Arc 4 chapter 7

***

Duke Rosette’s birthday banquet was held for five days. Considering that the banquet of the royal court-organized event was less than four days, it was a glimpse of how high the power of Duke Friedrich was.

Elena appeared at the banquet for only three days, an odd number out of the five days. It was unusual considering that most of the high ranking nobles did not participate except on the first day of the banquet.

Leabric wanted to show off her robustness to the public. That way, they could completely calm the noise that comes out over the successor to the Grand Duke.

There is another reason. It was to give Elena a social experience. It was a great opportunity because it was less important as their children and local nobles usually participated in the banquet than high-ranking nobles. As such opportunities are rare, Leabric also took the time to stay with Elena.

After the banquet, she was asked to review what happened that day and correct anything wrong. Emphasizing that the small change is the process of becoming a more perfect Princess Veronica.

Elena refrained from acting independently and acted obediently according to Leabric’s will. As long as she got what she wanted, she had no reason to stand out and be out of Leabric’s eyes.

That year, the biggest event of the Grand Duke’s residence ended. The mansion went back to the old days and became busy again, and the servants heated up in the cleanup. Leabric also went out of the house to deal with matters big and small in the Grand Duchy that had not been dealt with. Then she told Elena to take a rest for a few days because she had a hard time.

‘Do you want me to take a break?’

Elena summoned famous jewelers from the empire to her mansion. Each of them had a variety of elaborately crafted ornaments, each of which was an expensive item made of precious jewels that were so rare that they could throw out their tongues.

Elena selected and bought some of them that were easy to make as an imitation. Among them, the most preferred one was the diamond. Unlike sapphire, ruby, and emerald, there was no color, so it was easy to fabricate glass by processing it. Unlike other gems, whose prices vary widely due to impurities and sophistication, the larger the size, the higher the price went up. In addition, the market fluctuations were small as long as the imperial aristocrats liked the transparency of it.

‘I need a route to get rid of it from Leabric’s eyes. I need craftsmen to make imitations.’

Elena didn’t think in a hurry. While in the Grand Residence, the range of movements was bound to be narrow. It was difficult to avoid Leabric’s eyes, and it was impossible to act independently.

‘I can move freely when I enter the academy.’

Elena’s return to the academy was a scheduled step, as Leabric also admitted. The Frontier Institute, located near the Empire’s capital, made it a rule to live in a dormitory without exception for any students. Even the capital aristocrats were strict enough to take disciplinary measures against them.

Her academic career was a great opportunity for Elena to build her foundation. Because academic institutes have no choice but to live a restricted life in the shadow, the monitoring of Leabric would be loosened.

‘Loreche’s been taken off. Now she’s the only one left, and…’

From the beginning, Anne was a maid that Leabric had assigned as a watchman. If she didn’t know who it was, she wouldn’t know, there was no problem with knowing that she was Leabric’s limb.

‘She’s not the only one who can use the reverse, right?’

It’s bad luck to just kick Anne out. Elena predicted more than one, or two, than that.

‘Leabric must be relieved to have Anne on me.’

There was no need to be suspicious of defeating Anne. Having Anne alone had many advantages for Elena. It was very meaningful to be able to relax Leabric’s vigilance and lead to carelessness. Elena, who returned from the jewelry store, had a relaxed tea time.

“Your Highness the Princess.”

Hurelbad, who had never opened his mouth before during his escort, spoke first. Elena looked back at him as she put the teacup on the pedestal.

“That’s a big deal. Sir spoke to me first.”

“…”

“Speak.”

Hurelbad bowed his head as permission fell.

“I was delayed due to the lack of circumstances, but I would like to dispose of my mistakes now.”

“Punishment.”

Elena broached the words and picked up the teacup she had put down. She savored the scent of black tea with her nose, tasted it with her tongue, and organized her thoughts.

“What do you want to do?”

“How could I dare decide that for myself. I will take any punishment.”

Hurelbad was sincere. At the time, Ren was not identified, so there was nothing he could do about it. Eventually, however, Elena’s order not to clash with Len was not fulfilled. He was appointed as a knight and couldn’t stand it because he couldn’t keep it even though it was his first order.

“I just can’t get over it because I want to dispose of it. Take it off.”

“…!”

Hurelbad’s eyes shook like an earthquake. His expression, which was so embarrassed that he was frozen, was questionable of whether he was the knight of ice, who was called the epitome of coolness.

“Didn’t you hear me tell you to take it off?”

“W-what the hell…”

Frustrated, Hurelbad blurted his words out of control. Elena said, holding back her laughter from the response.

“What did you expect? Did you think I was asking you to take your top off?”

“How dare I.”

“Sir, you’re afraid I might have mentioned your bottoms?”

“…”

Elena, who was looking at Hurelbad’s relentlessly shaky expression, smiled. Hurelbad looked blank as he stared at Elena without knowing what was going on. Elena pointed to Hurelbad’s hand with a wink.

“I’m asking for the gloves you’re wearing.”

“You mean these gloves?”

“Yes, those. Are you ignoring me because you don’t want to give it to me?”

Elena’s mischievous remarks prompted Hurelbad to hurriedly take off his gloves. Elena’s black cotton gloves looked more like a protocol than combat gloves. She heard that many people wear sword handles to support them from slipping.

Elena rose from her chair and took out her embroidery from the drawer. She opened the lid and took out the needle and thread, then turned the gloves over and started putting embroidery inside. Every time the thin, slender fingers moved, five-colored threads fell on the surface. Her hand movements were so exquisite that Hurelbad stood blank, his eyes blinded.

Within such a long time, the inner side of the cotton glove was embroidered with letters that harmonized with gold and silver.

“Take it.”

Hurelbad, who received the gloves that Elena handed him back, looked down at them.

‘L.’

It was written mainly in the Imperial Household of the Empire. The meaning was difficult to understand, so it was mainly used in state events and ceremonies, but few nobles even used it. Hurelbad could also read the letters, but he had no idea what they meant.

“Always keep it on your hand.”

“… Does this word mean that I’m not good enough?”

Hurelbad tried to understand the meaning of the letter with a serious face. Elena said earlier that she would give a punishment, so he guessed that this letter also has a meaning of reprimanding.

“No.”Elena gave a meaningful smile.

“This is my punishment.”

“I have no idea what this is. What does this mean?”

“Think about it. That’s my punishment.”

“…”

Hurelbad’s brows furrowed. Like in the sea where the depth of the water is unknown, he could hardly measure the inside of his master. Elena said one more word while looking at the frustrated Hurelbad.

“Just remember this. Since our first meeting, I have always been sincere to you.”

“I really don’t know anything about the princess.”

Hurelbad, who did not know Elena’s intentions until the end, stepped back and was polite.

“I, Knight Hurelbad, swear that I will always carry this letter in my heart as the punishment of Her Majesty the Princess.”

Elena smiled silently.

L.

It is an ancient Imperial language that only the royal family can write and read, and the meaning was light. When it was read in single spoken words, it meant Elena’s initials.

“Don’t ever forget your oath.”

***

 

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