The Empress looked at me for a long time before she finally left without a word.
I think she said, “See you tomorrow.”
I must have misheard.
Lets not think of anything useless.
Today was my last day with the Empress.
Feeling an incoming headache, I pushed the problem to the back of my head.
The same night as the incident, a distant memory visited me within my dream.
I was running towards the edge of the palace, where people didnt come and go much.
Crawling into the shadows, I curled myself like a fetus.
My chest went up and down, trying hard to hold back the cry that was about to burst.
“Hi, why are you crying” out of the corner, a person peeked her head out.
Surprised, I opened my eyes wide.
Sniff, sniff… Who, who are you”
The lady paused.
She replied with a vague smile, “My name is Rose.”
It was very befitting for a pretty woman like her.
I scrambled onto my feet.
“By-by any chance are you visiting the imperial palace Then I wont block the road…”
“No, No! Im, um… Im a maid!”
“Yeah, I havent had a vacation in a long time.
I havent changed my clothes yet because I was coming back from going out.”
A vacation… that must have been nice.
I nodded softly.
She stared at me with a curious gleam in her eyes.
“But why are you crying here”
“Oh, its nothing.”
I couldnt say that the maid-in-trainings were bothering me, so I roughly equivocate.
Her gaze softened at my reply.
“If its hard to say, you dont have to say it.”
She laid her handkerchief on the floor as she sat next to me.
The warmth from her body soon enveloped my side.
“But you can tell me your name, right”
A commoner, so I dont have a last name.”
On second thought, it was bizarre.
Usually, I wouldnt have answered that question, but I gave the woman my name.
She rolled my name on her tongue a couple of times.
“What a pretty name.
May I call you Lize from now on”
“Were meeting again”
“Of course! Were both maids.
Well see each other again and again.”
My cheeks were flushed.
I could see this sweet and pretty woman again.
She kept looking at me with a gleeful smile, but abruptly, she began to move away.
My eyes widened.
“Sister, Sister Rose…!”
‘Where are you going Dont leave me behind!
My eyes opened wide.
The dreadful image burned vividly inside my mind.
Before I knew it, my hand was outstretched, grasping onto thin air.
Amid the dark, tears pooled around the rim of my eyes, finally trailing down my cheeks onto the pillow.
‘…I didnt want to have a dream like this.
As I retraced the events of my dream, I bit my tongue!
The day when another maid-in-training bullied me, I couldnt bear the gloom within my heart and ran away.
It was when Rose and I met for the first time then.
She, the only person who cared about me and gave me her affection.
My sister was the calm in the middle of the stormy imperial life.
“Rose is gone now.”
I bit my lips until it bled.
Rose, whom I loved, was a fake persona the Empress created from the beginning.
‘Honestly, Id like to ask you why you lied to me.
But how could I ask such insolent things to the Empress
I felt suffocated at the thought.
“Your Majesty the Empress.”
That Roses real identity was even more shocking than the fact that she was the evil Empress who would one day kill me horribly.
I buried my face in my pillow, refusing to think about the matter anymore.
The next day.
The head maid called me early in the morning.
My eyes were swollen and puffy from crying all night.
The head maid who saw my face looked at me with a strange expression.
“Dont be surprised by the news, Charlize, but Her Majesty has asked for you to be assigned to the Imperial Palace from now on,” the head maid said.
My mind stopped working as my vision dimmed.
Was this what she meant bySee you again tomorrow
Everything faded into the background.
The only thing I could register was the head maids explanation.
It rang in my ears like a broken record.
“Dont be surprised, Charlize.
Her Majesty has asked for you to be assigned to the Imperial Palace…”
‘I dont need the honor as an Imperial Palace maid, so please leave me alone! There are so many other maids who want that honor! Why choose me
“I dont know what happened, but I think the Empress is fond of you, Charlize.”
“So, you have to go and do a good job, okay”
The head maid said as she tidied my hair.
In this situation, how could I say,I dont want to go there
Of course, even if I opposed the decision, it was the Empress who had appointed me, so I had no choice but to comply.
‘Am I not going into the tigers den by agreeing
I didnt even dare to come close to the tigers den in the past.
Of course, the tiger was nice to me, and besides, its the prettiest tiger in the world!
‘But I dont know how to face the Empress now…
I dropped my head sullenly.
Rose, and the evil empress.
I didnt think Ive yet to acknowledge both of them as one person.
My heart couldnt help but thump in anxiety every time the thought flashed through my mind.
‘Lets just stop thinking.
I shook my head.
‘Its no use feeling depressed.
I wont find a solution by being like this.
‘Dont overthink it.
Adjusting the bag in my hand, I walked fast.
I was supposed to be at the Imperial Palace by two oclock, and the head maid was in charge today…
What if I was late
I quickened my step towards the Empress Palace, but when my sight fell onto the place, I couldnt help but gasp in exhilaration.
My eyes unconsciously widened at the sight.
The view of the palace in the distance was simply wonderful!
The immaculate white palace was shining under the golden sun.
Moreover, the red roses were in full bloom…
As expected, it was the prettiest location in the palace.
“Its as pretty as its owner, isnt it
I felt grumpy when the words came out.
My lips pouted in annoyance.
Upon entering the Imperial Palace, I was astonished.
How could it be lovelier than outside
The inner garden was as pretty as the rose garden.
Even the stones on the floor were pretty!
‘This stone, do you think it was laid down for people to step on
After swallowing my saliva, I crept back.
That stone looks very expensive, what if it leaves a stain if I step on it recklessly
Here, its not the same as the grubby palace I was in!
When I was looking around frantically.
“Oh my God, is that the maid-in-training whom the Empress herself brought”
“I think so…”
A low murmur was heard.
I stiffened my shoulders instinctively at the unfriendly conversation.
‘What the hell is this
When I looked around, a few maids huddled together and stared at me.
“I heard that she was stuck as a maid-in-training for so long.
It seems like the rumor was true after all.”
“Look at her small figure.”
The maids did not stop gossiping, even though I was right in front of them.
Rather, they made eye contact with me and laughed.
My hand that was grasping the bag clenched in frustration.
“Youre so lucky, how did you catch the Empresss eye”
“Dont you think shes trying to compare with us just because she was assigned to the Empress Palace”
The maids chattered on as if I werent listening.
An official maid.
The difference between a maid-in-training and an official maid was rather a delicate subject that was rarely touched on.
From now on, I would be a maid-in-training in the Empress Palace, so it was true that I had a higher status than a regular maid-in-training.
But these maids were official maids from the Empress Palace.
They were going to work with me in the future.
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From their point of view, it must be absurd for a maid-in-training from a small palace to enter the Empresss palace.
“Hey, tell us.
You are not that tactless, right”
“Yes, how did you get assigned to the Empress Palace Tell us the truth.”
When the maids were probing me for the truth.
A stern voice crept into my ears.