9. The Announcement Party is a Battlefield (5)
Before she noticed it, both of her hands were already extended to push Gaizel away.
When Gaizel bluntly raised his voice, Tistye lifted her face as if recalling something.
“…F, forgive me, Lord Gaizel! It’s…”
Tistye hurriedly removed her hands from Gaizel’s chest. Inadvertently, she may have caused him to think she was rejecting the kiss. Even though she had been determined to do it properly this time.
I know I am better off not thinking about that, but still…
In front of the quiet Tistye, Gaizel seemed to have been preoccupied with thoughts. However, soon after, his usual unpleasant laugh returned—he gently flicked her forehead with his fingers.
“Are you scared?”
“I, it’s not like that…”
“Rest assured, I won’t hold you. …It’s fine already, sleep for today.”
Gaizel had already pushed her away before Tistye could argue. He quickly seized half of the bed and turned his back on her as he lay down. In that situation, they would really just sleep together in the literal meaning.
With regret and a little relief, Tistye loosened her dress. Meanwhile, the words of those men were slowly eroding her heart.
But, I also don’t want to hear the answer…
What use would it be if she had gathered her courage and directly asked him?
What kind of princess will come, will I have to relinquish the position of the First Empress, what will happen to Gaizel, and so on…
…perhaps because she actually didn’t want to hear the answer, none of those questions would come out of Tistye’s mouth.
Eventually, the voice of Gaizel’s heart echoed in Tistye.
[“Yet again, I end up scaring her… I’m no good…”]
Tistye regretted it even more. It was her duty as a queen to comfort Gaizel, yet even if her mind was aware of it, it seemed that her feelings weren’t.
Still, Tistye gently extended her fingertips to his back, hoping to convey that it wasn’t Gaizel’s fault. His wide and firm upper back rose and dropped from quiet breathing.
“…Good night, Lord Gaizel.”
That night, the bright white moon illuminated the window sills of their bedroom. Next to Tistye, who had a light, and gentle sleep, Gaizel slowly awoke.
Beautiful, silvery white hair was scattered over the bed. Tistye was sleeping happily, showing her glossy white skin. It was a pity he couldn’t see her azure eyes, but Gaizel laughed a little—I shan’t scare her.
I wonder why you always only said words I wanted to hear…
As Gaizel cut the announcement party early and was about to rush back to the mansion, he heard someone speaking in the courtyard. He was about to dismiss it as usual, but Tistye appeared and began to admonish them.
Gaizel, who was staring at her, was a little amazed for a moment, but he couldn’t help but smile at the desperate appearance of Tistye.
Remembering the faces of those men when he dispatched a rescue boat to Tistye, he had to bite his lips hard to not let his amusement show—“Kuku.”
Just for my sake, even though she was alone…
During the ball, she was like that, too.
No matter how much people talked about her appearance and circumstances, she kept on smiling. As the empress and the wife of Gaizel, she behaved perfectly.
Now that he thought about it, when those men started those rumors, he was the one who got emotional, instead—
—was it because I felt as if I was the one who was being insulted?
Gaizel, who couldn’t hide his happiness, scooped the hair of the sleeping Tistye. It flowed over the palm of his hand, as smooth as silk made of thread. Gaizel kissed the end of her hair—if it’s no good during when she’s awake, then I should deserve at least this much, right?
“In exchange, I’ll be the one who loves you instead.”
Gaizel murmured, and stared at Tistye, before closing his eyes as if to pray.
—it happened when Tistye was still young.
At that time, Tistye had a very strong ability to hear the voice of the heart, and the emotions and thoughts of her surroundings were transmitted to her without permission.
One day, Tistye mistakenly responded to the voice of her mother’s heart, and her mother, who was surprised, later despised her—calling her the ‘devil’s child.’
Since then, Tistye hadn’t lived in the castle where her sisters were, but in the corner of a far-off tower.
She was only allowed to walk inside her room and around the tower, within the small gardens. It was a place where people didn’t pass. Except for a few escort soldiers and caretakers, the days Tistye spent were uneventful.
One day, a strange boy got lost in the garden. The boy, with beautiful black hair and blue eyes, was surprised when he saw Tistye. She gripped her hair with both hands as the boy told her not to hide.
What do I do? What if I am disliked?
Tistye shook her head towards the boy who was watching her for mysterious reasons.
“Why are you hiding your hair?”
“Because my hair is ugly, unlike my sisters…”
“That’s not true. Your hair is beautiful.”
That time, it was Tistye’s turn to widen her eyes. The boy said bluntly as he just sat down in the corner of the garden. She wondered what happened, but when Tistye approached him, he only glared, as if saying ‘shut up’.
“Leave right away. Leave me alone.”
His tone was cold as he abandoned her. The boy stared at the ground without saying a word. His expression was rugged—he seemed angry, and Tistye tried to leave immediately—
—but then, the voice of his heart quietly danced into Tistye.
[“Mother… why did you die?”]
He was crying—it was too heartbreaking.
[“I’ve become alone… no one will say they love me anymore…”]
As if she was in a stalemate, Tistye unintentionally gazed at the boy.
However, he didn’t say anything. As if wearing a mask, he was devoid of expression—he didn’t look like he was lamenting. But when it came to real despair, Tistye knew that some people wouldn’t shed any tears.
Tistye was also disliked by her mother and despised by her sisters… but she knew that if she cried, she would only make her mother angrier…
…but by withholding her tears, she only doubled her own sadness.
The sadness given by a person could only be healed by a person.
Having experienced it, Tistye didn’t want the boy to feel the like herself. That was why, Tistye—
When Tistye woke up, Gaizel was no longer in the bedroom. While feeling some loneliness, Tistye recalled the end of the dream she had just seen—however, it remained unclear what she did in the end.
I did something rude to His Majesty yesterday…
She gently reached out to the side where Gaizel was sleeping last night—the warmth had been lost. When Tistye felt it, she could only swear alone.
I, even if I’m the only one—I’ll be by His Majesty’s side.
As long as Gaizel didn’t have to fight alone in that horrible place called the royal palace—
—however, Tistye’s prayer didn’t come true.
A few days after the announcement party, Luxen visited the mansion. When he entered the drawing room, he instructed for everyone else in the room beside Tistye to leave. Once they were only the two there, he quickly cut to the case.
“—I want you to separate from His Majesty.”
A little while ago, there was a rumor about Yenzie, who wanted to offer a second empress. However, for the princess of a kingdom of such great power to become the second empress was deemed unacceptable. It seemed that no matter how much Luxen advised His Majesty, he would only shake his head to the preposition. Luxen sighed.
“I understand that His Majesty feels pitiful towards you—however, if things are left as they are, it could lead to a diplomatic problem with Yenzie.”
Luxen’s words had weight—he spoke like a wise man, one who had long been involved in the internal affairs of Vercia. Tistye understood that he wasn’t wrong.
“…The situation surrounding His Majesty is very bad right now. Not long after the fall of the previous emperor, he ignored all the opinions given by his vassals. A callous man wouldn’t get a person’s heart unless he tries to understand it.”
“The previous Emperor, Lord Dilph, was a horrible person, but he was very good at grasping the hearts of his subjects. Many people still support him. Meanwhile, His Majesty’s selfish behavior will make his relationship with Yenzie worse…”
The conclusion was clear without any need for further questioning—
—a sheet of parchment was silently placed in front of Tistye.
“Although provisional, this is a letter from the kingdom that guarantees peace towards Lacie. At the very least, as long as His Majesty Gaizel reigns, Vercia wouldn’t wage a war against Lacie. Please, accept this. I would like Lady Tistye to support the peace between the two kingdoms.”
Although Luxen’s tone was soft, his intent was clear.
While vaguely staring at the red stone on his ring, Tistye gently picked up the letter.
To ensure that there won’t be any future disputes concerning Lacie, that’s my objective.
Now, said objective was within her hands.
If it was Tistye from half a year ago, she would’ve been honestly happy and listened to his proposal, but—
—I want to protect Gaizel…
She remembered Gaizel’s profile back when they were still in Isiris, when he said “I… don’t want to end up being the same person as that man.”
He also called her name—‘Tistye’ many times. Ironically, in his heart, he was just worried about her. He kept waiting for Tistye to finally accustom herself to her new surroundings.
She mustn’t reveal it on her face—
—nevertheless, tears overflowed Tistye’s heart.
In truth, she didn’t want to leave.
But, if she was truly thinking about His Majesty, then there was only one action left to be taken.
Yea, come here Luxen-boi, bring your ear closer to me, I have a little something to say–//inhale//
You spout so much nonsenses about your Lord ‘being selfish’ and ‘not understanding’ to his vassals, but aren’t you talking about yourself???
Your new Lord doesn’t want unnecessary conflicts, he didn’t want to terrorize other kingdom for his own kingdom’s gain–do you even try to understand that? Nope. Instead you try to shove the Previous Emperor’s method down the poor man’s throat–for the kingdom, you said. I call bullshit on that. I bet you and the vassals are losing your shit now that your personal feeling of security, which originated from how the previous Emperor kept expanding his territory and all that, is lost. “New Emperor Dude is not keen on colonization and buffing up the kingdom at the expense of other’s misery!!! What are we going to do now–ok cut off that dude’s only support, the only person who see him for who he is!”
I thought you were better than this, Luxen! I thought because you’re married, you would be giving advice to Gaizel to vamp up his fluff production! But now I see you for who you are, a person who ignores the matter of the heart for the most logical sounding choice! I bet you marry for authority, too! Hence you’re utterly blind towards how obviously in love Gaizel is!!! Ugh… he is just like Edward… from this other project of mine…