it that it had been orchestrated by my brother.
Besides, the reason Ellenia was poisoned was because she had become engaged to the Prince of Dorias.
It was inevitable for our family to be suspected, since it was unclear what would have happened to us in the future if the prince of Dorias, famously known to not get along well with the Vatican, and Ellenia, one of the highest-ranking noble ladies of Britannia, had gotten married.
However, I did feel that it was quite absurd for Rudbeckia to recklessly poison Ellenia in such a precarious situation.
Even if we’re the epitome of a crazy family, Cesare was a meticulous man. Still, the Holy Grail was stolen at the last minute, and our defeat just seemed so…
Either way, I couldn’t tell anyone about this story, and who would ever believe the beloved daughter of the Pope?
Even if anyone did believe in me, Father’s spies were planted all throughout Elendale. I couldn’t even talk about it because of that.
I didn’t want to be dragged back home if my father’s spies caught wind of me revealing his plans. So I had to come off as innocent as possible to Izek, the person who was going to kill me.
I didn’t care about anything else.
It would be very difficult for me if he didn’t believe in my facade, or took it in the wrong way. All I need from him is a little bit of favor and compassion, maybe even a little pity…
Maybe that would make him believe in me.