“What have you done?! What have you done?! What have you done?!! Oh my god… This is Her Majesty’s painting! This is Her Majesty’s painting!!! What have you done?!”
The head lady-in-waiting revealed a flustered reaction for the first time. She stood in place with a stupefied look and yelled at me. I smiled helplessly. My left foot almost hurt enough to knock me out, yet she was still concerned about Queen Sisi’s childhood painting. Not only did she not care about my leg, but didn’t even want to help move the ladder off me. I gasped and asked, “Aren’t you going to show me some concern? I think my leg is broken… Can you call a doctor for me…?”
“It doesn’t matter how many of your legs broke! This is Her Majesty’s painting!! This is her only painting. Not to mention that it was what the previous King left behind! What are we to do now that you’ve ruined it?!!! You wouldn’t be able to restore it with your life! Queen Sisi is definitely going to kill you! This is Her Majesty’s painting!!” The head lady-in-waiting was so worried that she was on the brink of tears. She wiped her tears and shouted in a hoarse voice.
The entire Imperial Palace was plunged into disorder. The ladies-in-waiting panicked as they came from all over the place to see what was going on. I carefully grabbed the ladder. It only budged ever so slightly, so I gave up. I blanked every several times. The ladies-in-waiting rambled, but God forbid I could tell what they were saying.
“What’s the matter? Nobody came to welcome me when I returned. Instead, the entire palace is in chaos. What happened?”
While the chaos ensued, Queen Sisi’s voice came from the door. She was evidently annoyed, which was perceived from her tone. Under normal circumstances, there should be people waiting on her from the door. Unfortunately, there was the amiss there, causing almost every lady-in-waiting to forget about it. Queen Sisi stood at the door, looking ticked off. She figured out what happened without needing an explanation.
The head lady-in-waiting’s legs trembled beneath her, her lips ashen. When she spoke, her voice trailed slowly as if her words are unwilling to take flight. She dropped to the floor with a thud and cried, “Your Majesty… I… It was my mistake… I failed to protect your painting… Sorry… Sorry… I will repent with my life… Sorry!!”
I was right. There was a hint of pleasant surprise in Queen Sisi’s gaze when she heard the painting was ruined. However, that hint quickly vanished. She scanned everything around then questioned, “It doesn’t look as though it was your fault. Maria, rise. I can tell that it wasn’t your fault but Little Doggy, am I right? Little Doggy, what have you done?”
I hopelessly explained, “As you can see, I fell from the ladder and accidentally tore your painting.”
“Do you know what you did?”
Queen Sisi crossed her arms and coldly looked at me. The ladies-in-waiting around silently and carefully took a step back, afraid Her Majesty’s flames of rage would spread to them. I knew, however, that Queen Sisi’s rage wasn’t genuine; it was just an act. I replied, “I know. I know what I destroyed, and I am mentally prepared. Your Majesty, there is no doubt that I will repent with my life for ruining your painting.”
The head lady-in-waiting fought to yell first as if she was afraid Her Majesty wouldn’t kill her: “Me, too. I failed to protect your painting; I will also repent with my life!”
Queen SIsi said, “You know, my father once said that a King’s authority is never established by killing people for any idiot can kill another. A King’s authority and right is tolerance and forgiveness for that was only something a King could do. It’s just a painting; I don’t mind. If others learnt that I killed two people for the sake of a painting, I would be too petty and heartless. I won’t kill you two; therefore, don’t worry. Maria, tidy up this place. While you’re at it, ask a doctor to check Little Doggy’s leg. Little Doggy, I will pay you a visit. After all, if I don’t visit you when you break a leg, then it would be negligence and heartlessness on my part.”
The ladies-in-waiting around dispersed. Perhaps they went to call a doctor. Queen Sisi came up to my side. She looked down at the painting I managed to scrunch into something indiscernible. She squatted down and, next to my ear, she whispered, “How nice, Little Doggy. You really are the same as a dog. You are capable of sniffing out my enemies. I’m very pleased. This painting would embarrass me if anyone saw it. Now I won’t have to feel embarrassed.”
Maria still cried with her head down. I struggled to sit up. I quietly replied, “I see that there are things you are not good at, too, Your Majesty.”
“That’s a given. I’m not almighty, but I’m aware of that. I think that I’m good enough.”
Queen Sisi was right. There’s no one who is capable of everything. Howbeit, not everyone is aware of that. Queen Sisi scrubbed my head and grinned: “Take care of your injury, Little Doggy. I am pleased with your performance. As I said, you are always able to bring something different to the table. I’m becoming more and more reluctant to let you leave. I hope you can make me happier.”
A doctor hastily rushed in from outside. He froze when he saw Queen Sisi. He misunderstood something happened to her. She gave him a smile: “Come, come, come, come and treat my Little Doggy. I really like Little Doggy. I hope he brings me a happier future. Don’t let him die on me now.”
“Yes, Your Majesty!”
(Author note: In Veirya’s route, Achilles spent an exorbitant sum of money to purchase the drawing, thereby buying Queen Sisi’s trust.)
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