Elje returned to the empire to take care of Astin. Fortunately, his injury was not severe. Astin rested for about a month, then spent quality time with Elje in the mansion, and went back to school.
Thanks to the money she earned as an Elijah mercenary, Elje was able to live a comfortable life. It wasn’t enough to live a life of luxury, but it was enough for the basic needs.
There was no problem paying Astin’s expensive tuition and maintaining the Targayel mansion. Elje also hired a new employee to manage the mansion.
As the owner of Targayel, she bought some dresses and accessories to maintain her dignity, but she didn’t attend any social gatherings.
Of course, she spent the most on new swords; Elje ordered a new rapier and a parrying dagger.
She also got in touch with the Elijah unit who had returned from the war and set up a meeting with them.
She thought it was finally time for her to be happy after all her hard work.
Then, one day, shocking news arrived at the Targayel mansion.
It was an imperial order for a political marriage.
Of all the men it had to be Shan Crixus!
Elje tried to control her expression in front of the attendant delivering the imperial order, but her smile was stiff and trembling.
This was definitely fate’s twisted joke. Elje had to exert a lot of self-discipline in order not to commit the blasphemy of tearing the paper with the Emperor’s seal on it.
Prince Raymond was responsible for all of this. After returning from the war, he was unable to award Shan with a title due to the opposition from nobles. He came up with the solution of marrying Shan into the Targayel House so he could become a count.
The old and sick emperor hadn’t been up from his sickbed in a long time, so Prince Raymond was doing most of the work. Forcing a political marriage under the guise of an imperial order was a piece of cake.
The marriage preparation went by quickly. The date of the wedding, the location, and all other decisions were made lightning fast.
Should I be grateful for him not being an old man with a big belly? I was a war hero too. Elje’s head was about to explode.
Elje’s mind kept running wild when the date was set for her prospective husband to visit the mansion. She couldn’t sleep because she was worried he would recognize her.
On the day Shan was visiting, Elje dressed as fancy as possible.
She picked the prettiest dress and wore expensive jewelry. She also wore heavy makeup and half of her hair, which had grown in length, was up while the other half was down. Her ivory hair was flowing down over her dress.
Elje was sitting in the parlor and looking into a hand-held mirror when the maid announced Shan’s arrival.
“My lady! Sir Crixus is here!!”
Elje quickly looked out the window and saw Shan riding on a horse along the well-paved path in the garden.
Riding a black warhorse, he was not much different from when she saw him on the battlefield. He wore silk clothes instead of armor, but he still couldn’t hide his chaotic energy. His sharp appearance seemed to keep people away.
The dark hair was black even under the dazzling sunlight and his purple eyes that Elje liked were cooler and colder than before. It seemed like his eyes did not contain any emotion when she looked into them.
It wasn’t long until Elje realized that Shan was not alone. Five men followed behind him.
She heard that Shan had a lot of followers thanks to his performance in the war. Just as Elje created the Elijah unit, Shan also built his own forces.
Shan got off the horse and talked with the employees who greeted him. Then he raised his head and Elje quickly slipped away from the window. She returned to the sofa she was sitting on earlier.
Soon after, a maid’s voice was heard along with a knock.
“My lady, it’s Sir Crixus.”
The door opened and Elje got up from the sofa and their eyes met.
After a brief silence, Elje curtsied to greet him.
“I’m Eljenès Targayel.”
Shan looked closely at Elje. Elje trembled under the gaze of his purple eyes. It seemed as if he was going to call her Elje at any moment. However, he casually said.
Shan did not recognize Elje. He thought that they were similar, but he couldn’t guess that they were the same person.
In fact, there was nothing to recognize. While on the battlefield, Elje’s appearance was completely different. Her skin was tanned from the sun and her hair was short and dyed a dark color, and she was covered in blood all the time. The only thing that was similar was her blue eyes.
Elje looked fine during their last meeting, but she had a hood covering her face and it was dark. In the end, Shan had never seen Elje’s face clearly.
Most importantly, Elje, the leader of Elijah, was a man while Eljenès Targayel was a woman.
At this point, it would be amazing if Shan recognized her.
Strangely, Elje felt both relieved and disappointed. She was relieved that he did not recognize her but also disappointed that he didn’t. Unlike Elje’s complicated thoughts, Shan did not show any agitation.
“I’d like to make sure a few things are clear before we get married.”
There were no pleasantries exchanged. Shan handed Elje the contract and as soon as she accepted it, he sat down on the sofa without asking for permission.
It was absurd, but Elje was patient. While she was reading the contract, Shan started talking and there was no sign of respect in his attitude.
This bastard. Elje couldn’t control her temper. So she finally exploded and commented on everything that bothered her in the contract. She landed the final blow at the end.
“Why are you speaking informally? I’m still in a higher position.”
Shan’s expression was worthwhile after hearing Elje’s words. Shan smiled at the provoking words Elje used then he bowed his head and apologized politely.
“Please forgive me for my rudeness. I am not familiar with the aristocratic language.”
Elje understood what Shan was trying to do, he wanted to take control of the situation by not showing his respect to her position. Elje decided to let it go and she was relieved that he apologized.
“I will send you the contract after revising the points you mentioned.”
Then they were both silent. There was nothing to say since this was their first time meeting. Elje offered Shan the prepared tea and he drank it without a word.
The two were sipping tea quietly when Shan suddenly said.
“……I heard you have a younger brother.”
He gazed at Elje gently. His gaze was intense as if he was looking for traces of the mercenary Elje.
“I’d like to see his face once.”
Elje couldn’t tell him the truth. Nothing good would come out of knowing that the Lady of Targayel was also the infamous Elje from the Elijah mercenary unit.
When the hunting is over, you don’t need the hunting dog. Valoir paid a lot of money to Elijah, so perhaps the royal family were planning on taking Elijah out.
It was known that Shan Crixus was close to Raymond, the Prince of Valoir, so Elje couldn’t risk endangering the Elijah members.
Elje said calmly as she put the teacup down.
“Astin is a student at Aquis University. He’s studying there, but you’ll see him at the wedding later.”
Shan, who was lost in thought for a moment, asked quietly.
“Are his eyes blue like yours?”
“No, they’re light blue.”
For a moment, Shan’s face showed disappointment. It seemed that he was hoping that Astin was Elje.
However, it was known that Astin was not born with the gift of the sword. Perhaps Shan knew that but he still wondered after seeing her face.
I am Elje.
The words that should not be spoken hovered in her mind. Elje drank the tea to swallow the words that were constantly creeping up.