My prediction was dead-on.
“No, far from it.”
The Emperor’s eyes gleamed.
As I looked into those serpentine-like eyes, I felt goosebumps all over.
“How many teachers have already been replaced because you surpassed their skills”
That question made Damian stiffen slightly.
At first, those words seemed to praise Damian’s achievements but contained sharp blades hidden underneath.
If Damian hadn’t been so adroit, he wouldn’t have noticed it.
His adroitness kept him alive for so long and prevented him from going into an early grave.
“You’ve achieved excellent results and should be rewarded,” remarked the Emperor.
“Therefore, I’ve prepared a small gift for you.”
The word gift is not synonymous with the Emperor.
I narrowed my eyes.
Whether it was actually a present or not, the Emperor surprisingly pulled out a box.
It was a thin but long box, slightly larger than an adult man’s hand.
“Thank you, I’ll cherish it.”
Damian received the box, holding it in his hands.
After gifting the box to Damian however, the Emperor gave an order.
“Don’t be like that, open it now,” he insisted with a suspicious smile.
Not expecting that, Damian flinched.
The Emperor’s smile deepened and he continued to speak.
“Since I’ve given you a present, I want to see your reaction on your face.”
Damian untied the colorful ribbons that wrapped around the box, concealing his frown as he did so.
The lid was removed.
Damian slowly revealed the contents of the box.
They were leather gloves meant to protect their wearer during swordsmanship training.
Black in color, the gloves glistened.
The Emperor added an explanation as if he had just done him a favor.
“It’ll be a major problem if you were to injure your hand during training.”
Your Majesty’s consideration is much appreciated.”
In an instant, the Emperor’s eyes lit up.
“If you want to properly thank me then-”
The Emperor came closer to Damian, staring at him with his eyes peered upward from beneath his eyebrows as he lowered his head.
“Why don’t you try on the gloves here and now”
…..huh I feel something ominous.
I swallowed my saliva.
Why is he asking him to wear the gloves now
The Emperor whispered to Damian.
His whispers were like a snake hissing.
“Since I didn’t have the measurements to match the size of your hand, the gloves might be too small or too large.”
“The devotion shown by your Majesty is more than enough.”
“No, I think I’ll be reassured once you try on those gloves,” muttered the Emperor, his hand on Damian’s shoulder.
The Emperor would not take no for an answer.
What’s wrong with him
I watched the confrontation between Damian and the Emperor intensely.
“If that is his Majesty’s wish, then I will.”
Damian relented, finally nodding.
The Emperor observed Damian’s every move.
Damian stiffened his shoulders as he put on the gloves.
I narrowed my brow.
Why is Damian stalling
It took a moment but Damian quietly donned the gloves.
As if it had been tailored to Damian’s size in advance, the black leather gloves fit snugly onto his hands.
And that itself was horrifying.
‘….it was as if research had been done on Damian beforehand.’
Damian clenched and opened his fists to show how well-fitted the gloves were.
“It fits my hands perfectly.
Thank you very much, your Majesty.”
Upon hearing that, the Emperor had a satiated expression on his face like a snake having devoured its prey.
The Emperor then followed up with a question.
“It suits you.
Do you like it”
“As long as it is granted from His Majesty, I’ll gladly accept anything.”
“….yes, very well.”
The Emperor nodded his head.
Damian politely returned the gesture.
Ugh, it’s often said it’s hard to get angry at someone who’s smiling.
But the Emperor is making it all the more so enticing to do so.
I shuddered discreetly.
“Maybe I’ve kept you occupied for too long.”
“Not at all, I’m happy to be able to see His Majesty’s presence like this.”
“Damian, it’s nice of you to say that.
I’ll be on my way.”
The Emperor then turned his attention to the Empress.
Wait, why is the Emperor looking at her
“Will the Empress see me off It’s been a long and exhausting party.”
The Empress’s forehead wrinkled slightly.
However, those wrinkles quickly disappeared.
“Yes, I will.”
The Empress rose from her seat elegantly, politely excusing herself.
“I’ll be back soon, everyone.”
The Empress and the Emperor quickly left the Empress’s palace.
After that, cordial tea time resumed.
The only thing that bothers me is that Damian is still wearing those gloves….
“By the way, why haven’t you taken off those gloves yet They must be uncomfortable to wear after a while.”
By coincidence, a lady with a curious look asked the same question I had in mind for Damian.
Damian though simply smiled.
“But this is the precious gift given to me by the Emperor himself,” he answered as he raised his hand, gently stroking the gloves.