“I am from the Fourth Order of Knights that have served the royal family for generations.”
“…Elena Blaise. “
Elena was stunned to hear him say her name. He knew her? How? Elena gave Carlisle a look of complete disbelief.
“You know me?”
She never foresaw this outcome. Prince Carlisle had been on the battlefield since childhood and had never appeared in high society. There way no way he could have met her, who lived in the region south of the capital city. She wasn’t like her father, the count, or her brother, the heir… There was little chance of knowing the eldest daughter. It was more likely that a needle thrown into the sky would fall on her head.
She looked at Carlisle with confused eyes, pondering the possibility of a previous meeting between herself and the crown prince. But she just couldn’t figure out how he knew her name. In the meanwhile Carlisle’s surprised expression cleared and was replaced by his usual mysterious, stoic face.
“How did you know I was in danger? And since when did you become good at sword fighting?”
At Carlisle’s sudden question, Elena calmed her confused head and began organizing the responses she had prepared. She couldn’t give him the truth, but she still had to give him a plausible answer. If she told him she knew he was going to be assassinated here because he was from the future, her would think of her as a madwoman.
“In my family…I’m not supposed to learn about sword fighting. So I came out alone and happened to find the crown prince in danger and helped him.”
“So it was a coincidence? All of this?”
She could tell by looking at Carlisle’s eyes that he didn’t believe her. Of course he wouldn’t. There were many holes in her claim. Everything was a lie. But she carefully planed her excuses, and on top of that she was the one who saved his life–he could not be suspicious of her even if there was doubt. If she had bad intentions, she never would have risked her life to save his. Elena’s actions spoke more than any believable explanation. But still…
Carlisle nodded first before she could bring out her prepared words.
“Alright…if that’s what you say.”
He wasn’t even willing to listen to her a moment ago, and his sudden cooperation caught her off guard. Carlisle continued speaking in a soft voice, while Elena looked on with a confused expression.
“I believe you.”
What? Why would he believe her? Elena was barely able to hold back the questions that begged to come out of her mouth. This was a good result no matter what and she wouldn’t spoil the atmosphere with unnecessary queries. The situation would only become more complicated if Carlisle decided to change his mind. Elena quietly observed the man before her, while Carlisle seemed to be in a more inquisitive mood.
“Why did you propose to me suddenly?”
He said he wouldn’t get married, but now he was acting like it didn’t even happen.
“You weren’t talking like this a while ago.”
“It’s different now.”
“Because you’re Elena Blaise.”
It was a completely unexpected answer.
“You didn’t answer my question so let me ask again. Do you know me, Your Highness?”
“Don’t you know me?”
His eyes shimmered strangely. She had never seen the crown prince in her life. She was sure her memory wasn’t so poor that she could forget about such a handsome face.
“As soon as I saw you from afar for the first time today I knew you were the crown prince.”
“I’m not asking that.”
“Have we met before?”
“If it’s not in your memory, then the meeting doesn’t exist,”
he replied vaguely, which only furthered her confusion. Elena paused to think for a moment when Carlisle spoke up again.
“Now it’s time for you to answer my question. Why did you propose to me?”
“Oh, that is because…”
Whatever the circumstances, the fact that Elena wanted to marry Carlisle had not changed. Elena continued in a calm voice.
“The Blaise family is a noble family. As a member of that family, I am eager for the crown prince to succeed as emperor. I would be honored if I can add some of my meager strength to yours.”
It was such a cliche line. She sounded like a noblewoman with ambitions to marry upwards. It seemed like she wanted to make her husband the emperor and become the highest woman in the empire.
“You wish for me to become the emperor?”
“Yes, Your Highness.”
“Your family is nobility?”
There was no change in Carlisle’s expression, but Elena could feel that he was unsure of something. She swallowed dryly. She wanted go down on her knees and to hold on to his pant leg and beg him to marry her. She was desperate.
In order to deal with King Paveluc, she needed to be placed in a powerful position at Prince Carlisle’s side. He understood the politics of the palace more than anyone, and she could come and go as part of the royal family. If she didn’t stand by him, how could she save him from danger every time? Prince Carlisle was supposed to have died here. It was unclear how his survival would change the future.
What if he refused? She planned countless responses in her head depending on his answer. Her brain felt like it could explode. Carlisle’s lips, which had been tightly sealed, finally opened.
“…I didn’t expect you to propose to me.”
“I am sincere when I say that I want to be your strength. Even if you don’t want to get married, I pledge to stay by your side–”
“Who said I didn’t want to?”
“I like the idea.”
“Wh-what, you approve?”
She stared at him doubtfully as he parted his lips again. He was a blue-eyed demon with a piercing expression.
“I accept your marriage proposal.”
There was a sharp intake of breath from Elena. It seemed that it wasn’t a bad offer for Prince Carlisle either. By law the crown prince was allowed to marry a woman from a family no less than the rank of count, which was a close call for her. It was not easy to get married into a higher-ranking family, but if one had to find a bride a woman as skilled with the sword as Elena was not a terrible choice. Elena’s heart thumped as she received the answer she wanted.
“Let me ask you this. You know about the prophecy regarding my first bride. Do you have any regrets about your decision? And you know…I could be a monster.”
Carlisle’s gaze headed towards his right arm. Elena’s brow furrowed with worry but she hesitated to ask about it in detail. When she did not respond, Carlisle spoke to her again in a solemn voice.
“Think carefully before you answer the question. This may be your last chance to escape.”
Seeing Carlisle’s expression of loneliness, Elena sensed that it was not yet time to dig up the secrets about him. There was no need to be in a hurry. She would spend a little more time later unraveling his mysteries.
“I don’t care if you’re a monster.”
“Why? Do you really want to be an empress?”
“Yes. If you can become emperor, I can do even more than an empress can do.”
Carlisle’s facial expression changed subtly, as if his answer was unexpected.
“If you think that an empress is a position that I do not deserve…”
“I don’t think that.”
“Don’t forget this. It was you who came to me.”
Elena felt strange when she heard Carlisle’s answer. He was looking at her as if he was looking at prey, as if the chances of escaping had already disappeared. Silence hung in the air as they faced each other.
Suddenly, she could hear the sound of horses’ hooves gradually getting closer. Someone was coming this way. Elena quickly pushed herself from the ground, preparing herself for the assassins that may have followed them. Then came a cry.
“Your Highness! Crown Prince!”
“Where are you?”
She could see a flag flying in the distance from the direction of the searching voices. It was splendid flag with a golden border and in its center had black dragon baring its teeth. It was the symbol of the crown prince’s guard. Carlisle frowned in disapproval at his men who had just appeared.
“Your Highness, there still may be assassins mixed in with them,”
she said warningly.
“It doesn’t matter now. My men are here.”
“Because of our first meeting you think I’m a weakling.”
Elena winced at his accusation. He was not wrong. She was so worried about his safety now she couldn’t afford to trust trust anything. Carlisle casually picked up Elena’s helmet despite his injury.
“The man you choose to marry is not a weak man. Don’t worry about anything and go. If you don’t disappear now, you’ll be caught. “
“Try to hide your sword fighting abilities as much as possible. It would be safer. “
Elena agreed with his assessment. She could easily become a target if her abilities were known. It was better to act in the dark.
Even though she made to go, she still felt uneasy about leaving Carlisle. Carlisle then took hold of the horse’s reins and pressed it into her hands as if in a hurry.
“I’ll visit you in ten days.”
“Please….take care, Your Highness.”
Elena forced herself to get on the horse then looked at Carlisle for the last time. He stood completely still while his blue eyes gazed at her. She finally tugged the reins of her horse and galloped away, leaving him with a warning.
“Beware of the Duke of Lunen.”
Paveluc was a treacherous king that conquered the throne in the future, but now he was a great duke over the duchy of Lunen.
Carlisle looked at the retreating figure of Elena on her horse, then mumbled in a questioning voice.
“Beware of my uncle? What matters to me now isn’t him…”
However, the person who could answer the question had already left. Carlisle stood motionless, until she was completely out of sight.
Inside a splendid castle.
A white carrier pigeon skillfully flew into a corner of a room boasting a dazzling collection of treasures from around the world. A handmaiden carefully retrieved the letter from the bird.
In the center of the room was a luxuriously decorated sofa, and sitting upon it was a middle-aged woman, a lady of grace from head to toe. The woman wordlessly received it the letter and slowly read the short passage. Suddenly, she crumpled the paper in her fist.
“…What a failure!”
Her voice of displeasure caused to handmaid to look up.
“Is there something the matter?”
“It’s nothing, go back.”
“Yes, Your Imperial Majesty.”
The woman was Ophelia, the wife of the current emperor Sullivan and the 12th empress of the Ruford Empire.
She was also Carlisle’s stepmother.
Ophelia watched the handmaiden disappear, then placed the edge of the letter in the flame of the nearby candle. The words on the letter gradually began to darken and burn.
Failed to assassinate Crown Prince Carlisle.
“Prince Carlisle, you will find it was better to die there.”