Masked Knight – Chapter 33

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Tear Stained Face of a Beauty

 

“Why were you with that seductress?” The moment they were in the carriage, Nicole immediately scolded Rody.

 

Rody gave a wry smile. “I did not go and provoke her. She was the one that came looking for me!”

 

Nicole showed an expression of disbelief and sneered, “She looked for you? Jojo is famous in the Imperial Capital for her beauty. A lot of people were given looks of disdain by her. Even His Majesty the Emperor could not win her favor and you are saying she took the initiative to look for you?”

 

Rody became agitated and said, “She did not look for me! She was looking for your little brother! You are better off questioning your brother!”

 

“What?”

 

“Your brother seemed to have been acquainted with her for a while… And… Hmm!”

 

Nicole’s expression immediately changed as she pondered.

 

Seth and Jojo?

 

How is it that I have not heard of this before? The guards around Seth must have kept it a secret! Those two fellows actually dared to hide such an important matter from me! It seems that sending him back to the army was the right move!

 

After taking a deep breath, Nicole hatefully said, “You are not allowed to speak of this matter ever again! When we reach home, you will be punished… I will… I will… I still haven’t thought of a punishment!”

 

Rody curled his lips and said, “Yeah, go ahead and punish me! It’s not like you have never punished me before!”

 

Nicole stared at Rody.

 

Rody sighed and mumbled to himself, “Such a good and gentle looking girl. Why is she such a fierce person in private?”

 

“What did you say!” Nicole immediately heard him because she had sharp hearing.

 

Rody quickly shuts up and no longer uttered a single word. He quietly cursed along the way.

 

The two of them no longer spoke for the rest of the journey and were silent until they reached home.

 

Alighting from the carriage and without saying anything, Nicole led the way in. Without any orders from her, Rody just followed Nicole from behind. He subconsciously followed Nicole until they reached the small, quiet building.

 

That was a restricted area for the family so, none of their servants followed them. Nicole still did not say anything and continued to lead the way in. Rody hesitated for a moment and soon followed her.

 

Rody thought that the moment he walked through the door, Nicole would explode in anger. He did not expect that she would instead look for a chair to sit down.

 

“You, sit down as well,” Nicole said lightly. She was feeling downcast.

 

Nicole spoke the moment Rody sat down, “You must think that I am very harsh on you, correct?”

 

“Isn’t that the truth?” Rody said coldly. “Ever since I came here, I was constantly being manipulated by you! You gave me these ridiculous ears! You lied to me and made me fall seriously ill! You made me pose as your brother! Whatever you asked, I had to do!”

 

“But I also gave you an opportunity! Did you not think about this? As long as you complete my task, I will give you a good future! You are strong enough and I can arrange for you to join the army. With our family’s influence, the moment you enter the army, you will go very far. Is this not better than you remaining as a civilian warrior and living a vain life in the Imperial Capital? You may be strong but there are a lot of stronger people in the Imperial Capital. A great majority of them end up just drifting aimlessly every day. If you are fortunate, the nobles would hire you as their personal guard. If you are unlucky, they would hire you as a mercenary… Do you know that?” Nicole frowned.

 

“But I do not like the current situation!” Rody protested. “I know my status. I am a civilian! However, I am a person, not a tool! I want to be myself! I want to be Rody, not your brother! I do not want to be a noble! I dislike nobles!”

 

Rody did not notice that the moment he said ‘I dislike nobles’, Nicole was startled.

 

Rody continued, “When I was in the Academy, the people around me respected me. All of us were not nobles. However, they still respected me because I was stronger than them. I was more skillful with the sword than them. My studies were better compared to them. Although I was ugly, I did not feel inferior! However, I feel very uncomfortable here!”

 

Unexpectedly, Nicole did not get angry. She merely lowered her head and thought for a moment. She sighed and her eyebrows wrinkled. Her expression did not have the usual anger instead, it had a vulnerable look.

 

“I am a girl…” Nicole gently opened her mouth. “I am only two years older than you at most. With a family’s status like mine at this age, I am supposed to be living a carefree life. Everyday, I would chat with my good friends, read books, learn about music, flowers or some other things. Every day should be filled with happiness. In fact, a few years ago when I was younger, I was indeed very happy…”

 

“But then, my father passed away. I, who was born into the Empire’s Tulip Family was powerless. The family’s glory must never be destroyed, however, my little brother… he could not understand this. I was forced to put down my books and stop the zither music lessons that I loved. I could not even have a leisurely chat together with my friends. I had to bear with things that I did not like… and become the manager for the family. There are many things I worry about every day. My father’s subordinates are all watching me. I know they are also helplessly watching the state of the Tulip Family. This family’s prestige must not fall! I am like you! I do not like this as well! I also want to be ‘Miss Nicole’! I do not want to be ‘Manager Nicole’ or ‘Head of the Family Nicole’!”

 

As she talked, Nicole’s eyes turned red. She had a grievous expression.

 

Rody felt something tugging at his heart. He suddenly remembered the scene he saw that night in the horse shed. Nicole had taken off the mask she wore on normal days. The girl in front of him now was like the girl whom he met that night, who cried as she held her father’s horse. She was just a weak and helpless girl. She too could feel sadness, discomfort or cry. She also needed someone to support and comfort her or to dote on her.

 

Nicole sighed and slowly wiped away her tears. She then lightly said, “At times, I even thought of marrying myself off. Perhaps, if I could marry into a powerful family, the political marriage might be able to help me get external support for my family. But…”

 

The tears she just wiped away came out again. Nicole’s voice sounded very weak, “But I really couldn’t do it… I…”

 

Rody sighed. He stood up, walked to Nicole’s side and gently said, “You shouldn’t be bearing this burden. Where is your brother?”

 

“He… There were just times that I really hated him. He could not comprehend the amount of burden placed on the family. I promised my father that I would not let the banner of the Tulip Family fall…. but…. but I am just a girl…”

 

Finally, Nicole could no longer suppress her feelings and started to cry. When Rody saw the sobbing girl, his heart gushed forth an indescribable tender feeling. He slowly stretched out his hand and gently stroked Nicole’s hair, hoping to ease the sadness in her heart.

 

Nicole gently leaned against Rody’s chest and cried even louder.

 

In this quiet environment, it seemed that the young girl finally found someone to rely on. All the grievances which she had buried within her for a long time finally broke loose.

 

Rody had a strange feeling with the warm, gentle and fragrant girl in his embrace. At first, he was just softly caressing Nicole’s hair. However, he could no longer help but let his hand slip down her back.

 

He gently knelt down and both of his hands held Nicole’s shoulders. He only realized that Nicole was wearing a strapless evening dress when he felt her warm and soft skin.

 

Nicole, being depressed, did not care about Rody’s inappropriate actions. She merely felt safe in the arms of this person.

 

He looked at the pretty face in front of him, stained with tears. It was like raindrops on a pear blossom. It was especially charming and moving. Looking at her gentle lips up close, Rody could no longer control his feelings and slowly moved closer…

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