Ch. 229 How Are You Two Together? (2)
With the tournament over, Elena took off Derek’s armor and quickly changed back into her dress. She headed towards the safe room where her brother was resting. Thanks to Carlisle’s secret transfer, Elena was able to safely go to Derek’s side without being noticed by anyone else. Not long after she arrived, her brother began to stir in his bed.
Elena quickly approached him, her eyebrows knitted in anxiety.
“Brother, are you all right?”
Derek’s eyes opened a slit, and he peered at Elena in confusion.
“Your Highness? Oh, the match…!”
Derek remembered that he had lost consciousness and quickly tried to sit up. However, Elena grabbed her brother by the shoulder and tried to coax him back down.
“Don’t worry about the tournament.”
“How long have I been asleep? I have to get ready—”
“The tournament is already over.”
“And the winner is…is you, brother.”
He looked at her disbelief, and Elena spoke again.
“I…I ordered someone to take your place.”
Derek spoke in an uncharacteristically shaky voice. His expression was contorted as if he couldn’t believe the events that were explained to him.
“How did you find someone? What will you do if anyone finds out? It’s a violation of the rules for sometime to compete in another’s place.”
Elena frowned inwardly as she listened to her brother’s reprimand. He was a man of integrity, and would probably have been satisfied with a death in the battlefield. Derek was honorable to a fault.
Elena was different however; she could not lose Derek over something like honor. If he wouldn’t forfeit from a life-threatening tournament, then Elena was forced to stop him from competing.
“You told me you would be my most powerful ally.”
“You said you would fight for me in the future. Are you going to throw away your life just because of a tournament?”
“I want you to live. Please…stay by my side.”
In Elena’s previous life, Derek had sacrificed himself so she could escape. Many years afterwards, she blamed her brother for leaving her to survive by herself. Derek was the kind of man who would want a righteous death, and selfishly, she could not allow it to happen again. She would never lose a single family member.
“This may not be how you wanted to win. But please…don’t leave me alone.”
“I don’t want you to die an honorable death. Live your life and give me your strength.”
Derek listened to Elena’s words in silence, before finally speaking slowly.
“…I’m sorry, Your Highness.”
Elena’s heart sank. He seemed to be apologizing for not being able to do what she asked of him. However, his words continued from there.
“Even though I pledged to serve you, my foolish thoughts diverted me from my promise.”
Power had a dark side to it, like the flip side of a coin. It was politics that could motivate someone to deceive, tear down, and even kill others, and Elena stood in the center of the Imperial Palace’s secret wars. Derek would not hesitate to do evil for Elena’s sake, but he had arrogantly been distracted by defeating Wickley and increasing the reputation of the Blaise family.
If something had gone wrong, Elena would be left alone. Their father, Alphord, was a man more loyal to the Imperial family than the Blaise family, and Mirabelle was too young to depend on. Only Derek could give his strength to Elena right now. He criticized himself for forgetting the fact even for a moment.
“You made a questionable decision before the match.”
Elena’s red eyes trembled, but a faint smile tugged at the corners of Derek’s mouth.
“I did not win the championship on my own, but if this is your wish, I will be happy to follow you.”
Elena’s throat tightened with emotion, and her eyes grew moist.
“I will live and protect you until the very end. You can lean on me in your journey through this thorny road.”
It must have been difficult for an honorable man like Derek to accept this, but he looked at Elena in understanding. Tears slipped down her face, and she smiled gratefully.
“…Thank you, brother.”
After Derek regained his energy, he returned to the stadium where Alphord was still waiting for him. Elena watched from a distance as Alphord proudly congratulated his son, then she turned and walked back to her carriage. Derek could have come out of this tournament injured or dead, but luckily she was able to prevent it.
She stopped walking. The pain in her back was even more aggravated because of the battles. She had hid it from both Derek and Carlisle, fearing that they would worry over her.
‘I’ll call the doctor to check the wound when I get back.’
Carlisle would fuss if he found out the wound worsened, so she would get it treated in advance as much as possible. Elena braced herself with a sharp inhale and walked quickly again.
Elena turned around, then saw Kuhn approaching. She had been informed that he recently transferred back to the Imperial Palace, and she had already met him earlier when she was disguised as Derek. Kuhn bowed his head towards her.
“You were informed about my return, but it’s the first time we’ve met in person again.”
“Yes. How was your time at Blaise mansion?”
Kuhn paused at Elena’s question, then responded with a composed look.
“…It was well.”
“Ah, where is His Highness? He said he would return to the palace first.”
“I came to talk to you about that. The General is currently…”
They were walking and talking together when—
Elena heard the sound of the carriage door open. She sensed that someone else was sitting in the carriage behind her, and when she turned around, she saw Mirabelle staring at her and Kuhn.
For some reason, Mirabelle wore an expression of shock. Maybe Mirabelle had been waiting for her. Elena put on a welcoming smile.
Mirabelle’s spring green eyes, however, were intertwined with betrayal and devastation that Elena had never seen before.
“How…how are you two together?”