After visiting the Temple, I met the duke’s exclusive tailor that Ellenia had called, spent four days fitting new clothes, writing letters to my family in Romagna, and preparing for the banquet.
I didn’t see Izek again ever since that day. According to Ellenia, summer was surprisingly the busiest season for Paladins, since they would have to prepare for the arrival of winter.
Anyway, that was how my first Elendaleian social event arrived.
The jade silk dress I wore for the banquet was the plainest dress I had ever worn. My cream-colored leather shoes were studded with only pearls and I had put on ordinary summer gloves. My long hair was braided downwards, without any accessories attached and the only jewelry I wore were aquamarine earrings.
My modest attire was quite unexpected, and the bold-faced maids looked a little suspicious of me, but they asked no questions.
I’m grateful for having such an ice goddess-like face call me by my nickname.
Standing at the foot of the stairs, dressed in a red dress with long sleeves, Ellenia looked like a goddess from fairytales herself. Phew, I can’t believe she almost married Enzo.
But, the person next to her…
“Ruby, I would like you to meet one of my oldest friends. This is Freya van Furiana.”
“Good evening, Lady Rudbeckia. It’s a pleasure to meet you.”
A beaming smile that revealed her perfect white teeth. Such a sparkling grin could only belong to a person who had lived her life surrounded with nothing but love. She exuded beauty and an aura that naturally attracted people’s attention, regardless of gender and age.
Her almond-shaped eyes were violet in color. The dress she donned, wrapped around her long, slender body, fit her like a glove, and her blond hair hanging around her face looked lustrous. It wasn’t dark blonde, flaxen-colored, like mine, but paler, a cold platinum.
She was that childhood friend.
Why is everyone so pretty?
My whole life I’ve been surrounded by beautiful people, and even though I had this new body now, I still felt inadequate compared to the ones in this world.
And, of course, a childhood friend would be treated much differently than a lowly bride from a foreign country. I could tell by glancing at the maids. They were looking at Freya in a way in which they never looked at me.
“It’s nice to meet you, too, Lady Furiana,” I said shyly, and Freya’s eyes turned wide for a moment before she turned back to Ellenia, her face still housing that beautiful smile.
“Ellen, you didn’t tell me the Lady was such a lovely person!”
“You might have thought I said something strange,” she replied coolly. She still had a perfect poker face on.
But the way Freya looked at me while tapping her fan was odd. Was something wrong with my clothes?
“I ask for your understanding in advance as my brother’s arrival might be delayed. It happens often, but…”
Aha, so that was what you’ve been so troubled about since this morning.
I wasn’t expecting him to come anyway. But I still hoped that he would at least show up, even if he was late.
I have to start working on my image, after all. That was my fate.
A carriage bearing the colorful Omerta insignia ran through the walled inner city of Elendale.
It was no different from the limos in my previous life—a luxury vehicle taking you to parties on well-maintained roads. Even if the time periods were different and the world was different, the way people lived was always the same.
Or so I thought.
I wished it was more different in this life. I still felt alienated from the conversations being held, whether they were in a limo or in a carriage.
“His Highness will be furious if he doesn’t make it on time today.”
“It’s not like he’ll take a day or two to arrive. What can I do? I’m sure they’ll figure it out.”
As far as I remembered, Freya’s and the Omerta siblings’ mothers were close—even before they were born—so the children naturally spent their childhoods together. That explained their connection and deep understanding of each other.
I could sense their bond. Something only people who had known each other for a very long time could share.
“I’m a little worried that the banquet here will look tacky in your eyes. As you know, compared to Romagna, this is an easy-going town,” Ellenia said, turning my way.
“I don’t think that will happen. I think Elendale is very lovely.”
Freya directed her gaze to me as well, inquiring me about all sorts of things, her outstanding sociability helping her fill the carriage ride with chatter. I responded as humbly as I could, the conversation turning out to be very formal.
Although she was treating me as kindly as she would treat a friend, she was also covertly sounding me out.
Freya had been together with Izek and Ellenia since childhood, so it was only natural for her to worry about a woman with such a notorious reputation like mine becoming her friend’s wife.
She was being friendly with me, but that didn’t mean she liked me.
So I would just have to show her the same side of me. Especially since those two in front of me were the most important people after my husband.
Haa, my husband is definitely the final boss.
Arriving at Angvan Palace, Britannia’s pride, I could see the building soar high towards the heavens. The scenery of the Moon Tower against the backdrop of the sky amazed me and the crowd of nobles who had arrived earlier greeted us.
Women were dressed in beautiful gowns with long sleeves and men wore dark tailcoats and vests decorated with brooches.
The few knights dressed in armor stood out.
Most of them were Paladins, but as they were some of the most important people alongside priests in this kingdom where monsters were prevalent, they were not reprimanded for violating dress code.
Ellenia, who had the best knight of the North as her brother, was by far the finest flower in Britannia’s aristocratic society.
In addition, the combination of the power of the Omerta family, the advantage of being the niece of the king, her great beauty and impeccable character made it clear that everyone was longing to hold a conversation with her and careful to approach her.
And so, the Omerta siblings’ best friend Freya was definitely a target of envy.
It was different from back home, but this banquet reminded me of my family and social circle in Romagna somehow. People who wanted to make connections with my father and older brother, doing all sorts of favors for me, or at times, for my father’s mistress, Lady Julia.
No matter what the rumors or public criticisms were, Cesare had a lot of people vying for his time and attention, and Enzo wasn’t any different.
Whatever my situation was behind the scenes, I was still the object of much envy and admiration. Just like my previous life, what would everyone think of me if my most miserable innermost thoughts were revealed? How would it all come crashing down? Oddly enough, there were times when I was deathly afraid of that happening.
Anyways, I have to say, I felt like a little girl standing between two models when I was with Ellenia and Freya. Damn it, being short was the same downside in this life as it was in my previous life.
“Hello,” I approached the two women, and gave a smile to those who cast curious eyes on me.
I was suffocated by all the interest, the contempt, hostility, envy, and other feelings flowing from this large crowd, but it was fine because I was used to it.
Ah, my facial muscles are tense.
The priests, wearing their brown robes, came up to me and greeted me to ask about my father and older brother. Whether His Holiness was healthy these days, or if Cardinal Valentino planned to visit Elendale, and so on. That was how we arrived at the fancy domed banquet hall, surrounded by many people.
“That damned man is really…” mumbled Ellenia, fuming quietly under her breath. I opened my eyes wide and glanced at the place where hers were directed at. I had never imagined such a sentence to come out of her mouth.
And there, I saw…
“Izek?” Freya’s surprised voice rang out faintly. Near the long table filled with refreshments, amongst the Paladins loitering around in black metal armor, was my husband, whose whereabouts had been a mystery all day long. Not to mention the excuse that he might be late.
What was he doing over there?
If he was trying to humiliate me by not escorting his wife to the banquet, I’d say that it was a very admirable try. Was this worth the effort, though?
At the sound of Freya’s loud cry, Izek glanced over to this side. He hesitated when he saw me squeezed between his sister and childhood friend, and looked away again.
Haa, the same as ever. Well, that sure didn’t hurt me at all.
“My Lady, do you want us to go and nag him?” Freya offered.
“Why, do you think he’ll listen?” Ellenia shot down Freya’s suggestion, annoyance clear in her eyes. Nevertheless, I gathered my courage and bravely moved towards my husband.
The expressions of the people dividing themselves like the Red Sea for me and Izek were very impressive. It was obvious what they were expecting, but they wouldn’t get to see what they wanted. The fact that I was a nuisance from the first night and the fact that Izek was ignoring me were things that everybody already knew.
No matter what I do now, there was no chance that his reputation would be damaged.
It was me that would get humiliated.
As I approached the Paladins, all exuding a daunting and solemn atmosphere, eyes naturally turned towards us.
Eyes filled with curiosity.
Why? Do they think I’m going to slap my husband in here?
I don’t even think I could reach his face.
“Oh, Lady Rudbeckia?”
Ah, isn’t he the pretty, foul-mouthed knight who pretended to know me?
I smiled at him and then greeted my husband, who stood across from him, “I’m so happy to see you again! You look great today, too, as usual.”
The surrounding area quickly became quiet. Looking up at his tall figure, he stared down at me with an expressionless face. I forced on an ecstatic look, gulping saliva down my itching throat.
He was an unnecessarily tall man.
After a moment, he turned away from me and spat out, “It seems like my wife has no common sense and no dignity. As you can see, I’m a little busy right now.”
“I’m sorry to have interrupted you, but, if I don’t do this…”
“I’m sure I heard you say that you wouldn’t be a nuisance.”
“Y-You remember. So, you were listening to me?”
“Thank you, and I’m sorry. I will never bother you again so from now on, I will just hide and watch you from afar.”
As I was about to take my leave, I felt a hand hastily grab my shoulder. My husband’s face came into my vision, a look of disbelief scattered all across his features.