It was the day when the guests of the Imperial palace came to the Nestian Mansion. And as expected, the Nestian Mansion was very busy. It was to the point where even Thiel in the attic could tell that today was a very important day.
The maids had meticulously cleaned the mansion, and the gardeners trimmed the saplings of the short garden trees. And in the middle of the garden, there was a huge ice statue of a snow leopard that seemed to have been made just for today. The mansion, carefully decorated by the servants of the Nestian family, was more wonderful than expected.
Thiel looked down at the busily moving servants through the window of the attic.
‘If there are this many people, I’d just be caught soon.’
The servants were busy, but it wasn’t to the extent that they couldn’t see Thiel running away. Besides, Thiel’s hair was, as her grandfather always said, ‘thick, unsightly, and curly’.
Hair like that would always stand out, and if she ran away now, it was obvious that she would be caught in less than 10 minutes.
‘So let’s escape when the sun goes down.’
Thiel nodded quietly and thought.
It was fortunate that no one was interested in Thiel.
‘After the sun goes down, everyone will be asleep, so it will be easy to escape.’
Thiel carefully checked the plan that took her two days to come up with. First, she was going to sneak into her grandfather’s office when everyone was asleep.
‘Because there are many shiny things in the desk drawers.’
Grandpa always put precious things like shiny coins and pretty fountain pens in the desk drawers. And Thiel knew that her grandfather neglected locking the door of the office. It was because Rowen liked going into to her grandfather’s office. Thiel didn’t like Rowen, but she was grateful to her this time.
Thiel, who knew that shiny things make money, had thought of stealing her grandfather’s valuables and running away. After that, she planned to give the valuables to a coachman and ask him to take her to the Asterian family mansion.
But, if a young girl like her carried such valuables, she might be reported or badly punished, but Thiel couldn’t know that.
Thiel, who carefully checked over her plan, hugged the blanket as if she was satisfied. Inside the blanket were two loaves of bread that Thiel had hidden. It was emergency food for her to eat while going to Asterian. In the meantime, a commotion began outside as guests from the Imperial palace had arrived.
Thiel peered out through the attic window.
A man in a fancy uniform and a boy who looked like his attendant got off from a luxurious carriage that couldn’t even be compared to the Nestians’.
Looking at the carriage that had arrived from the Imperial palace, Thiel realized that she was really going to escape this mansion today. She looked at the huge carriage with her hands neatly gathered over her throbbing heart.
After the sun had set and everyone in the mansion had fallen asleep.
Thiel carefully opened the door to the attic.
A strange sound came from the old door.
Thiel stepped out silently, being careful so as not to wake the servants. She sneaked down from the attic and slightly turned the doorknob of her grandfather’s office on the second floor. The office door opened gently.
Thiel was relieved that the door was open, and quickly closed the door to the office. Then, she hurried to the front of her grandfather’s chest of drawers and rummaged through them.
As it was always open, there was nothing important, save a few coins. Thiel put a coin in her pocket and opened the third drawer.
“What is this?”
Inside the third drawer was a single rusty necklace. Thiel carefully picked up the necklace and touched it.
It was old and the colour had long since faded.
She must have touched something wrong, as the necklace made a clicking sound and opened in half.
“That surprised me.”
Thiel calmed her heart and carefully touched the necklace. Inside the necklace was a picture.
She immediately recognized the portrait in the necklace.
The woman was Thiel’s mother, Lena Nestian. She had rarely seen portraits of her mother.
Because Cornelia, who hated Lena so much, took away all her portraits as soon as she died. However, there were still a few paintings left in Zender’s office, so Thiel was able to recognize that the portrait in the necklace was her mother.
Tears welled up in the corner of her eyes, and Thiel pursed her lips tightly.
She hung the necklace around her neck.
‘Since I’ll never be back here again, I really need at least one thing to remember my mother.‘
Thiel carefully stroked the necklace as if it were the most precious thing in the world. Then she opened the another drawer, putting one of her grandfather’s fountain pens and several coins in her pocket.
It was quiet when she came in, but when she was about to leave, for some reason, there was a noise she didn’t want to hear from the door.
Thiel frowned slightly.
‘Wouldn’t people be asleep?’
The second floor of the mansion was always empty at this time, but Thiel, who had no way of knowing this fact, moved stealthily. But just when she was about to go down the stairs-
Her little chest swelled as if it would explode.
“Lady Rowen, I told you not to go around at this time…- Hmm?”
It was Rowen’s nanny, Zyra.
Zyra, who saw the child’s form and assumed it was Rowen, widened her eyes at the golden eyes shining in the moonlight. And soon after realizing that it was Thiel, not Rowen, who was walking around the mansion at this time, she went on a rampage.
“Oi, why are you here at this hour! You better come here right now!”
Zyra’s shout echoed through the hallway.
Thiel chewed her lips, not knowing what to do, in front of Zyra, whose face was flushed red as if it were going to burst at any moment.
‘Oh my god.’
She had to run away, but her legs wouldn’t listen.
To make matters worse, the mansion was getting noisy little by little, as if the servants of the mansion were running out in surprise. Zyra strode forward to catch Thiel. After shaking her head from side to side to clear her mind, Thiel began to run while hugging the blanket tightly.
“Come here now! If you get caught this time, your room will be locked!”
Thiel trembled and ran through the hallway.
She heard Zyra chasing after her.
“Where should I go?”
Zyra’s footsteps were getting closer.
Thiel rushed down to the first floor and out the mansion, and hid her body in the bushes in the garden.
“The lady has run away! Find her!”
She heard Zyra yelling.
Thiel trembled as she hid in the bush. Both of her eyes were filled with tears.
Thiel muttered, covering her face with her hands.
“Oh my god… I’m going to get caught.”
Hearing Zyra’s shouts, the servants were running out one by one. A servant approached after walking up towards the bush where Thiel hid. Surprised, Thiel ran once again without letting go of the blanket.
“She’s here! Catch her!”
Thiel, who had been running away like crazy, escaped by going into the outbuilding she had never been to before. The servants who saw Thiel running into the outbuilding hesitated and stepped back. The outbuilding was a place where their precious guests stayed, and it was not possible to enter without permission.
‘Guests from the Imperial palace are staying.’
‘What should we do?‘
The worried servants soon turned their steps to inform Cender of the situation. However, a few stood in front of the outbuilding to keep an eye on Thiel to make sure she didn’t run away. Thiel ran frantically and pulled the first door she saw on the first floor of the annex.
The door opened without resistance.
Thiel ran into the door without thinking. Then, looking at the annex hallway through the key hole, she gasped.
Just at that moment-
“Who is coming into my room at this hour?”
An unfamiliar voice came from behind. Thiel instinctively trembled and looked back. A boy who looked two inches taller than herself was standing behind Thiel with his back to the moonlight.
The boy had his sharp claws pressed against Thiel’s neck.
“Tell me who you are.
Otherwise, I will stab you in the neck and kill you.”
As she finished speaking, tears fell from Thiel’s eyes.
lan panicked and retracted his claws.
And he turned the girl around in his arms.
A little girl with a tiny body, who looked two inches shorter than himself, was crying and shedding tears profusely.
Ian, seeing the girl’s white hair, frowned in disbelief. The white hair was clearly a symbol of the snow leopard family.
However, there was only one girl in the Snow Leopard Mansion of the Nestian family – Rowen Nestian.
Ian thought to himself what Rowen Nestian looked like once again. He didn’t look closely at her because he wasn’t interested, so he didn’t remember her well…but he could at least remember that girl had blue eyes, not gold eyes.
In other words, this girl who fearlessly broke into the Prince’s room was not Rowen Nestian. He carefully examined the child’s shabby appearance. Pyjamas that were so thin one could see through it, and hair that hadn’t been combed for a long time.
Bare feet full of scratches. And even the old blanket that she snuggled in her arms.
He didn’t know how she came into his room, but she looked like someone secretly running away.
Embarrassed, Ian swallowed guiltily as he looked at the girl.
Then, he wiped the tears running down Thiel’s cheeks with his sleeve and said,
“Don’t cry, don’t cry, answer me again properly and tell me who you are, okay? Otherwise, I will kick you out right away.”
Thiel paused as if pondering for a moment.
Then she opened her mouth, pursed her little lips.
“I-I’m a snow leopard. I’m Thiel Nestian from the snow leopard family.
I have to run away from here.
I have to run…”
But before she could finish speaking, someone knocked on the door.
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