I assure you.
I am serving by his side.”
I opened my eyes wide and looked at Her Majesty, awaiting her response.
It took some time, the Empress dowager had paused for a moment before answering in a pensive voice.
Tears could be seen forming in the corner of her wrinkled eyes.
What I said probably meant so much more to her than I could have ever known.
But right then.
“Y-Your Majesty, Empress dowager!”
The voice that rang out conveyed a sense of urgency.
It was the handmaiden from before.
What’s going on with her
My eyes widened at how hard she was puffing.
The Empress dowager, on the other hand, frowned at her conduct and gave her a disapproving but concerned stare.
“Handmaiden, this isn’t like you.
What’s this fuss about”
Regaining her breath, she spoke with an anxious voice.
“I’ve received a message from the imperial palace.”
“…….The imperial palace”
Her Majesty and I were standing there, side by side, astonished from what we just heard.
Why the imperial palace all of a sudden
“After the usual state council meeting ends, it’s said His Majesty will be on his way to pay a visit to the Empress dowager’s palace.”
“This is so sudden.
Not even a notice beforehand…you are sure of this”
He said that not only would he come with the Empress but also invite all the distinguished officials of the empire and will address your Majesty personally.”
As those words left the handmaid’s mouth, the Empress dowager stood there frozen.
Her Majesty, who had been conflicted and controlling her emotions from the start, uttered a single line.
“…..That’s just like him.”
Leaving only those words, the Empress dowager kept her mouth shut.
The handmaiden and I remained silent as we now stood side by side.
It wasn’t that I couldn’t guess what the emperor was thinking of or the reason behind the way he’s acting.
‘Perhaps…he’s thinking of getting even with her Majesty.’
Her Majesty had recently broken the rules laid out by the Emperor by empowering Margrave Ante’s without his consent.
The result was this.
Knowing the fact that the Empress dowager’s palace is chronically short of supplies, he chose now to visit and bring with him imperial dignitaries.
So as to trample the Empress dowager’s self-esteem.
He’s so confident of this, he gave prior notice stating that as soon as the meeting of state affairs concludes, he would depart.
‘Grr, the nerve of his Majesty.’
He’s practically gloating and parading his malice in rejecting what the dinner with Margarve Antes accomplished.
Granted, it did make him look bad…
Unfortunately, the Empress dowager has to be one to suffer.
And the thing is… …
‘I’m responsible for it, too.’
Feeling guilty, my shoulders dropped slightly without me realizing it.
I’m the one at fault for telling Damian’s plan to the Empress and involving the Empress dowager to resolve Margrave Antes’s dilemma.
Although there was nothing I could do about it, it was true that the appearance of Her Majesty, the Empress dowager at the dinner only served to add fuel to the hatred the Emperor had for her.
“But… … isn’t Her Majesty, the Empress dowager, the mother of the Emperor”
“Does he have to be so mean” said the handmaiden as she sighed.
I clenched my fists tightly, understanding how she felt.
The handmaiden couldn’t hide the sorrow and regrets she felt, her face darkened as her lips trembled and the corners of her mouth turned down.
“Has he not seen the state in which your Majesty has been living up to now”
“The Emperor’s gone too far.
How could he be like this! Why is he so heartless!” the handmaiden exclaimed.
“You know him too,” the Empress dowager replied in a calm voice.
The handmaiden was just preaching to the choir.
Her Majesty answered the handmaiden with a sullen look.
“Things like that don’t matter at all to the Emperor.”
“But, Your Majesty!”
“Think of everything he’s done so far, even if he’s your son, he’s been a pain in the neck for you.”
Her Majesty, the Empress dowager’s face was so cold when she said that, the handmaiden bit her lip, unable to say anything more.
Her Majesty, the Empress dowager burst into laughter.
“Besides, it will also serve as a warning.”
“He’s a person who treats his mother so harshly, so who else can’t he treat the same” the Empress dowager scoffed.
The ridicule in her voice for her own situation, sent chills up my spine.
All of these actions had political implications.
The handmaiden hung her head low with a dejected look on her face.
I couldn’t take my eyes off the Empress dowager.
It is said that the deeper the river, the calmer the flow.
The Empress’s anger was similar to that of the Empress dowager.
Sure it would have felt reassuring to scream and get angry or even shed tears.
But the Empress dowager at the present was in danger, it looked as if she could collapse at any moment.
Unable to stay silent any longer, I carefully dissuaded Her Majesty from getting too emotional.
“Your Majesty, Empress dowager.
It’s not good for your health if you get too emotional.
So please put your anger aside……”
I’m not angry.”
The Empress Dowager shook her head a couple of times.
Her smile grew a little darker.
“I’m sick and tired of it.” confessed her Majesty.
I glanced at her.
At that short moment, Her Majesty looked very old.
It was as if only now I truly became aware of that fact.
I understood what she meant, the state of feeling lethargic because of one’s own powerlessness.
And I’ve seen that expression before.
…..When I first met Damian, he had the exact same expression and it was one he used to make often.
“Anyway, my son said he would come, so I’ll treat him properly.”
I could tell there was a hint of sadness on her face.
Despite all she said, she still loved her son.
I felt sympathy for her.
“I must be giving you a hard time, aren’t I I’m sorry you have to suffer because you have an incompetent Empress dowager.”
“No, Your Majesty!”
“What are you talking about!”
The handmaiden and I both jumped up on the spot.