[Hey, really. Why are you late, Toto?!]
At Lani’s words towards the baby turtle, Elena closed her eyes.
‘A rabbit and a tortoise are good friends.’
The slow-paced tortoise gradually opened his eyes and said:
[I was originally slow….]
Elena couldn’t hold back her laughter.
A baby rabbit nagging a turtle and a baby turtle answering casually.
The combination of the two was so lovely that it tickled her heart.
Elena greeted him carefully.
Then the turtle’s head slowly returned.
The baby tortoise looked at her and smiled broadly.
[Nice to meet you. I am the water spirit, Toto.]
It was a slow tone, but for a tortoise, it felt fast.
Elena reached out her hand and stroked Toto’s head.
Being touched, Toto also rubbed his face as Lani did.
[Thank you, Master. Thanks to the master, I have strength.]
As Elena patted Toto, Lani – who was standing next to her – also approached her.
[Master! Please touch me too!]
Holding Toto in her right hand and Lani in her left, she felt like she was in heaven.
‘How can it be so peaceful?’
She smiled softly.
[Master. If you ever need my strength, please call me.]
Toto’s eyes lit up with a slightly brighter voice.
“Yes, thank you.”
Elena had not yet realized the power of the spirits.
Toto was a water spirit, and Lani was an earth spirit.
‘If I wanted to, would I be able to utilize the power of the earth and water?’
Elena currently didn’t need that kind of power. However, she had never thought that she would need it someday.
Because she wouldn’t be aware of what was to happen after she left the Duke’s manor.
* * *
People were dancing to slow music and talking over drinks.
‘What is making these people in high spirits?’
Today was Lexion’s birthday.
The party held in the annex hall of the Halos estate was notably grand.
It was much larger than the victory banquet.
‘Even if the successor is Killian, Lexion is also the son of the Duke of Halos.’
Unlike the victory banquet, their eyes widened whenever they looked at him.
Gorgeous chandeliers, various kinds of rich food and decorations, and a string band playing nonstop.
There were essential elements that should not be missed at the party, and the scale was massive.
Some of the aristocrats even praised him as ‘the Duke of Halos.’
The party started with Duke Halos’ speech, just like the last time.
After thanking the nobles who attended, he introduced Lexion and gave a full speech about the Duke’s bright future.
And when the party started, the Duke chatted with the nobles – who called out to the ‘Duke’ – within the Empire.
Elena stood in one corner of the party hall and watched the festivity.
It was to avoid meeting people as much as possible.
After the banquet started, the Duke of Halos introduced Elena to ‘The Duke’s faction of aristocrats,’ but not as much as at her banquet.
‘I’m glad, really.’
Occasionally, there were children of noble families who spoke to Elena from time to time.
She was invited to dance, but Elena politely declined.
‘By the way, where is Jane?’
They were together when they entered, but parted when the crowd gathered.
Elena quickly scanned the party hall to find Jane.
She was the cutest girl in a blue dress.
And she easily found her.
But Jane wasn’t alone.
Two sons of noble families were clinging to Jane.
‘Those are the ones who approached me a while ago. Now you’re even flirting with Jane.’
Although Jane seemed to be refusing with her troubled face, they persisted.
Elena strode toward Jane.
“Jane! You were here?”
As she called her with her bright smile, Jane greeted Elena, her eyes shimmering.
“Oh. It seems we’ve met again?”
Elena put her arms around Jane’s and smiled at the two bothersome men.
The men’s faces brightened. They must have thought they would get a positive answer when she smiled.
‘But what? I don’t think so.’
Elena asked with a smile.
“But aren’t you two adults?”
“You’re right. I recently had my coming-of-age ceremony.”
One of the men answered, affirming Elena’s conjecture.
“That’s too bad. We’re still underage. Under Imperial Law, adults and minors… You know?”
Both men apologized to Elena and Jane and then turned away.
The association of adults and minors was illegal under Imperial Law.
However – looking at the attitudes of those two – fortunately, they seemed to approach both girls thinking that they were adults.
They didn’t seem like bad guys trying to mingle with minors.
Under the Imperial Law, the age of an adult was 17 years old.
Elena would soon be 14, while Jane would soon turn 15.
‘Perhaps they thought we were adults who looked a little young.’
“Thank you, Elena.”
As the men left, Jane sighed in relief.
“I guess I still have a long way to go to become like Elena.”
Saying that, Jane’s smiling face looked sad for some reason.
Elena patted her shoulder.
“It will take time. Jane had to refuse them until they left. You even once rejected Sir Killian. Jane is working hard enough.”
“Thanks. I will try harder.”
Elena stared at Jane’s bright smile and smiled along with her
Afterward, the two chatted with several ladies.
“I don’t know how long it has been since I’ve talked to such adorable girls. Next time, both girls will come to our house to play.”
Most of the ladies with only sons and no daughters were very kind to Jane and Elena.
They were having such a good time.
Elena suddenly realized that she couldn’t see Lexion.
‘He’s the protagonist of today’s party. Where did he go?’
She excused herself to the ladies and set out to find Lexion.
And it wasn’t long before she found Lexion heading to the terrace and Killian following him.
* * *
Inside the grand party hall.
Killian was talking to the young nobles.
Normally just talking to them would make him feel pleased, but not today.
It was the birthday of his brother, Lexion, whom he hated.
When was it? What made him hate his only brother?
It wasn’t that he didn’t like him in the first place.
It was from the time when his brother began to be referred to as a ‘genius’.
Unlike Killian, who was a ‘lagging’, his younger brother quickly caught up with him.
The way their father would look at Killian strangely changed, and the vassals and tutors supported his younger brother.
From then on, something evil grew in Killian’s heart.
And it was only recently that the fire began to ignite in his heart.
Elena started to oddly encircle Lexion.
‘The heir of the Duke of Halos calls his younger brother ‘that’ and seems to even assault him. The mighty name of Halos weeps.’
‘It is also deemed violence to intimidate others.’
Jane even started avoiding Killian.
‘Please don’t be so forceful anymore.’
Both of their friendly gazes were directed at Lexion.
Even though he was busy taking lessons as the successor, he would often see Lexion and the two ladies together.
Each time, Elena and Jane would lovingly gaze at the child.
‘It should have been mine.’
The gorgeous Elena and lovely Jane.
Everything should have been his.
‘Don’t make a needless fuss in my house.’
He was patient because of his father’s words – which were like orders – but every time he saw the three of them together, his anger grew.
When listening to the stories of the young children with one ear.
The voices of the vassals came from behind.
“Then the successor will be Killian, right?”
Successor. The topic stopped at that point.
Killian swallowed drily as he overheard their conversation.
“It hasn’t been decided yet.”
Hearing his father’s voice, Killian tightly clenched his fist.
The boy hurriedly left the side of the ladies who were smiling brightly next to him.
When he walked away. He saw Lexion heading to the terrace alone.
‘If it wasn’t for that bastard.’
Killian tailed behind the boy.
When the curtain on the terrace where the child entered was suddenly pulled, Lexion appeared surprised.
“If it weren’t for you.”
Killian sighed and slowly approached Lexion.
Lexion’s body shuddered at the boy’s vicious momentum.
Killian felt the urge to slap the child in the face right now.
But this was a party venue. He didn’t know if there would be a commotion if he harmed Lexion.
Killian took the cup from Lexion’s hand.
In the transparent glass, non-alcoholic champagne glistened.
“Things like you…should die.”
Killian’s lips twisted cruelly.
Then the glass of champagne rose over the boy’s head.
The moment the glass slowly tilted.
As she stopped Killian, cold champagne poured relentlessly over her head.