The Duke's Companion - Chapter 0 Prologue
Under the star-studded sky, a majestic light spread along with a chime. The nobles gathered in the banquet hall in the Imperial Palace in Claudilla were discussing the same topic enthusiastically.
A man’s startled voice resounded in the banquet hall.
“No. Who was the person the Duke of Cadellarot brought?”
“He brought his partner. He brought a woman!”
“What? Stop talking nonsense!”
“I didn’t see it with my own eyes. It’s not just me, but everyone here has seen it. Except for you who went to the bathroom. That’s why on a day like this, you need to bring some laxatives!”
“Hey! Don’t tell me about it. Everyone was looking at us.” The bald Count looked around and was embarrassed.
However, contrary to the Count’s words, the others were excited, chatting with each other, so they didn’t even think about him and his problems.
“I’ve never seen that woman before. I was surprised as soon as I saw it… How can a person be like that? I thought that’s what attracts people.”
A young noble lady muttered to herself sullenly, even though the glass of champagne she was holding wasn’t even half empty.
“I think the Duke brought in a pretty commoner for a one-time deal.”
“What? Why do you think so?”
“Every time the Duke attends the banquet, he gets involved with other young noble ladies under the arrangement of the late Empress. But the Duke didn’t like it very much.”
“So… Is it some sort of shield?”
“Yes, of course! If it wasn’t for that, why would the Duke bring another lady we don’t even know?”
“Ah, I thought it might be…”
“Oh, there he is!”
With Baron’s whisper, all eyes were focused on one place.
The murmur subsided and only the music flowed through the banquet hall calmly remained.
At the centre of that burdensome gaze was a woman who glanced anxiously like a frightened cat.
Breathing noises erupted from everywhere. Her hair was as white as snow, which everyone had never seen before with blue eyes like the sea.
Even though she looks timid, she boldly puts on a unique cobalt-coloured dress.
“There seem to be a lot… of people?”
No one could answer the question that someone had muttered.
If they had seen a woman with a mysteriously beautiful appearance, everyone would have been thinking the same thing.
And next to her, of course, was the Duke of Cadellarot, the one who drew all the attention at this banquet to himself.
The Duke looked around and sighed, “The stares are too much.”
“Are you okay?”
The girl shook her head immediately at the Duke’s whisper. When the Duke stopped at the violent reaction, she hurriedly grabbed the hem of his robe and shook it.
“Uhm, when are we going back…?”
“I’ll see what I can do.”
Wondering why all the attention was focused on the Duke, the girl was worried.
Everyone also wondered, but their conversation was too low to be understood.
The Duke sighed again and ruffled his hair and stroked her cheek as if trying to appease her trembling anxiety.
With a friendly smile that gently softened her frown.
Those who watched them at that moment couldn’t help but gape in astonishment.
The two people at the centre of everyone’s attention were so close that it was impossible that it was only a one-time deal. If not, it could be said that the Duke had gone crazy.
‘What do you mean by that?’
The woman, who had an exceptional hearing and was listening to all the gossip, wanted to bite their tongues.
Do we look friendly?
“Fix your expression. Do you think you’ll come to your senses after being handed over to the guards and subjective to water torture?”
Does this look familiar?
“Smile when you know you’re wrong.”
At the whispered words, the woman tried to put a smile on her tearful face.
Even if it’s wrong, it’s seriously bad. How did I get caught by this bad-tempered person?
…She was usually a person who couldn’t eat for a week and was also someone that’s scared and terrified of opening her lips.
“Now, their eyes are going to eat you up.”
“…You got it wrong.”
The Duke, who was looking down at her with a sympathetic gaze, said in a very serious tone.
“If you try to do something ridiculous, my cat won’t let you go. Not only does she look fierce, but she also has sharp fangs.”
Talking crap is also a talent.
I’m not sure if you’re aware that my cat is in front of you.
Turning one year old this year. A beast who was about to become an adult.
The Duke has no idea who it was. He’s taking care of a lovely pet, raising it beautifully.
…And the unfortunate incident in which she accidentally ran into him in a human form and was labelled as an unauthorized intruder.
Instead of snoring, Aryl, the protagonist of all those words, stared at the Duke, pretending to be frightened by his absurd threats.
Duke Cadellarot, the founder who won the Empire’s commercial world, led Aryl into the centre of the banquet hall with a satisfied expression as if he was proud of his companion.
She was, after all, a different kind of human.
Aryl secretly bit her lips as she watched the gazes clinging from everywhere.
‘I might suddenly turn to a cat…’
With anxiety, Aryl rolled her eyes in search of an escape hole. But humans are everywhere, surrounding them.
It would not be an exaggeration to say that everyone here was paying attention to Aryl.
‘Why are humans so interested in other people’s affairs?’
Aryl sighed, puzzled. Meanwhile, she was saddened by the sound of a ‘shield’ from somewhere.
Strictly speaking, she’ll be the shield they’re talking about right now.
Her human form that she had been hiding well was discovered by a man named Idylos, and was threatened and dragged away… If not for the purpose of use. What does it imply?
It was at a time when Aryl thought nothing could be worse than this.
Idylos, who was leading her, abruptly stopped walking.
“You’re Majesty the Empress.”
In terms of blood, he, who was the Emperor’s nephew, greeted the Empress with a displeased expression.
Similarly, when she saw the Empress, Aryl swallowed nervously. She knew that if she had been involved with her, bad things would always follow.
But it can’t be worse than this…
Aryl tried to think positively and armed herself with a smile. Then, to avoid interrupting the conversation as much as possible, she kept her mouth shut and calmly looked at the floor.
“It’s late, but let me introduce her to you. She’s my fiance.”
Aryl raised her head at the sudden words. She didn’t know who he was referring to as his fiance.
‘Who was your fiancee?’
Aryl, who became displeased, frowned and looked around. Aryl glared at this overly attractive, smelly, and high-level human with a treacherous gaze.
At that time, the Empress pointed at Aryl with a shocked expression.
“Fiance? Did you call her your fiance?”
Aryl followed the Empress’ fingertips and lowered her gaze. Seeing that she was pointing very clearly at her, her mouth gaped blankly. It was too late when she got a grasp on the situation.
Now was the ‘worse’ situation she feared.
Aryl looked up at Idylos in confusion. She hoped she wasn’t in the situation she was right now..
But Idylos glanced at her with an unfamiliar smile and spoke clearly.
“Yes, She was my fiance.”
He looked at Aryl with eyes glowing with joy as if it were a fun spectacle. Then he lowered his head into her ear like a sweet loving man whispering his love tenderly.
The only thing that settled down was the coldness of the voice that was pleasant to her.
“Now, that escaping skill will end here. Now it’s engraved to all these people that you’re my fiance.”
With the words of regret, Idylos smiled brightly as never before. Aryl grew tired of seeing his face shining like his golden hair.
‘How can things get so twisted…?’
Aryl swallowed dry saliva anxiously.
In retrospect, this was all from that day. The day he suddenly started showing interest in Aryl, Idylos, who was afraid of the kitten Aryl.
Aryl had to go back in time to find the reason for that day. It was the first day I went to his house.