Chapter 52

“Wow! It’s so beautiful. I didn’t know there would be a place more breathtaking than the gardens of the imperial castle…”

Looking around the various summer trees and plants in the garden, Ingrid let out a sigh of admiration.

The eyes of the guards and the maids that were following along, however, were not fixed on the garden. Instead, their eyes stayed glued on Ingrid and the two ladies. Ingrid had continued to be elegant and graceful in her appearance and in every action. Luna still emitted a cold aura with her slightly sharp eyes and thick lips. Finally, there was Irene, who had an adorable and innocent appearance like a fairy.

The three ladies walked through a full bloom of flowers, but their beauties overshadowed the flowers. The sight was quite blinding.

They kept walking under the shade of a colorful awning, then sat down on comfortable chairs that had been prepared for them.

Cold summer tea and light snacks were then offered.

“You must have a really skilled gardener. I would love to spend a whole day here.”

“My mother and I personally take care of this place. Back when I was younger, my brother had ALWAYS helped us as well.”

Irene emphasized certain words, causing Ingrid to ask back with large eyes.

“Are you saying His Grace Pendragon grew flowers and took care of the trees with Lady Irene? Oh my, he’s so manly but also very caring.”

“Of course! My brother Alan is so kin… N, no, but he did it with me. With me!”

Irene unconsciously started to agree with Ingrid’s words with a bright smile. Realizing what she had done, Irene corrected herself by emphasizing certain words.

“How kind. My brother Ian has never done that before. I envy you, Lady Irene.”

“Hey, it’s nothing.”

Irene blushed shyly. She was secretly full of pride as people continued to praise her favorite brother. But this feeling passed, and she was once again struck with regret…

‘No, why do you keep talking about my brother? You’re just his ex-ex-fiancée. Okay, don’t get caught up in her schemes, Irene Pendragon. You can do this…’

Irene once again made a firm determination and filled her eyes with an innocent expression.

“By the way, Your Highness. I heard that there are always princes and knights visiting you from other countries. You must be really happy to meet charming and courageous people every day.”

“Not necessarily. There are many other princes and princesses in the castle beside myself. Of course, sometimes I meet them, but they are always so talkative and fictitious with their words. There’s no one like His Grace Alan Pendragon.”

“You have a great eye! I agree that there’s no one as handsome and dependable as my brother Alan…”

‘Argh! What’s wrong with me!?”

Irene hurriedly shut her mouth with a heart of the desire to tear her hair off. Ingrid looked at her with a smile and spoke.

“Same goes for the ladies as well. Lady Pendragon, as well as Lady Seyrod. I am startled at your beauties.”

“You are too kind, Your Highness.”

“I, is that so… Thank you.”

The two ladies unwittingly blushed and bowed their heads.

But Irene suddenly raised her head.

“By the way, Your Highness. Speaking of which… Is there a lady in the high society who you might think would be a good fit for my brother? I hope you can recommend a few with your excellent sense of judgment.”

“…..”

Luna’s face visibly dimmed at Irene’s words. Ingrid also seemed to be a bit agitated and her eyes started shaking.

‘That was good!’

Irene inwardly cheered, then took on a more innocent and hopeful face, as if to say ‘I don’t know anything’.

But there was one thing Irene missed.

Just as the maids and the noblewomen of Conrad Castle found Irene hard to deal with, even though they liked her, Ingrid received the same treatment from those around her in the imperial castle.

“I’m so glad to hear that Lady Irene appreciates my judgment. But unfortunately, I don’t have any ladies that I could recommend.”

“That can’t be! Don’t be like that… Even one person is okay, so please give me a recommendation.”

“Then…”

Irene worked hard to contain her sinister grin, but Ingrid continued speaking with a splendid smile.

“Everywhere I look, I guess... I would be the best choice. There’s no one prettier than me among the princesses, and among the noble ladies of the imperial castle.”

“…..”

“…..”

Irene and Luna, as well as the maids of Conrad Castle, all opened their mouths in shock.

It was no doubt that she was pretty, but to state that with her own words…

However, the maids who came from the imperial castle already knew Ingrid well and didn’t bat an eye. In that awkward silence, Ingrid put her teacup down on the table in a natural motion and looked around at the two young ladies with a charming smile.

“But Lady Pendragon and Lady Seyrod are pretty as well. If you head to the capital, I’m sure that many noblemen and knights will rush to propose to you. I guarantee it.”

“Ah, yes…”

“Aye, is that so?”

The two ladies came to their senses and had no choice but to put on awkward smiles. They couldn’t react negatively to Ingrid. She was the only princess of the empire who was not born from a concubine.

‘Sigh…’

Her expression remained cool as usual, but Luna let out a deep sigh on the inside.

Not long ago, when she first met Princess Ingrid at the Seyrod territory, she was shocked beyond words. Though she had never said it out loud, Luna had always thought that the only beauty who was comparable to her in the nearby lands was Irene Pendragon.

But the moment she saw Ingrid, such thoughts disappeared like snow melting into spring.

Of course, there was the human form of Soldrake, but she was a dragon, not a human. Although she did have some unexplained anxiety, Luna took comfort in the fact that dragons and humans could not have the same relationship as that of man and woman. Ingrid, however, was human, and also a princess of the empire.

Ingrid was superior in both looks and status to Luna, and she was headed to the Pendragon territory. Moreover, her reason was none other than to see His Grace Alan Pendragon.

That’s how herself, who was Alan’s ex-fiancée, came together with Ingrid, his ex-ex-fiancée, to Conrad Castle.

It was quite an uncomfortable situation.

Moreover, the way Alan behaved in front of Ingrid made her heart ache, not to mention the news that he had accepted the big-breasted, pretty maid as a concubine. At the frustrating thought, Luna just bit her lips and shook her head.

Whatever Ingrid’s purpose was, it was unrelated to her. She had to apologize to Alan Pendragon first.

That’s where it would start.

She and Alan Pendragon’s fresh new start to their relationship….

‘W, what are you thinking…!’

Luna’s face became tomato red, and she drank tea to quench her burning thirst.

Irene disregarded Luna while stealing glances at Ingrid.

‘Oh my God! Who does she think she is? I can’t leave it like this. I need to have a good plan…’

Unlike her expression, Irene’s innards were about to burst. But then, her eyes sparkled.

“Excuse me, Princess Ingrid?”

“What’s wrong?”

Irene grinned, almost failing to keep herself from screaming at Ingrid’s calm and elegant figure.

“If it wouldn’t be troublesome, I would like to invite one more person here. Would that be okay?”

“If it’s someone you want to invite, of course, it’s fine by me. But, who is it that you want to bring?”

Ingrid put down her teacup and asked Irene. Expecting the question, Irene answered with a bright and beautiful smile. It was the smile of a winner.

“She’s the lady whom brother Alan took in recently. Even though she’s a concubine, she’s soon to take on the title of baroness. Lady Lindsay Conrad.”

Thud.

Ingrid and Luna. Both of their hands put down the cups.

***

“Oh, this way, Miss Lindsay. No, we should call her Baroness Conrad now. Ho ho!”

The moment she saw Irene ushering her from the table situated underneath a wide and colorful awning, Lindsay froze on the spot. It wasn’t because of Irene, but rather the two ladies who were sitting with her. She was already somewhat acquainted with Luna, but the other lady was…

‘I, I, it’s a r, real princess…!’

Lindsay stood fixated on her spot, feeling stifled by the atmosphere. She wanted to immediately turn around and head back to the palace.

“What are you doing? Come this way.”

Irene called once more. Lindsay became startled and hurriedly moved her steps.

“Hey, Miss Lindsay, you need to walk properly.”

A maid hurriedly whispered in Lindsay’s ear.

“Ah? Ah, y, yes.”

In her nervousness, Lindsay had started to mix up her steps, lifting up her right arm with her right leg, and vice versa. She quickly corrected her footing.

As she drew closer to the waning, Lindsay’s anxiety grew.

An esteemed daughter of a county, lady of a duchy, and even a royal princess. Moreover…

‘Dolls. There are three dolls in front of me!’

It reminded her of the dolls she saw on market day in the village of Lowpool, dolls that were worth a precious gold coin. Three such dolls seemed to have grown to human form and were now sitting in front of her.

‘How could I be in a place like this…’

She felt like a rock that was placed amongst the prettiest jewels. Even though she was nervous, her heart was also full of unknown guilt.

But still, Lindsay greeted the party politely just as Irene had taught her.

“Lindsay of Conrad Castle greets the descendant of the g, great lion.”

“Hello, Lady Lindsay. Is your last name taken from the same origins as the name of Conrad Castle?”

“Y, yes. I’m originally a commoner so…”

Lindsay barely answered, pressing hard on her chest to calm herself.

“I see.”

Ingrid responded in a low voice, then carefully inspected Lindsay. The act of openly observing someone was an act unbefitting of a lady of her status, but she paid it no attention. No, to be exact, it was because Ingrid was just as surprised to see Lindsay as Lindsay was surprised to see Ingrid.

Even though Lindsay was pretty, her good, gentle looks were almost old-fashioned and dull. It was hard to believe that the heir to the Pendragon Duchy would take such a person as a concubine…

‘That level of beauty is dime a dozen in the capital…’

Ingrid felt her pride take a blow as she examined every aspect of Lindsay’s appearance.

‘That’s…’

Ingrid’s gaze stopped at a certain part of Lindsay’s body, and her gaze unwittingly dropped down to her own body.

Small. Incomparably small.

The sense of despondency and defeat struck Ingrid at the same time. She slowly raised her head.

“……”

“……”

Luna and Irene were looking at her with a look of understanding and empathy. A melancholic silence spread out among the three ladies as Lindsay looked around at a loss.

“Hey, ladies. Are you all having a pleasant time?”

A cheerful voice was heard from a distance, and all heads turned. Ian and Alan were walking towards them, shoulders side by side. The ladies all stood up to greet the two men.

“Brother, Your Grace Pendragon. Have you had a pleasant conversation as well?”

“We exchanged some good words.”

Ian answered with a large smile. He glanced at Raven, then sat in the chair that was placed between Irene and Ingrid.

“I don’t know if we shared good words, but it was productive.”

“That’s what good words are. Well, who is this lady over here?”

Lindsay, who caught Ian’s eye, bowed deeply while trembling like a branch placed in a storm.

“I, I, I greet the prince of the empire. I, I’m… I’m…”

Tears started to fill her eyes, and Raven answered casually in her stead.

“She's my wife.”

“……!”

At Raven’s words, Lindsay, as well as the other ladies, all froze in their place.

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