Soon after, the royal family appeared. The emperor and the empress were at the front, and the Crown Prince and the second Prince walked in right behind them. The Crown Prince looked unexpectedly fine. He was still dignified and elegant.
However, if you look closely, you can see that the light under his eyes is a little dark blue. I looked at them and met the eyes of the second Prince. As I bowed my head slightly to greet him, he nodded quietly.
Today, the second Prince was wearing a white uniform and a blue cloak draped over one shoulder. A silver brooch and medals on his left chest gleamed in the light.
“Annie, if you go to the wagon, there will be a long wooden box. Can you bring it to me quietly?”
At my words, Annie nodded her head with a dignified face.
“Yes. Lady, wait a minute. I’ll be right back.”
Come to think of it, Roxana usually only took her maids with her to banquets.
So, it must have been the first time Annie had come to the Imperial Palace.
Perhaps the splendid imperial palace was amazing, seeing her twinkling eyes with curiosity, I thought it was a good idea to bring her. However, I was worried for a moment that she might make a mistake or get lost because she was nervous.
‘Should I have sent Joan or Tien?’
I pondered for a moment, then shook my head. Annie was already far away and was leaving the banquet hall.
‘She’s worked hard all this time, so when I come back, I should give her a reward.’
There were a lot of people in the banquet hall today, and there were many familiar faces. All the nobles of the capital had been invited, and Claire was also there. She was beautiful today.
I couldn’t take my eyes off the neat yet lovely appearance. Even without the Crown Prince, Claire didn’t seem lonely because there were a lot of people around her.
There were also ladies who sometimes blushed looking at her.
Claire looked very fine. When I saw her, I felt a little sad inside.
I looked away from Claire before making eye contact with her. Soon, a melody flowed through the hall and the full-fledged banquet began.
The Crown Prince approached me, who was standing quietly alone without dealing with people.
“You are exceptionally beautiful today. You seem to be improving day by day. Do you have any secrets?”
I answered in a dry way.
Suddenly, the Duke approached us and stood before me. His voice was hard and his face was cold.
“Duke, did you win another victory this time? Congratulations.”
The Crown Prince sent congratulations with a nonchalant face.
“Thank you. And there is something I want to discuss with Your Highness.”
The Duke responded with a cold face. The Crown Prince made an anxious face.
“What is it?”
“I heard that a lot had happened while I was away. As for the unsavory rumors circulating recently..… .”
As the Duke showed his dissatisfaction, the Crown Prince did not say anything as usual. He sent me a look that said ‘help me’ with a difficult expression.
But I did not feel the need to help the Crown Prince. So I pretended not to see his rescue signal and stood still. The atmosphere became awkward on its own.
“Can you explain what happened?”
At the Duke’s interrogation, the Crown Prince couldn’t say anything with an awkward face. If he had a conscience, he wouldn’t be able to say anything.
How could he say he had an affair with another woman while relying on the duke’s prestige and neglected his fiancée? After a moment of silence, the Crown Prince raised the corner of his lips awkwardly.
“It happened because of a misunderstanding. Rumors spread by those who have nothing to do.”
“I hope it’s not true either.”
The Duke was cynical.
He didn’t seem to believe the Crown Prince’s words at all.
“I will be waiting for Your Highness to come and explain soon.”
“I’ll do that.”
Although it was clear that his pride had been damaged, the Crown Prince did not express much of it. But I could see his face stiffened.
In an instant, the Crown Prince’s eyes met mine. He looked at me and said,
“Roxana, I have something to tell you for a moment, but it’s a little too much here….”
The Duke blocked him once again.
“What do you want to do with my daughter?”
The Duke looked down at the Crown Prince with a displeased face.
“What’s strange about me being with my fiancée? Duke, you seem to interfere with your grown up daughter too much.”
The Crown Prince said, barely keeping a smile on his face. The Duke didn’t show any respect for the Crown Prince either. Because of that, today the Crown Prince had to crumple his pride several times in front of many people.
Well, it was his business, and it was nothing compared to the atrocities he’s committed… The Duke tried to block the Crown Prince’s approach as if I was in great danger.
He was overprotective. It was good to let others know that the relationship between the Duke and I have improved, but it was a little too much. Also, I was curious about what the Crown Prince was trying to say.
“I’ll be back after a while.”
“But… Are you okay?”
“It’s okay. It’s not that far away, so it’s no big deal. Then I will go.”
“Don’t go far. And take some knights with you.”
The Crown Prince’s face hardened even more. The Duke finally put the two knights he had brought with me.
I followed the Crown Prince to another seat.
Every time I took a step, I felt people’s eyes following me.
It was definitely a slightly different look from when I was with the Duke.
“When did you and the Duke become so close?”
“I think he was very surprised to hear that I was injured. It’s something I’ve been wishing for a long time. After all, he’s my family.”
Surprised at myself, considering the Duke as a stranger and using him whenever I needed it.
But if I recalled the Crown Prince’s actions so far, shouldn’t I need a shield like this? My stomach churned for a while, but I opened my mouth with a nonchalant face.
“Didn’t you say that you had something to tell me earlier?”
The Crown Prince hesitated, then opened his mouth.
“Recently, there are bad rumors circulating in the capital. I’m concerned.”
“Is that what you wanted to say?”
When I asked with a cold face, the Crown Prince looked at me with a slightly bewildered face.
“What do you want me to do, Your Highness?”
The Crown Prince frowned.
“Someone said, ‘Your Highness abandoned me and is going to make Claire the Crown Princess?’”
As I spoke in a low voice, the Crown Prince’s eyes instantly widened. His face was contorted.
“How dare they! Who said such nonsense… “
I raised one corner of my lips.
‘Nonsense….. Is it really nonsense?’
Of course, the words I had just said a while ago were only made up to check about the Crown Prince’s reaction. However, considering the actions of the Crown Prince so far, it would be good if someone said it. It was impossible for someone to accept a person of low status like Claire as the Crown Princess in a proud imperial family.
It was a thought.
But the Crown Prince said differently.
The Crown Prince grabbed my wrist.
For a moment, I tried to shake off the hand that was holding me unconsciously.
But he didn’t let go. The knights tried to approach us with a surprised face.
In an instant, the atmosphere became brutal.
I looked up at the Crown Prince. Rather, he had a face that looked like he had been hurt.
His blue eyes seemed to be asking why I said that to him. I shook my head towards the knights who were taking a stance that seemed to rush this way at any moment.
No matter how great the Duke’s power was, the man in front of him was the Crown Prince.
This was the palace.
The image of the Duke’s knights threatening the Crown Prince in the Imperial Palace was never good. Even far away, there was an emperor and the empress. I looked down at the Crown Prince’s gloved hand, which was still holding my wrist.
Coincidentally, it was the same area where I was previously caught and bruised.
I frowned, recalling bad memories of the past.
“Your Highness, It hurts. Let go of me.”
“Roxana, I never thought of that…”
At that moment, someone grabbed the Crown Prince’s hand, which was still holding my wrist. Finally, the Crown Prince’s hand fell from me.
It was Elvin.
Then, Elvin also released the Crown Prince’s hand.
I touched my throbbing wrist because I had been held on for a while. There was a red mark, but the pain was not severe.
The Crown Prince looked at Elvin with a surprised expression on his face, then frowned.
I was equally surprised. Of course, today, Elvin was not wearing a mask.
The white face contrasted with the black hair looked unusually cold. The Crown Prince asked in a voice full of displeasure.
“What’s going on? Can’t you see we’re talking?”
“I’m sorry if I disturbed you. But I also have business with the princess.”
Elvin was still arrogant and rude. His mood today was exceptionally cold. He had a smiling face. But the cold expression on his face and not the least pleasant look made him look like an angry man.
“What do you want with my fiancée? Is it urgent enough to interrupt the middle of a conversation like this?”
I could also see the blue tendon on the Crown Prince’s forehead. The arrogant Crown Prince met the wrong person today, and there were only cases where he kept losing his dignity. So it wouldn’t be strange if his patience had run out by now.
“It doesn’t look like you’re talking.”
The Crown Prince clenched his fists at Elvin’s hidden meaning as if he was making fun of him.
Elvin passed him indifferently and glanced at my wrist.
For some reason, it felt as if the spot his gaze touched was hot as if it was on fire. And the Crown Prince looked at my red wrist.
Blue eyes were dyed with a bewildering light. The Crown Prince then apologized to me with a look of regret.
“I made a mistake.”
“It’s done. It’s not something that happened once or twice.”
I lowered my sleeves and hid my wrist with an uncomfortable face. The Crown Prince closed his mouth and lowered his gaze. I left him like that and turned to Elvin.
“Young Master Croix, you said you have a business for me. May I ask what’s going on?”
“Ah… … It’s not a big deal, but the princess found my lost item, so I want to say thank you.”
Then I found a silver pendant hanging from his neck. Seeing that he even came to say thanks, it seemed like a very important object to him. After all, it must have been something he had that day.
“It’s nothing. I just returned the things I picked up to the original owner.”
“I will greet you separately soon. And the clothes…… ”
Elvin’s eyes met the dress I was wearing. It was the dress I received from the Hermes, but in fact, it was sent to me by Elvin.
“It suits you very well.”
Elvin looked straight into my eyes and said it.
Perhaps it was because I knew the arrogant nature of flattery, which didn’t seem like it would even shake me. Even though it was the shortest and most dry of all the compliments I heard today, I instantly felt strange.
“Then I will leave. Please have a good time.”
After a short greeting, Elvin left immediately.
‘What the hell did he come here for?’
I had a blank face.
It felt like a storm had passed. After Elvin left, I recalled the existence of the Crown Prince who still remained.
The Crown Prince muttered quietly.