As the girl called out, the boy turned around and saw her. The man wearing a hood turned around as well.
Seeing those familiar emerald eyes, Adele exclaimed in surprise.
The emperor quickly covered her mouth.
He placed his index finger over her lips, pulled some candies from his pocket, and gave them to the boy and girl.
“Here you go.”
“Wow, thank you!” their eyes glimmered like stars, “Do I have anything else I need to say?”
“No. Just eat it.”
At the emperor’s words, the children ate the candy and grinned widely as they enjoyed the sweet taste in their mouths. Turning his back on the siblings who were still engrossed with those delicacies, he released his hand from Adele’s lips and smiled kindly.
The wind blew and pulled his hood back slightly, revealing his majestic features and his fluttering golden hair. Adele was at loss for words, just staring and admiring the man’s good looks.
“Apologies, milady. I suppose it is not right for them to know.” He uttered, referring to the children.
His words shook her out of her reverie. As she felt that somehow, the warmth from his fingers lingered on her lips, her voice became hesitant.
“Then, uh, what are you doing here?”
The emperor scanned the bustling downtown where commoners bought and sold groceries, his gaze seemingly filled with affection.
“All this while, I have only remained inside the castle. I create the law for the people, but how can I make suitable ones if I don’t know how they truly live?”
Adele stared at him.
Unlike his usual playful demeanor, he looked serious and thoughtful. This was an emperor who ruled the country that truly cared for the well-being of his people.
“I came out to see how my citizens operate on a daily basis.” His gaze spun towards the brother and sister behind him, “Like those precious children, they are the ones who can honestly tell and show me how the common people live.”
Adele nodded. Seeing how jubilant those two were, making playful gestures every now and then, she couldn’t help but chuckle.
“Aren’t they cute and lovely?”
The emperor laughed as well, “I agree, but they aren’t the only ones.”
Rayence glanced meaningfully at Adele but she didn’t seem to notice, then he furrowed his brows.
“Milady, are you all right?”
“Ah? Yes, yes.” she responded, “I feel so much better thanks to the necklace you gave me, so please do not worry.”
Then she gave a radiant smile to prove her point.
He assessed her carefully. Upon seeing nothing was truly amiss, he added, “I have already scolded my sister for what happened. I believe she shall deliver an official apology to you soon.”
Thinking of what the princess did to her, Adele felt angry and exasperated. She didn’t want to think about her, hence, she conversed with the emperor while glancing around.
“Is it refreshing to be able to go outside like this?” she queried, surveying his attire.
The emperor laughed, his eyes twinkling in delight.
“Staying inside the castle every day of the week is a bit suffocating. But here, without all those tiresome duties and complicated pleasantries, everything seems like a breath of fresh air.”
Adele bobbed her head in agreement.
“If you’re a human, you are bound to feel frustrated if you just stay at one place. The same goes for me,” a soft laugh escaped her lips, “it’s also been a while since I went out.”
Adele looked around this part of the town she had seldom visited. She wasn’t very familiar with the place because she usually walked through decorated streets that had luxurious boutiques or jewelry stores, not on roads like these crowded with commoners. It was always so busy and noisy.
However, there was beauty in this place that the wealthy nobility would not be able to match. Although work was difficult and money was barely sufficient for some, Adele was able to see things that put her heart at ease.
Pure and unadulterated smiles, people laughing freely without any pretense, then there was this uniquely comforting scent of the ordinary people that were simply going about their day.
At that time, the boy who had already eaten the third candy ran towards the hooded man.
“Hey, I have some news for you. The mountain fields over there are now completely ruined.” He pointed towards a certain direction, blissfully unaware he was talking to the supreme ruler of the country.
“Yes!” the girl cried out, “We usually gather flowers from there, but now we can’t!”
The emperor’s eyes narrowed.
Come to think of it, there were no herbs or flowers displayed in the stalls or growing in the surrounding fields.
“When did this happen?”
“Ah, last week!”
Is it the fire monster that lived underground?
Fields planted with herbs and plants that were especially near the capital were rare, therefore, they had to be firmly secured. This is mainly due to lower transportations costs and labor that would’ve totaled to a significant amount of money had they been sourced far away. In addition, they were fresher, would generate a sizeable income, and provides livelihood for their citizens.
The officials were supposed to take good care of it, but it appears they did quite the opposite.
When I get back to the castle, I’ll have to send an official letter to the manager. I’m afraid his time would be fully occupied afterwards.
While analyzing the issue, the emperor glanced at the emerald necklace Adele was wearing and snapped his finger.
“Show me the way.”