Chapter 54 - Eugendiph’s Blood
“Huaam…” Cecile could not suppress a chain of yawns. How many times did we do it last night, again? Once, twice, three times, four times… No… forget it. She believed that numbers did not matter; all she needed to remember was that it was good.
Cecile rubbed her sleepy eyes as she turned the page of a book. There was a reason she kept reading when she could sleep a little more instead. ‘I think it’ll be a big help to me.’
The book in Cecile’s hands was a story that she stayed up nights reading back when she was in the Kingdom of Navitan. It was included among the books brought by Tania—‘You can’t miss out on this when you think classic!’— and so Cecile was happy to read it again.
Its title was ‘No One Looks for the Most Gorgeous Flower of the Imperial Palace’.
The plot of the book went as follows:
The female lead is in a loveless marriage with the emperor. The emperor comes to her every night, but they only sleep together. They do not share anything personal whatsoever.
The female lead grows increasingly tired of the emperor’s attitude, but then meets the imperial knight commander, the emperor’s right-hand man, in a garden. The number of times they meet gradually increases and they end up falling in love with one another.
The female lead dreams of a future together with the knight commander, not the emperor, and realizes she must abandon her status as empress for her wish to come true… so the empress deliberately commits wicked acts before the emperor. Voices calling for her deposal grow louder by the day and the empress awaits judgment by the emperor, but when he comes to their bedroom one night, he only questions her—’You think I’ll let you go?’—and begins to show an obsession…
As she read the book, Cecile repeatedly went over the parts where the empress deliberately committed wicked acts so that she would be deposed. ‘I should take note for later.’
Estian told her to do bad things and she was clueless as to how she should go about doing just that, but reading and learning was the way. Never had she expected it to be of use to her one day.
As Cecile was flipping through the book’s pages, her fingers stopped all of a sudden. ‘I liked this part so much, reading it back then…’
It was the scene where the female lead and the knight commander shared their first kiss amid rose bushes. Looking at it now though, she did not feel as deeply moved as before. ‘I don’t get it. Why does the emperor seem better? I used to think of him as a piece of trash, a leopard that can’t change its ways, but now that I look again, he seems kind of earnest?’
Perhaps she felt that way because the emperor in the story had black hair and black eyes like Estian. Come to think of it, the knight commander in the novel…
It was then that she heard a knock on the door. “What is the matter?”
“Sir Kane is here.”
“Let him in,” Cecile ordered and swiftly placed a bookmark on the part she was reading, covered the book, and pushed it to one end of the table. The moment Kane entered the room, she shot a discreet glance at the covered book. ‘Don’t they have the same features as the emperor and knight commander in the book?’
The color of the emperors’, as well as the knight commanders’, hair and eyes were the same.
“Your Majesty, is there anything wrong with my face?” Kane inquired wonderingly at Cecile staring at him with a surprised face.
“N-no. On what business have you come here today?”
It was nothing new for Kane to visit the empress’ palace. Even during Estian’s absence, he had come numerous times to convey and inform her of many things. He appeared to have come with that purpose in mind today as well; a rather thick stack of papers was in his hands. “I have brought the schedule for next week,” he announced.
“The matter of holding an audience with the envoys of the Stoan Kingdom?”
“Yes. A dungeon was recently discovered within their kingdom. It seems they went to some pains while excavating it, what with it being so old, and apparently they have found several rather curious items. I am told they intend on offering up the rarest among those items,” he explained.
After elaborating on her schedule for next week, Kane quickly left the room. Cecile took a second read through everything he had handed over before she looked at the end of her table.
The book that was there until just a while ago was gone.
“Where did it go?”
She had put a cover of white paper on the book as she was embarrassed to have its title seen by others. “It… it can’t be…” Cecile muttered and recalled the bunch of papers Kane took back with him and her face turned pale.
It didn’t end up going in that bunch, did it?
* * *
“Yes, Your Majesty.” Kane looked up in surprise; Estian’s tone had turned cold all of a sudden. Why is he being like this? Is there a problem?
Estian had quietly pulled out something from among the bunch of papers Kane brought back from the empress’ palace and begun to read it. But there should not have been anything of issue in there? Kane was feeling muddled when Estian gave him an order with a laugh. “Get your head on the floor, for starters. And…”
He tossed a book in front of Kane. “Ban the selling of this book across the continent. Right this very instant.”
And thus, ‘No One Looks for the Most Gorgeous Flower of the Imperial Palace’ became a forbidden book in the empire.
* * *
“So what I’m saying is, I think I had a big misunderstanding. I took a tiny look yesterday and, oh baby, the emperor’s got a body of work, mhm. And I saw the way you two were at it and boy was the bed about to…”
“Oh, shut up, will you!”
The hands of the attendants stopped at Cecile’s yell. In particular, the face of the attendant who was reading aloud Cecile’s schedule for the day by her side had turned whiter than the paper she held. She looked on the verge of bursting into tears at any moment as she asked, “Sh-shall I shut up?”
“N-no. I was just thinking about something else… Keep going.” Seeing the way the attendants looked at her, Cecile worried as to what kind of rumors about her were going around. Perhaps she was being gossiped about like a lunatic who talked to herself? ‘Honestly. Why is that spirit acting up again?’
Aled was happy with the jewel obtained from Tania and stayed quiet inside it, and Cecile was relieved to be troubled no more… but the quiet had not lasted long before the spirit crawled out of its den again the day after Estian’s return and began to spout more nonsense at her.
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