That was how our conversation concluded.
He seemed like he wanted to ask me something, but just in time, we had to move to the restaurant since Count Kraus had invited us to dinner.
It was a good thing for me. He certainly expected for me to call off the engagement, and yet I didn’t. This meant he would have to ruminate on why I made such a decision.
He had to think and figure it out as everything he knew about this world was different, starting from Elena Edelweiss to Damian Kraus.
There was no use telling him that I could change fate. One’s path to transcendence could not be created merely from someone’s suggestion. It was a milestone which one headed to by realizing one’s own convictions. It wouldn’t help if I told him he would become one too as it would only change his given path.
So let’s not think about it right now. It’s not time yet.
What mattered to me at this moment was how to close this gap. Although he had a smile on, making my heart flutter, it was clear that he was wary of me. I had to do something about that first.
However, there wasn’t much I could say right now. Even as he was escorting me to the restaurant, he looked worried and anxious, so attempting a conversation was out of the question.
I didn’t talk to him because I could guess what his concerns were. Though I did find it a bit odd that he didn’t slip up when he was this lost in his thoughts. Not once did he mess up while he was escorting me.
As we approached the restaurant, he appeared to have stopped worrying. It seemed that family matters took priority.
“Um, Elena? If my father says something, you can just ignore him.” Damian said, holding the handle to the restaurant’s door.
“It’s better for your mentality. Ah, more importantly, about our engagement–”
“Why don’t we enter.”
I cut Damian off and pushed the restaurant’s door. When it opened, I saw two empty seats prepared for us. Count Kraus took the seat at the head of the table. His younger brother, Alphonse Kraus, was also there.
When we sat down, the servants brought in the dishes that had been prepared in advance. However, the meal did not start because Count Kraus, the head of the household, did not touch his dish. He turned his head slightly and looked towards Damian’s way.
Arthur Kraus, the ruler of the south, and a transcendentalist who currently held the title as one of the five Swordmasters.
He was a middle-aged man over the age of 40. Perhaps it was due to his transcendence, his body was still like in his prime. If a stranger saw him, they would never imagine he was Count Kraus the Swordmaster. His appearance passed off as a young playful man.
In fact, he had an easy-going personality and was not very formal as the head of the family. Unlike other heads from strong martial households, who tended to be authoritative, he was a sweet father here who cared for and played around with his children.
Nevertheless, he was the one who punished Damian harder than anyone else in the first life.
Black hair and golden eyes. Anyone could tell who Damian took after by looking at him. When he grew up, his appearance was so similar to Count Kraus’ that they could be called twins.
When the count saw me, his eyes crinkled into a smile.
“Elena, it’s been a while. I don’t know if you remember, but I met you once when you were little. You were a cute child back then, but now you’ve grown up to be a very beautiful lady just like your mother.” He said.
“And you look exactly as I remembered you, Count Kraus. It was easy to recognize you. My father complains about his growing wrinkles every day.”
It was a true statement. Sometimes when my father returned from the tower, he would fume and grumble as he looked into the mirror. I didn’t know why when I was little, but considering the relationship between Count Kraus and my father, I could guess the reason.
Count Kraus knew as well, so he burst out laughing and talked about him.
“Hahaha!!! That geezer still hasn’t overcome the hurdle? Day in and day out he would call me on the crystal ball to vent his frustrations. But you’re telling me, he would get angrier after seeing my face and complain even more at home? Thanks, Elena. Because of you I got one more thing to pick on him about.”
“It’s a pleasure.”
Count Kraus was called a genius even among geniuses so my father’s grumbling wasn’t really misplaced.
Who could reach a transcendental state? There was one person beside me and one person in the east who would succeed in doing so, but until they appeared, Count Kraus was the youngest man ever to become a transcendentalist.
That said, Count Kraus, no, my father-in-law, was my most reliable ally right now. Although he held the position of a Count and Swordmaster in the first life, he did not cover up Damian’s case. Not only did he publicize it himself, he also knelt before me and my father. Moreover, when I threw my fist to break the engagement in my second life, he always lamented our annulment.
Right now, he’s the one who supported our engagement the most. He’ll help advance our relationship in the future.
In my previous life, he used to be the main culprit who made the two of us spend more time together, but now he’ll create more opportunities for us to get closer.
Count Kraus turned to face Damian. The topic of their conversation was surprisingly about my father, Joachim Edelweiss.
Did he ever meet my dad?
I don’t recall my father coming down to the south around this time.
“By the way, Damian. Do you remember meeting that bloke, Joachim, when you were little?”
“Yes, I only remember him since he was the one who suddenly grabbed my head and said, ‘If you make my daughter cry, I’ll toss you into the White Night Ice Prison.’”
My body recoiled and trembled when I heard that.
What the hell was my dad spouting while he went around?!!
I couldn’t believe it. I even wondered if this was Damian’s ploy to push me away.
“What? Hahahah! How old were you then?” Count Kraus guffawed.
“I was… 14 years old. It did fluster me since a stranger suddenly approached me and said something incomprehensible. But I can tell he truly cares for his daughter a lot.”
I had not expected him to say that. He certainly said he’d lock him up in a White Night Ice Prison, which meant he’d say much worse the next time he saw him.
I couldn’t help but to blush at what Damian said next.
“He said that she appeared fine on the outside, but she was holding it in. And that she had difficulty saying out loud what she liked and disliked, so he told me to take care of her and cherish her. Also, that she loved sweets and I should give snacks when we meet for the first time. Then she would loosen her guard a little.”
I was well aware that my father was a fool for his child. I never imagined he would go to Damian directly and talk to him about me though. It made me happy because he cared for me immensely, but…
Have you no shame!!!
My expression kept sinking.
When I tilted my head to look at Damian, he was grinning as he talked, almost amused. To be more precise, he was staring at my embarrassed self.
Anyone who saw that would have thought he was mocking me. However, after meeting him for decades, my feelings were different.
You’re embarrassed, right? You don’t like me anymore, do you?
His smiling eyes seemed to say. That sight of him made me blank out for a second.
How should I put this? He’s cute?
Strangely enough, that’s how I felt. If he wanted to call off the engagement, he could terrorize and get violent with me like Damian did. Yet here he was smirking at me like a child who pulled off a mischievous attack.
When I thought about it like that, my embarrassment slowly faded away.
My powerful ally assisted just in time.
“Oh, ohh! That’s why! I thought it was weird when this brat, who couldn’t handle sweets, asked for a bunch of them. So that’s what it was!”
His words made the both of us flinch. I didn’t miss a beat and made an expression which indicated I was touched.
“Pardon? Lord Damian definitely said he liked sweets.”
“What? Him? Ridiculous. I don’t know if something’s wrong with his tongue, but he can’t eat anything sweet. Yet you’re saying he likes it? Wait, Damian, don’t tell me…”
When Count Kraus looked at Damian with a wicked leer, Damian immediately interrupted him.
“I can eat sweets. Please don’t spread false rumors, Father.”
“The false rumors are coming out of your mouth. I’ve never seen you carry a single caramel since my time raising you.”
“What do you mean you’ve never seen me. You have, many times. I used to have caramel in my pocket every day when I was little. Also, Maria was the one who raised me. What you raised was my resilience.”
“The servants gave you that. You think no one in this manor knows that you don’t eat them and keep them in a box instead? Also, it’s a good thing you brought it up. Let’s take a look at that resilience I raised later today.”
Suddenly, it felt like they were in a drill hall rather than a restaurant. But before things escalated, his younger brother landed a decisive blow on Damian.
“Ah, that’s right! Last time I opened a box in your room. There were beautifully wrapped caramel and candies in there! I was going to eat them, but you said I couldn’t…since they’re precious.”
Damian no longer fought back.
Even though his expression did not change, I could notice the tips of his ears turning red since I was sitting right next to him. That made me want to hug his face and stroke it immediately, but I thought about today’s victory, and was barely able to quell my brimming desires.
Count Kraus winked. Meanwhile, the young Alphonse began to finish his meal. He tilted his head, not understanding why his brother’s face hardened.
I picked up the tableware and started eating again. The food tasted strangely sweet despite it not being so.
As expected, my regression seemed to be quite successful this time.