“Good. Should we call over big sis Pink too? Let’s do that. Gerrit, it is okay to come up close and play.”
Christelle, who was standing near the pond, quietly chuckled while looking at Prince Jesse.
Although he himself probably did not think this way, he truly resembled a prince that could be seen in a fairy tale.
The way he lovingly talked to the child and the animal just now gave him that kind of air. His tragic backstory also contributed.
Seeing him be so warm toward everyone despite his own sorrows made her think that he was mysterious at times.
How could he smile like that?
“Dame Sarnez, Tithé is looking for you.”
“Yes, your highness, I am coming.”
Christelle gave a quick response and approached the Prince.
She could feel the warmth of his ether.
Her already happy feelings became even happier.
She recalled how this ether had made her curious about this man half a year ago.
Even back then, the Prince had been magnanimous and nice to everyone.
Rather than treating her as weird for not acting or talking like a noble, he just accepted her as she was.
He was shocked but did not push her away; he might have been in dismay but he did not hate her.
That was why it could not be helped.
It couldn’t be helped that she liked him as a person and considered him to be her friend.
“Let’s see, should big sis freeze some water for you? You like ice, don’t you Tithé?”
The harp seal energetically responded. Christelle extended her hand toward one side of the pond.
There was a short but deep crack before a white sheet of ice was formed.
The water attribute divine beast became excited and dove down into the water before quickly moving to and getting on top of the ice.
Eva, who had also come after they finished their dance lesson, was holding the hems of her dress, not knowing what to do.
She wanted to help but did not know if she could do so.
“He’s adjusting well. That’s a relief.”
“Yes, Your highness. It is because you are taking care of him so well.”
“It is thanks to everybody lending a hand. I heard that they used to keep a gold carp in here. But then, her Eminence……”
The Prince continued to speak in a voice that was nice to hear.
He was talking about how many people were working hard for Tithé and how thankful he was to them.
His purple eyes sparkled beautifully as the autumn sun shined down on him.
Christelle had met a lot of people since transmigrating here, but she had not seen anybody else with eyes like his.
As the Bishops mentioned, it would be difficult to see eyes like this again in this life.
“Demy and Rhea like Tithé quite a bit. Perry is still a bit shy though……”
However, Christelle would not have been able to take her eyes off of the Prince even if his eyes were a common color.
Jesse Venetiaan was the person here who shined the brightest and liveliest.
She still didn’t know whether this was simply because of psychological factors or if he actually had something special about him.
Nonetheless, the truth she had learned while spending six months here was that the more colorful and vibrant a person was, the more ‘important’ the role they had in this world.
At first, it made her dizzy because she didn’t know the standards for that.
She even thought that she had transmigrated into a body with eye issues.
It was a reasonable hypothesis because Christelle de Sarnez had been ill for three years.
Her parents, Duke Sarnez and his wife, had a regular sharpness to them, while the prince of the enemy nation who had no relation to her seemed brighter than anybody else.
It was odd but entertaining.
However, everything fell into place if she factored in one variable.
“So if it isn’t too disrespectful of me to ask…… I would like to know who you are attending the Masquerade with, Dame Sarnez.”
Christelle snapped out of her thoughts.
At some point, the conversation had changed to the Masquerade at the Blanquer Duchy.
The Prince was looking at her with an expression full of expectation.
Benjamin happened to bring cushions for the two of them at that time.
“Thank you very much.”
The two of them thanked him at the same time.
Attendants leisurely walked back and forth with towels in their hands.
Christelle sat down on a silk mat that was elegantly decorated with embroidery and tilted her head.
“I’m not very sure. To be honest with you, your highness, I was planning on asking you to be my partner……”
“I’m scheduled to go as young lady Eva’s partner.”
He responded in an overly imposing tone.
Eva, who had approached them, paid closer attention to their conversation.
The Prince moved off the mat as if it was the right thing to do, and the young Duchess’s lips twitched as she sat down on the cushion.
She seemed quite cute and happy about being treated as a little sister.
“Yes, your highness, so I even considered asking my instructor to go with me.”
Christelle looked toward the Geens father and son duo who were playing in the water with Tithé as she spoke.
Thanks to the example that was Johann Geens, she learned that her ‘eye issue’ was a standard of judgment.
The air attribute Holy Knight had been decently sharp the day she met him, but he had grown sharper since then.
He became ‘certain’ after the day he tried to assassinate the Prince.
This probably sounds crazy, but that was the only way she could explain it.
It was difficult to explain how someone’s presence could become thicker and livelier in a different way.
Christelle continued to speak.
“But my instructor said that he was going as your guard, your highness. I was told that he would not be dancing.”
The Prince seemed relieved.
Christelle looked toward Ganael, who was brewing tea for the Prince.
“Future hubby here is going with Vice Captain Élisabeth.”
“Yes, Ganael is also making his Beau Monde debut at this Masquerade. His partner has to be his fiancee.”
The Prince sternly responded while the young attendant was opening and closing his mouth without being able to say anything in shock.
He seemed a bit defensive.
“Of course. Now I am debating whether I should ask Benjamin-nim.”
The Prince put on a concerned look after hearing that.
She smiled and looked toward the large couch next to the pool.
To be more specific, she was looking at the young man sitting there in the shade, looking through documents.
Cédric Riester. The man with a memorable middle name.
He was the other person, besides the Prince, who was the sharpest and brightest in her eyes.
She felt the most alive when she was by the two of their sides.
She even felt oddly cathartic after having a serious spar with the Imperial Crown Prince.
However, this guy was the complete opposite of the Prince in all aspects.
His fire attribute ether always scratched at her and made her use her power in negative ways.
She also didn’t like how the crown prince’s emotions were transferred to her at times as well.
For example, she was confused about what to do while he was releasing this emotion of fear these last few days.
‘What are you so scared of?’
At that moment, his orange-colored eyes moved away from the paper and looked toward her.
His condition became decently better after sleeping for about an hour in the library.
He still had a slight fever, and his complexion wasn’t the same as usual, but he seemed like he should be completely healed by Monday with the Prince’s help.
The problem was…
“What is it?”
Christelle mumbled quietly so that only she could hear.
It was because the crown prince immediately scowled after making eye contact with her.
‘Hey, is it my fault that you’re scared? Learn to hide it if you don’t want others to notice it. Damn beanpole is over 190 cm tall but acts like a big baby.’
“Please take a look at this, Dame Sarnez. These are street foods David bought from outside the Imperial Palace. Apparently, he is a regular there.”
“David-nim’s been spending a lot more money lately!”
“Did you receive a bonus, David-nim?”
The Prince, Ganael, and Eva commented one after the other.
The crown prince’s Chief Attendant was humbly giving out some snack gifts.
He then said that they could eat it without worry as they had already been tested for poison.
The Prince handed Christelle a fork and a bag with food. The affectionate smile on his face was just extra.
“It smells spicy. I think you will like it.”
Just as he said, the still-hot Merguez was giving off a rich scent of spices.
The Parmesan truffle fries with it looked delicious as well.
The Prince was busy as Christelle thanked David for the meal.
He asked Gerrit twice if he could eat spicy food, dried the wet Percy with a towel, and even made sure that Eva had a napkin.
He only started eating once Ganael ate half a sausage.
He looked happy despite personally doing the task of an attendant.
“It looks extremely delicious. Thank you very much, David.”
“Your highness, you basically paid for half of it. Please enjoy.”
It was not awkward to think of this good-natured and warm person as the main character of this place.
In fact, thinking that way made everything fall into place like the pieces of a puzzle.
It was easier to judge things not with herself at the center but with the Prince at the center.
People who influenced him a lot or had an important role by his side made him seem clearer and refreshing to Christelle.
She still didn’t know where this was.
Her mind was frequently chaotic about what she should do and how she should live.
However, one thing was clear.
If the Prince was the ‘hero’ of this world and someone was indirectly telling her about it……
“My hand is not stopping. I feel like I can eat two bags.”
“Lies. You’ll probably eat three bags, your highness.”
She wanted to protect him. Him and everything he likes.
She made eye contact with the sun-like eyes on the other side of the pond again.
This time, Christelle looked at the crown prince as if she was going to freeze him.
It was a short staring contest that happened while the Prince and his friends did not notice.
She didn’t like how he was acting weak like this.
If he was a Holy Knight who would protect her one and only priest with her, he needed to get stronger than right now.
Today’s schedule was packed despite it being Sunday.
It was because the Imperial family allowed guests from outside to enter Juliette Palace in limited amounts ever since I became a Marquis.
Eva, who came in the morning to visit, was walking all around as if she owned the place.
The young Duchess gasped after seeing Spice on the reception room’s mantle and was in pain after stubbing a toe against a piece of furniture but controlled her expression like a proper young Duchess. (TL Note: Spice is the red pig sculpture Christelle named back in Ch 119)
Christelle, who came with her, complimented her for being all grown up now.
“This masquerade is different from a normal masked ball. The Blanquer Duchy is famous for its colorful and extravagant masked dances. It is a precious celebration where only invited guests and their partners can enter. It has not taken place since the previous Duke passed away, but it will be different starting this year.”
Eva proclaimed while standing at the center of the reception room.
Her head was proudly standing firm and her hands were on her hips.
“And the flower of the Masquerade is naturally the mask.”
I looked up while trying to gather the red pandas that were roaming around her.
“Isn’t it fine as long as your face is not showing?”
The young Duchess became upset and shouted. She then urgently covered her mouth after remembering that I was a prince.
Christelle, who had been listening attentively on the couch, mumbled, ‘wow, cidre.’
The attendants in the room bit down on their lips. The divine beasts in my arms stuck their tongues out, looking entertained.
‘……Are you saying that this is a cidre, or sprite proclamation? And the family here at Juliette Palace know its meaning as well?’
“M, my apologies, your highness. However, I called you an idiot because you said something idiotic. The reason I felt that way is because……”
“That’s okay. I must have said something stupid.”
I smiled bitterly and responded. Eva immediately said that I was right.
She then brought her sparkling brown eyes right in front of my face.
“I will officially become the young Duchess that day and you are coming as the partner of the young Duchess, your highness. That is why your mask has to be the most beautiful and coolest one there. A half-hearted mask is as bad as not having a mask at all.”
“Please don’t worry. I have already planned for all of this. Nobody will be able to recognize you, your highness. You just need to tell me your sizes.”
That was a relief. I had no confidence in choosing clothes or accessorizing myself.
My brother and Eunseo often chose my outfits for work, and I’ve been relying completely on the attendants’ advice these days as well.
Eva’s help was reliable.
“I diligently read the < Biweekly Riester > as well, your highness. Since you are quite famous in the Imperial Capital these days as the representation of an angel,”
“Cough! Cough cough!”
I choked because what I heard was so shocking. I kept my mouth buried in my elbow as I looked at Eva.
‘No way, right?’
– Knock knock.
Someone knocked on the door at that moment.
I wondered if Benjamin was already here with the refreshments but it was an empty-handed Ganael.
The boy spoke in a serious voice.
“Your highness, they are urgently looking for you in Romero Palace.”
Christelle and I quickly made eye contact.
There was only one reason the crown prince would come to find him on the weekend.
We were supposed to see him in the evening after lunch, so I thought that his condition must have gotten worse for him to call me over immediately.
Eva,who had no idea about the situation, blinked in confusion. I put the red pandas down and bowed toward her.
The shocked young Duchess quickly responded.
It took less than ten seconds for Christelle and I to walk out the door.
“We will have to make our leave for a moment, Eva. Please eat first if you get hungry.”
“Will you take long, Your highness?”
I awkwardly smiled.
“My partner is an idiot as well, so I don’t know how things will go. I will send an attendant if it feels like it will go late.”