Chapter 27 - What You Promised
The knights who were preparing for an inspection parade, as well as the ministers who were preparing to hold a meeting, were rendered speechless at this unprecedented situation.
The emperor taking days off work?
This had never happened before. Long ago, on the day after the emperor’s enthronement, he had propped the head of his half-brother—whom he had beheaded for treason—on his desk and continued to work. That was the sort of man he was. On that day, the court officials beheld the emperor signing papers by dipping his pen in the blood flowing from the head, and they could not dare to suggest he rest for a day.
In any case, that was the emperor they all knew, so naturally, they had all presumed he would attend to national affairs from morning, honeymoon or not. Thus all the court officials arrived at the imperial palace as per usual, only to find out he was going to rest. Not for a day, but for a whole week!
“Just what sort of person could Her Majesty the Empress be to make His Majesty act like this?”
All they knew of her was that she had seemed to have gone bonkers on the wedding day.
“She did seem pretty, but…”
Her face was not clearly visible at the time due to her wedding veil, but the faint outline of her face that showed through seemed to be that of a rather fine beauty. The more people talked about her, the more they realized they knew nothing of her.
* * *
And today the empress, who had been staying at her palace for an entire week, was finally going to make her first official appearance. The court officials gathered in the central hall of the imperial palace fixed their eyes forward, tension on their faces. These men who normally inched back in fear at the mere thought of meeting the emperor’s eyes were fueled by time-limited courage to approach the front. It was then that the trumpets sounding the emperor’s entrance were heard. All the officials straightened their posture and lowered their heads at the sound.
Regardless of however many odd things had happened recently, the long-time fear that had been dominating them made their bodies move of their own accord. Two pairs of footsteps could be heard nearing the bowing officials. They had always been accustomed to the sound of one pair of footsteps; they realized anew that the emperor had married and accepted an empress.
“Raise your heads,” the emperor commanded.
The officials obeyed his command as if they had been waiting for it, and following that their gazes immediately focused on the person standing to the side of the emperor.
The officials burst out with all kinds of exclamations. Unlike during the wedding ceremony, the empress standing beside the emperor was wearing a golden crown instead of a wedding veil, and she was gazing at them.
‘Was she that pretty?’
Upon seeing the empress standing there with the faintest trace of a smile on her lips, they were first surprised by her beauty. Her bright platinum hair that evoked the image of sunlight shining through falling leaves was finely braided thread by thread into an elegant bun. Beneath her soft-looking hair were her dark green eyes, reminiscent of forests in early summer, blinking beneath the veil of long lashes. There was even a subtle blush on her clear, flawless skin as if letting the world know that she was not a doll, but a human being.
It was unknown as to what care she received and what meals she had taken, but the empress appeared full of life with her clear complexion and youthful skin.
“As you all are aware, I have accepted an empress. I trust that your loyalty to me that has lasted to this day will also extend to my other half, the empress, without change.”
Every member of the court lowered themselves to one knee and cried out towards the empress.
“We pledge all our loyalty to Her Majesty the Empress!”
After giving their pledge in powerful voices, they awaited the empress’s reply. Almost all of the empire’s court officials had sworn loyalty in disciplined unison. It was a spectacle that caused the hearts of the attendants in the back to race.
“You may rise,” the newly crowned empress spoke in a clear and beautiful voice. The officials stood up at her bidding, feeling relieved inside. She had seemed to be a bit touched in the head during the wedding, but thankfully their empress seemed to be normal. Then it happened, at the very moment they relaxed their guards—as the officials were awaiting more words from her, the empress whirled around to face the emperor, asking, “So when will you be showing me what you promised, Your Majesty?”
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