RotFK Ch. 62 This Is Who I Am (2)
Elena could not understand why he was upset. Carlisle’s voice rose as he spoke.
“Didn’t you promise you would stay by my side as much as possible?”
“Yes. With the condition ‘if possible.’”
“If you wanted to keep your promise, you should have come to me the moment you sensed danger.”
“I couldn’t do that. The bridge was going to collapse when all the explosives were fitted. Then the people on the bridge and Your Highness would’ve–!”
Carlisle cut her off.
“What if you got hurt?”
Elena stiffened. He was right that the situation was dangerous. But Elena was confident she could stop them. She had frequently risked her life in the past, and this life would be no different, from the moment she promised to protect him. But all Carlisle pointed out were the dangers.
“You’re smart enough to threaten me by asking me to give up on my contract marriage.”
“If you got hurt, you don’t understand how angry I would be.”
Elena paused. She hadn’t thought that far, but to be fair, she hadn’t much time to think about it when she was busy saving Carlisle.
“…I understand what you’re saying. But if I didn’t stop them, your life might have been in danger. Shouldn’t gratitude come first in a situation like this?”
“There’s a chance I may die, but just because a bridge collapses it doesn’t mean it’s a guarantee.”
Something bitter surged in her chest. She never imagined he would be so upset that he wouldn’t even offer a simple word of gratitude. She would never make such a remark against someone who saved her life, no matter how worried she was.
“Yes, even if you survived, the countless people on the bridge–”
“You should think of me before you care about the countless people on the bridge.”
“I told you, if you get hurt, I could lose my mind…”
His gaze turned heavy and burned bright as daylight in the darkness. His intense stare was fixed exactly on Elena.
“Have you thought about what I would do with them if you were injured? I could rip off their limbs so they looked dead, but were still alive.”
Elena was momentarily speechless.
He was serious. His calm voice uttered cruel words without hesitation.
“Then if you die…what do you think I’ll do then?”
If injury alone could drive him to this terrible state, and she couldn’t imagine what he would do beyond that. Carlisle continued in a lower voice.
“…The Ruford Empire may have to prevent me from becoming emperor.”
Why? What on earth was he going to do?
Elena could not keep up with how Carlisle so easily brought up these gruesome stories. She knew he worried about her, but this was beyond rational. It may have been Elena’s fault that she went away from his side without a proper explanation, but the contract had already allowed her to act as knight. Now Elena’s mission was to change her terrible future. The life of the family was on her shoulders. No matter how much Carlisle hated it, she would defend him and make him emperor.
Elena replied in a calm voice.
“Caril…I want to be empress, and that is why I entered a contract marriage with you. But that doesn’t mean I’m a doll waiting for you inside a glittering palace.”
She called his by his pet name to soothe the atmosphere and convince him to allow her to keep her contract term as much as possible. Whether her heart was conveyed or not, Carlisle’s fiery eyes seemed to softened a little.
“There are some things I understand about Caril, and some things I don’t.”
But the point was…
“…This is who I am.”
Elena was not just a pretty noblewoman in a beautiful dress. She was also a knight clad in armor who wielded a sword.
“I will wear this armor, whether you want me to or not.”
Suddenly, there was a loud popping sound coming from the direction of the festival. Perhaps the end of the festival was approaching.
A breeze stirred and scattered red petals in the air, which began to dance like snowflakes around Elena as she stood in her black armor. The petals were the same color as her vivid crimson eyes shining from beneath her helmet. The hard armor and red petals were a contradiction yet harmonious at the same time.
A beautiful lady by day, and a cold swordswoman by night.
“…Don’t try to change me.”
Carlisle did not respond. He only gave her a complicated stare, but there was no longer any anger in his eyes.
The two simply gazed at each other in silence. The murmur of the river flowing in the distance was strangely not uncomfortable. If the two people had kept parts of themselves hidden from each other thus far, it was at this moment their layers had exposed themselves a little.
Carlisle’s hand was still holding Elena’s arm, and he suddenly pulled her body to himself. She momentarily lost her balance from the force of it. Carlisle embraced Elena’s head with his other hand. Her eyes opened wide underneath the helmet while he whispered thickly in her ears.
“Don’t get hurt.”
“…I’m not hurt. “
Carlisle seemed to have forgotten that Elena was never injured in the battle. Instead of a proper embrace, he cradled her head against his chest. She couldn’t feel his touch because of her armor, but she wanted to pull out of this awkward and uncomfortable situation. When Elena tried to return to her original position, Carlisle tightened his grip.
“You are a very dangerous woman. You make me selfish.”
She wanted to ask what he meant. Carlisle’s voice returned with more resolution.
“…You won’t have to change, so please stay like this for a little longer.”
“Eugh–why is the weather like this?”
Helen disembarked from her luxurious carriage and gathered her shawl about her shoulders. The coachman stepped from his seat and gave a steep bow that was enough to break one’s back.
“My Lady, this is the weather of the capital.”
“I’ll get a cold before I attend the royal ball.”
Sophie tailed behind the grumbling Helen. Sophie had been re-employed by the Selby family and was compensated generously. She was quick to try to impress Helen more than anyone else.
“Lady Helen, please go inside. It will be terrible if you were to catch a cold!”
“Yes. All of you, take my luggage. By God, I hope the cold won’t spoil my beautiful dresses.”
Another maid appeared at Helen’s instructions. She was Tilda, the one who had destroyed Elena’s dress and fled.
“Y-yes! Yes, My Lady.”
Tilda hastened to moved the luggage with a panicked expression on her face. Helen headed for the mansion at a leisurely pace as the servants were in a commotion about her. She walked across the garden from where the carriage stood, glancing around and muttering uncomfortably.
“That old man…get me a nice mansion.”
It was an imposing mansion with a large garden, unlike the simple Blaise residence. But even that could not compare to Helen’s castle.
Helen saw the butler run towards her, having belatedly received the news that she arrived at the mansion. They had fallen far behind schedule because of the long journey, and the butler hadn’t been given proper notice.
“Oh dear, My Lady, you have arrived?”
“Yes. Your reception is rushed.”
The butler dropped his head and Helen sneered at him.
“I’ve dispatched a man, but I haven’t heard from him. Find out what’s wrong.”
“Yes, My Lady!”
“And send someone to see if the Empress can receive an audience.”
“Yes, right away.”
Helen glided past the butler.
“Don’t just talk about it. Hurry up.”
The butler hurried away to carry out the tasks she ordered. Soon the urgent sound of footsteps faded away, and Helen serenely entered the mansion. Now that the ball was close, there was a lot of work to be done. Fortunately, Tilda tore Elena’s ball gown, leaving Elena unlikely to attend. However, this alone did not quell her anger.
‘Lady Blaise, some fun things are about to happen.’
Helen’s smile glittered as she remembered Elena at the tea party.