“Hmm? A letter?”
Lady Eleanor peered through the window and eagerly opened it. Seraph, the messenger bird, flew in and perched itself on Lady Eleanor’s shoulder, unfurling its wings to display its delight.
“Where did this little one come from? Let’s see.”
Lady Eleanor unfolded the letter the Seraph carried. It bore the seal of the Krasion House.
“It’s from the Krasion House.”
Seraph found its way to a water trough familiar to it and took a sip. Having flown ceaselessly over a vast distance, it was doubtlessly thirsty. Lady Eleanor, Estella, poured some water into a plate to quench Seraph’s thirst.
This Seraph had served as a messenger bird that Estella had gifted to various noble and royal families a long time ago.
These messenger birds possessed a special ability, namely the power to locate Estella wherever she was.
“It’s quite diligent.”
Estella had never settled in one place. Possessing a restless personality, she constantly moves from one place to another. She would provide garments to those in need and receive textiles in reciprocity when she couldn’t afford to purchase them herself.
Thus, it was a misconception from the start to assert that she exclusively made apparel for nobles and royalty.
Constant wanderings left no means for anyone to contact her. Save for a messenger bird directly bestowed by her.
Estella ran her fingers along her spectacles’ frame as she read the letter from beginning to end.
The letter contained a request to make several dresses for a young girl.
Estella chuckled with her lips rounded.
She seemed to pause several times when she encountered the phrase ‘young girl.’ Had the Crown Prince of the Krasion Empire succumbed to love’s allure?
Mirthfully, she snatched up her pen and began composing a reply. She reassured them that since she was currently in the Krasion Empire, she would be able to arrive promptly.
“Well, this time, it’s your turn to take off.”
Estella grinned as she spoke.
Estella, instead of Seraph, who had just flown a great distance, tied the letter to another messenger bird’s ankle and said,
“Off you go.”
The messenger bird with the letter tied to its ankle took flight through the wide-open window.
* * *
“Here you are.”
Indros tapped on the glass pane. The children who were enjoying cake inside glanced up.
Thiel exclaimed with joy. Olivia looked at Ian with a guarded expression, and Perdi and Ludian mirrored her wary countenance.
“What’s going on? How did Iandros get here? Did you tell them?”
Perdi shrugged his shoulders.
“We met the Marquis on the way to the Asterian mansion, and he informed us that you guys had come to this bakery.”
Ian casually entered and took a seat. In a small bakery on the outskirts, the Imperial Prince and the heirs of two families gathered.
The owner of the small bakery on the outskirts, Michelle, tried to steady her nerves and contemplated closing up shop for the day as her hands kept trembling.
Given the bustling activity of the knights of Asterian and the palace guard knights outside, it seems unlikely more customers would come by…
Michelle flipped the sign on the shop’s entrance from ‘open’ to ‘closed’ so that the young lords and ladies could comfortably have their conversation without hindrance.
Perdi looked at Ian, who had nonchalantly taken a seat, and asked with a displeased tone.
“Don’t you think you visit the Asterian mansion too often, Your Highness the Crown Prince?”
“Not at all. Didn’t I visit this frequently before? I think you guys have become more sensitive since Thiel arrived.”
“Oh, what’s this? I was thinking of enjoying a date with my cute cousin, but it’s all ruined because of uninvited guests.”
Olivia, having been close to Iandros, Perdi, and Ludian since childhood, had no qualms about treating Iandros, the Imperial Prince of the Empire, in such a way.
“But I really enjoyed it! Right, brother?”
“Well, it was enjoyable…”
Ludian replied. Thiel finally nodded satisfactorily, as if to convey her satisfaction.
Ian took out a handkerchief and wiped Thiel’s mouth. Thiel was noticeably startled and reacted by grabbing Ian’s wrist.
Thiel had no choice but to release her grip on Ian’s wrist due to Ian’s firm tone.
After carefully wiping Thiel’s mouth, Ian tossed the handkerchief to Ludian.
Ludian grumbled, but no one paid attention to Ludian…
Eventually, Ludian grumbled and placed the handkerchief in his pocket.
Then, squinting his eyes, he queried, “Why are you so free, Iandros? Aren’t you supposed to be busy with the Crown Princess problem?”
“Yeah, why do you seem so idle, Iandros? The darlings of each family are making a fuss about trying to impress the Crown Prince.”
This time, Perdi was probing Iandros. Mimicking Olivia’s tone, Perdi glanced at Olivia.
“Look at him imitating me!”
Olivia exclaimed in disbelief.
Iandros was silently listening to all of this. Thiel glanced up at Iandros.
‘Busy with the Crown Princess problem.’
Suddenly, he remembered the commotion about Rowan becoming a Crown Princess candidate. Not only Rowan, but all the children of that age had become Crown Princess candidates.
He found out late that it wasn’t just Rowan who became a Crown Princess candidate, but all the children of that age…
‘If she becomes the Crown Princess, will I not be able to see her as often?’
Thiel liked Iandros. Ian was kind and gentle to Thiel, mindful of even the minute details.
So, the time spent with Ian was delightful. Although Thiel didn’t show it, it was evident that she enjoyed the time with Ian just like her siblings.
“So, have you checked out all the young heirs of each family? What do you think? Who do you like the most?”
Even though she spoke as if she abhorred it so greatly in front of them…
Regardless, thinking that she would no longer see Ian as often anymore, Thiel felt a bit, no, quite melancholic. A dejected Thiel turned her gaze away.
Ian, observing Thiel’s shifting expressions, briefly scrutinized her before redirecting his gaze to Perdi and Ludian.
“Why do you guys look so idle? Shouldn’t you be returning to the academy soon?”
“You don’t plan to go back until before the vacation? The headmaster won’t just let it slide, you know…”
“Oh, are you going back to the academy…?”
Only then did Perdi and Ludian realize the fact that they had to return to the academy soon, and Thiel clapped her hands together.
Perdi and Ludian, who were trying to devise a way to delay their return to the academy for a short while, swallowed hard with gloomy faces.
Olivia shrugged her shoulders as if teasing her two cousins.
“While you two are absent, I’ll take good care of Thiel. Don’t worry, and hurry back soon.”
“Yeah, Perdi, Ludian. Don’t worry, I’m here.”
Perdi and Ludian had to suppress the urge to utter, ‘You’re the ones we’re most worried about.’
“Are you not going to see me anymore once you return to the academy?”
Thiel asked cautiously. Perdi quickly dispelled the shadow on his face and answered kindly.
“No, you can come by anytime and see me. If you want to see me, just write a letter, and I’ll come to see you, dear sister.”
Thiel’s face brightened at Perdi’s response. The girl nodded.
“Yes, I’ll study hard and write a letter when I miss you, brother!”
“Thiel, don’t say that. Come to the academy and visit. Okay?”
Ludian pushed Perdi aside and leaned in toward Thiel, bringing his face close.
With a face full of irritation, Perdi pushed Ludian’s cheek with his hand.
“Speak sensibly. How can Thiel come to the academy?”
“Just come to the entrance! Last time, Philip’s little sister came to the academy entrance to visit! Do you know how envious I was?”
Thiel, who was contemplating for a moment, clapped her hands.
“Um, if Dad allows, I’ll come to visit. To see my brothers!”
Perdi and Ludian both nodded simultaneously.
“No, Thiel. How far is the academy? If you go there and something happens~ Ugh!!!”
Ludian’s hand blocked Olivia’s mouth, stopping its incessant complaining.
Olivia and Ludian bickered without end. Perdi looked at Ian, leaving those two behind.
“So, enough with the jokes. What’s the real reason you visited today?”
Iandros was not supposed to visit today. If Iandros himself came to visit, there must be some matter of importance, for sure.
And Perdi’s instincts were almost never wrong. Iandros opened his mouth slowly.
“There’s a rumor going around.”
“About your younger sister.”
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