I, who was in Estelle’s arm, waiting outside together with Nouvel whose on his duty to guard Kieran’s bedroom. Out of curiosity, I stole glances into the room. The room was much simpler than I had thought it would be. Unexpectedly, it was quite plain. I was surprised by the modest space that spread out in front of my eyes.
What in the world? Weren’t tyrant supposed to be the King of all wastrels? Showing off their gold and using it like water? Even though he’s the emperor, he seemed to have little to no interest in showing off his fortune at all.
Well, this still doesn’t change anything.
Just because he didn’t go around wasting his money, it didn’t mean the way I look at him would drastically change or anything.
Reality was cruel and this world was rotten.
“You may place the young miss here and leave.” Said an old woman, who held the position of the head maid in Kieran’s Palace.
Estelle held me close and carefully started to walk into the room. As soon as I entered the room, I realized that it’s not exactly a plain room that diminished the dignity of an emperor. The walls were colored in dark grey and the floors were made of marble; the room itself is filled with Kieran’s fresh aroma and some expensive decorations that scattered around to fill up the empty space—from the couches that were cream colored, the tea table, a chandelier hanging directly overheard, a large painting of Kryfi Empire map made of gold that I found hanging over the wall, Kieran’s bed to a side table that is placed beside it.
How should I describe it? Should I just say it was adequately fancy, sufficiently expensive, yet satisfactorily dignified? Especially, those sofa and tea table that have a delicate carvings that looked simple at first glance but has majestic aura oozing out from it. While the bed stood out the most as if at least three fully grown man could sleep on it altogether and still have plenty of space for them to roll around from side to side. Yet, my favorite is the large painting of Kryfi Empire map; I just couldn’t take my eyes off the map—it’s sparkle and enchanting. Looking at it made me wonder, if I could steal a bit of the gold, how long would I last when I leave the Palace with that?
Out of all the furniture that my vision caught, there was one that seems out of place on its own; it was placed not too close nor too far from Kieran’s bed, and it was where Estelle headed to, my crib.
Then, she whispered faintly in my ears. “Here, princess.”
I started to struggle as a form of protest as I tussled in her arms, she patted me on my back; I had assumed that they would bring the crib from my room, but this was a crib I had never met before. It was uncomfortable.
Instinctively, my facial expression changed, I was about to whine. However, it was when everything came to a halt right at the moment I caught the figure who stood beside my crib was lost in thought, staring blankly around the room. A sad reminiscence look hanging on her face.
Why do you have that look hanging blatantly like that on your sweet face, Estelle?
“It’s time for us to leave the room.” The head maid announced.
Thanks to the sudden announcement of the old lady, her firm voice and formal tone managed to bring not only me but also Estelle back to reality. Hearing the announcement, the other maids even Estelle simultaneously replied, “Understood, ma’am.”
Only then did they started to follow the old lady’s footsteps, leaving the emperor’s bed chamber. Right before Estelle left, she smiled sweetly at me, bid her farewell silently. Seeing that pathetic smile craved on her beautiful face once again made me started to daydream as I stared blankly to the ceiling.
What were you thinking, Estelle?
“Are you not sleeping?”
Flinched. I don’t know how much time I spent daydreaming, there was already no one in this room except for me and Kieran, who seems to have just entered the room. As a respond to his question, I carefully leaned against the safety rail and raised my head slowly.
“You are not sleeping.” He answered his own question, after seeing my little head popped out a little bit from the safety rail of my crib. And Kieran—who came closer, put his face right in front of my nose.
Geez! You scared me!
For a moment I couldn’t breathe, but I still welcomed him with bright smile.
His damp raven hair gave me a heads up that he had just taken a shower; it still had drops of water falling from the ends of his hair. The wet, silky hair and the scent of his freshly washed body tickled the end of my nose; involuntarily, made me wish I was dead.
He raised his hand in the air, moving it towards me. As he lightly stroked my swollen and itchy eyes, I closed my mouth firmly and forced myself to turn my head away; I wanted to prevent him to touch my itchy eyes. But unexpectedly, I didn’t feel hurt anymore when the tip of his finger touched my eyelids.
“To think that you are getting assassinated already…” he pondered for a moment, before continuing, “should I say it was slower than expected or faster? Unfortunately, I came on time.”
I couldn’t believe what I just heard, and the frustration that was bubbling up within me was so overwhelming to the point that I didn’t have the energy to open my mouth and scoff to express the disbelief I felt right now.
This madman-! Sir, do you still want me to die?
“Well, whatever, it looks like you are in trouble.”
“You Majesty, head maid Isla is asking for your permission to enter, she brought the thing you requested earlier.” Nouvel announced, sounded very clear even though it came from behind the tightly closed door.
Kieran looked away from me, turned and stared at the door for a while, before lazily replied, “Come in.”
The old head maid from earlier had entered when I wasn’t paying attention along with Asher, which secretly snuck into the room; she was preparing for the night, she put a silvery bucket at the small table by the bed that carried ice and red wine inside it. Kieran noticed that and started to give another order, “Put it on the table over there instead.”
“Understood, Your Majesty.”
The table that Kieran meant was the tea table in the middle of the room, not understanding why he need to move it to another table, I gave him an innocent look full of confusion. Noticing the gaze that was given to him, he turned his head slightly towards me.
Our eyes met, he stared at me deeply.
“Does a baby have to sleep in the crib?”
It was an unexpected question that coming out of his mouth. Even though, Kieran didn’t bother to turn his head, the old lady somehow figured out that he was talking to her. Thus, she demurely gathered her hands and bowed her head deeply, “As long as she doesn’t fall from the bed, it is fine if she sleeps on the bed, Your Majesty.”
“Is that right?”
“It is just that you have to be careful not to press the baby’s body down with your own body.”
He wordlessly looked at me. I felt very anxious for some reason. Kieran has done and said a lot of unexpected things, I guess if this continues I won’t be able to handle it.
Perhaps, could it be…
To tell you the truth, I afraid getting rolled on and crushed to death; it’s better to just get assassinated than suffocated instead. I looked at Kieran as the maid laid me by his side, who sat leaning against the back of the bed, and pursed my lips, together with Asher—which had turned to his mini-sized body—also laid beside me. On contrast of how I was feeling inside towards this, I still give Kieran one of the best smile I have, and exclaimed cheerfully, “Papa!”
Then, I fell silent for a moment, my attention was distracted from Kieran’s beauty; I looked outside with a look of amazement. Following the direction of my gaze, Kieran turned his head and after some time he stood up since he couldn’t ignore my enchanted gaze. Subconsciously, I grabbed his night robe as he looked back.
Then he said, “Shall we go outside?”
I nodded energetically. Asher also got up, his body magically changed back to its big size when he jumped off the bed and followed us after shaking his body. He walked next to Kieran, gracefully.
I put on a blank stare while holding back the creeping annoyance, I thought he would take me to the garden and let me walk for a bit because that’s what came to my mind after hearing his words. But on contrast of my expectation, he carried me into his arms and took me outside, to the balcony to be exact.
“Why are you pouting? We’re outside.”
My little hand that gripped the little cloth of his robe turned into a fist.
He smirked a little, “I took you out, just not to the garden.”
I gave him a blank stare, which was filled with question marks. How do you know that what I have in mind is the garden? Did you know that I always spend my time playing around in the garden when I’m not with you?
I sighed. Kieran is an unpredictable man, someone who is hard to guess what his thoughts are and technically, he wasn’t wrong because from the start he never mentioned where he would take me to.
“If you cry now, you’ll miss the thing up there.”
Hearing his words, I turned to him and found Kieran looking at the sky with deep eyes. Out of curiosity, I followed the direction of his gaze.
The sky was clearer than the one I had always seen, the numerous stars were sewn into the clear, cloudless sky, all shining in their own way. It was so pretty.
This time I give in and because I’m generous, I will let you have your way.
Looking at those lights, I feel relieved. Relieved because the night sky is not as dark as I imagined, and the darkness I see in front of my eyes is not as dark as the darkness that enveloped me before I was born. It’s not as scary as I thought it would be.
I spotted a very bright star, and without realizing it, I asked with my baby voice and unclear pronunciation, while pointing it with my small finger.
I was looking at the sky, then I was looking at a person. Our eyes met, just briefly before he turned his head to follow the direction I was pointed to.
“Are you talking about the Celeste star?”
“Eung.” I gave an affirmative response to his question.
“That one isn’t Celeste, the last one went down around January two years ago.” He pondered for a second, “It should rise again around May in three years.”
I wore a sad expression. Therefore, I had to wait for quite a long time.
Celeste. Estelle once mentioned that Celeste is the brightest star that shines in the darkness and remains in the sky for three months. It is said that Celeste was created because the gods felt sorry for a woman who died trying to save her lover. The legend makes me wonder; if I die later—either it was dying at the hands of the man who is holding me right now, or for some other reason—will the gods feel sorry enough to do the same thing for me?
You know. If so, maybe my death later on won’t be so pathetic and lonely.
“Do you want to see it?”
I was holding my hand on my lips in agony, and that was when Kieran cold voice fell over me; it pulled me back to reality.
I answered his question without hesitation, “Yes!”
I raised my head quietly to steal glances to see Kieran’s eyes. Bloody red, crimson red-eyes. It was as if someone had carved a ruby into pieces and put it in there. A masterpiece.
Hm? Why was he calling me all of a sudden? Kieran stared silently at me, and my head starting tilting to the other side, expressing my confusion. Maybe he wanted to do that eye-to-eye talk thing, but hey, I couldn’t read people’s minds. Isn’t it about the time you stopped this strange game of yours? Why don’t we have a good word-to-word conversation instead? I could talk to people now, couldn’t I?
“Your name is too long.” He casually added.
You are the one who named me, you punk!
“Keisha Amarantha Elaine.”
Hearing that flat indifference cold voice calling my full name sent chills down my spine. Truthfully, there’s nothing wrong with the person calling me, but the problem lies in the name itself, the meaning behind it.
“Kei!” I shouted, trying to change the subject of our conversation. This is just my thing, but I hate it whenever Kieran starts talking about my name because I just couldn’t forget the incident that happened in our second meeting. You know, it left some kind of trauma deep in my heart.
I caught a passing glint in his eyes, what was that? For a while, you seems to be taken aback…
Yeah, Kei. That’s what everyone called me. I told you that at our second meeting too, did you forget?
He repeated what he just said once again, “Kei…”
I nodded as Kieran’s depressed eyes made me mute. When I saw someone who looked like that, I really didn’t know what to do. What did he wish to do? What did he want from me? What was it that he wanted to do? When he sighed like he already lived all of his life and gave an empty look, I felt like crying.
What should I do for you, you damn father of mine?
I thought I would never see him show me this kind of face again. I felt pity for some reason, before gave him a big smile. It’s not easy to pretend like I didn’t know he’s wearing a mask to cover his expression, but I smiled at him.
“Dad! Let’s see Celeste star together.” I casually said that, while pretending to be just like a normal baby who really didn’t know anything. Asher made a purring sound; seems to be agreeing with my declaration just now. Therefore, Kieran could finally relax and comes back to become his usual self again.
Yes, that flat indifference expression fits your face better than the one from earlier.
And I don’t know what got into me at that moment, it’s just that my body really felt settled and relaxed, all the tension in my body feel like as if it’s evaporated into the thin air, like a calm before a storm came…
I couldn’t see the next expression that he put in his face clearly. However, what I could remember before drifted to dreamland is his finger that lightly touched my skin. His lips parted, “Sleep, you are annoying.”
Why… is he staring at me like that?
Hey, don’t kill me now. I am still a baby.
[A/N] Kieran, KiErAN!