In a sizable indoor garden inside the palace, Estin stood before the emperor. This particular space was a special place for the emperor and he took great pride in it. Given how much he adored flowers, Britina’s emperor was prepared to airlift every unusual plant from both the Kaya Continent and the Britina Empire. This indoor garden is the end result. Flowers from regions with warmer climates than Britina were imported and placed in this spacious garden. Perhaps this is why it was filled with much more colorful flowers than the flowers in the garden outside the palace; there were even statues in the shape of angels.
It was known as the Garden of the Angels. Even nobles could not enter the area with ease. As a result, in the empire, it was regarded as a legendary location. The desire to visit this location was shared throughout the empire. Estin, on the other hand, who was sitting in a comfortable position in a difficult-to-enter location, was sadly not generous in his assessment of the angel’s garden. Should a garden the size of an aristocrat’s mansion be constructed indoors when there is already one outside? Isn’t that a bit much? However, he did not bother to ask a rather simple question out loud.
The emperor in front of him smiled softly as if he understood Estin’s twisted way of thinking. It appeared to be a smile that matched the temperature of this indoor garden at first glance.
A maid in charge of the indoor garden broke the awkward silence by bringing tea. The emperor gently stopped the maid from pouring the tea, then poured the tea himself into Estin’s teacup and said quietly.
“It’s a precious tea that I had to work hard to obtain this time.”
“It is said that only remarkable people can obtain this precious tea, which only grows in the southernmost part of the Larvia empire.”
At the words, Grand Duke Estin grinned a little and lifted his glass to enjoy the tea’s aroma. Estin did not actually drink the tea; instead, he just smelled it. The emperor’s eyebrows slightly raised in response to the strange behavior.
“……you know it well.”
“I’ve heard it’s a very toxic plant, and it takes about a month for the toxins to be removed. That is why it is a difficult tea to obtain.”
His voice initially seems languid and bored-sounding. Estin used his index finger to gently wipe the teacup’s rim. The emperor did not speak; he simply stared at Estin.
“A tea like this only appears in two instances.”
“When a truly precious visitor arrives.”
“Or when the individual you want to poison arrives.”
Estin raised the teacup he had been tinkering with after speaking. He then drank Mander tea while maintaining an unwavering gaze on the emperor.
“It has a rich flavor, perhaps because it is a precious tea.”
“I really can’t beat you.”
The strange tension between Estin and the emperor dissipated as the latter laughed as though he couldn’t win. Estin was someone he couldn’t defeat, despite the fact that he is the emperor. Knowing what card your opponent holds is necessary to defeat them. Estin was, ironically, not a person whose cards you couldn’t read. On the other hand, he shows his cards as much as his opponent desires.
‘Yes, as much as they want to see.’
Estin was a person who could reveal as much of his hand as his opponent desired while still feeling comfortable. That gave him a headache. As if a pawn had penetrated the opponent’s camp and transformed into a queen. (TL/N: like the game chess)
So, regardless of how small it was, he couldn’t relax if he had it in his hand.
“Cameron made a huge mistake with Conler’s youngest daughter.”
They finally got to the point. Estin replied honestly to the emperor’s words, setting the tea cup he was drinking on the table.
Actually, the emperor was astounded to learn that Cameron and the Young Miss Conler had placed a bet. He was well aware of Cameron’s sense of inferiority toward Conler. No, he was the only person who could fully understand Cameron.
The emperor shared these sentiments with Estin, who stood in front of him. He decides to just swallow the shapeless, lumpy feeling of inferiority rather than try to understand it in detail for fear of spiraling into a never-ending self-hatred.
“The young miss aimed a bow at the prince.”
“Yes, she did.”
How can he remain calm while telling the emperor that his daughter aimed her bow at the empire’s first prince? The emperor squeezed the teacup’s handle slightly tighter and smiled while speaking hesitantly.
“Wasn’t it a bit much that everyone saw it? He’s still the first prince?”
“Can she shoot him in a place where no one can see her?”
At Estin’s chilly words, the emperor made a loud noise.
“You know how to make a joke.”
For a brief moment, the emperor bore no expression toward Estin. The emperor started to wonder at this point. In regards to the Grand Duke, Cameron never hid his feelings. He didn’t interact with Cameron because he knew—no, he believed—that the Grand Duke would not deal with Cameron anyway.
However, Estin Conler stood up for her youngest daughter when she engaged Cameron in combat without feigning anger. He found the sequence of events to be quite unexpected.
“But I should act as though I’m punishing you outside.”
Grand Duke Estin finished his tea and shrugged his shoulders in response to the emperor’s remarks. It was as if he expected it to happen.
“The time frame for village migration that we previously discussed needs to be accelerated.”
Estin smiled slightly, as if anticipating it, and the temperature of the emperor’s smile, which was similar to that of a greenhouse, dropped slightly in response.
The small garden behind the palace was where Grand Duke Estin and I parted ways. The palace was beautiful and gleaming, reminiscent of a country where the sun never sets. The imperial palace was warm and dazzling in contrast to the chilly Conler Castle. Conler’s castle is absolutely stunning, I won’t deny that, but this place seems more vibrant.
The garden I was in was more adorable than the one I passed by; perhaps it is a princess-dedicated garden. Young children who looked my age gathered between the tables at a height that matched the princess’s. The number of invitees didn’t seem to be very large. There are about 15 individuals.
I was simply holding my breath and observing in silence. When I was led to this garden, the people’s attention was drawn to my eyes and hair color. Their eyes are saying, ‘She’s the Conler family’s youngest daughter.’ Those stares were too much for me as an introvert by nature.
Some young children made attempts to speak with me, but whenever we made eye contact, they looked away with vacant eyes. Maybe those young children were just being coerced by someone in their family to approach me or talk to me when they didn’t really want to.
However, I don’t want to converse awkwardly like a robot. Because I haven’t interacted with young children my age, I am unsure of what to talk about. Can we actually have a conversation? What if it becomes known that the princess of Conler is unable to blend in?
I’m not sure why Astina just came to mind. Maybe it’s because I haven’t seen girls my age in a while. I wonder how Astina is doing now. She would undoubtedly be adored because she is the heroine, but I worry because she is so sweet and considerate. Is it something to be concerned about?
“I’m worried about who right now,”
Of course, things are going well in my life right now, but given the original work, I’m not sure I’ll be able to continue living here in ten years. What will occur today is unknown to me.
There were numerous sweet treats that appeared to be expensive on the table in the garden, but I had absolutely no desire to partake. That cookie seems tasty.
As if I were a spy on a mission, I approached the table with refreshments. I’ll worry about it in ten years, I guess. With a cookie like this, I can’t help but smile like a little kid.
I took a square-shaped cookie with a ruby-like strawberry jam stuck to it. It melted in my mouth more gently than I anticipated when I took a careful bite. The strawberry jam-like portion was sweeter than I thought. Which fruit is this, exactly? Could it be a pomegranate? I was biting my lips and thinking about what fruit it was when a small disturbance broke out in the garden.
“What’s going on?”
I put down the new cookie I just picked up and turned around to see what was happening. And then it dawned on me. In this garden, there was only one thing that could cause such a stir.
“The princess has arrived.”
Indeed, the one and only Lausanne Arstans. Her arrival.