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Arya was a beauty as lively as her red hair. Born and raised in the South and she never took a liking to the men around her.
In the breadbasket of the kingdom, southern men with vast granaries were generally wealthy and laid-back. Perhaps that’s why people were ambiguous and laidback about their viewpoints.
Arya was the impatient sort with clear preferences and explicit aversions and hated this cultural trait. So she left the South, travelled to this far-off place, and chose Owen herself.
“She was a really great woman. Your mother….”
Owen nostalgically said, with his eyes engulfed in memories. It had been fifteen years since Arya passed away, but the moment he saw her for the first time was as vivid as yesterday.
It was an early winter when the snow fluttered little by little like salt sprinkled on a plate.
Those who arrived at that night’s ball complained similarly that a long and tedious winter had begun. Then, the familiar faces formed into predictable three or five pairs and started dancing.
Candles burning through the chilly night air spread a dreamy glow. It was just like any other ordinary ballroom scene.
However, an unfamiliar southern girl who appeared through the gap captivated everyone from the moment she appeared.
‘My name is Arya Elcross. I’m here to choose my own husband.’
She motioned with her shoulders and smiled proudly. And she gave him a provocative look as if to say, ‘you are the right man for me.’
She was a woman full of dazzling vigor. In the dark and cold northern part of the crow’s nest, Arya shone brilliantly like the August sun.
So, utterly bewitched, Owen willingly was drawn to the light.
Even if the light burned his retinas, making him go blind. Even if he ended up stumbling like a blind man for the rest of his life without her.
“Arya had a fiery temper, so she would fight very passionately at times. But I… … I have never once regretted marrying your mother.”
Owen smiled as he looked at Damia’s red hair with a sentimental regard. And he said in a strangely relieved voice,
“Go to the capital, Damia. If that is what you want.”
So Damia went to Pelmonium. With Akkard, who naturally joined in the middle.
“We’ll be there soon.”
Before she knew it, Akkard had moved into her carriage and looked out the window with a grin. Their first destination was the royal palace upon entering the capital.
“Today, we’re only going to say hello to the Crown Prince. So you don’t have to worry too much.”
How could she not care? Just entering the royal palace, never mind greeting a Crown Prince she had never met before….. his mouth was full of things that she had never done before.
Anxious, Damia looked down on her dress with concern.
It was an indigo blue dress with an intense gleam with high saturation. The design cut off at her shoulders, and it was perfect for an audience because it was elegant without much ornamentation.
Meanwhile, Akkard pretended to be looking out the window as he glanced at Damia. Fortunately, she didn’t seem to harbor any hostility, and her side profile did not show any enmity of their past quarrel.
Perhaps it was because she was so occupied with arriving at the capital for the first time, but he considered it fortunate and was relieved.
Damia’s face and hair were gorgeous, and even in a simple dress, she didn’t look simple or particularly modest. She even wore a slender necklace and earrings adorned with platinum and diamonds, and she looked like an elegant royal, a princess of the North.
Amazed, Akkard marveled at her wholeheartedly. Then, suddenly, it occurred to him he was spying on Damia like those fools who couldn’t even talk to a woman in a ballroom and spend their time glancing around.
At the same time, he felt overwhelmed by a great sense of shame; there was the sound of a crack from somewhere. Perhaps it was the sound of his lofty self-regard cracking.
Damia must have been nervous, so she didn’t say much. But Akkard wanted to keep talking, so he got impatient.
“His Highness Heinrich is very curious about you. Have you ever been to the royal palace?”
“… … no. No, I haven’t.”
Despite her indifferent reaction, Akkard laughed without hesitation, not caring. Only a brief reply came back, but he was delighted and enthusiastic.
“Well, it’s natural. It’s your first visit to Pelmonium.”
Damia glanced at him.
It was the first time she had seen Akkard so talkative. He looked oddly excited.
Of course, it wasn’t because of her; probably, it was because he was happy to return to the capital after such a long duration.
“How do you feel about coming to the capital? It must have a slightly different feel to the North.”
Akkard, who finally caught her eye, smiled even more seductively. It was like a male peacock who desperately spreads and wags his tail to win the love of a female.
He was also aware of the fact that he had been acting like an idiot lately. But what could he do if he had no control over himself whatsoever? All he could do was try to rationalize his actions.
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