In his arms, I asked, “What did Prince Coronel want from you for Ksania’s death?”
I already knew the answer and that was why I didn’t ask him earlier. Now, we needed to talk about it.
When I insisted on pulling at his shirt, he answered, “He wanted Ludia to become my empress.”
I knew it.
I also could guess why he refused, but I asked anyway. It was becoming a bad habit.
“Why did you say no?”
He answered stiffly, “To have a Genoan princess as my empress would be too risky. It will give too much power to Genoa and I can’t afford that.”
I stared at him and asked, “And that’s the only reason?”
Lucretius smiled smoothly. “I think it would be best not to explain my main reason to you, unless… You can tell me you are ready to take the position. Can you?”
I wasn’t sure especially after the meeting with the priestess. I was freshly reminded of my home and family, and I couldn’t just forget about them.
Lucretius reassured me kindly, “I promised you I wouldn’t pressure you, and I am going to keep that promise. It will mean something only if you choose me on your own, and… As you know, if you choose me, it means you choose this world.”
“… I will wait for your answer patiently.”
He was sure of what my answer would be.
He continued, “I am not worried. Your answer may be late, but I am certain what it will be.”
I grinned. “Oh, I’m sure you think so.”
He smiled happily. “I’m glad to see you smile again.”
At the time, I didn’t know the real storm was coming for us. In fact, I was already inside the eye of the hurricane.
It would take the Genoan Prince a month to get back to Genoa. At least a week or two for the king to make a decision regarding what to do with the current situation with Cransia…This meant we were going to hear from them in a month and a half.
During this time, Lucretius planned on preparing for any possibilities. The worst scenario was war.
However, even if a war started, it was very rare for the emperor to actually leave his castle. Knowing this made me feel better. Lucretius wouldn’t leave me.
I was still tense because of the current situation, so I couldn’t help but overreact at anything he said to me.
“A hunting game?” I asked him to confirm.
It hasn’t been long since Lucretius became the emperor and therefore his power was still unstable. This was only a ruse to hide the military movement. He wanted to move the defensive royal guards without suspicions from anyone.
However, a hunting game was a double-edged sword. An event led by the emperor himself could be a golden chance for those who wanted Lucretius gone. When the emperor stayed in the castle, he was almost impossible to assassinate, but outside, it was a different story.
During the hunt, anything could happen. Lucretius would be in an open area. It would be easier to get to the emperor.
Of course, the emperor would also plan a trap for any assassins while hunting, so a smart assassin would have to be well prepared if he or she wanted to succeed.
It was impossible to predict what would happen during this event, so when he told me to stay behind in the castle, I protested.
“You want me to stay here by myself?!”
Lucretius continued to get dressed with the help from his servant and answered quietly, “You are an acting empress. You didn’t forget, did you?”
“Of course not! But…!”
His servant helped him into a purple cloak.
The color of royalty.
He favored this color, so I saw him in purple often.
Today, it didn’t look right.
“I need someone who can remain in the castle and watch the dowager empress.”
“And you are the only one I can trust to do it right. You get it, right Bina?”
I couldn’t deny his logic.
With the dowager empress residing in the main castle, both of us couldn’t leave at the same time. We knew how sneaky she could be.
Someone needed to stay to spy on her. Besides, I knew I couldn’t be any help to him with military strategy. It made sense that I stayed behind.
I sighed deeply and replied, “Fine. I will protect your throne for the next three days while you are gone. To be honest, it is a huge responsibility to stand against the dowager empress… But I will do my best.”
He smiled in satisfaction. “I trust my wife.”
I grabbed his cloak and pulled him down so his face was closer to mine.
“But promise me.”
“Please make sure to come back safely in three days. Come back to me.”
He smiled smoothly and answered, “Of course, your highness.”
He hugged me and came closer to kiss me.
Just like last time, I didn’t refuse him.
After Lucretius left, Samantha gave me a box.
“What is this?”
Samantha bowed deeply. “His highness ordered me to give this to you after he leaves.”
“… Do you know what is in it?”
Samantha shook his head. “He ordered me not to open it.”
“Does that order… apply to me as well?”
“No, but… He asked me to make sure you open it when you are alone.”
I immediately began to worry.
After Samantha left the room, my heart began to beat crazy. Slowly, I opened the box.
The box was simply designed and inside was lined with deep purple velvet.
In the middle of it was a thick golden ring with the Cransian symbol of three eagles.
I knew very well what this was. It was the royal seal Lucretius wore since the first day he became the emperor. He had never taken it off.
Cransia was in my hand.
The gold ring felt heavy in my hand. It was made out of pure gold.
I looked at it closely. Having this ring meant I was sitting on the throne, at least temporarily.
With this, I was the head of Cransia.
Why did Lucretius borrow this to me? I knew why he asked me to stay behind. I was his only wife working in place of an empress. I was also his accomplice and his helper.
I knew he trusted me, but… The royal seal was beyond what I expected. It was too much. It was unnecessary.
Which meant one thing.
His message was clear.
I walked slowly towards the window. It was a cloudy day,t and I couldn’t see Lucretius’s procession anymore.
I squeezed the ring tightly and prayed the next three days would pass without incident.
I prayed to the god in this world and the one from mine. I wasn’t certain of the existence of any of them, but I didn’t care.
I prayed he could return safely. I hoped he kept his promise to come back to me.
My heart ached without him near me. I realized how important he was to me. He grew on me and I didn’t even know until now. When he returned, he would hear from me. I would make him work for the ring.
I would tease him mercilessly and only give him the ring back when he begged for it.
Come back to me.