This is again some absurd talk.
Cordelia tightened her facial muscles as if to make it look that way at least in Tiren’s eyes.
“What do you think I’m up to?”
“Oh come on, why act like this? Let’s be honest here.
Do you not know that in social circles, young ladies like handsome men? Even someone who doesn’t know that exists? I can think of the faces of the guys you’ve dated, and it’s like a painting.”
To say that her nephew was handsome like that.
It was true, but still.
“No, it’s you who acted like every person you dated was a beauty!”
She raised her voice unintentionally, unable to believe that Tiren was talking as if he hadn’t done that himself.
Tiren shrugged lightly.
“Well, if it’s not, then it’s fine.”
He was tactfully stepping back, yet Cordelia could see Tiren’s thoughts.
She thought he wouldn’t suspect it, even though he knew the situation on this side.
After all, her sister had said that a good strategist pierces the opponent’s weak points.
Of course, matters of strategy had nothing to do with her! Anyway, it seemed like she had successfully hit a nerve.
Cordelia opened her eyes halfway and glanced at Tiren.
She didn’t know how long she could hide it, but she had a feeling that if it was discovered, it would inevitably become troublesome.
“While Noah might let things go due to his nature, I have no intention of just overlooking this.”
Still, she felt like she should say this and move on.
“What do you mean?”
“What’s with the pretense, Tiren? No, first, do you even have the right to be near Noah?”
When asked sharply, Tiren chuckled softly.
Despite his expression, the slight twitch of his shoulders indicated that the phrase “you’d get hurt if you act coldly with this face” might not be entirely baseless.
“True, I don’t have the right.
If it weren’t for this situation, I wouldn’t have bothered to show my face.”
Tiren, who was usually good-natured, dropped a hint.
“His Majesty the King is even colder than you might think.
If he had deemed that I would be a threat, he would never have let me go this far.”
Cordelia let out a small chuckle.
“That’s a quite rational excuse.
Are you saying that His Majesty the King is extending such favors to someone who could potentially become a seed of rebellion? The presence of that child wouldn’t be of any help to the royal authority, after all.”
No matter how much a royal status had been stripped away, bloodline was still bloodline.
The former king had many children, but considering her mother’s status, he was the most legitimate heir after the current king and his children, in terms of lineage.
Tiren shrugged at the wary look.
“What’s visible isn’t everything.
Is your sister so foolish as to choose such a pitiful man as her husband?”
There was nothing to say to that.
Seeing Cordelia immediately drop her tail when Jerania’s name was brought up, Tiren inwardly sighed.
The queen, indeed.
She does know people.
“Don’t trust me, trust His Majesty’s judgment, Lady.”
“For now, I understand.”
Even as Cordelia pouted and stuck out her lips, she couldn’t hide her curiosity and asked,
“Then what exactly is the relationship between you and Noah?”
The returning answer was succinct.
“Laura and the lion.”
“It’s a famous fairy tale, haven’t you heard of it? Just think of it like that kind of relationship.”
“Of course I know, but hey, you!”
Before she could ask anything more, Tiren slipped away into the alley.
Cordelia hurriedly followed, but somehow the man had vanished into the crowd without a trace.
Cordelia scratched the back of her head.
“What was that supposed to mean?”
* * *
With the sun blazing above their heads, Cordelia and Noah stood side by side in front of a building named ﹤Dios Aparateiro]﹥.
“It’s different from what I expected.”
“Yeah, it is.”
Following Cordelia, Noah chimed in.
They both had assumed it would be an inn or something of the sort, but judging by the atmosphere, it seemed to be something more upscale.
Cordelia, who had been giving annoyed looks to the numerous people bustling around the building, pulled her hood tightly and took Noah’s hand, leading him.
The sensation of his jet-black glove was soft.
“The name of the building is unlucky from the start.”
A god without wings.
Isn’t it a rather strange and uncomfortable name?
The footsteps of the two entering the building came to a sudden halt.
The surrounding scenery changed in an instant, soon reconstructing into an entirely different space.
Noah, quickly surveying his surroundings as if trying to grasp the situation, grabbed Cordelia’s arm and pulled her towards him.
Cordelia spotted the person right in front of them, and stood in front of Noah, blocking him with a cautious stance.
“Oh my, didn’t you like the welcome?”
A spacious and bright area came into view.
The walls all around were pure white, the floor was marble and a round, red carpet lay in the center with a table set with food.
Seated at the table, a silver-haired man smiled warmly at them.
In between them and the man, uniformed servants stood in formation against the columns.
Taking in the whole scene in a quick sweep, Cordelia spoke somewhat coldly.
She lightly clenched her right hand, letting her anger flow away.
“Within the kingdom, unless it’s within a temple, the use of unlicensed magic is prohibited.”
The sudden change in the surroundings was undoubtedly due to magical influence.
Where on earth were they?
Trying to hide her tension and calmly inquiring, Cordelia spoke as Raymond replied leisurely,
“No need to worry.
I obtained permission from the temple.”
“There’s nothing that can’t be resolved with money and power.”
If it’s prohibited by law, it implies that it was essentially resolved through bribery.
Cordelia made a firm decision.
When they leave, she must report this to her sister.
Cleansing corruption—how desirable those words are.
As she thought about these things, Raymond’s gaze turned toward Noah.
“The local lord has also granted permission for this.”
Why does her father’s name have to be involved in this corruption?!
As Cordelia recalled who the lord of this region, including Rete, was, she bristled with tension.
It was like telling her to keep her mouth shut if she didn’t want sparks flying.
What the hell did he authorize with that damn guy?
Noah, who stood behind Cordelia, seemed to be thinking the same thing and muttered quietly.
Cordelia’s voice was icy enough to make her flinch.
“Are you threatening us?”
“I simply hope for a peaceful resolution.”
They don’t think it’s going to be easy for Tiren to find them in this magical space.
Rayman shrugged at Noah, who stood in front of him, wary.
I have no intention of causing harm to you or the lady.
I don’t even want to turn Isaac Weichen into an enemy, no matter who I am.”
The smile that had been unnaturally present on his face crumbled slightly as if he recalled something dreadful.
What could be so frightening?
With the image of her father, who was a true fool, in mind, Cordelia tilted her head.
No, of course, she hears praise for his unmatched skill in politics.
The sight of her father being grabbed by the ear and dragged away by her mother flashed through her mind.
Well, the majestic appearance of her father is unimaginable, indeed.
“By the way, the food we prepared will probably get cold for once.
Please have a seat.”
Cordelia and Noah exchanged glances, then sat down side by side at the table.
Various meats seasoned and roasted with spices, cheeses, freshly baked bread that seemed to have just come out, and all sorts of fruits in the dish placed in the center.
The delicious smell wafted through the air, stimulating their senses of smell.
Among them, what caught Cordelia’s gaze was the wine placed at the center of the table.
When Raymond gestured, the servants closest to them approached.
Upon opening the lid, a sweet and rich aroma spread.
It felt like the sound of saliva swallowing could be heard in her ears.
The color of the wine pouring into the glass in front of her was beautiful.
Even at a glance, the expensive and exquisite liquor exuded a fragrance that tempted Cordelia.
“Please, go ahead and have some.”
“Ah, I don’t drink alcohol.”
Stay calm, Cordelia.
Right now, you’re Noah Epherman.
You’re someone who has no connection with alcohol! Oh, but why does it feel like sweat is starting to form on her forehead?
“I’m not particularly fond of drinking alcohol offered by strangers.”
After lightly responding, Noah, who had been glancing at Cordelia, was greatly startled upon seeing his own face, which was almost on the verge of stammering.
His face seemed perfectly fine, yet his eyes couldn’t lie.
No, what should they do?
“It’s a rare dining occasion, and to see you not partake in anything makes me feel rather unsatisfied with my hospitality.”
“…Still, as a gesture of courtesy, I’ll accept a glass.”
There was no choice but to believe in his words that he had no intention of causing harm.
Noah directed a faint smile towards Cordelia, his eyes sparkling as if pretending.
As if demonstrating, Noah lifted his glass first.
The fact that Cordelia was a noble was common knowledge among those who knew her.
He couldn’t be the only one not drinking and draw suspicion.
Tilting the glass slightly, the wine smoothly flowed down his throat.
Wiping his lips with a napkin, Noah replied casually,
“It’s not bad.”
He wasn’t naturally inclined to enjoy alcohol, so he wasn’t sure how to react.
Pretending to be reserved was the best course of action.
On the other hand, Cordelia was struggling in a different sense.
It was difficult to control her mouth, which was trying to rise as soon as she took a sip.
Indeed, the Grand Duchy is said to be wealthy, and it seems they live up to their reputation.
Didn’t her father fall for the drink, too?
Lost in her irrelevant thoughts, Cordelia snapped back to reality by the observing gaze directed at her.
The gaze that had lingered on Cordelia’s hand was withdrawn, and the man, who resembled a fox, let out a lazy chuckle.
“Seems quite to your liking.”
“Only now you seem to be treating me like a person.”
The man’s attitude seemed strangely different.
Did he hear something? To try and glean some information, Cordelia subtly raised her luck.
Raymond widened his eyes as if to ask what she was doing.
“I haven’t had a reason to, but is something bothering you?”
“Why would it? I was quite surprised when you stole even other people’s money and caused something on the noble lady.”
“I did ask Kion to bring you politely.
I heard there were some misunderstandings in the process of communication.”
What a rare lunatic.
Facing Raymond’s gaze that seemed to openly carry implications of whether he had heard what she had done, Cordelia spoke with an affectionate tone.
“Oh my, what else have you done now? Did you think you’re going to threaten our noble lady by taking me hostage?”
Ever looked in a mirror? Rarely, perhaps.
Amid the laughter of the two, an intangible spark flew.
Without rashly intervening, Noah kept his mouth shut and focused on the meal.
Not that there was much to focus on, just picking at the fruits.
“But, the noble lady has been quiet all this time.”
Even with the sudden topic directed at him, Noah responded calmly.
“I seem to have a knack for inserting myself at the right moments.”
“That wasn’t my intention, but… If the noble lady felt that way, it’s probably my oversight.
Isn’t the food not to your taste?”
“Well, Your Grace, if you’re in my position, I don’t think the food would go down easily either.
If you’ve had your fill, it might be time to get to the point.”
Good, you’re doing well.
Observing Noah’s swift understanding, like a sponge soaking up water, Cordelia gently suppressed the rising impulse.
“As expected, you’re an interesting person, lady.”
Seeming to have enjoyed this interaction, he finally brought up the main topic.
“I wanted to formally invite you, lady, to our Grand Duchy.”
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