Chapter 451. Irresistible Offer (2)
Translator: Aura / Editor: Tiny Zebra
Where should Rivetti stay once she arrives? I don’t know if she should stay in a room for distinguished guests, in a room for ladies-in-waiting, or in one of the empty rooms near mine.
“If the room is too close to Your Majesty’s, she might feel overwhelmed.”
“Geez, I don’t think so, Miss Rose. Rivetti is the kind of girl who wants to be as close to the Empress as possible.”
“But Laura, Miss Rose may be right. She’s a cheerful young girl, but… a lot of bad things happened to her all at once. We can do our best to cheer her up, but she may need some time alone as well.”
“That’s right. She wasn’t in her own territory, she was caught— Ah, I meant, she was found in a nearby town. This may indicate that she wants to be alone and away from people who know her.”
My ladies-in-waiting had different opinions, which changed repeatedly as they discussed the matter. It would not be easy to come to a consensus. After they went round and round for a while to no avail, they pushed me to go see Heinley.
They thought that I should get his opinion, but it was obvious that they wanted to encourage me to spend more time with him. Secretly, I wanted to see Heinley too… so I pretended not to understand their underlying motives and hurried off to get Heinley’s opinion.
But though I went to his office, the training grounds, the garden, and even the area behind the Twilight Garden where he built his precious nest, there was no trace of Heinley.
Could he be hurt somewhere? Could he have been struck by an arrow while flying around? Did he get lost? What if he suddenly fainted? What if he crashed into a big tree mid-flight and broke his wing?
I was becoming anxious. It was worse when McKenna couldn’t tell me where he was.
“He may be napping on a tree enjoying the sunlight, Your Majesty. He does it often. Don’t worry.”
McKenna smiled like it was no big deal that Heinley was missing, but how could I not worry?
“He could be in danger. A pretty little bird like Heinley attracts too much attention, McKenna.”
“What? A pretty little bird? You must not be talking about Heinley, but about me, right?”
“I meant Heinley. Of course, your blue feathers are also very pretty.”
“… Forgive me, Your Majesty. With all due respect, I can’t agree that Emperor Heinley is pretty or little. It’s a matter of pride and common sense.”
McKenna shook his head as if to forget my words. Then, he quickly looked around to check that no one could see him, turned into a blue bird, and flew around the room. After a few turns, he picked up his clothes with his beak, flew out the window, and returned as a fully dressed man shortly after.
“The blue bird you just saw is little and pretty. His Majesty Heinley is huge.”
In my eyes, Heinley’s gold feathers were the prettiest. That was also because I love gold. Of course, I couldn’t deny that McKenna was a bit smaller, but Heinley wasn’t huge either. He was just the right size to hug him comfortably. It was the most appropriate size for a bird.
“I’ll continue to look for him.”
McKenna didn’t seem to be much help, so I left the place and asked around again, becoming more and more nervous.
Suddenly, I recalled the fountain where I discovered that Heinley is Queen. The fountain in that abandoned palace had surprised me in several ways. Could he be there?
As soon as I considered it, I felt an inexplicable certainty that Heinley would be there, so I quickly headed for the abandoned palace. I walked through the rickety front door, past the bumpy gravel path, and through the deserted corridor. Then, I saw the fountain.
‘My intuition didn’t fail.’
Just as I expected, Heinley was there. He was sitting on the edge of the fountain, singing with his eyes closed while he looked up at the sky. His clothes were scattered nearby.
His voice, deep and melodious, radiated the morning essence. As I leaned my head against the pillar while I observed him and listened to his lovely voice, Heinley stopped singing and looked my way, as if he’d sensed my presence. When our eyes met, he raised his eyebrows and smiled broadly.
When I got closer to him, Heinley leaned into my stomach and whispered,
“Close your eyes, my baby.”
Then he kissed the back of my hand, stood up, and kissed me on the lips. He didn’t stop at that, he gently nibbled along my jawline and on my earlobes. But suddenly he closed his eyes and pulled away from me as he prayed under his breath.
He stepped into the fountain and sank below the water, so that only his upper body was exposed. He looked at me and smiled awkwardly.
He was too lovely, so I couldn’t help but crouch down. I whispered as I held out my hand.
“You don’t have to be shy, Heinley. You’re all mine anyway.”
Heinley blushed terribly.
“Who are you talking to, My Queen?”
“You spoke to my stomach, so I just spoke to yours.”
“But that wasn’t my stomach, My Queen…”
I lifted my hand and caressed his body, from his chest to his lips. Heinley bit my fingers with a slight smile.
After we played for a while, I removed my shoes and set them aside, lifted my skirt up to my knees, and stepped into the fountain. I sat on the edge, next to Heinley.
“The water is cold. Will you be alright?”
Heinley was worried, but I reminded him that the day was warm. He nodded and we looked at each other in silence.
“Actually, Heinley, I’m a little cold.”
Heinley smiled, sat beside me, and pulled me close.
In contact with his body, I felt a pleasant warmth envelop me. Not in the strange sense, but rather an authentic warmth that kept the cold at bay.
As I warmed up in his arms, I belatedly remembered the reason I began looking for him in the first place. Then I remembered how worried I was as I searched for him.
“Before I came here, I was scared because I couldn’t find you, Heinley.”
Just the memory of it annoyed me. As I complained, I slapped Heinley’s thigh, who apologized with a flinch.
“I needed to organize my thoughts.”
“Does it help you to come here?”
“When I come here… I feel like my problems are not so serious.”
“Why? Is this place special to you?”
This fountain was a special place for me. On the day when I saw Heinley in the fountain, the moment was all mine. Heinley didn’t see me. So if this was a special place for Heinley, it was likely due to something else, something that had nothing to do with me. I was curious to know what it was. Everything related to Heinley fascinated me.
“Well, it’s because of something that happened when I was young. It wasn’t a good thing… it was a little accident…”
Heinley frowned and answered in an inconsequential tone. However, he didn’t elaborate on the accident. He downplayed it.
I didn’t know whether to inquire further or let it pass. I thought I should inquire further, to strengthen our bond, but I didn’t want to open a wound that he didn’t want to talk about just to satisfy my curiosity. So I changed the subject and brought up Rivetti.
“Rivetti will be here soon.”
Heinley tilted his head as if he couldn’t remember who Rivetti was. Come to think of it, I didn’t think Heinley had ever met her.
“She is Viscount Roteschu’s daughter.”
When I clarified her identity, Heinley found it strange that the Viscount’s daughter would come to see me. Although Viscount Roteschu betrayed Rashta, back when I was still in the Eastern Empire he was in cahoots with her to destroy me.
Once I explained that Rivetti was a young lady who adores me, he finally understood.
“Given what happened to her father and brother, she must need the support. I will ask her to stay with me for some time…”
“It’s alright, My Queen. It’s up to you. You are the mistress of this palace after all.”
“But I don’t know which room to put her in.”
Once I told Heinley about the three options I had discussed with my ladies-in-waiting, he answered immediately.
“You said the young lady adores you, right? That she has collected all your portraits? Then there’s only one option. Give her a room as far away from you as possible.”
“Because she likes you a lot. It should be enough that she can stay in your Palace.”
“That’s my opinion, My Queen.”
“Rivetti is a woman, Heinley.”
“Your parents, your brother, and our baby bird are the only people I’m not wary of, My Queen.”
Grand Duke Lilteang was in agony during the journey to the Eastern Empire, and his condition became critical upon his arrival. Sovieshu even sent the Imperial doctor to the Grand Duke’s mansion, but to no avail.
The Grand Duke’s health, already weak from months of malnourishment and harsh conditions in prison, had completely deteriorated due to the heavy downpour on the day of his escape.
When Evely used her healing magic, his external wounds healed, but the illness persisted. His fever was constantly rising and falling.
Four days passed like this and people began to suggest that Grand Duke Lilteang’s son, the next in line to the throne, should be taken to the Imperial Palace just in case. It was at this moment that the 4th Commander of the Transnational Knights paid Sovieshu a visit.
The officials were nervous, but those who had accompanied Sovieshu to the Western Empire were not too surprised.
During his return journey, Sovieshu read his diary and examined records related to the port case. Various preparations were made beforehand so that even Day Sovieshu could stand with dignity in front of the 4th Commander of the Transnational Knights.
However, what the 4th Commander said to him was unexpectedly positive.
“The Eastern Empire is in a real bind over the port case. So the Chief of the Alliance has an offer.”
“Is it true that the Eastern Empire is investigating the Western Empire for its alleged involvement in the phenomenon of mana decline because it has found a clue to it?
“The Chief says that if you share the clue with us, the alliance will side with Your Majesty in the port case.”