Chapter 30 - Out With The Old
There was no official with the nerve to ask, “Light how?”.
While they were all lost for words, Estian walked over to the jewels the attendants had brought in. He picked up a necklace adorned with a ruby the size of a child’s fist.
“That’s Piot’s Ruby!”
Next, he picked up a bracelet that boasted an azure sapphire.
“Ahh! That’s the Celceta of Eternity!”
The officials cried out in surprise each time he picked up an item.
“The Star of Regias!”
“The Dark Emperor’s Eclipse!”
All these names popping from their mouths each held meaningful places in the pages of imperial history. And so, as if solving historical questions together, they called out the names of the jewels being picked up by the emperor. By the time most of the names they knew had been called, a veritable mound of imperial jewels was piled in Estian’s arms. After taking them all, Estian walked over to Cecile. He then had an attendant at the side hold onto what he brought.
The attendant staggered on the spot with a groan. Before long his face grew red and sweat began to trickle from his forehead.
‘How heavy!’ the attendant cried inwardly. He had not noticed only because the emperor had carried them with such ease; how could an armful of gemstones and precious metals be light? But regardless of the attendant sweating or not, Estian had eyes only for Cecile, who wore a look of indifference and serenity as if oblivious to what was going on.
‘Even though she must be shaking inside,’ Estian thought.
It was only last night that she had clung to him, crying, “Your Majesty, I can’t do it!”. Cecile had jumped in fright, saying she could never throw such treasures. But when Estian gave her the following two options, “Do you want to die? Or do you want to throw?”, she did not hesitate to answer, “I have strong arms! I can throw a good pitch!”
‘Though I didn’t think she really would have strong arms.’
He had thought she was just saying things for the sake of it, but when he saw the ring ricochet up and down and into the vase a moment ago, he realized Cecile had spoken only the truth.
* * *
The two of them had confined themselves to the empress’ palace to practice for this today. Though, while it was called practice, it consisted mostly of Estian telling Cecile what she had to do, and her clinging to him with teary eyes and crying, “I can’t do it, I won’t do it, save me please!”
‘But, despite all her crying, she does well when she sets her mind to it. Is this what they call being strong in actual practice?’ he wondered.
Estian asked her, “Will you give me your hand, Empress?”
In response, Cecile held out her right hand to him with an elegant flair. Upon holding her hand, Estian found that the tip of Cecile’s fingers were trembling ever so slightly. As expected, she was feeling quite worried despite her feigned indifference. Estian picked out a sapphire ring from the topmost of the mound of jewels being held by the attendant, and he slipped it on her finger. It was a loose fit though, what with the ring being so large.
What on earth was the emperor up to?
Everyone wondered as such as they focused their gazes on Estian. He did not mind them in the least, however; he leisurely continued to do as he wished. Next, he picked out a long necklace of thick pearls and wrapped it round and round Cecile’s neck. That was not the end of it.
This time, he took off the small earrings Cecile was wearing, replacing them with a new pair from the mound that was adorned with a large spinel each. After that, he put a bracelet on her, and then another necklace. Estian hung and put each and every piece of the jewelry he had brought on Cecile’s body. Dozens of necklaces were wrapped around her neck, and numerous bracelets were put on her arms as well, and so many brooches were fastened to her dress that the dress itself was not visible anymore.
Estian carefully adorned her as if he had become her attendant. All the onlookers quietly watched the sight of the emperor. Meanwhile, a large majority of the jewelry Estian brought was now hung on Cecile.
Her face began to stiffen at the weight. The weight of the jewels was spread out across her body and so she did not feel as burdened as the attendant did a while ago, but that did not mean she was comfortable. After finally adorning the last piece of jewelry on Cecile, Estian took a step back. He gazed at her as if admiring his own work.
“I believe this is enough to prevent them from being blown by the wind, Empress. Will this suffice as our wedding gift?” Estian asked.
Sighs were heaved at the emperor’s words. The emperor was giving all the treasures of the imperial family to the empress. This was an unprecedented incident. Even the emperors who were said to be even madder than Estian had not done such a thing before. The imperial minister of finance, who was in a corner of the central hall, collapsed with a cry of shock.
‘How much do you think all that’s worth?! Enough to buy over most countries and more! No, putting that aside, they’re already cultural assets!’
Everyone looked at the empress. Who in the world would feel discontent after receiving that much? All of them thought that the empress would be delighted and thank His Majesty for his favor. Contrary to their expectations, however, not a trace of joy could be found on Cecile’s face. Rather, her expression seemed even stiffer than before.
What else was the empress going to say this time? They waited for Cecile to speak, their hands clenched and sweaty.
“Thank you truly for your favor, Your Majesty. But…”
What followed from the empress’ mouth far exceeded their imaginations.
“Don’t you think a wedding gift would be better if it was new?” she asked coyly.
And thus, the legacies of the imperial family were—in but a single moment—reduced to secondhand articles.