Episode 152. Engagement

Every day, Adenstein saw a constant stream of visitors celebrating the engagement between the royal princess and Drachen, and thus, the great city was fully saturated.

The major roads, large enough for an entire regiment to parade through, were crowded and insufficient to manage these visitors, and it had now been a while since the accommodations in the capital had any vacancies.

“You bastard! How dare you treat me so poorly? Do you know who I am?”

“Look who’s talking! Reveal your house and name!”

The rural nobles visiting the capital to attend the royal event were frustrated with their lack of accommodations, and they often picked fights to try and get their way.

It was not just the nobles causing an uproar. As the royal family was generous with distributing its vast stores of food during major celebrations, the capital was further packed with vagrants from nearby areas.

“Get lost! Do you think this is your backyard?”

“Let me stay under your roof for a few days! I’ll stay quiet!”

As a result, disputes continued between the capital’s citizens and the uninvited visitors.

Thanks to this, the capital’s guards were busier than ever in trying to maintain order. Despite their efforts, the chaos in the capital showed no signs of abating.

Perhaps this chaos was contagious? Even the royal palace, generally quiet relative to the number of servants running around, was bustling and loud.

“Check everything twice and thrice! If anything is missing, punishment won’t end at the person in charge!”

“Why haven’t those orders been fulfilled yet? We have to get the goods today and inspect them so there aren’t any issues on the big day!”

The royal servants and maids were unusually concerned about their words and actions as they made a fuss.

“Never! Never bring shame to the royal family!”

They were hysterical and obsessed. It was natural, however – they were currently preparing an engagement ceremony for the next queen of the kingdom.

“Find a time and place so as to not disturb those people of importance.”

At this time, even the head of the servants did not bother criticizing his subordinates for their thoughtlessness. He knew what was truly important right now.

Regardless of what the other servants did, it would all be fine so long as the upcoming ceremony was held without issue. They could work naked or walk on the hands for all he cared.

He looked so desperate, as though he would be willing to sell his soul to have an uneventful conclusion for the ceremony.

This event would be attended by not only the Adenburg nobles, but also the envoys from other kingdoms. House Adenstein’s reputation could plummet if they made a mistake, and the crime of tarnishing the honor of the royal family could not be resolved by the deaths of a few servants.

Moreover, there was no excuse this time. Preparations for the engagement ceremony were fully carried out by the Adenstein royal family out of consideration for Seon-Hyeok and his status as a foreigner.

Even the traditional preparation of gifts was managed by the royal family, and any aspects of the ceremony they overlooked were remedied by Marquis Rosenheim, the leader of the loyalist faction.

As a result, Seon-Hyeok essentially needed to simply be present at the engagement. This was likely why he failed to grasp its grandeur, even on the day of the event.

This ignorance did not last long. Entering the ceremony after a grand introduction, Seon-Hyeok felt naked as he saw thousands of pairs of eyes trained solely on him.

It was then that he truly grasped the scale of the engagement, and he grew nervous.

He suddenly blanked and forgot how such a ceremony went.

Seon-Hyeok vaguely recalled being led by Marquis Rosenheim and brought in front of countless people. When he next came to his senses, the young princess already had an engagement ring on her finger.

“I, Theodore Tiberius Ro Adenstein, legitimate ruler of Adenburg and proud head of House Adenstein, hereby declare the engagement of Ophelia Laurel Ro Adenstein and Seon-Hyeok Rheinperle Kim Drachen!”

It was not until he heard the booming voice of King Theodore, guardian of the royal princess and notary for her engagement, that Seon-Hyeok realized the engagement was over.

“Ah…”

He belatedly looked at his fiancée in front of him.

The princess, meticulously dressed up by the palace’s maids, looked more mature than ever. Rather than emphasizing and complementing her natural elegance and loveliness, they had decided to conceal her youth and create an aura of adulthood.

If anyone else had received such strange makeup, they would have looked bizarre and out of place. However, this was not the case for the princess.

Ophelia looked neither ugly nor awkward.

She looked somewhere between a girl and a woman, and her unique figure evoked strange feelings in the onlookers.

Seon-Hyeok momentarily wondered whether he should be admiring the excellent skills of the maids in charge of her makeup or Ophelia’s natural beauty.

He quickly decided to put greater weight on the former.

As he quietly stared at the princess’ face, Seon-Hyeok wondered whether that slight ambiguity in her appearance was intended by the maids.

“Earl Drachen?”

Admiring the women’s ingenious ability, Seon-Hyeok found himself staring at the princess before he knew it. He belatedly noticed his actions and tried to avert his gaze, but Ophelia was confident even at her engagement ceremony and gave him a calm look.

Seon-Hyeok grew even more embarrassed when he saw the piercing eyes unique to those of House Adenstein. He felt as though his inner feelings, slightly swayed by the royal princess’ new appearance, had been exposed.

Trying to hide his thoughts, he immediately jerked his head back.

“I hope that you and Ophelia will remain pure and faithful until the day you are married.”

King Theodore gave a wry smile as he spoke, as if aware of Seon-Hyeok’s feelings.

“Long live His Majesty!”

The citizens and nobles in the capital enthusiastically cheered at King Theodore’s words of blessing.

After staring at them for a moment, the king casually raised his hand.

It was far too small of a gesture to draw attention in this noisy plaza. Nonetheless, the citizens and nobles stopped loudly praising the royal family and immediately shut their mouths.

“Eat, drink, and get drunk! This is a royal decree – open the royal storehouses to provide plenty of food and drinks so that they may faithfully carry out my command!”

“I will do as Your Majesty wishes.”

“For the infinite glory of the Adenstein royal family!”

“Bless the merciful king!”

When the official loudly announced King Theodore’s order, the capital’s citizens cheered even more enthusiastically.

“Congratulations, Earl Drachen.”

Marquis Rosenheim, assigned the role of Seon-Hyeok’s patron because of the foreigner’s lack of ties to this world, approached and offered his congratulations.

“Congratulations! I hope you stay healthy until the day of your marriage, and that the seeds sown today bear plentiful fruit.”

“Congratulations on your engagement.”

The other nobles rushed in after Marquis Rosenheim to offer their congratulations.

“Thank you.”

He found himself surrounded by the celebrating nobles.

***

The engagement ceremony was so grand and hectic that Seon-Hyeok barely recalled how the day progressed.

All he could remember was the unusually mature appearance of his fiancée.

The princess had been dressed in a brilliantly white dress symbolizing her purity, and Seon-Hyeok vividly recalled her neither fully childlike nor fully grown-up appearance.

Was it said that a woman’s transformation is innocent?

The beauty of the girl in her makeup was memorable, and Seon-Hyeok somehow felt as though he had been given a sneak peek into how she would grow up in the future.

However, he was not given the time to reflect on the princess’ appearance that day.

He was swarmed by countless nobles trying to become acquainted with him.

“Earl Drachen. I am Huperion from the north. Congratulations on your engagement…”

“House Hexen from the south…”

“My family is…”

He was congratulated by countless nobles, and he barely recalled any of their names.

“Thank you. It is nice to meet you.”

He was exhausted even offering robotic words of gratitude.

Seon-Hyeok simply wished that this chaotic engagement celebration would end soon.

Unfortunately, the banquet was just beginning, and it would not end that day. Under King Theodore’s decree, the celebrations would continue for a full week.

“Earl Drachen.”

“Earl.”

“Earl Drachen.”

Seon-Hyeok secretly let out a sigh as he saw the nobles desperately trying to exchange even one more word with him.

“Congratulations.”

“Congratulations on having the beautiful princess as your fiancée.”

“Earl Drachen.”

But among them, there was a voice that caught his attention.

The dry tone was dissonant with the excessively friendly voices of the nobles trying to build rapport with him.

“Hm?”

Without realizing it, he turned to find the voice’s owner. Just by looking at his attire, Seon-Hyeok realized that the elderly man was not from Adenburg.

“It is nice to meet you. My name is Guillaume Georges Fontaine.”

In contrast to his words, the man’s tone sounded strangely hostile.

Narrowing his eyes upon noticing this awkward demeanor, Seon-Hyeok belatedly saw the white pattern on the man’s chest.

He knew better than anyone what the pattern symbolized.

Griffindor…”

A pattern resembling the monster he had seen numerous times while fighting the Knights of the Azure Sky was above the elderly man’s heart.

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