Chapter 91 - How To Feed A Dragon
The attendants of the empress’ palace hurriedly opened the door, and bowed as the emperor, with the empress in his arms, entered with quick footsteps. “The bathroom has been prepared.”
The attendants, who had been informed of their imminent arrival, waited nervously as they recalled the exchange that occurred moments before. A servant of the main palace had rushed over to spread the news, and the attendants of the empress’ palace had turned deathly pale at the panicked expression.
Main palace’s servant: ‘Her Majesty did it again!’
Empress’ attendants: ‘How? What happened? Did she grab Princess Yuliana by the hair or something?’
The empress had looked grim when she had departed, like a hero in a fairy tale setting off to slay a dragon, which was why the attendants had already guessed she would cause another scene. Once again, their expectations were not betrayed.
Main palace’s servant: ‘It would’ve been better if that was all. She said the dragon had to be fed, and that the prettiest meat would be most fitting!’
Empress’ attendants: ‘Holy moly. That’s almost blatantly declaring I’ll have you fed to the dragon…’ The attendants hastily shut their mouths. ‘And then? What else? How did it go?’
Main palace’s servant: ‘Don’t even ask. They say the mood in the banquet hall was total pandemonium. The empress suddenly laughed, and asked why everyone looked so surprised. She then explained that she’d heard there was a rare peacock among the gifts brought by the Aswan delegation. Things finally settled down once she suggested feeding the bird to the dragon, but I’m telling you, it was totally insane in there!’
In any case, the attendants swiftly set about preparing the bathroom upon hearing that the emperor and empress were on route back to the palace. For all intents and purposes, the empress’ palace was practically the main palace due to the emperor’s daily visits. All preparations were completed perfectly in record time, thanks to the attendants quickly becoming the most experienced hands throughout the palace.
‘I suppose they’ll wash right after they come?’ Regardless of how fine the weather was, the empress had dashed out in practically nothing but her undergarments. She would certainly be cold having been outside until such a late hour. Unsurprisingly, the empress looked a little wan in the face when she returned in the emperor’s arms.
“Let us serve her, Your Majesty.” The attendants approached Estian with the intent of receiving Cecile, but instead of putting her down, he turned away from them in refusal.
“All of you may withdraw,” Estian ordered.
“However…” Estian raised a brow upon seeing their hesitation; the look in his eyes strongly implied that he did not want to repeat himself. “Then we wish you a relaxing night.” The quick-witted attendants excused themselves, leaving and shutting the door behind them. Cecile squirmed as soon as the doors had closed, as if she wanted to get down from Estian’s arms. Realizing her intentions, he quickly lowered her to her feet.
“Well done, Cecile. The faces of the Aswan delegation today were a sight to behold. It was all so intense, starting from your outfit, but your words made them all… Cecile?” Estian paused in the middle of his amused recounting, when he noticed the heaviness in the air.
Ordinarily, Cecile would have whined about what a hard time she’d had the moment the attendants left, but instead she stood quietly with her head bowed. After a moment, Cecile raised her head and asked, “Am I simply funny and amusing to you? Your Majesty.” Her voice was choked with sorrow. Her eyes had welled up with tears, which threatened to spill over at any moment.
“…” Estian froze at the sight of Cecile crying.
As he stood there at a loss for words, Cecile continued in a voice full of suppressed emotion, “You wouldn’t be able to understand how pathetic and miserable I feel right now.”
She glanced down at the silk wrapped around her body and laughed weakly. “I must’ve looked absolutely ridiculous. I know it too. I saw myself over and over in the mirror, as I had the silk draped and wrapped around me. I really looked like I had gone mad.” Cecile took a steadying breath, after spilling out her thoughts. The sight of her talking with difficulty amidst sobs made Estian feel numb in the tip of his fingers. “Were you surprised that I came uncalled? Then again, didn’t you use me well today in spite of that?”
“I pity Princess Yuliana. I never meant to say such nasty things. But you told me, Your Majesty, to pick Princess Yuliana as Girgantia’s meal.”
“…” Indeed. It was Estian who had suggested the dragon be given ‘pretty meat’ to eat.
“Your Majesty. I’m not upset about looking like this.”
“…” Clearly, he had a functioning mouth, but for some reason he couldn’t find the words.
“I’m fine with it since this is what I promised to do. I can act even worse than this. Who cares what other people think! After all, they need to get the wrong impression about me in order for me to stay safe. But…” In the end, the tears spilled over from Cecile’s eyes, running down her cheeks to her chin, and dripping down on the carpet. “You of all people shouldn’t think that way of me, Your Majesty! Not telling me about anything like today… You’re the only one I trust in… If you hide things from me… Then who am I to believe in this place…”
In her agitation, Cecile blurted out incoherent fragments, until she was so overcome she found it too difficult to continue. She desperately tried to steady her uneven breathing and hold back her tears, while Estian gazed blankly at the spot where Cecile’s tears had pooled; the wet stain on the carpet was gradually spreading. Estian reached out to hold Cecile’s hand, but failed when she forcefully slapped his hand away, and he grabbed nothing but air.
“Don’t touch me.”
“And don’t even come near me.”
“If you think I’m being arrogant, then just chase me out. Maybe Princess Yuliana will be better at my job, so why don’t you make her the new…”
Surprised by his sudden apology, Cecile looked up at Estian in shock. It was in regards to something she had learned prior to becoming the empress. ‘The emperor never utters words of an apology. Or to be exact, he mustn’t.’ It was a rule of the imperial court, or so she was taught. An apology could only be compelled when there was a degree of equality, and therefore, the emperor who reigned above all others, had no need to apologize to anyone. Yet Estian was saying to her now…
“I was wrong.”
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