Sponsored by Nila. Thank you💖 (2/10)
The Lord of Hermes was more brazen than I thought.
I was momentarily embarrassed by his plausible words. But I was no stranger to shamelessness.
“I’m grateful, but I’m also curious. If you are the Lord of Hermes, you should know a lot. Can you answer my questions, too?”
The man erupted into a light laugh. Although I couldn’t see it, I think he was smiling through his mask, with his eyes beautifully bent.
“Of course. If there’s anything on your mind, just ask.”
Unlike when I had first entered the room, the atmosphere had somehow become even more relaxed. I hesitated for a moment and then asked, keeping my eyes on his mask.
“Why did he help me that day?”
“It probably was something he did without much thought.”
I nodded with an indifferent face, my gaze glued to the cup of tea in front of me. The Lord of Hermes couldn’t just turn a blind eye to people in distress like the Crown Prince had helped Claire.
Even though the other party acted without any intention, I found great comfort in that moment.
“Anyway, I just wanted to say thank you.”
“Is that so?”
The man smiled unexpectedly.
“There’s one more thing that’s bothering me………. “
When I slurred my words, the Lord of Hermes said with a smiling face.
“I definitely lost consciousness in the garden, but when I opened my eyes, I was in my room. The maid said she found me in the lounge. What happened after I fell?”
“Elvin Croix took the princess to the lounge, and the only person he met in the process was the Crown Prince. So you may rest assured.”
I paused for a moment at his words. Then I looked at him with surprised eyes.
‘The Grand Duke of Croix is the only Grand Duke in the Empire.’
Even if they were similar in terms of power, the Grand Duke of Croix was higher in rank than the Grand Duke of Lillian.
The Grand Duke of Croix had no daughters, only three sons, of which Elvin Croix was the most famous.
I heard that the Grand Duke of Croix was a good and gentle man, and that his two sons were handsome in appearance and had great abilities. However, his current wife was the second wife, and it was said that Elvin was the son of the first wife and the Grand Duchess.
Unlike the other two sons who had steadily built a reputation for themselves, Elvin Croix didn’t take part in much socializing, and caused trouble by associating with dangerous people.
‘The troublesome and rumored man is running such a big organization behind the scenes?’
Frankly, I couldn’t hide my surprise.
‘So Hermes is also operated by the Grand Duke of Croix?’
My thoughts went from one to the other. After much deliberation, I posed the second question.
“I’ve heard that Elvin Croix doesn’t attend many social gatherings, but why was he there that day?”
“The emperor is very fond of his troubled nephew. I guess the emperor was worried that if he delayed any longer, his nephew wouldn’t be able to adapt to the social scene and would be weeded out.”
Elvin spoke calmly as if talking about someone else’s business. I belatedly recalled that his mother was the Grand Duchess.
She was the sister of the emperor. That meant that Elvin, who was of the imperial bloodline, was also a member of the royal family. Just the thought of those two words, “royal,” made me feel rapidly tired.
“Is there anything else you’re curious about?”
Elvin smiled and looked at me. At first I tried to pretend that I didn’t recognize him, but his tone was arrogant and a confident attitude, like he was introducing himself. I guess this meant that there was no point in wearing the mask anymore.
Even more than that, being involved with the royal family was never a good idea. My personal curiosity was resolved, and when I met him in person, the Lord of Hermes was not a vain commoner. It was unlikely that I would be able to handle such a man easily.
I had a strong feeling that if I continued this encounter, he would not become my hidden peer, but I would become his defeat.
Deciding that it would not be desirable for me to be involved with him any longer, I drank all the remaining tea.
“I see. Thank you for the tea. “
I looked at my watch and about fifteen minutes had passed. Actually, it wasn’t a very long conversation, but it seemed very long to me. I got up and walked over to the door. Elvin stood in front of me.
As I turned the doorknob, Elvin reached out and gently held the door. Then the door I was about to open was closed again by his power.
I looked at him as if asking what he was doing, he then opened his mouth.
“I forgot to tell you the most important thing. Always remember to look around. Situations are always changing.”
It was a cliché, but it was the most appropriate advice for my situation.
“I appreciate your advice. Then, bye…….”
“And one more thing. Please keep everything the princess saw today a secret.”
“What is it exactly that you are talking about?”
“I don’t care about the answers I gave the princess today, but everything else.”
Elvin’s request was quizzical but not difficult. I nodded, not thinking long.
“Yes. By the way, is there any particular reason why I must do so?”
“Well, I just… I don’t want to tell you yet.”
Elvin tapped his fingers on the window sill as he watched Roxana cross the garden outside the open window.
Soon after confirming that her appearance disappeared completely out of sight, he put the mask he was wearing on his desk.
After that, he lay down on the sofa and recalled what he saw a while ago. A cold face and an icy voice.
Her eyes, which had gone black and dead, were now lit up again, and her ever-irritating demeanor seemed even more relaxed.
The childish leader had made up her mind not to do anything more, and Elvin was inwardly amazed to see her appear so unconcerned.
The last time he saw her, she looked like she was about to die, but in just a few weeks, she had changed drastically.
After being insulted by her fiancé, the Crown Prince, in the banquet hall of the Imperial Palace and fled the imperial palace in ridicule, the princess eventually made an extreme choice.
He couldn’t imagine her taking such an abrupt action, even until he saw her crying on the terrace alone.
And when he saw her standing on the parapet with her shoes off, he thought that she had finally lost her mind, mad with shock.
Still, he didn’t think she would really jump until that moment.
But the next moment, the body of the Princess leaned downward, and the moment he saw her, his body jumped without time to think.
However, he acted too late, and the impending hand did not reach her, only scratching the empty air.
She finally fell to the floor with a thud, and someone screamed.
Soon, the people, who were wandering around, looking for a secluded place for a secret meeting, happened to spot her and gathered around.
He didn’t really remember what happened after that.
All that came to mind at the end was her white face, which was particularly pale under the moonlight, and the guilt of not having saved her, even though she could have been saved. He thought of her staring at her with her reddened eyes, covered in tears on her way down.
His heart was still pounding thinking about it. After that, the Princess was confined to her house for a long time, probably due to the aftereffects of that day.
He heard that she did not attend the banquets and small gatherings that she used to attend every day.
But when he heard that she came to Hermes with a hidden identity looking for him, his curiosity was piqued. The princess was engaged to the Crown Prince, and he was by her side, and by his side was a clever lover.
The Princess, who grew up as precious as a flowering plant in a greenhouse, competed with the daughter of Baron, but she was no match for her.
Perhaps that was why the Princess lost her strength, wilted away.
Her appearance reminded him of someone else. Elvin closed his eyes and thought about the last few years.
Even though he met the princess a few times when he was a child, they were not close enough to be friends.
It was ridiculous for him to pretend to be close to her for the first time in years and intervene in someone’s love affair when she didn’t even remember him.
More time passed.
The Princess and him were so different from one another that he rarely saw her, and more and more of her slipped from his mind.
That was, until he met her again on the day a banquet was held at the Imperial Palace.
At that time, the princess had changed like a different person.
Her behavior was erratic, like a person standing on the edge of a cliff, very anxious and afraid.
But the Princess he saw today looked like someone he had never seen before.
People don’t always remain the same, but lately she has changed like a stranger.
She didn’t seem as innocent as in her childhood days, but rather regal.
Strangely enough, he couldn’t take his eyes off her.
It was strangely annoying to watch her put up with the insults with a calm face under the terrace.
The tree that he had thought was dry and dead was now blooming again.
It was even more lively and gorgeous than before. He didn’t know what on earth changed the Princess, but one more wise person does not have the ability to interfere with the great power already assembled in her.
Therefore, it didn’t seem like a bad change. The more distance between her and the Crown Prince, the better it was for his business.
Elvin rang the bell on the table to call his aide.
A few moments later, Noah entered the room, and when Elvin saw him, he asked with a languid look.
“When is the next imperial banquet?”
The Crown Prince returned to his room after lunch with the Emperor.
The Emperor and Empress were there, as well as the second Prince. Looking at that despicable fellow’s face as he ate, his heart felt heavy as if he had eaten bad food.
The Crown Prince ordered his servant to bring him some digestive medicine and sat down at his desk.
After a while, the servant brought a small glass bottle of digestive medicine and the Crown Prince swallowed it all at once.
However, drinking the medicine did not relieve even his frustration, so his brows furrowed and looked blankly at the pile of papers in front of him.
He suddenly noticed something strange and asked his second-in-command who was standing nearby.
“By the way, I haven’t seen Claire around lately.”
“I’m not sure either. Should I check it out?”
The Crown Prince frowned, as if he did not like his subordinate’s answer.
Claire had always been very fond of coming and going to the Imperial Palace. However, it seemed that she was absent for a long time now. She sent him a letter a few days before the last banquet, and since that day he hadn’t seen her once.
Then a few days ago, she sent him a letter saying that she couldn’t attend the banquet because she had caught a bad cold and was suffering from a fever.
He hadn’t heard from her since then.
“Could it be that something has happened?”
The Crown Prince was troubled for a moment, then nodded.
“Send someone to Baron Dana’s residence to find out what happened.”
“Yes, Your Highness.”
The Crown Prince turned his stiff neck from side to side and stretched as he watched his subordinate go out to carry out his orders.
He stretched and relaxed his stiff muscles, picked up his pen and turned his gaze to the documents in front of him, trying to concentrate on political affairs again.
However, no matter how hard he tried, he could not concentrate. He assumed that Claire was the cause of the strange deja vu that was constantly pulling his nerves, but that didn’t seem to be the case. The Crown Prince tapped his fingers on his desk and looked at the itinerary.
As he did so, he suddenly thought of Roxana’s face.
Come to think of it, it wasn’t only Claire whom he hadn’t heard from since the banquet, but Roxana as well.
When he thought of Roxana, he felt sorry because it reminded him of how he left her alone on the day of the banquet because of a problem with a new business he had been working on.
‘It wouldn’t be a bad idea to visit her after a long time.’
The Crown Prince waved the bell on his desk and called his servants.
“Get the carriage ready. We’re going to the Duke of Lillian’s residence.”