We’ve been having some sweet—and scary—father-daughter bonding time, and during this period, I realized no matter how pertly or insolently I behaved… he wouldn’t try to kill me, or maybe not yet. But I knew it! He’s the type who likes those who are aggressively friendly.
Time goes by and without realizing it I have successfully reached the age of two. I wasn’t sure how several months passed by so quickly under Kieran’s presence, but how could I forget…?
“Bad memowris disapi!”
Correction: Bad memories disappear!
I said it intently, as if I was chanting a spell, I was so focused that my eyebrows were furrowed inward. I also didn’t forget to push both index fingers into my temples, to display how serious I was.
As spring carried on and the temperature continue to rise, summer was finally making its entrance; the weather was getting hotter, and the clothes that were already uncomfortable since the beginning were becoming more and more unbearable, and because the sunlight was too bright, I closed my eyes tightly.
With my eyes closed, I felt a stinging sensation that grew in intensity for a moment before slowly disappearing, which resulted in my eyes becoming a little watery, but thanks to it, it felt much more comfortable now.
“Are you feeling uncomfortable, princess?”
A sweet voice spoke to me. I opened my eyes and looked up at Estelle, who had just stopped her steps right beside me.
I shook my head in response, then began to stare deeply at her. I had learned that Estelle isn’t an ordinary nanny. No, revision: she is an ordinary woman, but she isn’t normal. Estelle Edgar is the only child of the prestigious Count Carl Edgar, who entered the palace only to take care of me.
But, why? I was really surprised when I first found out her status. And oddly enough, Count Edgar didn’t forbid her or try to stop his only beloved daughter.
“Why do you look like that, is it so strange outside?”
No, I was just curious about you.
“Our dearest princess is so gentle…”
A pathetic smile hanging on her lips. Well, it’s a beautiful smile… but I just felt like the word ‘pathetic’ would describe it best. As I mentioned before, Estelle always somehow looked pathetic, pitiful, and sad in my eyes, even though her smile was sincere and pure. She was such a kind person, ‘till it makes me wonder why.
Anyway, it was really nice to go outside to get some fresh air since it had been a while.
I smiled brightly when Estelle’s eyes met with mine again.
“Ah, it’s Latte, she’s coming with lots of yummy food for princess.”
I turned my head in Estelle’s gaze direction.
I could see Latte running. Latte Smith is a pure and bright girl, with a remarkably wise side for someone at the age of sixteen–she is the oldest child of a fallen noble family. Her parents died in a horse carriage accident, so she chose to enter the palace as a maid to earn money for her two younger siblings, and the atmosphere here has become a little livelier ever since.
Suddenly, Latte fell.
“Ellie, help.” I spoke. As a two-year-old toddler, my tongue is still not strong enough to pronounce a sentence with a lot of vocabulary. No matter how fast my progress was in the eyes of Estelle, Latte and Nouvel, my small body still has many hard limits to beat.
“Then, princess don’t wander around and patiently wait for us here.”
I nodded, “I powmise.”
After hearing my reply, Estelle immediately went over to Latte to help her. As I claimed, I did not move an inch and was standing in place. But now that the clouds blocking the sunlight were gone, I could feel the temperature around me rising, the sun was just too hot. I felt uncomfortable. And judging from their situation it seems like it would take quite a while.
I looked left and right and found a tree not far from where I was standing.
It’s okay if I just go there, right?
After thinking for a while, I finally decided to go to the tree for shelter since the shadow of the tree was too tempting, and Estelle wouldn’t possibly want my skin to get sunburnt. And after all, getting a heat exhaustion fever would be more troublesome and painful.
I don’t know if I overestimated my abilities or just took the situation too lightly, but I actually forgot the fact that I was just a two-year-old toddler with stubby legs and no stamina. The more I waddled the more I felt the distance between me and the tree’s shadow growing longer, and I was already getting exhausted.
However, all of sudden—magically—a cooling sensation instantly rushed across my skin as I was engulfed within a towering shadow—as if all the heat that had been absorbed out of my body, evaporating into thin air. Though, this was clearly not the shadow I was targeting. Instead, the sun was eclipsed by a woman wearing a dress. Thanks to her fancy puffy dress, it seemed like the scorching sun itself had disappeared and the air around me began to cool down. I felt refreshed.
I thought that the owner of the shadow was Estelle, until the owner of the shadow spoke.
“A child? Why would a child be in the emperor’s palace?”
Is it… ‘her’?
I asked myself as I turned my head slightly to my right—cautiously—trying to steal a glance at the lady beside me.
Although, it turned out not as I imagined; Kieran’s concubine that I saw in my dream had fine white hair, while the lady in front of me has green wavy hair. It was well-groomed and her beauty was quite—well—magnificent, but if you knew what would happen next, my assumption would soon become invalid, to the point that her well-groomed green hair could somehow resemble a bunch of unruly seaweed.
“What’s your name?” Her sharp voice pierced my ears, a voice that could make a person quiver. However, her sharp tone didn’t have any effect on me thanks to the immunity that came naturally from dealing with Kieran too much.
I brightened up when I heard an angel-like voice coming from the opposite direction, I could immediately tell who the owner of the voice was. Estelle and Latte were coming towards me with a basket, which I guess contained my lunch.
After hearing her name, I realized how stupid I was. The concubine couldn’t possibly speak sharply like the lady beside me, even though the concubine had hidden intentions, she always acted gently like a fragile glass that could break at any moment.
Listening to her ear-splitting voice, I instinctively sensed something. The skinny seaweed lady must be the rumored lady; despite the fact that Kieran killed the entire Iris Palace—even though, it was not his concubines, but his father’s and older brother’s concubines—his image would still be damaged to some extent, and regardless of how good the reason he had for his actions—though, in fact, he could have done it without any specific reason—there are still many women who try to pursue him.
Lydia Serpentes. The eldest daughter of Duke Serpentes was one of the many women who would regularly come to the palace in order to make a move on Kieran. Even so, most of them didn’t dare to get too close to him because of his fierce aura. However, far beyond just trying to approach, Lydia Serpentes was the only one who was brave enough to try and seduce Kieran openly. Strange, but it seems that her goal was to seduce him for the title of empress and giving birth to the successor to the throne, a prince.
“You-! How dare you!” The maid behind her yelled, which made Estelle sigh quietly before continuing, “Do you know who you’re talking to?”
I understood that feeling, that’s an event worth a sigh. I frowned as I observed her and then started shaking my head because I found this situation and Lydia’s maid behavior ridiculous.
With a light walk, Estelle arrived on the scene. The first thing she did was to hold me in her arms and whisper gently, “Princess, sorry for making you wait so long.”
I giggled softly because of the tickling sensation Estelle’s left in my ear. Once she was satisfied with the reaction I gave, only then did she continue, “My apologies, my lady.”
After greeting her with impeccable courtesy, Estelle raised her head. She must have felt very uncomfortable, having to bow down while holding me, yet her gestures were still graceful and elegant.
“I beg your pardon.”
I noticed the pacifier in Estelle’s hand and took it and began sucking it as if I was eating popcorn in a movie theatre.
“Who are you?”
Lydia leered at Estelle, scanning her from top to bottom in an unpleasant manner. The look she gave Estelle reminded me of that evil mother-in-law who hates her daughter-in-law and is always trying to find fault with her. Her blatant eyeballing displeased me.
“My name is Estelle Edgar, Count Edgar’s sole daughter. I’m in charge of taking care of Young Miss Keisha, under the emperor’s command.”
There was a pause before Estelle called me ‘young miss’ instead of ‘princess’, this was the first time I’ve heard Estelle call me by another title.
Good job, Estelle.
I secretly praised her.
Please continue to call me so in the future.
I remarked proudly.
Lydia looked surprised for a moment—I didn’t know if she was surprised because I was Kieran’s child, or because of my name—but it seemed like my name was the most plausible reason—before she began glaring at me with contempt and started to come up with something to say.
“This girl, is His Majesty the Emperor’s child?” She asked in disbelief.
See, she really came up with something to say, but I didn’t expect the thing that would come out of her mouth would be that.
What’s wrong with this lady? I honestly didn’t get why you had to stare at me with such feverish, glazed eyes just because I was Kieran’s daughter.
“Yes, she is the daughter of His Majesty the Emperor, Young Miss Keisha.” Estelle bit down on her lower lip, just barely responding.
Looking at her expression made me realize how she truly regretted revealing my identity to this woman in front of us.
“Hand her over. I want to try holding her.”
I was so shocked. Utterly speechless.
Pardon me? What did this crazy hag just say?
Hey! Even that madman has never held me.
Estelle and Latte clearly looked uncomfortable.
Refuse it! Refuse it!
She asked arrogantly, “Why? Do you think I will hurt her?” before continuing half-heartedly, “I won’t, I will be her step-mother sooner or later anyway.”
Whoa? How can she declare something like that with such confidence? When it was an open secret that Kieran always kicked her out whenever she tried to visit him.
In a split second, she snatched me from Estelle’s arm, while yelling, “Just hand her to me!”
To show my displeasure and resistance, I immediately grabbed onto Estelle’s clothes tightly.
I should cry! I must cry!
“P-princess, please stop twisting around.”
Estelle accidentally called me ‘princess’ out loud, while Lydia who heard that subconsciously froze for a moment, then snorted in return, “Princess? Hah! You make me laugh; she couldn’t even get the emperor’s acknowledgment! before continuing her action and added, “Princess?! She’s an outcasted child!”
Finally, I burst loudly into tears, “Waaa-”
My whole-body aches from the friction of the dress that I’m wearing, all thanks to her strong grip that tightly held my waist.
I hate this woman! I really hated everything about her.
“Shut up! Can’t you keep that mouth shut!?” she sneered.
Has she ever heard of a baby shutting up because they were told to!? I’m not shutting up!
Tears endlessly rolled down my cheeks, it got to the point where I couldn’t see what was in front of me anymore. I was kicking up a fuss with all the energy I had, crying with all my might, mouth wide-open.
Ah, now I know why babies cried so passionately. It was the only way they could convey their displeasure.
“So noisy! Why is it so loud?”
Estelle fidgeted next to me, while Latte looked at me, stunned.
Yes, I know. You have never seen me like this before, right? It’s a first for me too.
Witnessing all this happening before her own two eyes, you might think she would be like any other normal person and give up in an instant or sooner, because that’s what most people would usually do, right? But no, I don’t know where she learned this, but this Lydia just grabbed onto my body even more tightly and wouldn’t let go. It seemed like she wouldn’t budge until her desire was fulfilled. Thanks to this lunatic, my wrist and hips were in great pain.
It hurts! You-!!
“Whose attitude do you take after? If someone saw this, they would think I was doing something bad to you!”
But you are, you old hag!
“Why are you making such a fuss?! You are just the illegitimate child of a b*tch anyway.”
Hearing Lydia’s words, not just me, even Estelle and Latte gasped. Those words were so piercing, hearing them felt like being drenched in a cold river in the middle of winter. Thanks to those words, my reality felt even more bitter and foreign.
Even Estelle’s face grew sour with resentment and annoyance. This was the first time I’d seen a face that was always filled with warmth and tenderness twist with such anger.
[A/N] Let me know what you think about Lydia. Shhh this is a secret but truthfully, I still couldn’t believe it that Lydia was born from my imagination. I think I won’t be able to eat seaweed for a while now