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“She’s going to be a whore someday. Not now… … .”
“Oh, nothing. Jacob will be here soon. We can’t let other people know we know each other so Carola will see you later. Carola always thinks of Jewel as the closest person in her family.”
She knew Jacob would not even come near the hunting grounds because he was so weak in archery. So Carola always lied to him when she knew Jacob would not come.
“Alright, Carola. See you later.”
Jewel nodded, oblivious to Carola’s deceit.
Elisha glanced at Carola.
‘You’re rather brazenly getting along well without Jacob. It seems that the knights of the ducal family did not participate in the hunt.’
Before she knew it, Carola was surrounded by many men and was giggling.
People alternately glanced at Carola and Elisha with interest. When the daughters-in-law of the Cartier household were together, people always scrutinized them like that.
‘Are they hoping for a fight?’
Elisha noticed the signs and laughed. The public’s interest in them was especially dark and intense as of late because of Arien’s mysterious and recent death.
Then, a murmur of admiration spread amongst the crowd. In front of the soldiers pulling a cart full of game, Illione walked proudly in her hunting attire.
Prey piled up in the cart as it had been yesterday, but to Elisha, it was disgusting. However, Illione’s spirited appearance was joyful to witness.
“Today’s winner is Princess Illione!”
The cheers grew as a man who appeared to be the chamberlain shouted. Illione found Elisha among the crowd and approached her with a broad smile.
“Congratulations on your victory, Princess.”
“Elisha, you should have seen my performance! No, Yepnen? –When did you come?”
Yepnen walked over and into his sister’s tight embrace.
“You really— Why are you running around again, huh? What if you got hit by a stray arrow while wandering around the hunting grounds? Damn— I know you’re here now. If I had known it before, I wouldn’t have been able to focus on hunting because I’d be worrying about you!”
Elisha sensed her deep protective instincts and profound love in her words.
“Well, how the hell did you get here?”
“With Lady Elisha… … .”
Yepnen proclaimed with a grin.
“I wanted to see my big sister win.”
“Really… … .”
Illione picked up Yepnen and patted him, looking at Elisha.
“Elisha, did he bother you?”
“The prince escorted me very dignifiedly,”
she replied quietly. Only then did Illione loosen her expression.
“Elisha, if there is something you like among the game, choose it. What can I give you?”
“I got enough yesterday. I’m fine.”
Yepnen also shook his head and declined, saying that he was afraid of the prey. Illione looked despondent. She first consoled Yepnen and sent him back to the attendants. It was because hunting grounds filled with blood were not suitable for children.
“Princess, I heartily congratulate you.”
“I knew you would win. The princess’s bow skills are second only to the general.”
Noblewomen gathered around Illione and Elisha. They used the excuse to say congratulations to get closer.
In the end, the main character of today’s hunting festival had also become Elisha. This was because Illione, the winner, insisted on keeping her by her side. The ladies praised Illione and added one more word to Elisha.
‘Carola is being suspicious. There’s no way she would be this calm.’
When Elisha was in the spotlight, she couldn’t stand it. Certainly, Carola would do something about it.
But instead, Carola greeted acquaintances and then disappeared with the ladies she associated with. She was probably going to a private tea party.
‘Are you planning something?’
Then a stranger entered the entrance of the hunting grounds. The silk vest he was wearing was familiar to Elisha. Upon closer inspection, it was a familiar face.
‘Aren’t you the butler of Duke Cartier?’
She remembered that his name was Gail. He had always been decent and quick-witted enough to serve as the Duke’s hands and feet.
Gail cleared his throat and proclaimed loudly:
“Duke Cartier sent alcohol and food to commemorate today’s hunting festival.”
Soon, a line of servants carried in a plethora of food and precious alcohol. Among them were very rare and expensive wines, so people applauded the Duke for his magnanimity.
Gail approached Elisha.
She wondered why Gail was here. But instead, she politely returned the greeting he conveyed.
Gail beckoned, and one of his attendants brought something up on a silken platter.
“The Duke has sent you a present. It is to congratulate Lady Elisha on her partaking in her first imperial palace event.”
Elisha assumed he sent a box of gold coins like before. However, the gift was not heavy. Instead, there was a silk envelope thick enough to contain documents.