Raven studied the doll once again.
He was about to return to his office when the door slowly opened, revealing the scarlet maid who was assigned to take care of the doll.
Her eyes grew wide.
She expected to see the emperor here, not Raven.
She hastily bowed her head, making Raven nod in her direction.
She must be the doll’s maid, he thought.
And he also heard that she got hurt too.
His eyes narrowed and saw an outline of a bandage wrapped inside her sleeve.
She was walking apprehensively with a basin on her hands.
From the way she moved, Raven surmised that it wasn’t just a simple injury.
She was the maid he intentionally assigned to tend to the doll.
He put her in that position after hearing that she was an innocent maid from a knight’s family.
There have been cases before where some of the dolls were killed by the emperor, all the while trying to escape the jealousy and harassment from the maids.
It was the reason why he chose her specifically so nothing like that would happen again.
But it didn’t cross his mind that the maid would be hurt too.
He clicked his tongue, slightly disappointed of himself for failing to take that into consideration.
“When the doctor comes back to check on the doll, make sure to have him check your wounds, too.
Tell him it was my directive.”
“Y-yes I’m fine.” She responded in a quiet voice.
Raven’s eyes narrowed further.
“Are you lying to me’ He asked in a strict tone.
The maid froze on her spot.
Lina’s lips trembled, her hands holding the basin shook slightly.
“Marie is extremely important to the emperor.
It is your job to take care of her.
If something happens to Marie because you fail to take care of yourself, you would surely be held accountable.
Do you want that to happen” Raven asked.
Raven was not mild in his words.
Lina looked up and shook her head vigorously.
I’ll go see the doctor when he comes back.”
He passed by the maid without another word and let the door close behind him.
Despite the stiffness to his expression, he worried for his master who had not slept for three days, and he could just imagine how it affected the people around him.
Lina bowed her head and took a deep breath when Raven left.
It was the first time she was able to breathe properly ever since she stepped foot inside the bedroom.
Seeing master Estaban really startled her.
She placed the basin atop the small table next to the bed.
She brought this with her because she wanted to clean Iona’s face, and replace her bandage with a new one.
Lina’s face darkened as she stared at Iona, who was sleeping on the emperor’s bed.
“They even hurt her.” She whispered quietly.
Coming from a fallen knight’s family, she was able to secure a job at the Imperial Palace with the help of her distant relatives.
But the money that came with being a maid was not much, even if she was working in the Palace.
The previous month, however, she was offered to work as a slave and Raven told her he would double her salary.
She was initially hesitant of his proposition, thinking that working as a slave would bring shame upon her family.
But Raven assured Lina that there’s no need to worry since the prospect of having slaves in the Imperial Palace would be kept hidden.
After informing her family, she accepted the offer but she was still slightly apprehensive about it, thinking that she might have made a hasty decision just because of the high salary.
But when she saw Iona alighting the wagon that day, it was as if all of her worries disappeared completely.
Looking at Iona felt like she was seeing a fairy in flesh.
Lina thought she was a fairy of some kind from a forest no one knew about.
Iona was breathtakingly beautiful and elegant, even though she was all skin and bones under her worn-out cape.
Not long after, she wore the bracelet and was referred to as “Marie”, which means Marionette or doll.
Lina only heard of her from the other maids, but she couldn’t forget how enthralled she was the first time she saw her.
Lina was surprised when she found out Iona couldn’t speak because of the injury on her neck.
But she would communicate with her in her own way by using gestures.
There were also times when Iona would play with the food placed in front of her, and Lina deemed her as someone who has a light personality.
Iona was gentle and kind, but to Lina, the doll was doomed to die in the hands of the emperor.
She first kept her distance from her because she didn’t know when she would perish, but before she knew it, she was already so fond of Iona.
No wonder she attracts attention anywhere she goes, she is just so interesting.
Perhaps that’s the reason why the maids were so jealous of Iona that they bothered and annoyed her persistently, especially when Iona put up with their bullying.
Sometimes, other maids would look at Iona and instantly feel bad for her.
Lina felt relieved, however, that Iona would not end up like the other dolls before her.
But when the maids were not able to get a reaction from Iona, they would resort to bullying Lina instead.
Lina was used to harassment ever since she was a kid when her family drifted apart, so she didn’t really mind.
When she woke up yesterday, her family told her that Iona was pushed down the stairs and was severely hurt.
Lina paled upon hearing the news and forced herself into the Palace despite her family’s disapproval.
Within a month’s time, she had already grown attached to Iona.
Lina fixed the blanket in place, tucking Iona more firmly who looked like a corpse, and prayed she would wake up soon.