When I spoke his name, a strange feeling overcame me.
It was a sense of warmth and peace that I hadn’t felt these past ten years.
I put my hand on my heart.
It was thumping so loudly, begging to be acknowledged.
The tyrant, that didn’t know love and kindness, had shown both that night.
Ridrian Ferid Lebrooks, the emperor.
Why are you being nice to me I wondered.
Did he only like me as a doll, or did he find me interesting as a person.
I knew he was being nicer to me lately, but I didn’t think that he would investigate my past and reinstate my family.
I also knew that what happened to my family was due to being framed for something they hadn’t done, but I didn’t know the details.
I was too young, when everything occurred, to remember.
For a nine-year-old girl who had never received an education on politics, there would have been no way for her to help her family.
The world had become cruel.
Corruption and depravity, darkness and tragedy.
They all existed and slowly chewed away at the morality of the Empire.
There were so many people who walked the path of despair, such as I had, and they had no way to voice the reasons, let alone fix them.
My debt had increased.
I owed my life to him from so many times before and this just added to the list.
Yet, the only way I could repay him was by comforting him in the night and allowing him to get the sleep he desperately required.
He had reduced the number of scary things he said lately, but he still shared what he felt and it made me laugh for some reason.
It felt like a man who was once as vicious as a hungry black leopard, had become a just a big dog lying at my feet.
I was still scared that I would get bitten if he got angry, but compared to the main character from the original story, he had changed completely.
“Iona” The door opened and the emperor stood in the entrance.
“The breeze may not be good for your health.
How are you feeling” For some reason he was asking from the doorway.
He would usually come right in and embrace me, but for some reason, tonight, he wasn’t coming near me.
“Your Majesty.” The room had begun to darken as the sun set, and I went closer to him to see him better in the growing shadows.
His eyes looked tired, as if hadn’t rested.
“I’m all right, for now.
I’m sorry to make you worry.”
“That’s good.” Ridrian led me to the sofa in the outer room and asked me to sit.
As he looked at me, still unsure of my condition, he opened his mouth to speak but quickly closed it again.
I wondered if something had happened that would explain his strange behaviour.
“I’m glad that you’re better,” he said instead.
“If there is something you need, make sure to tell me.
Say my name as you did yesterday.”
As I lifted my head in surprise, wondering what he meant, he was staring at the floor, his ears turning red.
I was going to ask him to explain, but he continued.
“I was shocked when you called me so loudly in the ballroom.
I hope you will call me like that from now on.”
I called the emperor’s name When I went back through the event, trying to remember. Both Piett and Lord Russen threatened me.
Hedin lunged for my throat and…it was then!
I was frightened that Hedin would take me and put me back into that world of despair, and I called for the emperor in my mind.
He had been the only person I could think of that would help me.
It felt like all of my blood was shooting up to my face in a rush.
I covered my embarrassment with both of my hands and lowered my head.
To think that I had reached out to him after I had rejected him I wanted nothing more than to hide at that moment, but it was impossible to avoid eyes in the palace.
I couldn’t look at the man before me.
“Why are you so embarrassed You called to Ravis without a problem,” the emperor pointed out.
Because you and Ravis aren’t the same! I thought.
The reason why I didn’t call the emperor by his first name was simple.
It would put me in a difficult situation, being that familiar with him.
When I first met him, I was afraid that he might kill me.
Then, after sleeping in the same bed with him, it was hard to keep the right state of mind.
I built a wall, thinking that I would have to say good bye to him eventually.
But it feels like it’s unnecessary now.
It’s true that our relationship had become a little more comfortable than before.
Thinking of this, my shoulders began to relax.
He wanted me to call him by his name, but proper etiquette didn’t allow me to.
“I don’t want to force it on you if you don’t want to,” the emperor said sadly.
I already went through all of the reasons why I can’t address him so informally, I thought.
But, when I stared into his golden eyes, I became weak.
Was it because of the pain those eyes had seen that I wanted to do everything for the emperor, or was I just feeling sorry for him and had no choice but to fulfill his wishes.
But, could I really call him Rian The nickname that only Riliana and Eris called that tyrant The nickname the current Eris can’t even call him by I swallowed loudly in fear.
“Ri…”As I began to speak the first part of his name, his face turned towards me.
His eyes twinkled like jewels.
“…drian Ferid Lebrooks.