e to see, but strangely enough, from the moment she laid eyes on the desk, her heart began to beat wildly.

Shall I go and take a look? Should I pretend that I saw nothing?

Maybe it was something trivial.
It could be Ilya's private belongings.

If it were Ilya's private belongings, then Rose might make a mistake.

And yet, Rose felt an unknown anxiety, a greater curiosity that moved her forward.

With a fumbling hand, she lit a match.
Only then did she know what lay on the desk.

It's just stationery.”

A light blue stationery.

She swallowed as that sinking feeling in her chest loosened, but that moment of reassurance did not last for long.


She read the neat handwriting written on the letter.

Tonight, let's go to the Imperial Banquet.

Her red eyes swept through the letter and settled on the right corner of the paper, where a seal was stamped in place of the sender's signature. 

It was a seal from a family she was all too familiar with.

Proud family. 

Rose's outstretched hand trembled.

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He managed to pick up the letter once more and recheck the seal, but the stamp remained the same.

“Why…Elliot asked Ilya…
Why—why are you two…”

Rose forced strength into her weakened knees and staggered her way out of her friend's room.

In her hand, she carried the letter sent from the Proud family.

“Anne! Butler!”

At the girl's shout, Anne and the butler, as well as a few servants cleaning, rushed into the room.

After the passing of the former Duke and Duchess of Honeywell, the young lady had never once raised her voice within the manor.

Thus, her voice strained as she shouted for them.

“Lady Rose! What's wrong?”

The butler, sensing the unusual tone in his mistress's voice, ran to Rose.

Rose grabbed the butler's arm as soon as he reached her.

“Butler! Ilya! Where is Ilya now?”

“Are you talking about Miss Ilya? Lady Rose…
Have you not received the report yet?”

She asked them again as her neat brows wrinkled.

“What report are you talking about? I haven't seen Ilya since dinner.”

Sweat dripped down the butler's cheeks when he heard the young lady's words.

“Miss Ilya left the manor just shortly after dinner, saying that she had an appointment.
She said that she had already spoken to Lady Rose and Duke Honeywell.”

Although the butler felt confused, he still honestly answered Rose.

The young lady's hand loosened and slipped off the butler's hand.

Rose, who had fallen silent, recalled the contents of the letter once more.
A letter sent from Elliot asking the recipient to attend the event together.

Strength surged through her fingers as she crushed the fancy stationery in her hand like fallen leaves.

Rose turned around without delay.

“Get the carriage ready; I'm going to the Imperial Palace immediately.”

She left the manor, leaving behind a hesitant butler who then ordered the coachman to prepare a carriage, and Anne, who walked up to Rose and stood before her.

“Rose, if you leave for the Imperial Palace, you will need to change your dress.”

“No, I don't plan on going into the hall where the ball is held.
I'm just going to meet someone.”

As the coachman pulled the carriage towards them, the butler handed the young lady a fur coat.

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Anne assisted Rose and placed the coat over her shoulders.
Once the carriage stopped before them, she helped her into the carriage.

As soon as Rose entered the carriage, she opened the window and looked back at the anxious butler and Anne.

“I'll be back before midnight.
Please keep this a secret from my brother.”

Rose quickly closed the window so she could avoid hearing any disagreements from the two of them.

The wheels of the carriage began to move, safely carrying Rose to the palace.
Amidst the rattling sound, her head was full of complicated thoughts.

She opened the letter again, but no matter how many times she reread it, it was still in Elliot's handwriting with the seal of the Duke of Proud.

“How the hell could this happen? Elliot.
How could you two…”

The young girl thought about their relationship.

If her memories were correct, the two of them had only met once.
It was when Elliot came to visit her at the Honeywell Manor that she introduced Ilya to him.

“Let's not imagine anything strange, Rose Honeywell.
The letter might have been for me.
Even so, why was there a letter from the Proud family in Ilya's room?”

The more she thought about it, the more her head began to throb.

Rather than questioning their relationship, it would have been better for her to carefully choose what she would say once she met them at the Imperial Palace.

She spent the rest of the ride contemplating her words, and when she arrived at the palace, she had not made any progress.

At her arrival, a knight appeared and helped her down.

“You are from the Honeywell family.
The celebration has already begun.
Did you come alone?”

It seemed that the knight recognized the Honeywell family crest engraved on the carriage.

She stepped gently off the carriage, her gaze lowering.

“I attended late as I was delayed by some work.
I'll take my leave now.”

Rose left the knight and entered the castle.

“Where should I go?”

For Rose, who hardly ever attended social gatherings, the Imperial Palace, which was several times larger than the manor she lived in, was like a maze.

Besides, her purpose wasn't the extravagant ball, but Elliot Proud. 

“When I get to the venue, I will have no choice but to ask the attendant to call for Elliot.”

Rose followed the sound of the distant music.

The sky was dark when she arrived, but as she neared the celebrations, the surroundings started to brighten.
The voices of the nobles entered her ears.

She stopped in place as she looked around for an attendant.

But before she could even find any, she was greeted by the sound of a scream coming from the direction of the banquet hall.

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