Marienne slowly stood beside Vileon. He stared straight ahead, knowing the reason for her absence.
“The Princess and the Duke finished their first dance ten minutes ago.”
Traditionally, the first dance at a ball belongs to the main characters of the evening. The thought of the two of them crossing the great hall, all eyes on them, was immediately repulsive.
Marienne responds with something akin to an ‘ugh.’ Somewhere between a yes and an ewww.
“My parents didn’t make it to the first dance, and Chloise got asked out to the dance floor.”
It means it’s okay to talk about things that only we know.
“How did it go?”
“There was an interruption.”
Vileon turned his head immediately to look at Marienne. His eyes fell on her hair, which was a little more dishevelled than before.
“Are you hurt?”
“I’m not hurt, don’t worry.”
“Is your head…”
“Oh, it just got a little dishevelled in the middle of my rampage.”
Marienne looked out at the hall again. Beautifully dressed noblemen and women were circling in pairs.
Beyond the dancers, she could see young men and women sneaking glances of opportunity. They were like beasts of prey crouched in the grass. Their target was the man beside Marienne.
Vileon, the sun of the Empire, a young and handsome chancellor.
‘Such discerning ladies.’
Marienne repeatedly admired the young ladies, who were only two or three years older than her.
‘Good-looking, well-bred, skilful, and sweet-talking. Even if he was turned down for a dance, Vileon would never let it get to him.’
I understood a hundred times why the young ladies were after him.
It occurred to me that the future of imperial social life was not so bleak. There are so many people with good taste.
“Doesn’t Lord Byers dance?”
“I mean, you’re in full regalia today, and you sparkle even when you just stand still.”
“It would be a shame if you don’t go out to the hall looking like this.”
“Well, thank you for being nice.”
Vileon hesitated for a moment.
“Aide Didi is also…”
“Hmph, there’s a young lady approaching from the one o’clock position.”
Marienne lowered her voice. If Vileon complied with the young lady’s request, she would have to wait alone for his return. Chloise was not likely to return anytime soon, as she could barely keep up with ten songs in a row.
‘Surely the cultist won’t come this far?’
Even Leslie would recognise the oddity of a priest appearing on the ballroom floor.
Marienne decided to trust his dignity that he left her to race at full speed.
As soon as she had that thought, she saw the Second Prince standing in a crowd in front of the window.
Marienne doubted her eyes. Leslie, dressed in white priestly robes, was smiling at his lord.
“When did he follow me?”
She muttered to herself, and Vileon responded.
“Who are you referring to?”
“You know, Priest Anais.”
Vileon glanced at the second prince.
“How does the Aide know Priest Anais?”
“He’s the interrupter I told you about earlier. He surprised me by appearing from behind, and I didn’t even get to enter the room…”
Marienne explained, moving slightly behind Vileon’s back.
“Lord Byers, I’ll hide behind you for a moment.”
Just then, a lady, who had been charging from the 1 o’clock position, arrived in front of Vileon. In a shy voice, she asked for a dance.
Vileon, unlike anyone from the north, asked the lady for her understanding in a polite and friendly tone.
The lady paused at the moment she was rejected, but left with a smile due to the soft response that followed.
It’s just the two of them again. Marienne apologized in a small voice behind Vileon’s back.
“I’m sorry you couldn’t even go out to the hall because of me.”
“You don’t have to apologise, Didi. I’m not here to dance.”
Vileon’s tone was somewhat sterner than when he’d been dealing with the lady.
Was he angry?
“Start from the beginning, from the moment the interrupter appeared from behind.”
Marienne fumbled through her memory and explained what had happened earlier. Since she was talking at the back of Vileon, she couldn’t tell what kind of expression he was wearing.
But when she mentioned that Leslie had tried to kiss the back of his hand, Vileon took a deep breath. His upper body, wrapped in black robes, expanded.
‘Wow, he’s big.’
From the looks of it, there wasn’t much difference between the northerner and Vileon. There’s only a two centimetre difference in height.
Marienne was disappointed. Vileon wouldn’t be out of place if they were trying to impress her with their physical attributes, but Odette wants a plus alpha.
“Firstly, Aide Didi made a good call, we shouldn’t give Priest Anais any leverage. Besides, the timing of his appearance is far too manipulative.”
Vileon said, his tone a little stiff.
“It can’t be a coincidence, he probably planned it from the beginning and went after the aide.”
“Don’t get too discouraged, you’ll get another chance.”
“Yeah, I hope so.”
Marienne replied in a deadpan voice. She was getting annoyed, annoyed, annoyed at this string of failures.
‘Leslie Anais, why are you following me again? You’re doing what you always do, gossiping with palace insiders and flirting with ladies. Get on with it.’
Seriously, leave me alone. What I’m about to do has nothing to do with you. You’ve got it all wrong.
Please, let’s make him bald. Yes, I know, it’s not exactly a novelty to make the original male lead bald, but do we have to get you, the enemy, in the way?
By the end, it’s almost a plea. Vileon informed her that Leslie was standing with his back to the hall. Marienne cautiously stepped out from behind Vileon.
Good. The priest has his back to me, and the northerner is talking to some guy. You can talk among yourselves until the ball is over, then dismiss.
Just then, a well-built young man stopped in front of Marienne.
“Good evening, young lady. Would you like to dance with me if you have no previous engagements?”
This was completely unexpected. Marienne stared at the young man in surprise. ‘Are you referring to me?’ She asked, pointing her finger at herself, and he said yes.
“I’ve been eyeing you for a while now, and seeing as you’re so close to Lord Byers, I’m wondering if you’re related, though I’ve never met you in a setting like this before.”
“My aide is on official business, Lord Francesco.”
Vileon replied in a milder tone.
“I’m afraid she won’t be able to accommodate you.”
On official business? Perhaps this was Vileon’s excuse for pushing today. He’d used the same reason to send the lady back earlier.
Above all, the word “official duties” carried a lot of weight. The moment you ask why, it seems like you’re committing an impolite act.
An invincible excuse!
Marienne marvelled once again at Vileon’s ability to choose the most trivial of excuses.
“You were an aide to Lord …Byers.”
Not a noble lord, but a commoner, an official. And on official business. Normally, he should have backed off at this point.
“Well, if you’re on official business with the Ministry of Finance, and Lord Byers is here, I suppose a song wouldn’t hurt, would it?”
The young man grinned at Marienne.
“And I was wondering what your aide thought of it.”
Oh, quite right, Lord Francesco. He’s younger than Vileon, but he’s got a lot of balls. He deflected the question, saying he’d rather hear the answer from the lady himself.
Marienne applauded heartily. Credit where credit is due.
Vileon, meanwhile, looked a little taken aback. Then he turned to Marienne.
“Well, Aide Didi’s wishes come first, and I apologise for answering for you. Would you like to go out to the hall? I’m fine either way.”
“Oh, no. I can’t dance, actually, sorry.”
Vileon’s reaction was oddly quick.
“In that case, I’ll continue what I was doing with my aide.”
“I see… I’m very sorry, but I must take my leave.”
The young man bowed stiffly before leaving. Marienne watched the young man’s back, then turned to Vileon.
Marienne had been threatened with death many times before and never blinked. It wasn’t that there was anything wrong with her, she was just too blind to notice.
He wondered if she’s starting to learn to notice.
Marienne noticed that Vileon was uncomfortable. The smile at the corners of his mouth was rigid, his eyes devoid of laughter.
She could think of a few possible reasons. But they all seemed self-conscious, and she was embarrassed to say them out loud.
“I really can’t dance, and I’ve never had any dance lessons. And you turned him down because you said we were on official business.”
“…I don’t know what’s wrong with me.”
Vileon rubbed his forehead and blinked. He looked a little confused.
At the same time.
Odette, who hadn’t been out in the hall since the first song, happened to glance at Cain’s hair. Then, spontaneously, she remembered someone.
‘What was that all about?’
She had always trusted Vileon’s judgement. But this time he was wrong, and uncharacteristically, he’d brought in a very strange woman.
‘The Duke always had long hair, by the way.’
Odette tried to dispel her suspicions about the duke who ran out half-naked because she had cut off a few strands of his hair.
Of course, it would be outrageous. Odette herself would be upset if her hair was cut off.
‘But, but, but… running while half-naked?’
She’s told he then went to the aide’s quarters and broke down the door. It’s a bit odd for her fiancé, who is so cold-hearted that even if you stabbed him, not a drop of blood would come out.
“Princess, do you have something to say?”
Cain asked. Perhaps staring too hard, Odette quickly lowered her eyes, pretending it was nothing.
He hadn’t realised she was looking at his hair.