They were obviously on the roof of the Imperial Family, but when Rose instinctively shut her eyes and opened them again, they were in an entirely different space.
She looked around, amazed, as she found the path leading to the Imperial Palace at a distance.
“Your Majesty, this is…?”
Still cradled in the Emperor's arms, Rose Honeywell tilted her face upwards, meeting Russell's gaze, who had already looked down at her with a gentle smile.
“It's a warp installed using a magic stone.
Just in case there are emergencies, there are things like this all over the Imperial Palace.
Only those with royal blood can use it.”
Russell tapped the pole next to him lightly.
The pillars on the roof of the Imperial Palace appeared there as well.
Russell slipped his arms off Rose's frame and settled for her hand instead.
“The banquet hall is down here.”
Rose took a step forward.
She did not have the luxury of time to admire the magic of teleportation.
May Wells be safe.
I hope Elliot doesn't do anything stupid.
The two of them came down from the rooftop and headed directly to the banquet hall.
Russell suggested that they return to the back of the podium, where no one besides the emperor could enter.
The back of the podium was a place reserved only for the emperor, and it was also a place where he could leisurely view the party hall at a glance and enjoy it.
There was a sofa wide enough to lie down and sleep comfortably on one side, and simple games such as chess and cards were placed on another table.
Rose hid herself behind a curtain, slightly peeking out with only her eyes visible.
The entire large banquet hall came into view at a glance.
Her eyes frantically searched for the silhouette of Wells among the crowd.
With a stroke of luck, her sights caught her brother, Wells, who was conversing with the heads of the noble families.
Seeing him intact and without any injuries, Rose's heart settled.
…Brother is safe.
I have to remember…
What time was the incident?
Rose glanced at the large grandfather clock hanging on the wall of the hall.
Before, Rose arrived at the Imperial Palace shortly after the celebrations started.
Now that the banquet had started quite some time ago and still nothing had happened, Rose felt strange.
…If things went as they were, my brother should've been cut and slashed by Elliot's sword by now.
What changed? Why did it change?
Looking around the jolly hall once more, Rose found Elliot on the side of the hall opposite to where Wells was talking to nobles.
Nobles were gathering in groups of two and three to talk about this and that, but Wells and Elliot were never in the same group.
Rose scrunched her brows.
…Time and events are flowing strangely.
Why isn't Elliot behaving like he did back then?
Or has the plan gone awry? If so, what is the cause? Because he didn't come to the celebration with Ilya?
Rose found Ilya's form in the crowd.
Ilya was standing next to Stanley, chatting with aristocrats his age.
Judging from Ilya's occasional bursts of laughter, the mood seemed to be good.
…Still, I can't be completely off guard.
I have to wait and see if Elliot approaches my brother.
Rose's hand gripped the curtains.
Behind her hiding frame, Russell stood as her shadow.
“The hall is ordinary as always.”
Rose's shoulders tremble at the sound of Russell's voice in her ears.
My mind was too focused on Wells and Elliot that I had forgotten him for a moment.
She looked up, and her eyes met Russell's.
“By the way, what's going on at this banquet that you were in such a hurry?”
Rose was speechless and looked away from Russell.
The man in front of her was the emperor, and she could say no such thing to him.
While hesitating, Russell spoke first.
“Is it related to breaking the engagement with Duke Proud?”
She wondered, what did he see in her expression that made him ask such a thing?
Rose bit her lower lip as she pondered over what to say.
Instead of answering, she had a question of her own.
“Does His Majesty know?”
“The reason why the Honeywell and Proud families haven't reconciled through marriage until now.”
This time, Russell didn't answer.
Instead, Rose felt the probing in his gaze, and he then silently sought answers from her expressive eyes.
“Do you know, Rose?”
Rose shook her head.
When Russell didn't say anything more, she looked back at the banquet.
Time passed quickly as the music at the celebration changed several times and the dances of those walking around the hall changed as often.
As the long and short hands of the grandfather clock approached the hour, Rose's heart began to beat faster.
It's almost midnight now.
Fortunately, Elliot hadn't turned to Wells' side so far.
And at the number 12 on the watch face, the long and short hands finally met.
The grandfather clock rang loudly throughout the hall.
The people having a jolly time handed out New Year's greetings to all those around them, regardless of who they may be.
At the same time, tears fell from Rose's eyes.
The day has changed.
The new year has arrived.
She, whose life had ended with a broken body discarded in the cold snow, was facing a new day.
Rose found Wells.
Around Wells, many people formed a crowd to hand him New Year's greetings.
Wells greeted the nobles one by one without any embarrassment.
…Today, my brother and I are not dead.
That fact alone made Rose daunted.
In the end, Rose buried her face in her hands, unable to contain her overflowing emotions.
Her shoulders shook.
The life that was taken away in the past has returned.
Rose held her breath and wept.
No doubt, her face was badly smeared with makeup from the tears.
Even knowing that, Rose did not remove her hand from her face.
There was another hand that carefully grabbed Rose's hand and lowered it.
Light entered the field of vision that was just moments ago submerged in darkness.
“If I ask why you are crying, will you refrain from answering me once more?”
Russell gently wiped Rose's eyes with his fingertips.
The same tears then settled on his hands.
Russell's voice sounded magical when he called her by name.
Rose was attracted by the magic and met his gaze.
“There must be a reason why you can't tell me.
But know this one thing.
Russell Whittle van Tristan is always on Rose Honeywell's side.”
Rose's heart thumped.
I never thought I would hear that directly from him.
She raised an eyebrow.
“Thank you, Your Majesty.”
Rose felt her heart lighten with the joy of having safely passed the day of her death into a future that was markedly different from before she returned.
But at the same time, anxiety set in.
Her story had just begun.
Rose had no idea what was going to happen in the new year.
…The day I died by falling off a cliff.
What happened in the capital?
As the new year approached, another question arose.
How did the nobles react to the rumor that Rose Honeywell had disappeared from the capital?
Would they have found my body, abandoned? Did the Honeywell family fall like that?
Useless questions keep increasing.
Rose shook her head to clear her thoughts.
Maybe because the year has changed, the hall has become livelier.
I saw a drunken aristocrat overturning a glass and having an accident, and another one dancing between partners.
As if acting out a play, Rose let out a small laugh as she recalled herself being haunted by the past alone.
The banquet hall is so peaceful…
Fortunately,it is not futile.
It's not futile!
Those words revealed Rose's state of mind.
Rose felt the gaze from the side watching her.
When she turned her head, she was met with the sight of Russell with his back slightly bent as he inspected her from up close.
Rose froze unexpectedly when their eyes suddenly met without warning.
“Why…why are you looking at me like that?”
“You were laughing at something.”
It makes me laugh at how peaceful the celebration is.”
Again, I remember what happened with Russell.
They hid and ran away from the knights and eventually used teleportation magic to come back to the banquet hall.
The corners of Rose's eyes drooped like the ears of a defeated puppy.
Your Majesty did troublesome things because of me.”
“I never thought it was troublesome.
Because I wanted to, I showed you the way.”
“I'm sorry, though, and thank you.
If I had known it would be like this, I would have come by running alone.”
Russell crossed his arms and looked down at Rose.
Feeling the weight of his gaze, she wondered if she had just said something strange.
But there was no part where she felt she had said anything of that sort.
Fortunately, Russell provided the answer.
“What I said earlier…
Have you forgotten?”
“I want to be with you, Rose, during the banquet and after.”
“I came all this way because I wanted to be with you.”
Rose seemed to be heartbroken in another sense.
So, like an idiot, the sound of laughter kept leaking out of her lips.
Rose, who could feel a caressing hand along her hair for no reason, raised her head towards the hand that brushed her hair.
“Your Majesty, I think I should go to that break room.”
“The resting area?”
I have my bag there.”
Rose looked over at Russell.
I can imagine Russell wearing a brooch in the shape of a sword inlaid with diamonds.
The diamond was like his silver hair, so it would probably suit him.
“Then, let me go too.”
Rose stopped him urgently.
“I will go alone.
I stopped by to drop off my bag earlier, so I know where it is.
I'll be back!”
Rose moved quickly before Russell could catch up.
“Duke Proud, happy new year!”
“Duke, are you going to participate in the hunting festival?”
The engagement ceremony has been postponed, but I still congratulate you on the engagement ceremony by borrowing this spot.”
Elliott responded lightly to the words that he came across.
Among them were noble ladies.
All those gathered around Elliot struggled to talk to him in some way.
“Talk to me!”
Both men and women could read the thoughts that mirrored their own.
Elliott made a small excuse to get some fresh air and left.
It was a waste of time to continue dealing with people who were not of great benefit to him.
The place he headed to was the terrace, leaving behind the sound of music playing in the hall.
The cold winter wind took away the warmth from Elliott's cheeks in an instant.
He made his way to the railing despite the cold.
He put his arms on the railing and leaned against it.
Elliot fixed his gaze in the direction of the garden.
You seem to have gotten a lot closer to His Majesty than I thought.”
Elliot recalled what he had seen in the garden just ten minutes earlier.
After dancing at the party, he saw Rose leave the terrace and head towards the garden.
He couldn't follow Rose right away as he exchanged his regards and greetings with the family heads who approached him.
As soon as the greetings with the heads of households were over, Elliot headed to the garden and saw an unexpected scene there.
Rose was dancing in front of a fountain in the garden.
Moreover, the other party was the Emperor, the sun, of this country.
Elliot couldn't take his eyes off Rose.
“It's really strange.
Certainly, it was me who made your heart flutter with one glance.”
The look in Rose's eyes as she looked at Russell was the same one he had received numerous times just a few months ago.
“…You hate me so much now.”
Elliot kept his mouth shut.
However, he couldn't swallow the laughter that had risen from deep in his throat.
He spat it out.
Okay, My Rose…
Do you want to break up this marriage? If you want, you should do it.
But not yet.
Until I find its soul…”
Elliot's eyes shone menacingly in the moonlight.
The pale moonlight in his blue eyes rippled like a raging wave on the sea.
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