“Please marry me, Your Highness.”
A look of shock flitted across Carlisle’s face at the unexpected proposal, but it quickly faded. His brow furrowed as he looked seriously into Elena’s eyes.
“I don’t know what the rumors about me are, but I don’t like men.”
It was Elena’s turn to be flustered. Although she hadn’t expected him to accept the proposal from the beginning, this was an entirely unexpected response. Was there a rumor that Prince Carlisle liked men?
No, wait, didn’t she look like a man now? Elena had forgotten about her appearance. Only her eyes were visible beneath the black armor, so it was natural for him to think she was man.
“Y-you misunderstand, Your Highness–“
“And even if I liked men, did you think we’d get married? You are so naive.”
Carlisle’s face was twisted into a sneer. He was right. Even if he had a taste for men, a marriage to a woman would be more beneficial for him. Love and marriage were different for the royal family.
“If you think I am going to marry someone despite the prophecy, you are mistaken.”
Carlisle was not that young, but there was a reason why he had not married yet.
It was because of a prophecy.
“The first person to marry the Crown Prince will spend their life in solitude. They will live an unhappy life before dying a miserable death.”
It was one of the things that made the empire so politically turbulent before his death in the previous life. With such dark omens coming down, no aristocrat wanted to marry his own daughter to the crown prince. Not everyone believed the prophecy, but still no family dare set their sights on marriage, likely because of the influence of the few nobles who knew that the emperor was suffering from a serious illness.
If the emperor would pass away, there would be no relatives who would support Carlisle’s claim as his mother was an obscure maid. The crown prince’s fate was obvious if he could not keep the throne. High-ranking nobles who expected him to be stranded had no reason to be greedy for a marriage with a troubled crown prince.
There had been attempts by the emperor to connect Carlisle to a good family, but the emperor only wanted a daughter from a marchioness while the nobles had different self-interests. Even if a princess from another country who did not know the details was brought as a bride, the ominous prophecy would surely reach her.
There was only one way. Once Prince Carlisle completed his first marriage with anyone, he could marry any other woman on good terms. Elena was going to take a position that nobody wanted.
‘Will I be lonely and unhappy for the rest of my life if I marry the prince?’
Elena did not believe in prophecies, and she had already spent her first life already so alone and so unhappy. Now that her second chance had arrived, she could bear any kind of suffering as long and she could protect her beloved family. No matter how unbearable of a hell it was, it was nothing compared to losing them.
“What a ridiculous idea. Is that the payment for my life?”
Carlisle looked strangely terrifying as he gave her a mocking laugh. If he wasn’t already weakened Elena might’ve pointed a sword at him for her own ease of mind.
“Your Highness, if you laugh like that the wound will open.”
“Shut your mouth. Your voice is disgusting.”
“Your Highness, listen to me–”
“I’m not going to marry you, I’m telling you.”
Elena wanted to fume at him when he interrupted her.
‘I saved a man who should have died…’
Despite her anger boiling beneath the surface, she spoke in a calm voice.
“Listen to me first.”
“I’m dying from your chatter. How long are you going to stare down at me?”
It was only then that she realized that she was looking down at Carlisle who sitting on the ground. She hadn’t noticed because he had an overwhelming sense of power around him. Elena immediately stooped down.
A low sigh escaped from the beneath her helmet. She didn’t think Carlisle’s personality was pleasant from the start, but he was worse than she had guessed.
‘He has no intention of listening.’
She did not want to take back the offer. This wasn’t a marriage of love, but of politics. The only thing she needed to do was to calculate how much benefit he would bring to her. Prince Carlisle would be her ace to change the future of the Blaise family. There was no other reason to worry or hesitate.
Elena opened her mouth to speak again, staring straight at Carlisle with calm eyes.
“Let me introduce myself.”
Carlisle tried to speak up, but Elena was quicker. She lifted her hands without hesitation and pulled off the iron helmet from her face.
As the helmet was gradually lifted, the cold eyes of the crown prince grew larger.
Long blonde hair poured out like liquid gold and danced in the moonlight. Beneath the helmet a pale, lean neck came into view, followed by petal-like lips and a straight nose. Finally came her scarlet eyes hooded by thick eyelashes. Carlisle froze solid.
There were was a strong contrast between the rough, black armor worn by men and the pretty, doll-like appearance of the woman underneath. The effect was breathtaking.