The time had come.
Since it was a banquet Duke Clancy had held after a long time, many people had participated.
Young people enjoyed the music and alcohol and danced with bright expressions, while the elders smiled while looking at them.
The one who was being talked about the most was Bratt Lloyd.
“How long has it been since Bratt Lloyd came to a banquet?”
“I think I saw him a year back, but… he doesn’t seem to go out often.”
“Yes. If I was a young man who was interested in such things, then I wouldn’t have had a chance to become a Master at such a young age…”
“Even so, I think he tried to do this role.”
A middle-aged nobleman said with a smile. And the other person smiled too.
“Well, no matter how busy he was, he seems to have started dating. It is, after all, something that should be done when you are young.”
They weren’t the only ones showing positive reactions; the others were the same.
A young man who worked hard enough to build a name for the Kingdom was in a relationship, and since it was like that, there were very few people who looked down on it.
Therefore, the unkind gaze wasn’t on Bratt Lloyd.
“Who is that person?”
Elsa Collins, a beautiful lady who recently made a name for herself in the social circle.
She was in a fine mood when she first saw Bratt Lloyd.
It was because there was no one better than him. He was known to be a swordsman and a genius, and seeing him at the ball was like a shower of rain in a drought-hit region.
But then, her mood soured as a woman she had never heard of was right next to the Lloyd family’s young lord.
‘Red hair and tall… who is she? Was such a woman there in our Kingdom?’
It didn’t seem like it. It wasn’t just the Gerbera Kingdom; Elsa was sure that the woman wasn’t part of the neighboring countries. And no matter how much she thought, she couldn’t figure out who this red-haired woman was.
Was she from another part of the continent?
That seemed highly likely.
He traveled around the continent to improve his swordsmanship, so maybe a relationship had formed in such a way.
Thinking that, Elsa Collins took a sip of her wine.
The jealousy and envy, along with the anger within her, escalated due to the wine.
She watched Bratt Lloyd and the mysterious woman for close to half an hour.
This was because things that were difficult to understand and see were happening in front of her.
She thought that the woman could at least dance, but in reality, she was very bad.
The song was being messed up, and her movements were very stiff. It was as if a knight was dancing in his armor.
And she yawned without covering her mouth with her hands. She was chatting with food in her mouth.
It was difficult for Elsa to understand how the woman was so uncultured.
Even if it was someone’s first time at a banquet, they wouldn’t act like this.
‘Doesn’t it feel like he picked some commoner from the street?’
She kept thinking of it.
One of the guards quietly approached; it was for a report.
As soon as Elsa Collins became aware of the presence of the uninvited guest, she gave the guards an order to identify her, and it wasn’t that difficult to figure out her identity at all.
And one minute passed.
And she smiled as she heard the identity of the other person.
“Sh-she is a commoner, for real?”
“That, Miss… Despite being a commoner, she is an official trainee of the Krono…”
The guard didn’t speak anymore.
He lowered his gaze at the sharp gaze from his ward and retreated.
Elsa didn’t even look at him. Her stomach was boiling when a commoner crossed her.
An hour passed.
Elsa Collins’ gaze still remained on the couple.
A few men asked to dance with her, but she had declined them all. Her mind is already full of thoughts on how to disgrace this commoner.
And then the chance came.
The two of them separated. It wasn’t known what happened, but Bratt Lloyd moved away, and Judith was left alone.
And then, with a blank expression, she ate a cookie.
‘Look at her eating while making a noise. So rude.’
Did she realize it?
The commoner who ate the cookie looked around again and moved to exit the room.
As if she was going for a walk.
Elsa Collins nodded and followed.
In response to her actions, the ladies who she was with also followed her.
“…what am I even doing here?”
Judith, who was eating, mumbled and looked at herself.
She was in a gorgeous red dress.
She had beautiful ornaments on her neck.
There was a faint smell of perfume on her. However, she felt that nothing suited her. Especially this place and the people in it.
Seeing them drink water with a smile, Judith felt a kind of entitlement.
A thought that she shouldn’t be here.
‘… first, let’s go for some air.’
For that reason, she left the room.
And then, someone spoke.
“Are you looking for a place to walk?”
“Ah? Yes, it is a little…”
“I see. This isn’t an open place, so you might be lost. If it isn’t too much, shall I give the directions? I can take you to a beautiful garden.”
“Ah… uh… r-right.”
A lot of thoughts came to her mind as she stood there nervously.
Was she from the Clancy family? No, it couldn’t be.
Then how could she know about the mansion? Had she been here a lot?
Seriously, looking at the delicate look and elegance of the woman who had spoken, it seemed like she was someone used to these kinds of things.
‘… how do I look now?’
She tried her best to not ruin Bratt’s reputation, but…
Judith, who thought that, shook her head.
It was such a useless thought. This changes nothing. It would only make her feel bad.
What she had to do was to change the flow of her thoughts.
Nodding, she went behind this woman, and she thought.
‘She’s so thin. If I kick her, her bones might break.’
It wasn’t a good idea to have at a banquet.
Judith stopped thinking, and decided to follow her. But it wasn’t possible.
The blonde woman slowly slowed down and asked with a smile.
“Is this your first time at such events?”
It was uncomfortable, and Judith wanted to be alone.
However, she couldn’t say no to someone who wanted to help her in good faith.
Maybe in the past, she would have been honest, but now she started to be considerate to others.
She had decided to never fight first, and tried to be polite, unless the opponent instigated a situation.
It was something she learned in Krono.
Of course, she decided to not participate in the conversation at all.
The other nobles.
A slender woman who seemed to be living without a pain in her life.
It was like they both belonged to two different worlds.
There was no way she could feel comfortable talking to such people.
It was even more so because most of the things they could talk about would have to do with banquets.
Judith couldn’t help but sweat each time the woman spoke to her about politics, economics, culture, or any other similar topics that nobles used for small talk.
Well, Judith didn’t have much to say. She’d rather deal with mercenaries in bars.
At that, negative thoughts began to settle in her heart.
‘This, this isn’t something between the woman and me…’
It was something between Bratt and herself.
The two of them live in very different worlds than they had initially thought.
It was something she had never felt before, something she had never thought about before. However, now that she was aware of it, it wasn’t something that concerned her.
Judith’s expression hardened at this, and the words that couldn’t be ignored came from the lady’s mouth.
“Ah, right! Look at my manners! I haven’t introduced myself yet. Sorry.”
“Ah, no, it is fine…”
“I am Elsa Collins, the second daughter of Viscount Collins. Have you heard of us? The Collins family is famous for their perfumes.”
“And the perfume you are using is a product of our family.”
“Uh? I didn…”
“Ah, you didn’t know. Well, it is fine.”
“Rather, I want to know.”
Elsa Collins stopped walking and turned to look at Judith.
“Your name and who you are.”
It was a question that asked for her name.
It was an indirect question so that she could know what family and class she was a part of.
Judith immediately understood the underlying intention of the woman.
Many thoughts rushed through Judith’s mind.
‘What do I do?’
Was she ashamed of being a commoner?
It wasn’t that. She always knew about her roots.
And the way people treated that was the same.
Maybe in the past, it did not look like a good thing, but now those who were talented weren’t judged based on their background.
Strangely, she didn’t feel confident. It was confusing; she didn’t have the confidence to introduce herself.
‘No, I know the reason.’
It was because of the high-ranking noble with great power, Bratt Lloyd.
And she was an orphan from the slums.
Although their abilities were similar, the worlds they came from were different… she couldn’t help but feel the difference.
It was when she, who suddenly felt the difference, had a complicated face.
“I know, that’s a shame.”
“Am I right? You aren’t saying it because you can’t mention it. It means you are ashamed to say it…”
“Am I wrong?”
Judith looked at her with blank eyes.
This woman seemed like a different person.
The look of Elsa Collins, who seemed as if she had turned venomous, was completely different from the gentle air around her from before.
This wasn’t her.
“Is it not? If you were someone who knew about shame, you wouldn’t have been shallow enough to step into this banquet.”
“That is why. You were wandering around to be an embarrassment to everyone who saw you.”
“Am I wrong? I don’t think so.”
“Commoners cannot help it.”
All of a sudden, the ladies gathered around her and went towards Elsa Collins.
She knew that there were people around them. However, Judith thought they, too, were out for some wind.
But that didn’t seem to be the case.
These people followed her with the intention of harassing and insulting her from the start.
“Ah, the end is here. See that, Miss Judith?”
Elsa Collins pointed to one side with an elegant gesture.
It was the gate.
The path out of the Duke’s mansion.
Seeing Judith, who had a black expression, made Elsa smile, and she continued.
“It is pretty hard to be with someone you don’t fit with, especially in a place you don’t fit in. How is this? Rather than sticking with nobles and their banquets which don’t fit with you, throw out all of that from your head and just walk out…”
Wouldn’t it be true advice for her sake?
Elsa wanted to say that, but she couldn’t speak more.
It was because Judith had turned and started walking.
The ladies laughed as they watched her getting farther away.
They said she had a strong pride for a lowly person. They spoke all sorts of horrible things and swore at her.
But they shut their mouths when Judith stopped in front of a statue.
There was a statue in the shape of a tiger that was carved elegantly in front of the mansion gates.
The statue, which was made of iron, and couldn’t be damaged, was cut down.
And there was complete indifference on Judith’s face, as she raised the aura of fire.
Suddenly, she moved back.
Judith walked towards the lady.
Her fist was clenching an iron piece of the statue.
Amidst the red haze which rose from her body, the tiger’s tail in her hand scorched to the point that it took the shape of a ring.
No one moved.
No one could talk.
Judith arrived in front of Elsa Collins, who was still, and said with a smile.
“It’s a bracelet I made as a gift for guiding me.”
“I refuse your refusal.”
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