TPCP – 32.1

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Why does Lucerne suddenly want to dine outside?’

wondered Elisha in passing with a mild doubt. 

‘Do you have free time?’

Usually, after a big war is over, state affairs become busy. It was natural for Lucerne, the High General in charge of the Imperial army, to be busy as well.

Perhaps Elisha didn’t know enough about statecraft, regardless she would do as he requested. Eating together was not a difficult order. 

Additionally, thanks to the appointment she would be able to go out. Elisha was busy getting ready to go out in the morning. 

“Just don’t overdo it. It’s not a special outing.” 

“Oh, my—don’t worry I’ll adorn you appropriately.”

Sophie assisted Elisha with her makeup and dressed her in a newly tailored outfit. 

“You’re so pretty. Even if you don’t dress up fancily, you’re perfect.” 

Sophie had endless admiration. Elisha became a little embarrassed. She was able to accept harsh words casually. But she was not immune to these ticklish words. 

“Madam, one of the Seeds of the Black Lion Knights will be your escort today. Who shall the ladyship choose?”

After she was ready, the butler came and inquired of Elisha’s preference.

“Should I? Do I have to bring the knights with me?” 

“Why are you asking such a thing?”

“Now that the victorious general has returned, the Black Lion Knights should return to their commander’s side. They must have been impatient in the past, but if they also take on the boring task of escorting me today…….” 

“Madam, the general ordered it.” 

Elisha was quickly persuaded. 

“Then I hope Nora comes with me.” 

The butler informed her that the appointment’s location was a luxury hotel in the middle of the city. 

Elisha was doubtful. This is because it was a restaurant in a luxury hotel that was difficult to enter even if a reservation was made a month in advance. Since the venue was such a small place, even the wives of the most esteemed members of capital society lined up to enter. It was even a place where the women of the imperial family frequented.

“How could he make a reservation there so quickly?…. No, it’s nothing.” 

Elisha realized the answer as soon as she asked it out loud. Lucerne was not just anybody. If Lucerne arrived at any establishment, they would be thrilled, saying, “Thank you for boosting the prestige of our restaurant.” Because he was a general loved by the entire empire. 

‘Well, it works out. The place I need to go to is near the hotel.’ 

Elisha inquired while looking at the butler, 

“Then can you ask the horseman to stop somewhere else first? It won’t take long. I got permission from the general.” 

Surprised, the butler realized that Elisha’s destination was an unexpected place, but replied that he understood.

***

It was Nora and Ian who would be attending her. Elisha greeted the two before getting on the carriage. She hadn’t seen Ian in a long time. 

“You two have worked hard.”

“Thank you, hurry up and get in the carriage.” 

Ian opened the carriage door with a smile. As Elisha got on the wagon, Nora followed her. It seemed that Nora would be in charge of escorting in close proximity such as in a carriage. 

The wagon began to move slowly. 

Since neither woman enjoyed chatting, there was a long moment of silence in the carriage. 

Elisha opened her mouth first. 

“The general must be busy because he’s back. I don’t know if requesting you was a hindrance.” 

Nora didn’t like talking at length. When Nora was nominated for Elisha’s escort role today, the knights, including Corinne and Lapis, were secretly jealous. When Nora was asked to choose a companion she chose Ian, who was quiet. Ian was concise with his words, omitting the fact that he was secretly jealous. 

“Most Seeds don’t enjoy imperial banquets,” 

Nora replied bluntly. Elisha managed to discern a bit and thought out loud, 

“Are you saying that if there’s a schedule from now on, it’ll be like an imperial banquet? I know. You don’t like commotions.”

“…….”

Nora belatedly answered a few beats late because she was slightly stunned that Elisha understood her so well. Nora nodded. Elisha and Nora’s eyes met in the carriage. 

Elisha looked at Nora. Neatly cut hair. Long and slim fingers. At first glance, she looked like a handsome knight. 

‘As the Black Lion Order’s fame grew, Nora became a popular knight.’

A detached androgynous beauty with a tall stature. One of the most talented knights, an accomplished female warrior amongst the best. The ladies were also enthusiastic about Nora. Nora felt Elisha’s regard and explained bluntly: 

“I have a preference for men, and I’m a real woman. In addition, I have no intention of having a lover within the same Order. I dress like this because it’s comfortable to wear men’s clothes.” 

“…….”

Elisha frowned for a moment. 

“What do you mean?” 

“These are the facts that ladies are most curious about when they see me. My lady is the wife of my master, the general, so she is like the master. I thought there was nothing bad about telling you first.” 

Elisha looked at Nora for a moment. She smiled. 

“You must have been uncomfortable because I was treating you with care.”

“No, I’m not a fragile object to be cautious about, and my discomfort is not your concern.”

If it had been heard by someone else, her words would have caused offense due to their rudeness. But for some reason, Elisha didn’t dislike Nora, nor take offense.

Maybe it was because Nora gave her a handkerchief in her previous life.

‘I was… a really hungry woman, starving for love.’

Almost no one in her previous timeline did Elisha unconditional favors. She held the memories of them like precious jewels. 

In her previous life, there was an old maid who gave advice about Jacob. In the end, the maid also exhorted Elisha, saying that she owed her. The debt that she paid off had been quite expensive. 

“That’s not why I treated Nora so gently,” 

Elisha spoke calmly. She took something out of her pocket. It was a small bouquet of pure white pansy flowers. 

“I was wondering if I should give it to you or not, so I just took it. If you don’t need it, you can throw it away.” 

“What…… is this?”

Nora’s eyes shook. 

***

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