Suyeon was picking and tearing at the cushion she held in her arms with a nervous expression. It had only been a few hours since she heard Lyle departed for the Dark Tower. She was only delivered the news after a late breakfast, in case the Empress wouldn’t eat her meal from nerves.
‘Of course… … Lyle will be fine, but I’m worried… … . Lyle is no longer the male lead.’
If there is a god in the original work and they’re feeling vindictive… … . then… … .
Increasingly uneasy, Suyeon shook her head at her anxious imagination. Of course, it was foolish to be nervous about imagining things that never even happened yet. Lyle would return safely, and she just needed to prepare to welcome him.
“Your Majesty… … . Shall I bring you the book you were reading last time?”
The lady-in-waiting looked at her and asked cautiously. Suyeon paused but refused.
“No, I don’t think I’ll be able to read now, maybe later… … .”
She even refused dessert, which she enjoyed. She had no appetite. Trying to give her a sense of normalcy, her ladies-in-waiting asked if she wanted her usual massage, but Suyeon refused. Anxious thoughts about Lyle made her unable to focus or enjoy anything else.
“Just a little… … I need to rest. I want to be alone, so everyone can go out.”
“Very well, your Majesty, Empress.”
The ladies-in-waiting responded politely and then lined up to empty the bedroom. Suyeon, who was left alone, sighed heavily as she leaned against the back of her sofa.
“You have to be safe, Lyle… … .”
The escorts inquired after catching sight of all the ladies-in-waiting vacating the Empress’ room. One of the ladies-in-waiting glanced back at the door and responded with compassion,
“Her Majesty appears to be uneasy since the Emperor left for the Dark Tower. She said she wanted to be alone… … .”
“Ah ah… … .. the Dark Tower is full of dangerous people.”
The guards and maids of the empress’ palace were on good terms. There was also the existence of Baron Hestia, who strengthened their bond. Because the Empress treated her ladies-in-waiting well, the knights were on the side of being careful with them.
Even the ladies-in-waiting did not treat the knights with Baron Hestia carelessly. Occasionally they delivered something like a snack to the knights, so the atmosphere was polite and moderate.
Many of the knights and maids were from aristocratic families. So a respectful atmosphere was formed.
“Anyway, we will be in another room. Please take care of her Majesty, the Empress.”
“I see, go safely.”
There was a bell connected to a line in the Empress’s room. The present Empress did not use it much, except when it was necessary; she also called people verbally.
Since she was with the Imperial heir now, if there was a loud noise, the knights had no choice but to be rude and send someone in.
The ladies-in-waiting retreated to a room not far away, and the escorts stood by in their positions.
After hearing the news of the Emperor’s campaign, they were not at ease either. Successful in fulfilling his duties as Emperor, they had no doubts that he would return safely, but it was because they were also knights they wished to fight by his side.
Although Ben was lost in thought, he was not relaxed. He spotted a bird. It was a common sparrow with brown feathers.
The sparrow fluttered, flapping its wings, and sat on a branch overlooking the corridor, resting its wings for a moment. Then, it cleaned the feathers on its wings with its beak, rolled its black eyes, and looked his way.
Just as their eyes met, the sparrow flew back into the sky. Thinking it was boring, Ben’s eyes followed the direction the sparrow flew.
“Duke Card’s heir… … Did he also go out with His Majesty this time?”
At Ben’s question, Seira turned her head to look at him.
“Yes, I suppose so… … .”
Luke was the Deputy Commander of the 2nd Imperial Knighthood Order. In the 1st and 2nd Imperial Knights Orders, the Emperor formally assumed the title of Knight Commander, but the Deputy Knight Commander, in reality, played the role of the leader.
The 1st and 2nd Orders usually moved with the Emperor, so they were usually stationed in the capital.
“Haa~! The ducal heir must be His Majesty’s reliable right-hand man. I envy you~”
War with other countries was a distant thing for their generation. So the knights usually moved when subjugating monsters. In other words, knights had little work to do and even fewer opportunities to gain recognition.
“The right hand! I’d say it’s the left hand. Isn’t he the vice-captain of the 2nd Knights?”
Commonly, the vice-captain of the 1st Knights Order was referred to as the right arm, and the vice-captain of the 2nd Knights Order as the left arm.
It was widely known that the relationship between the Card family and the Emperor was not very good, so there were many speculations about Luke’s appointment. For example, there were whispers that the Emperor had surrendered to the Duke of Card, while others said it was because the Card household maintained neutrality.
Conversely, there were rumors that the Emperor was trying to prevent the Duke of Card from creating a separate power. The 1st Knights and 2nd Knights had strong loyalty to the Emperor, so it was said that Luke, being promoted as the deputy leader of the knights, was, in reality, a demotion to clip his wings.
‘Maybe… … those speculations are correct.’
Seira also believed in those rumors.
For being the titled vice-captain of the 2nd Knights, Luke mainly focused on the Card family. Only after the Emperor and the Empress became closer did the Knights’ work increase. Until then, it had been an empty title.
Feeling a presence across the corridor, the knights fixed their postures and resumed silence. The only one who didn’t have to scramble to get into position was Seira.
Seira looked at the approaching noblewoman. She was a lady named Phoebe, a maid of honor of the Empress.
On her silver tray were porcelain teapots, teacups, and simple cookies. Noticing Seira’s gaze, Phoebe lifted the tray she was holding in her hand.
“The Imperial Empress… … I’m afraid she will be thirsty now.”
“Ah, ah… … .”
As if convinced, the escorts tried to get out of her way, but Seira approached. Finally, Phoebe’s puzzled gaze reached her.
Seira wore her uniform without armor and approached her with a soft smile.
“It seems heavy, so I can carry it.”
“No, thank you.”
“It can’t be. The teapot is so big… … .”
Although the ladies-in-waiting came and went often, Seira had never shown such consideration before. The knights curiously peered at Seira and the maid, wondering what was going on.
They remembered who this maid was. Among the maids-in-waiting of the Empress, she held a great infatuated heart for Baron Hestia. She was very devoted to her fixation on the Baron. Thinking that this maid had finally seen the light at the end of the tunnel, they watched the two with interest.
Phoebe seemed a little taken aback, but as a lady-in-waiting of the imperial family, she skillfully refused to show it in her attitude.
Seira’s hand brushed against Phoebe’s hand, holding the tray as if she was really listening.
“… … as expected.”
Seira’s cold eyes scanned her face.
“Ian!” [t1v: Seira goes by her brother’s name]
The surprised knights shouted, but it was too late. Her merciless fist struck Phoebe in the throat. In shock, the maid dropped the tray and fell across the floor.
“Ian Hestia! What the hell are you doing?”
A fellow knight raised his voice, but Seira did not take her eyes off Phoebe. The sight of Seira pulling out her sword stunned the knights into speechlessness.
“It’s not the Empress’ maid! It’s just a disguise— It’s likely a wizard, so be careful!”
“What is that—” You can read more here.