How to Hide the Emperor's Child - Chapter 176
After staying at the summer palace for a few days, Astelle regained her strength.
I don’t know if it’s because of the leisurely life in the summer palace, or because of the natural stabilization over time.
After about ten days, there were no more dizziness and her appetite improved. Astelle was actually eating much better than before she was pregnant.
After a short vacation, the party started preparing to return to the imperial palace as scheduled.
Kaizen seemed like he wanted to stay a few more days, but Astelle decided to head back after only spending the planned few days.
Kaizen had said several times that she could cancel the ball, but Astelle ignored his words each time.
Surprisingly, Theor didn’t feel much regret.
“Because my mom is not sick anymore.”
Theor readily agreed to return to the imperial palace.
“I’ll return to the imperial palace and hand out pebbles to others.”
Saying so, he filled a small box with pretty pebbles of unusual colors. It seems to be a souvenir in its own way.
Even Theor agreed to go back, so Kaizen could no longer insist on extending the vacation.
The emperor, the father, couldn’t insist on playing more when his young son said he would return to the palace.
He had to go anyway.
Is it because Kaizen is the emperor that he can play as he pleases? But Fritz and Seibel seemed stumped at the idea of extending the vacation.
“Then I guess I’ll have to go back first. I have a lot of work to do.”
Come to think of it, these two had put off their work and followed them on vacation.
I couldn’t let them go first because I wanted to rest a little longer.
In the end, the party returned to the imperial palace according to the schedule as Astelle insisted.
Even after returning to the palace, every day passed smoothly.
Astelle was no longer struggling; her appetite is better than before, and her dizziness is gone.
But another problem arose.
“I don’t have morning sickness at all.”
It was definitely a time when morning sickness started, but Astelle had no morning sickness symptoms at all.
“Some people do not have morning sickness. I don’t think you need to worry too much.”
Gretel reassured her after examining her closely.
“Is that so?”
Astelle stroked her belly. She is in her second month, but her stomach is still flat.
“I had severe morning sickness when I had Theor.”
“It’s the second time, so it’s bound to be different from your first pregnancy.”
“How are you feeling, Gretel?” asked Astelle anxiously.
They went to the summer palace together, but Gretel slept in her room upon arrival, saying she was tired.
It was hard to see her face because she slept almost throughout the vacation.
Astelle didn’t let anyone wake her up because she thought it must be because she was so tired.
“I’m fine now. I guess I relieved my fatigue since I slept a lot on vacation,” Gretel replied while making medicine for Astelle on the spot.
Then a maid came in carrying a small gift box.
“Your Majesty the Empress. The Countess of Roden has sent you a present.”
Inside the gift box are three glass bottles filled with tea leaves. There is also a letter explaining that the tea is beneficial for pregnancy.
Immediately after returning to the palace, the noble ladies have been visiting Astelle and were trying to look especially good.
“It’s because of Fritz.”
Astelle let out a sigh as she set the Countess’ present on the table.
Gretel asked, “The Duke?”
“Everyone is sending me presents hearing I’m looking for a partner for Fritz for the upcoming masquerade ball.”
Then she heard a light tinkling noise.
She turned around and saw Gretel wiping off the medicine spilled on the table.
“Gretel, are you okay?”
“Yes, yes, I’m fine. My hand slipped.”
“Why don’t you attend too and have some fun?” Astelle asked as she helped Gretel clean up the medicine.
Gretel blushed in embarrassment. “Oh, no. I’ve never been to a place like that……. I don’t even know how to dance.”
“It’s fine to go just to have a look. Gretel is the benefactor who saved His Majesty the Emperor, so no one will say anything.”
Of course, saving Kaizen’s life was not officially announced, but Gretel was still known as a close assistant to the empress.
It’s a place to hide one’s identity and have fun, so it doesn’t matter if Gretel is attending.
Gretel, however, refused without hesitation.
“No, I’m okay.”
“I see. I guess I said something wrong. Never mind.”
Astelle felt sorry for making her uncomfortable.
“No, Your Majesty. Thank you for inviting me. It’s just that I can’t dance,” said Gretel with an awkward smile.
That’s how the conversation with Gretel ended.
Astelle started inviting people in earnest.
“You’re both going to attend, aren’t you?”
“Of course, Your Majesty.”
Fritz and Seibel answered so obediently.
But the next day, Seibel came to Astelle with an apologetic expression.
“I apologize, Your Majesty. I’m going to be dispatched to the North for a while.”
Astelle was very sorry, but there was nothing she could do since it was about his work.
“Are you? I can’t help it.”
She wondered why the dispatch mission had suddenly been sent down.
“Hannah, Miss Naen, please attend as guests.”
Astella also invited Naen who couldn’t go to the summer palace with her because she went to her relative’s house alone.
“Alright, Your Majesty.”
Fortunately, both looked very excited to attend the ball.
Astelle is looking forward to the ball day with great anticipation.
The masquerade was held late in the afternoon in the central garden of the imperial palace, as was customary.
Originally, it was held at the beginning of summer, but this time it was held at the end of summer because of the imperial family’s vacation.
The ball, held outdoors in the evening, created a special atmosphere.
Beautiful lanterns hung on the trees and flower beds in the large terrace and garden as well as in the ballroom.
The small glass lanterns that filled the garden created an elegant and romantic atmosphere.
Small desserts and cold wine were prepared everywhere.
All of the invited nobles seemed to be satisfied and impressed by the masquerade ball that had been held for the first time in a while.
However, Astelle was not satisfied.
“……I apologize, Your Majesty.”
Hannah couldn’t attend because she had a bad summer cold.
It was the same with Naen.
“I went out with Hannah, and I must have caught a cold then.”
Apparently, the two had gone out of the palace to buy dresses. Then they seemed to catch a cold together at that time.
Although it’s not time for young Naen to find a marriage partner, Astelle wanted her to have fun and make friends at the ball.
But Hannah was old enough to get married. So this was a very regrettable thing for Astelle.
There was another thing that was disappointing.
“What about Fritz?”
The attendant who had gone to the outer palace shook his head with an apologetic look.
“I apologize, Your Majesty. No one knows where the Duke is.”
Fritz was nowhere to be found since the ball started.
‘He said he’d attend.’
Fritz isn’t someone who breaks promises easily. So Astelle was worried about what might have happened.
She contacted the duke’s family to see if there was something going on at home, but the answer came back saying nothing in particular was happening.
‘Then where is he?’
In the end, no one attended, including Fritz, Seibel, Hannah, and Naen.
Although none of the attendees she wanted were present, fortunately, the ball started off smoothly.
Young nobles wearing various masks filled the ballroom. Astelle, wearing an ordinary mask, was just watching the noblewomen dance with the noblemen.
‘Fritz, Hannah, Miss Naen, and not even Sir Seibel.’
None of the people she was trying to tie up were present.
What a disappointment.
As Astelle was about to move to the ladies gathered outside, someone suddenly approached her.
A tall, stocky, black-haired man with his face covered by a luxurious black mask held out his hand politely to her.
“Will you give me the honor to be my first dance partner?”
Behind the mask made of black velvet, red eyes could be seen hidden in the shadows. Beneath them, the sharp lines of the nose and jawline form a beautiful harmony.
The resolute dignity and honor emanated from his body, which was clad in neat formal attire.
Astelle just blinked her eyes without answering.
I don’t know what this is about.
“Your Majesty, what are you doing here?”
She could see the red eyes twitching slightly behind the mask.
“What are you talking about? I am just a knight who came to ask you to dance, my lady.”
……hey, I know who you are.
“Where did you get the mask?”
What Kaizen is wearing is a very luxurious mask encrusted with small diamonds and obsidian. It looks like a pretty expensive handmade product.
Where did he get it from?
Kaizen was silent for a moment, then sighed.
“I took what Lannis brought.”
Lannis is the name of his new aide.
He is a young man who has just passed the age of majority. He, too, was going to attend the masquerade.
Seeing such a splendid mask, the new aide must be determined to find a lover in his own way.
But the emperor take it away
Astelle clicked her tongue, feeling sorry for the young aide.
“Why did you take your aide’s mask? Give it back to him.”
Astelle stared at him incredulously, Kaizen cleared his throat and held out his hand again.
“If my lady gives me the honor to be my first dance partner, I won’t even need a mask anymore.”
So you’re saying you’ll give it back after dancing one song?
“I know who you are, so you don’t need it now, do you?”
Astelle is not the only one who knows him.
Young nobles who recognized him were seen hesitating over there.
Since the emperor was pretending to be someone else and flirting with the empress, they seemed to be contemplating whether to come over and say hello, or pretend not to know him.
Astelle relented and held his hand.
Rather than drawing more attention, it would be better to just dance one song and go out to rest together.
The next song just started. Sweet and elegant melodies filled the outdoor ballroom.
Astelle took Kaizen’s hand and headed to the dance floor.
Come to think of it, I’ve never danced at a masquerade ball.
This is because, even before Astelle made her social debut, she was already Kaizen’s fiancée, so there was no need to pace the dance floor among unmarried men and women.
With the start of the first step, Kaizen’s hands led her skillfully.
Kaizen is surprisingly good at dancing. His skills exuded the dignity and grace of a monarch.
I didn’t know you were this good before.
Astelle stared blankly at him, and a sweet smile emanated from behind the black mask.
“It’s been a while since we danced together.”
There have been many times when the imperial palace hosted a ball, but the two have rarely danced.
Suddenly, memories of dancing with him at the ball in Dentsu Castle flashed through her head.
At that time, she was forced to dance with Kaizen to get Theor back. She barely finished one song and left the floor without looking back.
But now it’s different. Astelle is happily matching her steps with Kaizen’s after a long time.
With the last step, the calm melody gradually disappeared.
Kaizen led her out of the ballroom as soon as the dance was over.
“Shall we go to the garden?”
Astelle did not let go of his hand.
Her body felt hot after dancing, so it was fine to get some fresh air.
‘I can’t even see where Fritz is anyway.’
The two walked out of the ballroom and down the garden path.
However, the idea of resting for a while in a quiet garden is a big mistake.
The garden is full of people. Wherever they went, people came up to them and said hello.
“There are a lot of people outside.”
The people chattering in the garden are middle-aged nobles who don’t bother to find a partner.
They attended the ball as chaperones for their young children and nephews or nieces, but since they are already married, they gathered and chatted among themselves without any intention of dancing.
These people are enjoying their time near a rest area with a fountain or a small lake where drinks are prepared.
On the other hand, all the young couples are enjoying their date with bated breath in a dark, overgrown place.
In the end, the two had nowhere to go.
After looking around and being greeted by many people, Kaizen pointed over the wall of the central garden with a slightly weary face.
“Shall we go over there?”
“Isn’t that too far?”
That is beyond the boundaries of the central garden.
What’s over there?
If you go over the wall, it looks like you can find some kind of small palace there.
Kaizen grabbed Astelle’s hand with a charming smile.
“There are too many people here for the two of us.”
I’m just going out for some fresh air, but why should we be together?
While thinking that, Astelle helplessly followed Kaizen.
It was because she wanted to get away from the masquerade ballroom without Fritz, Hannah, Seibel, or even Gretel.
Kaizen took Astelle to the quiet corner of the garden.
Even though it was quiet, it was still the central garden of the palace, so it was beautiful and splendid wherever she went.
The place the two of them headed for was a place with a small pavilion along a small pond. Not many people because it is far south from the center.
There’s a small pavilion lined with octagonal columns. It is a simple, windowless structure, with a shaded exterior and no visible interior.
There doesn’t seem to be anyone there.
“Shall we go over there?”
Astelle headed towards the pavilion without hesitation with Kaizen. But after taking a few steps, Kaizen suddenly stopped.
Astelle looked at him with a puzzled face, then suddenly a rustling sound came from inside the pavilion.
Looking closely, there is a young man and woman behind the pillar, hugging and kissing
‘Oh, my God.’
There are people who are enjoying a secret meeting. It’s something suitable to do in a place like this after all.
Astelle turned around thinking so. Kaizen also turned around and followed her.
Just as she was about to step away, she accidentally stepped on a small branch.
Moments later, a muffled sound came from behind.
It seemed the people over there had noticed their presence.
She was about to run away to avoid the embarrassing scene, but she heard a familiar voice from behind.
“Your Majesty the Empress?”
Astelle stopped her steps and turned around again.
A woman wearing a mask is staring at her.
It’s Gretel, no doubt. And the person in front of her…….
Astelle involuntarily raised her voice.