When Ridrian returned to the bedroom, he saw the doll dozing off while seated on the sofa. The doll’s back would surely hurt when she wakes up, the Emperor thought. Maybe it was only a few minutes before she fell asleep, seeing that her hair was still damp from the bath she had unmistakably taken.
Why is she sleeping in such an uncomfortable position?
Ever since the doll was told to sit on the sofa and wait the second day, the doll did just as instructed. She made sure to sit there every day compliantly. The previous dolls weren’t as obedient; they weren’t able to hold in their curiosity and went around the palace, even touching the objects they weren’t supposed to. They also told people they chanced upon the halls about what’s happening with the Emperor.
But this doll was the complete opposite. It was gentle, compliant, and surprisingly easy going. Taking naps was what the doll enjoys the most doing, and she fusses with the blanket by kicking it with her heels every night.
Ridrian leaned closer and gently prodded the doll’s cheek with his finger. The doll felt warm under the coolness of his fingertips. He stared at her for a while longer, unconscious of the smile that was slowly creeping on his face.
When one was faced with a horrifying situation, one would react by running away screaming, but the doll only clenched her fists tightly. Ridrian wasn’t sure if she was only trying to look brave, or was just plain stupid. Ridiculous. He keeps her by his side every day as if it was really Liliana, even though they were completely different from one another. And for the nights he couldn’t fall asleep, he tells himself over and over again that this is Liliana no matter how unconvincing he sounded.
But unlike the doll, Lily was easily scared.
Ridrian closed his eyes softly. He let his thoughts wander about, imagining Liliana being bold just like the doll is. But he knew it was futile. Painting someone to the image you wanted them to be was useless, especially when they are no longer present. The past was already set in stone and there’s no way of changing it. He was aware that he was using dolls as a way to help himself from his traumas.
Ridrian then opened his eyes. He gazed down at the sleeping doll, noting how peaceful she looked in her slumber. He almost lost her today and it was so close. As much as he knew he’d be able to find a replacement, it was a thought he would never consider. Losing this doll was simply unacceptable.
And the fact that someone was trying to touch what’s his made him so furious.
I would tear his limbs apart once I caught the assassin.
Ridrian carried the doll on his arms, placing one hand behind her knees and one hand supporting her back. He noticed how heavy she had gotten compared to the previous month.
Did she gain some weight? He was entirely pleased that she’s in a much better shape.
He gently laid the doll down on the bed and swept the messy strands off her face. The moonlight streaming from the nearby window cast a warm glow. Unable to control himself, he twirled a lock of her soft platinum hair with his fingers and placed it on his mouth.
I won’t let anyone take you. He whispered to himself, and at the same time, his eyes sharply darted to the side of the wall where a shadow suddenly materialized.
I wasn’t able to sleep for long when the piercing sound of glass shattering jolted me out of my sleep. My eyes flew open as I tried to make sense of my surroundings, not seeing the Emperor on his side of the bed. What’s going on?
Then as if to answer my question, I heard a metallic sound of blades clashing into one another ringing repeatedly. I turned to where the sound was and my eyes widened in terror, seeing the emperor in a neck to neck battle in the middle of the night.
The emperor was against two suspicious men clad in all black, while he was only wearing a thin robe like he was just roused from his slumber. Lotuboru was clutched in one hand, ready to pounce at the enemy.
The two men in black clothes were clearly assassins, both of which had sharp daggers in their hands as they dashed towards the Emperor at a dangerous speed.
I almost jumped out of the bed when they almost struck the emperor, but thankfully, the emperor quickly deflected and countered the assassin’s attack with his own, appearing effortlessly as he lifted his arm and sharply sliced the assassin’s arm like it was just a mere slab of meat.
From the way the emperor presented himself threateningly with an intent to kill, there was no way the assassins would be able to take him down, even if he was outnumbered.
The severed arm detached from the assassin’s limbs, falling to the carpet like a doll’s arm that was torn apart. It was a rather clean strike. Blood oozed out only in small amounts. The assassin didn’t cry nor did he react like anyone would, void of emotions just like any trained assassin. The Emperor was just as unfazed through it all, while I stood at the corner, staring as bile rose to my throat.
The second assassin rushed in just as the other stepped back. The Emperor managed to deflect each and every blow from the assassin’s onslaught with finesse and agility like he was simply playing swords.
Lotuboru and the dagger rang against each other persistently. The sharp, vibrating echo of metal against metal enveloped the room, going so rapidly it was hard to see what was happening.