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1518-chapter-69

The attire was splendid but not overly so.

Sparkling accessories adorned everyone, even Weed, who had joined them, was similarly dressed up. What were they all showing off? It occurred to Hana that Weed always maintained a glamorous yet tidy appearance in front of her.

Hana felt somewhat awkward.

It seemed she was the only one dressed somewhat casually here. Aside from a necklace Weed had put on her, she had no simple accessories like bracelets or earrings.

While she was self-consciously adjusting her appearance, the merry group stood up almost in unison as soon as they noticed Weed’s presence. They looked as if they were about to kneel, but Weed gestured with his hand for them not to.

Hana, surprised by this, just watched as Weed simply smiled.

“Wow, sister, sister!”

Princess Inis, Calden’s sister, noticed Hana and brightened up immediately.

Inis approached with a bounce, bowing her head in greeting. It was more of a gesture of respect than a simple hello, but the atmosphere was lighter than that formal gesture suggested. Perhaps also due to the surrounding scenery.

It was a joyful gathering in the forest.

A giant table made of living trees and vine tendrils, chairs piled up with spring flowers and greenery, sweet-scented alcohol and fresh fruits and pastries from afar, and the melodious sounds of birds like musical instruments.

Caught up in the festive atmosphere, Hana hummed to herself before asking,

“What’s all this about? You’re really leaving right away?”

“Oh, yes! Haha, that’s true, but I got so excited I couldn’t help myself. The Ligna have given their permission, too.”

“Ah, I see.”

It made sense. She remembered something Inis had said during their time in the cave about how she wanted to cry from joy, how she had never been able to host a banquet due to her prematurely aged appearance.

Being royalty and yet never having the luxury to indulge in such extravagances must have been hard at her young age.

Yet, she seemed to have grown up quite cheerful.

Inis’s hair, once dull and gray like mouse fur, was now neatly braided. She wore a voluminous dress, presumably to cover her aged body, made from fabric that wasn’t very see-through.

It might still be spring, but summer was approaching, and the dress covering her from neck to toe might be too warm. Despite looking a bit stifled, she appeared lovely. Her inner vitality shone through her body.

Her hair ornaments were made of wood berries, leaves, and vines, similar to those Hana had received from priests before. Dangling red berries complemented her fiery red eyes beautifully. However, the style of the ornament was subtly different from what Hana had worn before.

“Really beautiful.”

“Do you really think so? Thank you! You look beautiful too, sister.”

Inis seemed genuinely happy, even if it was just outside. She was basking in the youthfulness she regained from drinking Hana’s blood.

Princess Inis seemed determined to make up for the time she couldn’t adorn herself, dressing with all her might. She deserved it.

The royal siblings, Calden and Inis, were quite beautiful. And wasn’t she in the prime of her youth?

Unlike ordinary human visitors, Calden and Inis were treated as esteemed guests here, and it would have been hard to pass up such an opportunity. So, it made sense for them to take a break and host a feast, especially since the priests also enjoyed such entertainment.

‘But I heard the kingdom is far away. Can they dally like this?’

Hana tilted her head. The atmosphere felt odd. Almost as if they were busily enjoying themselves minutes before an important meeting was about to start, they missed something significant.

“Shouldn’t you be preparing to return to the kingdom early?”

“Oh, haha, it’s fine. We have the Wand of Light. It actually helped us get here safely as well. And to miss out on a party here would be a real pity, right?”

“Uh… really?”

“Yes. Why don’t you join in the fun too? That outfit, on such a splendid day? That’s just not right! But won’t you hang out with me anyway?”

Inis smiled brightly, extending a gloved hand elegantly. Was it really okay to procrastinate? Hana hesitated for a moment, considering whether to take her hand.

“Inis.”

While Hana hesitated, Calden approached and gracefully took Inis’s hand from her, giving a bow. Hana returned the gesture to Calden but realized a moment too late that he was actually greeting Weed, not her. She turned around to find Weed with an uncharacteristically cool expression.

Calden smiled awkwardly.

“We really should be heading back soon, but my sister insists on staying longer.”

His tone was not the usual elder-like. It seemed he was uncomfortable and was carefully filtering his words in front of Weed,

“Ah, I’d love to stay longer. My brother keeps urging me to leave… But I’m really enjoying myself. It’s been a long time since I’ve felt this happy.”

“Inis.”

Inis sighed with slight annoyance.

“Ah, what’s the rush anyway?”

“We could hold many feasts back at the kingdom.”

“But we have the Wand of Light.”

“Still, it’ll take five days to get there.”

“I like it here. Nobody seems to mind if we stay. Can’t we stay a bit longer?”

“That’s quite the situation.”

Calden couldn’t hide his dilemma. He glanced back and forth between Hana and Weed, wondering what to do.

“Well, I’m going to enjoy myself a bit more. Call me before you leave.”

Perhaps unable to bear the awkward atmosphere or maybe too eager to waste not a single moment, Inis quickly ran back to the priests. She didn’t seem openly upset. In fact, she appeared too caught up in her enjoyment to care.

“I apologize. She’s quite a handful. Please understand, despite how she looks, she’s still very much a child at heart…”

Calden seemed genuinely troubled as he spoke.

Hana watched Inis’s retreating figure a little longer, her lively movements and joyful laughter. The festive atmosphere with the priests. Something about Inis in that moment caught her attention even more.

What should she say? What thoughts were crossing her mind?

She felt a strange sense of deja vu, but no matter how much she pondered, she couldn’t pinpoint what it was. Once her attention was captured, it wasn’t easy to let go.

Hana spoke simply.

“Inis seems really cheerful.”

“Yes, it’s fortunate. But I’m concerned because she shouldn’t have this much energy given her condition.”

“Isn’t she always like this?”

“Her appearance has improved, but her health remains the same. It’s surprising where she gets this energy from.”

“Hmm…”

As they talked, they turned our heads. Laughter mingled with a gentle breeze, carried over from a distance.

The priests were talkative. They always had a story to share with Hana, gently drawing her into conversations. It seemed they behaved similarly with Inis. They would chat, burst into laughter, sip tea, and laugh again without covering their mouths, and even while munching on sweet fruits, they continued to enjoy themselves.

She couldn’t take my eyes off the scene.

Why was she so bothered? She couldn’t understand. Nonetheless, despite the suddenness of these questions, she felt a compelling need for answers.

Reflecting on it, she had felt peculiar ever since she saw Inis.

When she greeted Hana in her aged appearance, dressed beautifully, when she clasped Hana’s hand with her wrinkled fingers, when she said her greatest wish was to throw a grand party and dance, and when she shyly expressed her gratitude.

Somehow, Hana kept getting worried.

 

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