Chapter 1. The fiancé is back
After talking to Marquis Valdir privately, his relationship with me had noticeably improved. It’s not like it really had improved, but since our relationship wasn’t that good before, it seemed to be getting better even with only this much.
About two days after that.
We finally arrived at the capital.
“Finally, the capital.”
“We can go home now.”
The sounds of joy were heard everywhere.
I too was happy going back to the capital. It felt like I had returned to my home.
Is Sarah already here? Must be not, because I came back a little earlier than planned.
I wanted to go home quickly, but I had something to do before that.
It was to go to the Imperial Palace and inform the Emperor that we had arrived safely, and to report on what had happened.
The thought of seeing Kalian soon made my heart beat and made my heart full.
I fiddled with the spirit stone necklace I was wearing.
I didn’t take off the necklace all the way back to the capital from Hutton. I wore it all the time even when I was taking a bath and sleeping. As if it were an amulet.
In fact, wearing this actually made me feel comfortable.
The carriage, which was running diligently, slowed down little by little and then stopped.
As I got off the carriage while being escorted by Sir Hiltine who got off first, I could see a familiar scenery.
The familiar and friendly person.
Baron Delrond’s face that I hadn’t seen in a long time looked pretty good.
What a relief. I was worried that he might have had a hard time doing my part.
Baron Delrond greeted Marquis Valdir and told him why he had come.
“His Majesty is waiting in the audience room.”
Marquis Valdir nodded solemnly.
“Lead the way.”
We followed Baron Delrond to the audience room.
Blue Dragon, the guardian deity of the Empire, was clearly engraved on the huge door. Its blue eyes seemed to be really looking at me, so I was scared for a moment.
The guards standing in front opened the door.
I looked back before entering, but I didn’t see Sir Hiltine. It was the first time he disappeared without a word, so I was bewildered.
Where did he go? Did he leave because he thought his mission was over now that we arrived at the Imperial Palace?
“Let’s go in.”
Marquis Valdir took the lead, followed by the other nobles.
The magnificent audience chamber revealed the majesty of the empire as it was.
Nobles stood on both sides of the long red carpet that stretched all the way to the front of the stairs.
The closer to the higher seat, the higher the nobility, and Kalian was sitting at the higher seat.
It’s been a long time since I saw Kalian.
I was happy to see him again, but at the same time, I was also nervous. The reason was not just because of Kalian. Numerous nobles gathered in the audience chamber also played the role.
I licked my dry lips in tension and stood politely in front of Kalian.
Marquis Valdir, on behalf of the delegation, reported to Kalian the safe return. Then it was time to report on what had happened at the diplomatic meeting.
Kalian crossed one leg and tilted his head at an angle.
“Since when did the Minister of Foreign Affairs have a higher position than the emperor’s agent?”
In an instant, the atmosphere of the audience chamber froze.
Now, Kalian was asking me to report, not Marquis Valdir.
Of course, he’s right if you followed the rules, but to report instead of Marquis Valdir, who was the Minister of Foreign Affairs and a marquis? It felt strange.
Maybe the others thought the same, but they all kept their mouths shut and looked into each other’s eyes.
At first glance, Marquis Valdir’s expression didn’t look good.
It couldn’t be good. Because it seemed like I, a count’s daughter, had pushed him at an official event like this.
“What are you doing, Sir Thebesa?”
It was Duke Giltian who broke the more or less short but long silence.
“Without reporting to His Majesty immediately.”
…you really want me to report?
At the command of Duke Giltian, I came forward.
Marquis Valdir stepped back, blushing slightly.
“Then… I will report to you.”
I would have been so shocked and said nothing if I hadn’t read the report before coming to the palace,
…I was still shocked, though.
I recounted the contents of the report and reported steadily.
“…That is all.”
The tensest report of my life was over.
I was more nervous than when I first reported to Kalian without adding any lies.
Kalian smiled contentedly and looked at Duke Giltian.
“Do you have anything to say, Duke Giltian?”
Duke Giltian politely bowed.
“I have nothing to say.”
“What about the other nobles?”
The answer of the nobles echoed through the audience chamber.
As the deafening sound disappeared, Kalian stood up and shouted.
“I give the surname ‘Aster’ to Leila Thebesa, who has done a great job in this diplomatic meeting, and seal her as a baron.”
Usually, when someone received a title, people around them would congratulate them.
However, no nobleman congratulated me. They were just staring at me openly and gossiping about me.
I wasn’t upset or anything because I also thought I wouldn’t get congratulations from them from the beginning.
Rather, it would have been strange if they had congratulated me warmly.
“Congratulations, Sir Thebesa.”
Just like now.
“No, I should call you Sir Aster now.”
What is he thinking?
I looked at Duke Giltian, a little wary.
Behind him came a man with thick gray hair and glasses.
“Duke Giltian, have you been acquainted with Sir Aster? It’s unexpected.”
He was Sophia’s father, Duke Huddlen.
Rumor had it that he was not feeling well, so he delegated the chair of the Academy president to his son and stayed at home.
Was that a false rumor?
Duke Huddlen’s condition looked very good. His expression was also bright with no shadows.
“It’s been a while, Leila. You’ve grown a lot since we didn’t see each other.”
Of course, I would.
The last time I met Duke Huddlen was about 10 years ago, when his daughter, Sophia, trespassed the Count of Thebesa.
As we parted after meeting on something that wasn’t good, it was awkward and uncomfortable seeing Duke Huddlen pretend to be close and greeted me.
All I could think of was that something was up.
“Yes, it’s been a while.”
Even though I was suspicious inside, I replied with a smile outside.
Duke Huddlen smiled kindly.
“It seemed like Duke Huddlen was really close with Sir Aster, huh?”
Duke Giltian suddenly interrupted the conversation.
Duke Giltian’s mouth was smiling, but his eyes were fierce while observing Duke Huddlen.
He seemed to gauge what our relationship was.
Duke Huddlen replied, still smiling as if he had not noticed it.
“We’ve known each other for a long time.”
“A long time. How long ago do you mean? Is it 10 years or so?”
He was subtly appealing in that he knew everything about what happened between me and Duke Huddlen ten years ago.
Ten years ago, Sophia’s uproar was an incident that Duke Huddlen wanted to bury enough to hand over his bonanza gold mine.
When he said it like he knew it, Duke Huddlen’s expression collapsed.
Duke Giltian, on the other hand, smiled with interest.
I couldn’t believe I had to deal with two people when one was too much
Nothing had happened yet, but my head was already throbbing.
It was fortunate that Philen was not here. If he had been here, it would have been a real headache.
But I also didn’t see Duke Cloud.
Even if Philen was on vacation and stayed in the estate as a reward for his hard work on the battlefield for a long time, Duke Cloud was in the capital. He even attended parties.
It was surprising that he wasn’t here.
Well, it’s simply to welcome the returned delegation, so there’s no need for Duke Cloud, the lord of a faction, to appear, but still…
“…I guess that’s why.”
While I was thinking about something else for a moment, Duke Huddlen and Duke Giltian were still fighting.
It wasn’t that the relationship between the two dukes was bad.
They just insulted each other so that they didn’t lose their own rice bowl.
Duke Huddlen and Duke Giltian, in particular, had fought countless times over the position of the empress.
It was Duke Giltian who won during the reign of the late emperor.
Then, what happened after that? The late emperor had no interest in the late empress at all, and to make matters worse, the late empress couldn’t bear a son to succeed to the throne for a long time and was on the verge of being deposed.
She barely gave birth to a son, but her body became weak and then passed away a few years later, and the son…
Hearing a familiar voice from behind, I turned around.
There’s a baron who I didn’t know when he came.
“You can call me Baron comfortably now.”
[T/N: All this time Leila called Ver Baron with -nim added, so Ver told Leila to call him Baron comfortably without -nim.]
Baron Delrond said with a smile.
“Because we are both barons now. Ah, I guess rather than calling you Sir, I should call you Baron now. Baron Aster.”
When I was given the baron title in the audience, I was a little surprised, but not very impressed.
I was like, ‘I finally get it, huh?’. But when Baron Delrond called me Baron, I realized that I really had become a baron. It felt weird.
“Greetings to the two Dukes as well.”
With Baron Delrond’s appearance, the long fight ended.
Duke Giltian turned around and walked away as if he had nothing more to do. His followers also disappeared quickly.
On the other hand, Duke Huddlen said goodbye to me with a smile.
“See you next time, Leila.”
Duke Huddlen tapped me on the shoulder and disappeared with his followers.
As the tide ebbed away, the people disappeared, leaving only me and Baron Delrond in the hallway.
Baron Delrond glanced in the direction where Duke Huddlen disappeared and asked me.
“Were you originally acquainted with Duke Huddlen?”
“We have a little relationship.”
If you could call it a relationship, that was it.
“What’s the matter?”
“Ah, His Majesty is looking for you. If you’re not busy, let’s go together.”
If His Majesty called me, I had to go even if I was busy.
I followed Baron Delrond to the palace’s drawing room.