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Translated by Wook
Edited by Iris Sakura
On her way back, Rosaline stopped by Ricardis’ room once more. It was a situation where her sword could not be lifted, but enemies were all over the place. Her vigilance grew stronger without delay.
“Excuse me, Your Highness.”
Rosaline pushed the door open and entered. Ricardis had just taken off his top and even his bottoms. The senior knights and Isserion, who were together in the room, stiffened at Rosaline’s surprise entrance. Ricardis’ expression grew wild. He gritted his teeth as if he was chewing on each word.
Rosaline looked around the room, not paying attention, checking every nook and cranny for anything unusual, making the senior knights inside the room scared to death. Ricardis stood still, holding on to his pants, which hung around his pelvis. and could not raise or lower them. As soon as Rosaline bowed out after the long tour, Ricardis threw his clothes down. ‘Seriously, that knight, I… Seriously…”
She went back to her room, but Macaron was nowhere to be seen. She looked under the bed, under the blanket, on the window sill, in the glass of water, and so on looking for the gray mouse. Not even a trace could be seen. The mouse had left the room to inspect the ferocious magic that had enveloped the palace hours before Rosaline had left the room, but it hadn’t come back even as the sun had set. Rosaline decided to go out and find Macaron.
The people currently escorting Ricardis were senior knights with excellent skills. Moreover, due to the unique location of the royal palace of Balta, the number of escorts had increased to its normal size. Rosaline was able to leave Ricardis’ side for a while with peace of mind.
She looked around for a while in the hallway but found only a few cats living in the palace. They were cats that seemed to like little gray mice. She started to feel anxious. Rosaline hurried her steps out of the palace where the delegation was staying.
It was a flower garden. The beautiful space was hidden by the veil of the night but would shine in many colors when it received sunlight. The smell of flowers and grass was different from that of Illavenia. She unwittingly moved her nose, sniffed the air, and then quickly recalled her purpose. This was not the time to be doing this.
In a quiet flower garden in the middle of the night. An enemy knight desperately wanting macarons. If anyone had seen it, they would have thought it was quite a strange situation. She wandered around for a while. At that moment, Rosaline’s sensitive ears picked up a rustling sound. Judging from the size of the sound, it was not a small animal. As the other party deliberately stepped on a tree branch to make their presence known, Rosaline noticed that the sound’s owner was a human.
A man came into her sight as she turned around. He was a man with the dark hair and copper skin characteristic of a Baltan. However, his appearance was exceedingly different from the stout Prime Minister Attilak she had seen during the day. He was a tall, handsome man. In contrast to his round and soft eyes, his expression looked fierce, but it seemed to be because of his thick eyebrows and angular face shape. His clothes were similar to that of the prime minister but even more glamorous. They were also long enough that the hem dragged on the floor. The man grinned as Rosaline made eye contact with him. Before Rosaline realized it, he had strode over with his long legs and had arrived in front of her.
“You have beautiful dark hair.”
The hair of the man who spoke like that was also black. It was lighter in color than Rosaline’s hair, and it would look dark brown if exposed to light. Black hair wasn’t unusual in Illavenia, but it wasn’t a common color either. Even within the Empire, she could hear the exclamation of ‘Wow, look at that black hair’ from time to time, so it should be considered rare from a Baltan’s point of view. The man couldn’t take his eyes off Rosaline’s dark hair. He seemed intrigued.
The man’s gaze drifted over her white uniform. The man found the embroidered pattern of the Knights of White Night and laughed.
“To think that it’s the prince’s knight… You’ve come a long way. That aside, what’s your name?”
What a smooth transition. She speculated that the man might be an influential high-ranking Baltan.
“I am Rosaline Radwiell.”
“It’s a good family name that sounds strong. It’s a pretty name.”
He was the first person who praised her in succession in such a short period since Calyx and Raymond. ‘Are you a good person?’ But strangely, her nerves were on edge. Rosaline’s instincts were wary of the man. The man softly smiled as if he had noticed Rosaline’s grim expression.
“I am the first son of Hiksala Adon, Haqab.”
It was a name that Rosaline knew. The 1st Prince of Balta. It was said he was like a serpent that took the place of the king of Balta, who was ill. Ricardis commented with a snarl, but even Calyx and Raymond gave a similar evaluation. He was also said to be a terrifying person who killed many people mercilessly.
Rosaline looked into the man’s eyes. It was more bizarre than scary. She had a feeling that he was a mysterious, unpredictable person. As she saw the prince smiling, Rosaline hurriedly woke up from her thoughts. She had been staring at his face the whole time before he told her that he was a prince. Had she been rude to him before he revealed he was a prince? Rosaline pondered deeply.
It didn’t seem like it at all! She breathed a sigh of relief inwardly.
“I see Balta’s first son.”
As Rosaline spoke and tried to bow her head, Haqab wrapped his arms around her shoulders, preventing her from moving. Rosaline lifted her eyes. Soon, Haqab’s cold lips pressed heavily against her cheeks. He slipped to the side and intentionally made a noise. In front of Rosaline’s nose, Haqab laughed.
“May the spirit of Hiksala Adon be with you.”
‘Oh, Raymond taught me before we left for Balta. In Balta, a person of high rank kisses a person of lower rank. The elder kisses the younger one first. Afterward, the recipient returns the kiss. It is widely used not only with close family but also with friends and in business relationships. They say even strangers kiss cheeks the first time they meet. However, in Illavenia, it is usually just a handshake or a wave for greetings.’
Rosaline lifted her eyes again. The official courtesy shown as a knight was not something shown to anyone other than the Imperial family of Illavenia, so she was going to keep quiet… But now, all her plans were shattered. ‘How should I greet him now? In Illavenia’s way? In Balta’s way?’ As Rosaline rolled her eyes and pondered, Haqab laughed. Then, as he brought his face closer to her, he gently told the ignorant Rosaline to reply in Balta’s style.
Rosaline pondered for a moment, then brought her face closer to him. Because Haqab was so tall, she stood on tiptoe and lightly touched his shoulder. Haqab bowed his body slightly to accommodate Rosaline. The man’s face was about to come closer.
Someone pulled her from behind. Rosaline’s lips fell without even brushing against Haqab’s skin. This ‘someone’ had Rosaline held tightly in his arms. Rosaline felt a man’s chest behind her back. It swelled up and down repeatedly as if it was jumping. A harsh breath rang in Rosaline’s ears. The man tightened his arms around Rosaline’s shoulders one more time before releasing her.
Rosaline turned her head slightly and looked back. She saw the 5th Prince Diech facing Haqab with a cold expression. Even though the journey of the delegation was arduous, he had never frowned even once. But at the moment, there was a wrinkle on his forehead. It was a different look from her memories of the first time they met, where he just smiled.
“Your joke is too much, Prince Haqab. Follow Balta’s custom of openness to the people of Illavenia? Wouldn’t Sir Rosaline be embarrassed?”
Although she didn’t know the difference between an open greeting and a closed greeting, Rosaline remained silent. Diech grabbed her arm and pulled her behind him.
“When you come to Balta, shouldn’t you follow Balta’s way, Prince Diech?”
“You’ve known me for years, and I’ve never heard you say this before…”
“Well, about that…”
As for exchanging conversation in a light tone, the atmosphere was bloody, as if two wild beasts were engaged in a mock battle just before they collided. She heard that they were close friends, but they didn’t seem friendly. Diech shoved Rosaline’s back.
“Brother is looking for you. Go in first, Sir Rosaline.”
“Yes, Your Highness.”
Behind Rosaline, as she was leaving, Haqab gave a smiling farewell.
“Let’s meet again, Rosaline.”
Rosaline bowed her head towards Haqab and left the garden. Somehow, she heard a lot of footsteps. Unlike before, where she could not find a single mouse, many people surrounded the flower garden. There were a few of Diech’s henchmen and many armed men with brown skin, who were probably with Haqab. She could feel the raging magic power within their bodies as well. It was a greater amount of magic than the guards she had seen during the day. Rosaline’s expression darkened. Her chest pounded uncomfortably.
In the dark of the night. In a small flower garden away from the palace and their people. Perhaps Diech and Haqab had promised to meet in advance at this place. She left the flower garden and slowly walked towards the palace. She heard two voices.
[You’re too sensitive.]
[Don’t flirt with knights from other countries. It will not look good.]
[She has dark hair that is deeper than the night. It’s beautiful. I never thought of white skin as pretty, but I think I understood the aesthetic consciousness of Illavenia for the first time today.]
[Stop making a fuss.]
The two men quarreled for a long time over an issue that didn’t seem so important. The sound got smaller and smaller. Over their dinner in the garden, Diech, who had asked for his favorite lamb dish, continued strangely.
[This is a message from Elpidio.]
Eyes were watching Rosaline around, so she had to keep walking. Diech and Haqab’s voices gradually became quieter. It was getting beyond the audible range.
Soon, her ears could only hear the chirping of grasshoppers.
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