Chapter 17 - Dances
No woman on this continent wore a dress with striking colors in their debutante. As such, their partners wore dull colors to match with them. It was an unspoken rule. The prince, however, appeared with a jacket with a very striking color. Although everyone knew what that meant, no one dared to speak aloud. Almost everyone in that room had connections with the duke’s family.
Cladis and Ella began walking down the stairs to a room filled with shock. Both of them pretended like nothing had happened as they walked to the center of the hall. Music began to play for the first dance. A dance in this situation? For the sake of formality, they needed to dance. Everyone moved out of the way for Cladis and Ella. They stood facing each other with a stern look and held each other’s hand after greeting each other with a perfect posture.
“You’ve become a woman. I can see why his majesty speaks so highly of you.”
Thanks to Ella’s efforts, Cladis’s plan was utterly destroyed. The reason his plan failed was that he didn’t think Ella would try so hard to become the perfect lady. The young fiancée he remembered was no longer there. Cladis smiled bitterly as he was reminded of his foolish plan. Even with his bitter smile and his compliment that had a hint of sarcasm with it, Ella continued to smile. Luciella will not be destroyed here. Luciella with her three years of training led the confused Ranhee perfectly along. Ranhee was now returning back to her senses and was facing her new reality. Following his lead, Ella took a step, spun, and returned back to him.
“I did my best so that you would be happy about it.”
“I apologize, but this doesn’t make me happy at all.”
He immediately regretted his words. In his confusion, he accidentally blurted the first words that came to his mind, but what was done was done. Cladis frowned a bit. He could barely maintain his cool in this situation. All he wanted to do was finish this dance and leave. He wanted to blame Ella for her calm demeanor. If only she didn’t have this level of maturity, his plan could have succeeded.
Ella’s fake smile was beginning to affect him. Cladis couldn’t smile. Ranhee interpreted Cladis words and actions using her own past experiences. It was apparent that Cladis didn’t love Ella. Instead, it appeared that he hated her.
Confusion struck Ella once more as she thought, ‘But why? When did things go wrong between us?’ The only change that Ranhee made since becoming Luciella was convincing Estinu the Magician to work for her family. Did he have some kind of connection to the prince? Ranhee tried to recall events from the novel, but she couldn’t connect Estinu to the prince. Estinu, a side character in the novel, caused a small ruckus in the duke’s family. Other than that, he wasn’t an important character in the story.
‘Then, what happened?’ There was only one thing that was for sure. Cladis wasn’t happy with her at all.
“I can surely see that,” replied Ella coldly.
Seeing Ella’s reaction, Cladis was deep into his own thoughts. A question that he had wanted to ask her appeared in his mind. ‘Come on. Ask her now. Maybe, I can ask her what her true intentions are.’
Cladis sensed disappointment and anger from Ella’s stern expression. It seemed like now was the best time to ask her. “Do you still want to be engaged to me?”
“What if I don’t?” whispered Ella, which caused Cladis’s expression to brighten for a second.
Ella almost let out an angry laugh. His reaction made her furious. She couldn’t believe it. This whole time she sacrificed her time and enjoyment for the sake of this damned prince. She could have enjoyed delicious foods instead of suffering from her diet regime. Ella felt like throwing up. She wanted to return this feeling of disgust to Cladis.
“But of course, we were ordered by his majesty to be engaged. Were we not?” whispered Ella in the sweetest voice.
Once more, Cladis frowned, which made Ella happy. Ella couldn’t hide her joy and laughed. People, who were watching from afar, were relieved to see the two of them looking so friendly with one another. None of the capital’s nobles wanted someone else to be the future crown princess instead of Ella. The only possible candidate to be the crown princess was Aileena, who belonged to Duke Drolin’s family. It would be a nightmare if she became the crown princess.
The Duffspe empire was historically known for its empress’s involvement with politics. History showed how much an empress could do to destroy a country. No one wanted history to repeat itself. There were many rumors that another lady from another family could have been chosen. But to them, either the lady of Drolin or the rumored lady seemed not much different. Just like the old saying ‘one devil knows another.’ Everyone knew that Ailenna was friends with that rumored lady. If Aileena or the rumored lady were to be chosen then it would be guaranteed that their families would have ties to the royal family. The Constance and the Tutchisen family who were close to the emperor’s family didn’t want that to happen. As a result, Ella was the best candidate.
Cladis maintained his stern look opposed to their hope. If it wasn’t for Ella’s fake smile, there would be news all over the empire that the crown prince decided to break the engagement. The furious duke or his sons would have been the ones to claim that it was true.
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