Chapter 1. Prologue
Raha consulted with Count Partz and selected a total of six out of the twenty dresses. In fact, this had to be discussed with Duke Esther, who has the highest rank in the hierarchy of Dukes….But Duke Esther was currently absent.
Moreover, she didn’t feel comfortable in the situation of talking alone with the Duke, so this was better.
“Please just sketch the dresses I have chosen and bring it with you. I must show it to Lady Jamela.”
“Yes, Princess. That’s a good idea. I’m sure the Lady will be pleased with your consideration.”
Even if they were shown to Jamela, the final choice will be made in the Clothing Department. This was, as the Count said, a minor consideration of Raha’s. If there was a design that Jamela particularly liked, she may say a few words to the dressmaker.
‘She’s marrying such a man.’
Since Raha had been acquainted with Jamela before, greeting her and such, she had no idea that she was going to marry a crazy man named Karzen. However, Raha felt a certain weak kinship with Jamela since they met quite often.
“I’ll let the young lady choose the evening dress. I will only have to choose the clothes His Majesty will wear.”
“Ah, Princess. You must choose one more suit. Won’t the royal lord be attending the reception as well?”
Raha blinked at the words of the Count. Yes, she would have to prepare a suit which was similar to a dress Raha would wear for Shed.
“Then …… I must choose the dress I will wear first.”
“Yes, then, Your Royal Highness. I will show you right away.”
Count Paltz clapped his hands lightly twice. Then a servant from the Clothing Department brought another dress. It was a dress displayed on a mannequin like the dress Jamela should wear.
The dress, with its long pleats hanging down the back, was at first glance a very expensive item.
“Is this the dress I am to wear?”
“Yes, Your Royal Highness, or more precisely, the only one.”
Why was there only one dress?
The Count walked toward the dress as Raha asked.
“Did the Count choose it?”
“I am too old to understand the tastes of the younger ones. It was chosen by the royal lord.”
Raha’s gaze attached itself to the dress.
“The royal lord?”
“Yes, Your Royal Highness.
The Count burst out laughing.
“A few days ago. When Lady Jamela and the Princess went to the main palace, I visited the Princess’s palace for a while.”
Count Paltz had always been one of those old nobles who felt sorry for Raha. So when she got a politically decent fiancé, he was discreetly relieved. He hadn’t had time to find out more about it, as the royal lord had yet to show his face properly at the official setting.
The royal lord was sitting comfortably. At first glance, he looked like a master sitting in his own mansion. He had an imposing atmosphere. The maids were also relaxed. It meant that the royal lord did not kill Raha’s slaves. The Count thought he could successfully seize such an air current.
“I came to show the Princess the dresses but the Princess wasn’t there. However, the royal lord was in the room at that time so I showed them to him. He said he didn’t like them.”
“I didn’t hear anything about it.”
“I guess you haven’t.”
Raha was disappointed to hear that. No one said anything to her, even Shed. A question suddenly arose.
“What is different about this dress that made him choose it?”
“It was not chosen; it was made….“
The Count laughed softly. He walked behind the dress. Raha blinked and followed along with him.
The cloak-like hanging behind the dress was embroidered with an unfamiliar pattern. The knowledge Raha had so often organized in her head slowly emerged.
It was the royal crest of Hildes.
“I understand that the royal lord has already brought the dress from Hildes.”
“…. is that so?”
“Yes. He said he didn’t like everything I had prepared and gave me this.”
Raha was speechless.
The dress Shed brought from that wealthy kingdom was very glamorous. Of course, Raha had always worn only fancy clothes. Had Shed seen her clothes and remembered them in his time here as a doll?
Raha reached out and touched the surface of the dress. It flowed down smoothly without any stiffness on her fingertips. The soft cream-colored fabric was of the finest quality that Raha could see. The elongated back was intended to mimic the gowns of scholars and give off an intellectual air.
But in Raha’s eyes, it was different. This elegant and luxurious silk looked like a warm cloak. Suddenly Raha remembered Shed’s long ago words. He had told her to dress warm.
Unknown emotions were simmering in her chest. Raha saw the Count smiling and the hand that had been wandering only over the dress was finally taken back.
“Why are you smiling like that?”
“The elderly love a mild spring.”
“I must prepare an evening party in late spring for the Count.”
“I am honored, Your Royal Highness.”
Raha changed the subject.
“Make sure the suit for the royal lord has the same cream color as this dress. Embroider the Delharsa pattern on the collar with silver thread….There is no need to go to the Clothing Department, just call the imperial designer. That will do.”
“Yes, Your Imperial Highness. I think that’s enough.”
Count Paltz replied in a warm voice. He took notes and told her about tomorrow evening’s court concert. He pretended not to know, knowing that Raha’s gaze returned to that dress many times.
* * *
The next day.
“Where is the Princess?”
The attendants of the Imperial Palace hid their nervousness and bowed their heads. Karzen had come to visit Raha two hours earlier than he had announced.
“The Princess is in the back with the royal lord, Your Majesty.”
“Lead the way.”
“Yes, Your Majesty.”
Karzen walked with large steps as the chambermaid moved quickly.
The Palace of the Princess, originally also full of beautiful ornaments, was a bit noisy with numerous boxes. This was because the Duke of Winston came and went every day, accompanied by jewelry, fabrics, shoes, hats, ribbons, and lace.
The new Princess Palace that Karzen had built for Raha, who was ill, was very spacious. There were so many rooms that they were subdivided into smaller rooms for various purposes.
The dressing room alone had over 10 rooms. Raha was not as simple as her status would suggest, and Karzen was content to let her immerse herself in her finery and luxury. Inside the dressing room, which was filled with objects as precious as the emperor’s, there was another series of rooms.
The entrance with thick curtains instead of doors.
The chambermaid was about to announce the emperor’s arrival, but quickly bowed her head and stopped as Karzen raised his hand. The curtains at the entrance were slightly crooked. So much so that he could see the back of the room without removing the curtains aside.
Raha was with that abominable brother of the king of Hildes. Karzen watched quietly and let out a small sigh. They seemed to be having some kind of conversation. It couldn’t have been anything important. If it was, they would have attendants guarding the entrance.
Standing behind the royal lord, Raha stood at an angle, sweeping the man’s shoulders with both hands. Then she kissed the neck of the royal lord and started laughing.
Could she laugh like that? Karzen didn’t know.
Were they measuring clothes? Karzen’s lips lifted bitterly when Raha kissed the royal lord. His eyes (Karzen’s eyes) were as cold as snow.
Karzen turned his body and left. Then he ran into the Duke of Winston, who looked like he had just visited.
“Your Majesty, you are here. The Princess….?”
The Duke of Winston stopped talking. For Karzen’s expression was unusual. His icy gray eyes glanced at the crate of roses held by the Duke of Winston’s servant.
“Are they for the royal lord?”
“Yes, yes, Your Majesty.”
“Go give them now.”
Karzen walked with great strides and passed the Duke. His face was still as Duke Winston was bewildered.
The Duke of Winston was very faithful to the words he had said at the Grand Council. He was very serious about Raha’s marriage. Very badly, he prepared the bridegroom.
He was informed that they would send a delegation from Hildes anyway, so no need to make a fuss. However, before the huge honor of being the father of the Empress and the father-in-law of the Emperor, that was a pretty dignified axis to keep.
It was funny.
There had been so few cases in the history of Delo that he had counted on his fingers when a duke’s daughter had been empress. For generations, the empress of the empire mostly belonged to the imperial families.
The Delo emperors did not need the help of external relatives. The emperors who had the eyes of the heir
already chosen by the gods and receives the absolute support of the wise men. Therefore, the empress was chosen as the emperor pleased.
To put it simply, the emperor expected absolute obedience. And the father of the future empress was just a Duke.
Therefore, from time to time, Karzen thought about Raha, who had deprived him of his natural rights. It was the same with Jamela Winston, and now with the Duke of Winston.
Suddenly there was a sneer. Until last year, no one had dared to mention Raha’s marriage in Karzen’s presence.
Now, everyone talked about Raha’s marriage too plainly. Even though that banality did not suit them.