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Episode 86 - Unexpected Bets 4 ‘Ario, servant of Zene’
Two hours after the Great Nobles and the Emperor held an emergency, Lady Aiya was finally executed. Naturally plans to head to Zene the following day too got affected.
After learning of Lady Aiya’s execution, Moniqua chose to stay behind with her husband Levis to support him. Because Levis now had to deal with any situations that may occur within the next few days, Moniqua had to take full charge in matters regardings the Veria family. Going to Zene with her children wasn’t at all an option, but neither was canceling the children’s trip.
One, the culprit was able to move freely in Xenperia. This was clear from the two news incidents, not to mention, being able to evade the securities of the Imperial Palace. And two, they don’t know what is going to happen in the next few days. To guard against any situations that may occur, the children are better off leaving home for now. Reason three… the culprit’s target is the Crown Prince of Xenperia. Or so that’s what the evidence points to.
The Next day
The children were excited to go on a trip to Zene. Well, most of the children were anyway. After getting up at early dawn, the children quickly got dressed and headed towards the Imperial Palace with Moniqua and Levis.
After being thoroughly body searched were they allowed to enter the Imperial Palace. Surprising, there was a second body search before they could head into the Emperor’s audience room. This came as a surprise to the children, although they didn’t question anything. Only Louis, Eugene, and Aedelak felt suspicious. They had an inkling feeling that this might be related to Moniqua and Levis suddenly being ‘held back by work’.
Were the three worried? Yes.
But did they trust that everything will be fine? Yes.
The Veria family was escorted into the Audience room after getting the okay. As soon as they stepped in, their sights were immediately attracted to one guy in white long clothing. This wasn’t a romantic attraction of any sort but was more of an odd sighting of a man wearing a .. dress.
As usual, the audience room was much like a long hallway, still very much intense, and still retained menial furnishings. Like always, the Emperor sat on his throne on top of sets of stairs whilst his subjects stood.
To the bottom left of the stairs stood Irvin Graeme, Adele Graeme, and Amos Rodriguez. To the right stood Clyde Akler, Earnest Marleigh, and the Emperor two Eunuch. In between was the odd guy in Greece-white clothing. He was currently being sandwiched between the Great Nobles and the Eunuch.
After walking into the room did the Veria family finally notice Ron Graeme standing by the huge glass window with minimal - zero presence. He was staring at the ceiling, looking incredibly bored.
Ignoring him, the Veria family walked until they stopped in front of the set of stairs where the Emperor sat. After 5 minutes of polite greetings and pleasantries with the Emperor could they finally go face to face with the guide from Zene.
Black silky bobbed hair, paper-pale skin, tall nose bridge, thin sparkly lips, and cute brown freckles around his nose. -First of all, this guy looked like the frail type. One who has never touched a sword, or fought with his fists. You could even say that Euria, the cutest baby in the world looked manlier than the Greece-looking guy himself.
Although different from Xenperia’s manly men, this frail type was the type that all women of all ethnicity would fall in love with.
“Good day, beautiful friends of Xenperia. My name is Ario, an aide of the King.” Already, this guy’s voice sounded more feminine than Eugene herself.
“I have been instructed by the King of Zene to guide you to Zene, as well as guide you around Zene. I am very blessed and honored to be your guide for the next six days. Seven, including today. Very pleased to meet you, and if you have questions at all, please feel free to ask,” Ario spoke with a lovely melancholy voice; A voice that sounded pleasant to one's ears.
In queue, Levis automatically answered.
“Very pleased to meet you, Sir Ario. I am the lord of Veria, Levis Veria.” Levis’s voice resonated deeper than usual, almost bringing laughter to the Great Nobles, and brought confusion to his children.
‘Jealous.’ Irvin Graeme covered a wide grin with his paper fan.
‘Incredibly Jealous.’ So did Adele Graeme.
‘I knew it.’ The Emperor slightly shook his head.
Frail men were Moniqua’s type. Everyone in the academy knew because she announced it whilst publicly rejecting Levis’s confession back in the days.
‘Ah... Another story for another day..’ Clyde Akler smiled.
“This is ‘MY WIFE’ Moniqua and our ‘FIVE’ children,” Levis emphasized, making the slightly uncomfortable poor guide blink in confusion.
“Louis, Ramon, Aernest, Eugeneia, Euria are my ‘FIVE’ children born by ‘love’ from my beautiful ‘wife’ who ‘loves me with her whole heart’ and I. The two girls by Eugeneia and Euria are considered family and are members of the Veria family.” Slightly exhaling in relief, he ended with. “Very pleased to meet you and please take good care of my family.” Levis smiled.
“My pleasure.” Ario gave a smile back, his confusion no longer visible on his face.
“......” Eugene watched this scene unfold in a slight… embarrassment. Glancing at Louis and Moniqua with the corner of her eyes, she could feel that they too were feeling the same way.
Escaping quickly to the side with the help of Louis, Eugene gave out a big sigh. ‘Now that was… something.’ She shook her head. Never will she understand this feeling, nor does she want to understand it.
Crown Prince Ren was nowhere to be seen, oddly enough. The children didn’t know what was happening, so not seeing one bit of the Crown Prince’s shadow was odd. The Empress too was nowhere to be seen.
‘Something must’ve happened in the Imperial Palace.’ Eugene quietly thought. Everything about today is odd. If something did happen to the Imperial Palace, Moniqua and Levis staying back wouldn’t be weird.
“This Zene guide is very famous.” Ron Graeme suddenly whispered. His whispers, loud enough for Louis, Ramon, Aernest, Eugene, Euria, Aedelak, and Aeselak to hear but not audible enough for the adults to catch on
“Why is that brother Ron?” Ramon whispered back, scooting closer to the man in question.
“He’s very famous for his instrumental skills as well as building Zene’s first public music academy. This academy is attended by Zene’s commoners and nobles and produced many famous musicians who play around the world. His academy idea was first rejected by Zene’s Emperor and aristocrats but after many attempts of persuasion did the Emperor finally allow the academy to be built. After his success, he was invited to become the Emperor’s aide.”
“Wow…” Ramon speechlessly wowed the guide. ‘Such an amazing man will be their guide!’ He couldn’t help but feel mad respect for Ario.
“However, there is one bad thing about him.” Ron Graeme suddenly sighed.
“What is it brother Ron?” Aernest couldn’t help but chime in.
Everyone too was curious.
“Well...” Ron Graeme crossed his palms together. Continuing,
“In Zene, not getting married before 15 is looked down upon. I guess it's the same as Xenperia, but Zene has it worse. People as young as 15 are supposed to already be married. Any later is frowned upon.” Ron Graeme glanced at Ario.
“Sir Ario is 26 and unmarried. The same age as our parents. So anyway, this is the only minus point in his life… Is what my father said that the people of Zene say.” Ron Graeme pursed his lips.
“.......” The seven children stared at Ron Graeme blankly.
‘So... Ario has no bad points. Clean. No women, very pure. An innocent soul, servant of Zene.’ -Where’s the bad point? Eugene shook her head in disagreement with Ron Graeme’s words.
Carefully inspecting this so-good Ario guy, Eugene analyzed him from head to toe. From Euria’s short romance picture book that depicts a normal romance between a Xenperian couple, she could tell that beautiful men are not the types Xenperian women would marry. They would date beautiful men, but not marry. They would fall in love, but would not lean towards, for food and shelter.
Men like Levis, the Emperor, Earnest, Irvin, and Clyde are more popular with Xenperian women. They are beautifully handsome but mostly manly. Amos Rodriguez, unfortunately, smiles too much, 24/7 possibly, to be considered sexy. Although if you ignored his face, he would automatically become the most wanted of all men. Big, Macho hotness.
Eugene only looked away once Ario started shifting uncomfortable and turned behind... Presumably, because she stared too much.
Well, people of this time and age aren’t supposed to stare at someone for more than 10 seconds. This is especially true for females, according to her etiquette class. -‘You must not look at the opposite gender for long.’
Because of her habit of keeping eye contact with people when she talked, she was scolded and punished one day in class when Ramon barged in out of nowhere and wanted to join. She, of course, rolled her eyes in her mind and continued her habit of keeping eye contact with people. But naturally, if a situation arrives where she meets a stranger, she will make sure to put her eyes away.
Minus the military soldiers.
After the Ario guy turned around to continue his conversation with the Great Nobles and the Emperor, did Eugene level her gaze back to the wall opposite of her.
‘Keeping oneself anonymous sure is difficult..’ She sighed.
Noticing two hard stares, she turned around and faced Louis’s and Aernest’s inquiring gazes.
“....... what..” Eugene asked, shifting her eyes uncomfortable in the process.
They were staring at her... Hard.
“... Is he that handsome sister?” Aernest asked, monotoned.
“Don’t stare at men,” Louis ordered, monotoned.
Eugene blinked. ‘Are they thinking that I…’ Eugene gulped.
“No. Not my type. Don’t over-analyze things.” Eugene replied, slightly annoyed. Who do they think she was? She’s an actress for goodness sake. Cross that. Former actress. But still! Do they think pretty men can make her give in to temptation?!?
“You have a type?” Louis’s eyebrows raised, his voice sounded light as if mocking her.
As soon as he said that, all the children glanced at her in shock and curiosity. Euria of course remained innocent and unbothered.
Eugene’s lips twitched. “Doesn’t everyone have a type?” She calmly replied. ‘Is he mocking me for not caring about humans?’
“...What’s your type?” Ron Graeme curiously asked. Never in his whole world did he think that today’s conversation would include this topic. Types.
“.... Well…” Eugene hesitated. How was she going to reply? She didn’t have a type at all!
‘I guess... The opposite of Ario? The not weak type?’ Eugene squinted her brows in head pain. Her mind was trying to produce a type, or at least look for a type closest to her non-existent preference.
“Well?” Ron Graeme raised his voice, slightly scaring Eugene into blurting out the worst person she could ever name. “LIKE LOUI..” Louis. Eugene managed to stop. Her teeth sinking deep into her lips to stop herself from committing the worst mistake of her 28 years of living.
Error. SYSTEM ERROR! DAMMIT!
“........” Everyone went silent.
“.....” Everyone gulped.
Louis looked at Eugene, disgust showing on his face.
‘FCKKKKKK’ Eugene cussed for the first time in her 28 years of living.
‘So… Eugeneia/Miss has a brother complex?’ Ron Graeme, Aedelak, and Aeselak thought in unison.
The awkward situation confused Aernest. Not only that but, his sister picking Louis as her type. Being too young to comprehend, Aernest questioned Eugene. “Sister. You can’t marry your own brother.” Aernest shook his head at his young sister who didn’t know better.
With her whole face twitching in pain, Eugene replied with her teeth gritted. “I. Know. I. Meant. Someone. Not. Weak.” Eugene, never in her life wanted so much as to do one thing.
And that was to dropkick Aernest.
“Pheww!!” Aernest breathed out in relief. Turning towards Louis, he curiously asked.
“What about you Eldest brother? What’s your type brother?” He innocently smiled at Louis.
“Huh..?” Louis showed a surprised look on his face, before returning to his famous composed look.
Thinking for a while, he replied with a slight chuckle to his tone.
“Someone not weak.” Repeating Eugene’s words.
“Ohhh!” Aernest nodded in acknowledgment!
Curious, Aernest began to interrogate every one of their types.
“Someone who’s adventurous!” Ron Graeme pumped his fists in excitement!
“Someone like my oldest sister!!” Euria giggled!
“A woman.” Ramon's ears turned red. His reply caused everyone to nod their head, understanding Ramon’s pains.
“Umm… I don’t know?” Aeselak fumbled with her fingers, her whole face beet red.
Aedelak contemplated for a whole five minutes before replying with all seriousness.
“Someone weak.” She said with determination.
“.... Huh?” Everyone looked at her with their mouths gaped.
“Someone weak? Not strong?” Eugene wanted to confirm Aedelak’s nonsense.
“Yes! If it’s someone weak, they will die an early death. Only then can I go back to taking care of young miss!” Aedelak replied nonchalantly. Her smile reached up to her eyes, scaring everyone out of their wits.
“......” And so the romance corner ended there.
Three humongous carriages were prepared under the orders of the Emperor. One carriage was used to fill in all their luggage. This includes clothes, food, and training equipment. The second carriage was prepared for the adults, Levis, Moniqua, and Ario. However, because of the current situation in Xenperia, Ario had the 2nd carriage all to himself. The third carriage naturally belonged to the Paladins. Duke Marleigh and Duke Rodriguez choose to direct the carriages.
So how did Eugene end up losing her comfortable seating, and forced to become the assistant of Duke Marleigh?
Well, this was a bet that was arranged by the Paladin and mainly involved Euria. -Eugene had no say in this whatsoever.
The bet was to see what Euria would choose. A bowl filled with delicious cakes and cookies, or Eugene, her dearest sister.
Eugene was originally confident, and immediately agreed. Who would have thought that Euria was so deprived of sweets that she forgot about her ‘dearest sister’ within one second of setting her sights on the bowl of snacks.
To say that Eugene didn’t feel offended was not true. She was flipping OFFENDED ALRIGHT?!?
Anyways after the embarrassment of her ungrateful twin roommate abandoning her, she dutifully sat beside Duke Marleigh without hesitation as well. And no matter how many times Euria shouted her apology, Eugene’s ears remained closed.
Waving goodbye to Levis and Moniqua, Eugene watched as two horses dutifully drove her carriage out of the Imperial grounds and into the public streets.
Her eyes widened tremendously after coming out of the Imperial grounds!
‘What the asdfghjkl!!!’ Eugene almost cussed, again!!
“WOOOOOOO!!!” Loud cheers abrupted from all sides of the streets as soon as the Imperial carriages appeared!
In her view, lines of crowds, No! All citizens living in the capital of Xenperia mass gathered on the streets! They were shouting a lot of inaudible words, but one thing she caught on was that they were here to watch them leave the capital!
This view was very familiar to when she would walk down the red carpet every year for the movie/drama awards! Upon the citizens seeing the small figure of Eugene, they screamed and shouted even louder!
In unison, they shouted! Miss/Lady Eugeneia! Miss/Lady Euria!!
‘... What the..’ Eugene speechless gape. Portraits of Euria and her were being held by multiple people standing in a straight line.
“How’d they get that!!!” Eugene felt chills! This was like a deja vu!!!
Duke Marliegh watched as Eugene opened and closed her mouth for a minute straight before replying. “It’s your only portrait with your younger sister available to the public. This portrait was released when you were born and distributed to the whole country. Even my soldiers have it sitting at their desks. They look up to you. ” He nonchalantly shrugged.
“Oh... I don’t have it btw.” He commented.
‘Look up to me? I’ve never even done anything!!’ Yet. Eugene’s eyebrows scrunched, ignoring Duke Marleigh's comment.
“Wave at them if you want.” He pointed to the crowd.
Without hesitation, Eugene did as told. This time, some citizens fainted on spot from Eugene returning their affections.
“....” Eugene blinked from more people fainting and slowly sealed her dangerous hands away.
As they reached the end of the capital, only old grandmothers and grandfathers remained to cheer for them. Eugene watched as elderlies became smaller and smaller until they were no longer recognizable as fellow humans.
‘Zene, here I come!’ Eugene gazed at the blue sky in peace, not knowing that the trip to Zene would be a catalyst for Euria’s change in personality.
(February - September 2020)
(September 2020 - First half of 2021)