Ariana, not noticing their daze, spoke up, “Sister-in-law, I will come back to play with you some other day.” She ran towards Rydon and held his hand.
Rydon pushed away his thoughts as he looked down and smiled at her. He then looked up at Selena and gave her a small smile.
Selena was in a daze when she saw Rydon smiling at her. No one has ever given her that genuine smile other than Damian. She felt strangely glad.
She stood there and watched Rydon and Ariana leave the lawn. She then turned around to intently stare at the plants.
Rydon told Ariana to sit inside the cart when they got out of the Palace. Ariana refused to get inside the cart and pleaded Rydon to allow her to ride the horse with him. He gave in and let her sit in front of him on the horse.
As soon as she sat on the horse, Rydon and Nairon left for the Royal Palace.
Halfway through the ride, Rydon asked, “What was that about, Ariana?”
Ariana asked in confusion, “What are you talking about, Brother Rydon?”
Rydon looked down at her head and said, “You were being out of your character. You saw her for the first time yesterday, but you were being too close and trust her so much already. Moreover, what made you so respectful and obedient towards her?”
Ariana looked above to see Rydon’s face and said, “You are right, Brother Rydon. I saw Sister-in-law for the first time yesterday, and I felt something strange when I saw her. I did not think much about it and went to my room. I could not sleep for a long time and I was missing Mother. I remembered the last time I saw her, and suddenly I was reminded of what she used to tell me since I was 4.”
Rydon looked up straight ahead and rode the horse while listening to her.
Nairon, who has been listening to their conversation silently, suddenly thought of something. He then repeated what their Mother used to tell Ariana often, in a monotonous tone, “Remember, you will meet a beautiful lady. When you see her, you will give her your utmost respect and be obedient to her.”
Ariana turned to the side to see Nairon and smiled, “Yes!” Then she looked straight ahead and said, “When I asked Mother how will I know who the beautiful lady is, she said…”
Nairon interrupted and answered in a monotonous tone, “You will know her when you meet her.” He then asked Ariana, “How do you know Sister-in-law is the beautiful lady that our Mother mentioned?”
Ariana looked at him and shrugged as she said, “I do not know.” She looked ahead for a few moments before saying, “I did not know if she is the beautiful lady or not, but when I saw her this morning, I felt something strange. It was the same feeling I had yesterday, just a bit stronger. When I went near her, I instinctively greeted her with my utmost respect and was feeling the urge to be obedient to her.”
Nairon frowned slightly and asked Ariana, “So, were you close to Sister-in-law to understand why you feel the way you felt?”
Ariana shook her head and said, “I did not have any ulterior motives when I was with her. I just wanted to be with her as much as I can, almost feeling that I want to be with her forever.”
Rydon said, while looking straight ahead, “You were genuinely happy there.”
Ariana looked straight ahead and said in a low voice, but it was still audible to both Rydon and Nairon, “It was like I was being myself. I was not pretending or putting on a facade, the way I put in front of everyone at the Royal Palace and official events.” She gasped, “My true nature was brought out involuntarily.”
Ariana then looked above and asked, “Do you know why Mother used to repeat it until it is etched into my memory? Do you know why this is happening, Brother Rydon?”
Rydon calmly said, “I do not know. But whatever Mother has said, remember to follow it. Do not question her decisions.”
Ariana nodded and asked, “When will I be able to see Mother again?”
Rydon patted her head and said, “Mother will come when needed.”
Rydon was lost in thoughts, but he knew better than to question his mother’s decisions.
Nairon suddenly said, “Brother Rydon, I do not remember seeing Sister-in-law before but I do not know why, something about her seems familiar.”
Rydon turned to look at Nairon and smiled faintly.
“Have I met her before?” asked Nairon. He paused for a moment and said, “I must be dreaming. How could I have met her?”
Rydon’s face turned glum.
Nairon then said, “She is just another one of Minister Marco’s pawns.”
Rydon was furious when he heard Nairon. He turned to Nairon and said sternly, with contained anger, “Nairon, remember, you will not say that about her ever again.”
Nairon was astounded when he saw Rydon being so angry at him. Rydon is stern with him when something is important, but he never once got angry at any of his siblings. Ariana was astounded at Rydon’s voice too.
Soon, they reached the Royal Palace.
Royal Palace, Ryūthor Kingdom
Rydon told Nairon and Ariana to go to their rooms and headed elsewhere.
He headed straight to the King’s study room. He inquired the Palace Guards on the King’s whereabouts and entered the study room after confirming with the guards.
“Father,” greeted Rydon as he knelt and bowed in front of the King.
The King was surprised to see Rydon taking the initiative to meet him. Rydon rarely ever meets the King to talk about any personal matter, and almost his every visit would be a discussion on official matters.
“What has brought you here, Rydon?” asked the King in surprise.
“I came to learn about Damian’s proposal,” Rydon answered at once, being straight to the point.
The King was slightly surprised and asked, “Why? What happened that makes you want to know about it? What does it matter now?” He then asked in a mocking tone, “Already regretting marrying her?”
“I want to know what Damian did to convince you to accept the proposal. You would never accept a marriage proposal without benefits, no matter what,” asked Rydon seriously and then said, “As for the matter of regretting this marriage, that will never happen and you know why.”
The King sighed and said, “You are right. I would never accept a proposal that does not bring any benefits. Damian has potential and is a prospective candidate to becoming one of the Six Great Generals. Other than you, the rest of the Six Great Generals are all from the previous generation. There is no predicting how long the five of them will live for.”
Rydon said, “Though this sounds beneficial, certainly that is not all that you are thinking of. What is your hidden benefit here, Father?”
The King perplexed and said, “If I accept this proposal, your mother would be elated with my decision.” He suddenly turned gloomily and said, “I sent men to inform her of your wedding but she said she would not come.”
Rydon nodded at the realisation and said, “The men you sent certainly did not mention her while informing about my marriage to Mother. Even if they did mention, Mother would not come back unless it is necessary.” Rydon knew that the last sentence was necessarily not true, but he chose to say that to restrain his father from acting recklessly.
The King sighed and Rydon asked, “What did Damian sacrifice?”