Chapter 62 - Dancing
The man glanced at the azure sky, vibrant roses, crowded banquet hall, and lovey-dovey guests who displayed affection on the terrace. As someone who had survived many near-death experiences, Max felt irritated and uncomfortable by his surroundings.
‘It might be difficult to find each other, so please stay at the arranged meeting place, Your Highness,” Fresia had told him. Max tried to endure his boredom by thinking about her earnest request, but this was difficult to do, considering that he had already been hiding in a tree all day long.
‘Should I just leave?’ Although he wanted to abandon the plan and return to Salon Blooms right away, he practiced patience.
“Ah, about Lady Floyen. It seems like she will be ignored by many people at the banquet since there are rumors that she doesn’t get along with her father,” Fresia had said.
‘There is a lot to gain from this banquet.’ Many nobles who worked at the imperial palace were in attendance. Max decided it would be a good idea to make a mental note of who approached his master and nip them in the bud later.
Despite his resolve, Max suddenly thought about Jubelian wearing a gorgeous dress and dancing in someone else’s arms. ‘She should be dancing by now, right?’ His gaze became increasingly bloodthirsty as he stared at the banquet hall.
‘If I reveal my identity and go in now…’ Max was overcome by this intense impulse when the door to the terrace, his arranged meeting place with Fresia, opened. Upon seeing who it was, he widened his eyes.
‘Jubelian?’ He thought he was hallucinating at first, so he blinked to confirm that the person who entered the terrace was indeed Jubelian. ‘Why did she come here?’ Various thoughts crowded his mind, but he felt strangely content by her appearance, so much so that the boring and dull scenery now looked lively. ‘I guess she likes roses, seeing as she’s gazing at them so seriously.’
Max unconsciously smiled as he observed her, but he was soon puzzled by what she did next. ‘Wait, why is she lowering her head?’ When Jubelian lifted her head back up again, he realized why. ‘Is she crying?’ He thought he was hallucinating again, but the sight of her tears dripping down her jewel-like, periwinkle eyes was unmistakable.
At that moment, Fresia’s earnest words occurred to Max again. ‘It might be difficult to find each other, so please stay at the arranged meeting place, Your Highness,” she had said.
Max paid no heed to her request and jumped off the tree.
* * *
I stared at my father’s disciple and frowned slightly. ‘What is he suddenly saying?’ I didn’t know what he thought of me, but I was still the only daughter of a duke. Although I was infamous for being vicious to others and never having to experience difficulties, it seemed like he thought I was a pushover because I had been kind to him.
“Tell me,” my father’s disciple said in a bloodthirsty tone as if interrogating me.
I stared at him. “If I tell you who harassed me, are you going to punish that person?”
“Yes. I promised to help you, after all,” he responded immediately.
I sighed, dumbfounded by how he had so casually distorted my words. ‘Foolish guy, helping me will bring you closer to death!’ Although I had overlooked his arrogance because I didn’t want to seem overbearing and haughty, other nobles wouldn’t be as forgiving. They considered it mutiny for commoners to speak informally to nobles, unhesitant to dole out harsh punishments right away. As a commoner, he would meet the same end if he used force against a nobleman. Perhaps that wouldn’t even be enough.
‘He could be bluffing, but this person… he might actually do such a thing.’ After observing my father’s disciple for a few days, I realized that he didn’t know many social norms, almost as if he was raised in the wild. His mind was like a blank sheet of paper that could lead to his death if he wasn’t careful. ‘We’ve known each other for quite a while, so I can’t let him die.’ Although we weren’t close, I sometimes felt comfortable with this person. He didn’t seem to have any ulterior motives and treated me like a normal person, instead of the unapproachable Lady Floyen.
He turned to me. “Yes?”
“If you want to help me going forward, please speak to me formally in public,” I said
“What?” he asked as if I had said something ridiculous.
“I’m still in a situation where I’m being ignored by people in high society,” I reiterated. “How much of a joke will they think I am if you disrespect me as well?”
He stared at me in response, deep in thought. I gazed into his red eyes and said, “You can make enemies or friends depending on how you say things, especially when it concerns nobles. Although this will be a different story if the class system is abolished, I’m just warning you to be careful.”
His red eyes continued to stare at me when I finished speaking. ‘If he’s dissatisfied, he should just say so instead of looking at me so seriously. Why is he staring at me like that?’ Before his gaze got even more strange, he slowly nodded.
‘How nice.’ He looked like an obedient child when he nodded. I unconsciously felt the urge to stroke his hair, as if to praise him, but hastily pulled my hand back before I did.
“Oh, why are you here at the banquet?” I asked.
“Because of work,” he responded quietly.
Well, this made sense. It wasn’t uncommon for nobles to hire mercenaries as security guards for banquets. I briefly wondered if he was overqualified to work as a temporary guard, but that wasn’t as big of a problem as his appearance, which was very unusual for a commoner.
“If nobles speak to you, you must respond formally. Okay?” I said, making sure he understood to ease my worries.
He sighed. “Alright.”
Despite his affirmation, I knew how ignorant of the world he was, as well as arrogant, so I stretched out my pinky finger. “Promise me.”
He frowned in response, then sighed and gently hooked his pinky finger around mine. After stamping our thumbs together, he pulled back his hand and spoke with an irritated tone. “By the way, why did your partner leave you alone, making you look like someone who was abandoned?
‘Hm, I guess I probably looked like that.’ The terrace was a place where guests could, in a positive light, take a break. It was also, in a negative light, a place where people could escape if they were left out or unable to acclimate themselves. With my partner being a certain someone, I wasn’t in a situation where I could enjoy the banquet.
“My father is in the banquet hall…”
He stared at me with amazement when I mentioned my father. “What? Didn’t you decide to partner with a relative?”
“Well, it ended up being my father.”
He frowned in response and stared at me. “Have you danced yet?”
I sighed. “If someone asked me to dance, would I be acting like someone who was abandoned, as you said?”
As soon as I finished speaking, he snickered. ‘Yeah, he probably thinks this is funny.’ In the past, people often asked me to dance out of reverence for my status as a duke’s daughter. But oddly enough, I hadn’t received a dance request from a single person today.
‘Well, it’s probably karma for the life I’ve been living until now.’ I was lost in my thoughts when a hand extended towards me. I looked at my father’s disciple, who wore a serious expression with his outstretched, unwavering hand in the air.
“Why are you extending your hand?” I asked.
He slightly frowned. “Don’t you understand? I’m asking you to dance with me.”
“You know how to dance?” I asked with surprise. “My goodness.”
He nodded in response. “You should be honored. I don’t dance with just anyone,” he said proudly.
I was a bit worried that he might step on my feet, but I couldn’t refuse someone who seemed so eager and decided to be generous. I took his outstretched hand. “Yes, it would be an honor to dance with you.”
At that moment, I wondered if my eyes were playing tricks on me. For a second, he looked like an arrogant prince with a smile filled with confidence, which was quite unusual. ‘His face is really handsome.’ I was staring at him, almost as if I was possessed when he raised my hand.
“Then, let’s start.”
The orchestra echoing across the banquet hall could also be heard at the terrace. ‘I should take the lead, right?’ I moved slowly, trying to be considerate toward him, a beginner. To my surprise, he began to lead me.
‘Huh?’ His steps were too skilled for a beginner; even his guidance was perfect without any faults. It was as if he had practiced dancing many times. ‘How?’ I stared at him, dumbfounded.
Perhaps it was because I wasn’t concentrating on my steps, despite wearing high heels, but I missed a step and almost fell.
“You aren’t paying attention,” he scolded.
In no time, his red eyes got closer while he hugged my waist tightly. I became flustered and tried to get out of his arms.
“Is your ankle okay?” he asked. Although he spoke brusquely, his words showed that he was worried about me. I felt strange for some reason.
“Ah, it’s okay. Now…”
I tried to distance myself, but he suddenly lifted me, bridal style. ‘Wait, what is he doing!’ As I was taken aback by his unexpected actions, he sat me on a nearby bench and applied something to my ankle. The cool sensation reminded me of a pain relief patch.
When I looked at him in amazement, he lowered his head. “You’re lucky I brought this ointment… If I didn’t, what would you have done?” he complained.
‘Does he carry around household medicine because he’s a mercenary?’ I stole a glance at him.
“Thank you,” I said.
He lowered his head further down in response, seeming to become irritated. “There’s no need to say thank you. Just don’t get hurt.”
I caught sight of a leaf on top of his head. ‘I should take it down for him.’
“It’s done n—”
At that moment, he raised his head slightly. I became embarrassed because it seemed like I was trying to stroke his hair.
He took my hand. “What are you…”
‘Oh, did I make him mad?’ His face had turned slightly red, so he must’ve been angry at me. I was about to apologize when I suddenly heard a voice.
“What the h*ll are you doing?”
I turned towards the entrance of the terrace, where my father was staring at us with a terrifying expression.
You are required to login first