Working at the Lion Palace, the heart of the imperial palace, was undoubtedly the most prestigious position among the maids, and Marie would surely be delighted to have that opportunity.
‘But it’s based on social status, isn’t it? She’s not from a noble family, but a prisoner of war from the Cloyan Kingdom,’ he thought, recalling the report he’d received about Marie.
All the maids who worked at the Lion Palace were from the leading noble families of the Empire.
In contrast, Marie was a prisoner of war, not even a free person, let alone a member of a noble family.
The Crown Prince shook his head.
‘Well, it won’t be an issue.
There may be some requirements, but I’ll have the Prime Minister to smooth things out.’
Rael made a tentative decision regarding Marie’s reward.
It was an astounding reward that would make Marie faint with shock if she heard it: working at the Lion Palace where the Crown Prince resided.
Meanwhile, near the Lily Palace where Marie worked, was a chamber for foreign delegations.
Count Shobek, a delegate from the West Empire—the longtime enemy of the East Empire—was engaged in a conversation with an unidentified individual.
“The banquet was better than expected.
Wasn’t it, Count?”
The young man standing alongside the Count had a gentle appearance, with black hair, dark eyes, and glasses that added an intellectual air to his features.
He was remarkably handsome and possessed a distinct charm that differed from that of the Crown Prince.
The only drawback to his appearance was his wan complexion, which gave him a sickly appearance.
Count Shobek’s attitude towards the young man was peculiar.
Despite being one of the most influential figures in the Empire, he was seen bowing and stooping over to the fragile-looking young man, saying, “Yes, yes.
That’s right, Your Maj…” when he stumbled on the word ‘Your Maj…’, The young man narrowed his gentle eyes and said, “Mister*.
Address me as Mister.
Remember that I’m just an attendant who followed you.”
*what is used here is 공자 (gongja) a title for a young nobleman.
since he’s disguising as an attendant, i decided not to use young master
“However… how dare I…”
“Are you saying you won’t obey my orders?”
Count Shobek’s expression was on the verge of crying, as if he couldn’t fathom how he could dare to speak to the young man in such a manner.
The Count’s reaction was not unwarranted, as the young man was none other than Johannes III, the Emperor of the Western Empire—the very master that Count Shobek served!
‘Why did he have to do something so foolish again?’ Count Shover cried inwardly.
Johannes III was a great ruler who, at the age of just 15, ascended the throne of the Western Empire and, within 10 years, stabilized the empire that had been in chaos.
He was a perfect monarch with a beautiful appearance, outstanding strategic thinking, and a compassionate heart for the people.
However, he had some fatal flaws, and that kind of recklessness was one of them.
‘Why did he have to sneak into the Eastern Empire like this? What if things go awry?’
“Your Maj… I mean, Mister.
It’s too risky.
It would be better to return to the Western Empire right away…”
“What’s the risk? What could be dangerous?” The retort made Count Shobek feel like his heart was about to burst.
“No matter how discreet you are, your identity could still be revealed.”
“Well, of course, my identity will be revealed soon enough.
Unless the eyes of the Eastern Empire are blind.” The young man nodded nonchalantly.
“If Your Majesty’s identity is exposed, we don’t know what the bloodthirsty Crown Prince would do.”
“You worry too much.
Even if they find out my identity, as long as the Eastern Empire doesn’t intend to go to war with us, they won’t do anything to me.”
“That’s true, but… still, is it necessary for Your Majesty to come as a congratulatory delegate?”
Count Shobek’s objection was valid, but the young Emperor Johannes III shook his head.
“I didn’t come here to celebrate the festival of the Eastern Empire.
You already know that, don’t you?”
“I came here to confirm the account that the last princess of the Cloyan Kingdom, the ‘faceless saint’ Morina, is here in the Eastern Imperial Palace.”
Marie would be shocked if she’d heard what was being said.
It was about her, spoken by the Emperor of the Western Empire.
Moreover, he knew the secret that nobody else knew: that she was hiding in this palace.
Johannes III chuckled softly and spoke.
During the year she spent as a princess, she performed many good deeds, but no one knew her face.
That’s why she’s called the ‘Faceless Saint’ in the Cloyan region.”
He spoke in a gentle tone.
“Thanks to that, it’s very difficult to track her down.
It’s a miracle that I found out she was here in the imperial palace of the Eastern Empire.”
“The Eastern Empire doesn’t know about this, do they?”
If they did, they wouldn’t have left her alone.” Count Shobek sighed.
He’s aware that Princess Morina was essential to Emperor’s grand plan.
That’s why Johannes III personally came to take care of the matter.
However, he looked at the Emperor with a worried face.
“Isn’t your health bad? What if you have a seizure here?”
Johannes’ face stiffened at the mention of ‘seizure’.
That was also a concern for him.
However, he soon lifted his head.
“I’ve been taking my medicine regularly, so it should be okay.
In fact, I’ve been feeling much better lately, and haven’t had a seizure in the past six months, so I’ve significantly reduced my medication.
And I also brought my personal physician just in case.”
“Enough.” Johannes lowered his head.
“Before I make her mine, I need to see for myself what kind of woman she is with my own eyes.”
Hwiyung! Paang! Fireworks from the Eastern Empire decorated the night sky.
After numerous incidents, the festival had finally begun.
“Long live the Empire!”
“Long live the Crown Prince!”
“Glory to God!”
Both the palace and the streets were filled with shouts of joy.
For the next week, the people of the Empire would put aside all their worries and revel in the festival.
The commoners flocked to the streets to enjoy the festivities, while the nobles gathered at the palace for the banquet.
However, amid the joyful feasting and drinking, there were some who were going through tougher times than usual.
“Please clean up the trash over there!”
“Make sure to bring the food to the banquet hall on time!”
They were the palace maids.
“Come on! Pull yourselves together and move quickly!”
As soon as the festival began, the workload increased tremendously.
They had to prepare for the event, clean up the banquet hall, carry food, entertain guests, and clear up the mess, all while moving hastily and frantically.
The maids worked tirelessly, barely having time to eat, and among them was the junior maid Marie, who bore the brunt of the workload.
She had the most tasks to complete but couldn’t even go to the festival.
“Marie have you eaten?”
“No, have you?”
“I haven’t eaten anything all day.
I’m starving.” Jane, her colleague who she shared the same room, sighed as they cleaned up the trash from the banquet hall.
“The high-ranking maids must be enjoying delicious food at the banquet, right?” Jane said with a tinge of envy.
Despite sharing the same job title of “maid,” there’s a stark contrast between intermediate maids who interacted with the nobles and junior maids who were assigned with menial tasks.
The work they were in charge of was completely different, and most of them were noble-born ladies.
“I envy them.
I just wish we could have a glimpse of the banquet hall before the festival ends.
After all, we did all the preparations, but we don’t even get to join the actual festivities,” she lamented to Marie.
“Marie, do you have something on your mind?”
“Huh? What? No.”
“Are you sure? You seem a bit off.” Jane looked at Marie with a concerned expression.
Marie had been unusually quiet, unlike her usual energetic and lively self.
It’s as if something was bothering her.
“Oh? Huh? No, I’m fine, really.”
“Are you sure?”
“Yeah, I’m going to clean over there! See you later!”
Jane tilted her head as she watched Marie ran away.
“What’s going on? Why is she acting like that all of a sudden?”
Meanwhile, once alone, Marie sighed deeply.
As Jane had guessed correctly, she did have something on her mind, and it was a very serious matter.
“Why did I have that dream? What was that about?” She muttered in a confused voice.
Marie was troubled by the dream she had the night before.
“Why did I have that dream? Haa.”
To other people, it would seem trivial for Marie to worry about the contents of a dream.
However, to her, it was a serious matter.
‘Whenever I have a dream, something related always happens,’ Marie thought in agony.
She knew that her lucid dreams never appeared for no reason.
If she dreams, it’s something related to the near future.
“But why that kind of dream?” She thought about the dream she had last night.
‘Help! Save me!’
‘My arm! My arm!’ Smoke billowed, and screams echoed through the air.
The scene was reminiscent of a battlefield, with numerous casualties and bloodshed.
Someone shouted, “Medic! Where’s the medic?!”
She closed her eyes tightly, having reached that far in her memory.
“Why that kind of dream?” The dream she had was that of a war, in which she served as a combat medic who provided emergency treatment to the wounded before they could be taken to the hospital.
“What could it mean?” she sighed, unable to fathom why such a dream would come to her, especially during such a joyous festival.
Meanwhile, in the Lion Palace, the Crown Prince sat in his office with a tired expression.
“It’s so hectic.”
Upon hearing that, Almond, the Royal Guard Knight, offered, “Shall I bring you some whiskey?”
He shook his head.
“No, I’ve already had quite a bit.” He removed his iron mask and placed it on the desk.
His otherworldly beautiful face was slightly flushed from the alcohol.
It’s hard to have two of them,” he said, clicking his tongue.
If there’s anyone as busy as the maids at the festival, it would be him, the Crown Prince.
He had a myriad of responsibilities, from attending the festival and participating in various events, to dealing with foreign ambassadors, discussing various issues with the local nobles, checking if there were any problems with the festival itself, and so on.
There was too much work to be done, it’s almost as if he needed two or three bodies to handle it all.
At that moment, Prime Minister Oren, who’s next to him, laughed and said something.
He too had drunk enough to make his face a little flushed.
“This is because His Highness is still a bachelor.”
“Yes, if someone else were handling the internal affairs, you wouldn’t be so busy.
After all, this festival is under the jurisdiction of Her Majesty the Empress and/or Her Royal Highness the Crown Princess, you know.”
The minister of the interior remained vacant because he, the de facto ruler of the empire, was unmarried.
“By the way, Your Highness, do you have any plans for marriage?”
“Not at the moment.”
“But the Council of Elders is pressuring you.
After this festival, you should decide who to marry as the Crown Princess.”
The Crown Prince nodded.
He knew about it as well.
He’d put off marriage because he didn’t feel like it, but he couldn’t postpone it any longer.
“Do you have anyone in mind?”
In a hushed voice, Prime Minister Oren spoke up, “I couldn’t help but notice during the banquet that the young lady of Marquis Cozzerin, Princess Spina, and even Princess Dominin were looking at you rather intently.” He listed off the names of the ladies who had shown an interest in the Crown Prince.
They were all distinguished women in the high social circle and would make excellent matches.
However, the Crown Prince just sighed as if he were bored.
“I’m not interested.
I will only choose a bride that can benefit the Empire the most.”
He thought to himself, ‘It’s a shame that we can’t find Princess Morina.’
t/n: the way the junior maids are exploited… like wtf they haven’t eaten all day??? disappointing how rael isn’t a good ruler as i thought he’d be… maybe an oversight but still.
now i don’t like susan too since she’s in charge
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