“Hurry, hurry, hurry. Hurry up and finish the makeup. Her Majesty’s clothes still need to be prepared!”
“Who’s holding Her Majesty’s cape?! Who used to hold it?”
“It was always Castell.”
“Castell isn’t here now.”
The Empress sat in her chair with her eyes shut and allowed the makeup artist to do what she had to and speak to the others. The protocol officer, who was behind her, hesitated before asking, “So do you have a better candidate, Your Majesty?”
The Empress laughed and replied, “My son, of course. Did you need to ask? It’s a given that my son can be the one to hold my cape. Is there anyone else? Plus, both of us will be appearing at the annual meeting, so isn’t it perfect for him to hold my cape?”
“I shall go and notify His Majesty, in that case.”
The protocol officer nodded.
‘Yep, that’s why I rushed here.’
‘Tonight’s banquet is a banquet to welcome Her Majesty back. All of the lords of the vassal states were invited. However, this wasn’t the annual meeting banquet. The year here ends with the end of winter. After that day is spring. There are three days to go until spring.’
‘That’s when the official annual meeting banquet is held.’
“Your Majesty, you must hold Her Majesty’s cape properly. Specifically…”
“You don’t need to tell me. I already know.”
‘I once held Her Majesty’s cape for her. It wasn’t the official evening banquet; hence, her clothing for the banquet was a military army uniform, instead of her regular military uniform and a long cape. It carried her unique suave aura. It could also be considered her usual getup for when she attended banquets.’
‘Mommy Elizabeth didn’t prepare a face veil this time, either. As she was meeting with lords of cities, she didn’t cover her face. Therefore, she did her makeup properly this time. Elizabeth is very pretty to begin with, so when she wore makeup on, she became even more preciously beautiful. Standing next to her, I couldn’t tell her age. Perhaps beauty can surpass time. Not even time could diminish her beauty.’
I held mom’s cape and stood behind her. She turned her head around to look at me with a smile, and then stroked my head.
‘She didn’t say anything else, but I could see boundless trust and consolation in her gaze. To be frank, to be allowed to hold the Empress’s cape in front of so many important people proved that I was someone worth her trust, as well as being her most trusted person just as Castell was back then.’
‘Back then, Castell was her most trusted individual. I don’t know why Castell isn’t with the Empress this time. It seems like he stayed at Troy City. To be honest, I’m not very happy about having someone who’s not on my side looking over Troy City, but I can’t ask Her Majesty to call him back now.’
“Let’s go. The lords are waiting for us.”
The Empress turned around, and the servants pulled the door open. My eyes sighted gold lights in an instant. Noise and the air of power rushed at me. All of the people present in the banquet hall right now are the people who wield the most power on this continent, yet all of them were silent as they respectfully welcomed the ruler of the continent.
“Ladies and gentlemen.”
Her Majesty opened her arms with a smile and then walked forth with pride. Nothing could hide that their hairs stood up. The jingling from the ground loudly echoed. It was as though she was stepping on their hearts with every step. All of them couldn’t help but bend at the waist. Some are born rulers. Nobody could withstand her imposing and oppressive aura. The Empress smiled as she looked at them on her left and right while walking forward. I walked behind her. I tried my best to hold her cape steady in my hands.
The Empress arrived in front of everyone. She twisted her body with a quick spin and saw the people that called themselves her vassals with their heads down. I could see Nara looking at the Empress with a fanatical gaze of loyalty from underneath the Empress’s arms. Nara is one who worships the Empress and has been trying to imitate her all the time.
“Happy new year.”
The Empress smiled as she greeted the lords. She wore a confident and proud smile, which made her radiate from head to toe. She opened her arms as she looked at them and spoke.
“We sincerely wish you a happy new year, Your Majesty!”
The rulers, lords and everyone below loudly responded as though the spotlight was focused on Her Majesty. Elizabeth laughed, and then quickly pulled me over into her arms from behind. Her long cape quickly dropped to the ground, but she didn’t care in the least. Instead, she patted me on my shoulder and said, “You all may have not met him yet, but this is my most beloved son, and the next Crown Prince of the Rosvenor Empire. He wasn’t with me before. I believe that you’ve met him already. I wonder what you all think of him… Of course, that’s not what I want to ask you this time. I’ve just returned to the Royal Capital today, my Princess is pregnant and I’m finally getting to meet all of you again. I am in a very good mood. This is a happy banquet, so ladies and gentleman, enjoy yourselves!”
‘I noticed that the gazes the people below had for me were different. Needless to say, I’m referring to the three factions feeling. Some were cautious while some were hostile. There was also Nara and Karana, who were smiling, as well as Bagrott, who was scared. I didn’t actually intend to have Her Majesty punish Prince Bagrott or anything. I haven’t even mentioned the plot behind the scenes yet.’
‘I must find an opportunity to bring it up.’
Elizabeth grabbed hold of my hand and said, “I shall dance the opening dance tonight. Come, Son. Let us dance the opening dance today.”
Elizabeth pulled me into her embrace all of a sudden. She grabbed my hand as if she’d done it a million times before.
‘As opposed to saying that I danced the opening dance with Mom, it would be better to describe it as me being a wooden puppet pulled around. Mom dances very well. Every step is steady.’
I looked at Mom’s bright smile in front of me and followed her steps. My only reason for learning to dance was to respond to these situations. I was a disaster, but Mom perfectly followed my steps. The two of us spun a circle in front of everyone. I saw every face before my eyes as we spun and finally refocused my gaze on Mom’s face.
Nara grabbed Tarak’s hand, and then appeared next to us. That’s when my dance with Mom just ended. Mom laughed and let go of my hand. That’s when I realised my hand was covered in sweat. Mom gave my head a firm scrub then walked up to one side and began speaking with people from the vassal states.
I stood in place and spaced out. I looked at Mom’s back feeling slightly dizzy. I kept feeling that the person in front of me before wasn’t Mom, but Nier or Lucia.
‘Perhaps dancing really can make people develop feelings. Why do I feel that Mom is so beautiful?’
‘Why did it feel like my heart beat so fast when I danced with Mom? Was it because I was moving around or did I become slightly smitten with Mom?’