As the cool night breeze brushed past me, it cooled my tired body and eased my worries. I let out a breath. Mom had confronted me and reminded me that I would almost never get to attend such a grand party ever again. She also seemed to have decided, and she made this clear, that we would be returning to our land right after this party. Aaron looked like he might protest. He looked like he wanted to stay but he seemed to have clamped his mouth tightly shut after what happened to with the princess. He wouldn’t talk at all.
The Princess didn’t return after abruptly walking out. Many nobles whispered about her actions. Grandfather said that many people would now perceive her foresight as some child’s fantasy. Dad and Alex seemed to agree with him. But Aaron was quiet. He seemed to be deep in his thoughts and I didn’t want to pry. But I wanted to know what he was thinking.
What if that girl actually did see the future? The future could be something I wouldn’t have known. If she was right, and if I hadn’t acted out, then things might have gone the way she had said. If I hadn’t recalled my past life, I would have been helpless against Sir Slanter Eyes, Alex would have been killed and Aaron… Aaron would have survived thirsting for revenge.
It was such a relief that I was able to recall my past life.
It didn’t matter if I had to kill to protect my family. I would gladly do it. But I didn’t want my brothers to burn in revenge and kill people. I didn’t want them to destroy themselves. Especially Aaron, studious, sweet Aaron. I can’t bear it if Aaron changed like that.
A person who didn’t want to play dirty, who had principles. They should be able to live their lives the way they want. Aaron is a person like that.
The royal garden was very well kept. The garden at Wishburn was beautiful too but in a different way than here. The plants and flowers there were allowed to bloom naturally the way they wanted. Here, the royal garden was maintained to the last detail. Flowers were planted in neat rows; the shrubs and bushes were trimmed to the same height. A rose without flowers. A bunch of tulips. Is that tulips though? I should read more botanical books to be sure.
Aren’t tulips also effective for… something? I come from a world where plants and medical knowledge were extremely advanced. Here, things needed to be planted and used together to get the maximum effect. Maybe I should ask Aaron about advanced books on botany. He will know if there are any at the academy…
“What are you doing at such a place?” A man appeared out of the dark.
I didn’t remember dancing with him. His hair was disheveled, and I knew that he was a little drunk from the way he spoke.
The party was overflowing with food and drinks. Everyone had indulged a little including mother, father and my brothers. I didn’t touch a glass, of course. That was my job. To act like the graceful daughter of the Marquess of Wishburn, to strengthen the political position, build connections, etc.
Being born in a noble family is such a headache. Every eye is on you and you have to be careful while worrying about a thousand things.
“I guess you didn’t hear me,” said the man, “That’s why you were beaten by a man. And by someone like Count Thoreau at that.”
Is he intentionally provoking me? Or does he really think that? I turned to face him properly. He was tall and looked better than Sir Slanted Eyes, at the least. Drunk people can be clumsy. He wasn’t trembling, shaking or stumbling but his words ran together. His face was red and he gave off the stench of alcohol.
I need to be careful. I can’t let him hold me down or hit me. I need to be sly if I want to win against someone bigger in build than me.
“Who are you?” I asked. Clearly, he knew who I was, but I didn’t know who he was. Another disadvantage.
“I’m Ethan Duplo, the useless second son of Duke of Ayble.”
Duke of Ayble… I recalled meeting his first son just a while before. If I had time to think a little, I may be able to recall his name and face, but I didn’t have the time right now. He seemed to be the younger brother of one of those thick skins who wanted to dance.
The man walked sluggishly towards me. He wore expensive clothes, but his bowtie was loose and the cloth on his waistline was a little wrinkled and tugged in halfway. I can only imagine what he was doing before this.
I glanced around me. No one was anywhere nearby. It was a royal palace and there were no guards here. It seemed a bit suspicious. Wishburn had guards posted everywhere. This was supposed to be the royal palace.
“No one comes here,” said the man in answer. “The guards don’t come here often. This is the queen’s private place for her clandestine meetings with her lovers. Everyone knows that. I guess you didn’t. Or are you just pretending? Were you also planning to meet your secret lover here?’
He was near to me now. He looked more like a young boy than a man. Maybe as old as Aaron at best. Late teens and early twenties is where hormones rage. Boys this age are always overly aggressive. They only think from the thing between their legs. Rationality be damned.
In my previous life, I had lived on the streets at that age and had seen these boys. They had always been aggressive. This boy was no different. And he wasn’t here for barter. He was drunk and rude.
What I know about my opponent is merely the information I picked up at the party room. I was at a disadvantage. Acting out without much information could only backfire.