Empress of Otherverse - Chapter 161
Chapter 161 – Short stories 5.1: The man behind the mask>
Two weeks before the announcement of the masquerade ball, Bina received an unexpected gift from Lucretius.
It was a carefully wrapped black box. When she opened it, Bina was surprised.
Inside it was an extravagant mask decorated with feathers, precious stones, and pearls. It had an asymmetrical and unique design.
Underneath the mask was a thick script. Bina read the title slowly.
Bina suddenly realized after reading for a few more minutes.
“This is a script?!”
Underneath the title was the list of people involved.
“Oh my god! Composer Christian Boceti and the writer Dilma Parent together!”
Bina’s shoulders trembled in excitement. It made sense; Boceti and Parent were Bina’s favorite artists. She had watched a few of their shows when she went on dates with Lucretius outside the castle.
Dilma Parent was a famous writer for theaters and rarely participated in operetta. This was actually the first time ever for Bina’s favorite composer and writer to work together.
Bina became excited. “H, how did you get this?! Hmm? This must be the newest piece that will be released this fall season, right? Which theater will it be performed? I HAVE to go see it!”
Lucretius replied calmly, “Our house.”
Bina gaped. “… What?”
“I said it will be performed at our house.”
“What are you talking about?!”
Lucretius pointed at the small print at the bottom of the cover page.
“To be showcased at the first day of the royal ball.”
Bina gasped in shock as Lucretius continued, “Everything has been set. The female lead will be that singer you like. Her name was… Ama… something, right? That woman who performed at the castle recently.”
“Amarince? Amarince Toul?”
“Oh, right. Her.”
Bina almost dropped the script after getting awestruck when she heard of this new development.
“W, what is all this?!”
Lucretius smiled gently. “It’s my gift to you for our wedding anniversary this year.”
After the last operetta performed at the castle, Lucretius had been thinking hard for the perfect gift for Bina as their anniversary was coming up soon. He wanted something different and special. He personally wanted to go on a date with Bina inside the castle without everyone noticing. He thought that wearing masks among all the masked people was a perfect plan.
Lucretius wanted to give a present Bina could never forget, and it seemed to be working. She already looked beyond excited.
This plan had cost them a fortune and the treasury had been complaining openly about it. Lucretius managed to calm them down only by assuring them that he would use the fund from his own personal budget.
This event wasn’t big enough to drain the entire treasury of the castle, but it definitely was an expensive affair.
Lucretius felt proud as he continued to brag about the ball.
“I plan to have a unique event for the first day of the harvest celebration.”
“It’s not just the new operetta?”
“That’s right. The operetta will begin in the middle of the masquerade as a part of it.”
Bina’s voice trembled in eagerness and Lucretius asked sweetly, “Do you like it?”
“Yes! Of course!”
Could her husband be any more thoughtful? Bina was truly impressed. She carefully returned the script back to the box and hugged Lucretius tightly. As she kissed his lips and cheeks, Lucretius hugged her back in satisfaction.
‘This was so worth it.’
They were about to begin a passionate night when Bina suddenly asked with a sharp glare, “Wait a minute! This would have cost a fortune. Where did you get the money?”
If he told her he used the money from the castle treasury, Lucretius knew Bina would be mad. He smiled bitterly as he realized that Bina would never let him become a tyrant. She would stop him in a heartbeat.
He explained, “Don’t worry. I used the money from my own personal budget.”
However, instead of reassuring her, Lucretius was digging his own grave.
“Your personal budget…? You shouldn’t have enough personal money to fund an event of this scale… Do you have a secret fund I don’t know about?” Bina’s eyes narrowed.
Lucretius started to sweat as he realized he was in dangerous territory. Now that he thought about it, Bina and Lucretius knew each other’s budget and its use. He had to tread carefully or else he would get in trouble.
Lucretius’ explanation, or perhaps a better term to use is ‘excuse’, was weak.
“… I have been saving for a while so I can get you something special.”
He sounded like a husband with a secret fund rather than an emperor of the greatest kingdom.
Bina asked, “Are you telling me the truth?”
“Yes. I also only used half of the saved money in case we need it for an emergency. I didn’t touch the state budget at all.”
He was now speaking in a desperate tone. After glaring at him for a while longer, Bina decided to let it go. At the end of the day, her husband was doing all of these for her sake.
Bina sighed and hugged Lucretius again. “Alright, but from now on, tell me everything even if it’s something small.”
Lucretius nodded in relief. “Of course. Don’t worry. I will tell you everything including what I ate and what I dreamt.”
Bina laughed. “That’s not necessary… Actually, yes, you should.”
“Tell me everything. What you eat, what you dream, and how much you think of me. I want to know, and I will tell you everything about my day as well from now on.”
“Perfect. Let’s do that.”
Lucretius kissed her lips and lifted her up. As he carried her to the bed, Bina whispered to him, “And… thank you. I appreciate everything you do for me.”
Lucretius smiled in satisfaction. “No problem.”
The preparation for the masquerade was going according to plan. When it was just about completed, the long-awaited news came. The harvest result from the southern provinces arrived, followed by the eastern, western, and northern realms.
When all arrived, the emperor combined everything and hung the harvest samples on the ceiling of his office; this had been a Cransian tradition since the ancient days of yore.
Finally, it was the first day of harvest celebration.
The day of the masquerade.
Normally, a regular ball involved everyone gathering in the hall while the royal family entered the place last. The first ball was the time where all the political figures from different kingdoms officially met with the emperor. However, this time, there was a different plan. The emperor announced that he would enter the event secretly in a mask. Any diplomatic talks would commence on the second day of the celebration.
The rule of the masquerade was to forget one’s station or rank. There had been smaller masquerades in the kingdom within the last few years, but it had been decades since a masquerade of this scale took place.
At first, the older noblemen and women complained of the idea as they blamed the youthfulness of the emperor. However, as the time came nearer, even those who hated the idea started to feel excited. It reminded them of the time when they were younger, and they eagerly prepared their costumes.
Everyone expected an exciting and wonderful night.