TWB (Novel) Chapter 153

Extra - 9

As if gathering the courage, his face was red.

Lucy also wanted to accept his offer, but she couldn't. She slowly shook her head.

"I'm sorry, I have to take care of the baby..."

"Hahaha! It's okay, I understand. I came here too quickly. It's really okay!"

Joseph hurriedly escaped. Lucy watched him sadly.

After hearing the story belatedly, Yvonne made a fuss and nudged Lucy in the side.

"I was thinking of taking care of the young lady. I attended a banquet the last time I came to the capital, but this is your first time. It's fine, attend the banquet as Madam's maid. On the way, dance with Sir Joseph."

"That's in the past. My sister should go with my brother-in-law. To be honest, most of the work of taking care of Madam and the baby has been done by my sister. That's why you can't even spend time with my brother-in-law. I don't want my brother-in-law to hold a grudge against me, so I'll take this opportunity to make it up to him."

"You know he's not that kind of person."

Yvonne's face turned serious at Lucy's joke. It was out of concern that Lucy might distrust her partner.

Lucy chuckled at Yvonne's excessive reaction.

"You know I'm just joking, right? But I'm really... worried."

"Worried?"

Suddenly, Lucy's laughter stopped. Her face turned serious. It was a pensive expression. Lucy, who had been thinking about what to say several times, finally spoke carefully after a long time.

"If I go to a ball as the partner of a young nobleman on my first trip to the capital, I might fly in dreams. You always have to keep your feet on the ground."

"Lucy..."

Lucy's argument was strong. Even Yvonne, who tried to persuade Lucy, had no choice but to back off.

Finally, on the day of the ball, Lucy held Alex in her arms and bid them farewell.

There was no way Bianca wouldn't know about the incident between Yvonne and Lucy. Bianca's face darkened as she headed to the ballroom. Zachary, who escorted Bianca, asked anxiously.

"Is there something bothering you?"

"It bothers me to leave Lucy behind. The dress was custom-made for her too, so she must want to wear it and... She received a request to accompany Baron Evanov's son. But Lucy yielded to Yvonne... I can't take sides. But if I take both of them, it makes me uncomfortable to leave Alex with a stranger..."

"Mmm."

Zachary fell silent for a moment and pressed his chin. His strong chin was wrinkled by his thumb. After thinking for a while, he asked curiously.

"Can't you switch shifts next time?"

"Next time?"

"I say this because I don't think the Queen will celebrate only one banquet while you're in the capital."

"Ah..."

Zachary's words made sense. The Odelli he knew enjoyed dances and banquets. So far, they hadn't held banquets frequently due to the succession to the throne and backlogged work, but Bianca's arrival seemed to excite her, so it wouldn't be surprising if she held two or three banquets.

Bianca and Zachary entered the banquet hall. The banquet hall, where the orchestra was playing, was already filled with people. When the Arno family appeared, people held their breath. The atmosphere of the banquet hall, with only calm performances, was more like a concert than a dance.

People's eyes followed Bianca. It was her first public appearance after being declared a Saint. Everyone looked at Bianca with eyes full of envy.

Bianca felt suffocated by the unparalleled attention compared to the previous tournament. First of all, she wasn't used to being in the spotlight. Bianca discreetly looked around.

However, both here and there, people only looked at her, so their eyes naturally met. After all, the only places she could fix her gaze on were the floor, the ceiling, or Zachary. Of course, Bianca chose Zachary.

Zachary's ears turned red under Bianca's gaze. He straightforwardly said, as if trying to hide his embarrassment.

"What are you looking at so intently? It's a face you see a lot."

"I looked around, but there was nothing else worthy of seeing than you. Do you also only look at me?"

"Because I only see you."

Zachary responded as if it was natural. Should I say he is naturally virtuous or that his nature doesn't care about others?... Judging by the sincerity in the black eyes that were looking at her, he must be closer to the latter. Bianca finally couldn't contain her laughter and burst out laughing.

Zachary stared at Bianca, but unlike his expressionless face, his dark eyes seemed to drip honey.

Regardless of how others saw them, the Duke and Duchess of Arno began to exude their own atmosphere.

As they did so, members of the royal family began to enter the banquet hall one by one. Since Prince Gaultier was also the owner of the Duchy of Fontaine, the first princess became the Duchess of Fontaine and stayed at the palace. The same went for their son, Albert. He, who had the first right of succession to the throne, grew up while learning royal studies from Odelli under the protection of the Duchess of Fontaine.

The third wife of Victor II, now the former queen, also attended with her two daughters. All that remained of the royal family, with the exception of Albert, were women.

The gender ratio was extremely skewed, and they were all unmarried or widows, so they had no partners. It was the young aristocrats who were excited about the opportunity. They craned their necks, all dressed up, to be chosen by the ladies of the royal family. Somehow, there were many men dressed extravagantly. The men gathered and talked about what the Duchess of Fontaine liked and what the former queen liked to wear.

On the other hand, the women, unlike before, engaged in a healthy and sincere conversation. How to increase the territory's tax, how to harvest more crops, taxes, trends in the commercial districts, etc. It wasn't that they couldn't talk about that topic because they didn't know until now, it was just that they couldn't because they weren't in the mood to talk about it. In particular, young women from childless families spoke more actively.

"This time, my father entrusted me with the financial documents of the territory."

"Oh, so maybe...? Congratulations!"

"It might be difficult, but... I'll work hard."

A young woman who appeared to be Bianca's age smiled happily. Until now, she had armed herself with a flirtatious smile while venturing into social circles with the sole purpose of getting married, but now she looked much more beautiful, discarding all of that and smiling innocently about what she was passionate about.

Meanwhile, Odelli, the Queen of Sevran, appeared. A woman who fit gold and the throne better than anyone else. If the sun were to be compared to a person, it would be her. Everyone bowed and worshipped her beautiful, splendid, and magnificent figure in unison.

When Odelli appeared, the orchestra stopped playing. In the silent banquet hall, Odelli looked at the crowd with her chin held high. Everyone held their breath and waited for Odelli to speak. Odelli's clear voice resonated throughout the banquet hall.

"Thank you all for attending. This is a hastily arranged banquet... As you all know, today's dance is to welcome Lahoz, my dear friend, the Duchess of Arno. I have refrained from dancing for a while, but thanks to her, I am very happy to be able to attend one after a long time. I would like to express my gratitude to her for being an excuse for my private greed."

Bianca chuckled awkwardly at Odelli's words and stood up from her seat. When she slightly bent her knees and gave a polite response, the crowd cheered and applauded.

"It's a banquet for me, but I hope you all enjoy it too. So, I hope everyone has a good time."

After Odelli's congratulatory speech, the orchestra began playing again. A courante with irregular beats! Odelli took her partner's hand first and stepped onto the center of the banquet hall. Her partner was the sturdy knight escorting her from behind. He was as tall as Gaspard, if not bigger. He must have been very nervous as his face turned red.

The knight escorting Odelli looked familiar. Where have I seen that knight...? Bianca muttered involuntarily.

"Ah, this is Sir Hector, who has been appointed to the Royal Guard. Do you remember? The Castilian knight who was the runner-up in the tournament the last time you came to the capital."

"Oh, right."

Yvonne, who was familiar with the people of the capital, quickly responded to Bianca's curiosity. Bianca, who didn't understand something, furrowed her brow and whispered in Yvonne's ear.

"But why a Castilian knight?"

"I heard he naturalized in Sevran because he wanted to serve Her Majesty."

"Ahh."

Bianca immediately understood. Now that she thought about it, she remembered giving Odelli a rose during the tournament. Opinions were divided on what his intention was, but now that he has returned, it seems his intention is clear.

However, as if he couldn't openly reveal such feelings, Sir Hector danced with a tough and blunt expression like a reef. In his rigid gestures, as if in a jousting competition, there was no trace of the excitement of dance and song, only the restraint of a knight remained. He tried to hide many things, but he couldn't completely hide the love in his eyes.

Whether or not Sir Hector's heart was understood, Odelli seemed intoxicated by the dance, as if it was a pleasure to dance after a long time. She surrendered to the melody with her whole heart and soul, and her quick and light movements made her look like a willow nymph swaying in the wind.

The unilateral flow of emotions between the two reached Bianca's eyes. Odelli was clever. As Bianca quickly noticed, Odelli should also be aware of Sir Hector's heart.

But that's it. Odelli was a woman accustomed to being loved and adored. Sir Hector's heart wouldn't have weighed on her much. So she would keep it lightly. If she were the Odelli Bianca knew, she would smile and say it was worth it, as she could keep an excellent knight by her side just by letting him gaze at her face.

Sir Hector also didn't seem to expect anything from Odelli. That's why he was holding the expression on his face that way.

The image of Sir Hector overlapped with the image of the man Bianca was familiar with. Suddenly, she felt pity for Sir Hector. Of course, there was nothing Bianca could do for him.

At that moment, Zachary tilted his head towards Bianca and whispered in her ear.

"What are you talking about so enthusiastically?"

"Nothing important."

"Mmm..."

Zachary didn't seem very convinced. But it was clear that he wouldn't be very happy to know that Bianca was curious about another young man. Bianca tactfully kept her mouth shut.

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