In the original work, the emperor’s expression only faltered once, and it was the time when he saw Liliana dying in front of him.
It was a strange sight of the usually strong and fierce emperor, and it felt odd this time since I’m the one who brought such different reaction.
The emperor pulled me as soon as I got close, instantly wrapping his arms around my shoulders and burying his face against my nape.
His unruly tresses tickled my skin.
Snuggling closer, he made himself comfortable and growled in a low voice.
“All I want to do now is to roll around the room with Iona.” His voice came out mumbled but Raven heard it just the same.
Raven straightened his back, leaning closer as he whispered.
“Your Majesty, I strongly advise you to refrain from using words that may cause unnecessary misinterpretations.”
The emperor tilted his head, looking at Raven directly in the eyes.
“That is exactly what I want.
And besides, no one else is here anyway.” He was not at all pleased at Raven’s interruption and tucked his head on my nape once again.
There was no movement for a while and it seemed like the emperor had fallen asleep.
I threw a glance at Raven, noticing a slight crease in his forehead after his short exchange with the emperor.
I am as equally as baffled as him.
The emperor really was acting strange.
The emperor, Raven and I sat in the emperor’s six-person carriage.
Initially, Elmeria, the head maid, had assigned me to sit on the carriage used by servants.
Lina and I got on the wagon obediently and munched on the snacks we packed for the trip.
We’ve brought so much food with us it was as if we’re headed to a picnic, not the Temple.
Not long after the carriage departed, an abrupt stop halted us in our journey.
I looked at Lina and saw the same confusion etched on her face.
From what I’ve heard, it would take seven hours from the Imperial Palace to the Temple of Theres.
I am sure that we are nowhere near close.
The door of the carriage suddenly swung open, startling me from my seat as I held my hand against my chest.
The emperor stood outside the carriage.
“Come out, Iona.”
His unexpected presence surprised me so much that I choked on the cookie Lina and I were eating, prompting her to hastily push a bottle of water into my hand.
I swallowed the water down in huge gulps.
Having composed myself after the coughing fit, the emperor pulled me out of the carriage and brought me to his own.
I tried to subtly pull away from his clutch but the emperor responded by picking me up and getting inside the carriage.
His carriage was much more comfortable and slightly more spacious than the previous one, fitting for royalty.
When the sun had set below the horizon, the carriage arrived at the castle of the Lordship located in Iland after a few hours.
The emperor stirred from his sleep and tried to get inside the castle with me, but unfortunately, it was blocked by Raven saying that protocol wouldn’t allow it.
After everyone had left, I was accompanied by a knight who led me through the back door leading into a bedroom, where the emperor would have stayed if he was here.
Lina prepared dinner in the kitchen but she handed it over to me on the opposite side of the castle, away from peering eyes.
The emperor’s doll was to be kept secret and confidential so I understood the reason for such precautionary measures, but felt frustrated nonetheless.
We stopped by a couple more castles and after the long journey, the emperor finally reached his destination.
I’ve been sitting in the carriage for four days and it felt like I was locked up with nowhere to go.
The trip really took a toll on me.
Fortunately, we were not attacked nor did we run into any sort of an accident during our expedition, like what usually happens in novels.
This was the emperor’s journey after all.
No one would dare go after him; doing so would be a death wish.
I suddenly remembered the assassin who tried to kill him in his own quarters.
I wondered where’s from, and I recalled the emperor saying that he still doesn’t know who’s behind the attack.
There was no use thinking about it since nothing else happened ever since the stairwell incident.
It’s either the palace’s defenses had become more solid, or people trying to invade the palace had given up altogether.
It doesn’t matter what the reason was as long as I’m unharmed and away from danger.
With my mind filled with thoughts regarding my safety, I was only pulled back to my surroundings when the noise coming from outside the carriage grew louder.
The procession led to the front of the main hall after passing through the huge central square of Evaron City, finally reaching its end as we stopped where the Central Temple was located.
The sheer curtain inside the wagon could not hide the looming grandeur of the Central Temple and it looked absolutely spectacular.
Mouths wide agape, people gasped at the beautiful sight in front of them.
The surroundings were white as snow, and the Central Temple of Theres was so enormous that it was recognized as the state religion of the Ivant Empire.
“Is this your first time at the Central Temple” Raven asked.
I nodded without looking at him, marveling at the Temple in sheer wonder.
It was said that the commoners were the first ones to enter the Temple.
Slaves who were treated and regarded as someone’s property were prohibited from entering the Temple of Etyrium.
While such a rule was not implemented by God or his teachings, the priests who served Him were the ones who insisted on it, saying that smirching the holy place with their filthy existence wasn’t allowed in the sacred place.
It did not help that there were so many people of high rank in the capital city of the Great Empire, and they all bellowed various exclaims of disapproval.
They made themselves clear that they do not want dirty slaves hanging around inside the holy temple.
Being a slave myself previously, the mere act of sleeping was already a luxury I couldn’t afford, so I don’t think any slave would have the time to even go to a Temple.