The maid sighed as she recalled last night’s events. “What if your thoughtless remarks heighten Princess Erna’s expectations? Would you take responsibility if she’s startled by the revelation of who exactly she’s going to marry at the wedding hall?”
Hearing this, the maid who had lied to Erna, smiled contemptuously. “What expectations? What expectation could she possibly have towards her marriage as a royal family member? Besides, wouldn’t it be too brazen of her to expect a good match? If it were me in her shoes, I’d relinquish such thoughts as soon as I see myself in the mirror.”
“Shush, stop talking,” warned the other maid.
“What? I’m not wrong. Even you sighed while seeing her put on that wedding dress. To be honest, I feel sorry for the Aether Kingdom’s prince who’d be marrying her. The Kingdom of Haband has numerous beautiful princesses and yet, he would have to marry this one…”
“Stop talking before we get into trouble; let’s get in quickly.”
The two maids ceased their chat and returned to their room.
After a while, Erna emerged from her room when the Hessenguard officials informed her that it was time to move to the ceremonial hall. Several maids and knights were stationed around her in several layers, moving in tandem with her to intercept any uncertain risk in the wedding hall. Due to this, Erna could not see other people’s faces properly at the ceremonial hall.
As the bride, Erna lacked any confidence in her appearance. She wanted to shrink to nothingness. As she moved, she felt the stares of the people. She knew not a single soul in the hall was content with her, and this made her want to disappear even more. The mocking words of her maids kept haunting her in her head. ‘How could she hope for her partner to be a good match?’ ‘Princess really needs a mirror.’ However depressing it was, Erna had no other choice but to agree with them. She hated the tight wedding dress that clung desperately to her body. If the dress had been a little loose, she could have probably covered more of herself.
When she arrived at the ceremony, an elderly woman was standing on the podium. The maids led Erna to her.
“Welcome, Miss Erna.”
The woman was a stranger to her. Yet, she was very amiable with her greeting. The notion was rather absurd, considering that a stranger would be more courteous and considerate than the maids from her own kingdom, Haband.
“I couldn’t greet you yesterday due to various security issues. I am Vanessa, the Chairman of the Hessenguard Council.”
Her introduction made Erna flinch a little. She was one of the people of Hessenguard. Shouldn’t she be hostile towards me? she wondered. It was said that the royal family of Haband shared their blood with the Grand Dukes of Hessenguard, but weren’t considered to be an immediate bloodline. For the people of Hessenguard, the Kingdom of Haband would be nothing more than a conqueror. Their acceptance of Haband was solely due to the lack of successors to inherit the Duchy and to finally put an end to the long waging war on the lands of Hessenguard.
The Council of Hessenguard had as much power as the Grand Duke. She had heard that even if the final decision was made by the Grand Duke, it was the Council that did the actual work. So at the moment, with the absence of a Grand Duke, the Chairman of the Council was the most powerful person here.
Why was such a person welcoming a supposed conqueror so well?
A loud voice came from behind which startled her.
“Prince Kalion of the Aether Kingdom is here!”
At the announcement, Erna turned her head. Her eyes fell on the boy who was surrounded by the knights. Her eyes widened in surprise. At a glance, Erna had assumed that the knights of the Aether Kingdom were carrying a corpse. She wasn’t the only one who had such thoughts.
The knights and maids from Haband who were standing nearby couldn’t help but sigh. The knights of Aether Kingdom avoided their eyes as if they were ashamed of the person they brought.
Erna’s eyes were affixed on the boy who had come with the support of two knights.
He had a sickly countenance and dark complexion. With hollow eyes, slim cheeks and a bony wrist, he resembled a man who teetered at the brink of death from starvation. Due to his sickly physique, it was hard for the boy to support himself. He hobbled towards the podium with the help of the knights.
Even though his appearance was completely different from what the maid described, Erna couldn’t take her eyes off him because of his gleaming eyes. Unlike his weak-looking body, his dark blue orbs were piercingly sharp. His eyes looked around the ceremonial hall like a beast exploring a new territory. Soon they met Erna’s gaze, who was looking at him in surprise.