“Why are you still in bed” Lina asked upon entering the bedroom, seeing half of my body hidden beneath the covers.
I faintly smiled at her, the only person I could trust.
She didn’t fail to see the slight tremble on my lips as she placed her arms around my waist.
“It looks like I have to massage you more firmly huh”
The genuine concern she had for me made me smile even more.
The muscles around my mouth loosened its tension and it finally allowed some minor movement.
I have to thank Lina’s facial massages for that one, since it took her a whole couple of months of consistent kneading.
She was thrilled seeing the small smile plastered on my face since all she was used to was my expressionless face.
But if I’m able to make expressions once again, wouldn’t it contradict the nature of my work, which is being an expressionless doll It was the main reason why I look like a doll in the first place.
But if I somehow managed to react more vividly than I used to, it would be more obvious that I am not the original Liliana.
I am not saying that I prefer my still, expressionless face, but it sure helped spare me from the emperor’s wrath.
If it weren’t for my nonchalant face, I would always look pale and frightened in front of the emperor, reacting naturally like any person would.
I picked the gown I usually wear and got out of the bed, grinning slightly.
I am fond of wearing short sleeve shirts especially during the summer time.
I padded towards the window on the side and pushed it open, the hot summer breeze warming my cheeks instantly. Summer is definitely on the horizon.
It is still the early days of May.
And the first day of June signaled an important event, one that takes place annually.
“Iona, we need to hurry.
We don’t have much time left.” Lina urged as she packed my clothes and other necessities into a suitcase.
I nodded and fixed myself in front of the mirror.
Today’s the day the emperor and I would be moving to the Temple of Theres, in preparation for the prayer ritual that would be happening the next month.
The ritual was observed for the past two hundred years, and it was practiced religiously to pay tribute to Theres, the goddess of abundance, in order to have a bountiful harvest for the rest of the year.
The ceremony was originally held at the Temple of Theres; it was a small ceremony comprising a long tradition called ‘fertility rites’.
Approximately more than two hundred years ago, the emperor that reigned during that era did the said ritual and it resulted in an abundant harvest all year round.
Since then, the emperors that succeeded him made sure to hold the ceremony every year in the hopes of witnessing the miracle for themselves.
While it indeed brought forth harvest, it wasn’t as plentiful as they had expected.
The ceremony was one of the most anticipated national ceremonies of the year.
The emperor’s presence is a must, and he could not avoid such an important event.
Three days before departure, the emperor showed signs of discomfort by constantly voicing out his complaints, not at all delighted about going to the Temple of Theres.
I’ve never heard him complain of his responsibilities in the two months I was with him.
He would exclaim his dissatisfaction over small matters, sure, but it was never this intense.
Why does he hate it so much
Honestly, even if he had a natural enemy there, there was no way he would could hate him so much.
The only person I could think of was the pontiff.
Is it possible that the emperor and the Pope are not on friendly terms
The royalty and religious leaders were known to be on the opposite sides, not seeing eye to eye on things and they always debated against each other, just like in old Europe.
Is the situation here the same
Raven, who was in the carriage with him, broke the silence seeing the emperor seething to himself.
“The people of the Empire firmly believe that you should hold a prayer service to at least prevent a bad harvest.
You are the master of the Empire, and you must abide by that duty.”
I am aware of that.” The emperor responded gloomily.
Perfect.” Raven nodded.
“Shut up.” He barked, the dark circles around his eyes were evident.
He reached out to me and urged me to come closer.
“Come here, Lil… Iona.” He hastily corrected himself.
Even though he had called me by my own name a few times now, slipping every now and then by calling me Liliana was not something that could be easily avoided.
It was a habit he was used to all these years.
It couldn’t be helped, especially when I’m wearing Liliana’s dresses.
Just like today, I wore her dress and it made me look like her even more that I completely understood the honest mistake.
The existence of the doll was only known to the Imperial Palace and its household, and every single of them was sworn to secrecy.
So having extra clothes sewn for me was not something that was considered.
The garments I have been wearing, even the underwear, all belonged to Liliana.
I immediately scooted close to the emperor and sat next to him unworriedly, and I saw a subtle change in Raven’s expression.