A long time ago, before the founding of the Tristan Empire, their continent was overrun with evil creatures.
They preyed on those weaker than themselves and dominated the land.
It was a time when people could not live like humans; it was a time of no hope.
[TL/N: Meaning they would have to live as savages if it meant surviving.]
The time when people could not live as people.
A time when there was no hope.
In this world full of darkness, an ordinary boy performed a miracle.
That boy, along with his two friends, defeated the monster that ruled the continent.
The boy's heroic blade sliced through the monster, and the inky soul that came out of the beast was placed in a sacred vessel so that its darkness could no longer see the light of the world.
And its body, struggling with the loss of its soul, was locked in the mirror of the abyss.
With the beast finally sealed, the continent rejoiced as they regained their hope.
As for the boy who defeated the monster, he made use of his last name and established an empire, becoming the ruler of their new home.
That empire was their current Tristan Empire.
After a long time, Wells reread the empire's history.
Even after searching through other variations of the empire's history, their descriptions of the founding of the empire were all the same.
The Tristan Empire existed for a long time, and by now, its people had long since regarded some of its history as myths and legends.
Wells didn't believe they were fables.
It wasn't just Wells who had come to know the truth.
Every emperor, lord of Proud, and lord of Honeywell knew that the stories of their empire's birth were not myths.
The Honeywell family has spent generations keeping an eye on the vessel that held the beast's soul.
It was different from the sword that could be hidden away or the mirror that sealed the beast's body.
The vessel caging the monster's soul required the heart of a living being.
For generations, the Honeywell family had successfully trapped the beast's soul within the hearts of their newborn children.
“Hah! A newborn baby.”
Wells sneered, his hand clutching the fabric that lay over his heart.
“If only I could move the monster's soul to my own heart from the very beginning.”
Wells lamented that he had not been able to contain the monster's soul in his heart.
If he had known that his lovely sister would have to live with such a heavy burden, Wells would have taken on the role of the vessel without hesitation.
There was only one reason why he, who was infinitely devoted to Rose, could not become a vessel.
Because Wells Honeywell is the heir to the Honeywell family.
The former Duke and Duchess of Honeywell knew that their firstborn child was a boy, and they could not have Wells shoulder the burden of the vessel.
It shouldn't have happened like that, but in case something went wrong with the vessel, the Duke and Duchess of Honeywell decided to hand over the role of the vessel to the second born.
Perhaps by a twist of fate, the Duchess did not have any children even years after Wells was born.
At that time, the person carrying the vessel in the Honeywell family was the younger brother of the Duke of Honeywell.
The duke's younger brother, who was weak, was in a difficult situation and could no longer contain the soul.
Ten years after Wells' birth, the Duchess was able to conceive another child.
Finally, the next vessel to hold the soul of the monster was born.
One day, when the red roses were in full bloom, after ten months of incubation, a child was born.
The duke and his wife had to transfer the monster's soul to the newborn baby, but a tragedy arose.
The child they had been waiting for for 10 years was very lovely.
A child that was so small and adorable but would have to contain the soul of that terrifying monster.
As hard as the decision was, they had no choice.
The vessel containing the monster of the soul, the duke's younger brother, was already fading.
Left with no other option, they had to seal the monster's soul in the heart of a lovely child with a heavy sense of guilt.
“Neither father nor mother get to know how loveable Rose had become.”
Thinking back, he recalled the day Wells first met Rose.
That day was the month when red roses were in full bloom all over the continent.
It had rained heavily the day before, but on the day that Rose was born, the sun was out, and the world was bathed in light.
While walking down the aisle with his father, the Duke of Honeywell, and praying for the Duchess' safe delivery, Wells heard a loud cry.
He followed his father and met his little sister for the first time.
He'd seen an angel.
Although it was different from the picture of an angel he encountered in an illustration, Wells could still clearly see the white wings of the newborn Rose.
She was my younger sister whom I want to cherish and protect without fail.
Naturally, Wells was engulfed in despair after finding out about the existence of the “Honeywell family vessel.”
“The Proud family must have had a mirror that sealed the body of the monster.
“If Rose marries Elliot Proud and lives in that place with THE monster's soul sealed in her heart…”
Wells shook his head vigorously, his face drained of color.
He bit his lower lip until it turned white.
…I can't let Rose be a member of the Proud family.
Evening after dinner.
Rose and Ilya entered the hall of Honeywell Manor; there was no warmth in the large hall, so it was a bit chilly.
Ilya took off the shawl from her shoulders and set it aside before she walked lightly toward the center of the hall.
Rose quietly followed her.
“Lady Rose! This is what I learned from Lady Vanessa.”
Ilya straightened up, preparing to show off her new skills.
Without a dance partner, Ilya raised her hand, placing it on her imaginary partner, and she began her dance.
It's hard to believe that today was her first lesson.
If she would dance with an adequate partner, she would easily be able to capture quite a bit of attention from the debutante.
Elegantly spinning for the last time, she gracefully held onto the hem of her skirt and bowed.
Ilya's movements were perfect, exquisitely executing what she'd learned so far.
“That is perfect.
It took me a long time to learn this dance.
Miss Titonsser is a fast learner.”
Her honest compliment made the young lady blush as she shyly hid her rosy cheeks on the palms of her hands.
“I tried really hard to memorize the steps so I wouldn't forget them.
The ball will be soon, right?”
“Yes, the day of the debutante ball is drawing closer.”
I wonder, the debut should be two weeks from now.
While thinking back, Rose examined the young girl who practiced seriously.
“Do you have a partner for your first dance?”
A young aristocrat's first dance was extremely important.
It signals their first steps into the social world.
It would be the preliminary to choosing your future fiance and the social standing of you and your family.
As Ilya did not have a fiancé, she would have to dance with one of her family members.
Namely, Baron Titonsser.
In her past, the baron had arrived in time to dance the first dance with his beloved daughter.
As if predicting Rose's thoughts, Ilya nodded and replied readily.
“Yes, father sent me a letter.
He will be in the capital in time for my debut.
What a relief, I can have my first dance with my father!”
The events are flowing exactly as they did in the past.
Rose held back a sigh.
Some events occurred differently, while others followed the timeline established at the time.
If only Elliot behaved as he did in the past.
She could say the same for his behavior at the Imperial Palace.
He could've just made me see myself off or gotten another knight to escort me to the carriage.
How could he have willingly escorted me back?
Rose pressed her fingers against the throbbing at her temples.
When she thought of Elliot Proud, she no longer felt butterflies in her belly.
Instead, her heart would ache and her complexion would darken.
Ilya immediately ran to her side.
“Lady Rose, are you ill?”
Hearing the worry in the voice of the young lady, the daughter of Honeywell lowered her hand and forced a smile.
“I am well.
Do not worry.”
“Your skin is pale! Lady Rose, why don't you rest?”
Before Rose could argue with the girl, she was led to the side and urged to sit on the couch.
“I'll call for the butler.”
Without waiting for a reply, Ilya grabbed her shawl and tried to leave.
Urgently, Rose reached for her sleeve.
“I am alright.
Please don't worry the butler over this.
I really am well.”
“…If that is what the lady wishes.”
She worried that the young lady would be determined to leave, but fortunately, she agreed and stopped any further actions.
However, her expression still expressed her concern for Rose, so Rose tried to brighten her smile to ease her worries.
Only then did the baron's daughter comply and sit beside the daughter of Honeywell.
For a moment, no one spoke.
Rose herself could not think of a topic to start with, so she nervously pinched the stitching of her dress.
When the silence became nearly too much to bear, Rose decided it was time to suggest they return to their respective quarters.
Ilya beat her to it.
“Yes, Miss Titonsser?”
Am I uncomfortable to be around?”
Rose was unable to speak.
As she hesitated, Ilya continued with a pitiful laugh.
“It has been a while since I've entered the Honeywell Manor, but I still would like to be close to Lady Rose.”
“You may not believe me when I say that Lady Rose is the most beautiful woman I have ever seen.”
Rose wanted to admit that she knew Ilya had told her the same thing in her past life.
How could she truly hate the Ilya who always looked at her with sparkles in her eyes, wanting to spend time with her.
Rose smiled bitterly.
“I want to get closer to Miss Titonsser.”
She couldn't tell what kind of expression Ilya was making with her head down, but Rose was sure of one thing.
Right now, her face shone brightly like a blooming flower.
She glanced up.
I knew it.
The baron's daughter smiled eagerly at her and drew closer.
“Are you sure?”
“Honestly, I've never interacted with young ladies my age, so I didn't know how to treat Miss Titonsser.”
The corners of Ilya's mouth curled up.
“Me too! Growing up at home…
Haha, you and I are the same, Lady Rose.”
The young lady could barely conceal her joy, feeling a sense of kinship with the fact that Rose, the one person who Ilya believed to be perfect, had no friends like her, causing Rose to lower her head sheepishly.
“Miss Titonsser—no, Ilya.”
The baron's daughter's eyes widened dramatically at her voice.
Unable to meet her eyes, Rose avoided eye contact.
“Ilya is my first friend, so I need to make a request.
No matter what happens, please don't betray me.”
She tilted her head and repeated it confusedly.
She debated whether it was a good idea to talk about it or not.
“I can't go into detail, but I have been betrayed by someone I've trusted before, and…”
Gasping, Ilya covered her mouth, astonished.
Clearing her throat and realizing her mistake, she panicked.
“It hurts me, and I couldn't get close to anyone anymore, and I always fear that maybe Ilya may betray me.”
She didn't want to look at the baron's daughter; she wanted to keep the hurt and pain hidden from the eyes of others.
Looking into the eyes of Ilya, she could see the pity contained within.
Why do I hate this sympathetic feeling?
“Ilya, are you going to betray me like he did?”
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