She banged her head against the bed in frustration before suddenly sitting upright. Recollecting the dream from last night, she felt strange.
Was it really just a dream? Was I really not seduced by a devil? Trying to take my heart…?
“Ah! My heart!”
She quickly placed her hand over the left side of her chest, relieved to feel her heart still beating normally. Thankfully, it seemed she hadn’t given her heart away while under a spell. Then, she sighed with a mix of relief and self-deprecation, thinking about how absurd she had been. Everything was such a mess. A devil, seriously.
“Is this a joke? Ha…”
Just then, the door opened. As she turned her head, Emma, as always, entered. For some reason, looking at Emma, who lived a normal life, Liena’s expression turned sour from envy.
“Did you sleep well, Emma?”
Liena was merely giving a friendly greeting, as she did every day. However, seeing Emma’s wide-eyed and surprised expression made her feel a tad awkward. Soon, seeing Emma’s warm smile, Liena began to smile as well, but her expression hardened at Emma’s next words.
“Her Holiness, did you have a pleasant dream last night?”
Last night…! A pleasant dream!
In an instant, Liena, feeling flushed, quickly bowed her head, her cheeks burning. To make matters worse, she grimaced at the cold sensation she felt on her foot.
What should I do…? I can’t say I’ve wet myself at this age. This is driving me crazy, really!
“Her Holiness Liena? It seems you’ll need to hurry a bit today.”
“His Majesty the Emperor wishes to see you.”
It felt like the inevitable had finally come to pass; her shoulders drooped. She had hoped he wouldn’t come, but eventually, he had returned to the palace. She had neither a place to escape nor an excuse to decline.
“Then, I’ll have to prepare a bit faster today.”
At Emma’s cue, the handmaidens entered, and the awaited bath time passed more quickly than usual. The mere thought of facing Rhetrik led her to sigh. The anxiety of facing him had completely faded from her mind because of that strange dream last night.
Despite knowing they had to hurry, Liena was utterly distracted by the faster-than-usual preparations. Unlike before, Liena passively observed the garments being draped over her.
She now knew the purpose of the sultry underwear that she used to be intrigued by. Even as she donned the intricate underwear that was bare at the bottom and the beautiful clothes that wrapped her body one by one, she felt nothing but contempt for her situation.
“Everything suits you so well.”
Staring at her reflection with a gloomy face, Liena let out a bitter chuckle at the thought of confronting Rhetrik in this get-up. What good was looking like a goddess in these clothes? They were likely just to stir his lust. She only hoped he wouldn’t change his temperament like before.
While she was lost in thought, staring at her reflection, she was suddenly startled by the sound of a door opening behind her. She quickly glanced back through the mirror, thinking Rhetrik had entered.
Fortunately, it wasn’t him.
Seeing the unfamiliar man, Liena tilted her head in confusion. The man, dressed in pristine robes, looked even more saintly than her, the Saintess. But soon, her brows furrowed. His robes were similar to those worn by the men present on her first day here when Rhetrik had treated her so brutally.
Was he one of them? She remembered their lecherous gazes as they looked at her n*ked form but couldn’t recall their faces. That’s why she couldn’t be sure if he was one of them or not.
“Have you arrived?”
Upon Emma’s greeting, the handmaidens respectfully bowed and stepped back. Ignoring Emma’s greeting, the man walked towards Liena, his gaze fixed on her. He stopped behind her, the towering presence of the man, as tall as Rhetrik, made Liena instinctively shrink.
“We meet for the first time. My name is Roan Letham.”
When she slowly turned to face him, the man looked much larger and younger up close than he did in the mirror. She initially wondered if he might be a low-ranking priest, but his aura and demeanor seemed extraordinary.
The man with long silver hair and ash-colored eyes was as beautiful as the man she had seen in her dreams. Liena once again lost herself in the sight of such a beautiful cleric.
However, she also noticed a peculiar scent coming from him. It was clean, yet carried a warm sensation. Could this be what warm spring sunlight would smell like if it had a fragrance?
In any case, why were all the men here so strikingly handsome? Even if one were to call them the protagonists, it wouldn’t be an exaggeration.
“Nice to meet you, Saintess Liena. If you’re ready, shall we go?”
“The Emperor is waiting for you.”
The mention of ‘His Majesty’ snapped her back to reality. As he extended his hand with a gentle smile, she hesitated for a moment. Recalling her previous encounter with Rhetrik, she eventually and naturally placed her hand in his. The man, with a slight smile, expertly escorted her.
He matched her pace, walking slowly and considerately, which she deeply appreciated. Had it been Rhetrik, he surely wouldn’t have cared if she tripped over her hem or felt dragged along.
While walking with poise, Liena suddenly felt something odd and looked down.
Gasp! What is this?!
She hadn’t noticed while standing still, but as she walked, the slit in the front of her dress revealed her thigh. She hadn’t expected the dress, seemingly holy, to possess such a provocative element. Moreover, the peculiar underwear she had on made her legs awkwardly twist with each step, increasingly worried that her risqué undergarment would be exposed.
She quickly glanced at the man’s face, adorned with a gentle smile, before hurriedly turning her gaze to the window outside. Hoping he wouldn’t notice her flustered state, she shortened her stride and walked carefully. However, the man who had remained silent throughout their walk suddenly spoke up.
“I was disappointed not to see you that day, but I’m glad to meet you like this again.”
“You don’t seem to remember me. Well, you didn’t see my face but you heard my voice.”
His voice…? An unfamiliar yet strangely familiar voice flashed through her mind.
“Ah! You mean, back then? In the indoor garden…?”