Author: alyalia

The day of the imperial banquet came.

 

Layla was very sensitive and restless. The invitation for the imperial banquet arrived only five days before, but Layla couldn’t find a new dress in the end.  Madam looked at the pale-faced Layla with pity for a moment, then she looked away.

 

Layla’s eyes were fixed on Arianne. Arianne in Gaveniel’s new dress was unbearably beautiful.

 

By comparison, I… Layla looked down at her fully dressed self. It was a colorful and gorgeous dress, but it had already been shown in front of people.

 

If I go like this, what will my friends say… It was natural for Layla to be worried about this. Because that was something she usually did. She would always point out when someone showed up wearing the dress that had been worn before.

 

“Oh my! Lady, isn’t that the dress you wore last time? Oh my gosh…”

 

She was often sarcastic, asking if they were poor enough to buy a new dress. Because the only thing she knew was to elevate herself by taking down the others in that way.

 

‘If I show up wearing the dress I wore before, how will they react…?’

 

What more, this time the news of the engagement between Charter and Arianne already spread. She had been openly saying that she would become the Duchess Kaien, so she was afraid of how her acquaintances who heard the news would react to her.

 

Maybe they will charge me. Because they have always been jealous of me. 

 

In fact, rather than jealousy, they showed their dislike for Layla’s arrogant attitude, but as usual, Layla interpreted it to her own convenience.

 

No matter how she thought about it, she couldn’t see anything good about today’s banquet.

 

Should I just not go? No, never. She couldn’t remain like a loser who once they collapsed, they couldn’t be recovered. 

 

It’s all because of that woman!

 

Layla glared at Arianne. After all, she thought that Arianne was the root of all these problems.

 

Charter was silent. The cold aura blooming from him kept the servants from a distance and only looking around.

 

“Why does our Master feel down?”

 

“I don’t know. Maybe it’s because it’s been not long since the imperial banquet and he has to go there again?”

 

Was that really the reason?

 

“Charter, I see you now. What did you do all day yesterday?”

 

“…I’ve been busy.”

 

I see. But why is he avoiding my eyes?

 

It was top secret that Charter fell asleep after a sip of beer. I quietly called Sebastian and ordered him to move Charter to his room. Of course, I wiped off his nosebleeds before doing that.

 

There was no way Charter, who had already lost consciousness, could have remembered that he had been beaten by me and had a nosebleed. If so, is he just embarrassed to show his weakness for alcohol?

 

So cute.

 

“How do I look?” I asked him, raising the hem of my dress and turning around.

 

Charter then said as she looked at me, in a wide, hollow sky-blue dress that revealed my collarbone.

 

“Beautiful.”

 

In his eyes, Arianne was dazzlingly beautiful with her bright silver hair shimmering in the light, and the sky blue chiffon dress.

 

“Thank you, Charter. You look great today too.”

 

Charter’s hardened face softened a little.

 

There was a spark in Layla’s eyes when she saw them. What are you doing in front of me now? Are you treating me like some furniture?

 

Layla gripped only the innocent fan to calm her anger. It was not until the madam finished dressing up, they were able to get on the carriage going to the Imperial Palace.

 

* * *

 

The glossy black carriage of Duke Kaien stopped in front of the detached palace where the imperial banquet was held. The carriage’s door opened, and after Charter grabbed and escorted her mother, he escorted Arianne to who came down after that.

 

“Thank you.”

 

“It’s nothing.”

 

Still, maybe because it was his second time, his fingertips didn’t tremble like the first time.

 

Later, Layla reached out her hand, but Charter neatly ignored it and headed to the ballroom, holding my hand. Layla’s hand trembled in the air. She, who struggled to manage her expression, lifted her head and followed us.

 

“Madam Kaien is entering.”

 

“Duke Kaien and Lady Arianne are entering.”

 

“Lady Layla is entering.”

 

People’s attention was focused on the sound of announcement from the entrance. Soon after, murmurs were heard from all directions. I could tell without listening.

 

They are probably talking about me.

 

Last time, the flies swarmed me because I was alone, but now I came with Charter. Thanks to this, everyone looked at me and whispered, but no once came closer. When I looked at Charter, he didn’t seem to care about other people’s gazes or murmurs.

 

“People only look at us.”

 

“Does it bother you?”

 

“No.”

 

They were only gossiping and posing no threat. So it didn’t bother me. Madam Kaien, who was watching from the side, called me.

 

“Arianne. I’ll introduce you to my acquaintances. Shall we go together?”

 

“Thank you, Mother.”

 

I was willing to join in the care of madam. Madam approached her acquaintances and introduced me.

 

“Long time no see, Lady Roderein, Lady Creiden. This is my son’s fiancée, Arianne.”

 

“Nice to meet you. What a beautiful lady. I’m the wife of Marquis Roderein.”

 

“Nice to meet you. She’s so lovely. I’m the mother of Count Creiden.”

 

“It’s an honor to meet you. My name is Arianne Bornes.”

 

In line with the upright madam’s character, her acquaintances were also polite. They must have had a lot of questions, but they didn’t say anything that would offend me. Thanks to this, I was able to relax and participate in the conversation.

 

Charter didn’t take his eyes off Arianne. One by one, she captured the appearance of her smiling and greeting his mother’s acquaintances. She looked so natural, without any sign of shyness or nervousness.

 

At a time like this, she looks like an experienced noble lady. She looked like the usual lady who was pure and innocent, like a child. Still, at other times she wildly beat up the thugs, and now she behaved like an experienced noble lady.  Really. She’s a strange lady.

 

No intention was felt in her actions, but Charter had to be suspicious. Arianne’s expressions and actions looked innocent, but her deeds were not like an ordinary noble lady.

 

Charter himself was even shaken by her innocence and eccentricity. That’s right to the point he drinks alcohol that he can’t drink. But this time, he had to protect the second prince, and in case she approached the second prince with the impure purpose… He had to cut off anything that would be a danger to his close friend. Whatever he felt, the most important things were for the well-being of the Empire. He just hoped she didn’t approach him with the impure purpose.

 

Losing you… is something I don’t want to happen. Charter thought like that as he looked at Arianne smiling from afar.

 

* * *

 

Layla was offended by the feeling that she had become invisible. Is everyone looking at that woman?

 

From the moment she entered the ballroom, everyone’s eyes were fixed on Charter and Arianne. Not a single person looked at her. Her acquaintances, the men who had shown her a favor, were only looking at them at this moment.

 

Lalya was unhappy with this situation where she didn’t get the attention. She rather preferred to be criticized than treated like an invisible person.

 

She shoved her through the crowd and approached her acquaintances.

 

“Nice to see you all. What are you looking at?”

 

Don’t look there, look at me.

 

Layla spoke to them, but her acquaintances still whispered among themselves and didn’t accept Layla’s greeting. Layla’s anxiety took her over.

 

“Lady Dalia, can’t you hear me?”

 

At her sharp words, Dalia turned her head and talked as if she was annoyed, “Oh my, Lady Layla. I didn’t know you were coming.”

 

She didn’t know I was coming?

 

“Is there any reason why I can’t come? But isn’t it rude to turn your back on a person?”

 

At Layla’s words, the woman named Dalia turned her body and said, “I’m sorry, Lady Layla. We hang out with people of the right level. You better stop… and find someone who fits your level.”

 

Dalia, who said so, immediately turned her back and began whispering again with her group.

 

“I guess she still thinks she can be the duchess. Why are you trying to fit in the subject of country bumpkin?”

 

“I know, right. I hate seeing her being arrogant, but she deserved this situation.”

 

Even though they knew Layla was listening, they talked openly.

 

Dalia was the daughter of Count Praud. She was the one who always comforted Layla. In the end, she was just using her to get the attention of Duke Kaien. Still, Layla was no longer worthy of her use, so she immediately changed her attitude. Until recently, they were the ones who said she was right even though she was actually wrong. But when they heard the news of Charter’s engagement, they instantly changed their attitude.

 

In the end, the social world was all about power. Layla was well aware of that. All she could offer was her pretty looks and her relationship with the Duke Kaien family. But appearance alone had its limits. And there were many ladies as pretty as her. She was nothing more than the daughter of a country bumpkin.

 

Power and wealth were more important than appearance. That was why she wanted to be their family desperately. When Charter announced he wouldn’t get married, she thought it was rather good.

 

In the end, Charter would have no choice but to get married as his mother told him because of the issue of the heir. She didn’t doubt that if she held out until then, the duchess position would be her. And before she married him, she knew she could use the position of the duchess-to-be, so she thought the whole situation was in her favor.

 

But because of Arianne. With that woman’s appearance, everything changed. Now, all that remained of Layla was accusation and contempt. Those who called them as friends were only together due to each other’s purpose. Now Layla was nothing but useless to them.

 

She felt resentful and shameful. I shouldn’t have come. It felt like everything she had built up was collapsed to the bottom. She couldn’t stay here any longer. As she was about to leave in a hurry, the woman standing next to Dalia talked.

 

“Ah, Lady Layla. That dress… I think I saw it last time, didn’t I? I guess your family is screwed. Seeing that you don’t even have the money to buy a dress. Upss.”

 

“…”

 

Layla’s face flushed red. There was no room for refutation. Tears welled up, but she could never shed tears in front of them. She clenched her teeth and left.

 

I was watching Layla leave the ballroom in disgrace. Tsk. After all, they are women.

 

Shortly after Layla left, the servant announced the arrival of the Imperial family.

 

“Your Majesty the Emperor and Your Majesty the Empress are entering.”

 

“Your Highness the Crown Prince, and Your Highness the Crown Princess are entering.”

 

“Your Highness Prince Ruiden is entering.”

 

It was my first time seeing the faces of Imperial family members. I stared at them. The emperor and empress passed by, and the arrogant-faced crown prince and crown princess passed by. And at the end.

 

Is that person the second prince?

 

While looking at Prince Ruiden, his eyes and my eyes met. For a moment, I saw his eyes widen slightly and then shrink again.

 

Blond hair and blue eyes… He’s the complete opposite image of Charter. At the first glance, the second prince seemed to be smiling, but who cares.

 

The emperor stepped up to the front and said, “I’m glad that everyone was able to attend despite the sudden invitation. Then, let’s take a look at the distinguished guests of this banquet. I want you to welcome Prince Paku of the Kelteman Empire.”

 

At the end of the emperor’s words, the door to the entrance of the ballroom opened and three men entered. By the way… the appearance of the man in front looked familiar.

 

But… the description of the man in the front looked familiar. Gray hair with golden eyes? No, yellow…

 

The gaze of the man who was walking towards the emperor turned to me. I made eye contact with him. 

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