Elena’s traveling party began journeying for the capital more slowly than ever. Fortunately Mirabelle had recovered her strength after only a few days, but after that one incident Elena was even more cautious than ever.
“I’m really feeling better now, sister.”
“We can speed up a little…”
“Don’t worry about anything else and cover yourself with the blanket.”
It was always a good idea to keep Mirabelle warm, so Elena piled another blanket over her in the carriage. Mirabelle simply smiled, knowing she could not stop her sister.
Mirabelle’s hair was now decorated with the butterfly hairpin. It suited her better than Elena imagined, and she felt a surge of happiness whenever she saw how pretty her sister looked. But the strange thing was…
Mirabelle felt much more grown up during this trip.
Although Elena couldn’t pinpoint exactly when it happened, but Mirabelle, who was small for her age, began to seem more mature. Something changed about Mirabelle’s heart, but what it was unclear.
‘…I don’t think there was anything special about Sir Kasha that day. Why?’
For a time Mirabelle kept asking Kuhn’s whereabouts, but Kuhn had never mentioned it as if he were oblivious about that night. But there was something curious that couldn’t be dismissed. The face that Mirabelle made when she placed the coat around the precious teddy bear left by their mother. It struck Elena strangely. Mirabelle and Kuhn were two people who would never cross each other’s paths in any other circumstance. They were mismatched in status, age, personality, anything. Mirabelle was such a gentle soul she would not pluck a single flower, while Kuhn’s path was drench in blood. It was not good that there was some accidental meeting between the two, and a kind of change seemed to have come over Mirabelle.
‘…Am I missing something?’
She knew she was worrying needlessly, but she didn’t want to make light of it. She did not reveal the whereabouts of Kuhn to Mirabelle.
Mirabelle, who was quietly looking out the window of the carriage, suddenly spoke to Elena.
“Look over there, sister. The white flowers are so pretty.”
Elena looked at the spot where Mirabelle was pointing.
“They are very pretty.”
Suddenly, a wash of gratitude came over her as she remembered she was living in a time she thought she would never get back. She had already lost Mirabelle once. Even small, everyday moments were so precious to her. So Elena and Mirabelle enjoyed their time in their own little word, chatting in the carriage as it carried them to the capital. And in those happy moments Elena sometimes recalled the words Carlisle left behind.
‘I wanted to see you.’
A man who couldn’t stand not seeing her in a short period of time that he traveled all the way from the capital…
Did he still miss her? She was struck with such curiosity.
Elena perused the report on the Kraus family when they stopped to take lodging. She also read several times through the information she received about nobles and the royal family in the capital city area. As Kuhn had cautioned her, there was not much detailed information that could be obtained on the Krauses. Inside the document was a brief account of Count Evans, the most powerful man in the Kraus family.
Evans Kraus. Although he was over sixty, he was still quick to calculate profit and loss. A businessman to the bone, he was reluctant to get into the politics of the Ruford Empire, preferring to focus on his commercial ventures. There was nothing very helpful in the report, but it was better than nothing.
‘…I wonder if Caril knows what I’m thinking.’
If Carlisle also knew all this information, he would have wanted to muster support from the Kraus family. But there must be a reason why hadn’t.
Elena entertained the possibility that Kuhn might’ve concealed information from her. Although she did not necessarily doubt Kuhn, she could not solely rely on him. In a fraught political field she could not unconditionally trust whatever she was given, and she would need to confirm everything for herself.
‘There’s a lot to be done.’
For now, it was urgent that she and Carlisle meet at the ball and officially become married, but there still many more mountains to climb before he could be crowned emperor. She was calculating the scenarios in her head when–
She checked her watch and saw it was time to board the carriage.
“Are you ready, sister?”
At Mirabelle’s voice Elena began to roughly shuffle the documents on her desk.
“Yes, I’ll be out now.”
Their journey had been slow, but after some time they had finally entered the capital area. Perhaps by the end of the day they would reach their father’s mansion. When Elena emerged from her room, she saw Mirabelle waiting by her door.
“Oh, sister, about the gowns for the ball. Shall we stop by the dress shop on the way?”
“The gowns? Are you wondering how they’re made?”
“Yes. I wish we had the dresses delivered to Blaise Castle, but I said we’d pick it up at the capital in case they got wrinkled. And I want to see how they look myself.”
Currently, all of the dress shops were swamped with orders due to the royal ball. Luckily, Elena and Mirabelle had already ordered their gowns quickly, and were informed they were already finished. Elena nodded happily, as the dress shop was on the way to the mansion.
“All right, then.”
“I can’t wait!”
Elena boarded the carriage with her beaming sister. No matter how fancy the lodging was, it was finally the day when the monotony of carriage and inns would be over. Her spirits were as high as Mirabelle’s.