The man quickly removed the hand he was using to hold me.
Stepping back, he stammered in frustration.
“No, I-I was only trying to help.
She was about to faint, so I tried to catch her…”
“She is my partner, step back from her.” As I had continued coughing, the emperor began patting me on the back.
“Are you all right Are you not feeling well”
His voice was more soothing when he spoke to me.
It made me feel warm inside.
Unlike the aggressive touch of the man who tried to force me to dance with him, the emperor’s touch was comforting.
The aggressive man, who now seemed frightened to death, slowly stepped behind the emperor.
He looked around, his lips tight with anger.
When the emperor stood and turned to him, he trembled in fear and ran from the room.
No man could face the furious gaze of Ridrian.
After taking some deep breaths, I was able to calm down.
The emperor stood next to me, concern reflected in his eyes even though his face remained expressionless.
“I’m all right.” As much as I hated what that man did, I didn’t want him killed for his actions.
“You seemed to be enjoying yourself which was why I thought it would be all right to leave for a moment.
I guess I cannot leave your side any longer.
It seems like you get hurt every time I am not around.” The emperor seemed saddened by this fact, and he wasn’t wrong.
Most of the situations came about because of the emperor, but it wasn’t like he caused them on purpose.
It was more a case of being in the wrong place at the wrong time.
However, I couldn’t agree with his assessment because that would mean he would make me a prisoner in my own rooms.
I would rather be at a little risk, with freedom, than trapped in my chambers.
I was about to express my wishes to him when I notice a figure observing me from the other side of the ballroom.
She was a woman of extreme beauty.
She wore a fiery red dress which accentuated her auburn hair.
A glimmering, golden mask covered her face.
She approached where we stood and I assumed that she was going to request a dance with the emperor.
However, as she got closer, I could see that her gaze was centered on me.
Why did everyone want to meet with me tonight
The woman stopped in front of us and, placing a hand on her waist, said, “I didn’t know we’d meet at a place like this, Iona.”
I doubted my ears for a moment.
I hurriedly touched my mask, but it was still in its proper place, covering my face.
However, the woman clearly recognized me and with a big smile, grasped my hands.
“How have you been” she asked, enthusiastically.
“I missed you, Iona.”
Who was this woman How could she know me, even in a mask Perhaps she was a relative to one of the nobles who knew me.
Count Russen, perhaps But there wasn’t a young woman in that family, that I knew.
I was at a loss; she obviously knew me.
Then it occurred to me: “No way.
Are you Eris”
The woman smiled broadly in confirmation.
Her green eyes glittered happily from within the depths of her mask as she squeezed my hands tighter.
“I’m so happy you remember me,” Eris said.
I was so surprised that I almost fainted.
Eris was the female protagonist of the original novel.
But how did she know me Had she met me in the past and I somehow don’t remember My head felt like it was about to explode.
Since the conquest of Lucretia had not yet begun, Eris could not have known me yet.
Even the first introduction of Eris, when she picks up the emperor’s watch, was still to come.
Had there been a change to the original novel Was it because the emperor’s attitude changed What was going on here
The emperor sensed my feelings of confusion, and instinctively stood in front of me for protection.
“Who are you What is your relationship with Iona” he asked.
My body tensed as another realization occurred.
The male protagonist Ridrian and the female protagonist Eris had to meet.
It was a supposed to be a different place and time than here, but the two definitely had to meet.
That fact was clear.
But this scenario in front of me felt off.
The atmosphere wasn’t right. When the two main characters of the story meet, shouldn’t the extra doll be removed I thought, as I stepped back.
Both the emperor and Eris saw the concern on my face and each instantly took hold of one of my hands.
“Iona” Eris asked, worried.
“Is something wrong” the emperor asked, also showing concern.
“Let go of that hand.
Iona doesn’t seem to be very happy with you,” the emperor threatened.
“Your Majesty, perhaps you should let go of her hand.
Apparently, Iona is uncomfortable.” Eris stated, boldly.
I was surprised that Eris was able to recognize the emperor from beneath his mask.
Then I remembered his golden eyes.
It was hard for anyone not to notice them.
That was probably why the man who threatened me also ran.
The emperor seemed to be taken aback from Eris’s comment.
He looked towards me and I could see him questioning if his presence really did make me uncomfortable.
He slowly released my hand and Eris pulled me closer to her.
“I’m certain that it was you who used my name in the temple.
Weren’t you overstepping your bounds a little” Eris asked quietly in my ear.
So that was how she knew me, because of the incident at the Central Temple of Theres.
I can’t believe the news of what happened reached Eris, who had to have been far off in the border region.
I knew impersonation of a noble was dangerous and never intended to do it again.
In Korea, the theft of a title was also considered a serious crime.
The emperor’s attitude became frustrated and angry, seeing Eris whispering in my ear.
He growled at Eris, “I think you are forgetting that this is a masquerade ball and identities are to be kept hidden.”