Murderous Emperor's Inconvenient Behavior - Chapter 27
Thud, thud, thud.
The journey could have been more fruitful.
Eiden folded his arms and gazed at the seat across from him, which Richard did not ignore.
Claire cleverly disregarded the two men’s continual conflict.
Being concerned about them was a waste of time.
It was good to be free after such a long period.
The surrounding broad meadows and distant mountains were lovely.
Of course, the brief walk with the emperor the previous time put some wind in her sails.
But that was nothing compared to the enormous vista before her.
In the distance, a bird flew.
Its silver wings glistened in the sunlight.
It’s such a relaxing setting.
She might have to hurry without knowing what lay ahead, but for now, she just wanted to enjoy the break.
The empire’s trials and tribulations would be hers to face.
Claire blinked as she gazed up at a bird flying through the sky.
* * *
A fog-covered forest.
Claire strolled through the dewy grass.
A bird called out from a distance and quickly landed on a nearby limb.
Claire stood beneath the tree, gazing at the bird.
Its feathers were very stunning.
She had never before seen a bird with silver feathers.
The bird stretched one of its wings and preened beneath it with its beak.
Looking carefully, Claire felt she’d seen the bird somewhere.
The emperor’s seal on the letter he sent resembled that bird.
Mrs. Stanton had referred to the seal as a ‘hawk.’
<I’ve waited a very long time.>
Claire turned to face the unexpected voice.
All she could see were dense plants and a thick, oppressive fog.
<Who are you?>
Only the hawk perched on the limb could be heard.
<Is it a monster?>
Claire felt shivers run down her spine.
She was reassured, however, because monsters cannot speak.
Claire looked up as she followed the voice.
And she finally understood.
<Was it you who spoke?”
She looked at the hawk with wide eyes.
<Wow, unbelievable. A hawk that talks.>
The hawk flapped its wings and flew directly at Claire.
It sat on her shoulder, its claws biting in and its head tilted inquisitively.
Its ruby eyes looked at her with curiosity.
<You have a striking resemblance to that odd child.>
<I’ve waited for so long.>
<Sorry, but could you please speak more clearly?>
<I’ve missed seeing you.>
<Do you know who I am?>
The hawk spoke in a language she didn’t comprehend.
Strangely, it pretended to recognize her.
<Should I have any hopes?>
She couldn’t figure out what it was hoping for.
She only learned from the hawk’s discussion that there are better conversational partners than this one.
<Oh no. It’s finally time.>
The hawk shouted this before taking off with vigor.
<Hey! Please explain! You can’t just walk away!>
In literature and movies, it’s always like this.
The scene shifts just as an essential hint is about to be disclosed.
<… be cautious. I’ll come looking for you…>
Just like right now.
Of course, the bird flew away, mumbling something.
<You should tell me what to be cautious of!>
Her screams resonated through the misty woodland.
* * *
“What are you doing right now?”
“Are you blind? Ensuring the lady’s comfort.”
“Then let us swap places.”
“Sir Richard, I don’t think that’s possible.”
“Why not?” says one.
“First and foremost, if I switch with you, the lady who is sound asleep will awaken. Second, she appears to be at ease. She seems to appreciate my shoulder.”
“She’s been sleeping a lot. It’s time to rouse her.”
“You’re being very dramatic. Is this how you describe your wonderful sister? Just leave her alone.”
Why is it so loud?
Claire buried her face deeper to block out the noise.
It was warm, pleasant, and comfortable.
She wished she could sleep a bit longer.
“Ah, this feels good.”
Claire sighed contentedly.
“Take a look at this. The lady is snuggling up to me.”
“This would not have happened if you hadn’t sat so close in the first place. Alicia would not have leaned in your direction. Did you intend to do that?”
“Does it look like that?”
Above her head, a stifled laugh rang.
Claire’s consciousness gradually returned as she felt the vibration across her body.
Claire blinked quickly, opening and closing her eyes.
What exactly is going on?
Where is my head at the moment?
Who are these powerful, moving shoulders?
“She awoke. It’s your fault, Sir Richard.”
The emperor grinned openly.
“Why are you blaming me?”
“Because you were loud and woke up the lady. I was graciously allowing her to relax.”
So… she was in the arms of the Emperor.
“Oh, my God!”
Claire jumped in surprise. She pressed against the muscular chest in front of her without thinking.
She, on the other hand, was the one who was pushed away. A long arm shot out and caught her head just as it was about to hit the window.
“You should be careful.”
Eiden gently corrected her while supporting her.
“What… What’s going on?”
She was so stunned and perplexed that she didn’t know she was about to smash her head against the window. Or that the emperor had come to her aid.
“Alicia! Are you all right?”
Richard approached with a distressed expression, going on one knee and taking her hand in his.
“She’s all right. Sir Richard, please have a seat. Otherwise, you’ll be the one who suffers.”
Eiden gently swatted Richard’s hand away, almost threateningly.
“She’s my younger sister, Your Majesty. Naturally, I’m concerned. Why do you insist on interfering?”
“The lady is safe. I shielded her.”
The two men’s gazes were locked.
Do they still need to be finished?
Their heated discussions had continued since they boarded the carriage.
“I’m fine, Brother. As His Majesty says, YOU should take a seat.”
The emperor replied as if he had been expecting her to say it.
“Your Majesty should also take a seat. You could get harmed.”
Claire sat across from Eiden.
He tapped the wagon roof, frowning.
“Let’s take a short break.”
So their first reprieve began.
Claire stroked her achy tummy.
She had slept deeply and felt rejuvenated, but her back may have suffered due to her posture. She forced herself to forget that she had been sprawled in the emperor’s arms.
“Are you okay, Miss?”
Hanna shuffled her feet beside her, looking apprehensive.
They’d gotten out of the carriage and started walking. It required some effort to keep the next emperor and Richard apart.
“I’m not okay.”
“But Miss, you were incredible. To put up with the predicament. If that had been me, I would have passed out!”
“Ha, what’s there to faint about?”
Claire gave an uneasy smile. She worried how they’d respond if she said she’d fainted while sleeping.
“Ahem, Lady Alicia.”
Claire looked around as she heard the cough and call.
Elliot stood there, leaning back and smiling.
“May I have a brief moment of your time?”
Hanna took a few steps back at Elliot’s polite suggestion. She wasn’t too far away, but she was far enough away that she couldn’t overhear their talk.
“Did you have any discomfort during the journey?”
“Thanks for your concern, but I was fine.”
“Please let me know if you feel uncomfortable at any time. I shall make every effort to persuade His Majesty.”
Elliot stated his case firmly. His eyes seemed to be pleading with her to express her concerns without hesitation.
“I’m perfectly fine.”
Why is he acting this way? Claire fixed her gaze on Elliot.
“You can speak freely.”
“It appears that you believe I should be afraid of His Majesty.”
“Are you afraid? You’re not afraid?”
Elliot seems astonished by her question.
“Of course, I’m scared.”
“See? Would you like to change carriages?”
“Seems like you, Count, dare to defy the Emperor’s wishes.”
“Oh, me? Certainly not!”
“I’ll make the sacrifice for everyone’s sake. It’s not that horrible being in His Majesty’s company.”
Claire gave a sneaky grin.
Elliot’s jaw hung wide, stunned.
Eiden, of course, was a commanding figure.
Why would he not be? If her true identity is uncovered, she will be executed.
<You don’t capture my attention. If we meet again… I’m going to kill you.>
Eiden stated something similar three years ago.
The memory was as vivid as if it had happened just yesterday, giving her the shivers.
Claire’s interest was peaked, however.
She was perplexed about why he had changed from three years ago to now.
Her eagerness to understand Eiden’s thoughts and intentions surpassed her dread. Knowing the enemy’s goals may allow her to plan ahead of time.
“Your bravery is as impressive as your beauty. So far, no one has come close to you, Lady…”
Unfortunately, Elliot was unable to complete his sentence.