Chapter Eighteen: Your Highness, Didn’t You Say It Was Just a Small Gathering?
Although I’m not proud of the Teddy Viscounty’s mansion—the place I grew up in, it was a relatively splendid mansion. However, the Royal Palace buildings were just too otherworldly, with their gorgeousness reaching a whole other level.
The scope of everything was so broad and dazzling that it was suffocating; even the window decorations in the corner of an inconspicuous corridor were meticulously designed, all without cutting corners.
The room prepared for us was also extremely lovely. With the extravagant decorations already causing me so much restlessness, Johanna, who was standing next to me, always looking as if waiting for me to give her an order, further aggravated my situation.
—I didn’t have any particular request.
Or rather, she didn’t have to be there. Though, I couldn’t say that to the person herself.
In the beginning, I did my best to try talking with her about many things, even bringing Ricardo into our conversations, but she was as unshakable as a giant boulder. I even selfishly thought that maybe it was because their relationships weren’t that great, to begin with.
As such thoughts were muddling my mind, a young woman whom I didn’t know came to announce the time for today’s party.
I quickly began rummaging through my luggage to prepare for the Royal Palace’s evening party.
I chose my second-best dress, and Johanna quietly helped me change into them.
Johanna’s a woman who showed little to no emotions, so it was hard for me to tell what she thought about the dress I picked. But since it’s one of the new dresses I received, I was pretty confident it was at least reasonably okay.
I began to put on makeup, and of course, Johanna also helped me. She’s someone serving in the Royal Palace, which gave me some hope that she would do my makeup prettily—to be familiar with recent fashion trends.
However, cracks began to appear in the mirror the more she piled up makeup on my face.
—Why is it that I’m reminded of Daphne?
I unconsciously remembered my sister-in-law as the makeup heavily coated on my face.
I could no longer hold my tongue and asked Johanna, who was smearing eyeshadow on my face, a question I tried so hard not to ask, “Is it really okay for me to have such heavy makeup?”
Johanna replied promptly without any change in her expression, “It’s perfect. Everyone in the Royal Palace does such heavy makeup that it could be mistaken for a mask. Or rather, they would laugh at you if you were to wear light makeup.”
There seemed to be a heavy makeup trend in the Royal Palace. Thus, I considered just staying silent on the matter to be the golden standard.
I had toned down my preparation time. However, Nolan still finished dressing up earlier than me and had waited for me. He was wearing quite showy clothes—black clothes with silver embroidery.
I didn’t know he had such splendid clothes…
I was unwittingly moved and had just stared at him.
In contrast to myself, who was wearing a light pink dress and giving off a gentle vibe, Nolan exuded a cold guy type of vibe. And pertaining to the result, was achieved by wearing the opposite types of clothes, completely counter to our married couple impression.
When I said so in a fluster, Johanna replied nonchalantly, “I think each of you looks good in your respective clothes.”
Johanna seemed like she wouldn’t be perturbed even if an earthquake came or the sky fell. How I wish it were possible to divide her mental fortitude so that I could take one part of her to learn how to be cool-headed no matter the adversary.
Only this point of her character resembled Ricardo’s, in fact. As expected of the siblings.
Nolan looked very imposing on the way to the venue for tonight’s party.
The Nolan, who wore modest clothes on Dahl Island, and the Nolan walking confidently in the Royal Palace he’s familiar with gave totally different vibes. And the addition of splendid clothes made him look awfully cool. His sparkling platinum blonde hair shone beautifully in the dimly lit corridor where the sun had long been squeezed out by the darkness.
Was he really the same person I’m used to seeing on Dahl Island?
Was he really the same person I have seen milking cows in the morning?
The venue for the party wasn’t any of the rooms in the palace but a spacious terrace.
On the terrace, as the wind blew pleasantly, many tables and sofas were placed; there was even bards on the side playing music.
—From which angle does this look like a small gathering!?
A hundred people had gathered on the terrace, and each was immersed in their own conversations.
Wasn’t a small party usually called a scope of 10 around people gathering in a living room or something?
Arriving at the venue, we quickly went towards the spot other princes had gathered at to greet them. The first person Nolan greeted was the third prince, who was just near the entrance of the venue. Apparently, the third prince had already lost his influence and authority in the palace. In fact, he was an inconspicuous-looking person.
I heard there was a three-year gap between him and Nolan, but in contrast to his young age, the receding hairline made the third prince look even more lonely. He was giving off a sulking vibe, ignoring the fact that the party had just started. He incessantly gulped alcohol as his cheeks looked red from intoxication.
“So you’re the heroine of this century who had charmed Nolan to the point that he even threw away his title as a prince. Quite unexpected…”
He seemed to have a straightforward personality. The third prince repeatedly muttered “Hmmm,” as he stared at me.
The following person we came to greet, the second prince, awfully resembled Nolan. However, he was giving even more showy vibes than Nolan, and if I had to make a metaphor, it would be like the sun and the moon. I unwittingly smiled, seeing that both of them looking so similar. Thereupon, the second prince took and kissed the back of my hand.
“My little brother’s family is also like my family. Although this might be for a short time, please enjoy your stay here.” The smile he revealed was alluringly beautiful.
I’m sure if Nolan smiled like that too, then the impression he gave off would definitely take a complete u-turn.
The second prince may resemble Nolan, but he seemed to know very well what kind of impact his looks caused others. His gestures were filled with conviction, which increased his charm even more.
The second prince released his grasp on my hand and called out to a woman at a slight distance. “Rosie! Come here.”
The woman called Rosie had fluffy honey blonde hair adorned with a fancy red jewel and a pearl accessory, but surprisingly she was a beauty with facial features that wouldn’t lose to the glory of any precious jewelry. One could see a hint of dignity in her captivatingly beautiful blue eyes. When she got near the second prince, he circled his hand around her slim waist and pulled her closer to him.
“She’s my princess, Rosie.”
So it turned out this beautiful lady here was the second prince’s consort. The beautiful couple indeed looked like a match made in heaven from whichever angle you looked at them.
The second prince brought his lips closer to Rosie’s ear while his gaze was looking at us and said, “Rosie, this is Nolan’s wife, Liese. Get along with her like real sisters, okay?”
I could see Rosie’s big blue eyes wavering slightly. She looked at me with a little surprised face. I awkwardly folded my knees and greeted her blandly.
After a slight standoff, Rosie said to me, “You’re… Hmmm. Nice to meet you.”
Saying that, Rosie’s gaze quickly shifted from me to Nolan. However, immediately after Rosie’s and Nolan’s gazes met each other, someone’s cheeky voice resounded from afar, “Yo! Nolan! Geez! Just how many months it has been that you haven’t shown your face to us!?”
A sturdy man suddenly cut between us and gave a solid hug to Nolan.
While my mind suddenly went haywire from the sudden intrusion, Nolan, who was suddenly hugged, didn’t seem dissatisfied at all, and instead, he even laughed in a delightful voice. “Older brother! How are you faring?”
The man who had suddenly intruded took a bit of distance from Nolan after the hug and stared at Nolan, unblinking. “Look atcha! You’re better than I imagined! Your complexion looks fine too!”
So this muscular man is the first prince. He gave the impression of a lion, with his robust body, short blonde hair, and pale aqua eyes. His voice was also loud like one. He took his hands from Nolan and, this time, ran his gaze towards me. “You’re Liese, right!?”
Startled and surprised by his sudden call to me, I shivered.
“GAHAHA!” Thereupon, the first prince let out a hearty laugh.
Nolan, noticing my confusion, explained to me, “Liese, older brother is the Chief of the Royal Capital Cavalry. He’s famous for being as immovable as a mountain in the Royal Capital.”
The first prince laughed loudly once more, hearing Nolan’s explanation to me.
The cavalry, which protected the security of the capital, was the gateway to success for the sons of families as military men, and their cool uniforms had also helped them gain popularity.
Indeed, I could see a warrior aura surging out incessantly from the massive physique of the first prince standing in front of me.
The first prince directed his carefree smile at me. “Nolan is actually a man of a few words. You must have felt he sometimes makes haste, right? Well, he might be giving you trouble in many ways, but he’s a fine guy from the core!”
Nolan glared at his older brother, the first prince, in protest.
Continuing this time, Nolan led me to greet the youngest prince. Age-wise, he looked to be in his mid-teens. Uhm, I think it’s better to refer to him as a young boy.
He looked at Nolan with his sparkling, youthful eyes, calling him older brother. There should have been another younger brother under Nolan… However, the fifth prince was no longer in this world.
He must be the sixth prince.
In contrast to the other princes, the sixth Prince was still relatively young. His gentle eyes gave the impression of faint maturity.
“Older brother, congratulations on your marriage.” His voice was still high-pitched, something peculiar to young boys. The sixth prince exchanged greetings with Nolan and I quite innocently.
During the evening party, Nolan could frequently be seen chatting with the first and sixth princes. However, he didn’t seem keen on talking with other princes. Although they were blood-related brothers, there may have been complicated situations between the princes, so not everyone has had a harmonious relationship.
When I looked carefully, the first and the second princes especially didn’t seem to have an eye for each other.
I assumed both of them were in the middle of contending for the crown prince position, hence why their relationship looked so full of tension.
After we greeted everyone we needed to, and everyone was intoxicated with alcohol, Nolan’s friends gradually gathered beside us.
Nolan didn’t seem a bit flustered from being surrounded by young males and females. On the other hand, being surrounded by people dressed in noble-like clothing was quite frightening for me, who was nothing more than a fake viscountess, but I guess they must be Nolan’s trustworthy friends.
I hadn’t seen even the shadow of Nolan’s friend circle in Dahl Island at all, but I was happy to see his popularity in the Royal Palace.
As everyone was having fun discussing this or that between them, the topic of Nolan being proficient in musical instruments suddenly sprang up.
One of the amiable-looking men shifted the topic to me with a smiling face. “Did you know that His High— I mean, Nolan-sama is a master at playing the violin?”
“No. This is my first time hearing about it…!”
I never saw him playing any musical instrument, let alone a violin.
Hearing my words caused everyone to burst into laughter. “What the… Such a waste!”
“Let’s have him play after so long!”
In response to them, Nolan said he was not carrying a violin with a troubled face, but suddenly a violin was presented to him from out of nowhere.
“I guessed there might be such a chance, so I didn’t forget to carry one!”
The man who presented the violin said so with a triumphant look.
“I give up,” muttered Nolan with a wry smile as he received the violin and placed it on his left shoulder.
I looked at the appearance of Nolan with a slightly surprising feeling brewing within me.
There are still many things I don’t know yet about him.
Nolan’s skills in the violin must have been famous in the Royal Palace as I saw many people expressively shifting their chairs around him to sit. Even the women enjoying the bards’ music came out to hear him playing the violin.
Nolan played lightly on the open strings, tuned them, and even reapplied turpentine to the violin’s bow.
I didn’t expect Nolan himself to be so enthusiastic about playing the violin.
Nolan tossed the turpentine towards his friends once he finished using it, his friend catching it easily.
Nolan’s gaze ran past all his friends who had gathered around, looking excited and asked them gleefully, “So, ladies and gentlemen. Which piece would you like to hear?”
Everyone’s face brightened up, and it was his friend who had brought the violin that answered, “I want to ask for Buie’s piece His Highness is specifically good at!”
Hearing that, the voice of consent arose one after another from his friends that had gathered around.
“Then isn’t Buie’s second variation the best to play?”
“That’s right! The second variation is indeed adequate, especially for these two newlyweds!”
Everyone cheered loudly, and their gazes gathered on me for some reason.
I did know that Buie was a famous composer but not to the point of knowing his second variation. That’s why I didn’t get why they were looking at me and finding it fun. Hence, I was suddenly embarrassed from receiving everyone’s stares.
Nolan picked up the bow with his right hand and tapped the string. He began to plat the piece smoothly. I was drawn to his music from just one note being played. The bow he held in his right-hand moved up and down over and over. Even his left finger that was holding the string moved intensely, yet still with light movements.
No matter what it was, the note he spun out was exceptionally smooth. There wasn’t a bit of rattling noise typical of the violin or the small but jarring tone produced due to the flap of the bow.
Vibrato inlaid at every turn was so pleasant that I wanted to close my eyes.
The violin Nolan was playing no longer looked like a mere instrument as it played music with so much ease that one could misunderstand that it’s naturally a part of his body.
I could hear a reluctant sigh escaping the mouth of people gathered when the piece ended.
“That was really a feast for my eyes…”
“You should say a feast for your ears!”
I, along with his pleased friends, applauded him with a smiling face. However…
I had mixed feelings inside.
I was happy and proud to see one of Nolan’s fantastic skills hidden in his arsenal. But, this also meant that I didn’t know that side of Nolan… The one that played such an instrument, looking so happy… Not until now.
I wondered if the daily life on Dahl Island didn’t give him the leeway to have some free time to play music.
As his wife, this thought alone crushed me.