The trial went on for a week. It felt like no one slept. The result, once announced, spread across the empire like wildfire. The emperor cut out all of the people responsible for the atrocities that had been performed. At the same time, many families, that had been wrongfully accused, were restored to their former status.
The Lesprey family was able to redeem its name based on the testimony and was able to become a great noble family, once again, in the Great Ivant empire. I was able to inherit the Viscount title as the only remaining descendent. Of course, as I wasn’t considered an adult yet due to the empire’s laws, I’ll officially receive the Viscount title during my debutant ceremony next month.
On the night of the announcement, Ridrian brought me a white lily as condolences and a pink rose as congratulations. I couldn’t help but cry the entire time he was telling me the news, and I told him I wanted to go to my family’s tombs. He wiped away my tears and gladly promised to take me the next day.
I finally found my name after ten years of searching.
I couldn’t sleep. Because of all the events, that blew in like a storm, my mind was racing even in the middle of the night. It was the first time in my life that I had a night where I couldn’t fall asleep because I was looking forward to the future.
I looked over at Ridrian, who was sound asleep holding my hand. Other than the dark circles beneath his eyes becoming fainter, his face was the same as the first time I met him. It was a beautiful and desirable face.
He been extremely busy with all of the work lately, but still he came and found me every night to sleep. Even today, he had worked much later. But still he came, looked me in the eyes, then smiled while holding my hand and drifting off to sleep.
Ridrian tossed and turned a little before he began the deep breaths of slumber, but I couldn’t fall asleep. I stroked his shiny black hair for a long time. It was softer than rabbit fur. My heart pounded loudly in my chest.
Even though we had slept in the same bed for the past five months, it still felt new. I realized that Ridrian no longer hugged me while he slept. Was it because he had met Eris?
I thought about the people chatting around me as I left the trial. Whispers of me being the hidden mistress of the emperor. The guards made these people take a different route, clearing the way for me. I was thankful for that. I’m sure, if I had remained in earshot, I would have heard comments a lot worse. I’m ok with people talking about me, but for some reason it was hard to maintain composure when I heard rumours about the emperor.
I felt like I would have to leave the palace soon. I promised to be by the emperor’s side for always, but at this rate it would not be good for either the emperor or myself. My dignity would be protected by Ridiran, but if the rumours turned to Eris, then Ridrian might feel troubled.
Ridrian knew about the rumours as well. I wondered how he was taking the situation of me having to leave the palace. Was he as sad as I was? Or was he troubled because he would not be able to sleep, with his doll having left? Watching him sleep now, I became sad.
Ridrian frowned in his sleep, and a cold sweat broke out across his forehead. He moaned slightly, obviously in the throes of a nightmare.
“No. No!” he suddenly yelled from the depths of slumber.
“Your Majesty?” As he continued to moan, I shook him to wake him up. “Your Majesty. Your Majesty!”
His eyes flew open, blood red. He looked around, unfocused, as if he wasn’t sure where he was until he saw me. Then he sat up and hugged me tightly
“Iona! Oh my god, Iona!” He was crushing me in his embrace. I was starting to find it difficult to breathe.
“Your Majesty?” I asked gently, trying to separate myself from him.
“You’re alive? Right?”
“What? Of course, I’m alive.”
He started poking me in the arm, unsure whether I was a ghost or not. He was scaring me, and I needed to calm him down. I covered his pale face with my two hands.
“Can you feel my hands?” I asked, looking him directly in the eyes. “They’re warm, aren’t they?” I rested my forehead against his. “I’m alive,” I whispered.
His eyes were still shaking in panic, but he focused on me and his breathing began to slow. He covered my hands with his, desperately trying to capture some of my warmth. His hands were like ice. Sweat rolled down his face, making him shiver. He closed his eyes and took several deep breaths. When he opened them again, his eyes were golden once more.
“Why that dream?” He looked as if he was going to tell me about it, but quickly silenced himself.
“Are you all right?” I asked.
He looked at his hands for a moment, then answered in a low voice that didn’t seem normal for him. “It’s right to send you out. That’s probably the safest thing to do. I’m the most dangerous person for you to be around.”
It sounded like he was trying to convince himself more than he was trying to convince me. “I can’t put you in danger because of my greed. Because I want you here.”
“Is all this because of what happened during the day?” I asked.
He nodded, as I recalled the events that transpired earlier today.