“…I will give you the southern forest and the garden of Winter Castle. We will also hire gardeners. If you tell them the flowers you want to see each season, they will cultivate them for you. Next time, let’s go and see the flowers with your dad.” The Duke’s large hand tenderly stroked Elliana’s silky hair as he spoke.
“…Huh?” Elliana tilted her head in disbelief, thinking she might have misheard.
Not only was he giving her the entire forest and garden, but the fact that gardeners would cultivate flowers specifically for her each season… It was an unimaginable extravagance.
“If you ever need anything in the future, just tell me. I am your father, after all.”
Elliana quietly raised her head.
‘Could it be that it hurt him to hear that I asked someone else for help?’
Regardless, it seemed that the crisis had been averted.
“By the way, you must’ve been surprised when a powerful monster appeared in the ice cave. But you were braver than anyone else and stepped forward. Well done.”
Due to her father’s praise, Elliana felt her chest flutter and warm up.
“You saved me. Thank you.”
“It’s a father’s duty to protect his daughter. There’s no need to be grateful for that.”
At that moment, Elliana’s heart grew even warmer. So this was what it meant to have a father. He was reliable and warm. She felt cozy and protected with him, something she had never experienced from other adults before.
“Well, what should I do as a twanks?”
“I don’t know. It’s okay not to do anything. It’s enough for me if you’re safe.”
No matter how cold his usual expression was, Elliana knew that he was an infinitely warm father. Elliana cuddled up to her father and called out to him. “Dad.”
Khalid gently flicked Elliana’s tiny nose in response.
“Before summer comes, your older brother and sister will also return.”
“Yes, I’ll wait.”
She wondered what her older brother and sister were like. At least she hoped they were better than Ian. It would be nice if her family members got along well amidst everything.
Come to think of it, her father also had a brother named Raspad. Elliana cautiously asked about him. “Does Dad have awso have siblings like Elliana?”
After hesitating for a moment, Khalid answered her question.
“I have. But now he’s gone.”
The atmosphere was heavy that there couldn’t be any more questions. It seemed like a sensitive topic, so Elliana absentmindedly played with her fingers and held her father’s large hand.
“…When the family is all gathered, I plan to formally introduce you to the clan. We can’t keep you hidden forever.”
Certainly, it was a bit uncomfortable not being able to reveal her true identity. It was frustrating not being able to proudly declare her status, especially when she was being ignored by the likes of Zaka and the other troublemakers during her lessons.
But apart from that, there weren’t many other inconveniences, so she simply blinked her big eyes.
In truth, what matters to Elliana more than being recognized officially as his child were other things.
Father, mother, older brother, older sister, and a family–those were the things she didn’t have in her past life, the things she couldn’t even imagine having. She felt a mix of anticipation for the family she would soon meet and was worried about her sleeping mother.
‘…I wonder if there’s a way to wake her up.’
After going in circles, she had finally managed to meet her. Hence, she wanted to find a way to save her from the curse no matter what. Though she felt a little overwhelmed about where to start, she had a feeling she would find the answer somehow.
‘I hope I can awaken her with the power of the sun that I possess.’
The Duke kissed Elliana’s forehead and said, “Sleep well, my daughter.”
Elliana’s heart became incredibly happy from her father’s goodnight kiss, making her feel as soft and fluffy as pudding.
Her eyes suddenly closed without her even realizing.
* * *
After a while, the Duke returned to his study and immediately summoned his aide, Jerus, and the head butler, Elliott, giving them an order.
“Transfer the ownership of the southern forest to Elliana and have it transformed into a garden.”
“What? Why all of a sudden?”
Jerus looked at his master with questioning eyes, and the Duke replied, “My daughter wants to see the flowers with me.”
“But Your Excellency, since no one in the territory knows that she’s your child, transferring the ownership of the forest would be…”
Upon Jerus’ objection, the Duke fell silent for a moment. In the stillness, Jerus and Elliott stared at each other intently.
Three years ago, Elliana was taken away from the palace due to some conspiracy. The Duke had a rough idea of who was behind it and why.
It was because the child was the Child of Sun, possessing the power of the sun.
If he didn’t establish Elliana as his child, he wouldn’t have the grounds to protect his child. Moreover, no matter how much they tried to hide her, there would eventually come a time when it would be revealed.
After much contemplation, the Duke reached a decision.
“Yes. We can’t keep hiding her forever. Announce that Elliana is my child. Gather the representatives of the other territory, the elders, and the heads of loyal families.”
As the situation seemed to be escalating, worry crept into Jerus’ face.
“But won’t that put the child in danger?”
“Strengthen the security of the palace by two more levels and deploy additional guards to Dandelion Palace.”
After years of searching, he had finally found his daughter. The child who resembled her mother so much, the one that Luichel left behind.
‘No matter what happens, I will protect my daughter.’
In the shimmering violet eyes of the Duke, there was a strong determination.
“Jerus, prepare the documents, and Elliot, hire the gardeners immediately. I want a beautiful garden completed within ten days.”
“Yes, Your Excellency.”
“Understood, Your Excellency.”
As the two people stepped back, the Duke took hold of a pen to write a letter to his other children.
Derrick, the eldest son, and Celia, the second daughter was studying at the Academy. They were a family, and it was only right that they knew about Elliana’s existence.
Though he had been itching to tell others that Elliana was his daughter, it was a relief to finally make up his mind and be able to proudly boast about her.
“Now I can proudly brag about that child.”
A smile formed on the Duke’s lips. Elliana’s charm had been confined to those who knew the secret, and it was quite frustrating.
* * *
Unaware of the significant events unfolding, Elliana, who had woken up as a puppy in her room, groaned and rubbed her fluffy fur with her front paws.
It seemed like she should take some time to organize the dreams she had about her past life.
The memories from her past life were tangled and disordered, making it difficult to sort them out.
‘It feels heavy in my head, probably because it’s a child’s head carrying so many memories.’
Following the dreamcatcher swaying in the breeze from the window, Elliana made up her mind.
“Woof! (Yes, let’s record the dreams!)”
Before forgetting the dreams and in case she forgets, it would be good to have them recorded for future reference.
She could recall the dream fragments given to her by the dreamcatcher, but the dreams tend to become blurry over time.
Having learned simple sentences from Demeter, the head maid, in her past life, Elliana was able to write. However, as a three-year-old, her finger muscles were not yet fully developed, making it challenging to write for a long time.
‘But I can’t give up.’
There was also the option of drawing instead of writing. Elliana immediately told Noelle her plans when she returned to her human form.
That afternoon, she received a large notebook tied with a ribbon and a set of drawing tools, including crayons. The crayons came in six different colors.
‘Thank you, Noelle.’
With the paper and crayons in hand, Elliana would sit at the desk or lay down, spending the whole day drawing. But drawing was not an ordinary task for her either.
“It’s dwifficult. (It’s difficult.)”
Despite her small hands, she persisted in her drawing, which was adorable to watch. Noelle gently stroked the back of her head and brought milk and soft cheese cookies for her.
“Please have a snack while you draw, my lady. Once you finish, please show it to me.”
‘…This is a secret, should I draw something else to show?’ Read ahead here.