Chapter 80 - Smell Of An Affair
“Huaam,” Cecile yawned widely as she stretched. Although she felt a tad stiff from last night’s activities, it was not bad enough to hurt, it only made her feel somewhat drowsy and tired. She felt around the other side of the bed but all she found were sheets that had long lost their warmth.
‘He left early,’ she realized. Estian usually stayed by her side until she woke in the morning. ‘Wonder if he’s got something busy to do?’
Due to all her official duties being canceled, Kane did not visit her palace, which was why she had no one to ask questions and why she did not know Estian’s schedule today. ‘I don’t suppose the palace attendants will know either,’ she mused.
Cecile rolled about on her bed for a long while, until her eyes turned to the table in the room. A book was neatly placed on top of it. She glared at the thing, muttering, “Because of this I had to…”
But the moment Cecile recalled last night’s happenings, she had to bury her face in her pillow again. She had drooled with joy over that steamy part of the story when she was simply reading it, but acting out in person…?
“Ahem! Hem!” Cecile coughed, slightly lifted her pajamas, and, unsurprisingly, found her body covered with red marks, though they seemed to have faded away quite a bit overnight. “This must be why there’s beast in the title.”
Cecile had truly feared being eaten alive by her husband, who had faithfully reenacted the scenes written in the book. Staggering out of bed, she put on a pair of slippers and walked out with tottering steps.
‘Come to think of it, Aled’s being quiet these days.’ Cecile looked around in search of that familiar figure, but she could not find hair nor hide of the spirit. ‘It didn’t seem like it was stuck to His Majesty either.’
The spirit was always one to noisily chatter by one’s side throughout the day. While it was nice to see it gone, a part of her missed having Aled around. ‘I’d be willing to listen to its twittering a bit, for now at least.’
Despite its habit of talking on and on without stopping, there were many fascinating things among the stories it told. In particular, Cecile enjoyed listening to stories about the spirit world, accounts of records, and other stories. If only the spirit was around during moments like these when she had nothing but time, she would have hearkened with some interest—but alas.
Cecile opened the door that led to the neighboring room. She gazed inside the room full of all sorts of things that were neatly arranged, then focused on the Forest of Tetin in the center of a display. Looking at the jewel again, she still found it a curious item. The shadow of a forest was swaying within the green jewel the size of a child’s head. A forest within a jewel. Would this not be why it was the national treasure of a country?
Cecile examined the Forest of Tetin, tapping its surface with a finger. Aled had now moved inside this very jewel, which was practically stolen from Tania. When she asked why, the spirit had replied, ‘Wouldn’t you move in as well? It’s in a whole different league! And the more real estate, the better, alright?’
And, after giving a good long lecture on good housing and wide property, the spirit disappeared. Since then, Aled had not shown itself until the present… although Cecile did vaguely recall the spirit grumbling something along the lines of, ‘Argh, that darned emperor.’
“It is still shining…”
This meant that Aled was still residing inside the jewel. Cecile looked at the Forest of Tetin for a while longer before shifting her gaze to where a cracked piece of jewelry, formerly called the Emerald of Aled, was placed alongside the emerald brooch she had gotten from Tania. “Cracked though it might be, it’s still a national treasure. Got to keep it safe.”
Even though it had lost its former brilliance because of the crack and Aled’s absence, it was still a large and beautiful jewel.
‘It’s connected to the spirit realm because of Aled living in it before if I recall correctly?’
That must have been why Aled had advised to treat it carefully with a shrug, despite that it was broken. Anything that can serve as an entrance to the spirit realm was precious and whatnot, or so the spirit said. In any case, that was why Tania’s jewel ended up being stored in this room as well. For a long time, Cecile gazed between the two pieces of jewelry, thinking of Aled, until…
“Your Majesty, are you inside?”
She heard the sounds of attendants looking for her from the outside, prompting her to hurry to her feet and return to her bedroom. “What is the matter?” she asked.
Ordinarily, the attendants would not disturb Cecile, allowing her to rest well until she woke up and got out. There had to be a reason they were looking for her.
“I beg your forgiveness, but the items sent by His Majesty have just arrived, and we have been ordered to report Your Majesty’s reaction.”
“By His Majesty?” Was there something Estian had promised to send? ‘Come to think of it…’
Last night, Cecile had complained of boredom to Estian. He then asked if all he had to do was make the boredom go away. The attendants hurriedly helped her dress, then led her to a large room of the empress’ palace—one that she somehow had yet to visit.
“Where is this? How very extravagant-looking,” she asked, looking around.
“It is a storeroom, Your Majesty,” the attendant replied.
“…” Why the heck is the doorknob of a storeroom made of gold? Cecile coughed dryly in an attempt to hide her embarrassment as she opened the door and entered. Many people were standing inside who immediately knelt upon her appearance. “All hail Her Majesty the Empress!”
They moved with discipline and cried out with sonorous voices. It could be clearly told who they were, if not by the sharp air about them, then by the white armor they donned.
“What has brought the Imperial Guard here?” Cecile asked.
The Imperial Guard was composed of the emperor’s closest retainers, whose duty was to protect his royal self. At a glance, they seemed to number over twenty. Cecile had heard that members of the Imperial Guard were selected from only among the best, which was why they did not even number thirty in total. If so many of them were here, then…
“Why have you all come to my palace? What of His Majesty’s guard?”
The imperial guard standing at the very front bowed his head and replied, “To His Majesty, our protection is nothing but a hindrance!”
I don’t think that’s something you should say so loudly. Cecile could not bring herself to make a comment, seeing the man talk with his head held high, even showing pride on his face. “You may all rise for now.”
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