Chapter 17

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When I asked, the nanny opened her mouth in a stupor and could not answer easily, then spoke belatedly with a puzzled look.

 

“Miss, please wait a moment. You’re right I think I was mistaken…….”

 

It was before the nanny  finished all her words.

 

Someone knocked on the door.

 

If the nanny changed her words now, she was as good as admitting her guilt. I was just about to wrap up the situation, but I didn’t feel very good about being interrupted. With a frown on my face, I asked, 

 

“What’s going on?” 

 

I heard a reply from outside.

 

“Young lady, I think you should come downstairs now.”

 

It was Stephen’s voice.

 

His voice was plain as usual, but there was something a little hardened about it. A sense of foreboding came over me at the moment.

 

Then again, ominous premonitions often came true. 

 

Stephen continued in a serious voice.

 

“The Crown Prince has come to visit.”

 

***

 

I sent the nanny and Annie both out of the room, then called the other maids and with their help, I changed and dressed lightly. I let my hair loosely hang this time instead of holding it up as I usually did, then put on a light blue dress and sat down in front of the dresser.

 

My face contorted shortly after the maids began applying my makeup.

 

“Now what’s this all about?”

 

I gave them a disappointed look.

 

At this, the maids were so busy looking at me that they didn’t realize their mistake.

 

“We did what we always do, but could it be that there is a problem……?”

 

At the servant’s reply, I frowned and looked into the mirror again. No matter how I looked at it, I couldn’t seem to adapt. Her skin, which was always clean, looked like a patient’s, covered with a coat of face powder that made it pasty and hid the blood color. It looked so thick that it seeped out when I scratched it with my fingers, especially under my eyes which were thin and shaded.

 

The darkly painted eyelids were also the kind of makeup that old, mature noblewomen usually wore. Younger women of Roxana’s age should wear makeup lightly, in keeping with the vibrancy of their age.

 

In comparison, Roxana’s image in the mirror was devoid of any of the trappings that come with it, and looked more dull and old than beautiful and dignified.

 

“Get rid of it. I’m just gonna go down.”

 

“But ……”

 

There was a hint of worry on the faces of the servants.

 

“There’s no need to waste time and effort on dressing up that doesn’t even look good.”

 

The maids looked a little surprised, but soon began to remove my makeup with careful hands. After all the makeup was removed, I applied only a light cream and a bit of fragrant oil.

 

Roxana’s skin was originally white and beautiful, and her lips were naturally red, so she didn’t need much makeup on her face.

 

After the makeup, I opened the drawer containing accessories.

 

The drawer was full of gorgeous accessories.

 

There was one simple pendant among the very expensive looking jewelry.

 

“What is this?”

 

I reached out and picked up the pendant and stared at it.

 

The pendant was made of silver, with a round floral pattern embroidered along the edge and a red gemstone in the center. The carvings were exquisite, and the shining white sterling silver was even studded with jewels, so it was an expensive item at first glance.

 

“Why don’t you wear this necklace today, young lady? It’s the latest thing you bought.”

 

Suddenly, the maid who was helping with my preparation asked me with a strange look on her face. The necklace in the servant’s hand was adorned with a brilliant blue gemstone. I nodded absentmindedly and she placed the necklace around my neck.

 

“Let’s go.”

 

***

 

First floor.

 

A group of knights were waiting at the door of the parlor.

 

They had the imperial seal engraved on their uniforms and all had long swords at their waists. Their postures were neat, their expressions solemn, and their sternness was visible. The servants of the Duke’s mansion looked at them uncomfortably.

 

“When is Roxana coming?”

 

A beautiful man with light blond hair and blue eyes said.

 

He was wearing a suit, not a uniform, unlike the knights.

 

He wore a white shirt, a pale gold vest, and a cravat of the same color as the vest. In the center of the cravat was an elaborate blue-gold brooch, which was fixed in place, and he wore a dark indigo coat embroidered with gold thread. Looking at his elegant attire, clean white skin and beautiful face, anyone could tell at a glance that his status was extraordinary.

 

He was none other than the Crown Prince.

 

The servant replied to his question with a slightly troubled look on his face.

 

“I have sent word of His Highness’ arrival, and she will probably be here shortly.”

 

 “Hasn’t it been an hour already?”

 

The Crown Prince said, looking at his watch.

 

His irritated voice instantly chilled the room. A cold sweat broke out on the servant’s forehead.

 

It was only natural for him to be afraid of the Crown Prince, since he was only a servant, no matter how great the Duke’s authority was.

 

He could be punished for making the Crown Prince feel uncomfortable.

 

Whether he understood the feelings of such a servant or not, the Crown Prince gestured with a look of displeasure as if he was about to leave.

 

In response, the servant, feeling inwardly relieved, quickly disappeared.

 

After the servant was gone, the Crown Prince continued to pace the room, looking at his watch. It was not the first time he had visited the Duke of Lillian’s residence, but it was the first time he had to wait this long.

 

He was the one who just stormed in without setting an appointment time, so I’ll come down when I’m ready.

 

He didn’t have any particular complaints about waiting for a while, 

However, the longer he waited, the more impatient and frustrated he became.

 

The Crown Prince stared at the innocent wood in the fireplace and was about to open his mouth to summon the servant once more.

 

At that time, a sign of movement was heard from the door and soon a voice that had been painted for days came.

 

“I am here to see His Imperial Highness the Crown Prince.”

 

Hearing the familiar voice, the Crown Prince turned around. I stood in front of the door, bowing slightly.

 

“Roxana!”

 

The Crown Prince walked up to me quickly and hugged me.

 

“…!”

 

Then he opened his mouth in tears.

 

“I’ve missed you”

 

“Your Highness.”

 

“….?”

 

The Crown Prince furrowed his brow.

 

My body stiffened.

 

“What’s wrong? Are you still sick?”

 

He asked, sincerely worried about me.

 

I answered in a stiff voice, pushing his body away.

 

“No. I’m fine now.”

 

The Crown Prince didn’t understand.

 

Unlike usual, Roxana had a cold demeanor towards him. As a result, he had a dark expression on his face. It was clear that Roxana was still angry with him for giving Claire a shoulder to cry on at the banquet hall the day of the accident.

 

It had been many days since they stopped seeing each other, so he thought her anger should have subsided a bit by now, but looking at her current reaction, he was mistaken.

 

Wasn’t she the one who insulted Claire first and slapped her in the cheek when Claire didn’t say anything? He helped Claire because he felt sorry for her, so he couldn’t understand why Roxana was angry over something as simple as that.

 

The Crown Prince sighed deeply.

 

Even after several days had passed, thinking back to that day, his heart still felt heavy and tired. He still didn’t think that his actions that day were wrong.

 

But he came here today to apologize and to placate her. It was true that she was devastated by that day. Many days he spent in a damp state wondering what he should say or how he should he act when he met her. But when Roxana finally appeared in front of him, he couldn’t remember a single word he had prepared. He had heard that she woke up safely, and he was glad to see it with his own eyes, but he felt sad because of Roxana’s unusual attitude. When the Crown Prince relaxed his arms, Roxana slipped out of his embrace as if she had been waiting for him. This made him feel twice as sad as before.

 

“Roxana, about that day… ……”

 

The Crown Prince hesitated, continuing his words with a pained expression. Roxana stared at him with a frown.

 

“…Roxana?

 

“Yes, Your Highness.”

 

When Roxana replied with an indifferent face, he went silent and stared at her with a gaze full of surprise.

 

Instead of the face that usually looked suffocatingly thickly powdered, it was clean and vibrant, and the dark eyelids were deep and airy thanks to the clean, long eyelashes that hung down. 

 

Her eyes, which were large and sharp when not obscured by makeup, were even clearer, and her rosy lips shone as if they were watery.

 

The dress she was wearing was also different. It was neat and simple, rather than childish and overly flashy as it usually was. 

 

Looking at her, the Crown Prince recalled memories of the past few years.

 

****

*The past.

 

“I heard the Duke of Lillian’s residence has been busy lately preparing for the Princess’s birthday banquet. Go and fetch the Duke tomorrow. If he agrees, I will lend him the Crystal Palace for this banquet. There will be no need for complicated preparations.”

 

In the midst of the War of Conquest, the time when the Duke of Lillian sent word of his victory in the war against the Kingdom of Estibel, the Duke’s prestige hit the heavens and the Emperor handed over the entire Crystal Palace for Roxana’s debutante.

 

The Crystal Palace was completed after an endless five years of major construction work, mobilizing a thousand workers for the first emperor’s most cherished detached palace.

 

True to its name, the Crystal Palace was made entirely of the finest white transparent marble, and the interior was filled with priceless treasures and all sorts of luxuries, making it the most extravagant palace ever built. 

 

Furthermore, only the Emperor and Empress were allowed to enter.

 

This was the first time in the history of the empire that the Crystal Palace was opened to the daughter of a nobleman who was not a member of the imperial family.

 

There were certainly people who were repulsed by this, but since the other party was the only daughter of the Duke of Lillian, the atmosphere was mostly agreeable. 

 

Estibel was one of the most powerful in terms of both size and power among the surrounding countries, and it was also the country that actually suffered the most from the wealth situation.

 

However, the Duke of Lillian solved that problem, and the Emperor probably felt that his long-sick tooth  had fallen out.

 

The Emperor had learned early on that the Duke was always sorry for leaving his young daughter alone in the capital. Since the Crystal Palace was a place that attracted the attention and envy of many people, he gave The Duke’s daughter his good intentions for the sake of manipulation.

 

Thus Roxana’s debutante was uncharacteristically held in the Crystal Palace under the Emperor’s command.

 

It was the first time the Duke of Lillian’s daughter, whom even the emperor cherished, appeared in a social setting, and it was the first time the Crystal Palace was opened to outsiders. Naturally, Roxana’s debutante attracted the attention of many people, and the Crown Prince attended the banquet that day with the same curiosity.

 

The banquet began amidst everyone’s anticipation, and soon after, the main character appeared.