* * * *
Iyel returned to the palace the next day.
Shaiya’s status exists at the highest level of the Empire. The ones she bows her head to are the Emperor and Empress. And only in front of the goddess. Externally, Shaiya was a woman who received the Emperor’s favor.
“There is a child named Iyel who embroidered this dress on Royan. Can you bring that child to me?”
All she had to do was say a word to the headmaid. As a side note, Inha, the child Iyel brings in, could become a maid when she enters.
Although the personal maids of the harem underwent thorough status checks, there were few maids in Shaiya’s palace. They were worried that the Emperor’s secret private life might be exposed, so they kept the number of personnel to a minimum. Also, since Shaiya herself hardly moved, there was not much need for them. So it was not strange to add a few more, and there were no maids or maidservants in her court who were particularly skilled at embroidery, so after confirming a few things, they could enter immediately.
Iyel was a female knight who received special education in Kuiban. Impersonation, disguise, swordsmanship, memorization… She had quite a few abilities, but in the original work, she only looked at Shaiya from afar after leaving the palace and ended up following her to death after her suicide.
Iyel was her childhood nickname. She probably came running as soon as she heard the name Iyel… She must have known that Shaiya was looking for her.
When the head maid left her in the reception room, Iyel knelt down and shed tears.
“…Long time no see. Have you been well?”
Her clothes looked as if they had been worn many times, her hands and face not roughened by gripping a sword but by the hardships of life, and her hair, though still young, was matted and half-grayed, anyone could tell that she had suffered.
“I’m so, so sorry for living too comfortably. This worthless bitch. I ate and slept so… so comfortably without worrying about you, Princess…”
Iyel beat her chest and whispered softly, almost in a sigh.
Shaiya stood up from her seat and helped Iyel to her feet. The two of them cried for a while, releasing their pent-up emotions after a long time.
“Well… I apologize to both of you, but we don’t have much time.”
In response to Inha’s words, Iyel looked at her. Her silver hair caught her eye, and although she had dyed it, Iyel was the one who brought Irene here and raised her for five years.
“…Princess, what do you plan to do with that child?”
Irene could feel her flesh crawl under Iyel’s cold stare.
Like master… like servant. When Inha was about to speak, Shaiya spoke first.
“She’s the representative of the goddess who will take me out of here.”
“Rin is the one who told me when you were in Royan.”
When Inha entered with Iyel, she received a new name–Rin.
“A representative? That’s absurd…”
In Iyel’s gaze, there was a look that seemed as if she was seeing through a fraud.
Seeing Iyel like that, Inha nodded her head.
Yes, that’s normal. It was strange that Shaiya listened to her words so well. Inha mentally affirmed Iyel and showed her a pink butterfly that formed at her fingertips.
Iyel didn’t say anything further, but her suspicious gaze remained as she looked at the butterfly.
“For now, it would be best to continue discussing matters concerning me after leaving the palace. I have a lot to take care of as I have to leave as soon as tomorrow. Besides…”
As Inha was about to explain her future plans, a butterfly fluttered from her fingertips. It passed in front of Iyel and gently landed on Shaiya’s black hair. The contrast between her white face and well-groomed black hair gave her an air of mystery.
In her melancholic black eyes, there was a small excitement that Iyel hadn’t seen since she was young.
Her high nose was softly curved, making her face appear small and elegant overall, and her lip color was naturally redder than others.
She was a beauty that made one think of how beautiful she was. But now, Shaiya was not filled with maniacal laughter or self-mocking laughter… It was awkward, but the corners of her lips were slightly raised.
It was a very small smile. The pink butterfly that landed on her hair added a sparkle to it.
Iyel and Inha stared intently at Shaiya’s hair.
A flush appeared on Inha’s face. In many ways, Inha felt once again that Shaiya was not good for her heart.
Shaiya now looked so harmful to her heart that it even made Inha, who was also a woman, think that being that pretty was a fraud.
Unable to take her eyes off Shaiya, she opened her mouth.
Shaiya, the only one unharmed in this room, looked at the silent Inha and asked curiously.
Ahem, ahem… Inha cleared her throat and looked back at Iyel. And she felt it. Ah… Iyel also had a gaze that seemed to have a newfound crush on Shaiya.
When Iyel and Shaiya locked eyes like that. Iyel’s suspicious gaze softened even more.
Yes…, it’s always best for the fans to get together, after all.
Inha knew that the Empress was not sending Royal Consort Shaiya to the Eastern Temple with a good heart. It meant that even after leaving this hell, she was not safe.
In the original work, the Empress holds both the Duke and the Marquis in her hands and climbs to the highest position where a woman can go.
After that, looking at the many people who groveled at her feet, she became more obsessed with power. To her, Shaiya became an increasingly annoying presence.
Inha had to prepare for the Empress, who became much more suspicious of Shaiya because of her own actions.
“Besides, the Empress won’t stay still during this trip.”
The Empress will not engage in any suspicious behavior. She always relied on others to handle her affairs and was extremely cautious about any situation that could be associated with her.
“You will be safer when the Empress’s guards protect you, Mama. If Mama suffers any harm because of the guards assigned by her, then the Emperor will hold the Empress responsible. Since the Empress’s guards cannot enter the Goddess’s temple, you’ll have to be extra careful.”
Shaiya’s black eyes, which seemed ready to listen to anything she said, and Iyel’s brown eyes, which still couldn’t believe everything, were staring at Inha.
“That’s why today is very important. You have to prepare everything you can before leaving tomorrow.”
“Why are you taking those things?”
Inha had finished packing all the jewels in Fragrant Palace and was tearing Shaiya’s dress apart.
In her heart, she wanted to take the whole dress with her, but that would have made it too bulky, so with tears in her eyes, she tore the dress and removed the jewelry from it.
Why, because we’ll need escape funds for later, and we’ll also need bribes for people. We need to gather as much as possible. There will be plenty of places for the money to go, Mama.”
“If it’s money, I already received my allowance in advance… Those were all given by the Emperor. I don’t want to take them with me…”
Inha had never lived a prosperous life since he was very young.
On days when she worked part-time at a convenience store, finding and salvaging expired boxed lunches was a day of abundance. Every night, she fell asleep while thinking about her bank account balance and calculating utility bills such as electricity and water charges that needed to be paid.
– Money can’t solve everything. But most things can be solved with money. –
It was a passing phrase she had seen somewhere. That phrase soon became Inha’s philosophy of life.
That’s why Shaiya’s words now made her sigh.
On the other hand, Shaiya wouldn’t want to take anything from the Emperor. She only wanted to take the bare necessities and discard everything else. That, too, was something she could understand.
“Yeah. But I really don’t want to take anything with me. That dress you’re holding right now…”
Inha knew too well. What the crazy Emperor did to the white dress when he put it on Shaiya, the dress she was holding right now. Inha tore the dress in front of Shaiya’s eyes.
“You should tear it too, Mama.”
She pulled her hand back as if she didn’t want to touch it, but Inha kept urging her and grabbed the end of the dress. As Inha pulled from the other side, the dress easily tore apart.
– Rip! –
The sound of silk and lace being torn filled the room.
A strange expression came across Shaiya’s face.
Shaiya held both hands and slowly… tore the dress again.
Then she took out another dress and tore it apart.
A little madness flickered in her eyes, but Inha didn’t stop her. Instead, she picked up the jewels that were stuck in between the torn dresses.
Shaiya tore every dress that came into her hands for a little over an hour. Her skinny arms were trembling from the torn dresses without rest. But somehow, a sense of relief and freshness came to her face. There was also a hint of childish madness in her black eyes.
– He remembered the beauty who had once ruined a nation. When she laughed at the sound of tearing silk, the Emperor collected all the silk in the country and had her tear it in front of everyone. –
Yes. The Emperor understood that feeling.
Inha smiled alternately at Shaiya’s expression and the jewel purse she had taken care to collect.
This is what they call killing two birds with one stone…hehehe.
“Mama, all these jewels are from the mines of the Kingdom of Kuiban, not the Emperor’s. He just seized them! It’s only natural to take them!”
And she convinced Shaiya. Kuiban’s ore was one of the best. Most of the jewels that entered the palace would have come from the mines stolen from the Kingdom of Kuiban.
“Oh, my… I see.”
“But not these dresses. So tear them all apart, Mama.”
“…Okay, I’ll do that.”
If Inha had been more relaxed, she would have tried to take the dresses one by one. But she ignored that thought and tore the dresses gently with Shaiya. When they had torn almost all of the dresses, Iyel came in.
“…What are you guys doing?”
There were mountains of torn dresses everywhere. And in the center of it all, one woman’s hair was in disarray as she rummaged through them, while another struggled to tear the dress with trembling arms.
Shaiya turned her head, her face was a little sweaty and flushed from all her effort of tearing, but she looked more refreshed than before.
Iyel, who was about to say something to Inha, silently took out the dress from the top of the wardrobe that she couldn’t reach and placed it next to Shaiya.
Inha raised her head which had been lowered when Iyel entered and asked,
“Iyel, did you find it?”
Iyel held up the black stone she had requested.
“It was stuck under the altar’s pedestal, so I replaced it with another stone. What kind of stone is this?”
“…Um, it’s a very, very important stone.”
Inha smiled and took the stone, which was slightly larger than her palm. She had everything prepared. Tomorrow, they would leave this place.
* * * *