Chapter 1 Part 1
The afternoon tea party ended peacefully with no apparent problems.
However, I was concerned about Linvera the whole time. Whenever I tried to show any concern for her, the others would immediately change the subject.
It seemed that Linvera was used to being treated coldly. Resignation, abandonment, and depression flowed like daily routine. The habit of gradually erasing oneself from the world.
I knew too well what life was like with those things.
After the tea party, I was lost in thought for a while.
Linvera came to the tea party because of my call, but…
I didn’t want her to have only bad memories of the tea party.
Shall I send her a gift? No, no. If I was only overtly concerned about Linvera without a reason, I might rather antagonize the others.
So I decided to make up a reason.
According to Linvera’s words, the Marquis of Brooks had developed various welfare policies for the people every year.
As the Empress, I decided to send a letter to Linvera along with a not-so-burdensome gift in the name of praising the Marquis’s service.
Since I had a public reason for doing so, others would not be able to nitpick.
Thus, a few days after I sent the gift and letter to Linvera Brooks, an unexpected person directly delivered Linvera’s reply to me.
“I heard that Your Majesty has taken special care of my sister.”
Oslin Baynard came to visit me. Linvera was currently recuperating at her villa in the capital.
The Marquis of Brooks’ estate was quite far from the capital. Since she came all the way to the capital to participate in the tea party, she seemed to have decided to spend the winter in the warmer capital.
“Now …… Why did Lord Baynard have to bring her letter to me?”
“Linvera has been sick a lot since she was a little girl, and she has a weak personality so I always care about her. Today I dropped by to check on my sister’s safety, and she gave me this letter.”
Oslin politely presented the letter to me.
I stared down at the envelope stamped with the Brooks family seal and said.
“How was she?”
“She’s absolutely fine, except that she’s crying because she hasn’t been away from her husband this long since they were married.”
“That’s good to hear.”
“She enjoyed the tea party, too.”
“Did she say that?”
“Yes. the girl had all the bad memories of social gatherings……..”
Though Linvera was 21, she still seemed like a child to Oslin. His love for Linbera was conveyed.
‘He’s completely different from my brother.’
I opened his mouth with a bittersweet feeling in my heart.
“You seem to care for your sister very much.”
“Ah. My parents died early, so we relied on each other a lot.”
“Lord Brooks seems to take good care of her.”
Oslin nodded and chuckled.
“They had been close since they were children. But I never thought she would marry into a prominent Marquis’s family.”
That would have been the case before the revolution. Now it’s just that Oslin had turned down the title, but the Baynard was the real powerful family.
“It was not a political marriage, but a love marriage. That’s why people talked a lot.”
“Did she have a hard time?”
“Unfortunately yes. Since she was a child, she was confined to my domain without a single close friend in the social circle……I was very worried about her upcoming visit to the capital. But thanks to Your Majesty, Linvera is …….”
Oslin cleared his throat for a moment, as if he was choking, and then continued speaking.
“She seems to have brightened up a bit.”
“That’s good to hear.”
“Thank you, Your Majesty.”
Oslin, who hadn’t liked me since our first meeting, now was very polite.
“You must have felt sorry for her and cared for her.”
“No, I’m just saying this separately because I’m impressed by the Marquis’ good deeds she told me at the tea party. Lady Brooks is not to be pitied. She’s a decent lady.”
Showing compassion hastily was tantamount to ignoring the opponent. But in front of Oslin, I had to be careful.
Oslin flinched at my words for a moment and bowed his head again.
“Thank you again for the positive feedback. Your Majesty, indeed…… You are a benevolent person. I can see why the emperor cares so much about you.”
“Is that so?”
I was a little embarrassed when Kwanach was mentioned.
“Yes, he’s taken care of me extraordinarily, and I’m embarrassed.… Well, please keep it a secret that I said this.”
“I’ve also heard about the development of a sclerotic drug.”
“His Majesty must have told Lord Baynard about it.”
“Yes. I’m the only one who knows about it, so don’t worry. How the emperor urged me to prepare a place to conduct experiments in secret.”
“Were you able to find a place?”
“Yes, we are in the finishing stages. Once the medicine is developed, it will be of great use to this land. Thank you in advance for your hard work.”
My heart swelled when I was recognized by Oslin, who hated me.
And it was even better to have the assurance that my bringing up the subject of sclerosis was not in vain. Before I knew it, I was looking at Oslin with a smile on my lips.
Oslin politely thanked me and left, and I read out the letter from Linvera.
The letter was written by her. [Thank you for inviting me to the tea party,] she said, and the sentence, [I’m glad I had the courage to attend,] was particularly memorable.
Some time later, Kwanach came to my bedroom in the middle of the night.
“Simon will bring Oslin. Please follow me.”
Kwanach said he had set up a place to secretly make sclerosis drugs. He led me to a small room right next to the bedroom.
“What’s going on here…?”
“Actually, I made an entrance to a secret passage in this room. In case of emergency, you can escape quickly.”
“Really? I had no idea.”
“You and I are the only ones who know the entrance to this room. As soon as the construction was finished, I erased the secret passage from the designer’s memory.”
“You erased his memory?”
Kwanach nodded like it was no big deal.
“It’s a top secret. I had quite a bit of trouble getting hold of a scroll of memory magic, but you can rest assured that I handled it well.”
If it was a magic that could erase memories forever, it was one of the highest levels of spiritual magic. The magic was completely cut off decades ago, as it was impossible to find the person who has it on the human continent.
He probably had to go through a lot of trouble on this tribal continent to get the scroll.
“You’re very …… thorough.”
“Shouldn’t we be thorough when it comes to safety? Only you should know how to enter this secret passage. Don’t tell Simon either.”
“Yes, yes …….”
Kwanach stared at me and I nodded nervously.
Kwanach pointed with his chin to an ornament on the wall. At first glance it looked ordinary. It was about the size of his palm. It was a gold carving of a scene from a myth with a lot of fairies playing around.
“Remember. It’s the third one from the left.”
“The third one……”
The fairy standing third from the left was wearing a tiny hat. Kwanach pressed down the hat and a clicking sound sounded, something like interlocking.
“Please wait a moment.”
A strange noise came from the bookshelves on the far wall. I moved reflexively, and Kwanach hugged me gently on the shoulder.
The two bookshelves that were lined up moved slightly in opposite directions. Then, through the open gap, a space that could fit one adult male appeared.
This was the entrance to the secret basement of the Imperial Palace.
“Is this magic, too?”
“No, it’s a sophisticated technology.”
“Oh, It’s amazing.”
Kwanach led the way into the entrance. He was much larger than average in stature, so he had to bend his head for a while.
“Come slowly. Stairs.”
Kwanach reached out to me. I hesitated and grabbed his hand and moved on.
A long staircase spiraled around the inside of the wall. I felt as if going down here would lead to the basement of the Imperial Palace.
There were luminous stones scattered here and there, and it wasn’t too dark.
When Kwanach pushed somewhere on the wall, there was a clicking sound again and the bookshelf moved.
“Push here, and the bookshelf will return to its original state.”
The path was narrow and we had to stand back and forth, one at a time, but Kwanach held my hand all the way down the stairs.
Because of that, Kwanach had to turn his body sideways and look at me. His hands were very firm and warm.”
“If you walk like that, won’t you fall over?”
“Don’t worry, I have good motor skills. You, on the other hand, might fall down because of your long dress.”
The hem of my dress was dragging on the floor.
“Yes. Next time I’ll change into something more active.”
“By the way, did you memorize how to get in?”
“Yes, I think I’ll be able to find it on my own. For the time being, I’ll meet Simon in the basement, right?”
Kwanach suddenly stopped and stared at me.
“You won’t be seeing Simon alone. I’ll be with you. I can’t leave you alone with another man at night.”
“Oh …… Oh. That’s right. I just think it’s just work. ….”
Kwanach’s dark eyebrows furrowed in anger.
‘Jealousy? Don’t tell me you’re jealous? With Simon?’
I didn’t think of Simon as a man but as a kid. Kwanach was the first person I had ever clearly recognized as a man.
Thick, coarse lines, big, solid body. Dark skin. A man who was the opposite of me in every way.
Kwanach said in a low voice. His voice buzzed against the wall on both sides.
“Not only this time, but later in the event of an emergency, you might have to run away here alone, so be aware.”
“Will that ever happen? Is it so big and dangerous that we have to leave the palace?”
The only thing that came to mind was war or rebellion.
“I don’t know what life is going to be like. Always be careful and put safety first. If anything happens to you, I’ll…….”
“No, let’s go.”
Kwanach stopped talking with a stiff face and moved his legs again.