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In which Tara enters the banquet hall and gets to enjoy both Reese Castle and Kyle's looks...
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Episode 212. About 10 months (89)
My serious situation aside, I decided to enjoy this unconventional party.
Yes. Since I was attending the banquet anyway, I'd enjoy the dinner and have fun! When would I be able to visit this place again?
Besides, I was very hungry. Surely the food would be delicious.
I gently grabbed my skirt with both hands and bravely entered the hall.
"Wow. It's huge."
Reese Castle's grand banquet hall was about twice as large as the one in the Elias Mansion, and seemed a little smaller than the grand banquet hall inside the Imperial Palace.
The chandelier hanging from the ceiling was large enough to match the size of the room, and I ecstatically looked around the banquet hall. Huge paintings covered the grey walls. Many of them were famous masterpieces, displaying a dynamic natural scenery.
The large pillar that supported the grand banquet hall reached all the way to the ceiling. It was engraved with a black bull, symbolizing Reese Castle, and towered over the crowd.
I couldn't stop admiring the Castle's appearance. It was so different from the glittering gold that was plastered all over the Imperial Palace.
Since it was a large-scale festival held once a year, the servants naturally took as much care of the Castle as they did the visitors.
Most of Reese Castle's servants had probably been transferred to work here in the banquet hall.
A big table in a ㄷ-shape was placed at the front, surrounded by three walls and left empty in the middle.
When I asked Diane how many people were attending the banquet while I was getting dressed, she had replied that 30 people would be sitting at the head of the dinner table and 15 people would sit at each of the five sides in the middle of the dinner table, making for a total of 105 people.
The table on the central platform at the front of the banquet hall was more decorated than the other tables because that was where the Lord and Lady of Reese Castle and the most important guests were seated.
Following the instructions of a servant, I sat down at the end of the long table, and the serving staff gracefully prepared my plate and cutlery.
The third seat on the right side of the door when one entered the banquet hall was my seat.
I was assigned this seat because the original guest couldn't come. A woman my age was sitting on my right side while the seat on my left was still empty.
I carefully looked around, initially observing the dresses the women were wearing. Obviously, they were slightly different here in the Southern part of the Empire from the ones in other regions.
Some dresses were more revealing and some were similar to mine. Of course, there were many tight-fitting gowns.
Thanks to that, my outfit, which was considered to be revealing compared to the Southern wardrobe, didn't stand out.
Nevertheless, people's eyes lingered on me for a moment. I didn't really care about it since it happened to the other young ladies as well. They weren't looking at me because I was strange, but because I was a stranger.
Most folks would usually check out other people's outfits and make their own judgements, observations and evaluations when coming to a place like this.
On the right side of the front table, performers were playing music with a variety of instruments.
Mhm. The song was upbeat and lively. It felt like spring...
The music played at the Hunting Contest's banquet had been tranquil, whereas the music here was cheerful enough to hum along with.
The hall was noisy and crowded with servants and guests. There were less people seated than standing. The beginning of this banquet felt rather frenzied.
Bang bang bang!
"Supper starts in 10 minutes, so please take your seat at the table."
My stomach growled, reacting to the news that dinner was about to begin. As expected, my body was honest.
At the words of the servant standing by the entrance, people began to sit down one by one.
I was lost in thought.
Hmm. Somehow, the situation felt odd.
As time passed, I felt increasingly uncomfortable and tired.
Was it because I was hungry or because I was in an unfamiliar environment?
No. It was because of Lady Angela.
I wondered if I should've revealed the nature of my relationship with Kyle to Angela, but the devil on my shoulder immediately asked back:
'Why? Do you know her well enough to tell her about your personal affairs? You had no choice but to keep it a secret, but you can explain it later.'
The angel on my shoulder wasn't convinced yet, so the devil re-emerged.
'Plenty of noblewomen fancy Kyle, are you going to go after them to explain everything too? What if she spills the tea and spreads rumours throughout the Empire?'
'Would she really do something like that?'
'Tsk tsk. Don't you know you can't judge a person's character by their appearance? Besides, your relationship with the Prince may not last. You two probably have the most uncertain relationship in this Empire.'
I nodded at the harsh words.
Yes. What could I say? I don't know how I could explain it. Hmm. I'll just let it be and return to the Capital quickly.
After making that promise to myself, I turned my head. Count Reese and his wife walked to the middle of the platform and sat down. At the sight of the Countess, pregnant with the heir, everyone rose from their seats and welcomed them enthusiastically.
Seeing the beautiful, happy couple was wonderful. I also stood up and clapped hard.
The banquet hall started buzzing again. People sat down and chatted all around me.
Everyone should’ve been seated by now. Then, two people entering the hall caught my eye. It was Kyle and Angela.
I momentarily tightened my grip on the fork handle.
Kyle had probably borrowed the Count's clothes, but they fit him perfectly regardless.
His silk black shirt with two open buttons and a matching dark-red jacket fit his torso snugly.
It made his muscular, inverted-triangle body shape stand out.
Additionally, he hadn't slicked back his hair like he usually did today, so it seemed slightly tousled.
His sharp nose and jawline, and his neckline which I caught a glimpse of every time he slightly turned his head... It caught my attention more than usual today.
Kyle strode to the end of the table in front of them with wide steps.
Angela tightly held onto his left arm and followed him. She was slender and petite enough to be entirely concealed by Kyle.
Her silver dress covered her to her neck, emphasizing her elegance, and matched her body shape perfectly. Additionally, the finely embroidered jewels on her gown made it even more radiant.
It looked gorgeous and luxurious. She wore gloves laced with jewels like those on her dress, and a large diamond necklace hung around her neck, dazzling my vision.
The two of them were beautiful. He took out a chair complying with the rules of courtesy.
Angela smiled shyly and sat in the chair Kyle had taken out for her. He slowly sat down next to her.
He casually looked at me and then pulled his eyes away. But he abruptly turned his head back to me within a few seconds.
He stared at me with an intense, unblinking gaze.
Huh. What? Why that look?
His attention stayed on me while he slowly folded his arms and leaned against the back of the chair.
His posture seemed rather impudent, but his honest eyes left me with no choice but to admire his languid figure.
"... Sheesh. He's like a model, yes, a model."
"What?" A woman about my age who was sitting to my right asked after I spoke without realizing. My overall impression of her was that she was thin and slender.
The Empire generally had a lot of people with this body type.
"Ah. Nevermind. I was talking to myself."
"That isn't your seat. It was originally my sister's, but she couldn't come because she's sick."
"Good evening. I'm Violet Hutt, I live here in Reese. Baron Hutt is my father.
Oh! I was sitting at the Baron's table.
I had never heard of him.
I quickly tried to recall if Baron Hutt appeared in [The Ocerian Chronicles] which I had read before transmigrating, but I couldn't think of anything.
Well, I couldn't remember Count Reese either...
He was either of little importance or didn't appear at all, or I had forgotten about it because I had reluctantly read the book.
I could only hope this family wasn't involved with my family.
Apart from all of that, I was a little embarrassed.
When a noblewoman introduced herself, accordingly I had to do the same. It was a matter of courtesy.
But I was forced to lie. Because of that, I felt uncomfortable and my voice became quieter.
"Um... I'm Tara, an accountant at Deoran Company."
Violet instantly frowned as I greeted her.
"Ah... You're a commoner. And you're wearing a dress like that... I see."
Not stating your last name implied you weren't an aristocrat. If a commoner had a last name, it meant they were a servant who belonged to a territory.
Therefore, because I didn't have a last name, I didn't belong to a territory.
Violet began acting disrespectful straight away.
It really was a quick change in attitude.
I had made the choice to hide my status and disguise myself as a commoner in case I met someone with ties to my aristocratic family.
Of course, I could've made something up, but I didn't want to add more lies to a lie. Besides, my mother was also a commoner before she got married.
"I was told that these days the commoner women in the Capital boldly wear the same dresses as aristocrats, and I almost fell for it. Although, it's possible to raise your rank if you catch the eye of an old nobleman. But why are you alone?"
Wow! She said such insulting words so easily.
Even without a mirror I could tell my expression had hardened.
Fresh anger rose in me, but like the Korean I was, I pressed down on those feelings in order not to stoop to her level.
I didn't want to respond, but I asked myself, 'What if she, a noblewoman, asks something about commoners and I don’t answer?' So to prevent myself from doing anything unexpected, I answered without any emotion.
"My travel companion is seated at the end of the table. We aren't sitting together because I was invited late."
When I closed my hands and pointed to Kyle, Lady Violet's gaze naturally went to him, and an exclamation soon followed.
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