Ch. 225 Do You Have A Handkerchief? (2)
The matches continued. Elena fought several more battles, and the pain in her back grew worse. She grimaced as she rolled her shoulders.
‘…I can’t let the battles stretch out.’
At last, there was only one match left—the one against Wickley, as expected.
Elena was sitting at the waiting bench, when she heard swiftly approaching footsteps. She turned her head, and found that the person walking towards her was none other than Kuhn.
‘Why is Sir Kasha here?’
Before she could figure out the answer, Kuhn stopped in front of her and spoke.
“Are you Lord Derek?”
She gave a slight nod instead of speaking. She had to be careful around other people, but even more so with Kuhn. He addressed her in a low voice.
“The General—ah, excuse me— the Crown Prince wants to see you. Could you spare a few minutes before the last match?”
Elena blinked in surprise.
‘Did Carlisle realize who I was?’
She suspected that he did. That didn’t matter. The situation forced her to fight in Derek’s place, and there was no reason to deceive or avoid Carlisle.
Elena gave her answer by standing up silently. Kuhn looked at her in puzzlement, wondering why she didn’t say a word in reply.
“Follow me, please.”
Elena slowly followed Kuhn to a place she had never been inside the stadium. The distance wasn’t far, but it was a luxuriously decorated area with a completely different atmosphere from where the matches were held.
Kuhn opened the door for her when they arrived at the destination. Elena’s eyes widened in surprise when she saw the room inside. She would never have guessed that such a palatial-looking room was housed inside the stadium.
Carlisle lifted his head at the sound of their arrival. His and Elena’s eyes met in midair, and Elena noted that her husband’s face was exceptionally stiff. He already seemed to recognize her, and he spoke to Kuhn without moving his gaze away.
Kuhn bowed deeply and left the room, leaving only Elena and Carlisle inside. When Carlisle spoke, it was with a tone of displeasure.
“We don’t have much time, so take off your armor. I need to check the damage on your back.”
She suspected her recognized her, but she was surprised at how quickly he acted.
“How did you know it was me?”
“Ask me that question when I don’t recognize you. How could I not know my own wife?”
A faint smile played across the corners of Elena’s mouth. Carlisle approached her and pulled off her helmet, revealing her bare face without any makeup. She still looked absolutely beautiful to him. He remembered the time when she first appeared in armor and saved him.
“I know what you’ll say, but I have to play the final match.”
“I know. Your brother was lying in the waiting room, and I had him secretly taken for emergency care. You won’t have to worry.”
“Really? Is he alright?”
“He’s fine, although temporarily paralyzed. He’ll make a full recovery with some time.”
Elena’s heart lifted at the news. She had been deeply worried that Derek had been poisoned with some unknown substance. However, she was still pretending to be him, and had been forced to suppress her anxious state of mind.
“I could suggest that someone else take your place…but I’m sure you would refuse.”
“Yes. I don’t want to leave my brother’s position to anyone else. He represents the Blaise family.”
“…I knew it.”
Carlisle looked reluctant, but he stopped short of protesting. He helped remove more of the armor Elena was wearing, and she looked at him with a questioning expression.
“Why do you want to look at the wound?”
“I need to see how damaged it is, and I’ll give you pain medicine so you can hold out until the match is over. You’ll be more comfortable that way”
She took off her upper body armor, turned around, and showed Carlisle her backside. Carlisle’s expression turned brooding as he saw the grim wound before him.
“This may not be your intention, but I feel like my limits are being tested frequently these days.”
Carlisle began to apply the medicine he had brought, causing Elena to grit her teeth in pain. She could feel the slight trembling of his fingertips, and she held back her moan even when the area he touched was painful. For some reason, the thought of causing Carlisle worry seemed to hurt her more.
He finished applying the medicine with efficient speed, then began bandaging her wound again.
“I warn you, if you let that bastard Wickley harm a hair on your head, I’ll jump into the arena and snap his neck.”
The stadium would be in an uproar if that happened. Elena supposed Carlisle had made a joke, but one could never know from the tone of his voice.
“Don’t get hurt, and come back to me.”
She felt the gentle touch of his fingertips on her wound, and she turned around to look at him. She sensed from his expression that he was holding back something he wanted to say. He obviously did not want to send her into danger, but in order to respect Elena’s wishes, he kept his mouth closed. Elena’s heart swelled with love that he would do such a thing for her.
“Thank you for trusting me. I’ll be careful not to get hurt.”
“…I didn’t realize that our conversation earlier would come true.”
She remembered the words they had exchanged at their seats.
— If you cheer for me like you’re doing now, then maybe I’ll have to take part in the tournament if I get a chance later.
—I would participate for you, too.
They had no idea that their words would come true so soon. Elena looked at Carlisle with a faint smile. He may not like the present situation, but she was happy with the trust she received from him.
A thought suddenly crossed Elena’s mind.
“By the way, Caril…”
“Do you have a handkerchief?”
Wild cheers rang deafeningly from the stands in anticipation of the championship match. Before Elena entered the arena, she tied the handkerchief she received from Carlisle at the end of her lance. Originally it would have been Elena’s handkerchief, but now it was Carlisle’s. Others may believe that it was Elena’s, but she knew the truth.
‘For Caril’s sake…’
Accepting someone’s handkerchief before a fight meant fighting for their honor. Elena smiled as the delicate cloth fluttered at the end of her weapon. The traditional roles had been swapped; usually it was a man that fought, and a lady that offered the token.
However, that didn’t matter at the moment. What was important was that Elena would fight a duel for Carlisle. And she never wanted to lose such a fight.
“It’s time for the championship match! Knights, enter the arena!”
With the host’s voice and the crowd’s cheers pouring through the entrance, she made her way towards the arena. The sunlight cast long shadows behind her, causing her appearance from behind to look like a painting.