Elise didn’t have any plans for the Saturday following the second week since Leon entered the Knight Academy. She hadn’t acted as an official attendant since returning to the capital, so she found that her days could be difficult to fill. Every day, she would wake up relatively late and start her day with a few hours of magical training.
Her training did not include any form of combat training, as she felt there was little need for it in her position. Her magical training was spent almost exclusively dancing and exercising in a private courtyard in her mother’s estate that was filled with exotic trees, plants, and carved obelisks that raised the density of magic in the area to more than five times the normal level for the capital.
This training was paying off; she could feel herself growing in magical power at a rate that left her certain she could ascend to the third-tier in less than a year. She used to slack off in her training before moving to Teira which left her far behind her younger third-tier friends. After meeting Leon, though, she never slacked off again. She immediately started training in earnest after coming home.
Leon’s influence wasn’t the only reason she continued though; she found herself getting hooked on the physical aspects of magic training as she relished the feeling she had when she was finished. Her limbs were tired and sweaty, but her body was always filled with magic power. After resting with a long bath, the abundance of magic power in her body would fill her with energy and give her an almost euphoric feeling.
Elise’s routine wasn’t any different on that Saturday.
After a very late breakfast, she found herself sliding into boredom. She had met up with Valeria and Asiya the week before, so she knew they planned to stay at the Knight Academy over the weekend. This didn’t leave her with many options to alleviate her boredom. For a moment, she contemplated heading over to the Heaven’s Eye Tower, but that would involve dressing in fancier clothes and otherwise preparing herself to look like the daughter of the Tower Lord, a process she had no interest in undergoing at that time.
After a quarter of an hour, she decided to read for a while. She moseyed around the estate’s library and settled into a chaise lounge in an adjacent room with her chosen book, a tragic romance novel about a pair of knights who were raised together, only to find themselves on the opposite sides of a civil war. The male knight’s side lost the war and the lady knight rebelled against her king after he ordered her lover to be executed. The two were mortally wounded trying to escape and died in each other’s arms.
Elise adored this novel, turning to it and other works by the same author whenever her mother got too pushy in her insistence that Elise find herself a husband or two.
She wasn’t going to spend her time in peace, though, as she had barely been reading for twenty minutes when she heard the sound of approaching footsteps. She couldn’t help but frown because it sounded like at least four or five people were coming.
“Elise, darling! There you are! I’ve been looking for you everywhere!” A woman with hair as bright red as fire walked into the reading room, accompanied by four men with highly varying appearances.
One was tall and lean and possessed a proud and noble bearing; obviously, he was a lower to mid-ranked noble.
The second man seemed to be of common birth; he had a healthy tan and a fit body, but he was of average height and did not enjoy the first man’s commanding presence.
The third man was a foreigner from the Samar Kingdom to the south; bronze skin, staggeringly tall, and built like a millennium-old heartwood tree.
The last man could barely be called a man; he appeared just old enough to be considered an adult. He was short, lithe, and had a round and smooth baby-face. He kept looking around timidly as if he didn’t feel like he belonged in this lavish estate.
“Mother…” replied Elise with little enthusiasm, looking to the stunningly gorgeous red-haired woman who led the group. She gave a slight nod to the noble in the group but completely ignored the other three. She didn’t even get up from her seat, turning her eyes back to her book instead in an obvious attempt to ignore the newcomers.
“Oh my, that’s certainly a warm welcome, isn’t it?” responded the red-haired woman with a smile and good-natured sarcasm. She walked right over to Elise and took a seat directly across the table from her. She sat there and stared at her daughter until Elise was forced to sigh and turn away from her book.
“So, what brings you here?” she asked.
“Do I need a reason to want to spend time with my only daughter?” the red-haired woman responded with a mock-hurt expression that Elise easily saw through.
“No, but I doubt you’d bring your newest toys if you just wanted to spend time with me,” said Elise while briefly glancing at the four men who were respectfully waiting at a nearby cluster of chairs and tables.
“I just want them to get to know you, as well as the estate,” the red-haired woman said with a look of complete sincerity.
“Sure, you do. Trying to persuade me to find some ‘toys’ of my own by parading yours in front of me surely isn’t what you were doing, right?” asked Elise with a sly look. Her mother’s face froze for a split second, then immediately turned into a smile of her own.
“Of course, that wasn’t my intention! But, now that you mentioned finding yourself a toy, I did see that pile of gifts that were sent to you by… what was his name? That son of a Duke from the Western Territories?”
“Tiberias,” answered Elise with a slightly insulted look.
“Right! He’s a handsome enough boy, wealthy family, noble heritage. If you want, I could have him made your first husband in an instant! Or even make him your concubine if you prefer!” The red-haired woman started working herself up out of excitement, so much so that she didn’t even notice Elise sigh and slightly roll her eyes.
“I’ve told you before, Mother, I don’t need your help!”
The red-haired woman frowned. She was about to say something more when a young man entered the room.
He bowed to the red-haired woman with a “My Lady,” then turned to Elise. “Young Lady, that young man you instructed us to watch for has just entered the Tower.”
Elise’s immediate reaction was to smile and jump to her feet, only to freeze when she looked at her extremely pleasantly surprised mother.
“Oh? Who is this young man you’ve been watching? Tell me, I need the details!”
The red-haired woman’s face was nearly split in half with her smile and her eyes were as wide as they could get in expectation. But, she didn’t get anything out of her daughter.
Elise hurried out of the reading room and made for her changing rooms with her mother following close behind. Elise wasn’t nearly as put together as she usually was when she spent time in the Tower, so she needed a few minutes to change and get ready.
‘Can’t do much with my hair, I’m going to have to go with something simple. Same with my clothes… Ahhh, why didn’t I go to the Tower today?!’
She pulled her hair into a simple loose ponytail but left enough to leave her face well-framed. The clothes she wore were exceptionally thin and did little to hide her body despite not showing much skin, so she decided to change into something a little more formal that would only show what she wanted to show. However, most of her formal attire would take too long to change into, so she settled on a loose dark red shirt and tight black pants.
When she came back out of the changing room, she found her mother standing in the hall with bright eyes and an ecstatic smile. The messenger stood just behind her with an apologetic look. Elise sighed, knowing that her mother had just grilled the messenger for information on Leon. She tried to ignore them, but her mother stopped her just as she walked out of the room.
“Hold on, darling, let me look at you!” The red-haired woman examined Elise from top to bottom, then smiled in pride, clearly not caring in the slightest at her daughter’s informal choice of clothes. “You look amazing! You could twist a god around your finger with your looks! That boy you’re interested in will be yours without a doubt!”
“I’m not interested in him…” Elise retorted in a quiet and very unconvincing tone.
“Of course, you’re not. I’m sure you’re this excited to get going because you’re only interested in his money or status,” the red-haired woman said back in an equally unconvincing tone, causing Elise to frown and silently curse the messenger for bringing her this news while her mother was present. “Just remember, my dear, it is entirely in your own power to take anyone you want! You only need to be confident, be bold, and they’ll be putty in your hands!”
Elise nodded to hurry things along, but she thought to herself, ‘I already tried being confident and bold! It only makes him lock up!’
Finally, she managed to extricate herself from her mother and hurried to the Heaven’s Eye Tower. The estate was just behind the Tower, so she only had to quickly walk through a magnificent garden and she had arrived.
When she pushed the door open and entered the lounge, she naturally drew the gazes of men and women alike. However, despite many of those who suddenly had their eyes glued to her being high nobles and obscenely wealthy merchants, Elise didn’t spare her admirers a single glance. Her eyes swept through the entire lounge until she found the familiar silhouette of Leon at a table happily digging into the special meal on the day’s menu: lightly cooked duck with a side of vegetable stew. The meal came with a heavenly aroma that was undoubtedly the reason why Leon had decided to eat before continuing with his business.
As Elise made her way over to his table, he paused for a moment after hearing the commotion but decided to ignore it and proceed with his meal. Several seconds later, Elise wrapped her arms around his neck in a brief but intimate hug that caused many of the watching nobles to scowl and emit a few flashes of killing intent directed at Leon.
“It’s good to see you, Young Lord!” she whispered into his ear.
Although the red-haired woman left the estate after Elise did, she arrived at the Tower first. She was, of course, the Tower Lord in charge of not only Heaven’s Eye operations in the capital but also in the entire kingdom. It was a position that demanded an individual with exceptional magical strength, and she did not disappoint.
In addition, she was so strong that the wards that normally blocked magical senses had absolutely no effect on her, so she was able to watch Elise enter the lounge and make her way over to Leon without delay. Her brother—Ajax, the Tower Lord in Teira—could do similar, but he was only strong enough to see auras through the walls and floors, not appearances.
She very carefully observed Leon. Everything from the strength and stability of his third-tier aura to his table manners was seen by the red-haired woman, and she wasn’t particularly impressed. She wasn’t disappointed, either, but she couldn’t help but feel that Elise could definitely do better.
For instance, Tiberias, who had been unambiguously trying to court Elise by sending gifts and invitations to parties and small get-togethers, was from an incredibly powerful and wealthy family and was quite magically talented as well. He was even better looking—at least in the red-haired woman’s eyes.
But, whenever she saw her daughter around Tiberias, or any other strong, handsome, and rich nobleman, Elise could barely stand to be around them for more than an hour. She certainly didn’t smile as genuinely with them as she did with Leon.
Suddenly, she felt a pair of arms wrap around her waist from behind, and she heard a familiar voice softly speak into her ear.
“Well, what do you think about that boy?”
She couldn’t help but smile and lean back into the arms of her first husband, a man who was now in charge of all the Heaven’s Eye guards in the city.
“All of you, get out,” she commanded, looking at the servants and the four men who had been following her the entire day. They all respectfully bowed and made to leave, though the nobleman in the group slightly frowned and hesitated before doing so.
“I don’t think that one likes me very much,” said her first husband when the nobleman finally left the room.
“Don’t worry about him, I’ll fix his attitude later,” responded the red-haired woman with a smile.
“Good. I’d hate to have to break one of your playthings. Again.” The man chuckled a little morbidly and smiled with something that resembled anticipation, almost as if he wanted that nobleman to try and attack him so he had the excuse to cut him down.
The red-haired woman turned around in his arms and gave him a coquettish smile. “Don’t you dare break my new toys,” she said playfully.
“Speaking of toys…” he reminded her.
The two turned their attention away from each other and back to Leon, who the man could see through a magical light projection he’d called up. This sort of magical engineering was extremely complex, so much so that only the Heaven’s Eye Guild and the Four Empires in the south had the knowledge and techniques to utilize it.
“I suppose he’s adequate, at least compared to the nobles this far north,” said the red-haired woman.
“Only ‘adequate’, hmm?” the man replied teasingly.
The red-haired woman narrowed her eyes in suspicion. “Do you know something I don’t?”
“Maybe I do…” he replied.
“Jordan…” she warned.
Jordan only lasted a few moments under her fiery gaze before spilling the beans. “Lord Ajax contacted me with a report on a young man, the only man in fact that Elise showed much of an interest in back in Teira. He’s called Leon Ursus and carries a gold card.”
“A gold card?” the red-haired woman asked in disbelief, easily guessing what her brother didn’t put in the message.
“Yep. Lord Ajax didn’t come out and say it, but I suspect that this boy is probably the son of Artorias Raime. As I recall, he and his wife named their kid Leon as well, though they never did get him registered here before the incident at their home. Of course, I don’t have any proof, but…”
“A son of House Raime…”
Jordan leaned in to whisper into her ear. “Given that family’s history, I’d say that Elise chose well.”
“You may be right,” the red-haired woman agreed with a smile, after several more moments of thought. “But, she doesn’t really seem to be giving it her all to make him hers…”
Jordan turned his brilliant green eyes back to the light projection. Indeed, Elise wasn’t being nearly as forward and intimate with Leon as she had in their previous encounter, let alone their first meeting back in Teira.
“You know, Emilie, being so forward and boldly seductive doesn’t work on everyone, despite what you’ve taught her…” he said slightly admonishingly.
Emilie turned to stare at him with a sadistic smile. “And what do you mean by that?”
“I’ve been watching him since he entered the Tower. My first impression of the boy is that he isn’t too fond of contact with other people, physical or otherwise. If our daughter were to follow your teachings, I think it would drive that boy away.”
“You’ve been watching him for what, ten minutes?”
“That doesn’t matter, I’m usually right about these things and you know it! Besides, it would behoove us to keep his ancestors in mind if we have to intervene for any reason. You haven’t forgotten the results of your own seduction attempt with Archduke Kyros, have you?” Jordan gave Emilie a cheeky smile.
A frown appeared on Emilie’s gorgeous face when she remembered being turned down by Leon’s grandfather. She had never been rejected before, especially not when using seduction tactics that would put what she taught Elise to shame, but she was turned down after she tried every trick in the book to tempt the late Archduke into becoming one of her husbands. Unfortunately for her, no matter how shamelessly she threw her body at him, Archduke Kyros adamantly refused to join a harem, preferring instead to have a harem of his own as a statement of his nobility.
Emilie’s frown lessened a little. But just as Jordan was about to relax, she pushed him back into a nearby chair and gave him a vicious smile.
“You’re definitely going to pay for reminding me of that particular failure…”
“Am I?” asked Jordan with a defiant smile. “Well bring it on, my love, I’m looking forward to it…”
Emilie climbed onto his lap and began pulling Jordan’s clothes off as fast as she could. Jordan tried to do likewise to her, but she ended up tying his hands to the chair with silk ropes she pulled out of her soul realm. Jordan struggled a little, trying to take the initiative, but Emilie just continued smiling at him and tied him down tighter.
In the end, she had to physically tear off some of his clothes after tying him down, after which she ‘made him pay’ for several hours.
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