Ross quickly got up from the ground and excitedly turned to face me. Nervous and hopeful, he inquired, “Yes! Lord Lin, can we leave now? Has Her Majesty agreed to help?!”
I wiped my eyes to start. Tone calm, I replied, “Come in, Ross. Sisi wants to see you. While I’m at it, I want to give you post in the imperial palace.”
Ross revealed a look of surprise: “… Lord Lin… H-have I done something wrong again…? I… I do not want to leave you… No matter how things turn out… I wish to stick with you… Lord Lin… Please do not kick me out…”
“What are you saying?” I asked, touching Ross’ ears at the same time. ”I’ll also be staying in the imperial palace from now. You won’t be leaving me. That’s why I need to give you a proper post in the imperial palace. While we’re at it, I want to let you meet Sisi.”
Ross had a moment of realisation. He rubbed his eyes, and his ears sprung up with excitement again. Glad, he asked, “I see! Sorry, Lord Lin. I was too impulsive and presumptuous. Mm… All right, I shall go with you now. However, your decision sure came suddenly – I am referring to your abrupt decision work in the imperial palace. Does that mean that the issue has been resolved?”
I bobbed my head: “You can say that.”
I led Ross into the imperial palace.
Beaming, Ross queried, “I knew Lord Lin would definitely resolve it. You live up to your reputation. I am amazed you were able to resolve such a serious issue within one night. Did Her Majesty agree to help you? Do you need me to write a letter to Miss Leah and Lord Veirya to have them come over?”
As we ascended the stairs, I answered, “Leah, yes, but not Veirya.”
“Uhm… That makes sense,” responded Ross. He dithered as he had something to ask but decided against it. Beaming, he conveyed, “Lord Veirya is still injured and cannot move yet, after all. Sorry, Lord Lin, I almost overlooked that.”
“No. That’s not what I meant.”
I led Ross to Sisi’s bedroom without elaborating on my statement. Sisi didn’t shut her door. Hence, we saw her sitting at her make-up table, combing her long burgundy hair in silence.
Ross went down on his knees as soon as Sisi was in sight. His nerves were so frazzled that he trembled and didn’t dare to utter a word. Queen Sisi had worn on a splendid white dress, which perfectly complemented her skin colour. Raising the corners of her lips, she queried, “Dongqing, I never expected you to find yourself such a beautiful anthropoid maiden in such a short frame of time. Is she a cat?”
“I-I am a boy, Your Majesty…”
Queen Sisi thought her eyes had been tricked. She had always been confident in her skills to read another person, being able to identify one’s nature with a single gander, only to fail to correctly identify Ross’ gender. That left her incredibly awkward. She immediately dashed over to Ross. She touched his head and remarked, “What a cute catman. You can work as a servant in my rear palace from now on. Go and see the head lady-in-waiting. I think you’d look cute in a lady-in-waiting’s uniform.”
Ross looked at me with a pitiful gaze, hoping that I’d say something. He was a boy; he wasn’t willing to be treated as a girl. The most feasible explanation for Sisi’s demand for him to wear a female uniform was to satisfy her nasty tastes. He didn’t dare to protest, so he turned to me.
“Ahem, let him work in reception at the front palace. I think that would suit him better. I don’t feel assured with a male in the rear palace.”
“Oh my, Dongqing, are jealous now?!” teased Queen Sisi, with eyes that were glimmering. She hugged me around my neck with delight and kissed my lips. Sounding as if she was flirting, she warmed, “Let’s do that, then. Donqing, I have to interact with men for work, though. I’ll do my best to limit contact with them. Don’t go getting intimate with the ladies-in-waiting back here, either, okay?”
Ross was blown away by surprise after bearing witness our act. Words had come to his lips. Howbeit, he hesitated to let them out.
“Now then, I should pick Leah up, as well. I don’t have a child yet, but I promise to live up to my word. I will do my best to take care of Leah. Ross, I’ll let you deliver the letter.”
“But… Your Majesty… Miss Leah… is Lord Lin and Lord Veirya’s daughter, is she not?” stuttered Ross, gulping as if it were his last breath. “Umm… Umm… I am not too sure… what is happening… Umm… Lord Lin… are you and Lord Veiry-”
“Oh, that,” remarked Sisi, with a smile. She looped her arm around mine. Blissfully, she went on, “You haven’t gotten married yet, have you? I’m also Dongqing’s fiancée now. We’ll hold a wedding as soon as plausible. This is a decision we came to together. As for Veirya, I can only apologise.”
“What are you doing, Lord Lin?!! Do… Do you not love Lord Veirya?!” Ross snapped, leaping to his feet. “Did you not come here for Lord Veirya?! Also… Also, Miss Leah considers Lord Veirya her mother, which is why she loves her so much. What exactly led to you doing this?! You have betrayed Lord Veirya and Miss Leah. You cannot make this decision on your own. Miss Leah… Are you not even going to consider Miss Leah’s feelings?!”
“Ross… it’s a complex situation to explain…” I sighed. I opened and closed my mouth several times thereafter but couldn’t articulate even one reason despite having an abundance of reasons.
“It’s fine, Dear. Go and write Leah a letter. I’ll explain to him.”
Sisi pushed me out of the room with a smile and slammed the door shut. She leaned onto the wall to listen to what was happening outside. Once she heard my footsteps vanish in the distance, she spun around and suspended Ross in the air in one hand. He screamed and struggled. Sadly, Sisi had her vice-like grip around his throat. She glared at him with her ice cold hetechromia eyes and the hideous expression of a demon.
Ross couldn’t breathe. All he did was put up a futile resistance.
“I’m taking you in thanks to Dongqing. My wedding with him is more important than anything to me and is my most blissful future. If you dare share your opinion on the matter, I’ll pull your spine out, break it up into bits and serve it on Dongqing’s plate, got it?”
The misty tears in Ross’ eyes inhibited his vision. He instinctively nodded. Sisi finally released him. Ross dropped to the floor with a thud. He held his neck and panted.
“Good,” remarked Sisi, who clapped her hands and revealed a happy smile again. “So then, let’s get along from now, kitty.”
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