Chapter 47 - I Have Returned, Empress
After all the attendants withdrew, leaving only the two in the room, Cecile slumped to the floor. “Th-that was a close one.”
“Your Majesty, are you all right?” Tania asked, worried.
“Mhm, I’m fine. I just felt faint the moment I thought it was going to be found out.” In the absence of the attendants, Cecile immediately abandoned her formal attitude toward Tania and began to chat in a friendly tone. “By the way, Tania. How did it go with the things I asked?”
“Worry not! I brought all of them!”
“Really? You’re the best, Tania!” Cecile pulled Tania into a big hug and the latter giggled foolishly in her arms. The attendants were likely unable to even guess at what the bag brought by Tania contained.
* * *
A week had passed since Tania became Cecile’s lady-in-waiting. Initially, she felt disbelief at her good luck. The earldom of Kaniche, where she spent the entirety of her life living in, was indeed—as said by the gossiping young ladies during the lady-in-waiting election day—the remotest of rural areas.
One day, Tania expressed her unhappiness at this fact, to which her mother, Margrave Kaniche, had replied: “So was there anything I couldn’t do for you? I fed you what you wanted to eat, let you do whatever you wanted to do. Where do you even get off complaining when you don’t know how blessed you are! They say there are children in faraway countries who live hard days without a single meal to go by! You should know to be grateful for the clothes on your back and meals to fill your belly. That aside, did you do the homework I gave you? Did you finish a thousand swings with the sword? And didn’t I tell you to shoot a hundred bolts a day?! I hear Carla from the neighboring province can already shoot a bee from over a hundred feet away!”
Tania plugged her ears at her mother’s torrent of nagging. Oh, there she goes again. I don’t get why all the daughters of Mom’s friends are good at using the sword, shooting the bow, thinking up new tactics, and hell, even talented in assassination.
As Tania shut her ears, refusing to listen, Margrave Kaniche sighed heavily before resuming her nagging. “That reminds me, I heard everything from the butler. I’m told you’re practically sponsoring the neighborhood bookstore? Reading isn’t a bad thing, no. But I can’t bear to show my face around for shame after hearing the titles of the books you’re always looking at! What? ‘The Lark Cries: Touch of Obscenity’? ‘A Hard Night of the Duke’s Love’? ‘Leash Me Forever’? This is why your swordsmanship is such a mess these days—because you’re always holding on to these sorts of books! Why I’ll throw out every single one of them!”
“Mom, I hate you!”
Such days of nagging continued until her father returned from his trip to the capital.
“I’ve heard His Majesty took in an empress and soon there’ll be a lady-in-waiting election, honey.”
“Is that right?” Tania’s eyes twinkled at the family meal conversation and she said, “Mom, I wanna go there! I wanna be Her Majesty the Empress’ lady-in-waiting too!
Her father smiled gently at her exclaim as he reached out to hold his wife’s hand. “Honey, I don’t think it’s quite right to throw knives at the breakfast table. And, Tania. What did Dad tell you?”
“Don’t say anything that’ll set Mom off when she’s eating.”
At her daughter’s answer, Margrave Kaniche massaged her chest to calm herself as she glared at Tania. “You spouted such things despite knowing? And you plan on becoming Her Majesty’s lady-in-waiting?! Do you even know what that position entails?”
“Yes! It’s a position where you can court a dashing knight while witnessing relentless veiled strife!”
“Didn’t Mom tell you to read romance novels in moderation?!”
That day, Tania was chewed out precisely to the point of near-death. While Tania was writing an essay of apology in the night, sniffling all the while, her father came to visit. “Tania, I did some talking with your mother and…”
“Hicc… Did she say she’d feed me to the grizzlies?”
“No, not that. Your mom says she’ll send you to the capital to join the lady-in-waiting election.”
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