It was finally dinner time.
But I couldn't eat comfortably. Meals were also a continuation of studying.
Under Emma's fierce watch, everything from dining etiquette, to tableware usage, to posture had to be strictly upheld.
I had been learning for almost a year so It wasn’t really an issue now.
In reality, Emma was looking at me with a proud expression.
But that expression didn't last long.
“You-, what now…”
Surprised by the sudden talk, I made the mistake of dropping my spoon.
Instead of answering the question, Emma picked up the dropped silver spoon.
“Young master, I know I’ve already told you, but you shouldn’t drop your spoon like this. Aside from being rude, if you're a great nobleman, it's absolutely forbidden to show agitation to others.”
It was a cold remark.
“You’ll be going to see His Majesty the Emperor soon and you shouldn't let yourself be seen this way. Do you understand?”
It was sudden news.
This sudden turn of events must mean that I have learned enough manners to go visit the emperor with my father.
“With my father?”
“Yes, of course. The Duke said he would pick you up in the morning, so let's have a light dinner tonight and go to bed early.”
The idea of going to the imperial palace in a carriage alone with my father was not very pleasant.
More precisely, I was uncomfortable with my father.
I ate with him several times a week, but we didn't really have long conversations.
He wasn't demanding anything from me, and I wasn't young enough to crave the affection of an estranged father.
I needed some time alone to think.
I handed over a cumbersome request to Emma for no reason.
“Emma, could you bring me a glass of cold water? With ice.”
Emma said nothing. She just left the dining room to fetch some iced water in silence.
When I was left alone in the dining room, I let out a deep sigh and muttered as if lamenting.
“Because novels don’t deal well with extras or supporting characters…What should I know?”
It's just that there weren't enough words devoted to supporting characters and there must be hidden stories that readers don't know about.
And now I had to go through a life not described in the novel.
‘Please don't let that life be hard.’
I prayed with both hands together.
I started preparing at dawn, when I couldn't even open my eyes.
Because of that, even when riding in the carriage, I kept falling asleep.
The carriage, filled with suffocating silence, seemed to make my mind more hazy.
I would look around the carriage or peek at my father on the other side in an attempt to ward off sleepiness.
Then, as luck would have it, our purple eyes and gaze met.
Since our eyes met first, I thought I should call him something, so I spat out the word “Father.”
And looked up at him like a puppy hungry for praise.
My father remained unresponsive.
Any other person would have looked at me as if I were lovable, but my father only looked at me with dry eyes.
After some silence, my father gave me a little father-to-son advice.
“If you meet the Emperor and Crown Prince, smile like you are now. Like you don't know anything.”
However, when I heard my father's words, I was startled.
Isn't the crown prince the male protagonist!?
“Are we meeting the crown prince too?”
I realized my mistake belatedly after shouting out in surprise.
I reacted emotionally to the word ‘crown prince’ in front of my strict father.
I gently covered my mouth with my small hand.
“Even after one year of education, you are still lacking in etiquette. You are no longer a commoner, Prince Estella.”
My father’s words were elaborate, but his meaning was simple.
He was telling me to behave like an aristocrat.
“Yes, I will not make such a mistake in the future.”
I nodded vigorously.
Seeing my nod, my father took his gaze away from me.
I naturally took my eyes off my father and stared out the window.
The drowsiness suddenly disappeared, probably because of the thought of meeting the male lead soon.
It seemed that even this desolation could be wrapped up in anticipation.
Since the novel said he was 5 years older than Vivian, the villainess who is the same age as me, he must be 16 years old.
Like a child about to go on a picnic, my cheeks began to redden.
I pressed my right cheek and drew a smile on my lips.
It was as large as several of my rooms combined, a luxurious drawing room.
Ornaments and furniture, expensive items that must have been crafted by artisans stitch by stitch.
I kept trying to keep my eyes off the fancy furniture and I barely suppressed the urge to stare.
Pretending not to be surprised, pretending to be calm, I looked ahead.
“Is this your child?”
The emperor with a long white beard, sitting in the highest seat, stared blankly at me.
I responded with a smile without avoiding his gaze.
I thought we would see the prince when we came here, but he was nowhere to be seen.
Only the Emperor, Duke Estella, and an unknown man were watching me.
“He looks a lot like you.”
Although he was an old emperor, his eyes were very fierce.
The emperor straightened his back with a warm smile. This movement caused his broad shoulders to fully expand.
Suddenly, my shoulders shrank.
The emperor lightly rang the bell on the table and it let out a clear 'dang'.
“You have a lot of concentration for a child. Ordinary kids your age wouldn't be able to stay so calm. The duke has given you a very good education.”
“You are giving me too much credit.”
“Still, it would be difficult to keep listening to our conversation. I’ve had a place set up for you, so go there.”
I nodded my head with my eyes sparkling as if I had heard a very happy story.
It didn't really matter if I stayed, but I’d rather not if I didn’t have to.
It would be too much for this fragile body to be trapped under that stinging gaze.
“Yes! All right.”
The place the emperor had prepared was not far away.
After climbing up the hall's stairs a few times, I arrived.
“You can go in here.”
I was guided to the entrance by the attendant, but I did not have the courage to enter.
That was because there was a loud noise coming from inside.
To be precise, it was closer to the sound of a child crying.
First, while holding the doorknob, I asked the attendant next to me.
“Are there people who arrived before me inside already?”
“Yes. His Highness the Crown Prince and the daughter of Marquis Marigold, Vivian, are here.”
My body stiffened.
I carefully loosened my grip on the handle.
Fist, the male protagonist, and now the villain!
I was very much looking forward to seeing them, but Vivian, the villainess, was a bit frightening.
Vivian has been pampered and raised as the only daughter of Marquis Marigold, The precious daughter of a wealthy family.
Perhaps because of that, when she was young, she was famous for being quite stubborn and a bully.
“Aww. Hate! I hate it!”
The cries that had been heard from inside the door gradually began to grow closer.
If this continues, she will open the door and bump into me when she comes out.
Concerned, I quickly tried to step back.
“Where is the crown prince!”
But before I could even take a step, the door swung wide open.
Her fluffy pink hair, like cotton candy, caught my eye first.
It was to the point where I had the urge to put my hand inside her hair and fluff it.
At the same time as I had that thought, my body fell backward.
Reflexively, she hugged her pink hair tightly and closed her eyes.
Fortunately, I didn’t slam my head into the marble.
Although I did land on my ass.
A slight bump on my tailbone caused a sudden pain.
I couldn't manage my expression properly, so I randomly distorted my face and lowered my head.
It was then that the girl who was hugging me pushed my chest hard.
My upper body didn’t fall backward, but I blinked my eyes in shock and stared forward.
What filled my vision was a girl with a swollen face.
Her bright red eyes were filled with tears, and the area around her eyes was swollen and the same shade of red as her eyes.
Her red cheeks protruded unevenly.
Not to mention her appearance as she burst out of the room. This girl must have been Vivian.
“Are you okay, Lady Marigold?”
Vivian's red eyes turned to me.
And rather than give me an answer, she jumped up from her seat sniffing her nose.
“I’m not okay! uhhhhh Have you seen our crown prince?”
uh? Weren't they together?
Vivian's words made it sound like Vivian was alone in there.
I glanced at the attendant with a puzzled expression.
The servant also shook his head as if was equally confused.
“I don’t know either. I just arrived.”
“Huh. Bad prince! Why do you run away when you see me wahhhhh.”
Vivian stood still and shed tears.
The mucus that she couldn't breathe in was dripping from Vivian's nostrils.
“I… … Lady Marigold.”
I quickly rummaged through my coat pocket and pulled out a handkerchief. I then held out the folded handkerchief to Vivian.
It was a polite way to respond.
The only problem was that Vivian was looking at the handkerchief with a bewildered expression.
In the end, I said cautiously, pointing at my nose with my index finger and an awkward smile.
“A runny nose… … .”
At my words, Vivian's entire face turned red.
“OMG. Thank you so much.”
She took it quickly, as though stealing the handkerchief. Then she ran across the hallway.
It was very urgent footwork.
“uh!? Miss Vivian!”
Vivien's maid followed her as if surprised.
First, she suddenly ran into my arms; this time she suddenly ran out. I couldn't follow her flow at all.
I stared blankly at Vivian's disappearing back with my eyes wide open.
“… … Is it because she’s shy?”
It was the only way I could explain her sudden action.
In fact, she blushed as if she was ashamed.
Vivian was such a cute girl that it was absurd that she was so frightened.
She might turn vicious later, but now she was just a young girl who was clearly loved and doted on.
As I burst into laughter, I heard the voice of the attendant next to me.
“Are you okay, Young Master?”
“Yes, I’m fine.”
Only then did I rise from the cold marble floor.
Seeing that Vivian came out crying, the prince must not be here. Too bad.
I sighed and opened the door and went inside, rubbing my butt.
The room was deserted.
When I realized that I was alone, I looked around comfortably.
In the middle of the room was a table with beautifully carved legs. Around it were various toys and books.
“Hmm… … It's just a room for kids my age.”
It all looked childish in my eyes.
I looked around carefully to see if there was any other entertainment. A small balcony stood out.
I walked there without a second thought.
I had glanced at the garden while following behind my father earlier, but the antique fountain and sophisticated flower garden really caught my eye.
It would be nice to pass the time leisurely looking at the scenery.
I walked out onto the balcony.
A breeze from outside blew through my hair.
The garden of the imperial palace, viewed from above, was larger and more splendid than expected.
As if looking at a rose garden in France, geometric and colorful flowers formed patterns.
“Isn’t it pretty?”
Startled by the sudden, unfamiliar voice, I trembled and looked around.
He was too large to be called a boy and too thin to be called a young man. It sounded like the voice of a boy in a transition, an adolescent.
I looked everywhere, but I couldn't even see a shadow.
A strange voice was heard again.
“I also really enjoy looking out over the garden. It is the most beautiful sight.”
Is it because I listened more closely to the voice this time?
I was able to notice the fact that the voice was coming from above.
I took a step back and slowly raised my head.
I saw a boy who seemed to be in his mid-teens. He waved a hand and greeted me.
The boy was sitting on a branch of a very tall and thick tree that looked well over 1,000 years old.
After greeting me lightly, he bit into the apple he was holding in his hand. It was a graceful gesture, as if watching a scene from an advertisement.
Every time the boy moved, his hair shimmered like golden grains of light.
Gentle golden eyes, resembling those of an emperor, gazed at me with smooth curves.
“You must be the son of the snake-like Duke Estella.”
I knew this boy.
“Prince… … Your Majesty?”
He was the male protagonist of 'If a Saint Falls from the Sky' and the current crown prince of the Helios Empire, 'Theodore Royal Helios'.
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