When Rachel and Sian came out after finishing their discussion, Theodore entered from the entrance of the opposite hall.
Theodore was wary of the gloomy, unfamiliar man.
“Rachel, who is this man?”
“He’s an informant from the guild. He is here because I made a request.”
People in the wrong usually end up feeling guilty. Perhaps because his conscience had been driven into a corner, Theodore glared at Sian.
Whether or not he noticed the intense stare, Sian was courteous toward Theodore.
“It’s a great pleasure to meet you, Count Elosa. I’m Arias, a guild’s informant.”
“Yeah. You received a request from Rachel?”
Sian’s eyes, hidden by the blindfold, were directed at Theodore.
Theodore was having a terrible morning and still feeling quite sensitive about how his son seemed willing to murder him. He purposely straightened his shoulders and added strength to his voice.
“What was it?”
“Something I think will make the Count very happy.”
Theodore scoffed as if he had heard something ridiculous and gave a half smile.
“Make me happy? Don’t be absurd, you’re talking nonsense.”
“My apologies. I thought you would be happy to receive such a gift from your wife.”
Theodore turned to Rachel, and she simply shrugged her shoulders.
Since the gift didn’t truly hold any special meaning for her, it was better to rid herself of it as quickly as possible.
“I wanted to give you something special. A gift that signifies a promise to ‘Love you forever.’ I would be very happy if you wore them on your cuffs when attending the Crown Prince’s birthday banquet tomorrow.”
Verengela, who was watching from afar, rushed forward to open the box. The pink diamonds sparkled brightly.
The sound of the middle-aged woman’s laughter rang out and Theodore forced himself to look happy.
Before they could get an answer of how he was able to prepare such a gift, Sian disappeared.
The reaction at the banquet hall was as expected.
“Oh, my Count Elosa! Weren’t these cufflinks extremely difficult to get because of how precious and rare the stones are?”
“There were rumors circulating that you two had some issues in your relationship because the Count always attended events alone, but clearly there was no truth to these rumors. I envy you, Count Elosa.”
“It must have been very expensive, but how did you get these?”
“I heard there was only one set imported from a neighboring country. I was wondering who managed to get their hands on such a precious item, but I’m surprised to learn it was the Count, and not the Emperor or the Duke!”
Theodore laughed awkwardly, and Verengela, who was surrounded by noble ladies, chatted excitedly.
“Our Countess Elosa is so wonderful. She felt guilty for not being able to appear with him in public because of her poor health. She is such a wise and considerate person.”
“Oh, Mrs. Verengela. You must be really happy. How did you get such a daughter-in-law?”
She had secretly cursed at Rachel for being stupid, told lies about her, and even pretended like she didn’t exist only a while ago.
Unlike Verengela, Theodore kept to a corner of the banquet hall and only spoke to those who made conversation with him.
“Count, are you feeling unwell? Did you perhaps overwork yourself in preparation for the banquet?”
“Ah, yes. I’m a little tired, but it’s fine.”
He didn’t seem fine at all.
From the moment Theodore entered the banquet hall, he was busy looking around like a lost puppy. He appeared to be looking for something, but with so many people approaching him to comment on his cufflinks, he didn’t seem to know what to do.
‘What in the world are you looking for?’
Didn’t he volunteer to handle the preparations for the banquet because he wanted to impress the high-ranking nobles? Why is he acting like this when the high-ranking nobles are approaching him to make conversation with him first?
Verengela poked Theodore in the ribs several times. Apparently, she also disapproved of her son’s behavior.
He indulged Verengela by speaking to her for a few moments before looking around the banquet hall again.
Then, the main character of the banquet appeared with the sound of a trumpet.
Crown Prince Atreyu, who was currently only 10 years old, entered the banquet hall in a golden palanquin. Following behind were Emperor Siger, Empress Beatrix, Empress Dowager Belwinder, Great Sage Titienith, and finally, Sian.
It was a splendid party, but Rachel only saw Sian.
‘So that’s what he looks like.’
He was rarely mentioned in the original story, but she never imagined he would look this nice.
He was a handsome man with jet-black hair, which was completely hidden beneath a black hood. His golden eyes, sharp nose, and jawline, along with his full, red lips were perfectly harmonious.
His face was attractive, but he was also tall and broad-shouldered. His hardened muscles, fit body, confidence, elegance, and dignified movements couldn’t be simply expressed with words. Even his gaze was intense.
It seemed like such a waste to cover such a handsome appearance with a blindfold and cloak. Of course, if he had shown face, his disguise and the name change would have been pointless.
‘He’s on an entirely different level.’
She considered Theodore to be quite handsome too, but he was a monkey compared to the Grand Duke.
Once they ascended the dais and were seated in their Imperial seats, the nobles bowed in honor.
“Long live the Emperor!”
“Today’s banquet is to celebrate the Crown Prince’s birthday, so please enjoy yourselves.”
When Emperor Siger finished speaking, the banquet hall began to bustle once again.
Even with the banquet in full swing, Theodore still seemed distressed as he looked around in search of something.
“What are you looking for?”
“Oh, it’s nothing-”
Theodore was responding in his previous casual manner, but then he realized who he was speaking to, and inhaled sharply.
It was Sian.
People began to gather around.
“It’s the Grand Duke. Why is he down here?”
“Whenever he attends a banquet, he stays in his seat and then leaves.”
“Does it have anything to do with Count Elosa?”
“Either way, he’s such a beautiful person. Just looking at him makes me happy.”
Verengela didn’t miss the opportunity and stepped in to greet him first.
“Greetings Grand Duke. I am Verengela Elosa, the mother of Count Elosa.”
It was a light answer, neither sweet nor cold. His mannerisms were distinctly different from when he was in disguise as Arias.
Rachel followed suit and curtsied.
“It’s a pleasure to meet you. I am Rachel Elosa, the wife of Count Elosa.”
Sian nodded and when they made eye contact, a silent exchange occurred between the two.
‘Are you ready for the evidence?’
Finally, Theodore greeted him. His voice trembled in embarrassment.
“Um, hello, I mean… It’s a great pleasure to meet you. I am Count Theodore Elosa.”
“So, you are the rumored Count Elosa”
His voice was low, but Theodore was startled.
“I heard your wife gifted you a pair of cufflinks adorned with pink diamonds.”
“I wish I had received such a gift, too. I’m envious. You seem to have such a happy marriage.”
Theodore, who was hiding his affair, and Rachel, who was secretly preparing for a divorce, acted very naturally, but they were no match for Sian. He admired the cufflinks he had personally prepared and sighed with genuine envy as if he had never seen them before.
Rachel was quite impressed. His acting was worthy of an award. His envy seemed real.
When the greetings were finished, the noble ladies and married women gathered around. They all tried to speak to Sian with blushing cheeks.
“Your Highness, if you don’t mind receiving a gift from me-”
“I can tell you a lovely story about the Elosa couple-”
“If you’re wondering how they got engaged when they were younger-”
Verengela joined the frenzy of women around Sian. It was like a herd of zombies eager to devour a human.
Rachel stood back in amazement.
When she stepped away from the group, she noticed Theodore was no longer standing next to her.
The storm of people dispersed and the lights in the banquet hall dimmed. It was time for the dance to begin. Each person stood in the center of the hall looking for a partner.
Sian was secretly pressured by several women for a dance, but they were all refused, and Theodore, who should have asked Rachel to dance, was still nowhere to be found.
The two stood side by side in the corner of the banquet hall as the others began to dance.
Sian glanced over at Rachel.
“Are you not going to dance?”
“I didn’t come here to dance.”
“When will you give me the evidence? I’m in a hurry.”
The lights had darkened, and the attention had shifted away, now would be the perfect time for a secret exchange.
Sian moved away from the wall he had been leaning against.
“Alright, I think now would be a suitable time to give it to you. Follow me.”
She followed Sian as he walked around the corner of the banquet hall and arrived at the terraces.
Each terrace was completely curtained. Which meant the men and women who met at the banquet were enjoying a secret meeting.
Men and women would enter an empty terrace, draw the curtains, and share their warm affections. It was the unwritten rule among aristocracy that no one could open the curtains until the people who entered pulled it open themselves.
The terraces were a place where most noble children were made and will continue to be made in the future. It was a favorite place for everyone regardless of their status, so it would never cease to exist. It was a secretive, and sometimes, a beautiful place.
Sian stopped in front of a curtained terrace.
“What I’m going to give you now will be irrefutable evidence that your husband cannot escape or excuse. I’m afraid you’ll be surprised or shocked by this evidence. Will you be okay?”
“I already know about it. Why would I be shocked?”
“The human mind is not that simple.”
“I don’t care if I get surprised or shocked. I can’t just back out now.”
“…Okay,” Sian answered briefly before grabbing the edge of the closed curtain. Some of the nobles standing nearby were surprised, but they did not dare question the Grand Duke.
Sian raised his arm as if he were about to open the curtains. The number of surprised nobles increased. Some even stopped dancing.
With his arm raised, Sian calmly waited for more people to look in his direction.
The curious gazes gradually shifted in his direction until the music flowing through the banquet hall was overwhelmed by their whispers.
‘Is he going to open the curtains? Even if he’s the Grand Duke, is it really okay for him to do that?’
Countless eyes asked that exact question.
Rachel was also curious.
‘What the hell are you doing? Didn’t you want us to enter the terrace so you can give me the proof?’
Sian raised his index finger and placed it on his lips.
“Well, excuse me.”
The thick curtain was torn open by Sian and fell on the floor of the banquet hall.
“Oh my God!”
Those who were young, squeamish, or shy, shouted and closed their eyes. However, most of the gazes were fixated on the couple, who were lewdly joined together on the terrace.
Theodore and Jane stiffened in their tangled position.
Rachel’s gift, the pink diamond cufflinks, sparkled on Theodore’s cuffs.
Sian whispered, “What do you think, Countess? Do you like the ‘irrefutable evidence’ of adultery that I’ve prepared?”
Theodore, who was holding another woman in his arms while wearing a token of his wife’s love, revealed his mistress to the world in the ugliest way, with the entirety of high society watching at the Crown Prince’s birthday banquet.
Thank you for reading!