Chapter 69: The First Step
Diana paused for a moment. Her answer nor her opinion would not matter. All she had to do was simply exist — what the Imperial Family used to be. Diana managed to swallow a bitter smile.
“But you can’t neglect the teaching of the ancestors.”
The Empress didn’t ask this ferocious lady, who dared to engage in the men’s trade nor was she interested in finding out the reason behind Diana’s actions. For her, it was not essential.
“Being a member of the Imperial Family is a noble destiny. It’s not trivial enough to make and bring the dowry directly.”
Occasionally, those who stood at the peak of power considered money insignificant. Diana was willing to enjoy the money itself, but she thought it was kind to make it herself. It was also a crucial difference between Stella and Grace.
“Tomorrow, I will revoke all of my authority,” Diana said.
The Empress spat without worry and looked at Diana.
“Yeah, well… I guess you’re old enough. For the time being, you will go to the palace and take bridal classes.”
The Empress thought she was showing great mercy. Her eyes were filled with the satisfaction Lucas often wore. It was a sense of pride from a benevolent self.
Before, Diana was unaware of the Empress and Lucas’ resemblance. But now, she can vividly see how their eyes sparkled the same pride.
“It’s late, stay at the palace today and leave tomorrow.” The Empress stroked her fan. Her appeased attitude implied that the problem had been settled.
Diana watched the Empress in silence. The latter gave off an air of splendor and high pressure at a glance. She possessed more authority than Lucas and most were willing to accept her charisma and power. Diana was one of them… Or perhaps she had been.
“Why aren’t you answering?” The Empress asked.
Diana felt like she was thrown out to the stage to perform unprepared. There was a massive barrier between Diana and the Empress, which reminded her of her helplessness and weakness, and taking the first step was frightening.
“If you have nothing to say, you can go now.”
It was easy to get out of there. Diana wanted to get out of here right away. However, something held her back.
It doesn’t have to be today. There’s still time, and slowly, I will build my will and have another chance. I could have my allies increased and maybe even have someone to call for help. Anyway, not now. I’ll prepare more, then I will come back again.
There, Diana’s thoughts stopped, the words escaping from her lips. It was almost inaudible, but it was heard.
“I am sorry but I can’t.” Diana raised her head and stared straight at the Empress. There was no way to escape anymore.
Diana reminded her of her thoughts. She was already back. Even if she had the magic of turning back time, nothing would change unless she had changed.
Diana knew it in her head. She understood and devoted herself to it. Now, she decided to speak her voice for her life.
Still, she almost ran away. She was on the verge of falling into the trap of the sweetest temptation that there would be: obedience. It was easy; she could always live without fear.
’Next time’ would be her false hope. Diana could wither like a plant believing that she, too, would have a chance someday.
“What are you talking about?”
“My story… I have to do it.”
It must be now. If you speak out now, you can live yourself tomorrow.
“I can’t be a princess.”
Her voice was faint but it was clear. There was a slight quiver, but it was resolute. The eyebrows of the Empress furrowed as she watched her.
“I am…” Diana felt like she was facing a beast with a claw. Again, the desire to escape came back. But her will to stay and fight persisted.
“Me, Diana Carl… I couldn’t be the princess.”
“What do you dare to say?”
“Yes, I know for sure.”
The delicate mouth of the Empress was twisted. Even though it was a short moment, the time seemed to stop.
Diana gently squeezed her hand. Otherwise, it would tremble. It was the first time she had ever confronted someone like this throughout her life.
“I know your Majesty has chosen me to be Crown Princess.” Diana struggled to calm her thumping heart. One second was too long.
“But I am not a suitable woman. Please make a decision for the benefit of the Imperial Family.”
“Huh?” The Empress spit out.
No matter how noble Diana was, she was only seventeen and had already been asking the Empress to change her decision. Indeed, it was absurdly unimaginable.
“I’ll repeat Your Majesty, I’m not qualified.”