After Lady Lesprey fainted, the banquet hall erupted in chaos.
The emperor lifted her body from the floor and took her from the hall.
Behind him, Count Russen carried out the blood-covered body of his unconscious son.
The Chancellor, who remained, instructed the rest of the nobles to not let these unfortunate events disrupt the masquerade and to continue with the revelry.
However, the damage had been done.
No one wanted to dance any longer and the events of the evening would be talked about for the rest of the night.
The guests couldn’t stop discussing what they had heard: a slave living in the company of the emperor! Speculation and rumours grew like wildfire and soon they were traveling outside of the palace walls.
As the stories evolved through the night, Ridrian’s only concern was Iona.
He had brought her to her bed chamber and summoned the palace doctor, Berman.
The doctor, blurry-eyed from being woken in the middle of the night, hurried to get dressed after hearing the patient was Iona.
He was given the details about the events by the servant who had come to fetch him.
After the examination, Berman bowed his head to Ridrian.
“Well, what is her condition” Ridrian asked.
“According to my examination, there seems to be no major abnormalities.
It looks like she passed out from exhaustion, so let her relax and she’ll wake up soon.”
“I see.” Ridrian sighed in relief and leaned back against the headboard of the upon hearing the court’s report.
Iona face was ghostly white, but she didn’t look like she was in pain.
Still, he was worried that she might stay unconscious for days, as she had in the Central Temple of Teres.
Ridrian was perplexed; she seemed to faint almost once a month.
“Iona often passes out.
Are you sure everything all right” he asked the doctor.
“There was no trauma, and any internal injury were completely cured by the divine power.
She seems weak in nature, so it would be better to take a light walk every day to help strengthen her constitution.”
“I’d say that is a good idea.” Ridrian turned to a maid.
“Prepare some food so she can take her medicine and get healthy.
Lina, you stay to care for her.
Everyone else, leave the chamber and do not disturb her until I say it is all right.”
The servants, along with doctor Berman, shuffled out from the chamber.
Lina wiped the blood from Iona’s face with a wet towel, which quickly turned red.
Raven addressed the servant, “The emperor and I are going to leave so you can take care of the Lady Lesprey in peace.”
“Of course, my lord, Your Majesty” Lina had flinched at the name Lady Lesprey, but she quickly bowed her head to hide her reaction.
Raven left the bedroom with Ridrian, and they took seats in the sitting room just outside.
Raven instructed a servant to pour some drinks, then turned to Ridrian who sat with his face buried in his hands.
“Your Majesty” Raven was concerned about his master.
“Again, she fell,” Ridrian mumbled from within his hands.
“It’s not your Majesty’s fault.”
Ridrian thought of what had transpired.
He had become so angry when Lord Russen dared to touch Iona’s neck that he lost his temper and swung Lotuburu with all his force.
But he had not intended Iona’s eyes to see the blood.
The expression on her face, when she saw the blood; the pale and terrified expression haunted his mind.
It’s like this every time, he thought. You are exposed to so many dangers and violence when you are by my side.
I just want you to feel comfortable by my side.
“I’m ashamed to show myself to her,” Ridrian commented.
Iona was an understanding woman, but she might turn her back on him this time.
He had offered himself to her, but she did not seem willing.
He pretended not to notice this, as he did not want her sad or feeling guilty.
For a brief moment, Lilliana’s dead eyes flashed over Iona’s face in his mind.
He groaned from the shock.
“Your Majesty will restore her family’s honour, so we should all be grateful.
Even the Lady Lesprey.”
“That would be nice.” Ridrian tried to smile.
Iona only observed manners and etiquette when she was with him, but she certainly wasn’t afraid.
If she was, she would never be able to look him in the eye.
She had definitely seemed overjoyed when he announced he would restore her family’s reputation.
She may even grow to enjoy being a noble again.
Or, more likely, she would find it annoying.
The reinstatement of her aristocracy had been intended to be a surprise present for her upcoming birthday.
Ridrian had been working diligently to arrange to reopen the trial just in time for the celebration, but he had no choice but to announce it early.
He needed to distract them as they seemed to find enjoyment in Iona’s suffering.
Not one of them moved to help her.
It was a pity that he had been unable to tell who was who, because of the masks they were wearing.
If he knew exactly who stood to the side and gawked, he would have pushed them off the Etherium cliffs.
If it hadn’t been for Iona, more blood would have been shed.
His thoughts were disturbed as the servant set the drinks in front of the men.
It was an amber liquid from a black flask, poured over ice.
“No, I’ve drunk enough for one evening,” Ridrian announced.
“Bring me some ice water.”
“Your Majesty, are you feeling all right” Raven asked, confused by the man who never turned down alcohol.
The emperor let out a sigh.
“Iona told me to stop drinking.
And candy as well.”
Ravis paused in shock.
He quickly moved the cup to his mouth to suppress the laugh that tried to come out.