Chapter 25 – I Already Knew The Truth (2)
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“I’m…I’m here to see Prince Heinley … …”
The woman approaching the Southern Palace intercepted a man passing by. The man was a knight, though not a citizen of the Eastern Empire.
“Who are you running an errand for?”
“Oh, no. I wanted to tell him something…”
The knight tilted his head as he observed the woman.
Though the woman was neatly dressed, she didn’t look like a noblewoman. She had to be a servant working in the palace. He found it difficult to fathom why the Prince would want to meet with a foreign maid.
“I hear the prince is looking for his letter acquaintance…”
The knight’s eyes widened.
“You’re the one Prince Heinley is looking for?”
Coincidentally, the knight was of the Western Kingdom, the same as Prince Heinley. At the knight’s distrustful look, the maid—Cherily—turned red and cried, “Yes!” Rashta had persuaded her that she could play it as a joke if it didn’t work out, but if it did, she could win the love of a beautiful prince. She was still terrified however.
The knight stared silently at Cherily then turned around.
“Come this way, please.”
Cherily anxiously followed the knight. Viscountess Verdi had told her about the contents of the letters, but considering the time when the lady-in-waiting returned to her estate, Cherily was uneasy about not knowing the recent exchanges. Rashta reassured her that she didn’t have to know, but…
Cherily stopped, swallowing dryly and staring straight ahead. The knight knocked on the door and announced the maid’s visit.
“Your Highness, a woman is here claiming that she was the one exchanging letters with you.”
But no matter how long they waited, no one answered.
“Oh. Did he step out?”
The grumbling knight told Cherily to wait in the parlor room, and she sat motionless in the empty space. It must have been an hour before the knight finally came back and said, “He’s here. He’ll be seeing you now.”
The door to the empty drawing room was not closed, and the sofa she was sitting in faced towards the corridor. She hadn’t seen anyone passing by. But the Prince was here?
‘Maybe he was inside the whole time and pretended he wasn’t…’
Cherily’s unease grew, but she stood up quickly and followed the knight. The bedroom door opened.
Inside this door, she could be humiliated, or her future could be changed. If things went well, she would be like Rashta…
Cherily cautiously ventured inside the room. Inside the large space stood two windows wide open, the curtains drifting inwards from the breeze. A tall man stood between the curtains. He was partially nude, wearing only an open thin robe.
‘That’s Prince Heinley…’
Cherily’s eyes widened.
The man’s light hair scattered in the breeze. He was more handsome than the rumors even suggested. If an angel came descended to this earth, he would certainly look like this. However, the moment Cherily looked into his sharp purple eyes, she was struck by the thought he might be more devil than angel. He seemed ethereal at first glance, but soon she felt a chilling undercurrent. Cherily’s instincts told her to run away.
However, the moment their eyes met, Prince Heinley offered her a gentle smile, and she pushed away that instinctive feeling.
“My Lady, are you the one I’ve been exchanging letters with?”
Prince Heinley raised his eyebrows, and Cherily stared back, her heart pounding. She thought he would ask for proof, but he did not say anything. Her heart thumped louder. After a long moment, he smiled.
“Are you sure?”
“I want to ask you for sure. The person I am looking for is very precious to me.”
“I would be very happy if you were my letter friend, but if not…I would be so disappointed that I don’t know what I would do.”
She heard the implied threat. Prince Heinley approached her and smiled benignly again.
“Are you sure it’s you, My Lady?”
I was having a friendly lunch with the nobles I knew. Princess Soju, who I had become close with yesterday, arrived at the table with a bottle of wine.
“This is a speciality of our Southern Kingdom. Consider it my apology for being late.”
As the people looked towards her, Princess Soju smiled, then seated herself and placed the bottle on the table. She then addressed the table.
“Have you heard?”
“What is the news?”
Laura turned to Princess Soju, who she was sitting next to, and Princess Soju gave a broad smile.
“Well, I’ve only just heard, so not many people are talking about it yet.”
The table pressed Laura for the news, and she lowered her voice conspiratorially, her eyes shining.
“I heard it on the way. Someone said they knew Prince Heinley’s letter acquaintance.”
Laura’s eyes fell on me, and I reflexively furrowed my brow. It was one thing for me not to come forward, and another for someone else to pretend to be me.
“Did they say who it was?”
“Yes, Your Majesty. I heard it was Miss Rashta’s maid.”