“Achoo, achoo, achoo~~” Sitting on a rocking chair beside a window, Claire sneezed three times.
“Claire, are you cold?” Katherine, who was beside her, hurriedly got up to close the window.
“No, Mother. It’s just that my nose was itchy.” Claire lifted her hand and smiled, stopping Katherine. Looking at Katherine’s gentle expression, Claire felt warm in her heart. When Katherine heard that she was hurt, she immediately hurried back from the royal palace, accompanied by princess Maurice. Only after making sure Claire was alright did princess Maurice go back to the palace, while Katherine stayed to take care of Claire.
“Maybe someone is cursing you behind your back?” Summer, who had been peeling fruits, carefully hid the fruit behind her back, not wanting it to be dirtied by Claire’s three sneezes. Even though the fruit was for Claire anyway.
“Maybe it’s that nasty idiot Alice Roman?” The golden haired young girl beside Claire, Lashia, frowned and complained.
“Oh?” Claire was kind of surprised. Why did she bring up that person?
Katherine winked at Lashia, trying to hint for her to stop, but Lashia didn’t notice, and instead continued triumphantly, “Sis, you don’t even know. Last time that idiot wanted to murder you, so although the emperor forgave her reluctantly , her grandfather was dismissed from his position, and all Romans serving the Crown had their positions lowered three levels.”
Claire nodded her head and said lightly, “I know, I was there.”
“Ha, but you don’t know what happened next, which was even more brilliant. A few days ago the whole Roman clan defected, and within one night they all disappeared. They went to Lagark. The emperor was in a fury, and they were all added to the wanted list. Yet Lagark refused to turn them in……” Getting more and more excited, Lashia didn’t notice Claire’s darkening expression.
The entire Roman clan defected? Well, that conceited emperor has to be in a fury. But now things had turned this bad, and it seemed to be all her own fault.
“Sis, this has nothing to with you. Rumor says that the young man that assisted Alice in trying to murder you was here just to persuade them to defect to Lagark……” Finally noticing Claire’s change in expression, Lashia added hurriedly.
“Lashia!” Katherine raised her voice slightly to halt Lashia’s further words.
Lashia stuck out her tongue and shut up.
“Mother, sorry to bother you.” Naturally Claire understood that Katherine stopped Lashia because she didn’t want her to have any mental burdens.
“Your birthday is coming up. Don’t think about anything else.” Katherine said gently.
“Mm.” Claire nodded lightly, a smile on her face, enjoying the peace.
For the next couple of days, Summer and Chuxin Qiao were nowhere to be seen. Said they were preparing presents.
Time flew by. Ten days passed quickly.
This day, the Hill castle was bustling with activity. Before the castle were rows of carriages; luxurious carriages constantly entered. The servants tried desperately to announce every guest and the maids had welcomed so many guests and accepted so many presents their hands were sore.
Duke Gordon stood at the entrance with rosy cheeks. He was in a very good mood. Comparatively, Marquess Leger was very quiet, silently standing behind and assisting the welcoming of guests.
“The second prince his royal highness, the princess her royal highness!” A servant dragged his voice out long. The second prince, the princess, and Claire were all students at the Institute, plus they were also friends out of school, so it was normal that they came for the banquet. The crowd smiled and greeted the second prince and the princess.
“Master Cliff!” The servant yelled at the top of his voice, successfully attracting the crowd’s attention.
Cliff was in a whole new set of clothes as he stepped off his carriage with a bright smile on his face, attracting the crowd’s attention. As her master, of course he would come to his precious disciple Claire’s birthday.
The continuous stream of traffic led to a sea of carriages crowded in front of the castle. Even Gordon himself didn’t expect so many people to show up. Many nobles also brought their children; of course Gordon understood what that meant. Surely there would be an arranged marriage, but they haven’t yet found a suitable candidate, and there was no hurry.
“The Divine Prince, the Divine Princess!” The servant’s voice was very excited. Surprisingly, these famous people from the Temple of Light also turned up.
After finishing greeting Cliff, Duke Gordon hurriedly went to greet Lingyun Leng and Xueqing Liu.
“Divine Prince, Divine Princess. We are so honored that you could come.” Duke Gordon chuckled, elated.
“Your grace has invited us, therefore we must come.” Lingyun Leng smiled.
“Please come in.” Duke Gordon welcomed them in.
“Your grace, please go attend to your business. We can suit ourselves.” Lingyun Leng nodded.
“Your grace, there are so many people today. I even saw a royal carriage a moment ago.” As usual, Xueqing Liu had on her gentle and elegant smile.
“Oh yes. Claire, the second prince, and the princess studies together at the Institute……” Duke Gordon replied with a smile. Naturally, he didn’t understand the hidden meaning in Xueqing Liu’s words.
Xueqing Liu scanned the around her, and couldn’t help but get excited. The more the merrier! When the pope comes to point out the true identity of the man in black and gives Claire her sentence, let’s see if you, Duke Gordon, can still have that smile on? Stealing the Gift of the goddess was punishable by death. No matter who it was, they will receive severe punishment. Even the emperor couldn’t shield her! Xueqing Liu smirked to herself.This was a perfect time that the pope picked, to chose today as the day to sentence Claire. Today, almost all nobles are present; even the royal family was here. If debunked under the eyes of such a crowd, how could Claire deny? Very soon, she will taste the feeling of falling from heaven to hell.
The usually spacious Grand Hall was now crowded with people, all in luxurious clothing. The ladies held fans in their hands and clumped in twos or threes, gossiping. Gentlemen held wine glasses and stood together elegantly, discussing lighthearted matters. The two long tables at the ends of the hall were filled with various high-grade fruits and delicious dishes. The smell of wine and the sound of music were seducing. This time, Duke Gordon really put in much thought.
Several noble young men followed their parents’ orders, awaiting for the star of the day, Claire, to make her appearance.
After all guests arrived, the banquet finally began.
In the sound of a beautiful melody, Claire started slowly down the stairs under the company of Lashia, Summer, and Chuxin Qiao. She was in a dazzling white dress. The skirt rims were decorated with layers of lavender lace; on her waist was a pink and remarkably realistic embroidered rose; a small flower pinned on her collar; her long, wavy hair lightly placed on her shoulders, with a lavender hair accessory clipped casually on her head. As a whole, Claire looked so ethereal, as enchanting as fairy descending from the moon.
Claire walked slowly down the stairs under her company, successfully attracting the attention of every single person. The young aristocratic men that had been debating whether or not to follow their parents’ orders and hit on Claire now all made their decision.
Duke Gordon’s eyes were almost in slits. He knew, his goal for today had been achieved. Duke Gordon strided up to Claire, naturally extending his arms, and let Claire hold onto his hand.
“Today, is my precious granddaughter Claire’s birthday. I thank each and everyone of you from the bottom of my heart for showing up.” Duke Gordon began with the most standard social tones.
Claire smiled lightly, but there was no trace of smile at all in the bottom of her eyes. She felt very uncomfortable, stared at by so many people like a simple object. However, so many people showed up today, all of them highly-positioned or famous in the capital. Many nobles that she have met but couldn’t even call out their names came. Their expressions were very unsettling to her. After all the cliche greetings and stereotypical statements did the banquet really began. Duke Gordon flitted between people like a butterfly, meeting every guest. His hearty laugh also sounded from time to time, making it obvious what a good mood he was in. Of course. Just a birthday party for his granddaughter, and so many famous people showed up; not only did the prince and princess arrive, but even the Divine Prince and Divine Princess from the Temple of Light came. How could he not be excited.
A smile pasted on her face, Claire once again refused a young noble that came to ask her for the next dance, wailing in her heart for all this to end.
“Claire~~” A playful voice sounded abruptly behind Claire. Claire turned her head to see Princess Maurice’s smile.
“Princess……” Claire greeted with a smile. Seeing Nancy standing behind princess Maurice, she continued, “The second prince your royal highness. Thank you so much coming today.”
“Haha, I’m afraid you have been earnestly wishing for us to not come.” Uncommonly, Nancy joked around, “I can clearly see the impatience in your eyes.”
Slightly embarrassed, Claire was just about to open her mouth, when princess Maurice laughed. “No need to deny it. Haha, you’re just like us. We also hate these types of banquets, but we’re stuck with ‘em.” Princess Maurice lowered her voice.
Recalling princess Maurice’s birthday, Claire couldn’t help but letting out a laugh. Summer and Chuxin Qiao had each carried a plateful of food to enjoy at the tables. Dragon Ben leaned on the wall, yawning and looking at the two girls eating happily. White Emperor was sitting on dragon Ben’s shoulder with a foie gras in his mouth, munching energetically. Walter wasn’t here; he was afraid that among such a crowd, even if he hid his aura, some skilled person might detect it and point out his identity. And the unfolding events proved his concerns right.
Far away, Xueqing Liu watched as Claire laughed in her little group. Darkness flashed across her eyes. Laugh, let’s see how long you can keep laughing. Xueqing Liu’s eyes landed on dragon Ben and the White Emperor on his shoulder. Now she was a hundred percent sure that these two were the accomplices that night when the Gift of the goddess was robbed! And needless to say who the mastermind was!
The Grand Hall was lively and crowded; everyone had a smile on their face. As for why they were smiling, perhaps only they themselves knew.
“The pope his Holiness!” Suddenly, a very loud but trembling voice sounded, slicing through all the activity and commotion in the hall.
The pope is here?!
Not only was Duke Gordon stunned. Everyone in the Grand Hall was stunned!
How come the pope came? To know, the pope wouldn’t even attend the princess’s birthday! A smirk flashed under Xueqing Liu’s eyes. Let the show begin!