It was not long before she started eating along Tashian.
She picked up any utensils and dipped fresh tomatoes and round cheese cut in half. Next to her, Tashian had almost emptied the mushroom soup bowl that had already melted the parmesan cheese.
Of course, they did not gobble up or eat food that looked ugly to others, but she could see that they were eating with less aristocratic courtesy compared to other nobles. She could already feel the gazes of the nobles sitting at the same table.
“Don’t fill your stomach too much. They will continue to recommend food around you until the night of the masquerade. It’s good to leave it almost empty enough to set an appropriate example.”
Tashian didn’t even forget to give her advice not minding the eyes of others. Eun-woo suddenly thought whether he was familiar with those gazes lingering around.
Well, he’d draw attention wherever he goes because he is a duke of this country.
Eun-woo bit into a small chicken pie with sour orange syrup and mumbled. It was impressive to see what kind of spice they used, as if they were pungent. It was crispy on the outside and cooked smoothly on the inside, enhancing the flavor.
Due to the tension, her stiff body finally had an appetite. Eun-woo stretched her arms toward a salad plate topped with sesame sauce with passionate movements, grabbed a handful of them, and put them on her plate. The sweet and salty scent of the sauce made her mouth water.
They emptied their own plate silently for a while.
While staying with Tashian, Eun-woo found out one more fact about him. He was quite a big eater.
Each meal he ate was three or four times more than hers. It was understandable considering the large size of his body, which seemed to have two bodies intact inside.
Furthermore, doesn’t he train every dawn? Considering his daily routine, which started at dawn and did not end until midnight, it was more than acceptable.
Listening to Johannes, he even appeared to be in charge of training the Knights of Capital and as a Duke, amidst that.
So even if he eats like that, he doesn’t have time to gain fat.
Eun-woo glanced at him this time, who was reaching out for the pastry filled with lobster, and shrimp flesh.
Anyway, it felt good to see him eating well.
After finishing their meal, the two of them walked around the venue slowly, patting their chubby stomachs and holding a glass of bubbly champagne each.
The huge banquet hall was filled with people and entertainment. There were so many things she wanted to see and witness.
Tashian almost supported her with his one arm, who was busy exclaiming at every view her eyes caught.
They were watching a show where a male acrobat, who was nearly naked, mingled with the crowd around him, with dozens of glasses towered like a mountain, which filled with alcohol from above, and fondly drenched in the tumblers below.
There was a heavy sound echoing, and the voices of the people who were buzzing inside quickly subsided. It was not long before everyone’s eyes headed to one place.
Another huge door right next to the door they first used to enter the hall, was already wide opened.
She saw his hand with her hand on it, slipped out, took the cup she was holding away and put it on the table beside her.
She then looked at people’s eyes along the way, wondering what was going on. When she couldn’t see well because she was covered by the crowd’s head, she snooped with her tiptoes raised.
“His Majesty is entering.”
Tashian looked down at her and explained.
She felt her heart pounding.
She had seen Ikshid, the Crown prince before, but isn’t it the first time she’ll meet him in such an official meeting? In addition, this scene was also the first scene in the novel. Somehow, she was anxious and waited for His Majesty the Emperor, and Ikshid’s entrance.
Soon after, the Imperial Knights in military uniforms entered vigorously with a fanfare-like loud and sharp melody. She felt the solemn energy at their every sharp pace.
As soon as Eun-woo found them, she looked at the man next to her.
‘Wasn’t Tashian the head of the Imperial Knights?’
Why is he next to me who should be at the forefront of that wonderful matrix?
She tilted her head.
However, her curiosity was soon erased when a man in a colorful costume, holding a flag with a red sun flag symbolizing Hellasium, appeared.
Eun-woo admired the luxury of the outfit and stretched out to take a closer look. Then a man strode across the hall. At once, she could see that he was Ikshid. Then, the next moment, she was astonished.
‘Oh my god! That person is my Older Brother Crown Prince?’
Eun-woo couldn’t help but exclaim with admiration at his golden eyes that seemed to walk clearly into her eyes.
Were his eyes carrying such a brilliant light before?
At a glance, he was dressed to show that he was the crown prince of the empire.
With a bright red carpet-like uniform that poked his eyes and a blue insignia on one shoulder, he looked flawless and perfect everywhere.
Whenever he took a step forward with a solemn and dignified step, his mahogany-colored brown hair slightly shook.
As soon as he appeared, people who had stopped all actions and were waiting, raised their right hands and made movements that she didn’t know the meaning of, and bowed their heads. It seemed to be an example dedicated to the imperial family.
Eun-woo was embarrassed and looked at Tashian’s light gesture, but hurriedly bowed her head like other people.
“Everyone, raise your heads.”
In an instant, an elegant voice rang into the banquet hall, which seemed empty. At the word of Ikshid, people raised their heads all at once.
Again, the sound of humming filled the hall. Tashian whispered softly into her ear.
“His Majesty seems to have not been able to get up from the sickbed again today.”
As he said, there was no emperor to appear behind the prince.
It has already been more than five years since King Fedellamon I, the father of Crown Prince Ikshid, had been unable to take care of him due to a long illness.
In the meantime, Ikshid, who has won the long battle of the princes with the throne, has replaced the vacancy.
Eun-woo opened her eyes wide and watched Ikshid.
Is that really the same person as the prince she met the other day?
Ikshid stood at the top with a slightly boring look and looked down arrogantly at the banquet hall. His appearance emitted a solemnity and authority that could not be encountered hastily, which she had never found in their last meeting.
“Th-that person… he’s the prince that I saw, right?”
Eun-woo tilted her head toward Tashian and whispered lightly. Tashian went silent and couldn’t understand. He then replied casually.
“… Is there something different? It’s the person you saw.”
It was as if there was one more Ikshid she knew.
Don’t tell her that in this person’s eyes, the sarcastic king, who was making ridiculous jokes in front of them and the impeccable person, one of the royal family in front of them the other day, is the same person, right? However, Eun-woo saw his serious expression and felt a strange conviction that her thoughts were right.
After taking a light look at the audience, Ikshid opened his mouth by giving a light welcome to the aristocrats who attended the meeting. Soon after, he continued his speech.
The speech, which began with a light tribute to the soldiers and generals who participated in the war, immediately went back to the history of the empire, mentioning the names of the senate, the imperial family, and the first successor.
It goes on into a chapter of immunity where he weighed the pros and cons of the imperial power and this war and rebuked ministers who went against his will without mercy.
Eun-woo interestingly observed the nobles staring only at the front with unfocused pupils, as if they were familiar with this scene and their souls were already escaping.
Tashian was also silently waiting for the prince’s words to end, as if he was very familiar with his nagging, which was like a stone chewing.
Looking at that, Eun-woo corrected her memory, which had momentarily mistaken the prince for someone else.
As expected, Ikshid is Ikshid. He only changed the words he used to make it more noble and plausible, but the message he was conveying was just as incompetent as when she met him, that her work has increased because of him.
After a few minutes of speech that felt like hours, enough to loosen his legs like seaweeds, Ikshid finally bit his mouth.
Eun-woo thought that living is the same everywhere as she saw the spirit of people who had escaped from this space and crossed the dimension return.
Ikshid ordered the left-center in a short voice.
“Continue the banquet.”
Then, the prince sat in a comfortable position on the golden throne which she had given her gaze earlier without saying much.
The music of the band that had stopped began to flow again, and people began to form in groups again with a stiff look than before. Several groups flocked to the prince’s side as if they had waited only for that moment.
Eun-woo whispered softly to Tashian as he watched the scene.
“Shouldn’t we go and say hello?”
Tashian raised one eyebrow as if it was ridiculous.
“No way. Even if we don’t go, he’ll come to us on his own if we wait a little longer.”
Who’s coming? The Crown Prince Ikshid?
Eun-woo laughed in vain at his ridiculous determination. Soon, however, she found herself somehow understanding his groundless confidence.
So they were able to continue their own banquet tour.
The atmosphere of the venue was much calmer and somehow weird than before. Neither the clowns who were excitedly throwing cups into the air earlier nor the acrobats who were pantomime had disappeared.
People seemed to be absorbed in conversations and meals, hiding themselves in large and small groups, formed in several.
Eun-woo turned to find things to see, thinking it was regrettable.
At that time, a group of nobles gathered head-to-head on a red carpet on the floor and were seen immersed in something. When Eun-woo looked with her tiptoes up, and found out that what they were playing was a card game.
Tashian, who saw her gaze heading there, asked in a low voice.
“It’s a Blanche game. Do you want to take a look?“
Eun-woo nodded quietly. Then the hand supporting her arm wrapped around her shoulder and led her to the place with a stable step. Eun-woo couldn’t shake off the idea that he was like a personal bodyguard she was carrying. Since earlier, regardless of his will, he has been looking for only what she wants to see and eat.
“Blanche is a card game that is very popular in the Yellow Sea now. Literally, it’s a game that pulls out people with Blanche and white cards. If you find out that you have a white card from others, you will lose.“
‘It’s a kind of mafia game with cards.’
(TL: There is this game that’s famous in Korea which is the Mafia Game. The players in the game will guess who is the mafia, and if they guessed right, they won, if they didn’t, they lost.)
Eun-woo interestingly watched the aristocrats playing card games over someone’s shoulders. In order not to get caught in Blanche, sitting in one position or another and desperately covering their cards seemed to be a poker.
“There are seven types of cards. King, Knight, Wizard, Archer, Poole, Noir, and Blanche. They symbolize the numbers 10, 8, 6, 4, 2, and negative 30, respectively, in this order. A noir with 30 points deducted is a black card, and a blanche that can be defeated in this board just by having it, is a white card. At least three to five or six people each draw a card at random in order to determine where the Blanche card went. And when you’re sure someone has a blanche, they shout ‘Benepis’.”
At that moment, a nobleman who was playing the game shouted in a heated voice.
“Benepis! I’ll pick you, Ferrington!”
Then, the people holding the cards let out a sigh of complaints, and they all looked at the cards they were holding.
Some people have been grumbling about whether this is the first time he has shouted benepis.
“He must be saying useless things again, Nedo, dude. Blanche won’t come out this fast, right? Ferrington, let me see.”
“It seems there’s no way out. Nedo, how come your senses get dull the more you play?”
Eun-woo watched all these situations with interest. It seems that Ferrington, who was pointed out by Nedo, did not have a Blanche card.
Then, Nedo cheered and threw his card on the floor.
“Haha! You guys! Do I win if I find Blanche? Let’s count. Aren’t my cards the highest?”
Not knowing what happened, Eun-woo blinked and pulled out her neck like a turtle to look at his card. His cards, which were thrown away by him, consisted of the king with the highest score. Unlike other people’s cards were mixed with several low-scoring cards, such as Archer and Poole’s.
Tashian, who was watching the scene, explained to her in a quiet voice.
“If Blanche fails, the person with the highest sum of the numbers of each card wins. This time, Nedo must have been aiming for this method from the beginning.”
It was then.
A bright blonde young aristocrat who was participating in the card game silently shouted in a loud voice.
“Hold on! Nedo, what’s that on the back of the red king card?”
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