I walked slowly into the banquet hall.
Then, as if waiting, the heads of numerous nobles headed towards us.
My father and Aaron were deflected by their gazes, which stayed on me.
‘It’s better than I expected, but…’
But it didn’t feel so good that it was like a show.
I didn’t like the fact that people I didn’t know kept staring at me, whether they had good intentions or not.
‘They were told that they should only be near the appointed seats before the party officially begins.’
Today was a day when the Emperor didn’t attend, so all of us here must wait for the Empress to arrive.
As a result, the nobles sat on both sides of the road from the door to the podium.
Among them, women in white dresses were the same as I looked casually.
They were young noblewomen who came to make their social debut, which was the main purpose of today’s banquet.
The only people who wore white dresses on the first day of the week-long banquet are those who are debuting.
My father, Aaron, and I continued walking down the open road.
It reminded me of a few years ago when I was learning manners from Fern.
—Whether it’s a grand field meeting or an Imperial Palace banquet, the order in which the nobles line up in the Imperial Palace is according to their rank.
—Is it an absolute order?
—Yes, at least in the Imperial Palace. Starting with the gate, the order was Baron, Viscount, Count, Marquis, and Duke. The Grand Duke was the foremost among the nobles.
…It’s not like I’m lining up.
Hearing my words, Fern smiled and nodded his head.
—Haha. Well, it’s not wrong to line up. Nobles are sensitive to power. Maybe when you grow up and go to the Imperial Palace banquet, you will feel it.
The trembling feeling at that time came back to life.
“Your Highness, Aaron, and Lady Erita.”
I heard a familiar voice as I sat down and stared at the surroundings strangely.
“Seian, you’re also here!”
“Isn’t it Erita’s social debut? Of course, I should come too.”
The person who appeared out of nowhere was Seian.
Seian greeted my father and Aaron for a moment and walked in front of me with a big smile.
“Marquis, it’s been a while since I’ve seen you.”
“It’s been a week since I saw you. How have you been?”
“I’m fine. Oh, I received the flowers you sent me! It’s too much to keep in my room, so I gave some to the maids. I forgot to write it in the letter.”
When I said I apologize for sharing it without permission, Seian said, “I gave it to you as a gift, so you can do whatever you want.”
“…It’s your first debut. Aren’t you nervous?” He continued.
At his question, I frowned slightly and nodded.
“Yes, I know I’m going to be nervous, but it’s better than I expected.”
Perhaps there were no tremors at the first banquet because there’s a clear goal in mind.
‘…Well, I’m nervous for some other reason.’
To be honest, I was more nervous about the beginning of an original work than I was about my social debut.
“Then that’s a good thing. You said you’d do the first dance with Aaron, right?”
Seian’s words, with a happy expression on his face, interrupted my thoughts.
“Oh, that’s right.”
Usually, the first dance of the debutant was performed with family or cousins. When deciding who to dance the first dance with, it was still ridiculous to think of the brutal air flowing between my father and my brother.
—So, which of the two will you have your first dance with?
That was the beginning of Fern’s words.
I couldn’t pick, and in the end, it was a match between my father and Aaron.
I mean, I still don’t understand why the first dance was so heated up.
After a brief moment of reflection, I let out a small sigh and even responded to Seian.
“My father and my brother had a match for it to be my first dance, but my brother won.”
Hearing my words, Seian’s gentle eyes widened.
“Aaron beat Aslan?”
There was a nuance of surprise and disbelief in the voice of Seian when he asked that question.
I nodded my head and said, “Yes, my brother won.”
“Someone hit my father in the back.”
Seian’s face, which was in surprise, changed as if he were wondering.
I explained briefly and concisely that in the middle, there was a wizard named Fern who used magic on my father.
“In any case, Fern’s face was swollen now.”
Seian understood, so he laughed.
Fern didn’t show up today because his face was still swollen.
My father seemed to think it was cheap.
“Anyway, that’s why my partner today was my brother.” I grinned as I said.
Aaron’s gaze, who was talking with my father just in time, turned this way for a while.
Then, when our eyes met, he smiled softly and turned his head towards my father again.
It was never my illusion that I heard the sound of breathing in from somewhere.
‘…It seems that there are already quite a few women who like Aaron.’
There were many women who looked around and blushed as they glanced at Aaron.
“Kyaa~! Aaron laughed!”
“Oh my! He usually has such a cold expression on his face.”
It was something I overheard using some magic.
As expected, it seemed impossible to hide my brother’s handsome face even with that cold expression.
I listened to their reactions a little more, laughed in my heart, and pulled the magic back.
My gaze, which glanced around for a moment, directed at the high podium where only the Royal Family could sit.
Realistic worries hit me again.
‘I have to be at least five steps away to use the artifact…’
The most difficult task for me was to get close to the Empress in some way for a week.
I wouldn’t have seen the Empress in person if it weren’t for this banquet.
After that, Ayla in a modest dress would also attend and appear here.
And like fate, she would run into Callian, and eventually fall in love.
When I thought of Callian, who had not arrived yet, a certain corner of my heart became uncomfortable.
‘I must not make a mistake while being dazzled like this…’
I breathed out to empty my head full of other thoughts.
It was then… “Your Majesty, Empress Aisha Lenosen, the most noble of the Empire, Your Highness, Prince Thesis Ruin Elbert!”
The door of the banquet hall opened with a loud shout of the servant.
Then all the gazes that were still on me turned to it. I also turned my head.
The colourful dress, which was red like blood, and the shiny blonde, which seems to have melted pure gold, caught my eyes.
‘…The Empress and Thesis.’
I’ve only seen them once, but I’ve never forgotten them over the past eight years.
They were far away, so I couldn’t see their faces properly, but the surroundings had already subsided.
When their appearance was revealed, those close to the door were the first to put their knees on the floor.
Kneeling down was a courtesy dedicated only to the Emperor and Empress.
The Empress and the First Prince did not pay attention to such nobles.
The sound of two pairs of footsteps rose above the marble floor, which was clean enough to reflect light.
They walked towards the podium at neither slow nor fast speed.
Each time the nobles bowed down to pay their respects.
Looking at the two people with low sinking eyes, I thought of one question.
‘But why did the Empress and Thesis enter together?’
It seems that they entered separately in the original story…
‘What’s so important about this? How much of the original content has changed now?’
After thinking for a while, I cleared my thoughts.
When the Empress and the First Prince ascended to their appointed positions.
All the families below, including the Marquis, had their knees on the floor.
—By courtesy, when you see the Emperor or Empress at the Imperial Palace banquet, everyone except the Grand Duke and the Duchess must kneel.
—Yes, it’s a courtesy to the Royal Family. You have to bow, too.
—But why do we only kneel at banquets? It’s not like it’s polite or not.
Because there are a lot of nobles coming to the banquet. It’s made to show off the power of the throne, even though I put words to it one way or another.
It consolidates the authority of the Imperial Family by announcing who was above the nobility.
It was a manner that I once learned from Fern.
‘They said it was to show off.’
More than two hundred nobles were all on their knees, and no words came out. This was enough to create awe that did not exist.
Shaking my head inwardly, I just bowed my head slightly as I had been taught.
All the people of the Duke Family who didn’t kneel like us were bowing deeply.
‘…I’m sure our family was great.’
The Krovachatz Family was granted the qualifications required by the First Emperor to have minimal courtesy even for the Imperial Family.
Because of that, the Duke did not have to kneel in front of the Emperor, and was able to wear a sword.
It was shockingly unusual to see that even other noble families had to return their weapons when they visited the Emperor.
“Everyone, get up.”
The Empress allowed us to rise. She opened her mouth in an elegant upright position.
“First of all…”
But she couldn’t finish her sentence with a high voice.
“Here comes the Second Prince Callian Ruin Elbert!”
The loud cry of the servant, announcing the other prince’s position, echoed in the banquet hall.
The Empress eyes trembled slightly and the huge door opened wide.
My gaze was also directed towards it.
The pace of the footsteps across the quiet, beautiful banquet hall was never slow.
Compared to the slow pace of the Empress and the First Prince, it was certainly fast.
A gorgeous uniform, shiny silver hair, and a beautiful face with a warm smile.
The only thing that changed from what I knew was the colourful clothes and the colour of his hair.
‘…The real Lian was Callian.’
Even though I already knew it, I realised it again.
As Callian passed in front of me, I looked down unconsciously.
It won’t happen, but I’m afraid if I ever make eye contact, my eyes would tremble without my knowledge.
‘Then, even if no one else knows, my father or my brother might notice something.’
Fortunately, Callian never slowed down his steps toward the podium.
Standing proudly in front of the Empress and the First Prince, he smiled and said,
“I greet you, Your Majesty.”