Chapter 16

 

 

***

I called for a maid to help me with my bath and get dressed.

 

Since I was on a ship, I wore a dress that was designed for activity. The skirt was single layered and the hem of the skirt was relatively short, so it wouldn’t drag on the floor. 

 

After the bath, I wore a dress with gold threads embroidering gorgeous patterns on light-colored cloth, and lace was added here and there.

 

With the help of the maid, my messy hair was neatly braided and a headdress made of pearl adorned on my head for the finishing touch. I left the guest bedroom looking completely different from yesterday.

 

The two knights guarding the front of the guest room bowed their heads in greeting.

 

“Empress, you are awake.”

 

I nodded lightly and headed out onto the deck, intending to get a little fresh air.

 

It was the first time I had ever looked around a sailing ship when the sun was shining. The sky was blue enough to make my eyes ache and the air was much warmer and more humid than in Achaia.

 

The knights and soldiers belonging to the imperial army wore uniforms that were black with red patterns engraved on them.

 

They were on deck, and when they spotted me, they bowed their heads and greeted me. As soon as I appeared, everyone’s attention was instantly drawn to me.

 

I had forgotten for a while that the name Usphere was the hottest topic in the Radon Empire. There was a mixture of emotions in the way they looked at me.

 

Curiosity and suspicion.

 

The Radon Empire started out strong with the revolution.

 

The people have been in a constant state of excitement as to who will be crowned as Empress in this land of the never-setting sun.

 

The candidates were usually the daughters of the reformist noble families who had helped Kwanach during his revolution. If they were to have a daughter as Empress, the family would be guaranteed a sure position in the new empire.

 

But suddenly, a stranger from the northern end became the Empress. Everyone was surprised. Same went for me.

 

I was an awakener, but the power of magic was disappearing by the minute on this continent anyway.

 

The bloodlines that did exist tended to die out. Even if I didn’t know that I was infertile, I wouldn’t know for certain that my children would inherit my magic.

 

It was a more reasonable choice to marry an imperial aristocrat and establish a strong foundation for power than to adopt a magical lineage.

 

At least, that was what I thought a cold-hearted politician would have to do.

 

I’m sure there were people against me for becoming Empress.

 

It occurred to me that Oslin had expressed a slight hostility toward me.

 

‘Maybe that’s why Oslin doesn’t like me.’

 

Not to mention the nobles in the Imperial Palace would probably feel resentful. They thought that their families would occupy the position of Empress, but an outsider took it away from them.

 

Will I be able to adjust well to life in the Imperial Palace? 

 

The air was still subtly buoyant. Everyone was unfamiliar with me. It was like oil floating on water.

 

I was somewhat awkward and tense around them.

 

It was like in my previous life.

 

Even then, the sight of them would freeze the air around me for a while. I didn’t make any effort to break it.

 

But this time it will be different. 

 

I didn’t know in my previous life that winning people’s hearts was also a valuable ability.

 

I didn’t want to retreat helplessly. The narrower my position, the more precarious my marriage in the empire would be.

 

It was time for me to pledge my life once again to the new land. 

 

Suddenly, I heard a voice behind me.

 

“Empress.”

 

It was Simon, his crimson hair sticking up in all directions.

 

“Oh, Simon.”

 

“Why are you on the deck? If the Empress catches a cold, His Majesty will get angry…Oh no, no, no, it’ll be a big problem….!”

 

Simon shuddered in agitation.

 

“I came out to get some fresh air because I felt stuffy staying inside. Don’t worry. I feel fine. Thank you for taking care of me yesterday.”

 

“Well, then I’m glad. Yesterday, I didn’t do much, but…”

 

Why did he say he didn’t do anything?

 

“I’m very humble…”

 

“It can’t be. His Majesty told me that Simon is a very capable doctor.”

 

“I am?”

 

Simon opened his eyes wide and looked at me.

 

“Hmm, hmm, oh, no. ……Did His Majesty really say that?”

 

“Yes, he did.”

 

Simon coughed awkwardly, but he couldn’t hide his happiness. The boy was noticeably pleased by the compliment.

 

A blush crept up on Simon’s freckled face, and he mumbled.

 

“Empress is a kind person.”

 

“I am?”

 

“Yes, yes. …… You treated me kindly when we first met yesterday. I was so nervous yesterday that I almost collapsed…but thanks to the Empress’s benevolence, I was able to do the examination.”

 

Simon babbled with excitement. He seemed to stammer less often when he felt happy. His voice was more confident than before.

 

‘Did I treat Simon differently yesterday?’

 

I searched my memory but couldn’t think of anything special. All I could think of was that Kwanach was being hard on Simon.

 

“Thank you for thinking of me that way.”

 

Simon was the first imperial man to express a human liking to me since we had been on this sailing ship.

 

‘I hope we can talk more in the future.’

 

Being in the Radon Empire, in a strange land, with no one to talk to but Kwanach, made me feel very lonely. The more isolated I was, the darker the reality of the empire would become.

 

“Okay, if you have any discomfort, you can always call Simon… …!”

 

Simon, who was staring at me with a face like a docile puppy, looked just like my brother Jenner.

 

‘Come to think of it, I don’t know if Jenner is doing well……..’

 

Since our mother died after giving birth to him, Jenner followed me as if I were his mother instead of his sister.

 

It bothered me to no end when I had to leave my 12 years old brother behind. Although this marriage was an inevitable choice, even to protect Jenner.

 

Simon had a different appearance and age than Jenner, but I felt like he was my brother.

 

I nodded and smiled at Simon.

 

“I’ll do that.”

 

“Yes, Empress. I’ll do my best.”

 

Simone was speaking enthusiastically with sparkling green eyes. Suddenly his voice died down.

 

“Simon.”

 

Simon’s pale face turned even more pale.

 

“Ah…ah….Your Majesty…”

 

Simon looked up over my shoulders, sounding like he was about to faint. At that moment, I became aware of the dark shadow behind me.

 

Kwanach was looking at Simon with his arms crossed tightly.

 

“What are you doing here? Just the two of you.”

 

As soon as I turned around, my nose almost collided with Kwanach’s chest. Surprised at how close we were, I took a few steps and hurried to the side.

 

Kwanach was wearing casual clothes, unlike how the Emperor should look. In addition, there were three loose buttons on his shirt and his upper chest was fully visible.

 

‘Why does he always have to dress like that?’

 

I thought, consciously averting my gaze from Kwanach’s chest.

 

“I’m feeling a little better so I came here to get some air.”

 

 

Kwanach’s lips quivered in frustration.

 

“I’m glad you’re feeling better, but I don’t think prolonged exposure to the cold sea breeze would be good for you. You seemed to enjoy talking with Simon so much that you lost track of time.”

 

I didn’t think I had been out here that long, though at the end of Kwanach’s voice, there seemed to be a pointy blade.

 

“I saw you laughing from a distance. What funny stories did you two exchange? I would like to know. No, Simon. You tell me.”

 

Simon suddenly hiccupped loudly.

 

“Yeah, what? Um, well, I…you know……….”

 

Simon’s stammering became twice as bad as when he was talking to me.

 

Simon seemed to be terribly afraid of Kwanach. He looked like he was about to faint at that rate, so I rushed in.

 

“Your Majesty, the Imperial physician asked me how I was feeling, so I told him about it.….”

 

“It’s Kwanach.”

 

Kwanach suddenly cut me off mid-sentence and said in a brusque, low voice. 

 

At first I didn’t know what his intentions were, but I quickly realized that he was pointing out what I was calling him. He wanted me to call him by his name, not ‘His Majesty.’

 

‘Right now, in this situation…?’

 

People were standing in line watching us as soon as Kwanach appeared. Everyone’s ears were on us.

 

While I hesitated in bewilderment, Kwanach said with a deep frown,

 

“Call me like you did before. Is it because of Oslin that’s why you don’t want to call my name anymore? If that’s what bothers you, I’ll do something about him.”

 

The air around us suddenly grew heavier. 

 

Kwanach’s energy grew scarier, and Simon’s hiccups showed no sign of stopping as he hung his head. I felt the knights also glancing in our direction.

 

I didn’t know why Kwanach was angry, but it seemed that we had to leave the deck to calm him down. It would be better for Simon’s physical and mental health if I took Kwanach with me.

 

I was about to take a step closer to Kwanach when a rather high wave hit our sailing boat.

 

The ship rocked a bit and I stumbled, losing my balance.

 

“Ah…”

 

I wasn’t staggered enough to fall. It was just that for a moment, my upper body and lower body didn’t move in sync, and I jerked around. And it was definitely not enough for Kwanach to catch me in surprise.

 

“Are you alright? I don’t think we should stay outside for too long.”

 

“…….”

 

Contrary to my thoughts, I was held in Kwanach’s arms, just like the first day we boarded the ship.

 

****