Chapter 81 - Smell Of An Affair
The Imperial Guard saluted Cecile before rising to their feet. It was not long before she could sense their gazes upon her; half of them contained curiosity, while the other half harbored wariness. She realized that she was being put under scrutiny, but there was nothing she could say about it. ‘Considering all the things I’ve done so far…’
The men were no doubt feeling nervous, not knowing what other strange thing she would get up to even at this very moment.
“First, please accept this, Your Majesty.” One of the guards carefully handed over a long piece of paper to Cecile. As she received it, she asked, “What is this?”
“It is the list of gifts sent by His Majesty today.”
“Ah, I se… Wait. I don’t see the end of it?”
Cecile was just thinking what a long piece of paper it was, but after taking it in hand, it turned out that the paper had been folded up. She held it up by the top and it unfurled to a length that reached the floor, and she then saw something densely written on the paper. The writing was so small that Cecile had to bring it close and focus to make out the letters.
“120 rolls of the finest silk woven by Delphian craftsmen, an instrument of the Fourth Era excavated from Kashia Dungeon, a table set made by the first Mage Lord that immediately serves black tea and cake upon taking a seat…”
She read through the small letters without much thought at first, but then ended up slightly gaping—there were nothing but incredibly valuable items listed on the paper. ‘Delphian craftsmen!’
It was said that Delphi Island, located at the far end of the sea, was inhabited by people who looked different from the residents of the continent. Their lives were based on a different technology from that of the continent, the most notable of which was the extraordinary technique their craftsmen used to weave intricate patterns in silk. ‘I’m pretty sure I read in a book that even a single roll of their silk is enough to cause strife among nobles…’
A single roll was worth the average house, or so she had heard, yet 120 rolls? Cecile slightly turned her head and one of the guards standing in the back stepped forward with a finely rolled sheet of silk in his hands. Cecil approached the guard as if entranced and gave the silk a touch.
“Good heavens…” She could not help but exclaim in admiration. The texture of it, smoother than any other silk, was one thing, but even more amazing than that was the pattern of the fabric. There was a large picture in the middle of the silk with small patterns for decoration around it. The depiction was so vivid and full of life it was like an actual scenery was pasted onto the fabric.
“As per His Majesty’s words, all Delphian silk imported into the continent for the next 10 years belong to none other than Her Majesty the Empress.”
“What? 10 years?” Cecile was startled by the guard’s message as she was enjoying the soft sensation of the silk.
“Yes. In addition, I am to convey that this is all of the Delphian silk imported to the continent this year and that His Majesty is remorseful to be late in presenting these when they should have been given on the wedding day.”
At that, the imperial attendants who were standing behind Cecile shrugged their shoulders, as if saying, ‘See that? That’s how precious our empress is.’
Cecile, on the other hand, stood there blinking blankly as she chewed over what she had just heard. 10 years? All Delphian silk imported for the next 10 years would be hers? ‘Wasn’t it supposed to be so rare that even a piece the size of half a palm is worth having?’
She clearly recalled reading quite a few scenes in books where marriage proposals were made with a gift of something made from a piece of Delphian silk, yet 120 rolls of those precious rolls belonged to her and her only, and she would hold a monopoly on its supply for the next 10 years? It was not simply a tremendous gift money-wise, but a gift that came with overwhelming power.
“May we move these gifts now?”
Cecile nodded, prompting more guards and attendants to enter through another door by the side. In no time, one side of the storeroom was piled with enough silk to reach the ceiling. Cecile eyed the pile with incredulity, whereas the attendants of the empress’ palace unabashedly gazed upon it, enraptured.
‘So that’s 120 mansions stacked right there?’
They’ve got real good compressibility alright. Amazing. But then Cecile broke out of her thoughts, realizing that the long piece of paper was still in her hand—the Delphian silk made up no more than a single line. “Ha-hang on now. It can’t be that everything written here is…”
A guard replied in a matter-of-fact tone, “Indeed. All of them are gifts that will be moved to this storeroom. His Majesty has instructed for us to find out in detail what item pleases you the most, Your Majesty.”
“…” Cecile turned her head aside, lost for words, only to find that her attendants had brought a table and chair before she knew it.
“Your Majesty, I think it best to watch while sitting comfortably.”
“Shall we set up breakfast here?”
“…Yes. Ready me a feast.”
Cecile considered refusing, but then laughed weakly at the sight of the paper in her hand. It did not seem like this would end for several days at the least.
* * *
“Hnn.” Cecile stretched with a groan and pressed her palms to her eyes.
“Oh, my poor eyes…” Her eyes throbbed from looking at items being carried into her storeroom all day long and from reading the densely packed list of gifts.
“How is it that I’ve still not seen half of it?” Cecile muttered. She thought of the list of gifts that still had much left to go through.
‘He said he would make the boredom go away.’ But who knew he would live up to his words in this manner? She truly did not feel bored thanks to that, however, so he did make good on his promise.
Cecile walked into the garden. Tired from being surrounded by people all day long, she had her attendants withdraw, saying she would walk alone. Strolling through the quiet garden, she felt herself calm down a little. ‘He told me to sleep first because he’s coming back late.’
While Cecile was watching the parade of gifts, an attendant had come to deliver Estian’s message.
‘But I still think it’s better to wait.’
He had sent her so many gifts, so she felt it only right to at least say thank you. Cecile was about to move elsewhere as she thought of Estian and when he would come back, but just then she overheard voices.
“Is that true?”
She heard the voice of an attendant over the wooden fence of the garden.
“I’m telling you it is. My God, then the reason why His Majesty isn’t allowing the empress to leave the palace is…”
“Right, because of Princess Yuliana, the greatest beauty in the continent.”
In that instant, Cecile instinctively realized—she absolutely had to listen in on their conversation.
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