(A)“… Lord. You don’t like my expression, do you?”
Lord Ray’s expression was wavering.
(R)“I understand. Your master is the emperor and to you, he is your god. Please get as close as you can. I mean, please get used to his knight physique.”
She was not wrong.
‘I mean, she said that my dance was to honour the emperor and the gods in the first place.’
By the way, why was the music so bouncy?
“… I really don’t like this piece.”
“Please don’t commit blasphemy against sacred music. It was personally composed by the God of Music and Instruments.”
I had heard it on repeat. Some parts were thick while others were mesmerising. The beginning of the piece started with a drowsy tune which reminded me of Arabian flute notes of my previous life. But as the piece continued, the music became grander, accompanied with a large but soft drum along with similarly soft guitar and lyra tunes.
Alright. The problem was the beginning portion. Aside from the fact that the music stuck to my ear before melting into my earbuds…
‘Why do the steps for this portion need us to keep so close to each other?’
Imperial culture stemmed from fun and hedonic activities. I already knew that but this was not it though?
Did they not say this would be a sacred ritual? Was it alright to show such a sensual dance in front of the people of the Empire?
The dance was not like those in western balls where people just spun round and round. My partner would grab my waist before lifting and spinning me around. It reminded me of the stunts done in pair skates or dance sports.
I would have to wrap my legs around my partner’s thighs as he would grab my waist before spinning twice. My hands would slip from his chest to his waist as if I was trying to tempt him. The previous princesses had to do this too?
‘I know why Rebecca talked about marriage now.’
There were many crude movements that involved a lot of proximity between partners but the dance was supposed to represent the relationship between the first emperor and the gods. I could not understand.
‘Weren’t the Lord of Gods and the first emperor both men?’
No, the gender of a god could not be determined but the first emperor was definitely a man.
But the music was still exploding around us. Lord Ray caught me just as I was about to sigh.
“Please don’t be surprised.”
He curled his hands around my waist before hoisting me into the air. In other words, he was not very good at this.
His rhythm was also strange. But I could feel his great strength as he lifted me.
‘Was the lord not a noble as well?’
When I turned to glance at Rebecca, she seemed to be turning a blind eye to his mistake but she did not seem to have been expecting much from him anyway.
As this was the most common dance in the Empire, the preceding steps should move smoothly.
Rebecca occasionally offered guidance through her gestures and gazes but she did not tell Lord Ray much. I could tell what she was thinking.
‘I’m sure Rebecca considers my brothers to be the only men around me. She considered the knight to be a ‘man who is an outsider’.’
She must have gotten used to it.
“Lord, you’re really bad at dancing.”
It was not a very difficult melody but he missed the beat again. Perhaps he was beat deaf.
“… Would I have become a knight if I could dance well?”
“Do knights not need rhythm?”
“Even if they do, I don’t have any.”
Unknown emotions were surfacing his dark navy eyes.
“I had been at war for too long.”
I never knew because I had never been that close to Lord Ray. In fact, he had left quite a stoic impression on me.
“Yes. That was before I met you.”
If he was talking about the time before he met me, that would mean the time before I was eight years old. I had only returned to the palace and met Lord Ray once I turned eight.
‘So he’s saying that he entered the battlefield when he was only 14?’
The Empire did not hesitate to send out underaged children.
“Why did you fight battles? Weren’t you only 14 back then?”
“I wanted to prove something.”
What kind of circumstances were he under?
“Our family had a name that would fade into obscurity if we did not show our abilities somehow.”
Dane had said that Lord Ray was a promising talent in the Central Palace before being kicked out to the outskirts of the Imperial Palace. And that fact seemed to be related to what he was talking about now.
“Now that we’re talking about war, it feels like a distant story.”
“It really does.”
A long time ago, Botnia, a small country in the north of the Empire had carried out a small-scale invasion which brought local battles along the borders for about two years.
Botnia was a cold and barren country which sought for the land of the rich Empire.
‘It was said that the long era of peace had been disrupted by the many wars during the current emperor’s era.’
Of course, the invasion and the naval plundering did not pose a serious threat to the Empire but I was a little curious.
‘Does this have anything to do with the Emperor’s powers?’
It might have something to do with the continuous aggression the Empire has been experiencing.
‘If the Emperor’s powers had weakened, the defence around the border would be weakened as well as his powers were not abundant enough to reach the edges.’
“Will there be another war?”
I already knew the answer. Because I knew a war would break out in the future. And the Empire would lose the war that started to obtain Rusbella.
“It won’t happen.”
When I realised that we were in a world of a novel a long time ago, the first thing I wondered was if I could stop this war.
“There’s nothing for you to worry about.”
I did not want to prevent the Empire’s destruction but I also did not want to stand by and watch it. But when I tried to do something about it right away, I realised my situation.
The 8th Princess who could not do anything. I was so weak I wondered if there was anything I could actually do.
But now the story had changed.
I wanted to stop Castor from doing anything he wanted. Especially if he was the one who started the war. Julian should be the emperor. The 2nd Prince was much more humane than Castor.
What could I do?
I asked myself again but I still did not know the answer. I did not want to sit still and let things happen.
I stared at Lord Ray and he received my gaze.
“You shouldn’t be thinking about anything when you’re with me.”
I could feel warmth at the tips of my fingers though we were still in the midst of dancing.
“This is quite a simple dance.”
“It’s a dance enjoyed by everybody in the Empire.”
Princesses who were tasked with performing the ‘Primo Salvatio’ would use their powers to make their stages more spectacular or they would bring a capable patronus to help.
“Focus till the end, mistress.”
The curtains were fluttering in and out of the open window behind Lord Ray. They looked like the curtains of a stage. The feeling of the wind brushing past my simple dress was refreshing and it was nice to see my loose hair flying around in the air. I forgot about Castor and the complicated plot of the original novel and left my body to dance.
The music came to an end.
Lord Ray pulled me into his arms. He placed his forehead on mine to finish the final step.
“This time, you’re the one who made a mistake.”
I could feel a faint smile on his face.
He did not miss a beat.
It was not bad to empty my mind every now and then.
The direction the wind was blowing had changed and now my golden locks were fluttering wildly towards Lord Ray. With an expressionless face, he stared at me before pushing my hair away.
“Do you feel better now?”
His hands grip on my waist remained firm.
After my lessons ended, the sun was already setting in the late afternoon.
“You wanted to speak with me?”
I held my cup of tea before looking out the window to observe the setting sun. The wind trickling through my toes felt quite warm, an indication that spring was coming.
For some reason, I felt a certain way whenever I looked at Rebecca. In the original novel, Rebecca’s efforts had been erased too easily.
Rebecca has been happy loving Castor but it was a self-destructive love.
“Isn’t an unrequited love considered an unrequited one because people were satisfied with just loving?”
The proud and dignified villainess was brought to ruin from the happiness that ate at her inside out.
It might have been presumptuous of me but I wanted to bring Rebecca happiness through a different method from the novel.
I hoped she could enjoy a life filled with happiness.
‘Who’s worrying about whom?’
That was where my thought ended before a smirk broke out on my face.
“Aren’t you… curious, mistress?”
Rebecca licked her lips several times.
“How I become your lady-in-waiting.”
Rebecca had looked uncomfortable the whole day with a serious expression on her face.
“Have you ever thought about why I came here?”
I could see her fidgeting from her subtle movements.
As I rested my chin, I smiled comfortably.
“Why should I?”
Then, Rebecca’ expression stiffened.
“How can you be so sure I have no evil intentions?”
Alright. I was sure a normal person must have suspected her at least once. I raised my head and shot her a gentle smile.
“Rebecca’s not that kind of person.”
There might be people like that around me but I knew she was not. My gut feelings had gotten better after having died 400 times. It did not feel like Rebecca was trying to deceive me.
“I, personally, believe that the lady-in-waiting serving the Imperial family should not get any closer than necessary to the person she serves.”
“The more emotions get involved in the mix, the more difficult it would be to judge.”
The Imperial lady-in-waiting was often regarded as a political tool. That made sense but still.
‘A relationship cannot be so mechanical and simply defined by what could be gained.’
I did not want to argue to her about it so I just smiled at her comfortably.
“What difficult words.”
“But you should really know.”
“Uhhh. It’s too hard.”
I shook my head.
“The important thing is you’re here, you’re with me and you’ll be with me with me till the end, Rebecca.”
I was so tired of arguing with her.
As the sunset reflected off her, her black eyes with flickers with small embers wavered. Her eyes, which was as beautiful as her splendid appearance, were coldly deep.
“Did you know? Amadema. Why did the sole daughter of the noble Aventa come to be your lady-in-waiting?”
The words the 2nd Empress had spoken to me hinted at the truth. But I did not know the truth. The reason why she appeared as my lady-in-waiting. I was sure the answer was in my surroundings.
The beautiful and enchanting characters from the novel were both similar and different from their descriptions in the novel. And that idea stuck with me with my every thought. Maybe something was happening in a place I did not know. But I was already at the mercy of big conspiracies so what was the difference if I was in the middle of another one or two big plans.
Rebecca’s heart was more important to me than that.
“Rebecca. I, sincerely, don’t need anything.”
I smiled dizzyingly.
“I’ll just tell you I don’t know when I don’t.”
sorry this is a lil late but what do yall think of the new manhwa? I’m personally sad that they squeezed the 20 chapters worth of content into 5-6 manhwa chapters but other than that I’m looking forward to reading the rest of it! Hope yall support the manhwa release as well!