Empress of Otherverse - Chapter 15
Again! I was used again!
I bit my lips and glared at him. It was all a lie when he called it a “reward.” He lied when he said he married me “just because.”
To be honest, I didn’t believe him at the time, but I still couldn’t help my anger.
I asked him bluntly, “So, the deal you mentioned, tell me more about it.”
He smiled. That smile. I hated it. It was a bad sign whenever he smiled. It was poisonous.
“You need to act as my shield until I get rid of the dowager empress. It would be even better if you can help in getting rid of her.”
“… .and what do I get in return?”
“I will grant your wish. I can make it possible for you to create a new life outside of this castle, or I can even help you find your way back home.”
“But you said you didn’t want to!”
“This is all under the assumption that you will be able to convince me of your story. If your story is really true, then I obviously won’t be able to promise to return you to your world. However, if you want me to try, you can be sure I would be the best person to help you in this world.”
That was true. He was the emperor of Cransia, the strongest empire in this world. If I wanted even a chance of going back, I needed his help.
I remembered the dowager empress’s expression. She clearly wanted to kill me. This wouldn’t be easy. It will be very dangerous. However, I knew the saying. No pain, no gain.
I looked straight into his eyes and asked, “How can I trust that you will keep your promise?”
“I believed in your preposterous story, so you should trust me too. You are my accomplice, after all.”
“You said you will pretend to believe me, not believe me for real.”
I sighed. I couldn’t trust him, but I had no other choice. I nodded in the end.
“Alright. I will pretend to believe your word.”
Let’s give him another chance.
He laughed loudly.
We both stood up. Before leaving, I saw the inside of his teacup. The silver edges of the cup had turned black.
We looked at each other but didn’t say anything.
A kind and calm looking middle-aged lady bowed to me.
Her light brown hair was brushed back neatly, and her dress was elegant but not overly extravagant. The pieces of jewelry she wore on her hair and on her body were minimal and classy. She was older, but it was clear that she must have been a beauty in her younger days.
“Greetings, my lady. I have been assigned by the emperor to be your chief maid in waiting. I am Duchess Gust. Please call me Samantha.”
I nodded. “Nice to meet you, Samantha.”
The lines around her lips were deep and pronounced. Her face looked like she was smiling even when she wasn’t. Unlike the woman standing behind me.
The woman behind me asked sharply, “Excuse me, Duchess Gust.”
“Yes, Dame Cloyne.”
Dame was the title given to a woman equivalent to the rank of a knight.
Technically, Orlean’s rank could not compare to that of Duchess Samantha. However, Orlean was my maid who came with me from my “homeland,” and that was why the duchess was being especially deferential to her as a show of respect for me, her superior.
Orlean knew this, and that was why she interrupted our conversation.
“I’m sorry to tell you, but I am the chief maid in waiting to the lady. There is no reason for you to be here.”
Orlean couldn’t be any ruder!
The duchess’s kind face hardened. When I remained silent, Orlean became even more confident.
She continued, “I came all the way from the Aeal colony to serve my lady, so it is only right that I take care of her.”
What a stupid woman. Well, it made sense now that Lisbeth was the way she was. She was raised by Orlean. I realized something unexpected today.
Who did she think she was?
I placed my teacup down roughly on purpose. It was the tea Orlean brought for me.
A sharp noise echoed in the room.
The two women’s eyes widened.
The Duchess stepped back wisely, but Orlean glared at me. She still saw me as a lowborn girl she dragged from Aeal colony. I glared back at her.
“The tea is bitter.”
“Pardon?” Orlean continued to glare at me rudely. She lowered her voice and murmured to me, “Your Highness, we can talk about that later…”
She addressed me as “Your Highness,” but it was clear she had no respect for me.
However, Orlean was mistaken about one very important thing. I was the one in charge, not her.
I inhaled deeply. Then, I raised my voice.
“How dare you!”
The room filled with sudden tension. Orlean finally realized her mistake and stepped back hesitantly.
I pushed the teacup away which spilled tea all over it.
I ordered, “Get me another cup immediately. How odd that you don’t even know how I like my tea when you supposedly came with me here to serve me…”
“Y, your highness!”
Orlean looked at me as if I was being unfair, but I ordered again coldly. I said to her like she was a lowly servant, “Are you refusing my order?!”
Duchess Gust followed suit and agreed with me.
“You have been given an order by the emperor’s wife. Will you not follow it?”
Orlean had no choice. Her hands trembled as she took the tea tray and left the room.
Samantha studied me for a few seconds before asking quietly, “So Dame Cloyne isn’t your person?”
I looked up at her and stared. I didn’t hide the fact that I was studying her. She was doing the same anyway.
I replied, “Orlean came to serve me on the day I was sent away to Cransia.”
Duchess Gust nodded silently. She probably could guess how I came to be here. I was sold instead of the Duke’s own daughter. Orlean was obviously more of my jailer than anything and the Duchess probably already knew this. My behavior today should have been enough to confirm her suspicion.
I couldn’t tell if this woman was someone I could trust, but my hate towards Orlean was too big. At this point, I would have preferred basically anyone over her.
I decided to test Duchess Gust to see what kind of woman she was.
“You must be on the emperor’s side.”
Her face relaxed as she nodded. “Yes. I have been serving his highness since he was very young.”
I was surprised. Knowing him, he would have meticulously surrounded himself with only those he could trust. I could guess this woman was one of the few he trusted the most. He sent her to me.
I laughed softly. “I must thank his highness. He made me his wife and even sent me someone like you to help me. How generous of him.”
Duchess Gust smiled. “You must be very important to him.”
Um, I don’t think so, lady. I guess her definition of important might be different from mine.
Lucretius was the man who made me into his shield against the dowager empress. He needed to keep me alive as long as possible for protection, that was why he would’ve sent Duchess Gust to me.
He was protecting me, but for a selfish reason. In fact, he really wasn’t protecting me at all but putting me in obvious danger. By appointing his trusted person as my maid, he was announcing to the world, especially the dowager duchess, that I was important to him. This would make me a clear target for the dowager empress.
This was his plan.
This was too dangerous.
I felt anxious. I remembered the teacup the emperor used this morning. Blackened silver edges. The tea was poisoned.
Thankfully, the emperor noticed it before it was too late, but it was a clear warning. My tea was most likely poisoned as well.
We almost died! It was only the morning after our wedding!
What a dangerous honeymoon. I felt so tired.
What have I gotten myself into?