"Look at your expression; it seems you're still not accustomed to dimensional travel, right?" Iris remarked, her tone carrying a touch of sarcasm as she observed Seraphine's startled face.
"Iris, I think no one would easily get used to your peculiar magic."
Suddenly, an elegant and youthful girl approached Iris from behind, carrying a plate laden with food and snacks from the banquet bar. It was clear she had just returned to the table.
She possessed long, flowing light green hair that shimmered with natural radiance and wore a pair of glasses that suited her perfectly. She delicately placed the plate on the table and turned her gaze towards Seraphine, who was seated beside Iris.
"You must be Seraphine, right? I've heard quite a bit about you from Iris." Extending her hand as a gesture for a handshake, Seraphine looked at her and accepted it with a smile.
"I'm Lyricia Verdant, but you can call me Lyla. It's a pleasure to meet you," Lyla said warmly, her smile radiating friendliness as she welcomed Seraphine.
"Miss Lyla, you are also a witch, like Miss Iris, right?" Seraphine asked with interest in Lyla's identity.
"That is correct. I am a witch of wisdom, specializing in research and invention. For example, I created the magic earbud and the medicine you used in the hunting ceremony. Do you remember?"
Lyla reminded Seraphine of her experience during the hunting ceremony, the efficiency and convenience of which she vividly recalled.
"Yes, I remember that. Thanks for your assistance, Miss Lyla," Seraphine replied, nodding with appreciation, which made Lyla slightly nervous.
"Don't worry, Seraphine. I'm just doing what I can," Lyla replied, waving off the gratitude.
As they conversed, Seraphine recalled that Iris had mentioned the witch coven's current membership consisted of only three members. This meant there was one more person Seraphine hadn't met yet.
However, before she could think much about it, a girl with a youthful appearance approached from behind, holding a glass of wine. She had shining silver hair and an eye patch over her left eye, with a battle scar on her cheek. Her eyes exuded a cold intensity, and her expression was calm.
"Iris, who is this girl?" the silver-haired girl inquired, directing her gaze towards Iris, who was casually eating cookies in her chair.
"She is Seraphine, the one I mentioned to you before. Remember?" Iris responded, speaking with her mouth full, showing little concern for etiquette.
"Seraphine? I thought she'd look stronger and more mature than this. But she still appears very young," the girl remarked, expressing her admiration.
She knew of Seraphine's participation in the fierce battle against the chaos order during the hunting ceremony, and she was surprised that such a young girl had faced formidable opponents.
With a graceful turn, Seraphine shifted her attention towards the girl, slightly bowing her head in a gesture of greeting before introducing herself.
"Hi, my name is Seraphine. Could I know your name as well, miss?" Seraphine politely inquire.
"What a well-mannered girl you are. My name is Astrid Anderson. I am a witch of solitude. Just like my name suggests, I'm not fond of parties or gatherings, but this is a special occasion, and Iris forced me to come,"
Astrid explained in her calm and composed manner, her words reflecting her stoic personality.
"Hey, don't blame me that I forced you to come. Didn't you also enjoy the wine they provide?" Iris interjected in a teasing tone.
"That's why I'm here – just for the wine and food. I truly don't care about anything else," Astrid replied, her attention focused on her wine glass.
Seraphine felt somewhat awkward with their conversation taking place over her head. She attempted to intervene and engage in the conversation. However, as she tried to speak, a man standing on the balcony above the banquet hall suddenly announced,
"The Emperor Lucius Ashbourne has arrived!"
The unexpected announcement prompted all the nobles, including Seraphine, to stop what they were doing. The Emperor entered the banquet hall alongside the Queen and the Crowned Prince. Everyone bowed in respect, and Seraphine followed suit.
Standing and bowing in respect with the others, Seraphine couldn't help but notice that the three witches remained seated as if nothing were happening. Most notably, Iris continued to chew her cookie with indifference.
The Emperor approached the balcony, taking a glass of wine from a nearby servant. Raising the glass, he made a declaration. "Raise your heads, everyone. This is a memorable day for us. I declare and commence this banquet. Let us all enjoy this meaningful gathering! Glory to the Empire!"
"Glory to the Empire!" echoed through the hall as all the nobles raised their glasses and cheered. With the Emperor's declaration, the banquet officially began. Musicians started to play, filling the air with pleasant melodies and energizing the atmosphere.
With the festivities underway, Seraphine began to feel a twinge of hunger and thirst. She excused herself from the table and headed toward the banquet bar, which was adorned with an array of snacks and refreshments prepared for the nobles.
Various small, tantalizing dishes piqued her interest, typical fare for such grand gatherings like canapés and more. As Seraphine perused the offerings with her plate, a man dressed in a formal suit approached her. She hadn't noticed him initially.
"Miss Seraphine," the man called out. Seraphine turned to look at the red-haired man standing before her, wondering what he wanted, as she had not met him anywhere before.
"Hello, can I help you with anything?" Seraphine asked politely, her curiosity piqued by the man in front of her.
"My name is Vincent Caranzo. I'm from the Count's family in the south, Miss Seraphine," the man introduced himself.
Seraphine nodded in acknowledgment but couldn't help but wonder why a young man from a Count's family was approaching her.
"Miss Seraphine, if you are comfortable with it, may I ask you for a dance?" Vincent asked with a respectful gesture, extending his hand as an invitation.
"A dance?" Seraphine stammered in response, not expecting such a request. She had only recently started practicing dancing, and the idea of dancing with someone from a noble family made her nervous. She feared she might ruin the dance or, worse, step on her partner's feet.
However, before Seraphine could give a definite answer, another man approached from behind. It was Cedric, the Crown Prince, looking every bit the prince in his white luxurious attire. He attracted the attention of the surrounding nobles with his regal presence.
"Greetings. May I also join the conversation?" Cedric said, his striking blue eyes and black hair adding to his charm. Seraphine greeted him with a warm smile, but Vincent appeared quite flustered by the prince's sudden appearance.
Not to be outdone, Damian gently emerged from the crowd of nobles and approached the trio. Although he wore a smile, it seemed rather forced, especially given the fact that Seraphine was at the center of attention, surrounded by two gentlemen.
"Pardon me, but may I ask what's going on here?" Damian inquired politely, directing his question to both Vincent and Cedric. Vincent seemed eager to escape the situation, while Cedric was more than willing to engage with Damian.
"This is truly troublesome…." Seraphine mumbled as she found herself at the center of this unexpected event. This kind of situation is definitely a popular cliche that she has read before in the novel, but she did not expect to face it by herself.