"You, you're not afraid of Grandfather blaming you?" Claire's low voice traveled out of the carriage to Jean's ear. Her words didn't sound even the slightest bit concerned.
"My duty is to protect you." Jean's low voice floated into Claire's ears without hesitation.
Claire didn't say anything else. She leaned against the carriage wall and said emotionlessly, "Let's go home."
The next two days were strangely quiet. Lashia didn't come home, and Duke Gordon never mentioned this incident. Whether it was he didn't know or didn't want to bring it up would remain unknown.
Claire still studied Humanities and Geography in the mornings, and horsemanship in the afternoon. Camille would appear on time everyday in Claire's study. What puzzled Claire was that Camille's injury still seemed the same. No getting better. Who would wound this respected scholar so seriously? And why did Camille want to hide it?
Soon, it was the weekend. Princess Maurice's invitation had long since arrived. Duke Gordon, of course, received an invitation from the emperor.
Claire dressed up splendidly and got on the carriage with Gordon to go to this banquet.
"Duke Gordan arriving." After getting off the carriage and stepping on the red carpet, the chamberlain at the door had already seen them and yelled out.
When Gordan and Claire appeared in the hallway door, everyone naturally looked towards them. The emperor and many other people of high status were here at this banquet, so creating good relationships was a must. When everybody looked at the person standing next to Gordan, they all blinked. It wasn't Miss Lashia the genius but Claire! Duke Gordan had decreed before that this man-chaser was forbidden from attending anymore banquets at the palace, so why did he personally bring her here today?
Today Claire was wearing a layered white dress with lace at the edges. It was the standard attire for an imperial banquet. At her waist there was a unique, huge pink rose that made Claire look even more charming. Although her cold expression confused some people, she also radiated a wordless charm that made people not help but glance at her.
The star of the show today, Maurice, saw Claire arriving and felt extremely happy. But she still walked over slowly and gracefully.
"Your highness, congratulations for becoming one year older." Gordan held Maurice's hand as he bent down to lightly kiss the back of it.
"Thank you, your grace. It is my pleasure for having you here." Princess Maurice had a smile fit for the court, and politely replied to Duke Gordan.
Claire curtsied from aside.
"Ah, my dear disciple, you're here. What took you so long?" A voice interrupted abruptly. No need to look to know who this vulgar voice belonged to. It was Cliff, the perverted old man.
"Master." Claire answered indifferently to Cliff, who was running over. Cliff was wearing his large magician's robe and scampering over excitedly.
Cliff's sentence was like a bomb exploding in the crowd. Dear disciple? And then that man-chaser called Master?! Must be a coincidence. One of Cliff's disciples must have come. Everyone strained their necks at the doorway, but there was no one coming in.
Duke Gordon's mouth curved into an imperceptible smile. This was exactly what he wanted. Tonight's banquet was a perfect time to let everyone know about this. Nothing could shock people more than seeing it for themselves.
"Oh, I've missed you dearly." Cliff reached out to hug Claire, but Claire's gaze turned cold and she stepped back. Duke Gordon coughed slightly, and Claire twitched her mouth but stopped moving. Cliff, elated, hugged Claire. Or at least what it looked like to the people. Nobody saw that under his large robe, Claire had pushed against Cliff's chest, not letting Cliff actually get near and hug her.
The whole hall boiled. Originally, the sole appearance of legendary Cliff at the banquet had astonished them. But this was even more shocking! Sir Cliff had called that male-chaser dear disciple, and hugged her so warmly.
Princess Maurice was also dumbstruck, not coming back to her senses.
Cliff withdrew his hands, but his eyes were fixed vulgarly on the fringe of Claire's dress.
"I've told you, if you ever dare to lift my dress again, I'll butcher you." Claire squeezed out a sentence between her teeth icily. Not to mention it was this kind of an occasion!
Cliff also knew this, so he started grinning and pulled Claire away to the other side, completely ignoring Duke Gordon and Princess Maurice. Claire glanced back and nodded apologetically to Princess Maurice.
But Duke Gordon didn't feel unhappy at all. Cliff was always like this, not even caring about nobles; he had the skill and power to be haughty. On the contrary, Duke Gordon was very happy. Everyone at today's banquet had fame and prestige, and now they all witnessed for themselves Claire becoming Cliff's disciple.
Princess Maurice was still frozen in place, watching blankly as Cliff pulled Claire away.
In a corner of the big hall, a pair of eyes watched everything darkly. "Lashia, don't watch anymore." A young man beside felt sorry for her, and whispered quietly.
Lashia didn't answer, but tightened her gaze on Claire. Her face was white as a sheet, because the damage Jean had done to her has not entirely healed, even though she went to a healer. Jean's Dou Qi was too strong; there was no way to cure it completely. The two young men beside Lashia were her seniors who had being with her that day. Other than ashamed of not catching Lashia, they were also puzzled, puzzled why Lashia didn't go home and tell this to Duke Gordon, to get the duke to punish that lawless and violent warrior. One of them had asked, but Lashia only laughed coldly, "I'm not a child who whines to adults when they didn't get candy." Lashia watched Claire's figure darkly, her thoughts unknown.
"Lashia, we will avenge you." Her big brother senior frowned and stated angrily.
"No, don't interfere." Lashia's voice suddenly became icy.
"Why? Do you think you could win over that warrior? That warrior was a Grand Swordsman!" The second senior brother asked worriedly. The situation on that day had been very unexpected. They didn't think that warrior would attack, or that he was a Grand Swordsman! Magicians are most fearful of close combat or hidden arrows. To a magician who needs to chant tedious spells to attack, both of these could be fatal.
Lashia was silent. Her gaze became profound. She finally realized that something was off. Was that cold, indifferent blonde girl really her useless, man-chasing older sister? She was truly blinded by jealousy. What was so special about her that Jean became so loyal and made Cliff accept her as a disciple? She must find out this answer by herself.
Claire was pulled by Cliff to a balcony. There seemed to be a figure standing on the secluded balcony. There, it was very calm and quiet, and it seemed like nobody dared to come and bother. What kind of person would be there?
"Lawrence, you old foggy, come over and look. This is my newly accepted disciple. If you don't believe my words, come and look yourself." Cliff snorted coldly towards the person on the balcony.
As Claire looked at the person on the balcony, she was startled. That person had a dignified expression and was completely clothed in red, even his hat red. On his clothes, there was a small sun symbol, showing he was from the Temple of Light. A Red-robed Cardinal! Second only to the Pope. This time he had come to represent the Temple of Light at the princess's birthday banquet. Although the divine and royal powers would forever clash with each other, they still had to show harmony on the surface.
Claire sized up the old man in front of her, while the old man did the same to her. Gradually, the old man's eyes revealed many emotions, including jealousy and amazement.
"You old bastard, you really stepped onto dinosaur shit1, getting such a disciple." That dignified-looking old man actually spit out those type of words, making Claire's mouth twitch. Coming from such an austere old man it really was strange. What's more, his rank was an esteemed Red-robed Cardinal. But this old man was very interesting and also a little cute. He didn't feel like one of those false hypocrites.
"Greetings, your eminence. For our first meeting, I am Claire Hill." Claire elegantly curtseyed, not acting overbearing nor subservient.
"Ah, what a well-behaved child. Completely different from this old thing. How about this, you dump the old man and accept me as your Master. I will absolutely..." Before Lawrence could finish speaking, Cliff had already grabbed onto his mouth angrily.
"Your dog mouth can never spit out elephant ivory2! Pah! Are you even human? Trying to steal my disciple right in front of my eyes?!" Cliff desperately pulled Lawrence's mouth to the sides, making it look like a silver carp's mouth.
"Or, or kar ritare, ill teecha er away." (TL: Your, your character, will teach her astray. The Chinese did this too.) Lawrence almost drooled, trying push Cliff away while refuting with inarticulate words.
Just when the two old men were scuffling around, not caring about their public image, another person walked onto the balcony.
This was a person that Claire had met before.
"Master." A cool voice sounded.
Claire turned around suddenly.
Silver hair, violet irises.
1. In China, it means super good luck (compared to dog shit)
2. In China, elephant ivory is considered a good thing, so Cliff is saying that Lawrence can't say anything good.