To get straight to the point, I survived.
However, thanks to my reckless decision the Palace was turned upside-down, since I wasn’t in my room like I was supposed to be. Imagine how surprised they were when I returned in the arms of the emperor’s right-hand man…
Especially, the moment Estelle saw us, she immediately grabbed me out of Nouvel’s awkward embrace and hugged me tightly, then looked at the kidnapper with a deadly, sharp gaze. Not only Estelle, the others also immediately surrounded me with worry, things only got worse when Estelle noticed the rough scratches on the palms of my hands and knees. Then, the moment when the others noticed it as well? They started to take brooms and mops and use it as a weapon to attack him, they stared at him as if to say: ‘the kidnapper, be gone!’
In fact, the scratches may have come from the ground and the sharp edges of the grass that I crawled through. But!
I’m not going to help you because you didn’t help me either!
After the emperor’s loyal knight left with embarrassment, the anxiety of a year ago that had disappeared resurfaced. I couldn’t eat properly and ended up spewing out the food I was eating. I was too naïve, I thought everything would be fine if I’m being careful, but the thing is: How could such a simple-looking palace be Kieran’s living space?
Iris Palace was supposed to be the house of the concubines not an empress, so why was it so close to the emperor’s palace? Yet even though, I ended up meeting Kieran eight years earlier, he doesn’t seem to want to kill me this instant, am I… wrong? I don’t think so.
Suddenly, a plan to play cute to steal Kieran’s heart makes its appearance in my mind, I couldn’t believe I thought of something stupid like that… but I suppose it’s not impossible? He did let me go after hearing me blurt out “Papa.”
I immediately felt the gloom, it was hard to fall asleep, but the lullaby sung by Estelle finally helped me to get some sleep, before this tiring day really passed, I firmly promised myself not to come out of the Iris Palace’s ground ever again.
The next day still comes as usual, without being able to be delayed. While the sunlight sneaked in through the curtains and dazzled my closed eyes, I opened my eyes slowly and immediately caught the figures of Estelle and Latte, standing beside my crib. I smiled.
The night went by so fast, and I couldn’t even believe I’ve been asleep for more than 10 hours; this is the opposite of last night’s expectation. Yesterday’s event still haunted me even in my dream, I just woke up, but I already feel exhausted.
Suddenly, the closed door of my room opened. My brain couldn’t proceed what’s happening now and the next second, I’ve heard footsteps pounding in unison. The Imperial knights in armor made their entrance and began to line up neatly, while leaving a blank row in the middle for entry and exit, partially filled the room.
Seeing Estelle getting blue was not a good sight, I started to become anxious.
What is this?
Did my crazy father finally give an order to kill me?
“What’s going on?”
Estelle’s voice was firm, and the tone was rough. I wanted to lift my head and see who it was, but she had moved her body to completely cover it up–not just my vision, but my entire little figure.
It was quiet, no one dared to reply to Estelle’s question.
At the same time, the silence didn’t last long. But during the silence, I could hear some people whispering to each other, saying things like: ‘You tell,’ or ‘You speak,’ and then started bickering with one another.
“His Majesty’s command.”
Suddenly, a clear voice broke the awkward silence, he has a very confident tone but with a friendly demeanor. Somehow it felt familiar, as I realized who he was, I told myself: As I thought! It is indeed the man from yesterday.
“A command?” Estelle repeated, asking for reassurance.
Oh, it wasn’t that long since I was born, but my life would end just like this.
While I was saddened with frustration, Nouvel continued to carry out the Kieran’s order, “The Emperor’s commanded to move Young Miss Keisha to the Palace of Bay Wreath.”
“To where?” Estelle asked for a repetition, with a look of disbelief as if she had heard something impossible and unbelievable had just happened, right then and there in front of her eyes.
“To the palace of the emperor.” Nouvel explained.
“What?” Estelle unconsciously gasped, still full of disbelief, she turned around, and our eyes met.
Not only Estelle, but I was also surprised to hear that, I wanted to drop my jaw, but I was too surprised that I’ve got no energy left to do so. The face that was always looking at me in the bright shade was somehow somber.
My body shivered; goosebumps covered all over my body.
Only Estelle’s clear green eyes could cool my view.
“You will be fine. Don’t be afraid.”
When did I say I was afraid? Well, actually…
Yes, I am. But I pursed my lips with a blank face, while Estelle just smiled at me affectionately.
I’m screwed and I knew that.
After bathing me, putting on my clothes and giving me my brunch, we immediately departed… to the same place, the place where I went yesterday.
… My life is ruined.
Was what I thought.
When my eyes met with Nouvel’s, he smiled.
Due to the excessive panic in our first meeting, I couldn’t pay close attention to Nouvel’s appearance. If I look carefully; his innocent face looks friendly, his ash grey hair is beautiful, and the clear brown eyes were very compatible with his beautiful smile. He wasn’t scary at all thanks to the friendly attitude and demeanor he has, I think he is the most harmless person. Even though, I know the fat that he is Kieran’s loyal subordinate and his right-hand man–in other words, it’s impossible for him to be harmless, but I think we could be friends.
But of course, not now.
So, I looked away almost immediately when our eyes met.
“Ah-, not that room.” Nouvel said hurriedly.
“Sorry? Not this room?”
He quickly guided us to another place. Somehow, he acted like a lost child, and I found it funny when I saw him flustered. I didn’t want to be too self-conscious, but was he like that because I avoided his eye-contact as if I hate him? Well, or maybe it was because our eyes met that his attention was distracted, so he subconsciously made a little mistake like this.
People moving in a hurry, wandering through my blurred vision.
Oh, my eyes hurt.
Children’s eyes are delicate, and they quickly grow tired. I closed my eyes as I felt my body shake. Still, it was comfortable because I was in Estelle’s embrace.
“My princess, we’re all here.”
A familiar soft and warm voice gently whispered to my ear.
You should stop calling me ‘Princess,’
What if you get hurt because someone else heard that? Moreover, we are currently at the Emperor’s Palace!
When I opened my eyes, I was still half asleep. Estelle welcomed me with a big smile. This seems to be a new cradle, the unfamiliar touch on my back made it evident. I couldn’t help but whine.
I could feel the chary Nouvel panicked at my whining.
Estelle patted my chest gently; her hand was warm. This was what warmth was, I laughed cutely and closed my eyes. This is making me sleepy, and just like that I am falling asleep…
I couldn’t remember what I had dreamed of as I drifted to dreamland. It’s just like falling, the feeling was vague and suddenly, the air that surround me became heavy.
My heart was beating faster and faster, my heart got stuffy. Somehow, it was hard to breathe, I whined and got that sinking feeling. When I could finally open my heavy eyes–with a hazy vision after breaking free from the darkness, I was soon welcomed by a cold, lazy gaze.
Those cold crimson red eyes looking down upon me.
What a surprise!
I almost cried it out. I could feel the rough pounding heartbeat of my chest, I felt on edge.
Why is he here?
My blood ran cold, I looked up at him discontentedly. We made eye-contact, our eyes intertwined in the air. It interlocked with his fierce gaze and left me uneasy. Was it hostility or murderous intent? It was hard to guess.
“I felt it earlier, but…”
A cool cold hand touched one of my cheeks, it made my hair stand on end. It was cold. No, it was cool. I felt as if I was submerged in cold water, but somehow it also felt refreshing, you know that cooling sensation you get whenever you eat something with mint in it? Yeah, like that.
“You are not crying.”
A word of affirmation, his voice tone was flat as usual—cold and arrogant.
Today he wore a white shirt with full sleeves and a blue night-colored shawl fell over his shoulders, he seemed surprised I didn’t cry after seeing him. However, that was interesting to me too. I want to cry like normal kids, there was plenty of such desire.
The problem was, he would cut my throat without mercy if I did. I never would’ve thought that he wouldn’t kill me, he’s a madman after all.
I started smiling and giggling, I tried my best to show him my ultimate angelic smile while hoping there weren’t any bad ideas coming to his mind.
“The Young Miss is very gentle.”
The emperor’s right-hand man, Nouvel said.
His cool hand brushed against my cheek lightly. Honestly, I feel goosebumps. With an icy sensation on my cheek, his hand moved toward my short, thin neck.
“She should have felt some murderous intent.”
Yeah, I am feeling it enough.
I wanted to nod to reassure him that he was right, but I couldn’t because his big hand was holding my neck. Oh, really, if I died, it would be because he strangled me to death.
“This child is too insensitive.”
He leaned toward me, casting a shadow over my head. It wasn’t a bright room, but the world wasn’t as dark as it was before he covered up the lights. Nevertheless, the eyes staring at me in silence were terrifying, and their sharpness felt like a knife, it sent chills down my spine.
He chuckled lightly—almost unnoticeably—like a madman, I looked up at him in a sulky way.
Mom, there’s a madman here!
Why would you fall in love with him in the first place?
His forehead lightly touched against mine, the feeling when our skin touched each other, made me shudder.
We stared back at each other, his eyes seemed to be reading my reaction, while I was trying my best to hide my discomfort and started to force a chuckle as if it was ticklish.
I wish to call 911, Kieran just touched my forehead!
Suddenly, a tremulous voice of woman could be heard, loud and clear enough.
Oh, it was Estelle. The other people who were also in the room, started to look at Estelle in surprise, and were flattered by her courage.
Her voice trembled, but there’s no fear in her eyes. Her earlier pale countenance became even paler as if it was bleached. She was nervous, she was scared if the emperor would kill me by any chance. Also, she felt uncomfortable dealing with Kieran’s attention.
Kieran turned his body calmly to where the voice came from.
“Estelle Edgar, long time no see.”
“Greetings His Majesty the Emperor, May blessings and glory be with the Monarch of Kryfi Empire.”
Estelle greeted him while bowing elegantly.
“I haven’t been able to pay enough attention to the Empire’s only daughter due to my duties at court, but still, Keisha has grown into such a healthy child. The credit belongs to you.”
He praised Estelle openly.
“Thank you, your majesty.”
Haha-, don’t make me laugh!
It’s not, ‘haven’t able to pay attention to,’
But it’s you who neglect me! You completely erased me from your memories!
“However, from now on, I will be looking into Keisha’s well-being. There will be no need to worry.” He continued.
When I looked at him, our eyes met, and a small curvature was created clearly from the corner of his lips, he smiled. I wasn’t accustomed to the loss of his flat expression, which was now replaced by… a smile? Maybe no one will notice this except me, even though the smile made his handsome face shine even more, I just found it annoying.
Like there’s a thunder strikes down at me, I couldn’t believe what I just heard and saw.
Did-did you smile? Did you just smile at me?
Pay me no mind!
Thank you for ignoring me—my whole life—this far! Thank you for not being aware of my existence! Please be so kind and do continue to do so in the future! AGHH!
I shouted in my mind like a madman.
I was in hot water to the point I had a nightmare, his annoying face that appeared whenever I closed my eyes was scarier than the nightmare itself. That night I didn’t wish for things to get better, nor would he change, but I wished I could be free as soon as possible.
I wanted to run away so bad, but I never thought that one day I would miss it, everything that ever happened in my life before the thunderstorm came.
[A/N] Somehow, I thought that this chapter is a little bit too long and thinking about splitting it into two parts, but then… it became too short. I was so confuse and ended up agonizing this for about 30 minutes, before deciding not to.
Then, after some time, I asked myself: “Why I thought about this in the first place?”