The carriage driver has long run away to escape the situation, which was why both Lina and Ellie had to exert more force to carry their unconscious mistress and get them out of this place.
Lina judged that if they went to the countess’ castle, they would protect Adele and her maids. But when the knights who broke the wagon swiveled their heads to where they were, they hollered loudly.
“There’s someone over there! Go!”
The knights approached them so quickly that Lina and Ellie froze at the menacing sight of scary men with swords in their waists. One of the knights came forward and pointed to Adele with his chin.
“State the identity of your mistress!”
Lina’s heart was furiously beating inside her chest, but she struggled to calm herself and recalled Adele’s maiden name. “She is a young lady from the Liliand household!”
The knight frowned upon finding a ring on Adele’s fourth finger.
“Young lady? She seems to be a married.”
Lina immediately became agitated, “T-this is an engagement ring!”
“Is it now?” the knight raised a brow, obviously not believing them, “Then, reveal the household to which the lady is engaged to!”
She thought that they would be able to get away, but she was immediately stumped by the last question.
What should I do? What should I do?!
Slowly, the knights pulled unsheathed their swords. The apparent leader spoke again with a warning tone, “Speak, or we will be forced to take drastic measures in the name of upholding the law.”
The man was getting irritated by the lack of reply, but he still maintained a serious expression as he ordered his subordinates, “Arrest them.”
“You dare place your filthy hands on my mistress! Don’t you know who she is?!”
At Lina’s words, the knights roared out in laughter as they pulled out handcuffs to take her away.
Another one spoke up, “Whoever she is, already has nothing to do with us.”
Lina’s complexioned paled in fear and she shook her head to clear her head. She was about to tell Ellie to run to the castle and ask for help when a gentle, low-pitched voice echoed from behind her.
“Knights, don’t be so rude to the lady.”
She abruptly whirled her head towards the somewhat familiar voice.
In her vision, a man with golden hair that seemed to have been made from pure-melted gold and doll-like features stood in an overbearing manner, donned in his battle armor and was accompanied by Imperial Knights on all sides.
The knights in front of Lina abruptly knelt on one knee and they drove their swords into the ground.
Seeing the attitude of the knights, Lina hurriedly bowed her head.
The emperor! What is such a man doing here?
He stretched out his arms towards the unconscious Adele. One of the knights spoke with an apprehensive voice.
“Y-Your Majesty, please be careful. This woman has not been identified yet!”
“Yes, Your Majesty! But your faithful knights shall provide the details as soon as possible!”
The emperor mused, “In that case, let me be the one to reveal her identity to you.”
The emperor took Adele in his arms and the corners of his lips curved up fondly.
His smile was warm and beautiful, like a spring flower basking in the afternoon sun. The emperor had the kind of beauty that transcends gender, because not only the women around them blushed, but the knights as well.
“This woman,” he started, brushing off a stray hair from her face. Then his expression changed, and he directed a severe gaze towards his subjects.
“This woman shall be my empress.”
The emperor’s declaration stunned everyone who heard him.
He surveyed their reactions and uttered a reminder. “You question her like a criminal. But should you not pledge your allegiance already?”
All of a sudden, the knights lowered their swords in submission and placed their right hand to their chests.
“Greetings to Her Majesty the Empress!”
It was the salute of loyalty, to the second highest power of the Astrian empire.
The emperor looked on with a satisfied smile and commanded his guard knight, “Go to the castle and tell the vassals to make preparations for the arrival of their new empress.”
The guard swiftly rode onto his horse and hurried to the Imperial Castle. When the emperor saw the broken duke’s carriage, his lips quirked up into an imperceptible smirk and tightened his embrace, securing the woman into his arms.
He gently kissed Adele’s forehead.
“My empress, I shall bring you to your new home.”
The clouds roiled in the sky as it gradually transformed into clusters of darkness. Rain poured heavily and severe winds thrashed against every tree and building in sight.
Adele was jolted awake by the reverberating sound of thunder. After being disoriented for a short moment, she scanned the interior of the bedroom and found it unfamiliar.
Where is this place?
The marble ceilings and walls were engraved with large golden patterns, and silken cloths hung from the upside of the bed. From where she sat, Adele could see maids neatly arranged in a row.
A middle-aged woman who looked the oldest among them said, “Are you alright, mistress?”