Ariel quickly nodded her head and promptly gave her answer.
“Yes. I’m fine.”
In response to the short answer, Skylar let out a long breath and closed his eyes.
He had been waiting for those words.
Relief washed over him like a tidal wave in the midst of the blaze. Similarly, his mind, which had been running wild and ignoring my surroundings, finally returned. His battered body and heart belatedly complained of the pain. The aftermath of running five kilometers without stopping was grim, and it felt as if his ribs were broken.
He didn’t know he was able to endure such pain. Leaning against the door frame, Skylar lowered his head. He took a moment to steady his breathing, even mixing in a cough.
“Are you okay?”
Ariel’s voice was shaking.
He answered only after his labored breathing had subsided a little.
Hearing that, she closed her mouth without asking any more questions. It was evident that he was still tired.
In the meanwhile, as Skylar activated his magic and focused on recovery, his heart, which had been pounding frantically, gradually calmed down. Likewise, the pain in his body, which felt like it was about to break, slowly disappeared as well. Once it was all over, other things caught his eye.
For example, a red-haired man sitting in the parlor of the Count’s residence.
As soon as he spotted the familiar face, his mood soured. The terribly dirty feeling extended to his expression. He scowled and asked bluntly.
“Why are you here? Weren’t you in the South?”
“You’re asking that quickly.”
Lexius, who was also frowning, retorted bluntly as he leaned his upper body against the backrest, emitting an insolent atmosphere. There was nothing aristocratic about the way he perched on the edge of the sofa with his legs arrogantly crossed.
Skyler furrowed his brows.
“Are you still a nobleman?”
“Do you think you’re any better? Before you say anything to me, take a look at yourself first.”
Saying so, Lexius’s golden eyes scanned him from top to bottom with a look of displeasure. Only then did Skylar realize his own appearance. Despite the fact that he hastily tried to tidy up his disheveled hair, it wasn’t easy due to the sweat. In addition, his clothes were also a mess.
A sudden feeling of embarrassment washed over him.
Skylar hesitated in his steps as he was about to enter the parlor. All the disregard for dignity and grace he had displayed in his impulsive run now filled his mind like a panorama. Why did he act like that? Without any sense of dignity…
‘As a member of the imperial family… to show such a disgraceful appearance!’
His face felt like it was boiling with shame, ready to explode. Pushing Lexius aside, he was unable to lift his face because of the gaze from the other side.
It was because Ariel was gazing at him with worried eyes. Her gaze intensified his embarrassment. Even though he had desperately searched for her until just a moment ago, he didn’t want to see her at all now. He wanted to escape into a mousehole, away from her eyes.
However, Ariel moved against the wind of Skylar’s wishes. She approached him and examined him carefully.
“Your Highness, please have a seat first. I’ll call a servant and prepare a towel for you to wipe yourself with.”
As she extended her hand kindly, as if inviting him to come in, he looked up and saw the hand extended towards him.
Their gazes met across the parlor door.
Skylar quickly turned his face away. His eyes, which were shyly avoiding Ariel, eventually fell to the floor.
He firmly ordered with a low, menacing voice.
Ariel reflexively froze in surprise.
“…Yes? But Your Highness, right now…”
“It’s fine. Don’t come next to me, just stay there.”
“Then, at least let me get you a towel…”
“I said forget it!”
Skylar finally raised his voice and shouted.
He tried to act calmly and imposingly, yet his agitated emotions became apparent. Even with a proud appearance, showing such a pathetic sight felt embarrassing, making him feel lacking.
He didn’t want to show this kind of appearance anymore.
“…I’ll ask for someone to bring me a towel myself, so please just stay still.”
He asked quietly in a low voice.
It was a very unfamiliar sight. It was unusual for him, both as a member of the imperial family and as an individual. Ariel’s eyes widened in surprise, and she slowly took a step back. For now, she thought that distancing herself from him was showing him respect.
“Yes, I understand. I apologize for my rudeness.”
It was only when she had created a fair distance that Skylar finally lifted his head. He needed to leave the place for now.