I was so engrossed in my misery, I didn’t even think of the situation her Majesty was in.
Damian and the Empress dowager haven’t spoken in nearly five years…
I only saw her face once during the harvest festival.
At the time, Her Majesty, the Empress dowager had such a vivid expression in her eyes.
Her wrinkled eyes conveyed so much joy and sorrow.
Damian for a long time, couldn’t take his eyes off her.
After thinking for a moment, I roughly wiped the corners of my eyes with my sleeves.
“Charlize What’s the matter”
The Empress looked at me with a surprised look at my sudden change in expression.
“…I can’t keep crying like this while the crown prince leaves.”
I gritted my teeth.
I hate not being able to do anything.
I feel so guilty.
But in this situation, all I can do is…
“Your Majesty, the Empress”
“What is it, Charlize”
“Can I ask you a favor”
The Empress who heard the determined tone in my question smiled softly.
“I told you before.”
The Empress spoke while slowly stroking my swollen eyes with her fingers.
“If you’re having problems, lean on me and we’ll discuss it anytime.”
I blinked my eyes.
This was when-
When I declined the Duke’s offer, the Empress said this to me.
“I said I wanted to be your strength, remember”
Her voice was as warm as a spring breeze.
I couldn’t resist getting emotional when I heard that.
“….yes, I remember,” I said as I nodded my head with tears welling up.
“So, what can I do to help”
I took a deep breath and spoke with resolve.
“Before the crown prince leaves the palace, I want to make sure he meets the Empress dowager.”
“…is that all”
After a while.
The Empress tilted her head.
“If you want, you can ask me for a little more.”
“…..do you want me to ask you for more”
Something along the lines of ‘Don’t send the crown prince to the Kier plains,’ or something like that.”
After pondering for a moment, I turned down Her Majesty’s offer.
“No, that’s all.”
The Empress raised an eyebrow at my reply.
Of course, I wanted the same thing.
“I cherish the crown prince as much as her Majesty, the Empress.”
“To have the crown prince and the Empress dowager meet is one thing, but preventing the crown prince from going…”
I bit my lips.
“That’s something else.”
The former was the deep bond between family members, it could be excused.
The latter, however, could be deemed as rebelling against the Emperor.
And since Damian mentioned he wanted to avoid causing harm to anyone.
“His Highness seems to have made up his mind.”
“…..is that so”
He’s leaving…just like he said.”
It felt like something pierced my heart upon saying that, but I managed to keep it together.
“So I just…I’d like to give both of them the chance to finally meet.”
“…..yes, I see.”
The Empress who had been looking at me for a while nodded.
The next day.
Having spent the entire night wide awake, I went to the Empress dowager’s palace as soon as dawn broke.
Her Majesty greeted me with a warm and pleasant smile.
“Oh my, Charlize.
What’s going on”
Seeing her peaceful face, I felt my heart throbbing.
….maybe, she doesn’t know anything yet.
It was difficult to tell her, to get the words out of my mouth.
“Well, your Majesty, the Empress dowager.”
“The crown prince….he’ll soon be heading to the northern plains of Kier.”
In an instant, the Empress dowager’s smile vanished, replaced by a rigid expression.
“You can’t mean…the Kier plains”
I explained the whole story.
That Damian had been given an order yesterday.
I told her how the Emperor had sent for Damian to leave within a week after being notified.
The schedule itself hinted at its urgency.
Lastly, for this undertaking, there wouldn’t be a guarantee when Damian will be back.
The Empress dowager who heard my recollection shook her head with a weary expression.