As always, the imperial palace boasted a lot of splendor with splendid decorations.

At this time, decoration did not refer to a silk object.

Everyone present at this event was nothing more than a decoration that enhanced the majesty of the imperial family.

In that sense, the most expensive decoration of the day is by far the main character of this banquet, Cedric Maynard.

He stood on the balcony facing the garden, looked around the banquet hall with a cynical gaze, and then opened his mouth.

“10 years and nothing has changed.”

“It’s probably like that.
Isn’t 10 years too short to feel the difference?”

A silver-haired man standing next to Cedric responded.

Silver hair and gold eyes are symbols of the imperial family.
His name is Lennox Ebenezer, wearing a brooch in the shape of a young bear on his chest.

The Crown Prince of the Empire and Cedric grew up under the same swordsmanship teacher and were close friends.

Thanks to that, in public, the two of them respected each other as the prince and duke, but in private, they sometimes let go of their words.
Cedric stared at Lennox, who had become more of a politician than he remembered, then turned his head.

“A lot of things have changed in Halo, but the fact that this place is still the same makes me feel nostalgic.”

“It’s nostalgic, but it doesn’t mean very well.”

“Of course.”

Cedric narrowed his brows slightly, as if he was fed up with all these luxurious things.
A man who had been forged fiercely had the effect of looking bloody, even with a slight frown.

Even so, I knew that I had very little interaction with people before I went to Halo, but it got worse after I lost my wife and child while going to Halo.

He lost all his loved ones in an instant while he was out on the battlefield, so it must have been.
Besides, Cedric was a great man famous for his love for his wife until this happened.

In his heart, Lennox wanted to help find Cedric’s child, but he had been rejected by Cedric after saying the same thing in the past.

The reason was simple.

The child has been kidnapped, and if the Crown Prince intervenes and things get bigger, we don’t know what the kidnapper will do to the child.

―Maynard alone can do enough tracking.
It’s not like you can get much help by interfering, so I want to make sure that the child doesn’t get hurt.
Please understand.

Lennox could not be stubborn when he said so.

However, worrying about a friend who lost his family all at once was an unavoidable psychology.
Especially since Cedric became more hardened and paranoid after that incident.

So Lennox watched a little sadly as Cedric was irritated by the banquet.

‘I wonder if that’s how people can get close to him, let alone children.’

Besides, there was one thing that was different about Cedric today.

“Cedric, what is that?”

“What are you asking?”

“That branch on your chest.”

This was the most luxurious banquet hall in the empire, the imperial palace.
Naturally, the attire of those present was correspondingly extravagant.
Some people fill their necklace strings with diamonds the size of fingernails, while others wear clothes made of fabrics that are said to be hard to find even ten times a year.

It was common for each of them to display the highest extravagance they could show off.

What is that ordinary branch of a tree?

“Doesn’t it fit well?”

“Yes, of course, it suits you.
The red color went in very nicely.”

In Lennox’s praise, Cedric’s forehead twitched.
In particular, not only did the eyebrows twitch, but the tips of the eyebrows were slightly lifted.
It looked like he was just angry with others, but it was visible in the eyes of his close friend, Lennox.

“Hey, you seem to like that brooch very much?”

That was the expression Cedric made when he tried not to show his satisfaction.
Right now, Cedric was in a state where the corners of his mouth would rise at the slightest touch of Lennox.

It was also an expression that Lennox hadn’t seen in a very long time.

Although, the words spoken on such a subject were sinful and negative.

“Don’t jump to conclusions.
I’ve never done that.”

“Yeah, that’s pretty much it.
What kind of thing is it that you like so much?”

Lennox looked back at his memories.

Is it the brooch made of the golden pine that came in from a foreign country last time and is said to grow only one inch in a hundred years? No, but that wasn’t a pine tree.
So, is it made of sepia branches that can only be found in the far north? No, sepia has light golden veins on red leaves.
It’s not like that red, is it a common ornamental tree?

“If you like it, it must be a precious tree, right? Where did you get it from?”

“My garden.”

However, Cedric’s answer was cold.

“Come on, don’t do that, tell me where’s it from?”

“Do I sound like I’m lying? It’s my garden.”

“… So you mean, you picked a branch from your garden and hung it on your chest? Is Maynard’s finances really difficult?”

“You worry about everything.
It’s good to live frugally.
They say it suits you well?”

“It fits well, but…”

The tree branch decoration went well with Cedric.
But what would not go well with that well-groomed appearance?

Leonard thought hard.
He was a person with a fairly open mind for a member of the royal family.
And he also had the rare manners of respecting his friend’s tastes.

“It’s… It’s possible.
It’s very nice.”

Cedric’s eyebrows sharpened again.
It is very satisfying.

I don’t know what that piece of wood was that he was so pleased with, but Lennox decided to think positively.

‘I think it’s the first time I’ve seen him so happy in the past few years.’

If a friend is in a good mood, it doesn’t matter if he wears a piece of wood or a piece of stone.

Above all, I thought it would be easy for me to bring up a story if he was in a good mood.

It’s a story about helping find a child.

‘Things have changed a lot since 10 years ago.’

It was no longer a matter of worrying about the child’s life or death, but of finding a corpse.

Only then will Cedric be able to escape from the deaths of his family and start anew.

So Lennox cleared his throat a couple of times to get the story out.

“Hmm, hmm.

And then, I heard a squabble from the back garden.

Turning around, I saw a girl with short hair being dragged by a man.


What the hell is going on?

Lennox involuntarily frowned.

The child’s clothes looked very classy, even in the dark.
It was a level that was not suitable for such a luxurious banquet hall, but at least it meant that the child was not in this banquet hall as an attendant.

However, what was strange was that the child was being held in the hands of another man.
It was not that the horse was being held, but the atmosphere was like leading a cow to a slaughterhouse.

Are they scolding themselves for taking a child who has disobeyed their parent’s home?

‘Whatever it is, it’s not a very nice sight to see.’

Even if it was like this in my eyes, it would be an even more sensitive sight for Cedric, who had lost his child.

Just as the thought of calling in an attendant to intervene before the uproar grew bigger crossed Lennox’s mind, he saw an imperial guard spot them and approach them.

“Excuse me, sir.
May I ask what’s going on?”

“Oh, I’m sorry.
I’m the guardian of this child, but she’s stubborn, so stop…”

“Bo, he’s not a guardian!”

As soon as the man who was dragging the child was bowing, the child’s desperate cry was heard.

“Mo, I don’t know anyone, but they’re trying to drag me away.

“What nonsense is this?! Sir, you can ignore what she says.
She learns to be mean, and she lies day after day.”

The guard’s voice became suspicious at the words of the two people.

“Are you a child guardian?”

“Of course.
This is a child from our nursery center…”

“No! It’s a lie! I-I have a dad!”

At that moment, the crying child found people standing on the balcony.

Even in the darkness, the desperate expression of the child was visible.
The girl looked straight ahead in the direction where Lennox and Cedric were standing and shouted.

“Oh, Dad!!”

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