“What is it” The head maid asked, eyeing the attendant who was catching her breath.
“T-there is an uproar at the presence chamber!” She heaved, “I was told to hurry up and to bring Marie with me!” Her eyes then flicked to me.
Marie Is that supposed to be me
They filled each other in with what’s going on.
After a short exchange between the two, the maid strolled towards me while advising the disheveled attendant, who looked as if she was going to faint the next second, to go get herself some water.
She wrapped her hand around my forearm and instructed me to follow her.
She gave me no time to prepare myself as she dragged me along the unfamiliar corridors.
Pain shot out from where the maid was tightly holding onto me down to my dry, flakey fingers.
I struggled to match her brisk pace, almost stumbling on my feet but the tightness to her face made me correct myself.
I tried to ignore the ache on my arms as the conversation Raven and the maid had when I first arrived here echoed like a warning.
C-could she at least tell me where we’re heading to
It’s like the maid flew to the presence chamber situated on the first floor of the Imperial Palace, dashing with incredible speed with me right on her heels.
It felt like I was a cow yanked forcibly to a slaughterhouse.
We stopped when we reached the chamber, where a crowd was visibly trembling in fear.
Our breaths came out ragged and uneven.
“Ah, Head maid Elmeria.” Raven called from amongst the crowd.
A troubled look was apparent on his face, which loosened its tension upon seeing me.
He looked relieved as he pushed me straight into the room.
W-wait! How come it’s only me Isn’t the emperor inside the chamber At this point I could feel my heart jump to my throat.
Overwhelming fear filled my very depths the moment I was pushed inside.
Raven didn’t close the door, but he did stay just outside of it, watching from a set distance.
The way he was standing there anticipatingly appeared like he was waiting to see if the lion would eat his offering or not.
They didn’t even give me time to prepare myself! My legs were shaking beneath me.
I gulped the lump in my throat and gazed into the presence chamber.
The room was strangely silent, but the strong scent of blood contrasted the otherwise stillness of the room, directing my attention to the side where a sofa split in half was strewn haphazardly.
How on earth do you even split a sofa exactly in half!
“Who are you”
A growl made me freeze on my spot.
The hair on my arms raised alarmingly and I could hear how loud my heart was beating.
The emperor stood in the middle of the room, his aura strong and domineering as he leered at me menacingly.
“I told you to not let anyone in.”
I shakingly lifted my head up to look at him, seeing the emperor’s face hidden behind his unruly hair and despite the churning fear that was threatening to engulf me, I found myself transfixed at how handsome he looked.
I always knew he was handsome based on the original story.
But seeing him in flesh was just beyond words.
He had a face you would only see in one lifetime; White skin, ink black hair, red lips and a set of gleaming golden eyes.
His beauty would put marble sculptures in shame.
And for a brief, fleeting moment, I even thought that it would be alright to die upon the handsome man’s knife.
While I was in the middle of my trance, I failed to see the emperor padding towards my direction until he was already right in front of me.
An immediate gasp stumbled out of my mouth as he grabbed me by the collar and lifted me up into the air, my feet dangling freely.
Oh my God! Did he just lift me up with one hand!
His strength was extraordinary.
Before I could dwell on it further, I froze like a statue seeing him look at me with ferocity in his eyes.
This is it.
I’m going to die right this instant.
I don’t think I would make it alive for the next three years!
I wanted to turn my head, to plead Raven with my eyes to convince him to spare my life.
“Rav… huh” The emperor called suddenly and stopped.
The scowl on his face relaxed for a fraction as if he was hit on the back of the head.
He blinked his golden eyes up at me and a flash of recognition hit him as he studied my face.
It was clear he wasn’t still himself when I came in.
Several seconds passed in silence.
It’s like time stopped still for a moment, and a low, husky voice slipped past his red lips.
It was the name of the heroine in the novel.
He loosened his grip on me and I landed on the floor with a dull thud.
I coughed as I breathed heavily.
Looking up at him, I saw the focus seeping back into his eyes.
He was slowly returning back to himself.
This was why Raven brought me here.
The effect I had on him, as a doll that is, had me really surprised.
Even with how amazed I am, I felt something off from the way he called me by someone else’s name.
I wasn’t prepared for that at all.
I righted myself as I stood up from the floor with my head cast downwards.
I couldn’t bear to look at him directly in the eyes when he just got his sanity back.
Finally making sense of my surroundings, my eyes darted sideways and saw what happened to the room.
Just like in the novel, the emperor had enough strength in him to cut through a bear’s neck with a single stroke of his sword, snapping it clean through skin and bone as if he was merely slicing a fruit.
He was covered in muscle all throughout, splatters of blood smeared his body and stained his carpet a deep, blackish red.
The two noble men who were unfortunately at the receiving end of the emperor’s wrath were splayed out on the floor.
A-are they dead
As if to answer my question, they squirmed slightly on where they lay, barely breathing but still alive nonetheless.
My hands were clammy with sweat as I gripped the hem of my dress tightly.
My knuckles were white as paper ever since I stepped foot on the presence chamber.
The tyrant emperor was indeed the man in the tragic fantasy story; handsome, perfect and bloodthirsty.
If I met him without any idea how the story unfolded, I might have fainted right then and there on his feet.
The emperor took a deep breath, wiping his eyes with both of his hands.
Without delay, Raven strode inside the chamber and stopped next to me.
He bowed his head slightly in a show of reverence.
“Yes, Your Majesty.”
“I presume this is your doing” His words came out more like a statement than a question.
“I will accept whatever punishment you deem fit.” Raven responded.
The emperor sighed, sweeping his unruly hair back before throwing the bloody sword on the floor.
“Remove it at once.”