"Fionel is so pleased to see His Excellency!"
"I’m glad you’re pleased. Now, please allow Selena and His Excellency to try some of the delicious treats over there," before he knew it, Selena came forward and declared before Fionel could meddle in any further. The other guests watched Kalcion obediently following Selena as she led him.
"Oh my, he seems completely captured."
"I thought the Duke had a stronger demeanor, but it doesn’t seem so true."
"My, you haven’t heard? A few days ago, at Diatte………"
Several murmurs and whispers floated in from all corners of the grand hall regarding Selena’s anecdotes around the stores for two consecutive days. Eyes followed her figure even when she had moved from the center to the edge of the room. Selena was enjoying the attention and she was ready to face any upcoming challenge.
However, thanks to the distance people maintained for a while, she was able to take a look inside the famous Rose Palace. Indeed, alongside its name for the largest and most splendid palace, the palace seemed to have blossomed with the help of roses. Pillars adorned with carved vine roses and tiles on the floors shaped like a huge blooming rose from the middle. The isomorphic ceiling, made of glass rose crafts casting a shiny hue of light. Even the air was smudged with a subtle scent of rose through the help of incense burners placed in every corner. Sad that she would have to fight in such a beautiful space.
"Hello, it’s been a while," a courageous woman greeted Selena, crushing her sensitivity within a moment.
Needless to say, it was Rosalyn.
She gracefully smiled at Kalcion and Selena, regardless of Kalcion’s unchanged expression.
"I haven’t seen you in a long time, though I’m relieved that Your Excellency seems to have been doing well. And, your company here."
"Why are you talking like you don’t even know my name?" Selena flashed a smile and responded to her equally.
None of the women wanted to back down from their positions. The two would have caught fire if their staredown continued a little bit more.
Luckily, someone intervened, "Greetings, it’s been a while since I’ve seen Your Highness. Rosalyn, you too."
Selena braced herself for the upcoming battles that would soon follow. It was Rosalyn’s turn to respond,
"Ah, it’s Lirel. We met at the opening party last year, though I don’t know if you remember."
She was the first unfamiliar person to appear today.
Selena squeezed Kalcion’s arm she was holding, indicating that he now had to say his ‘lines’ that he had been practicing since he was in the carriage.
"Lady Lirel. Nice to meet you."
Lirel shuddered as if ecstatic from Kalcion’s deep voice calling her name and fanned her neck to relieve herself.
‘Ew,’ Selena’s eyes narrowed in displeasure at her "excited" reaction.
She reacted like Kalcion wouldn’t understand the cause of her excitement, but she forgot that he was accompanied by Selena under the name of his lover.
Kalcion, who had learned from Selena, immediately recognized the meaning of Lirel’s actions. However, he had consistently ignored it so far. He didn’t even want to put enough effort into dealing with each one.
"This is Selena. Although it’s sudden that I have a partner, I hope you will accompany her since I plan to stay with her forever."
Kalcion told her as he had practiced. No mistake, no lie. He sounded very much natural since he didn’t need acting.
Of course, it would soon change to "a romantic relationship", thanks to certain members of the society who liked to twist news or rumors.
"My name is Selena," taking over Kalcion’s introduction, Selena bowed a little. Lirel’s rude gesture did not wipe off her smile.
Lirel smiled coyly, a slight triumph on her face saying ‘of course, there’s no way I wouldn’t recognize.’
Selena never forgot to answer back, gesturing by stroking Kalcion’s forearm with her finger and then touching her lips.
She meant, ‘He’s mine.’
Lirel, who was ignoring her up until now, cleared her throat and quietly lowered her gaze. Her mockery—overshadowed by embarrassment.
"Oh my, look who it is. Isn’t it the Duke of Renbird," came another.
"This is Selena. She will continue to appear in events as my partner, so I hope you take care of her."
"My, Your Excellency’s partner, you must be happy."
"Happy, only me? Not His Excellency?"
"There must be many who dream of accompanying His Excellency. On the other hand…… how many would want to accompany Lady Selena? Would there be any?"
"What’s important is that His Excellency asked me to do it. To the point of begging."
"I’d rather you don’t trust those feelings would last forever. Because all men are the same."
Fortunately, they were focused only on the fact that Kalcion was being accompanied by Selena. Thanks to this, no one came to speculate if Selena was his real lover, which she was worried about. Throughout the greetings, Kalcion kept his eyes trained on Selena while she dealt with the daggers that flew her way.
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‘I’m tired,’ it wasn’t difficult to deal with each one, but there were too many. Selena felt like she was dealing with the enemy one after the other at the edge of a cliff. She even wanted to form a line and distribute number tags to them.
She couldn’t even relax because she had to find out who was hateful enough to send an assassin after her. She was in a literal battle to dig out all the secrets.
By the time her cheeks started to ache, the servants at the entrance gathered at the door in a disciplined posture. The guests closed their mouths and turned their attention to the door. A long carpet—with a sparkling work of dark navy silk—was laid starting from the door to the platform at the end.
"Oh, has the royal family arrived?"
"They really appear like the main character."
The servant, stationed at the front of the door for calling out the name of the guests whenever they came in, cleared his throat,
"Her Highness and the Princess have arrived!"
The closed doors creaked open as the musicians started on an elegant tone of the music.
Princess Jerryel appeared at the door, holding the queen’s hand, and stepped on the carpet one step at a time as if entering her wedding hall.
Everyone at the party bowed their heads in unison.
Princess Jerryel walked in a dress decorated with white layers of fabric and countless laces. She resembled a shining star stepping on the carpet that looked like the night sky.
Clearly, she prepared too much for the day.
‘If I could afford the money wasted in such a preparation, I would’ve built a house and run away,’ Selena muttered under her breath as she watched the princess approaching the podium.
The servants closed the doors once the queen and the princess stepped inside. After confirming there was no one else to enter the hall, Selena whispered to Kalcion,
"No one else is coming?"
"The king can’t afford to attend places like this."
"Why so? Because he’s busy?"
"He’s been suffering from dementia since last year."
"Oops," she didn’t know that.
That’s why the queen was in a hurry to find a groom for the princess.
The king wasn’t dead, and if his memories were affected, the situation would inevitably become more complicated. At this rate, one day, the throne could be handed over to the wrong person.
"Then who’s watching the state affairs?"
"Prince Larsen and the Queen share the post equally. The Crown Prince handles the external matters, while the Queen oversees the interior of the palace."
"Doesn’t that mean the Crown Prince has seized them all?"
"My personality attracts a lot of enemies."
Selena looked bewildered at his response, so Kalcion asked, "What?"
"……Impossible. The Duke has a very good personality."
Kalcion frowned at her answer. Luckily, he was aware that he was not a good person.
"The Prince is not just bad-tempered, he is cruel as well. He doesn’t care what I do."
"Oh……," only then did Selena nod. He was very irritable, and his behavior and mindset were the problems.
"Is he the type to enjoy his tea while looking at the severed neck of a person?"
"……As far as I know…..," he looked back at Selena, embarrassed.
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"Are there more people like him?"
"…..No, there might be, but I’ve only heard of it….."
"Great, there hasn’t been such a tyrant so far."
"Even subduing one alike isn’t honorable."