Ch. 10 I Have A Place To Go Back (1)
The wind gently caressed Elena’s face as she leaned her head against the carriage window and watched the passing landscape. She had a spectacular view of the lush forest in refreshing weather, but she was in no mood to appreciate it.
After saving Carlisle’s life, Elena had collapsed as soon as she entered the inn. From the moment when she rescued him to the moment he had accepted her proposal, she felt as if her body was being torn in all directions by a leash. It was hard on her poorly trained physical condition.
She sighed. She recollected her conversation with Carlisle, but deciphering it was like falling into a maze. Why did he accept the proposal? She had a clear reason to marry him, but the crown prince himself had no reason to accept. With that handsome face, his skill in the battlefield, and the fact that he was the crown prince, he could choose someone better than Elena. When he first questioned her for saving his life he didn’t seem to believe her very easily. Which part of her did he like?
‘I have no idea what the Crown Prince is thinking.’
He had been disgusted with her until she took of her helmet. Perhaps it was because of incompatible sexual orientation because she looked like a man in that armor? A variety of thoughts around in Elena’s head. Their encounter had been brief, and she didn’t fully understand his intentions.
She remembered the image of him when she looked back at his figure for the last time. Despite blood seeping through the white bandages, what stood out in her mind was those blue eyes that looked straight at her with an undaunted expression. She felt as if she had seen them somewhere before. Had they really met in the past? It was driving her crazy, but there was no way to find out.
‘That’s enough. Stop thinking about it. Everything went my way anyway.’
Anything else could be forgotten. If Carlisle became emperor and removed Paveluc from power nothing else was needed so long as her family was kept safe. If she could make herself a princess, she could assist him and eventually make him emperor. After that, she didn’t care whether she was banished out or not. No, maybe it was better to go back to her family. She was busy thinking about how to change her future. It wasn’t too late to think about the details. As long as her family was all alive, any life would be happier than her previous one.
‘He said he would meet me in ten days, so I’d better be prepared then.’
Sophie looked at Elena staring out of the carriage window, then spoke to her in a careful voice.
“My Lady, you’re not still sick, are you?”
Sophie was the only one who knew that Elena had gone that night without anyone else knowing. After disappearing like smoke and returning at dawn the next day, Elena had been in dazed state ever since. She looked like a lovesick girl and Sophie was curious about that night’s events, but she couldn’t ask her directly and instead asked her in a roundabout way.
Elena noticed Sophie’s strangely shining eyes and knew her maid was curious about her movements that night.
“Unnecessary curiosity only brings bad luck, Sophie. You’re a smart girl and I know you know that.”
“O-Oh yes, My Lady,”
Sophie answered reluctantly, but she did not accept it from her heart. Something must have happened to Elena that night, otherwise there was no reason to skip Glenn’s wedding when they had been in such a hurry in the first place.
After returning back to the inn for a late night’s sleep, Elena suddenly said she was not feeling well and wanted to return to Blaise Castle. Not only did Elena not eat properly on the way back, but she just stared blankly out the carriage window the entire time.
Who was the man that was keeping the young mistress away? Did Elena happen to get caught up in the atmosphere that night? What if she had a baby? Sophie’s mind ran wild with imagination. Thanks to this mysterious lover even Sophie’s motion sickness was forgotten.
The two of them lost in their own worlds as the carriage quickly took Elena and Sophie back to Blaise Castle.
A breath of fresh wind tickled Elena’s cheek. She turned her face towards it and appreciated the endless array of trees passing by. The clear cloudless sky and tranquil breeze made her strangely excited. While her mind was caught up in her complicated thoughts, her heart knew this road was headed back for the family. The thought of seeing her father, her brother and her sister again made her smile faintly. It was nice to have a place to go back like this. She would endure thousands or even tens of thousands of trials to protect it.
As soon as the carriage arrived at the castle, the door opened and Mirabelle’s voice rang out.
Mirabelle ran towards Elena and flung herself in her sister’s arms before Elena could fully disembarked from the carriage. They held on to each other as if they had been apart for years, and Elena squeezed Mirabelle tightly and smiled.
“I’m home, Mirabelle.”
“Yes. I missed you so much.”
“Me, too. Anything happened while I was away?”
“Uh-huh. Father kept sending messages that was coming home, but now he said he would really come home today.”
Her father was always busy as the head of the Fourth Order of Knights and most of the time he stayed at a residence in the capital city to work there. Elena was in charge of the household at Blaise Castle, while Derek was in charge of the knights belonging to the family. In the past it was normal to not have seen her father’s face for a long time, but the situation was different now. From Elena’s point of view she had not seen her father after twenty years. There was a pit of nervousness and excitement twisting in her stomach.
“Then I guess I’ll pay special attention to the menu tonight.”
Mirabelle spoke up confidently as if she had already made plans.
“I already asked the chef in advance to prepare father’s favorite fish stew.”
Mirabelle’s proud and expectant look for praise was so cute that Elena gave a smile and stroked Mirabelle’s hair with one hand.
“Well done. Now, can I leave the rest of the housework to you?”
“I have an older sister, I don’t have to do that.”
Elena felt a pang of guilt at Mirabelle’s innocent words. If Elena truly married Prince Carlisle, then managing the Blaise household would fall to Mirabelle. Elena swept Mirabelle’s hair again, her heart bitter. Her little sister still looked so young and fragile.
“Someday, if I get married, you will be in charge. So from now on you should learn more about the housework.”
“Oh, that’s too far away.”
“No one really knows. Maybe one day I’ll fall in love with someone at first sight and want to get married. Maybe you’ll do that too–”
“I’ll never do that!”
“I hope you’ll getting married, even if there’s no guarantee.”
“No! I’ll never have someone I love more than my sister!”
Elena looked at Mirabelle with a little worry, but on the other hand she was grateful for her sister’s kindness. Elena was overwhelmed by the feeling that she was as important to her family as they were to her.
“…Me too. I don’t think I’ll ever have someone more precious than my family.”
“Oh, please. You have to say Mirabelle is the most precious thing out of the whole family.”
Mirabelle’s point made her laugh. Her cute little bird of a sister always did. Elena took a step towards the castle, slowly taking Mirabelle’s small hand.
“Let’s go inside now.”
“Yes, sister. Tell me how your trip was.”
Mirabelle’s question reminded her of those long, arduous days in the carriage. Elena had met with Prince Carlisle and fought off assassins, but that was hardly a story for her.
Elena didn’t speak after that. The servants, who had been waiting for their conversation to be over, soon approached them.
“My Lady, where should we move the luggage from the carriage?”
“Move everything to my room.”
At her order, the servants held one of the large luggage trunks in each hand in an orderly fashion. They followed after Elena and Mirabelle who were walking hand in hand. The pair was a beautiful sight to behold.
Elena found adjusting her mannerisms difficult as she had not lived for a long time as a noblewoman, but she didn’t let it show on the outside and walked gracefully. She was the beloved daughter of a count and the woman who was in charge of the household, and she had to keep her balance.
It was also important to understand the grievances of the people of lower status and to not act overbearing. Since she was young, she had been paying more attention to this area since childhood. As she played this role well in her past life, now the Blaise’ servants were well organized and disciplined.
Mirabelle spoke again, swinging Elena’s arm.
“How was your trip, sister? Hmm?”
“Well, I don’t know. I had an upset stomach in the middle of it…”
Mirabelle had been curious why Elena had to return in the middle of her trip. But Mirabelle’s reaction was a bigger storm than Elena had anticipated.
“What? Did you eat something wrong?”
“I’m all better now–”
“So that’s why you got home earlier than I expected. I’m going to call the doctor and ask him to see you right away.”
“That’s not necessary–”
“Wait in the room, sister.”
Mirabelle brought in the most famous doctor in the south to see Elena. Elena had a lot of work to do, but she was forced to lie down in bed and rest until sunset. The problem did not end here. Something was happening elsewhere that she didn’t know about.
“Did I not ask you to put your life on the line? How bad did it get if she had to come home?”
Unlike Mirabelle who had learned about the reasons of Elena’s early return later, Derek had been briefed on what had happened in advance. As soon as they arrived at the castle, the knights who escorted Elena had to go through hell for failing to perform their duties properly.
“I’m sorry, sir. From now on, I’ll risk my life…”
“It’s too late. Starting now you will run ten laps around this training hall then line up accordingly to who finishes first and so on.”
When Derek made up his mind no one could one make him budge. It was a memorable event for those who trained and those who watched them. Just like that Elena had been turned from a simple young lady to someone they would risk their life for, all of which was unknown by Elena.
As the day passed and night descended, Count Alphord Blaise soon arrived at the castle.