TWB (Novel) Chapter 108

C108

"However..."

"If something goes wrong, I have no one else but my father and my brother. Don't you know that?"

Bianca's body trembled slightly, and her light green eyes filled with tears. Gustave involuntarily took Bianca's tightly clenched hand in his lap.

But he never nodded. The troubles in his mind were clearly revealed. He wanted to agree with Bianca, but he didn't want to say that his son would stay in their territory while his son-in-law traveled through dangerous battlefields.

At that moment, Zachary, who had been silently listening, came to Bianca's aid.

"Do that, Count Blanchefort."

"Count Arno."

Gustave was astonished.

To be honest, he was only making such a statement because Bianca didn't know about the honor and duty of a knight as a noble, and he thought Zachary would be offended by Bianca's statement.

Wasn't he the one who had been on the battlefield since he was 16? And as a result, he established a connection with the Blanchefort family... Bianca's words left room for the misunderstanding that she was sending Zachary as a fighting dog of the Blanchefort family.

That's why he shook his head even more, because he couldn't bear to hear Bianca.

However, when Zachary actively agreed with Bianca, Gustave felt perplexed.

In fact, the story about Johaseng's participation had already concluded for Zachary and Bianca.

Bianca hesitated for a long time, worried that Zachary might misunderstand her, as Gustave was concerned, but Zachary nodded happily more than expected.

Rather, it was a good idea, and he took it seriously. Zachary was also worried about Bianca being left alone while he went to war. Until now, the remaining soldiers enlisted in the Arno family were enough to protect her, but now that Jacob was in the picture, he didn't know what would happen. In addition to Arno, he needed people to protect Bianca, and Blanchefort, her home, fit perfectly into that.

Zachary added as if he was requesting.

"That way, I'll be able to go to war with peace of mind."

"... Count Arno also believes that, so we will wait without participating as much as possible."

When Zachary said that, Johaseng nodded vigorously.

As a young man with a lot of energy, deep in Johaseng's heart, there was a strong desire to go to the battlefield and become a commander.

Just like Zachary, he wanted to prove his own ability! But he realized that it was just his greed. Thinking that even his sister's life was on his shoulders, he couldn't raise his voice to reject it.

"You can trust us, Count de Arno," Gustave added with a sigh.

It was moving from his point of view that Bianca cared about her family by understanding the situation of the neighboring kingdoms.

He thought she was just a girl who was interested in nothing more than wearing a dress or reading a poem... Just like with the matter in the banquet hall, he was very proud that she had grown so wonderfully after leaving the arms of her parents at an early age.

"Bianca, I can't believe you can read and think about the situation around you in this way... This father is very happy that you have grown wonderfully as a countess."

She didn't really care, so Bianca could only awkwardly smile. Gustave would have undone what he had just said if he had known about Bianca's deferred duties as a countess towards Vincent. Fortunately, Zachary was the only one who knew, and he was a good man who could keep his mouth shut for his wife's honor.

Fortunately, things turned out as Bianca hoped. It would have been impossible without Zachary's help. After meeting with the Blancheforts, they strolled through the corridors. When there was no one around, Bianca spoke with a hint of gratitude.

"Thank you for listening to my request."

"It's not necessary."

Zachary shook his head. He looked directly at Bianca with a look of genuine disbelief. When his black eyes turned towards Bianca, Bianca stiffened with a different meaning than before. It seemed as if he would embrace Bianca and kiss her lips at any moment. The wind that blew in for a moment tickled the back of her neck as if it were Zachary's breath.

Zachary added softly, as if consoling Bianca.

"There is no lie in what I told Count Blanchefort. Only when you are safe, can I go to war with peace of mind. Do you understand?"

"... Thank you."

Zachary's resolute words brought comfort to Bianca. Bianca smiled faintly and nodded.

In her heart, she wanted to ask Zachary not to go to war, but it was absurd that the hero of the Kingdom couldn't participate in the war.

His case was different from Johaseng's.

The title of Blanchefort had been passed down from generation to generation since time immemorial, but since it was the current king who conferred the title of Arno to Zachary, the contract between them was stronger than anything else. If Zachary disobeyed the king's orders and didn't go to war, it was such a great crime that he would have to give up his noble status.

There was nothing good about it. But that's not why he had given it up. It was because he didn't know how Jacob would react if Zachary renounced the title of hero.

That was the most threatening thing.

Bianca reached for Zachary's cheek. Unlike Bianca's skin, the skin she touched was tough. A hardness that seemed impenetrable even if attacked with a knife. But the truth is...

"Don't push yourself too hard in the war either."

Bianca tried to smile. Hiding a secret that could never be revealed, hiding her true feelings that she could never utter.

-----

Before returning to the Arno estate, Bianca had to meet with someone. It was Princess Odelli.

At the banquet, the men pushed Bianca by comparing her to Princess Odelli, creating a tense atmosphere.

Princess Odelli was not someone who would be influenced by such things, but she might have been offended if Bianca showed no reaction.

Furthermore, didn't the disturbance with Viscount Volne at the banquet end easily because the princess agreed to take care of Celine? Although she volunteered, Bianca needed to greet her at least once.

As Blanchefort and the Arno family were the cornerstones of the First Prince's faction, Bianca was concerned about her actions. It would be heart-wrenching if rumors were to arise due to her negligence.

She heard that Viscount Volne left Lahoz late at night on the day of the banquet. She also heard that Princess Odelli immediately took Celine to her palace, but what did Celine, who was left alone, think?

To be honest, Bianca didn't believe that Celine was truly grateful. Wouldn't it be nice if she didn't blame her?

It was the result of Bianca's consideration.

It was truly a golden opportunity for Celine, a local girl with no ties to the royal family, as the position of royal maid couldn't be for just any aristocrat.

Compared to her actions that encouraged rumors about Bianca and worsened her public opinion, it felt like a reward.

But that was only an objective "condition." Because in the world, you can't know everything by simply listing conditions.

Wasn't the same true for Bianca? A husband who is a hero and a strong family. It was a life that everyone couldn't help but envy, but she was unhappy in her previous life...

To be honest, she was humiliated at the banquet, but what kind of treatment would she receive when she was alone in the capital? As much as she didn't know if it would be better than when she returned to Viscount Volne's estate, Bianca also knew that her actions could be seen as meddling. But it didn't matter because it wasn't born out of envy.

Even if Celine continued to talk behind the scenes about Bianca, she would do the same. As long as the reputation of Arno wasn't affected, she was willing to let go of small rumors born out of her anger.

However, the Celine she encountered in front of the princess Odelli's palace was not what Bianca had imagined.

She seemed as calm as a dead person.

She wasn't surprised to see Bianca as she had been informed in advance that she would come, but since she still had little experience as the princess's lady-in-waiting, she couldn't handle her facial expressions well.

A thread of Celine's emotions slipped through the cracks in her face. Her eyes, which had a mix of hostility, shame, and gratitude, trembled violently.

Celine bowed her head, clearing her emotions, and informed the princess of Bianca's visit.

"The Countess of Arno has arrived."

-----

"Come in."

Bianca quietly passed by Celine. She had no intention of provoking her by pretending to know her. Because she came here today only to befriend Princess Odelli.

Only after Bianca passed by Celine did Celine gently raise her head.

As if a typhoon couldn't even move her, Bianca's back, which stood upright without a single sway, caused nothing but resentment.

At first, she hated Bianca. Without even thinking about what she had done, she resented Bianca for everything. It was Bianca's fault that Viscount Volne slapped her in anger, it was also Bianca's fault that her marriage prospects were blocked. And it was Bianca's fault that she had to work with "that" Princess Odelli...

Princess Odelli was a woman known for her bad personality. Even when all kinds of suitors came to her, she didn't grant them any warm words, only sarcasm and insults.

Furthermore, Odelli was the only sister of Prince Gautier. It was obvious that she wouldn't like Celine, who was out of the eyes of the Arno family, who was like Gautier's right hand.

How difficult would it be to be under Princess Odelli? Her life had ended. That day she arrived at her quarters and cried so much that her eyes were swollen the next day.

But when she was actually under Princess Odelli's command, Celine had nothing to worry about. The princess, who looked at Celine with a monotonous gaze, added.

"Thank the Countess of Arno. At least now you have one more choice, don't you?"

Celine pondered over and over again what Princess Odelli had said. At that moment, she didn't immediately understand what she meant, but after a few days of living with Princess Odelli, she felt that she had a vague idea of what it meant.

Celine thought that until now, Princess Odelli rejected men because she didn't have a man with the status and financial resources to compete with her. Still, as she aged day by day, she only acted as if she wasn't interested in marriage to hide her impatience...

But Princess Odelli was truly uninterested in getting married. Looking at her carefree life, there were no signs that she cared about men or dating.

It was an unexpected choice for Celine. Who isn't interested in marriage? Even more so Princess Odelli, who can marry any man she wants...

The sight of Princess Odelli spending her days seemed so pleasurable. A carefree life fully focused on herself, without having to waste time with a man. Without realizing it, Celine came to envy Princess Odelli's life.

The princess's maid also had a servant, so despite being the princess's maid, Celine's prosperous life was so good that it couldn't be compared to when she was the young viscountess of the Volne family.

As a result, the hostility, dissatisfaction, and hatred she initially had towards Bianca gradually disappeared. She even felt grateful. But Celine, who didn't want to admit that fact, shook her head.

This didn't mean that her enthusiasm was high enough to suppress the softened negative emotions.

To be honest, she no longer wanted to be associated with Bianca. Whether she was good company or not... Celine turned her head away from Bianca's back, which disappeared into the princess's room, and prepared to run the errand that the princess had ordered her to do.

-----

When Bianca entered the princess's quarters, Princess Odelli greeted her while sitting on a chair.

"Welcome, Countess Arno."

"How have you been, Your Highness?"

Bianca greeted politely. It was a strictly formal greeting. Princess Odelli pointed to the chair in front of her and spoke quite comfortably.

"I am fortunate to be able to play and eat, so of course, I am in good health. By the way, I heard that Countess Arno wasn't feeling well... and that she will return to her estate early. Are you alright?"

"It's not a serious illness. I just don't have a strong constitution..."

Bianca smiled gently and mumbled awkwardly. Her face was pale, as if asserting herself as a weak person. She wasn't that weak... She just couldn't help it because they were using Bianca's health as an excuse to return to the Arno estate. Rather, she was worried that the excuse might be inconvenient.

But Yvonne, who had been silently listening behind Bianca, nodded as if it were natural.

The Bianca Yvonne had seen up until now was as fragile as a dandelion spore carried by the wind, so she generally had to stay in bed all the time. It wasn't that strange for her to have to return to the territory early.

The appearance of Bianca, as seen by Princess Odelli, wasn't much different from Yvonne's thoughts. Having determined that Bianca needed to recover, she smiled bitterly.

"Well, the capital is not a good place to rest. It's very noisy, crowded, and..."

Odelli's gaze turned towards the window. A loud noise came in through the window.

"Just like at the last banquet, it's also a breeding ground for rumors. Being the center of rumors, I am tired."

Taking a deep breath, she felt a vivid discomfort.

Indeed, the royal family would have intervened if she were to say that she was suffering from rumors. Beyond being a member of the royal family, she was the object of envy, so every move of hers was talked about by others every day... Bianca felt it was amazing that she could endure it.

Princess Odelli changed the subject as if she didn't want to think about it anymore.

"Did you meet Celine?"

"Yes, at the entrance. Thank you for rectifying the rudeness I had committed."

"Well, because I knew exactly what I was thinking when I recommended Celine as a maid... Probably better than anyone else."

Odelli chuckled and waved her hand. It was a somewhat frivolous but elegant laughter, as if Princess Odelli were strumming the strings of a harp.

-----

Odelli turned 28 years old and was still unmarried. Considering that the first marriage for aristocratic women takes place before the age of twenty-five at the latest, it was a very late situation.

The only reason Odelli could remain single was due to her father, the king's, obsessive affection.

The king had no intention of marrying off his daughter who resembled his beloved first queen.

Partly because he cared for his daughter, but also because it wasn't easy to find a husband who matched his status. He didn't want to welcome a son-in-law of lower rank, and the royal family of Sevran was strong enough to not have to involve themselves in marital arrangements. There wasn't even a son-in-law attractive enough to break the king's stubbornness.

In any case, Odelli could live freely thanks to her father. Ironically, however, it also made her feel the frustration of living a life under her father's yoke. After all, Odelli was merely her father's property.

Odelli's life would have been very unhappy if the life her father suggested for her and the life she desired were not the same, but fortunately, her desires aligned.

However, despite the king's protection, the persistent flies insisting she should marry constantly buzzed around, and she knew better than anyone how impossible it was for a noblewoman not to marry.

At the banquet, Odelli clearly understood the intention behind men praising Bianca and comparing her to Odelli.

They must have intended to strike at Odelli to provoke her impatience.

If Odelli had been so naive as to not understand their intentions, another man might have firmly ensnared her, but her wall was like an iron fortress.

She also knew that Jacob hated her for it.

And that he played a role behind the constant criticisms from aristocratic men.

And yet, if Odelli insists on remaining single, they are even considering sending her to a monastery with the excuse that Odelli is a waste of money!

It was amusing.

The money that came to her belonged to the king, not Jacob.

Odelli disliked the gazes of men, but she was very interested in outfits that highlighted her beautiful appearance.

Jacob sarcastically asked if she wanted to look attractive to men while refusing to look at them, but Odelli scoffed.

Why would a woman as beautiful as her wear dull clothes like a monk and kill her appearance?

Odelli had no doubts that it would be a loss for Sevran.

Anyway, Odelli understood how annoying the people around her were, saying that marriage is important in a woman's life.

It was close to brainwashing.

Everyone used to raise their voices about the joy of raising children and the happiness of relying on their husbands, pressuring her to marry. And they treated a single woman as if she had a disability. In that way, they pretended to facilitate the family's marital business by instilling in women the romance of marriage.

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