There had been times when Erna was shoved to the ground by her brothers or even kicked.
It was suitable to run away from the palace if she’d been confident in herself, but even after the bullying, she remained there. On top of that, she had eaten more and more.
She never cried after being tormented by her siblings. Instead, she had shoved the pieces of sweet bread that’d fallen to the floor as if those pieces were consoling her.
Then, one time while eating she locked gazes with Adelaide. Not saying a word, Erna stared blankly at her with envy. Then she picked something from her pocket and put it in her mouth.
Adelaide truly felt hatred from that action. Having returned to her room, Adelaide had told Mother what she’d seen without Erna’s knowledge. The third queen then approached Adelaide and rubbed her eyes and lips with a clean cloth as though she’d been touched by something filthy.
“Oh, Adelaide. My beautiful daughter. Don’t look at such a hideous thing; don’t even speak of her.”
The third queen hugged her lovely daughter as she continued, “But always remember. Without the king’s love and the power of your mother—even if I had birthed you with not a coin to my name, you’d be a shabby royal princess.”
But then one day, Erna suddenly left the palace. To become the Grand Duchess of Hessenguard.
When Adelaide, who’d received the promise that she’d never be sent to Hessenguard, heard the news she thought: “At last Erna is going to end her disgraceful life.”
However, Erna was still alive after a decade. Surprisingly, she was performing her role as the grand duchess quite well. Even worse, her magic talent which hadn’t appeared that much in Haband had burst into bloom and now she was on guard at the Wizards’ Tower.
Among the comments and news that flowed in, what attracted Adelaide the most were comments about her appearance.
‘Though I did hear that she has changed a lot.’
She wondered if she indeed had changed. Adelaide thought that Hessenguard had fabricated some lie to erase the shortcomings of their grand duke.
And now, Adelaide was convinced at her disposal—even though the delegates had said that Erna was completely different—because she did not even show up despite Adelaide’s arrival. As expected, that was a lie.
No way Kalion would cherish such a person. On top of that, wasn’t she still childless ever after ten years?
I heard that Lord Kalion was in bad shape before…
Adelaide didn’t have the right to choose whether he looked good. If he led the knight order and the other royals, she was supposed to cling to him unconditionally.
That time, there was a commotion outside, and a servant of Hessenguard entered.
“Lord Kalion has arrived.”
At that message, Adelaide stood up from her seat and patted down her clothes. Then, she took it strange that the servant had mentioned Kalion’s name.
“What about Erna?”
The servant replied with a nod. She couldn’t see it because of the tiny gesture, but the servant’s face was as stiff as a wall.
Erna was now the Grand Duchess of Hessenguard. That was a position higher than the Princess of Haband. However, the princess from Haband regularly called Erna by her first name with no title.
She didn’t want to call her ‘Your Grace Grand Duchess’ or ‘Lady Erna’.
“Her Grace said that it will take some time for her to arrive.”
“…oh, yeah? Well, that’s understandable.”
Adelaide remembered Erna’s stare from when they were children; that look like she was extremely jealous. When she thought of that time, she came to understand why Erna did not want to meet her. She turned out rather well.
It was comfortable to have a private conversation with the king of Haband.
Adelaide knew that she had the right tools to attract the opposite s*x. If she made contact with him while pretending to make a mistake, they’d all be enjoying her physical touch, not knowing what to do next. But even that was something a refined princess should not do.
It’s more comfortable if I don’t have to worry so much about the eyes around me. She was curious how aggressive this person named Grand Duke Kalion would turn out in that situation. I hope he isn’t so gross that I can’t stand him.
Then, the door opened wide and someone came inside.
Taller stature and broader shoulders beyond the usual knights; a body impossible to hide even in a traditional Hessenguard outfit. Under his short black hair was the beautiful appearance of a war god carved out of marble. The glaring, deep-blue eyes, however, were telling her that he was everything but a statue.
Having forgotten that she was supposed to greet him, Adelaide stared at the man who’d entered.
That grand duke outfit she’d seen clearly in a book about Hessenguard. That’s why she knew this man was Kalion Hessenguard.
She hastily greeted him with courtesy when she heard a delegate call her name from the side.
“It is an honor to meet you, My Lord. I am Adelaide, of Haband.” She smiled and extended a hand after that.
People always wanted to kiss the back of her hand. Because of that, it’d become a habit of hers to hold out her hand after meeting somebody. But Kalion, after only staring at her hand, said without even asking her to sit down, “You arrived quicker than I expected, Princess. You must be tired from your quick journey.”
His voice was shrill in praise of her hard work. Adelaide was embarrassed by Kalion’s voice which clearly showed his uncomfortableness; his overtly annoyed voice; his callous stare that barely showed any kindness. It was a look she’d never once encountered in her life. But despite that, she could tell that those eyes held some kind of emotion.
He was genuinely annoyed with her.