"Do not mind what other people think of you. Just prove yourself and let the results of your hard work shut their mouths."
This was an advice from experienced people, In Ha said inwardly.
Howard's eyes were still on the scene before him. His smile did not faltered. Lilian's words seemed to warm his heart. The words that he had been waiting finally came from unexpected people. It was not that long, but it can cover up an old wounds that were still sore until now.
Lilian glanced at the man before staring at the same thing. An heir, who in the future will be given power allows himself to be placed at the bottom. People who knew him would ridicule and criticize him. How powerless he is.
"Build your own strength with the people you choose and trust. Then the remaining people will have no choice but to follow you."
Sometimes being in the lowest position given you an advantage to observe what's on the top. See where there were hole and use them to climb up. If he could grab that opportunity, she was sure this guy could make a history.
"Yes, you're right." Slowly, his gaze turned to the woman beside him.
Her golden brown hair swayed softly. A few fell into Lilian's face, but the woman didn't care. The beautiful background makes a lovely picture with her figure in it. It was as if they were one perfect whole painting.
Howard would remember this very day well.
"Whether I make it or not, if one day you need my help, just say so." Howard said sincerely. It was the first time someone cheered him on and he appreciated this more than anything.
"And I'm promise, if I succeed, Lesnerg will be the first family to have my support." He said earnestly.
"I appreciate it and thanking you for that, Young Duke."
Lilian and Howard turned their heads. Arthur was not far from them. Howard leaned over, his ears flushed, not expecting his captain to hear what he said.
"Are you done?" Lilian pretended not to notice Howard's change.
"Yes. We have to go back now." Arthur looked back at Howard. He too, should be in the same position as Arthur, but look where he is? Far from home and in a remote place. But he could see this person was determined. Knowing Howard's status, Arthur received a report from his commander that this man never complained at all, to him or to his colleagues. He kept an eye for anyone who could pose a threat to Lesnerg.
Because Hunt and Lesnerg were in opposite factions.
Hearing this young duke's promise to his sister, made him surprised and dumbfounded.
Howard knew he wasn't needed here and prepared to leave. "Please looking forward for my future." He said before leaving the Lesnergs.
They also came down after Howard was nowhere to be seen.
"Duchess Hunt doesn't sound bad." Arthur said casually. He still didn't forget it, apparently.
"I prefer Duchess Lesnerg, though."
He saw Lilian grinned widely.
With a flat face, he said, "Unfotunately that's imposibble."
"No it's not." She sneaked her hand on his arm. "What if I say I'm not your sister?"
"Don't talk nonsense!"
Lilian giggled. "Come on brother, let's play 'ifs.' If we're not relate by blood you think it's possible? If my body is Lilian's body but not my soul, how about it? No, no. Let me change my question! If you see me as just an ordinary woman, are you interested??"
"Stop watching dramas and start working."
"No, no. I change the question again. Can you fall in love?"
Arthur didn't comment and Lilian kept talking all the way down.
They didn't realize their conversation was too natural. If they paid just a little attention, maybe they would know something was wrong.
They immediately returned while the sun was still peeking out from behind the night door. She never rode in the dark, so for safety, she would rode with Ian. But Lilian refused. She chose Arthur, thus Arthur had no other choice but to comply.
Lilian has her own agenda, she still wants to tease Arthur. This 'brother' was not as cold as he looks. Although as long as she spoke, Arthur only responded to one or two words, that was enough. She had to tighten their relationship before her father brought up about his engagement which the result of the incident. Apart from that, she had the opportunity to grope at his hard torso.
They were only halfway to the Capital when the moon began to emerge and replace the sun.
"Hey, Arthur, what if-"
Lilian's voice was cut by a loud shout.
Lilian heard shrieked of the other horses and everything was passing quickly.
Arthur realized too late when he saw their torch bearers in front of them fell first. He pulled on the reins suddenly, trying to avoid a collision in front of him.
The horse they were riding on, lifted both front legs before twisting its body and falling forward. As the horse raised its back high, she lost her grip on Arthur and was flung forward.
The next thing she knew, someone enveloped her body before they plunged freely down the hillside.
"Young Masterrr !!!! Miladyy !!!!" Ian stopped his horse in time and stared in horror where his two masters had fallen.
Their bodies continued to slide downwards and crash into everything that was coming their way.
Lilian closed her eyes with hands were beside her head. The wind and the sound of broken branches accompanied her down to the bottom. She found herself floating for a few seconds in the air before feeling her heart drop to the bottom of her stomach.
Arthur tried to grab whatever they passed but nothing could hold the weight of the two of them. He stopped extending his arms and hugged Lilian tightly when he heard the sound of the water getting closer.
Lilian struggled to get out of the water. Her hands and feet kicked and reached the surface, trying to stabilize her body which was carried away by the swift river current.
For a moment she heard Arthur say 'water' and readied herself.
The cold night water pierced her every bone. She looked for a way to get out of this stream and get some air. Her breath was short. Her body was washed away. She tried to keep herself awake and not be dragged further along. She let out a suprise sound as someone wrapped an arm around her shoulder and pulled her aside.
Lilian lay down and tried to breath. If it weren't for the current situation, this view of the night sky would have been a very beautiful sight.
She turned to face Arthur who was lying on his stomach next to her, also trying to catch his breath. Her head throbbed a little but she forced herself to sit up. She touched Arthur's shoulder. At first she wanted to ask if he was okay, of course the question was ridiculous. The two of them were not in a 'okay' condition.
"Are you hurt?"
"... No. You?"
"No, thanks to you."
She only felt the heat of the friction fall which replaced by the chill of the autumn waters in flash. None of her bones were broken or bleeding. Compared to her, it might be Arthur who was injured, but looking at his posture, nothing had changed, only his clothes were torn into small pieces, besides that he looked fine. The night was too dark and she couldn't see properly.
Arthur propped himself up and turned his body, leaning against the stone wall behind him. He studied his surroundings. Even though in the dark night only the moon and stars were lit, his vision was functioning properly. The trees they passed were far above. Their current position was no better.
The two of them were on the bank of a river that was not even one meter wide.
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