It was a cool autumn day.
A day when everything visible to the eye, like a landscape in a painting, was deeply and clearly embedded.
It was the day when Count Macy, the father of Eva, left to participate in a second battle.
Eva, who was now twelve years old and held her fathers hand, walked through the Garden of Moonlight.
This was her favorite place.
During the day, different flowers emitted their own scents, and at night, the fountain danced under the moonlight.
‘I feel sad.
Whenever she walked here with her father, she was happy, but now, she was old.
Knowing it was a moment of farewell, Eva held back her tears.
Her father was going to do something big for the Empire.
She knew that if she cried, her fathers steps would be mirrored.
“Father will surely return with success.
So dont cry, my baby.”
Count Macy stopped walking and consoled Evas small shoulders as if he had heard her sniffling.
As she raised her eyes at him, she could see her reflection in her fathers shaking blue eyes.
He seemed to be grieving as much as she was, no, perhaps more than she was.
“How long do I have to wait this time, father Is it like a year like the last time”
“That…I cant promise exactly, dear.
But, Ill do my best to come back as soon as possible.
Ill be sure to watch you become the Crown Princess.”
Count Macy relieved Eva by gentle patting on her head.
She was destined to be the bride of the Crown Prince, whom the whole Empire knew all about.
The Emperor and Count Macy had always been close friends since their childhood, and so, they decided to make a covenant with each other in order to unite their families.
Ever since Eva was born, she was engraved with the qualifications to fit a prince.
“So, dont neglect your studies, and be sure to always be careful about what you say or do.
Because you will grow into a woman who will shine the most in this empire.”
He said, putting a strong force in his words.
It felt like he was pushing himself.
It even seemed like he was struggling to overcome the anxiety that she was unsure of.
Eva knew the reason.
He had failed an investment from the Imperial family of Burg on the previous two voyages.
He had betrayed the expectations of the Emperor and the people who trusted and supported him.
Her father had become a traitor of the Empire for wasting the state coffers, and the nobles were busy pressing on the Emperor to prevent this engagement.
He failed to live up to the faith of the Lord, to maintain his friendship, and to have the doors of his daughters future secured.
Eva knew how much pain her father had suffered from.
In the end, he had to borrow money from his relatives and leave again at his own expense.
This was his last chance to get back what he lost.
Ill be careful, always.”
Whether she was a Crown Princess or not, Eva did not want to be ashamed of her loving father and the people who cared for her.
“Im so proud of you, Eva.
Now, wish your father luck.”
The Count, who bent down before her, looked up at Eva.
The girl smiled, covering her sorrowful heart, and kissed her fathers cheeks.
‘May my fathers arduous journey be full of luck.
And thats how Count Macy left the castle.
Eva stood there holding her nannys hand until the carriage, which had begun moving from the gate of the Castle of Bale, passed through the garden and turned beyond the end of her line of sight.
As the carriage disappeared from her view, Eva hugged Cecil, bursting into tears.
“Dont worry, my lady.
His Lordship is the greatest venturer in the Empire.
Hell be back with a bunch of treasures with the ship, so lets wait for him patiently.”
Cecil soothed Eva, who had tears welling up in her eyes.
The head butler Lawrence, gardener Matthew, stableman Paul, and all the other employees embraced Eva.
So, the time did not wait for anyone.
One year passed.
Another year passed.
And after three full years swept like an arrow, Eva turned fifteen.
A report came that Count Macys ship was wrecked and that he and his crew were all lost under the depths of the sea.
It wasnt only sorrow that filled in for a moment.
Both the veil and the property Count Macy had as collateral were handed over to others.
The Count went completely bankrupt, and Eva had nowhere to go.
Even before her tears stopped flowing, the Imperial family informed her of the broken engagement with the prince.
“I……I dont want to go, Nanny.”
Eva, who sat on the bed while watching Cecil pack up, said with a blank look on her face.
It didnt feel real that she had to leave her beloved Castle of Bale and go live in Baron Bitis manor.
She felt like she was being dragged down to the bottom.
No one accepted her.
Her relatives, who suffered severe losses because of her fathers loan from them, avoided her.
Her uncle, who was originally at odds with her father, gave up the title of the Count.
The reason was that the moment he was crowned, all the debts owed to the previous Count were handed over to him.
In the end, it was only Baron Biti, Count Macys land official and her mothers distant relative, who offered to take her in.
Why did he change his mind when he was treating Eva like a load of luggage Lawrence said there was a reason, which Eva didnt have to know right now.
“My lady, youve got to hold onto something even if you feel sad.
That way, His Lordship, who is residing in heaven now, will be relieved.”
Her nanny would not be around.
She wouldnt be able to hug her father anymore when she would feel sad or tired.
It was no use of him to watch down on her from the sky.
Evas blue eyes were brimming with tears.
She wanted to press the matter, but it was against the dignity of a Counts daughter.
Cecil, who had cried all night watching her sleep, would be disappointed.
“Okay, my lady, look at me.
The sun always shines after a devastating storm.
Just hang in there and we can meet again.”
With her blue eyes full of tears, Eva nodded helplessly.
“You are an aristocrat.
Never forget the fact and always act resolutely.
You know what Im trying to say, right, my lady”
Eva answered her and held back her tears.
“Be kind and act proudly.
Dont forget that I will always pray for you, my lady.”
Cecils face, which had always been calm, was distorted by a mixture of a forced smile and grief.
She held her hands together, covering Evas small hands tightly.
‘I raise my spirit to God.
I wish for you to give my lady the courage to overcome this challenge, and I ask for you to let me see her again with a smile dancing on her face.
Please protect her, God.
The prayers of Cecil were earnest.
Eva, however, was nothing but a grumble of God.
Outside the gate, there was an ordinary horse car waiting for Eva.
To see her off, the head butler Lawrence, gardener Matthew, stableman Paul, and Father John of the Crocs Field Cathedral stood by.
The employees, who didnt get paid, had already left the annex, and they were the only ones who stayed behind.
They would also leave after Evas departure from the castle.
Paul, who was two years younger than Eva, was supposed to accompany her because he was hired by the Barons butler.
Since he was still young, they were trying to raise him as a horseman under low payments.
“What do you think you are doing Do you think I have enough time to wait now”
The short, plump Baron Biti furiously spoke upon seeing the two women coming out of the front door.
“Forgive us, Lord Baron.”
“Hmph! I havent been paid for months, and now Ive got a lump in my throat.
Despite Cecils apology, the Baron showed his anger.
Everyone present was speechless at his sudden vulgarity.
When the Count was alive, he couldnt complain but always used to bow and whine at him.
Everyone was worried if Eva would be able to hold onto the ground in the house of this kind of person.
“Do you know how much it costs to feed and clothe a person If you had any conscience—”
“Thats enough, Lord Baron.
Do you want me to open my mouth in this situation”
Lawrence stepped in, casting a sharp glance at the shorter Baron.
The years of his experience and reason both said that he was controlling his anger.
Even though he was not an aristocrat, he pressed down his opponents shoulders with greater dignity than the Baron.
“T-Thats what I was saying.”
As if he had committed a sin, the Baron took a step back as he looked at Lawrences eyes.
Meanwhile, Lawrence gave him a deep glare before releasing his features when he turned towards Eva.
“I wish for God to be with you, miss.
Someday, we all might meet again…..”
His voice turned to a soft mumble until he pressed his lips hard.
Eva hugged his waist by calling his name.
Lawrences expression, which had been solemn until Eva reacted, collapsed before Evas tears.
He was very strict, but he was always like a kind grandfather to Eva.
“Take care, Lawrence.
You must come to see me after your journey.”
“Of course, young miss……I will.”
Lawrence patted Eva on the back before rubbing his moist eyes.
He was going to leave to see his long-lost son.
The journey would be a few days by ship.
After spending some time with his family, he would travel back here.
Eva, to whom Lawrence bowed, embraced Matthew this time.
He also loved Eva and played with her often.
He had helped in planting the prettiest flowers to entertain her eyes.
It was Matthew who fantastically embodied the Garden of Moonlight.
Thank you for decorating the Garden of Moonlight so beautifully.”
“Im very grateful, young miss.”
Dressed in shabby clothes, he wiped his tears on his sleeves, not knowing if Evas dress would get dusty.
His whereabouts had yet to be determined.
There had been numerous suggestions from the aristocracy who wanted to get a grip on his abilities, but all were refused.
The last person Eva faced was Father John, who had a grand dream of becoming a cardinal.
Since he was always a kind-hearted person, he couldnt refuse others work because of his wide, welcoming heart.
He had come to wish Eva good luck for her future while venting all sorts of anger at Macys bankruptcy.
“Please pray for all of us, Father.”
“Of course, Eva.
The Lord will protect you and everyone present here.”
He nodded at Eva before shifting his eyes to the people around.
He closed his moist eyes, praying for the blessings of God to fall on each one of them.
“Now get on the ride already.
Ive already lost too much time!”
The Baron screamed from his wagon.
Afraid to deal with them, he had gotten into his wagon.
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Realizing that she could make no further delay, Eva headed to sit in the carriage, her body shivering from the tears she dropped.
However, she walked a few steps before turning back to the people, her eyes filling with tears again.
The separation was so sad and heartbreaking that those behind her held their breath and shed their tears.
It was when she lifted one of her feet to climb the carriage, Eva turned around and ran to them again.
As she hugged Cecil, she began to sob strongly.
“Hngh, I dont want to get away from my nanny.
I want to follow you instead of Baron Biti.
Please take me with you, nanny.…..”
With her every word, she clasped Cecil more tightly.