“Oh, dear. Lady Elisha–it’s a big deal.”
“The imperial family came to visit. With no advance notice. Let’s quickly go. They are in the drawing room.”
When Elisha was preparing for the final event at the shrine, Gail received a message from the attendant and told her the situation. Then he hurried off to greet the distinguished guests. Elisha adjusted her dress and followed them.
‘The emperor has come.’
They were dressed more casually than usual.
They sat around a marble table. On one side of the wall were the knights of the imperial family, and on the other were the duke’s servants.
“Ho ho, when I saw the imperial family’s golden carriage arriving at the duke’s house, I thought I was dreaming,”
said the duke.
“That’s right. Carola is so happy.”
And Carola, who was right next to the Head, was bursting into laughter. It was the exact opposite of how she behaved calmly during the hunting festival.
Then, the duke spotted Elisha.
“Elisha, come here.”
Elisha curtsied and greeted them politely.
“I’m honored to see the most precious people of the empire. Your Majesty, it is an honor to see you again.”
The emperor smiled and dissuaded Elisha.
“Today, I’m visiting an old friend after a long time, so forgo formal greetings.”
Only the emperor, younger than the Head, could call him a friend. Gaju beckoned to Elisha with a softer-than-usual look.
“Elisha, come sit down and join us. Thankfully, the members of the royal family have come to attend the memorial service for the Duchess,”
the Lord explained as Elisha approached.
When Ilione saw her, she smiled and winked. It was a playful look like a boy expecting to be praised. She quickly understood the situation.
‘Ilione has brought her family. As expected, she’s loyal.’
No matter how arrogant the Head was, he was an aristocrat of the empire. What if the members of the imperial family visit and attend the memorial ceremony, which is only a family event?
It’s a great honor.
Moreover, this was only possible because it was during the royal family’s summer vacation. This was because, outside of the summer vacation period, the activities and schedules of the members of the imperial family were packed and carefully managed. It was only at this time of year that it loosened up.
Taking advantage of that gap, Ilione brought her family here. This was purely to build up Elisha’s face and establish her reputation. It was an expression of great power that only the empire’s imperial princess could do.
Elisha felt sincere gratitude to Ilione.
‘Jewel came too.’
There was only one imperial family member she didn’t want to see here. It was Prince Jewel. Prince Jewel was sitting next to the emperor with a dignified attitude.
Yepnen, playing with a lump of sugar on the table, noticed her, and his face brightened.
“Long time no see, Lady Elisha. This kid insisted on going to see the lady. He seems to really like you. You must have been very good to our Yepnen at the last hunting festival.”
“Prince Yepnen is a very sweet person. I was also happy to see the prince at the hunting festival.”
Elisha greeted him gently. Among the people sitting around the table, only Carola and Jewel’s expressions were strangely distorted.
Then Jewel opened his mouth.
“They said the Duchess’s memorial service will be held. Isn’t it natural that the members of the imperial family would come? Besides, the Summer Palace is just a stone’s throw away.”
Jewel announced proudly, pretending to be an adult. Despite his pompous figure, he came across as very proper. Elisha was stunned.
‘The messier the inside, the better you are pretending to be normal on the outside.’
In that respect, Jewel and Carola were exactly the same. No wonder they were allies.
“Lady Carola said she always wanted to invite our imperial family. You said that to my mother at the last capital auction.”
“Jewel, you have a very good memory.”
The emperor looked at Jewel with the proud expression of seeing a pretty son. Elisha felt strange. Sometimes, for powerful people like the emperor, a lesser son can be more appealing than an outstanding daughter like Ilione. The emperor’s demeanor said as much.
Then Carola opened her mouth:
“We’re glad that the imperial family remembers our duchy. Today, we will guide you around our ducal estate. This is our family’s mansion. We are always preparing to welcome distinguished guests such as the royal family. It was good that we prepared a very large memorial service this time!”
Slyly, Carola implied that the duchy was originally under her jurisdiction. Besides, she said that as a host, she would treat honorable guests.
It was easy to misunderstand that the reason the people of the imperial family visited was because of ‘Carola’s invitation.’
Moreover, from her words, Carola was trying to take credit for preparing the memorial service.