Chapter: Even You (1)
I couldn’t concentrate in class.
My body was sluggish and my judgment was slow.
Yesterday, I was training with Judy using wooden swords, who was completely overwhelmed.
“Pryster! Calm down!”
Sir Horslow shouted…
His shouts didn’t affect me.
If it would have been so easy to calm down, my heart wouldn’t be hurting so much.
My mind was elsewhere.
Only Asena’s words lingered in my mind.
Since when did you feel that way? Were you never sincere with me?
I also remembered the sad expression she had when I stopped her lips in the morning.
Was that also just acting?
Suddenly, Judy’s foot came in and stepped on my foot.
She pushed my body with her shoulders.
Her feet were still on mine and I couldn’t bring my balance back…
I just fell backward awkwardly.
When I lifted my head, the tip of Judy’s wooden sword stood still in front of my eyes.
I stood up wiping my ass.
“Why are you acting so weird today?” Judy asked.
It had only been a day since we met, but we had already gotten quite close in such a short time.
As Sir Horslow said, we were naturally getting to know each other while training.
Judy asked dryly and nonchalantly, but I could tell that she was very worried because her expression showed everything.
I shook my head, saying, “I'm okay.” I ended the conversation and we continued our training.
…But I was shaken.
Because if we had the real swords, then I would have lost my life three times before class came to an end.
✧ ✧ ✧
“Are you ready?”
Keirsey asked cheerfully.
She was now in the kitchen.
It wasn’t a place where a high-ranking noble would enter, but Keirsey didn’t care.
She just needed to be able to achieve her goals.
However, the chefs in the kitchen were restless.
They had to be extra careful so that they wouldn't make a mistake.
Even the vegetables that usually were just roughly cleaned were thoroughly cleaned, and the cooking was presented in a way that made it look a little more professional.
“Chef, this fell off and I wiped it again-“
“Throw away! Throw away!! Wow, we usually throw in this case, so why are you asking now?”
However, Keirsey's eyes were focused on one girl from the very beginning, seemingly ignoring all of their efforts.
The girl closed the snack basket with trembling hands.
Keirsey had come since dawn and asked her to do chores by herself.
“Excuse me, can you make one lunch box for me?”
“Oh, you can say no!”
“Oh no! No, I’ll make it for you, yes…”
The girl would not even dare to refuse any noble's order.
On the other hand, this noble smiled at her, a commoner, for only one reason that she had obeyed the orders.
The girl even thought that this noble was really cute.
By any chance, can you prepare one extra box with carrots in it? I’m going to feed the horses.”
The noble kindly explained to her and told her the purpose.
The girl suddenly had the courage to suggest.
“…The horse would prefer apples to carrots.
Would you like to prepare apples too?”
“Oh really? Yes! Please do that!”
The girl swiftly prepared one lunch box and one fruit box.
Keirsey was happy and kept the two boxes in separate baskets and hugged the girl.
“Ah, thank you so much!”
“You!! Please, my clothes..!!”
The girl was embarrassed and waved her hand.
She prayed earnestly in her heart that the noble's clothes would not be dirty because of the hug.
Keirsey ignored the girl's remark and asked, “Can you tell me your name? If you need any help later, I will repay this favor.”
“…It’s okay, it’s okay, really.
It’s what we have to do.”
“I really want to know.”
Keirsey gently grabbed the girl’s hand.
Her hands were rough as if to tell of the life she had endured.
It was the opposite of Keirsey's hand, which was as soft as petals.
The girl rolled her eyes anxiously, looked at Keirsey, realized that she was sincere, and opened her mouth with difficulty.
I am Evin.”
✧ ✧ ✧
After class, I was brushing my 'Storm' when Judy came up to me and asked.
Unlike yesterday when I completely overwhelmed her, she defeated me several times today, so she must have felt the strangeness.
While brushing Storm, I looked at Judy when suddenly Storm bite my hand.
After Storm's reminder, I fed him a honey chestnut and sighed.
“Tell me, Pryster.”
“I have a name too, Judy.”
I was suddenly annoyed at being called Pryster…
I didn’t want to show this grumpiness to Judy, who had done nothing wrong but I spoke before I could control my mouth.
Contrary to my intentions, in the subdued atmosphere, I urged for an answer in a bright voice.
“…Cayden, what’s going on?”
Judy also followed my lead right away.
Judy was fun to play with.
Originally, I would have stopped here, but today I wanted to be a little more mean-spirited.
Let’s play around a little more.
“Aren’t you supposed to call me Oppa? I am older.”
Judy wrinkled her brows at my words and seeing her expression, I burst into laughter.
It felt like my heart was getting lighter.
Stroking Storm and calming the laughter, I answered.
You were not like yourself during training.”
“Are you already worried about me?”
When I asked with a smile, Judy looked away.
Of course, her heart was understandable.
I thought I would be worried too if Judy had any troubles.
The sweat you shed together while training had that much meaning.
There was a sense of accomplishment partners felt when they survived Sir Horslow's tough training together.
Judy shook her head lightly at my subsequent jokes and turned around to leave.
I stopped Judy but I didn't even know why I did that.
Perhaps it was an instinctive choice made by the brain to share my sadness.
So I reflexively grabbed her, but my words were still stuck in my throat.
In the end, although I grabbed her, but without saying anything, I just kept brushing Storm.
Judy suddenly came closer to me.
To be precise, she stopped at the compartment next to Storm and started to brush Goldie, Judy's horse…
She seemed to be waiting for me to speak first.
I was grateful for her consideration and tried to calm myself.
I didn’t know how to explain my troubles or where to start.
Hence the silence continued.
Judy, who was standing next to me even giving up her mealtime, waited quietly.
It was hard to get the words out, but I opened my mouth forcefully.
“…As you saw, I’m close with my sisters.”
Actually, there was an opportunity to get to know each other when I was young.
As you may know, the former Duke of Pryster, the twins’ father, passed away, and then I took care of them.”
I was kind of embarrassed to tell my story, so I brushed the Storm even more harshly.
Though Storm nodded his head as if he liked it.
No one in the family could open the hearts of twins.
That’s why I was adopted from an orphanage, where I was taking care of my younger siblings.
After that… I might say I was lucky, but I opened up the hearts of twins.
So we had no choice but to grow up together.”
“But lately, I think it was my mistake.”
I shrugged lightly as if trying to lift my heavy heart.
“…Asena will banish me.
In two years, she wants me to return the Pryster surname.”
As if in disbelief, Judy looked at me.
I still smiled at her.
“…And that’s it.
She didn't give any reason.
It was hard for me to understand, but I still came to terms with it.
Though I heard something else yesterday…”
“Yes, it was Asena.”
My throat narrowed as I cried.
I took a deep breath, closed my eyes, and shook my head.
“…that’s when she was talking with student council members yesterday.
I happened to see her say that she never thought of me as an older brother, haha.
But… well… it really hurt.”
“I thought of her as a family.
I’ve been working so hard because I thought we were siblings… Was that my mistake?”
Even if I tried to mumble like self-talk, I couldn't help but ask her.
“Tell me one more time, Judy.
Isn’t it usually true what you say behind the scenes?”
“…Maybe she was swept away by the atmosphere.”
“It would be nice if that was the case… well… I don’t think that’s the case.”
Judy put the brush down.
As if giving me some time.
I took a deep breath.
I didn’t look at her; I was embarrassed because I felt the bridge of my nose was red for nothing.
“…if it were me, I would just leave.” Judy suddenly spoke.
“She's kicking you out of the Pryster family.
Even behind your back, she is saying the same thing…
It’s just dirty and disrespectful.
I would rather go out on my own feet.”
It seemed like she was so angry because of her prejudice towards Prysters too.
Though Judy’s intense reaction relieved my mood.
“That’s right! The Prysters are dirty!”
“Hey—” I tried to protest but she interrupted me.
“Wouldn't it be better for you too?”
“What are you looking at? You can just leave the Prysters and live alone.”
It just hurts to feel betrayed.”
“…I don’t know.”
“Have you ever had someone you like gossip behind you saying that they actually hate you? Don’t you feel bad?”
“Then I’ll just cut ties with them.
I think it would be less difficult.”
It wasn’t nutritious advice, but I was grateful to Judy for being so outspoken with me.
For a while, there was silence like that.
I sighed twice.
Suddenly, I thought, it was time to let Judy go.
Or I thought it would be okay to go out and eat together.
That was if I could calm my bitter heart.
At that moment, I heard the sound of flesh touching flesh behind my back.
And I heard a familiar voice.
“What are you doing now?”
Looking back, Keirsey was standing there, grabbing Judy’s wrist, which was a few feet away from my back.
✧ ✧ ✧
Keirsey looked around the training ground holding two baskets.
Cayden was nowhere to be seen.
She wasn’t upset though.
She had already expected this.
Cayden had already told her he may not be at the training ground.
Instead, he'll be taking care of Storm in the stable.
Keirsey passed the training ground and moved lightly towards the place where the stable might be.
She was looking forward to meeting Cayden.
She hadn't seen him the whole day.
In the morning only Asena went to see him, and Keirsey couldn't because she stood beside Evin and waited for the prepared lunch boxes.
“Ah, come to think of it, Unnie didn’t seem to be in a good mood…”
Shaking off the sudden thought, Keirsey walked towards her brother.
Cayden said he had only one friend.
Maybe Storm would even praise her.
He, too, would be grateful to her for going to Cayden and bringing his favorite food, leaving many of her friends behind her.
It was a choice she made because she wanted it, but there was nothing wrong with adding these reasons to make her look more beautiful.
Keirsey saw a familiar back of Cayden.
And next to him, whom she thought would be alone, stood a woman with bluish-grey hair.
Keirsey’s feet hardened at the sight.
Again, an unpleasant feeling for an unknown reason squeezed her chest.
She felt such suffocation frequently nowadays.
So even Keirsey could figure out the cause.
It happened every time Cayden got involved with another woman; His eyes looked at another woman, and another woman seemed to come out of his mouth, and every time he stood with another woman like this, Keirsey's chest became stuffy as if it were submerged in water.
Today was especially severe.
The two were stuck together as if they were friends.
It was so unpleasant that her hands and feet felt numb as if she was just a stone statue.
'Didn’t Oppa say that his horse was his only friend?’ Keirsey thought.
'Then Oppa, who is that person? You didn’t tell me about her.'
She wanted to shout and ask him, but she endured it patiently.
Because perhaps she was mistaken.
They might not know each other, and maybe they were just looking after the horses in the stables.
Keirsey hastily moved forward.
At the same time, the cunning self that she didn’t even know existed raised its head.
She moved quickly but intentionally made sure to not make any noise.
She knew this was wrong but she had to know what relationship this girl had with her brother.
She wanted to get her hand on conclusive evidence.
She didn’t even know what she would do with it.
Maybe she would make sure this wouldn't happen again? One thing was for sure… She wanted to confirm if Cayden was hiding anything from her.
She wanted to know everything about him.
She couldn’t stand the fact that he was hiding something from her.
As if it were proof that she wasn’t his most precious person.
Keirsey prayed in her heart.
She had killed the sound of footsteps in fear that something was wrong, but she prayed that nothing was wrong.
Keirsey hoped it was all an illusion.
She didn’t want the two of them to talk, and if they did, she wanted it to be businesslike.
Fortunately, the closer she got to him, the more comfortable she felt.
It was because the two weren’t talking at all.
They were just combing their horses.
Keirsey approached and looked at the girl.
The crest was not visible.
The girl was tall and had a strong body.
She didn’t look cute or pretty in Keirsey's eyes.
She didn’t think Cayden would like her either.
Keirsey began to approach Cayden.
She still made sure to not make any sound.
Keirsey knew she had been rude.
It was wrong to sneak up on someone.
Especially if someone had a companion.
So she planned to justify the rudeness caused by this misunderstanding, by trying to scare him – 'Wow!' – and surprise him.
Then Keirsey could let him know that she didn’t mean to eavesdrop.
She would just say she was kidding.
But then, the girl's hand moved.
Keirsey's heart was pounding.
Very carefully, the unknown girl's hand gradually approached Cayden.
She was hesitant.
It had moved one inch forward and two inches backward a few times already.
It was a hand that was shy but still showed courage from behind.
As the creeping hand reached Cayden’s shoulder, Kirsey couldn’t stand it any longer.
Trying to touch Cayden's body without saying a word was like trying to exchange emotions.
It seemed like she was trying hard to please him.
Keirsey got angry and her heart exploded.
She put the basket she was carrying and caught the girl's wrist.
“What are you doing now?”
Cayden looked back.
The unknown girl was startled and pulled back her arm hurriedly with a strong force.
Cayden’s surprised eyes swept over her.
Keirsey suddenly realized that she had not prepared anything to explain her recent actions; Her body moved based on emotions.
Keirsey was worried because she had only been showing him a pretty side.
Though Cayden didn't give her much time to worry and asked with a confused face.
“…Since when have you been here?”
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