this chapter is brought to you by mio
as translator, proofreader and editor!
When I hesitated and stood frozen to the spot, blushing and unable to say anything, Leonon had a look of realisation on his face shortly and moved to the side.
“Let’s talk comfortably inside instead of standing like this. Come on in, Lorella.”
But there was still nowhere I could look. It was all because… I felt like I’d only keep looking at him if I even took so much as a glance at him.
I cautiously held out the cloak I had in my hand after agonising over it for a moment. “If you’re okay with this…”
The cloak Winnard had draped over me at dawn was very long, perhaps because it was made for men, and also extremely luxurious. It would probably suit Leonon too.
“Huh? What’s this for…?”
“It’s quite windy today.” I raised my hand to point at his open shirt that was fluttering in the wind at that very moment.
“This…” Leonon looked down and hurriedly buttoned up his shirt. But his sweat-soaked shirt still stuck against his firm chest, so there was still nowhere for me to look.
“I apologise for showing you such a discourteous appearance.” Completely flustered, the entire area around his neck was dyed red as he hastily gifted me an apology. “I’ve even ended up showing you this sort of disrespect since I’m only used to dealing with unruly knights…”
“What disrespect, this much is nothing.”
I shook my head lightly, smiling as naturally as possible so as not to embarrass Leonon any further.
「‘This area’s hype king’ is seized by terror and shock and purchases 600 of Ms Lorella’s shares.」
「Sister, what exactly do you think you’re doing right now? Why the hell are you trying to cover up such a good thing? I’m in front of your house right now. Just open the door for a bit, okay?」
I quietly took a deep breath in at the sudden message. I wouldn’t have known which point had sold the share if I saw this yesterday, but I could guess what the reason was now.
‘As expected, it’s that.’
I received an extremely big tip from these messages that were ‘comments’. Because it played a decisive hand in helping me infer the identity of ‘them’, which I had previously only been able to form a conjecture on. Now, their existence felt closer to me than anyone else, for me, who had shouted ‘next chapter!’ at the tense push and pull and playing hard to get of a chapter.
A reader knows a reader’s heart the best. What they wanted was as clear as if they had raised their hand. The me today was not the same as the me of yesterday who would be easily swayed by these messages!
I closed the window quickly and smiled brightly at Leonon. “Were you in the middle of training just now? I heard the sound of training when I was walking around earlier.”
“Yes, that’s right. I always go and observe their training as long as I’m free, but in the end, I’m unable to just observe them without getting involved…”
“Feel free to use it if you don’t despise it.”
I draped the cloak over the arm of Leonon, who was standing there as if he were insensitive to the weather. It was an act that had nothing to do with selling shares. Even if he had already buttoned up his shirt, I was still concerned that he might catch a cold from the chilly early morning air since he was still sweaty.
But contrary to his own words, Leonon did not wear the cloak. He just looked at it being draped over half his hand. The change in his expression was subtle, as if something had happened.
I was a bit flustered. Although I had already checked it over in advance before handing it over to him, it seemed to still have some dirt on it that had remained undiscovered by me.
Leonon handed me the cloak back after a while and smiled softly.
“It’s not that cold.” Despite his beautiful smile, his voice was unusually stiff.
“Let’s go inside for now.”
Although the hand that escorted me was just as friendly as always, I couldn’t help but doubt the peculiar appearance he had just shown me.
‘What’s wrong with him?’
Tilting my head once more, I quietly followed him inside.
* * *
pls do not share this anywhere or u will always stub ur toe when u walk past a door frame !! this translation has been stolen from mioscorner.com, pls only read there i’m begging u :kneels:
Although I had also been inside the Headquarters of the Holy Knights during my stay in the temple, it was my first time entering into such a deep part of it. The interior of the Holy Knights’ Headquarters was just as splendid and sacred looking as the temple. It was so neat and tidy that it was hard for me to believe that this was a place where knights were living together.
The most important among them all was the hall of the main building where the Knights’ Commander’s office was located. Even though I knew it was a place not just anyone could enter, Leonon willingly guided me there and asked me to wait there for him to change his clothes and come out.
The hall was constructed in a wide fan-like shape, with a heavy mahogany door behind it underneath a luxurious chandelier. Endless rows of tall decorative cabinets were lined up along both walls, and inside of them were a countless number of swords that felt as if they had seen time flow through the ages. From the colourful jewels embedded in the handles and scabbard, to the freshly sharpened blades that seemed to be able to cut you if you just so much as brushed against it.
Even someone like me, who was an outsider, could feel the tremendous energy coming from these swords that were clearly more than just decorative ones. I kept staring at them for a long time before I heard the door opening behind me.
“You’ve waited quite a while, Lorella.”
Strolling up to me was Leonon, who had changed back into his usual uniform. Seeing a refreshing smile on his lips, just like usual, I ascertained what I had felt earlier just to my mood.
“This is where we keep all the family heirlooms that have been handed down from generation to generation in the Berhardt family.”
He kindly provided an explanation, as if he had seen me snooping around the cabinets earlier.
“You’ve come after much trouble, so would you like to take a closer look inside? I’ll show you around.”
“Yes, that sounds good!” I nodded quickly, my eyes twinkling.
“How about having tea together after that as well?”
“Yes, that sounds good as well…!”
Nod, nod, nod. Like a wooden doll with a bobble head constantly moving its head up and down, I nodded continuously at his words.
‘At first, I only came here because of panic, but coming here seems like a good decision in the end.’
I had that thought since my heart seemed to be incredibly at ease. The gap between me and my rival, which made me depressed just by thinking about it, the fatigue of pulling an all nighter, and the worries that made my head throb all melted away in front of his gentle smile.
“If you exit this hall and cut across the hallway at the end, you’ll see a large greenhouse. It’s an extremely beautiful sight, so let’s start the tour from there.”
After he said that, Leonon led me around slowly after dismissing the guards around the area. There were only the two of us walking in the wide hallway. I couldn’t even hear any footsteps due to the soft carpet in the hallway.
As I walked along the majestic pillars engraved with the sculptures of brave knights, I heard a low yet warm voice in my ear, “…are you sure you’re alright?”
“Oh, yes.” I quickly flashed a smile at him upon realising the actual meaning behind his question.
“Thank you for your letter. To be honest, I was going to send you a reply first, but… when I came to my senses, I ended up making the mistake of coming to visit you so discourteously. I just wanted to tell you that I was very thankful for your concern.”
“What discourtesy, it’s not like that at all. After all, I did tell you that you could come and find me any time. It’s just that…” Leonon paused and continued with an even graver expression on his face. “Your face is still filled with anxiety, so your heart must ache even more. You don’t seem to have slept properly either.”
I couldn’t find the words to reply to his sharp observations. Was it that obvious? I pinched my own face unconsciously.
“I heard that Periot not only led his own soldiers into the mansion, but also detained Count Mayred in the North. How audacious must he have been, to even use your own family as hostages…”
Leonon’s voice became even deeper. In addition to that, I could see a blue tendon protruding from the back of his hand from him clenching his fist so tightly.
“So, how about speaking directly to His Majesty the Emperor?”
“Speaking about it to who… what?!”
Unlike me, who was simply shocked by the unexpected name that had popped up, Leonon was extremely serious.
“I will arrange for you to have an audience with him. If you tell him the whole story, Uncle will definitely take action.”
“I tried to just endure it and watch since I could tell that you didn’t particularly want to go down that route, but it’s gone too far now.”
N-No! There’s no need for the Emperor to personally take out trash like that!
“Commander! Well, the thing is…”
It was clear that Leonon was only aware of the fact that Periot had come to the County, and not what had happened within it. I hurriedly told him the details of what had occurred. Everything, about how I was locked up and then released.
“Then the debt collectors came to the mansion…”
I couldn’t bear to elaborate on what happened after that, so I lowered my head. My face was flushed red with embarrassment.
“No way, to think that Count Mayred was that sort of person…” Leonon looked at me for a moment with a look of disbelief, then nodded calmly. “It must have been hard for you.”
“So what I’m saying is… Although I don’t know when that time is, I don’t want to face my brother until the wound in my heart heals.” I added, deliberately lowering my eyes. My voice was even trembling now.
“You might think I’m being weak, but…”
“What do you mean, weak? You’re not, Lorella.” Leonon placed some emphasis on my name.
“It’s not your fault. There is no one who can criticise you. No, rather, they would think that you were incredible for persevering in such a difficult situation.”
“Do you really think so…?”
“At least that’s what I think. If you really were a weak person, you would have been in a hurry to run away to avoid it.”
His firm answer made my heart flutter.
Yeah, that’s right, I’m not running away. Rather, I was far from running away, and was trying my utmost best to survive by trying to sell shares in some way or another.
When I bit my lips and couldn’t continue to speak, Leonon whispered in a voice that didn’t even tremble, “Everything will be fine. No matter what happens, I’ll be by your side.”
His firm but sweet form of consolation touched me greatly. It might’ve escaped my notice at first, but I guess what happened last night had hit me with quite a big shock. Seeing as my eyes were starting to fill up with tears, even at this sort of simple consolation.
I had believed that all of ‘them’ who had bought my shares would be on my side. But they weren’t. They weren’t on anyone’s side, and compared to Sable, I was nothing short of not even worth looking at for them.
I became furious as I shouted out that they were all traitors, but on the other hand, I felt sad. I even felt like I was an abandoned child.
But Leonon’s consolation covered all of those feelings. My expectations had been raised to the extent where I thought that even if everyone else turned their back on me, this person wouldn’t do so.
I burst into tears at my indescribable gratitude and emotions. I secretly tried to wipe away the tears around my eyes, but before I could do so, I felt a warm body touch my face.
“When you feel like crying, you should cry as much as you want.”
A friendly smile greeted my face when I looked up. Leonon, who was carefully and tenderly rubbing the area under my eyes for a moment, soon pulled my head gently into his embrace.
Suddenly, a strong beat coiled around my ears. Seeing as the same vibrations were resounding within me as well, it must’ve been the sound of my heart.
“N-No… I’m not crying anymore…”
My face became exceedingly hot. Even if I didn’t see it myself, it was obvious my face would’ve been coloured a bright shade of scarlet radish.
I didn’t want him to see that sort of face of mine, so I pretended not to know and burrowed my face deeper into his arms.
Ding dong! Ding dong! Ding dong! Ding dong!
The bell rang like crazy, but I only focused on accepting his patting hand without even glancing at the screen.
* * *
My jaw dropped again as soon as I entered the greenhouse. Just like Leonon had said, it was a place so beautiful it was enough to make my eyes widen.
The sight of tender, verdant shoots of greenery that sparkled and emitted a green light from all directions was so refreshing it seemed like my heart was washed anew just by looking at it while the rare and colourful flowers that I had never seen before were in full bloom, as if they were showing off their elegant appearance. However, the most eye-catching of them all was an old tree that was nestled in the middle of the greenhouse.
“Do you like it?”
“Yes! It’s my first time seeing such a beautiful place.”
As I was swinging my head back and forth, immersed in the sights, I spotted an inconspicuous swing hanging underneath the old tree. As if he had noticed where I was looking, Leonon smiled and led me there.
“It’s the Knights’ Sacred Tree. It was originally a pair of trees, but one day, one of them was struck by lightning, and only one remained. The swing is made from the burnt lumber that remained from the other tree. With the hope that they could be together, even if it’s only possible with this method.”
So it’s like that. The swing that hung from the white branch that stretched out to the side was as if the tree had only been there since it was born.
But what was really fascinating was actually the branch rather than the swing. The branch, which was white enough to be mistaken for marble, was especially thick, and shiny, more so than the rest.
“Would you like to have a go?”
“I do, but…”
I became a little anxious when I looked up at the swing hanging from the branch, no matter how thick and strong it may be, but Leonon said confidently, “Don’t worry, it won’t break. I check it regularly every time, so it’s safe.”
At his words, I approached the swing hesitantly. However, it wasn’t easy to get on the swing with a dress on since it was higher than I expected, so I hesitated at what I should do.
My body suddenly floated in the air. Without even giving me time to scream, my body was already on the swing before I even knew it. I quickly grabbed onto the rope of the swing as my body tilted backwards.
Leonon coughed shyly and quietly changed the subject. “There’s a legend that says that this white branch is actually a unicorn horn instead.”
“Yes. It’s a legendary creature whose horns can withstand the force of dozens of elephants stepping on it and not break. When the first Knights’ Commander cut off its horn and planted it under this tree, the tree then sprouted surprisingly beautiful white branches. Of course, it’s only a legend, but…”
Leonon continued to speak as he gently pushed the swing. “I don’t know if it’s because I grew up using this place as a playground ever since I was young, but I believed the story to be true for quite some time…”
But then he eventually shut up. “I was young back then.”
I could see Leonon’s face turn red as he gave a vague explanation.
“That’s a wonderful legend. I think I’d even believe it too.”
When I responded with a deliberately big smile, Leonon scratched his temple with an awkward smile still on his face and pretended not to know.
His appearance was so amusing that I burst into laughter once again. The more I got to know him, the more friendly he seemed to be, yet on the other hand, he also seemed rather boyish.
But… to think that he was the Emperor’s nephew. Today was the first time I found out that the Berhardt family was actually an imperial household.
I was far from the high society scene since I was confined in the Duke’s mansion, and no one would tell those sorts of things to someone who was only the Duchess in name.
Although I was rather curious about the details, I wanted to focus on this moment right now more than anything else.
This space that only held the two of us.
There was a strong fragrance that came from the flowers everywhere, a temperature that was neither too hot nor too cold, and a swing that was swinging joyfully back and forth. Being upset all night seemed like a lie all of a sudden.
…And of course, apart from all that, the system window was also ringing noisily.
Ding dong! Ding dong! Ding dong!
The bell rang so incessantly that it felt like there was an earthquake.
“If you don’t mind, may I ask you a question?” Then, through the clamour of bells, I heard Leonon’s voice.
Again, sensing his somewhat stiff tone, I immediately stopped thinking and quickly answered, “Yes, of course.”
“Who does that cloak belong to? It looks like it’s made for men…” He pointed to the bench on the other side of us. On top of it was the cloak that I had folded up nicely before getting on the swing.
“That… I borrowed it from the coachman.” I answered quickly after a short deliberation. “Since I thought the wind was rather chilly today.”
Although it was something that was too luxurious for a coachman to use, I couldn’t exactly say that it was a cloak that my secret guide gave me, so I simply gave an appropriate answer.
“Oh, I see.”
In an instant, a smile that resembled a flower in full bloom soon appeared on Leonon’s face. And on top of that, I thought I could see the nape of his neck turning red, just for a moment.
There was suddenly an awkward silence. I glanced at him to gauge his reaction, but Leonon’s mouth remained closed and showed no signs of opening, simply continuing to push the swing.
“It couldn’t have possibly bothered you if it belonged to another man, right?”
Unable to stand the awkwardness, I ended up speaking first, an exaggerated smile on my face. But the reply that came back to me was rather unexpected.
“…it bothered me.”
“I said, it bothers me.”
JEALOUS LEONON MWAHAHHAHAHAHA
also are they rlly not gonna talk abt how the first knights commander allegedly cut off a unicorn’s horn,,, ???? like wtHFDSLKFJDFSJ