The day after the wedding of the imperial couple, rumors spread like wildfire in a dry bush.
“Oh! As soon as the ceremony concluded, His Majesty departed for the Ivory Palace.”
“So the empress’ wedding day was complicated?”
“Yes. His Majesty arrived late to the wedding, correct? This is the first time this has ever occurred.”
“Lady Poitier nearly stole statues from the Elin Atelier recently.”
“How much does a necklace cost in that country?”
“Where did she obtain that money?”
“It turned out to be a fascinating display.”
“How is Her Majesty doing?”
“She is a person whose facial expression rarely changes. Yesterday, she announced that she would not receive any visitors. However, that did not save face.”
“Can she assume authority over the imperial palace?”
As the noble ladies chattered in small groups, one of them suddenly grabbed the arm of the one who was gossiping.
“Why?” she asked, looking up at her friend with confusion.
“Shh!” the other woman hissed, looking around nervously and shaking her head slightly.
The group fell silent, all of them looking around in surprise.
One of the women bit her lower lip in shock as she saw the Empress strolling leisurely through the adjacent corridor. The noble ladies quickly greeted the Empress with polite bows and curtsies, and Adele received their greetings with grace before continuing on her way. The ladies watched her retreating back with trembling hands held tightly to their chests.
“Did she listen?” One of the noble ladies asked, looking back at the Empress’ retreating figure with a worried expression.
The other women narrowed their eyes and tried to gauge the Empress’ reaction to their conversation. However, all they could focus on were her golden eyes that seemed to capture their attention immediately.
“…No. She did not express displeasure. Therefore, she must not have heard,” one of the women concluded after a moment of hesitation.
“Are you sure?”
The women exchanged glances and nodded slowly. One of them sighed in relief. “I must be mindful of my language,” they added, looking shaken by the close call.
“So, even though she was insulted during the ceremony, she was the only one who did not flinch. Did you observe the utterance?”
“You know, she reminds me of a black predator in the forest…”
“Is it a panther?”
“Yes! The Panther! It was similar to observing a black panther.”
“Oh, my God! Choose your words carefully!”
“But honestly, if it’s like this, do we need to investigate anything? It is not likely that she will have a family to support her. Don’t you agree?”
Meanwhile, Adele walked past the noble ladies in the hallway with a hard, icy expression. As far as she could tell, she could not hear their whispers. However, their response was unequivocal. They were startled when she approached while they were talking behind her back. Adele was the only one who seemed to trigger this reaction, and all of the maids and servants she saw on her walk appeared normal. Adele’s eyes narrowed as if she could see through their facade. Despite her inner turmoil, she continued on her walk, unable to shake the feeling that something was off. She couldn’t help but wonder why every group she encountered had this same strange reaction.
Adele returned to the Empress’ palace, her body feeling the strain of yesterday’s ominous forecast. Despite the chill in the wind and the sun’s heat, she maintained a composed façade, only allowing herself to take deep breaths in the privacy of her empty room. Standing alone for a long time, Adele’s face contorted as she buried her hands in her face, overwhelmed by the disparity between her expectations and the reality of the situation despite being well-prepared for this journey. Nobody from Ehmont’s native country was brought here for any reason other than the Emperor’s request, and Adele knew that all of these factors were significant to Gottrov. They had no reason to embark on this journey of exile, but Adele couldn’t let herself be consumed by the past. She rubbed her chin determinedly and looked ahead, her golden eyes shining through her jet-black hair. It was time to move forward.
You are intelligent, so as long as you are prudent, you will be fine.
These were her mother’s final words. Adele grinned self-deprecatingly as she remembered the voice.
＊ ＊ ＊
In the wedding traditions of Ehmont, there is also a banquet. Due to the tradition of maintaining silence on the wedding day and the following day, a large banquet was held on the afternoon of the third day. On this day, the Emperor and his wife held their wedding banquet, and the entire palace was filled with revelry. Diane Poitier had been working on the banquet since early morning, as it was an extension of the wedding. As she surveyed the exquisitely decorated main hall, filled with brilliantly colored crystals and flowers, Diane couldn’t help but feel a sense of pride in her work. The main hall was magnificent, and the seats of the Emperor and Empress sat on the platform.
“Princess, is there an alternative solution?” a lady’s maid asked Diane politely.
“No,” Diane replied, shaking her head.
The ladies-in-waiting exchanged sharp glances and briefly distanced themselves from Diane. Diane focused on the Empress’ chair, a luxurious red carpet seat where one could sit alongside the Emperor and look down on everyone.
Diane had worked hard to rise from the rank of countess’s daughter to the position of the Emperor’s favorite. She had lost her parents to the witch beasts that poured out of the tower, but she had persevered and earned the Emperor’s love and even the Ivory Palace. This was the domain of the Emperor, and everything in it was imperial property. Only one person could sit beside the Emperor as his equal – his wife, the Empress. But a person who was born a princess and automatically assumed her position should not be placed above her. Diane had asked the Emperor for the title of Empress, but he had remained silent and his eyes had hardened. She realized she could no longer beg him.
As Diane watched the Empress enter the hall, her heart swelled with worry. She had confirmed the Emperor’s love and even ruined the wedding of the Empress, but her anxiety remained. She took a deep breath and tried to compose herself.
“No. Relax, Diane Poitiers!” She told herself, pressing down on her chest to calm her racing heart. The gaze of the people around him is what makes a king a king. This concludes the discussion.
Diane repeated the words that cut her heart like a knife. She then regarded the two chairs at the head of the table. Today, the empress shall not be able to sit comfortably in that chair. Weddings, first nights, and inaugural banquets None of the main characters shall be the Empress; instead, it will be Diane herself. Initially, it belonged to her.