Chapter 19: One Flower (3)
Asena asked the student council president, Lucille Hover, who sipped the tea in her hand once and nodded.
There’s going to be a jousting match in the coming holiday.
The weather will also be sunny… Don’t you think it will be fun?”
“So, after today’s class, let’s all get together.
We have to set a budget.”
Asena didn’t like it.
Because It was not a simple gathering but it was jousting…
“…For students of the Knight's Department?”
“…Is everyone participating?”
“If someone is not hurt… everyone will participate.
You have a lot of questions today, don't you?”
Everyone, of course, also included Cayden.
Asena felt uncomfortable.
Everyone's interest in Cayden had barely waned… And things were starting to get complicated again.
Cayden will step out in front of others, just thinking about it made her uncomfortable.
Asena came to know about it when she came to the academy, but noble girls had fantasies about knights.
Was it because of the fairy tales they heard as children?
Of course, Asena, who had heard many fairy tales from Cayden, secretly had fantasies about knights as well, but selfishly, she didn’t want others to have fantasies.
Daisy Hexter came over and grabbed Asena’s shoulder.
She seemed to understand that the competition was bothering Asena.
“Don’t think so hard, Asena.
Budgeting shouldn’t be that difficult.
If you want, we can check how it was done last year.”
“Actually, I’ve seen a few tournaments held in our territory.
It's pretty fun.
So, empty your head and prepare with the thought of having fun.”
“Oh, are you worried about something else? Right! Is it because you are worried about your brother in the Knight's Department… Ah!!”
Daisy closed her mouth at Asena’s cold eyes as she spoke.
The word ‘brother’ was like Asena’s reverse scale.
When touched, her behavior changed violently.
Daisy tried not to forget about this, but she kept making mistakes.
The atmosphere changed in an instant, and the student council became deadly silent.
Still, Asena felt it was good that the atmosphere changed like this.
Everyone seemed to know what message she was trying to convey: Not to bring Cayden into the conversation.
But she grimaced at the fact this alone could draw more attention to Cayden.
Asena wanted to keep the story about Cayden as quiet as possible.
Everyone already had the perception that she didn’t think of their relationship as siblings.
She also informed them that they were not family nor did they share blood.
So her initial goals were almost accomplished.
As Keirsey did… she didn’t even need to curse him to achieve that.
‘Asena and Cayden have a questionable relationship.
They don't treat each other like siblings,' and such recognition was best for Asena; This awareness will help in the future announcing their marriage.
Asena asked worriedly.
“…Is it okay if an event like a jousting match is already held?”
She tried to bring up the subject again.
Asena didn't even want this competition to even be held.
“It’s an academy tradition.
Having fun watching the knights’ jousting matches, and making friends with still awkward friends.
There is nothing easier to make friends with than to be happy watching a passionate game.”
At the word tradition, Asena stood up.
Lucille asked with a puzzled face.
“Asena, where are you going?”
“…I want to catch my breath.
I will come back later.”
Saying that Asena left the student council room.
✧ ✧ ✧
Asena went to Cayden.
He was still managing his own garden today.
She loved this garden because it was in a secluded place, and Cayden was always there.
The blooming flowers didn’t take Cayden away from her, so nothing could be better.
Coming here, Asena also felt more at ease.
She was not sure if it was because of the fresh air or because just seeing his face calmed her mind.
But she felt like she could finally be at ease unlike in the academy where she had to always be vigilant.
“…Asena?” Seeing her, Cayden called out.
Asena resisted the urge to rest comfortably in Cayden's arms.
Unfortunately, for the head of the House, it was necessary to maintain a certain level of dignity.
Cayden raised her almost like a parent.
Because the love he gave was so warm, Asena didn’t even know it couldn't be defended against.
Asena looked at Cayden’s garden.
The planted seeds were coming up with green stems.
It was interesting to see them grow every time she saw them.
Cayden, feeling the gaze on his garden, said with a smile.
“Didn't they grow up a lot? I think flowers will bloom soon.”
“Yes, they grew up well.”
“It’s because you and Keirsey always took out your time to help.
Did you even water them from time to time?”
We grew them up with our sincerity.”
Asena didn’t show it, but Cayden's words only made the growing flowers look even more beautiful.
She slowly squatted next to him.
Asena became a little happier just by addressing him like that.
She put her head on her knees and looked at him.
“Will there be a jousting match soon?”
Asena became silent immediately.
This time, Cayden looked at her and asked.
“…Is it okay if you don’t go?”
She asked almost in a whispering voice and the next moment, silence descended.
The wind grew louder, and the swaying grass rubbed against each other and made a rhythmic sound.
After a long silence, he asked as if he wanted to confirm what she had said.
“…The jousting match.”
Again, apart from the sound of nature, only silence was left.
After a long time, Cayden opened his mouth.
“…Do you want me to look like a dead mouse?”
The reply came back in a cold and sharp voice.
Others wouldn’t have known about it, but Asena quickly noticed that Cayden wasn’t feeling so well.
Asena instinctively knew that it was the moment when she had to give a good answer.
She wouldn't have cared much if it was someone else, but… she became more cautious because her opponent was Cayden.
“……It’s not that, I’m afraid my Oppa will get hurt.”
To be honest, he was right.
She wanted him to live with her alone almost like a dead mouse.
But she thought she shouldn’t say that, so she changed her answer.
Fortunately, perhaps her answer was correct, Cyaden smiled and ruffled her hair.
Asena instinctively leaned her head towards his hand.
Yes, I might get hurt but if I don’t go to the competition even though my limbs will be fine, what about my pride? I don’t have a good reputation already.”
Asena came all the way here to convince him.
'Don’t go to the competition.'
She was planning to issue an order if he refused, but the atmosphere was wrong and it became difficult to speak.
But imagining Cayden going to a jousting contest and seeing him in front of a lot of other students, courage bloomed in Asena’s chest and she opened her mouth again to convince him.
“Oppa, don’t do that, this match is-”
His firm voice interrupted her.
“…I will go.”
Asena couldn’t say anything else.
“Please cheer for me that day, okay?”
With a complicated heart, Asena finished her answer.
'When that day comes, will I really be able to support him?'
She couldn't stop him from going to the tournament, but that didn’t mean she gave up on everything.
In the end, Asena disliked the gazes on him.
She didn’t like the outcome of the attention he would naturally get.
So she had to take some drastic measures.
Just like Keirsey did.
“…Oppa, then instead…”
“…can I prepare the equipment?”
Cayden’s head turned towards her.
A small look of anticipation appeared on his face.
I’ll give it to you as a present.”
At those words, Cayden seemed happy and approached Asena and wrapped an arm around Asena’s shoulder.
Asena felt her face turn red immediately.
His body odor was really addictive.
She still had a firm expression on her face, but she couldn’t look into his eyes.
“I have a lovely sister.
Then I’ll ask you, Asena.
The armor is already there.
Do you know?”
It was brought from the Pryster family, so Asena knew it.
“The only thing missing is Lance.
If you want to gift me something, just prepare it.
Do you know the dimensions of the lance?”
“… Don't worry…
Then I'll bring it to you when it's ready.”
She answered, suppressing her pounding heart.
After that, the two parted ways after talking a little more about their daily life.
✧ ✧ ✧
Asena found the armory.
There were also many other knight's department students.
They seemed to be preparing their own equipment ahead of time.
When Asena appeared, a worker from the armory rushed out and stood in front of her.
Clasping his hands, he asked.
“What did lady come here for?”
“I have come to prepare the equipment for the upcoming jousting.
No armor needed, only the lance.”
“Oh, I see.
Did you know that there are also standard lances offered in jousting matches?”
The worker said that there was no need to make it there.
Asena nodded her head.
And if lady is going to order custom lances, we’ll need to prepare three or four.
Competition lances break easily.”
Suddenly, Asena lowered her voice and asked carefully.
“…I heard that there is a standard for Lance.”
Without knowing why Asena spoke almost in a whisper, the worker also lowered his voice because he didn't want to offend this noble girl.
“…Yes, there is.”
Even after speaking out, Asena pondered for a moment.
She remembered how happy Cayden was to join the competition.
But soon after, she shook her head.
Asena still didn’t want him to shine in front of others.
The problems that would arise by that couldn't be solved easily.
And secretly, she also didn't think others would be able to understand his real charm.
Instead, they would just covet him for things like achievements and his looks.
It was said that serious injuries were rare in jousting matches.
It was not impossible, but it was rare.
If so, Asena hoped that Cayden would be eliminated quickly.
Then he wouldn’t shine, and there would be no reason for others to covet him.
She spoke with a determined face:
“…make a lance a span shorter… no… two spans short than standards.”
The worker digested her words for a moment, then asked in embarrassment.
“….Yes? Then you will be at a disadvantage in the match?”
The worker blinked as if he did not understand, but he still nodded his head at her words.
“…that…then I will do that.”
No one in this academy recklessly disobeyed the nobles.
Asena opened her mouth at the question that came to her mind.
In fact, that was what she was most worried about.
“…that…whoever uses this…will not notice that the lance is shortened?”
Asena imagined Cayden noticing her filthy behavior.
Probably there was nothing more terrifying than that.
He should never know about it.
The worker rubbed his chin thoughtfully.
“…If you don’t put the two lances together and compare them, it will be difficult.
The lance is so long that shortening only a span or two is barely noticeable.”
“…do it then.”
Asena nodded her head.
✧ ✧ ✧
On the day of the jousting match.
“Are you ready, Judy?”
Judy took a deep breath, as if nervous, and nodded her head.
“I’m ready too.”
I said and clenched my fists.
Judy cheered me with a slight slap on my back.
After that, we dispersed and went into our respective waiting rooms.
Even if it was a waiting room, it was a small tent that was built temporarily.
My horse Storm and my armor were ready.
Lance hadn’t come yet.
Asena said she would bring it soon.
Outside, looking at the tent entrance, there were a lot of people.
Everyone was chatting with excitement and eating snacks wearing beautiful dresses.
Since it was the day to take off the academy uniforms, handsome men and women, whom no one knew about, were revealed one after another.
It seemed that the whole academy had gathered.
It was the perfect place to increase my reputation and remove the stigma of incompetence.
I shook my body and released the tension.
I didn’t tell Judy, but I was pretty nervous too.
For my plan to succeed, I had to start well here.
Storm also snorted and rolled his feet.
He seemed to be excited by the cheers outside.
“Good luck, Storm.”
I approached Storm, stroked him, and opened the pocket on the saddle.
Fortunately, the items prepared were placed inside without any problems.
After that, I started putting on the heavy armor step by step.
It was a nice piece of shiny black armor that seemed to show the power of the family.
It was a gift from grandma.
My heart was warmed and I felt stronger.
Keirsey came in while flipping the tent entrance.
She stiffened as she looked at me in armor.
It was my first time wearing this armor.
Judging by her reaction, it seemed okay…
Well, maybe she was just acting.
“Yeah, that’s cool.”
“Where is Asena? My lance hasn’t arrived yet.”
Suddenly, a voice came from outside the tent.
Soon, Asena entered with a man holding three or four lances.
I smiled and thanked her for her sincerity and this gift, she prepared for me.
I was still bitter about gossip, but I was grateful for what I was grateful for.
The man carefully set the lances down on the floor.
A small pattern of the Pryster family was printed on the handle.
To be honest, my heart was excited that it was only for me.
“Thank you, Asena.”
I smiled and picked up a lance laying on the floor and snuggled it under my armpit.
The handle was soft.
But I felt another impression immediately after.
“…how is it, Oppa?”
But I was too engrossed to answer.
Instead, I thought to myself.
'What, why is this a little short?'
[T/N: Don't forget to read the next chapter.]
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