Chapter 13. The concubine

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The priests paused for a moment at Liv’s request.  Since they already had nowhere to retreat, they immediately sent a confirmation.

 

To give her strength at the upcoming imperial meeting.

 

A few moments later, Liv left the conference hall, the sound of her shoes echoed in the hall. The door to the conference hall closed, and she let out a long breath, as if the tension had finally dissipated.

 

The knight captain, Jack Daemon, saw Liv exit and walked from the end of the hallway. He approached and asked.

 

“Your Majesty, what do we do about the chief priest and his servants who were dragged outside?”

 

Liv hesitated for a moment at his words, then opened her lips in a smirk.

 

“Lock them all up in the cell. Their mouths must be kept tightly shut. Leave the priests to me. They will be judged by how they behave in three days.”

 

“Yes, Your Majesty.”

 

Immediately, the knights forcefully escorted the screaming sinners away. As she watched them, Liv turned her head and looked at the top of the tower.

 

With a determined look in her eyes, she walked into the tower with one of the knights. They arrived at Theodore’s room by a quiet staircase.

 

The knight opened the tightly closed gray iron door. Inside, Theodore was lying on the bed in a hunched position, sleeping soundly.

 

Shortly, Theodore awoke slowly to the presence of Liv. The child blinked his blue eyes and asked.

 

“…… Oh, mother?”

 

When Theodore called her “mother,” Liv could no longer contain the emotions boiled in her chest.

 

Theodore sat up on his small body. But he couldn’t make eye contact with her and hung his head.

 

Liv approached Theodore, then knelt carefully before the child, meeting his gaze.

 

“Prince, it’s almost time.”

 

Theodore slowly lifted his head at her words. Liv took the tiny hand in hers. Then she said with determination.

 

“Three days of sleep and you’ll get out of here.”

 

“Three days …………………?”

 

“Yes.”

 

Liv raised her three fingers.

 

“If you sleep three times, you can leave this place.”

 

Theodore stared at her hand with a strange look, but then quickly moved his hand away with a pensive expression.

 

“But……”

 

Liv knew exactly how Theodore felt, so she deliberately made her voice louder in an attempt to give him courage.

 

“Who told you not to leave? Such people were scolded by mother, so no one will ever say that to the prince again!”

 

“I ……I could kill mother!”

 

A curse phrase was heard from the child’s mouth. To Liv, that appearance was so pitiful. She was on the verge of tears.

 

“That’s never going to happen. Because I’m wearing this necklace, too. Now, look at the necklace I shared with the Prince!”

 

Theodore alternately stared at the necklace around his neck and Liv’s. Liv, who was watching him, hinted.

 

“I’m sure mother and the Prince will have a lot of fun when you go outside!”

 

The word “outside” made Theodore’s eyes widen. How many times had he imagined being outside that he had never been able to his whole life?

 

Eventually, the tears that had been floating in front of his eyes flowed down his cheeks.

 

Outside, outside?

 

Looking into the child’s curious eyes, Liv nodded.

 

Soon her vision caught sight of the white snot running from the child’s nose. She hurriedly took out a handkerchief from her pocket and wiped the child’s nose.

 

“You should take care of your health. How can the only legitimate firstborn of the Emporium Empire be so weak?”

 

Theodore stared at her, feeling the warmth of Liv’s touch. Just wiping his nose made the child much cleaner.

 

“Look at this. I polished it and how nice it is……”

 

Liv clenched the handkerchief in her hand and lowered her head, tears flowed down her cheeks endlessly.

 

Then Theodore, who had been staring at Liv, gradually raised his small hand. Soon, he placed his hand on Liv’s cheek.

 

“Mother, don’t cry………..”

 

Theodore sought to comfort her with his still immature pronunciation. Startled by his hand, Liv raised her head and looked at the child.

 

In Liv’s eyes, her baby, Edmund, was instantly reflected on Theodore. It was as if the baby she could not protect was comforting his mother.

 

“Don’t cry. I will protect you.”

 

Theodore reliably comforted her, and Liv held the child in her arms tightly and closed her eyes at his words. Liv made a firm vow to herself.

 

‘I’ll protect you, I promise. Until the day my life ends.’

 

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Liv had no choice but to come out with heavy steps, leaving Theodore alone again. But her steps were lighter than before as she waited for the appointed time.

 

As she and Jane rode in the carriage, Liv quietly looked up at the tower from the window. She suddenly remembered Carius.

 

‘How pleased he will be to hear this story.’

 

Therefore, Liv stopped the carriage to return to the Empress Palace and changed direction. That direction was the Emperor’s Palace. She hoped Carius would smile brightly when he heard this story.

 

After a short ride, the carriage stopped at the imperial palace. Liv hurriedly got off the carriage and headed for Carius’s audience chamber.

 

When she reached the door, she heard the laughter of a man and a woman. It seemed that there was a visitor who had arrived earlier.

 

Liv slowly approached the door and asked the aide.

 

“Who’s here?”

 

“Count Duncan von Baxter, who had gone as an emissary to the Delta Kingdom, has returned. Therefore, he has come to express his gratitude to the Emperor.”

 

“Count Baxter? I seem to hear a woman’s voice inside…”

 

“Count Baxter’s eldest daughter, Lady Alish Baxter, also here to greet His Majesty.”

 

Liv’s expression quickly changed as she tried to hide her inner bewilderment. The laughter of the strange woman from inside was somehow nagging at her ears the whole time.

 

Soon the laughter stopped and she heard voices talking.

 

“Your Majesty, you have no idea how long my father has been waiting to see you.”

 

“Actually, my daughter has been waiting to see you, Your Majesty.”

 

“Oh, you too, father.”

 

Liv thought about just leaving, but the aide had already knocked on the door. The aide tapped lightly on the door again to announce Liv’s presence and went inside first.

 

“Your Majesty, the Empress is here to see you.”

 

Liv calmly entered quietly following the aide.

 

Soon her vision was filled with Carius sitting in the upper chair,  Count Duncan von Baxter, and the Young Lady. 

 

Count Baxter and his daughter hurriedly stood up at Liv’s sudden appearance. Duncan Baxter greeted her with his hand on his chest.

 

“I have the pleasure of meeting the Empress, Duncan von Baxter.”

 

Soon after, Alish von Baxter also greeted Liv.

 

“I am Alish von Baxter, eldest daughter of Count Duncan von Baxter.”

 

Liv watched carefully as Alish looked up at her.

 

Alish’s pretty face was very appealing. Her rich full dress with the pink roses in particular made her look even more stunning.

 

Carius beckoned to Liv, showing her to her seat.

 

“Sit here, Empress.”

 

“Yes, Your Majesty.”

 

Liv sat down and soon the maid brought her tea. The scent of chamomile filled the air.

 

Liv asked while keeping eye contact with Carius.

 

“I was wondering if you had an interesting conversation earlier. What were you talking about?” 

 

Carius let out a short breath, as if her question was difficult. Then Alish, who was on the other side, spoke first.

 

“I told His Majesty that I was disappointed. I didn’t expect him to have already chosen an Empress.”

 

Alish gently covered his mouth with my hand and said in a whisper.

 

“I have had a crush on His Majesty since my debut 3 years ago.”

 

Liv frowned at Alish’s words without realizing it. But as an Empress, Liv had to quickly adjust her expression.

 

“That’s a pity. If it’s been three years since you debuted, you’re seventeen now.”

 

“Yes, I’m seven years younger than the Empress.”

 

Alish said and raised both ends of her mouth. It was a subtle change, but Liv noticed this immediately.

 

Wasn’t she the one who had been under notice and persecution for quite a while before?  Liv hurriedly suppressed her displeasure and gave a dry smile.

 

Soon Alish spoke cheerfully to Carius.

 

“Your Majesty, I hope to be your concubine now.”

 

“Concubine…”

 

Liv snickered at the words. Talking about wanting to be a concubine in front of the Empress…. It was an attitude of underestimating the Empress herself.

 

Liv shifted her gaze and slowly looked at Alish. Alish, who was on the opposite side, coughed in vain as if embarrassed. Liv  said to her in a colder tone.

 

“As an Empress, I have no reason to object, since you’ll be a concubine.”

 

A moment of silence fell over her words. Soon everyone’s gaze was on Liv at once.

 

Liv wasn’t aware of it; rather, she turned to Alish and smiled.

 

Alish’s lips quivered as she tilted her head slightly. Liv continued.

 

 

“Lady Baxter, have you ever heard of Prince Theodore?”

 

It was a story no one had dared to speak in front of Carius.

 

Alish stared at Liv with an unusual look in her eyes. Then she opened her small lips with a quiver.

 

“Yes, the Emperor’s firstborn son…”

 

“Do you really think the Prince has been cursed?”

 

Alish’s eyes widened at Liv’s straightforward question. The expression on Carius’ face darkened as he watched.

 

Liv calmly took a sip of tea and savored it. Then she slowly lowered her hand, staring at the teacup.

 

“Yes, it would be nice to have a concubine who could raise Theodore with more care than I could. Even if His Majesty has 10 concubines, I see no reason to object.”

 

At Liv’s words, Alish’s eyes flickered as if she was confused.

 

Liv just smiled at her, still watching her. Then Liv turned her head and looked at Carius. She grasped her hands lightly and spoke quietly.

 

 “I don’t care, so do as Your Majesty wishes.”