If it weren’t for that, her ears would have turned bright red in front of everyone.
Now that most of the nobles had gone in, it seemed like Milvia and Deus were the last ones.
So while she didn’t have to receive the nobles’ gazes anymore, it meant that she and Deus were the only ones on this wide, high staircase.
In other words, not just the servants, but also the footmen, guards, and knights were all staring intently at this unbelievable scene.
Milvia used all her strength to turn her face back to its original state, so as not to show her embarrassment.
‘It’s good. This is good. This is a good thing….’
In any case, she would receive attention and rumors would spread.
Deus Arkan’s woman! She might even be featured in a special article in the newspaper.
There were only good things about it in many ways.
If you only looked at it rationally!
“We’re here. Let me down.”
But as soon as Milvia reached the last step of the stairs, she pushed his chest with all her might. Then she heard Deus make a small ‘tch’ sound as he clicked his tongue. If she hadn’t said anything, he might have carried her all the way to the ballroom.
“Is the ribbon straight? It’s not crooked?”
“It’s in very good condition.”
“Don’t say that it’s good that it’s messed up. Is it really okay?”
“It’s very beautiful, my lady.”
After getting the answer she wanted by nudging Deus, Milvia took a deep breath.
Although it was embarrassing, given her low stamina, she was able to conserve much more energy by being carried by him. Now that she had to go inside and capture the attention of the Crown Prince, she needed to conserve her strength.
And as much as possible, she needed to be on her side.
“Please show your invitation.”
A knight standing at the entrance to the ballroom politely demanded an invitation.
To prevent any accidents, an invitation sent to each household was required for entry.
Of course, she didn’t have one, but Milvia wasn’t worried.
“You wouldn’t not know me, would you?”
The knights stationed at the gate were usually handsome and tall.
It meant that they were often the sons of good families who were not intended for combat, but rather as escorts for ladies.
Deus suppressed such a knight with a single word.
Deus was overwhelmingly superior even in appearance.
“But we need an invitation…”
“This is Lady Medier. She’s struggling in the cold wind, so open the door right away.”
How could a puppy dare to beat a tiger.
The knight hesitated for a moment but soon shouted loudly and opened the door. In any case, there were no knights in this empire who didn’t know Deus. Even those who comfortably enjoyed the capital without setting foot on the battlefield were the same.
“Lady Medier and Sir Deus, entering!”
The shout of the outer knight reached the inner knight, and the shout of the inner knight reached the person standing inside.
While both doors were opening, Milvia tightly held onto Deus’ arm.
The moment she appeared in front of others for the first time.
It felt like someone was squeezing and crushing her heart, making it hard to breathe.
And at that moment.
“…You’ll be fine. I’ll protect you.”
“…What does it matter? This isn’t even a battlefield.”
She said it in a vulgar tone, but it didn’t bother her because of the warmth between their fingers.
Listening to his words, Milvia suddenly realized that she had relaxed without realizing it.
After a short wait, as the final door opened, he pressed his lips against her ear and whispered lazily.
“It means it’s okay to make mistakes. I’ll cover for you, as you intended.”
Milvia’s pupils widened and then returned to normal. Deus straightened up as if asking when he said such a thing.
Milvia finally took steps with Deus, guided by the path people made with curious eyes and pursed lips. Surprisingly, her steps were much more stable than before.
The slightly heavy fabric wrapped around her ankles swayed. The shape of her calves and ankles, which peeked out sneakily as if shedding stardust through the dark darkness, caught people’s attention at once. Although it was a shocking design that would make people say vulgar words, no one said anything.
A few people who knew whose design it was whispered, ‘Madame Salvache.’
“Come to think of it, isn’t she the eldest daughter of Medier?”
“I heard she couldn’t do any activities because she was sick… Didn’t she miss her debutante?”
“I think so. But she walks with such dignity. I know a little about Countess Medier. She looks just like her mother.”
The surrounding voices flowed in smoothly, as though someone had cast an amplification spell.
As she had hoped, the ladies remembered her mother who had passed away a long time ago. The real Countess Medier.
Taking in a second wife is a necessary evil, but one that no one looks upon fondly. So if Reliana is no longer the dominant figure in society, perhaps someone might be on her side.
A very tiny seed of hope swelled slightly.
Milvia easily found Reliana, who was in the innermost part of the banquet hall. She couldn’t see her expression closely because the distance was far, but she hoped she had taken good care of her facial expression.
From now on, I’m going to pursue you.
“Milvia, if you feel sick or tired, let me know anytime. We can go out to the terrace for a while.”
Deus, who was walking confidently beside her, lowered his head and whispered. Milvia nodded lightly and listened carefully to the ladies behind their fans who were talking about this and that.
“But seriously, Reliana, was it? I really wonder how the daughter of that second wife doesn’t resemble her mother at all. Honestly, she doesn’t even look like Count Medier either.”
It sounds very interesting.
Milvia tried not to show any signs of being too focused and walked towards them.
Her first memory of meeting the seven-year-old Reliana was clearly joyful.
Her father simply referred to Reliana as her sister without any explanation, and Milvia naturally accepted her as her ‘half-sister.’
She didn’t take it sensitively that she was her father’s illegitimate child because she was lonely. She was so lonely.
‘But it’s strange.’
Until now, she had always thought of Reliana simply as her younger sister, her half-sister, without ever questioning it.
Reliana doesn’t resemble our father?
But both she and her Father have silver hair, and Reliana also has silver hair. So Milvia just assumed that Reliana vaguely resembled their father. She thought that maybe she was just born prettier, without thinking too much about it. It’s not common to doubt such things.
“Maybe she’s taken some medicine to become prettier.”
“Half-children usually act arrogant and ignorant, so I’m glad she doesn’t have that temperament.”
“Yes, if the second wife’s child were to act too immodest, how could we tolerate it?”
Lips moved beyond their fluttering feather fan. Milvia absorbed every word of their conversation in her mind. Even if it’s useless now, it might be helpful later.
“By the way, what’s with the veil?”
“Maybe it’s because she wants to compare her appearance to the second daughter?”
Some ladies burst into laughter.
In the social circle where they eagerly await interesting events, if by any chance there is a clear difference in beauty between the eldest and second daughters, it would be very amusing. Just that would be enough to provide gossip for several tea parties.
Milvia stretched her brows, which were slightly stiffening, as much as possible.
There is nothing to fear.
There is nothing to be afraid of.
Even though things have improved a bit recently, the reality that her time was racing towards its end remained unchanged, and she would eventually perish.
So what was there to be afraid of?
In a way, being on borrowed time also meant having the courage to face it.
‘Just think what you want.’
The murmurs of the ladies subsided. At some point, trumpets hidden in the walls of the banquet hall were brought out and blew loudly.
The arrival of the imperials, and further, the arrival of the Crown Prince.
There is nothing inherently wrong with wearing a veil, but it is not recommended without a special reason.
If she doesn’t take it off now, she will have to give a proper explanation later.
So should she take it off?
Or should she not?
The expressions of the nobles around her and Deus were so intriguing that she could clearly see them even through the veil.
Milvia willingly approached Reliana’s side, ready to become the focus of attention for today.
Since Deus would also have to stand in the front seat anyway, it was a quite favorable arrangement.
“Sister, are you feeling alright?”
“I thought you wouldn’t come. I came first, thinking that you didn’t want to come… Do you feel uncomfortable being with me?
Here we go again.
Seeing Reliana with her desolate eyes, like a rain-soaked puppy, made Milvia want to slap her face. And she felt dirty for having such violent and irrational thoughts.
Who is the victim here?
Afraid that curses might burst out, Milvia averted her gaze from Reliana’s stuttering words and didn’t answer further. Then she sensed Reliana subtly glancing at Deus who was standing beside her.
Well, he was her target anyway, so it’s only natural, but isn’t that a bit too obvious?
If the door hadn’t swung open just in time to announce the Emperor’s entrance, she would have asked her who Deus was and wanted to be introduced. That’s usually how noble courtships begin.
‘Do you think I’ll give it to you? No. I will take away even the man you are engaged to.’
With a stifled laugh, Milvia quietly watched as the Emperor took his seat on the throne, followed by women of the imperial palace entering behind him. The foolish Crown Prince, who would be better off dead, was the last to arrive.
Acting all high and mighty, pretending to be the smartest judge in the world. In reality, he was a narrow-minded man who only saw and heard what he wanted. A foolish man who boasted about his own righteousness.
“Sister, take off your veil!”
Reliana nudged her side with her elbow, giving her a warning.
Milvia gasped and staggered, not because she was strong enough to withstand the merciless attack, but because her strength had improved enough not to vomit blood immediately.
“Oh my, did I step on you? It must be because of the crowd. Be careful.”
Of course, Milvia didn’t just stand there and take the attack.
Suppressing the pain in her side, Milvia grabbed Deus’ arm and at the same time, stepped firmly on Reliana’s foot with her high heel. Even though the Emperor was looking down at the hall with a solemn expression, she couldn’t make any more noise no matter how much it hurt.
A secret incident unfolded between her flowing sleeves and the wide hem of her dress.
Milvia straightened herself with a triumphant smile.