My Observational Diary of Elena Evoy - Chapter 5
It was impossible to use a carriage in the academy, but it was possible to ride a horse. Children of noble families who enjoyed horseback riding from an early age were usually good at riding horses, and some of those staying in dormitories would use horses instead of carriages to roam outside.
Johann also had his own horse that he raised since childhood. His horse, Hanne, didn’t like to be away from Johann. That’s why Hanne was brought to the Academy stable instead of staying at the stable back home with a much better environment. Therefore, Johann would stop by the stable a couple of times a day to check on Hanne.
The name escaped Johann’s mouth with a sigh when he stumbled upon Elena at the entrance of the stable. He missed out even the basic honorifics this time. Elena was wearing a strange hat and patting a horse’s nose.
“Horse… So, it’s a horse today.”
“It’s still unofficial, so I’m learning as an assistant.”
“How did you even get permission?”
“Well, it took me a couple of meetings, desperation, and stuff. That’s all.”
What do you mean that’s all? Johann unconsciously shook his head.
“Where will you use all these skills?”
“Why, I might need them later. As a knight or mercenary. Or, like, in the military.”
“Knight, mercenary, military…”
Every word that came out was more spectacular than the former. Johann wanted to take a look inside Elena’s head. It was hard to guess the thought process needed to paint such a future.
That wasn’t a compliment. Johann held his head not knowing whether to laugh or cry. The sweet and perfect image that I have worked long and hard to maintain disappears in front of Elena’s absurd behavior.
I’m seeing a truly surprising change in myself. It hasn’t even been that long since we’ve met. Normally, it should take me at least a year or two to show my true feelings. Yet I revealed them to a woman I’ve met for only a week. Yet, all I’ve done was to get embarrassed in front of Elena.
I have no idea what to say whenever I’m with Elena because I can’t guess where the conversation is headed. Usually, I’m the one leading the conversation. As a result, Johann was embarrassed.
Actually, this is getting dangerous. I can’t afford rumors spreading about me. There’s no use in showing more people your true self. All the more so in a world like high society where everyone wears masks of their own.
The same was true of the Academy. Although the Academy is an educational institution, in a broader sense it’s just another society. Even if nobles and commoners were put together, the class gap was inevitable, and a similar line was drawn between those very nobles. Under these inherent limitations, students have to establish connections. The ties made at the Academy eventually become a promise among the nobles who will lead the next generation.
Johann always tries to be perfect because, to some extent, he represents Duke Pertan. Comments on Johann and Isaac gathered to create an image of Duke Pertan. So I can’t waste any time.
‘And she’s working as a stable keeper.’
Even if she already knew all that, he still felt embarrassed for her. No matter how small her family is, she was pushing the bottom line. If rumors spread about her, she would never see an invitation for the rest of her life. Meanwhile, whether Elena Evoy knew that or not, she calmly pointed towards a horse.
“That must be your horse.”
“How did you know?”
“It’s looking at you with such eyes. If I can’t even tell that, then I don’t deserve to work here.”
Elena drew a faint smile.
Johann shook his head quickly. It was a little undignified, but it was a special measure that he did to blur Elena’s image whenever she did it. A woman who was expressionless like a doll only showed an expression once in a blue moon. Every time I behold it, I feel strange. He couldn’t understand why that vague smile remained in his mind.
Come to think of it, she even smiled broadly not that long ago. Of course, that smile was meant to imitate him, but it was quite a big smile. Johann piled images of her as if he were creating a collage of her expressions in his head, and then, startled, he shook his head again.
“Are you imitating the horse?”
“… Could you stop being ridiculous?”
With that soulless exclamation, Elena walked away. Her small face was covered under the shadow of her wide-brimmed hat.
‘She’s a strange girl.’
Hanne neighed and cried. Johann swallowed a sigh and took a step towards Hanne.
“Elena Evoy? Yeah, I know her. She broke your first-place streak. It was so sad, I almost shed tears.”
“Ah, was I obvious? I didn’t know.”
He had a sneaky grin on his face. The warm-hearted boy with a good impression was Todd, the youngest son of the Kleine family, a friend who grew up with Johann since childhood, and a long-standing vassal of the Duke Pertan. Along with Johann’s younger sister, he was also one of the few friends who knew the real him.
“We take a class together. The knight’s swordsmanship practice course.”
“… Elena takes that class?”
“You’ll be surprised when you see her doing it.”
Todd looked quite serious while pretending to swing his sword. He erased the smile off his face and was clearly mimicking her.
“She’s serious about it. Doesn’t even care what others think. That’s not an easy feat. And she has great posture.”
“You seem quite interested in her.”
“That’s because she’s Elena Evoy. The Elena Evoy who defeated Johann Eldorado Pertan. Of course, I’d be interested in her.”
Johann choked on his breath. Stay composed. Real acting comes from real life. Todd cracked up at the sight and rolled in laughter on his bed.
“Johann, be honest with me. You’re interested in Elena Evoy, aren’t you?”
“It’s the first time I’ve lost to anyone.”
“… You’re admitting it so easily? You?”
Todd asked back in suspicion. The Johann Pertan Todd knew was not such a transparent man. I wonder what he thinks about the first rival he’s ever met in his life.
But his reply was still the same. Todd’s interest withered and he got up. I can’t say anymore since he admitted it so easily. Might as well just change the topic.
So Todd decided to end the topic. He certainly did, until he saw Johann with his chin on his desk, lost in thought.
“Well, I’m not the only one interested in her. Everyone is. She’s pretty.”
Their long history of friendship pushed him to poke him more on the matter. Todd faithfully followed his gut feeling.
“She is. Don’t you remember when she went up to the stage on the first day? Plus, she has this cool charm to her.”
“You sure find anything charming.”
Johann snorted with that angelic face of his.
“If she’s friendlier, her popularity will increase even more. It will double.”
“Hah, why does she have to? What for?”
What do you mean by “friendlier”? It doesn’t suit her character. Besides, how can a busy person like her care about popularity? Everyone’s out of their minds. They’ve lost it. And she’s not cold at all. In fact, she’s quite good at talking.
Johann kept harping on and on about Elena. Those who knew the “gentle and mature” Johann, would be surprised for sure.
Either way, Johann thought in a fit of anger.
I’ve been watching Elena Evoy for the past week, wondering how the top student who beat him was, and I learned that she lived a really hard life. How could I remain quiet? Besides, she stands out anywhere, but how could they not notice her? Everyone must be blind.
Aren’t I right? And even if she got permission, she’s used magic on campus. But of course, thanks to her, I could fly, too. And our hands… In an instant, Johnan’s ears turned red.
Todd, who saw his reddish ears, shut his mouth. Johann Eldorado Pertan seems to be experiencing a sudden typhoon in his state-managed life. Oh, my God, I’ve got to watch this.
“What are you thinking?”
“Nothing… I’m just thinking tomorrow’s class is going to be fun. I’m already having fun.”
Todd couldn’t care less about Johann finding him pathetic. He couldn’t hold back his laughter and rolled on his stomach. He had a good feeling that he would really enjoy teasing his friend in the coming days.
Johann always walked gracefully. He was taught etiquette early on so he faced no difficulty in developing a perfect posture. Because of that, the female students at the Academy did not hesitate to comment, “Even his steps are elegant.”
On the other hand, Elena’s steps were upright. The term gallant might be more appropriate. Even though she was not unusually tall, her long legs strode fast. It was outrageous behavior since the nobles considered walking slowly to be dignified.
Johann realized that that’s why he would recognize Elena at once. No nobleman or woman walks like that. Obviously, his sister would get scolded by her etiquette teacher right away, if she ever walked like that.
Johann came to his senses thanks to her sonorous voice.
“What are you up to?”
Elena, who was walking far ahead, had already disappeared from the hallway. I knew that she’s a fast walker, but I can’t believe she’s already gone into the classroom. Bellissa continued the conversation with a winsome tone.
“Who’re you waiting for?”
“Someone. Bellissa, are you taking this class, too?”
“Yes! I’m glad I switched classes. I got to meet you, Johann.”
“Haha, you flatter me.”
Johann drew a small shy smile. To add to that, he swept his bangs for seemingly no reason. Just like his manners, his actions were also displayed quite naturally. If Todd saw him, he’d call him out saying, “That phony…” He’ll have a disgusted look on his face.
“Oh, Johann. You’re here too? Hello to you too, Bellissa. Anyway, Johann, are you taking Professor Geever’s class?”
Another voice intervened. It was Bach, the son of Marquis Hansen. Something was wrong considering his slightly wrinkled eyebrows and confused eyes.
“No, I’m not. I’ll take it next semester. What’s the matter?”
“I mean, he gives tests every week. If I knew this would happen, I would’ve taken a different subject. So, I was wondering if you had Isaac’s notes.”
“Well, in that case, you’ll have to wait a little bit. I’ll ask him and let you know.”
“Really? As expected, I can count on you like always.” [T/N: Leech]
Bellissa, who was still listening quietly, finally uttered, “Don’t bother Johann!” But Johann didn’t affirm or deny it, just smiled softly.
Bach had a bad habit of looking for Johann whenever he needed help, ever since their days at the Münew Academy. Not only is he not hardworking, he is also not smart and doesn’t put much effort into anything, but he’s great at dumping his work on others.
‘He would be nothing if he wasn’t Marquis Hansen’s son.’
But since Bach was Bach Hansen, he needed to keep being acquainted with him. No matter how big and influential the Pertan family was in the empire, at the end of the day, Johann was the third son. Unlike Bach, the Marquis’ successor, his share would always be his brother’s leftovers.
There was a reason why Johann treated people with a mask on his face. As a child of the Pertan family who would receive nothing, they are necessary to help me get my future title. And in order to get that, Johann could fake a smile all day long.
Todd said that he was twisted and wicked but Johann didn’t think so. It’s a world where everyone tells lies to use each other anyway. Why should I be looked down upon for doing that?
“Oh, right, Johann. We need to have a partner for Professor Harper’s class.”
“Really? I didn’t know.”
“Yes, the seniors who took this class before told me. Speaking of which, would you like to partner with me?”
Bellissa, a lovely girl with chubby cheeks, asked in a soft voice. She is the only daughter of Count Yorcy, who owns a large gold mine. She has been close to him since they were friends from Münew Academy. But he wasn’t sure if Bellissa considered Johann just a friend.
‘I should keep my distance. As always.’
Johann nodded silently, swallowing a bitter smile.
“I’d be happy to, if I may.”
“Really? I’m glad! I’ll take care of it when it’s time to choose a partner.”
“I’d appreciate it.”
Johann smiled as he entered the classroom.
He happened to make eye contact with Elena who was sitting in the front seat of the center row. Johann stopped smiling and stiffened. She was staring at him with her clear purple eyes without saying a word.
I have to smile.
Contrary to his expectations, his stiff face could not relax easily. Johann momentarily avoided Elena’s gaze before he let out a sigh. Strangely, he felt the nape of his neck burning. He couldn’t seem to name the reason, nor did he wish to know.
I don’t know why I thought of that night now. I kept envisioning in my mind myself and Elena floating in the dark. While all the other sensations were hazy, only her unusually firm grip remained vivid. It was strange. Johann had never forgotten anything owing to his extraordinary memory.
‘… It must be because we suddenly went up quite high.’
Although he never feared heights in his life, Johann decided to conclude on that. I can’t find an answer otherwise. Maybe there are other reasons, but Johann didn’t want to know them for as long as possible.