Chapter 1 Part 1
A middle-aged man with an unfamiliar face was talking to Marianne.
<So, you’re going to be assigned to the Outlander Empress? I’ll help you, you just do what I tell you.>
<What exactly do you want from me? >
Marianne answered in a stiff voice.
<First, you must monitor and inform me of the Empress’s every move. >
<What is your intention? I don’t think it’s just your doing. Is there someone behind you?>
<You won’t know until it is clear that you are one of us. Think about it. I’ll give you some time. >
The memory scene changed to another day.
<Marianne. What do you think? Have you given it some thought?>
<Of course it will be difficult to accept. But if you refuse, there is no reason why my relationship with you should be so pleasant. >
<I have spent my whole life taking pride in my profession.>
Marianne bit her lip. Her voice was filled with pain and confusion.
<Yes. You will be troubled. Someone as honest as you would lose your professional ethics. But you have no choice. Your salary right now can’t handle the cost of your sister’s medicine. >
<The fact that you didn’t ignore my orders and came out here again means that you’re also in turmoil. >
Marianne did not have an easy answer to the man’s words.
<It’s nothing to be ashamed of, to be torn between pride and money. It’s a natural part of human psychology. I heard that your sister has an incurable disease. She has to be on medication with magic in it for the rest of her life, right? How can you possibly afford it in a world of magic as precious as we have these days?>
The man said as he took another step closer to Marianne.
<If you cooperate fully with us, you will be able to obtain a very large sum of money. It’s an amount that a commoner could not even dream of. This is your last chance. I think you must give me a definite answer the next time we meet. I’ll see you back here. I’ll contact you first. >
Suddenly, the visions in my mind dissipated and disappeared.
I took a deep breath, opened my eyes, and asked the plant that had shared its memories with me.
“Did they meet again?”
<I’m not sure, that’s all my soul had seen. >
“Thank you very much. You’ve been a great help.”
<I’m glad it helped you, Usphere! Come here often, I want to talk to you.>
The plant’s leaves trembled.
<Yes, thank you. I’ll be back.>
I gently pulled back the hand that was touching the plant. Then I turned my head and looked at Marianne.
My heart was unsettled.
Her sister was in so much pain.
How could anyone not be swayed by temptation in such a situation?
Marianne’s worries were natural. I felt that it was rather amazing that she was so distressed for so long without taking the offer immediately.
‘You must have been very confused.’
But it was Marianne who was not the least bit conspicuous in front of me, carrying out her duties flawlessly.
‘I want to help.’
She hadn’t met the man yet, so I don’t think she would accept the man’s proposal.
I would probably be able to get Marianne on my side if I could provide her with the medicine that her sister needed.
‘Medicine with magical powers.’
I gently clenched my hand. I can’t explain it clearly in words, but I have always felt the presence of magical power in my body. As proof of this, the plants that I have made bloom were imbued with magical power.
‘Can I use my power to create the medicine?’
Apparently, I needed to find out more about Marianne’s sister. What kind of illnesses she has, what is in the cure, etc.
If I can help Marianne, I will also be able to find out the identity of the person who told Marianne to spy on me. Marianne said it wasn’t not something one man would do alone.
There must be a bigger person behind it. If he had a spy attached to the Empress, he must be a very influential person.
The first people that came to mind were the nobles of the empire. I heard that most of the people who served in the previous dynasties were executed or lost their titles.
‘The only nobles who have retained their titles now are those who followed the revolution of Kwanach…’
But now, five years had passed since the Radon Empire was founded.
A short time in historical terms, but a long time for humans. Long enough for them to change their minds and plot things in the shadow without informing the Emperor.
‘What was he trying to do by spying on me?’
The arrowhead that flew at me in my previous life, cutting through the air, came to mind again.
I shuddered for a moment.
Could it be a force that had something to do with Diaquit?
Was he going to spy on me because he couldn’t trust me completely?
I still wasn’t sure about anything.
‘I don’t know much about the political situation in this country yet……..’
I knew that I had to figure out the power structure as soon as possible.There must be something that was not well known outside the empire, something that could only be felt from within.
When I was an imperial princess with no right of succession, I didn’t have to worry about these power struggles, but now it’s different.
The position of Empress meant more than being the wife of the Emperor. A position at the core of power.
In order to survive, I needed to know the political vortex surrounding me.
* * *
After the greenhouse garden, I went to the library and brought many books about elves to my room.
It was before the official ceremonies in the Radon Empire, and even though I hadn’t been able to get any political work done as Empress, I was already dizzyingly busy.
Time really flew by. In the meantime, I looked at Marianne and called out to her.
“Yes, Your Majesty.”
“Since we see each other every day, I would like to know a little about you.”
“You live in the palace, don’t you? Don’t you have a family home?”
I tried to shift the subject to her family without being awkward.
Marianne was unexpectedly open and honest with me. She told me that her parents died early and that she was taking care of her sister, who was ten years younger than her, by herself.
“Does your sister spend much time outside alone?”
“Is your sister out there alone?”
“She is staying at a sanatorium because she is not well.”
“Oh my, you can’t see her much then. I’m sure you’re worried. Can’t she stay with you?”
“I wanted my sister to work as a maid with me, but she is not well…….”
“No, there is a medical clinic at the Imperial Palace, and I think it would be a good idea to let her stay there.”
“I don’t think there’s any precedent for that, Your Majesty. As a rule, the Imperial Palace Medical Clinic is reserved for bureaucrats and members of the royal family.”
“You’re no different from my hands and feet. I’m the one who’s concerned. I’ll mention it to His Majesty just to be sure. Because he seems to be quite lenient in that aspect.”
Marianne’s eyes, which were always calm, shook.
“Your Majesty, why would you…?…… I’m not one who should receive such special treatment.”
Marianne bowed deeply and clutched her skirt tightly with her hands.
Marianne was a smart person, but I guess she didn’t expect me to make such a proposal.
“I’m not doing this to make a good impression on you. As you know, you are the only person I can rely on right now.”
Marianne was already a great help to me politically, because she was the one that the people who wanted to destroy me had contacted.
Marianne couldn’t easily answer, and her shoulders shook slightly. She couldn’t ask for help or refuse it.
“Even if the Emperor doesn’t allow it, there are many ways. I could have your sister stay at the villa he gave me separately.”
The cure was medicine, but the fact that Marianne’s sister was living alone outside the palace bothered me.
The person who talked to Marianne already knew about her sister. In the future, they may use her sister as a threat card. If that happened, Marianne would be put in a situation where she would have no choice but to betray me, even if she did not want to.
Somehow, I had to take her sister under my wing and protect her. For the sake of human compassion as well as political expediency.
“Thank you for your care, Your Majesty!”
Marianne lifted her head and looked at me. There was a pool of moisture in her eyes. She had been through a lot of hardships while living away from her sister.
Due to the nature of the duties of a maidservant, she must not have had much time off…….
If I could solve the problem of her sister’s medicine, Marianne’s worries would disappear.
I approached Marianne and gently squeezed her shoulders. Then Marianne’s sobbing intensified.
“Thank you, Your Majesty. Thank you very much, Your Majesty. …”
Marianne lowered her head, unable to speak.
I gently patted her shoulders for a while until she stopped crying.
* * *
After a while, Marianne stopped crying and left my room. It was the first time in her life that she had shed tears in the middle of her work hours.
Marianne pressed her red, swollen eyelids with the back of her hand. Her heart was still thumping and throbbing fast.
Marianne was worried that since I was from the North, I would see her status as a problem, but I had never been prejudiced against her and had such a favorable view of her.
Marianne was embarrassed at herself for being so shaken, if only for a moment.
‘I can work out the medicine bill. I still have a little money left over from my savings…….’
Marianne patted herself lightly on the cheek and returned to her usual calm state.
* * *
Kwanach visited me at every meal, as he promised yesterday. At lunchtime, he just ate the food in a hurry and went to attend the political affairs immediately.
He was an Emperor who worked tirelessly. Compared to Diaquit, who seemed to have much free time in his hands, I respected Kwanach even more.
I was touched to see him making time to come and have meals with me.
In the evening, Kwanach came to visit me again, right on time. He finished his work for the day and looked calmer and more refreshed than he did at lunch.
We were sitting at the table, eating our food. I carefully brought up Marianne and asked Kwanach to let her sister stay in the palace.
“Did Marianne have such a situation? If she can’t concentrate on her work because of her concern, it would be a disaster. Let her sister stay at the imperial hospital, and Simon will take care of her.”
(*Simon is the young imperial doctor.)
I couldn’t believe Kwanach was so willing to do this, and I was happy and shocked at the same time.
“Thank you very much, Kwanach. I’m sure Marianne will be really pleased.”
“You seem to have gotten close to her very quickly. You even care for her sister.”
“I hope to get to know her better. She’s a nice person.”
“How about me?” Kwanach asked.
“It’s nothing. Pretend you didn’t hear anything……. Let’s have some dessert.”