Chapter 5 - The Perfect Lady
As the emperor strode towards the conference hall, his gentlemen-in-waiting followed him with several list copies. The nobles had already gathered inside the hall. Marquis Horissen was the first to rise and greet the emperor, and the other nobles followed suit.
Acknowledging their greetings, Juselle sat on his throne and said, “Take a seat.”
As soon as everyone was seated, the gentlemen-in-waiting began distributing the list to each attendee. The nobles stared in bewilderment at the papers they were receiving.
“As you’re all aware, the crown prince will turn 19 soon, and there will be a ball in his honor.,” Juselle said grandly.
“Yes, Your Imperial Majesty.”
“The crown prince shall choose one of the ladies on this list to dance with at the ball.”
Everyone quickly diverted their attention to the document before them. Some faces brightened at the prospect of their daughters having the opportunity to dance with the crown prince. There was a chance he would find one of them pleasing, perhaps even choosing to pursue a future with them.
Some were disappointed to see that their daughters were not on the list, while others had entirely different reactions.
“Your Imperial Majesty, if I may?” Ian spoke up first.
“Speak, Marquis Horissen.”
“Why is my daughter on this list?”
“I have heard that she is both beautiful and kind and that she is more than fit to be listed here,” the emperor replied.
Most people had one or two faults, but his investigation revealed that everyone had nothing but praise for Lady Aris. That was why Juselle had listed her on the first page. She was rumored to be a fine, upstanding young lady of noble heritage, not to mention she was the daughter of Marquis Horissen, a devoted supporter of the crown.
“Your Imperial Majesty, please remove her from the list,” the marquis pleaded, less than happy about seeing his daughter’s name on the list.
Emperor Juselle was shocked. He could not believe what he was hearing—Ian wanted to pass up the opportunity of having his daughter become the crown princess?
“My daughter is too young!” Ian exclaimed. As he began to protest, Juselle gave him a look of disbelief. Next to him, Louison raised his hand. After all, his daughter Violet was on the list as well. Although she was young, she was not young enough to be excluded from consideration.
“My daughter is only 13!” Louison exclaimed.
“Please remove her from the list.”
The two men wanted to ensure that their daughters would not be chosen. As soon as they began to protest, so did other members of the nobility. Apparently, they all deeply cared for their daughters.
Although they knew the title of crown princess was a great honor, many nobles began backing out, saying that their daughters, too, were still too young. Juselle looked at his quickly decreasing list and made a decision. “I will not allow anyone to be removed from the list solely because of their age.”
Juselle had secretly hoped that either the daughter of Marquis Horissen or Duke Essel would be chosen. They both came from noble bloodlines and were loyal to the current royal family. They did not have much political ambition, and Juselle was sure they would help strengthen the crown.
He had many expectations from the two men, but now they were begging him to remove their daughters from the list. It had nothing to do with their loyalty to him and everything to do with their love for their daughters.
At that moment, the door flung open, and a young man came in. His blonde hair, similar in color to Juselle’s, grazed just past his shoulders as his blue eyes shone like the sky. He was extremely handsome, the spitting image of the emperor. It was the crown prince, Hiel Ren Xenon.
The crown prince looked around. “What’s going on here?”
Juselle and all of the nobles in attendance watched as the crown prince picked up the list of eligible ladies and began flipping through the pages.
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