Chapter 34 - Viscount Garth’s Banquet
She quickly glanced at her surroundings and darted to the entrance as soon as her eyes landed on it. The doors were very far away, as she had made her way deep into the banquet hall earlier. Agares, who had been smiling faintly as he trailed after her, stopped. “Isa…”
Isabel’s pace quickened when she realized he was trying to call her name. Her body shook as she glanced backwards. Agares was surrounded by too many people and could no longer move forward. Standing at the outskirts of the crowd were Lilith and Allen. Lilith had not yet discovered Isabel’s presence, but she surely would if the Grand Duke were allowed to approach her.
Isabel paled at the thought and ran from the banquet hall. She thought she heard him call her name again, but she continued to flee anyway. ‘What is it? Why? Why are you calling me? Are you really calling me? Did you really mean to approach me?’
Impossible. Nevertheless, Isabel was petrified at the thought. She fled. The mass of people surrounding Agares moved with each step he took, and their gazes followed wherever he looked.
Isabel was scared. Although no one knew who she was, if Agares were to approach her and speak to her, then she would be placed in the spotlight. She ran and ran until she felt like she could no longer breathe. Only then did she stop. Though her heels were not very high, running in heels was difficult no matter the height. Her feet ached.
When she finally calmed down, she found herself in a garden. The garden was carefully partitioned and filled with lights, making for a breathtakingly beautiful scene—like a sky full of comets.
Now that she had space to collect herself, she realized that returning to the baron’s house was her best option. Given the risks, she could not muster up the courage to go back to the banquet hall. Even though he was not able to approach her before, there was no guarantee he would not try again if given the chance.
Unfortunately, Isabel had not thought that when Agares had said he would see her tomorrow at the banquet, he really meant for them to meet and stay close with one another. Today’s incident was an unforeseen calamity for her, like a bolt out of the blue. To top it all off, her half-siblings had also been present.
Her feet ached to the point where she thought she could not walk anymore, so she stopped. Isabel had dashed to the main road in her haste to escape like she was being chased. As she reached the quiet, deserted street, Isabel panted in relief.
‘I have to go back.’ Isabel limped as she thought about returning to the baron’s house, her legs sore. She stopped again. Myriad lights beyond the main road caught Isabel’s gaze. Against the darkness, they shimmered like stars in the night sky. In each of those lights lived a family: a father, mother, older brother, older sister, younger siblings, and perhaps even grandparents.
Isabel stopped in her tracks. Thinking about it, even if she ran away, she had nowhere to go back to. Go back? Where was she going back to? She had no one waiting for her, and no place to stay. There was nothing in this world that belonged to Isabel.
Why was she suddenly feeling like this?
She could not understand why this feeling of loneliness began to gnaw at her. Despite the circumstances, her life was currently the stablest it had ever been, yet she could hardly fathom the reason for her emptiness. In a way, she even felt a bit forlorn. Just a little.
* * *
Isabel limped along the main road until she finally caught a carriage heading to the carriage depot and managed to make her way back to the barony. She had almost stumbled the moment she alighted from the wagon, but she managed to retain her balance. Instead of entering through the front door, she used the rear entrance reserved for housekeepers since it was closer to her room and easier for her to pass through. The baron and his family did not forbid her from using the front door, but they hated when she did, so using the back entrance became a natural solution.
The path to the garden was paved with stones, so Isabel removed her shoes. Her feet met soft earth. The interior of the mansion was quiet, but the lights were still on. They were probably waiting for Lilith to return from the banquet.
This place was Lilith’s home, not Isabel’s. She had no family here.
“…Ouch.” Isabel put her hand over her chest as her heart throbbed in pain, but the pain quickly subsided. “What was that?”
Upon arriving in her room, she checked her feet. Her legs were swollen and blistered. After changing into her dressing gown, Isabel fetched some water for herself and washed her feet. She wanted to take a bath, but if she were to ask for a bath at such a late hour, then not only would the maids hate her for it but the baroness would be furious, too. Instead, she simply fetched more water and used a wet towel to wipe her body. Though it was a simple action, her body felt much better. Her feet, however, continued to ache unbearably despite her fluffy slippers.
Isabel lay on her bed. She was tired, but sleep did not welcome her. A small commotion erupted upon Lilith’s return to the mansion. That’s what it must be like to have family waiting for their beloved to return, Isabel thought.
A while later, Isabel was finally about to drift off to sleep, but the door to her chamber was opened without a knock. Isabel felt the sleep leave her body as she sat up in surprise. Standing at the doorway was the baroness, Ghyria.