As I’ve made up my mind, I placed my palms on both his tear-stained cheeks and looked straight in his golden eyes, telling him earnestly, “It’s okay.”
He then placed his hands atop mine, leaning his head forward as he let his emotions flow through him and hugged me tightly once again, like he’s afraid of letting go.
Like I was going to disappear like smoke.
I rubbed circles on his back in assurance.
Comforting a man much bigger than I felt like I was consoling a black leopard but despite our size difference, I felt him melting under my touch nonetheless.
It’s not that I don’t have anything to say to him, I just think it’s not the right time since he’s in such a feeble state where he was starting to free himself from his past.
“Please don’t go, Iona.”
In the middle of dawn, we heard a rooster wailing at a far-off distance about to announce the new day ahead.
I held him tighter to my chest until he fell asleep again.
Earlier that day, Ravis ordered the emperor’s people to pack all their luggage as quickly as possible and afterwards, the party departed towards the imperial palace.
The people from the Theres sect were embarrassed for failing to check the holy water, which led to the emperor falling sick.
Feeling that it was their fault, they couldn’t exactly prevent him from going back to his palace as they watch him leave the temple silently.
It took him about four days to return and during those days, the emperor drifted in and out of sleep, the signs of fever gripping his consciousness.
It seemed like Ravis’ speculation about the holy water was right; the emperor recovered a lot faster when they left the Temple’s premises.
By the time they arrived at the imperial palace, his fever was almost gone, and he could move his body much better.
I stayed right beside him throughout those four days.
There were times he would wake up abruptly, his face pale and sweating as he searches for me, and I could only guess that maybe his fever had brought him nightmares.
It was what prompted Raven to have me stay in the emperor’s carriage, and he made sure to accompany me and we spent most of the time just casually chatting.
While it was a pleasure having someone to talk to, I still missed Lina since she was the only one I could freely talk with.
Being caged inside the carriage for four days was suffocating even though it was spacious, since acting as an escort was never part of the deal.
“Iona!” As soon as I arrived at the imperial palace, I got out of the carriage and jumped into Lina’s arms.
We hugged each other so happily we even swayed on our feet, not realizing the emperor was looking at us the whole time.
When I got back, something had changed since I was directed to a new room.
“So… this is my room”
It is not as big as the emperor’s room, but it was still much more spacious compared to the side room I stayed in before.
My new room is the one between the emperor’s bedroom and Liliana’s closet.
On top of that, they told me I am allowed to stay here the whole day until the emperor called for me.
Then, the emperor also ordered breakfast to be served to me.
“Here’s your breakfast.” A maid placed several plates of food on the table.
There were at least twelve side dishes here.
A hefty meal was always delivered to my room, and I made sure to finish them all every single time.
But it didn’t stop there.
“Marie, His Majesty sent these.”
I blink my eyes at the racks of high-quality dresses the maid had wheeled in.
“Does he want me to open my own clothing store”
“I came under His Majesty’s command.
My name is Ella, and I will be serving Marie starting today.”
I guess you should take good care of me.”
So I have two maids now.
Lina and Ella.
To keep me busy, thirty-three new books were also brought to my room.
The emperor filled my room with so many books you’d think you’re inside a library.
My closet was bulging with clothes and it was about to explode, and a large bookshelf was placed inside my room as well, when the emperor didn’t even have one himself.
Whenever he called out his orders, all the maids immediately did what they’re told and just like the emperor that he is, he didn’t care that all of them were scrambling to their feet.
The male protagonist I once read about was continuously changing in front of my very own eyes.
And I find myself growing concerned everyday, feeling like I was somehow becoming attached.
So much for being a simple doll.
The number of gifts was just so overwhelming, so unexpected, and he surpassed his gifts even more last night when he directly handed me a necklace with a sizable jewel at the center.
The jewel glimmered brightly under the light, and I couldn’t help but stiffen in front of the emperor.
“Iona What’s wrong Is she alright Call the imperial doctor now!” The emperor roared behind him.
I shook my head and said, “I’m fine, I’m fine.”
He was so close to calling a doctor.
He must think I’m as fragile as a glass since I used to collapse quite frequently.
Didn’t he know that such jewelry could compromise my own safety He did whatever he wanted, but at least he was doing his best to be more conscious of my needs.
He really was trying his best.
Fighting back at the prayer festival must have stirred something within him.
But I couldn’t complain since my situation had improved greatly because of it.
Now, my job was sweet as honey and it was a job anyone would dream of having.
But I shouldn’t be used to this.
I have to remind myself every now and then, that I will be gone the moment Eris, the female protagonist, appears.