* * *
“To think His Highness is really getting married.”
“Why are you acting like it’s new when it’s been confirmed for months?”
“It didn’t feel real until now.”
The warriors were discussing while taking a short break on the training grounds. Of course, the topic of discussion was their lord’s upcoming wedding.
“But the other party is the Princess of Silvanus!” shouted a warrior with a dreadful scar on his left eye.
“I mean, is there a reason to hate it so much?”
“I was worried when they said it would be the Princess of Silvanus but after seeing her, she’s a bit different from what I thought…”
“Personally, I was shocked when I saw her at the welcome banquet.”
“Did you see the expression of the greeat Her Majesty the Queen when she heard what the Princess said? It was so funny.”
“Duke Skiela was something else too, even I felt sorry for him.”
“If her tongue was a sword, it would have been very bloody.”
“I thought all Silvanians were cowards but who would have thought they have such excellent warriors.”
The warrior laughed as they recalled what happened during the official audience with the Silvanus delegation.
Despite the atmosphere, there was someone who had complaints about Aristine.
It was the warrior with a scar on his left eye.
“Warrior, my foot! How can wagging your tongue be the same thing as swinging your sword! I’m telling you, those Silvanus bastards only have smooth tongues.”
“Mukali, I don’t know why you hate the princess so much.”
Finally, Jacquelin, who couldn’t keep listening, spoke up.
“Isn’t it stranger to like a Silvanian when you don’t even know what schemes they are cooking up inside?”
“The Princess is not that sort of person. She…”
Jacquelin, who had been investigating Aristine for a long time as Tarkan’s tactician, shut his mouth.
Although he enjoyed splitting demonic beasts in half, he was, fundamentally, a good-natured person. He didn’t like gossiping about the misfortune of others to a third party.
“She’s what? Are you completely taking her side? Don’t lose your mind just because she’s a little pretty. It’s not like you’re Prince Marten.”
“Why compare him with Prince Marten of all people…”
“Yeah, that’s a bit harsh.”
At the criticism of his fellow warriors, Mukali paused.
“I…apologize for that.”
“I’ll take it since you apologized fast. You have to buy me meat and alcohol though.”
Mukali sullenly nodded.
Even he thought comparing Jacquelin to Prince Marten was a bit too much.
Jacquelin bumped Mukali on the shoulder with his fist.
Although he had a scary face because of his scar, Mukali was a simple friend. His loyalty and simplicity could make the people around him frustrated at times.
Even his words just now were a little funny.
‘Why are you taking the princess’ side?’ sounded like something only a child would say.
The idea that he was taking sides was childish, but it was said by Mukali because he valued loyalty.
‘I can’t hate him when he’s like this.’
Jacquelin chuckled then he said to Mukali.
“Personally, I like the Princess quite a bit.”
When he first learned about her through documents and information, he thought she was a little pitiful. But he was more worried about the fact that she would not be politically helpful to Tarkan.
Why does it have to be the first princess?
His mind was full of thoughts like that.
But when he saw Aristine in person and understood what kind of person she was in reality rather than papers, he changed his mind. She was smart and well-spoken so she could help Tarkan in many ways, but more importantly, she had her own charm.
“The princess is very popular among the court ladies. You know they all deal with her up close; there is a reason they like her.”
At those words, Mukali snorted.
“That’s because they like small and pretty things. Even when they’re chatting, it’s all about her being pretty.”
The princess looked like a little fairy when she stood in the midst of the Irugoians who had huge frames. Even more so because she had a slender frame and light silver hair, unlike Irugoians who had dark hair.
It was quite exciting to know that the person you served was special.
“Hmm, I think they just talk about that area a lot, I doubt that’s the only reason.”
Aristine was not a picky master at all. She didn’t have any demands and she didn’t erect walls due to status. She must have felt like a hole to breathe for the court ladies who were crushed by Tarkan’s overbearing aura.
“Yeah, I think Milord’s bride is pretty okay too.”
“She’s not bad.”
“Much better than I expected.”
“What is much better?!”
Mukali couldn’t help but raise his voice.
“Don’t submit so easily.”
The average person would have been terrified and nodded immediately when Mukali yelled with his scary face, but these guys were different.
“Submit, my ass.”
“C’mon man, be honest. You’re telling me you didn’t feel refreshed when the Duke’s tail was shrinking?”
Mukali unconsciously nodded.
Honestly, he didn’t just feel refreshed, he felt very refreshed.
“See, that’s why I say she’s nice, no?”
“It will be even nicer if she does it again.”
“Plus, she seems to fit well with His Highness.”
“I’ve never seen Milord act like that.”
Mukali looked at the dark men chattering harmoniously and frowned.
‘It’s only been a few days since they met the princess…’
Small and delicate things tend to stimulate people’s protective instincts. It was obvious that they were swept away by her outer shell.
“But she’s a Silvanian, she must have some crafty scheme. We must protect our lord.”
“Of course, we should, if she had a scheme. But does she? It didn’t seem like that considering how she treated the Queen and Duke Skiela.”
“You can never know. None of you guys have even talked directly with the princess. We’ve only seen her pass by.”
“Then we can just ask someone who’s talked to her. What do you think, Durante?”
Durante, who had been silently sharpening his sword till them, raised a brow.
“Let’s cut the chatter here. Get back to training.”
As they quietly got up, a few of them clicked their tongues.
“Tch, no fun.”
“We still have some time left though.”
Despite their grumblings, they diligently got up to get back to training.
After they all left, Mukali was also about to leave and go deal with his own subordinates.
“Oh my, am I late?”
But he heard a voice coming from behind him and looked back.
Dionna gave a soft smile as she brushed aside her dark-blue hair.
“I made some sandwiches for them to eat but it seems I’m too late.”
“You don’t have to trouble yourself so much…”
“How can I not? They’re all like my brothers.”
Seeing the smile on Dionna’s face, Mukali’s expression was a mix of pain, nostalgia, pity, and regret.
He couldn’t help but feel like this.
Dionna’s brother and Mukali’s comrade, Chantra, was already dead.
It had been a tough battle.
If things went on, they were going to lose half of the warriors to the demonic beasts.
Right then, Tarkan devised a plan.
In a manner unlike him, he hesitated before speaking of an operation where the sacrifice of an ally was inevitable.
However, an ally was destined to die that day, and it was a way to minimize the number of deaths.
Chantra was the one who stepped forward then.
The battle ended in a victory, but Chantra was killed.
Mukali felt indebted to Chantra, and that feeling was projected onto Dionna.
“Thank you.” (Mukali)
“I thought I came in time for their break but I’m too late. Everyone’s gone…” (Dionna)
“That’s their bad luck. I’m the lucky one here, give it to me. I’m in the mood for a sandwich.” (Mukali)
He still had time to spare because Durante had sent them away before time was up.
Mukali sat down on the bench with Dionna.
He ate several sandwiches in a row, complimenting them as ‘delicious, delicious’ but anyone could see that Dionna’s expression wasn’t very good.
She was smiling but there was a shadow cast over her face that she couldn’t hide.
“Dionna, is something wrong?”
“Huh? Ah, no.”
Dionna quickly raised the corner of her lips and shook her head. But her expression showed that she wasn’t okay at all.
Mukali put down the sandwich.
“I thought you said you think of me as a brother. Tell me what’s wrong.”
At those words, Dionna hesitantly opened her mouth.
Even after starting the sentence, she didn’t say anything for a good while.
Mukali waited for her to speak without urging her.
“Brother Mukali, you know I think of you as my real brother, right?”
“Yes, of course, I do.”
“That’s why I’m telling you this. It’s about the Princess…and it’s not very good.”
At those words, Mukali’s eyes gleamed.
“Yeah, I heard the princess is stuck on some man and going around investigating him.”