“Oh!” I cried so suddenly the emperor flinched and took a step back.
I felt like I could breathe more properly now with the space between us.
“I guess I got too worried.” He wiped his face with the back of his hand, smiling apologetically.
After giving me a once over, he led me by the hand and brought me to a long bench just outside the birdcage.
I felt more at ease being outside.
I placed my hand on my chest and took a deep breath.
“Are you feeling okay now”
I nodded, “Yes, thank you.”
He studied me carefully.
Deeming that I’m more comfortable than before, he took the seat next to me.
“Did something happen” He asked.
“I’m not trying to pry, but are you really okay”
“Yes, I really am.” It happened so long ago.
Every now and then my memories of my past life came to haunt me, and there were times when the pain felt tangible at the present moment.
The repressed emotions came crashing back to the surface, and no amount of talking about it would change anything.
Aside from that, the emperor did not have any reason to care and I also don’t want to relive the dreadful memories.
I sighed, “ I just remembered something from my past.”
He kept his gaze on me for a few more beats before looking away.
His mouth parted and closed but no words came out.
It’s like he wanted to say something but decided against it at the last second.
I didn’t bother asking him; just letting the silence ensue between us.
After a couple of minutes or so, he broke the silence and tried to lighten the atmosphere by speaking in a way that was bright and cheerful,
“Let me take you somewhere else.”
I blinked at his suggestion, “Somewhere else”
“I have another place in mind.
I think you’ll like it.” He said while subtly rubbing the dark circles around his golden eyes.
The place he took me this time around was a garden that was overlooking a magnificent lake, prompting me to gasp in surprise.
“Wow!” The sight alone was enough to lift the weight off my chest.
A vast lake was before us, glinting as it reflected the light from the early summer sun like diamonds.
Upon its surface, it reflected the nearby white and red establishments as birds floated gently on its waters.
It was a scene that came straight out of a fairytale.
“It’s beautiful.” Another reason why I was so utterly mesmerized was because of what stood in the middle of the lake, and it was visible from where I stood.
Situated there was a huge structure of what could be a stone pavilion.
The pavilion was square in design and it bore an open space with little to few railings at its sides.
Thin curtains draped the pavilion to block the harsh gleam of the sun, giving the structure an airy feel.
“They call this the sky terrace.
I’m glad you like it.” There was a hint of satisfaction in his face.
The clear waters of the lake clearly reflected the sky that it doesn’t look like a reflection at all; appearing more like a mirrored view of the skies above.
That must be the reason why it was called the sky terrace and it really did live up to its name.
As we walked along the lakeside, a small marina came into view accompanied by a small paddleboat with a canopy.
The white and gold details gave the paddleboat a luxurious appearance.
A servant who was pulling the fancy-looking boat with a thick rope saw us approach and he immediately scurried over.
Before I could ask myself why he was making his way towards us, the emperor stretched out his hand, “I’m thinking of going there.
Are you okay with water”
To be honest, I was a little bit hesitant since it was such a wide-open area, but then the beauty of the stone pavilion encouraged me to come close.
“Yes, I’m fine with water.” I told the emperor.
As soon as I agreed, the servant who would man the boat, bowed his respects to the emperor before preparing the marina.
Please climb aboard.” The servant said while still in a bowing position.
He looked like he was flustered from the emperor’s unexpected first visit.
The emperor before Ridrian, who always had women around him, had frequented this place countless times.
After the south’s takeover, the visitation ceased since the man who could barely have any sleep at night, simply didn’t have the energy to visit a place like this.
I felt sorry for the servant who had been waiting for too long for his arrival.
The emperor got on the boat first.
His movement was so fluid he was able to right himself despite the light sway of the rocking boat.
“Grab my hand, Iona.” He made an effort to escort me in.
Although I wasn’t still used to his kindness, I nonetheless grabbed his mind without question as I shakily climbed up the boat.
I had never set foot on a boat since the times of war, “Let’s go.” I said, trying to suppress my excitement.