It was the evening of the return from the goddess’s memorial service that she realized that the sign of the Goddess had disappeared.
Anastasia rubbed her eyes with a bewildered expression and looked once again at herself in the mirror.
However, that did not mean that the missing Goddess’ mark appeared again.
‘…I’ve never done this before.’
In the original, of course, even before the return, and even if Avelin appeared, the sign of the Goddess on Anastasia’s shoulder remained the same.
“Empress, the sign of the Goddess…!”
Anastasia tried to remain calm and closed Selene’s mouth.
“Be quiet, Selene. This should not be revealed to anyone.”
“I’ll tell Mrs. Rochester. So make sure you keep your mouth shut. Do you understand?”
Selene nodded in bewilderment.
In fact, it was Anastasia herself who was most embarrassed by the situation, but she had to stay calm for now.
Anastasia only secretly informed Mrs. Rochester of this fact.
“…this is a big deal.”
Mrs. Rochester murmured gravely.
“If this fact is known to the outside world… Your Majesty’s legitimacy could be a big problem.”
Anastasia nodded as if in agreement.
Needless to say, the biggest factor that made up her oracle was the sign of the Goddess.
Because Anastasia was the only one in Rosenberg who was born with the mark, she became Empress.
“What are you going to do?”
“… for now.”
Anastasia calmly opened her mouth.
“Can you keep it a secret, Mrs. Rochester?”
“It’s not going to be hidden, Your Majesty.”
“I know. However…”
Anastasia, who had been thinking about it, trembled in surprise for an instant, and Mrs. Rochester looked at it strangely and asked.
“Your Majesty? Are you okay?”
“… it’s okay.”
Anastasia took a deep breath and cleared up the situation.
“Just do it, Mrs. Rochester. If only you and Selene serve me, I will be able to keep a secret for the time being.”
“But, Your Majesty, it is better to inform the temple and get help…”
Anastasia interrupted Mrs. Rochester and asked.
Mrs Rochester finally nodded at Anastasia’s resolute words.
“I see, Your Majesty. I will do it as told.”
Anastasia, who barely answered, then spoke weakly.
“… I need to go to the prayer room.”
“At this hour?”
Anastasia said, clutching the hem of her dress tightly.
“I think I should see the Goddess right now.”
Late at night, Anastasia went to the prayer room and locked the door as soon as she entered the hall.
The prayer room was well soundproofed, so no one outside could hear the prayer.
Anastasia, looking straight at the statue of the Goddess standing in the center of the wall of the prayer room, knelt in front of her.
Then she put her hand on her lap and opened her mouth in a trembling voice.
“I… … I was wrong.”
Suddenly, with her red eyes, Anastasia began to list her own faults one by one.
“To be disrespectful to you today, to forget my situation and dare to covet your descendants… … It’s all my fault. I was wrong. So…”
Anastasia clasped her hands tightly and bowed her head in front of the statue.
“Please do not change anything beyond this. I am well aware that this is a warning given to my self-indulgence today. Because I did everything wrong… … please… … ”
As she continued her penitence, Anastasia felt her throat gradually tighten. She continued her prayer after she bit her lip until it bled.
“Please just… … Please help me finish it safely. I won’t be greedy any more. I will neither hate you nor deny my fate. So…”
At that moment, hot tears flowed from Anastasia’s eyes.
Anastasia pleaded desperately as she spread her hands that she had gathered and begged.
“Can’t you just have a little pity on me… For the past year, I tried really hard not to show my heart… … I just endured the desire to give up everything and was faithful to my role…”
After crying and praying for such a long time, Anastasia continued earnestly praying to the Goddess in the prayer room.
Anastasia, who had been guarding the prayer room for hours, cried sadly for a long time even after returning to the Empress Palace and fell asleep, and from the next day, she went to the prayer room whenever she had time and prayed to the goddess for hours.
On that day, Goddess Roshenia warned her about having a grudge against the Goddess and kissing Wilhelm.
In Anastasia’s mind, there was nothing else that could explain the situation.
Therefore, it was repentance. Please, don’t be angry anymore.
“His Majesty the Emperor came to visit the Empress’ Palace earlier.”
While she was in the prayer room, she heard that he had come, but she deliberately did not go see him.
It was because she thought that if she saw him at this time, her weak mind would be shaken more.
But more than that, there was a greater reason for her to be much more cautious than before due to the disappearance of the Goddess’ sign.
Anxiety that the anger of the Goddess could affect him too captured her and tormented her constantly.
However, no matter how much she prayed with all her heart, the Goddess did not return the sign.
Anastasia was once again trapped in a vortex of emotions, raging with regret, resentment and suffering.
It was one day after spending a week in a state of exhaustion praying compulsively.
“What the hell is this face?”
He came to the prayer room.
He had a seemingly angry face, but his sincerity didn’t make it hard to see that he cared for her.
As if he was worried about her… … she was also worried about herself.
Was it because that feeling of love for him was overwhelming? Or was it because of the extreme stress caused by days of useless efforts?
Anastasia looked at Wilhelm, who was disappointed that she was avoiding him, and spat out the words.
“On Foundation Day, would you like to go out with me?”
It was a very impulsive question. They both were surprised.
But she had no intention of undoing what she said once she spit it out.
There was no excuse to avoid him when she had already told him to do whatever he wanted during the last Goddess’ memorial service. Also, she was sick and tired of the situation where she had to make excuses.
Crucially, she was so exhausted at that time because she prayed for hours for several days, reducing her sleep.
Her nerves were also sharpened as she was so sensitive at the end of the coming relationship.
In the end, when her instincts took precedence over her reason, Anastasia decided to look crooked for the first and last time.
‘If the Goddess doesn’t grant even my small wishes, I can rebel this much.’
However, she had no intention of changing her fate. Just one day, just one day… … She was going to spend as much time as she wanted with him, and after that, she was really going to organize all her emotions.
In order to wrap up the story completely and go onto the next story, she would have to make at least one happy memory with him. That was how she would last her whole life.
So while waiting for the Foundation Festival, Anastasia found herself strangely excited.
She had decided on what to wear with him many times, and then changed it several times. She contemplated dozens of times whether to untie her hair or tie it in half.
After imagining where to go and where it would be the most memorable for her, and after imagining as many as possible, she finally decided to leave it to the emotions of that time.
So she met him and spent a night that will never happen again.
She had received from him a gift that might have been, perhaps a holy thing, and she realized how much he loved her before her return. She went up to the garden that they often went to to see the beautiful fireworks display.
She called him by his nickname, and just as before her return, she had a lovely date with him.
It was truly a fairy tale time. As if she had been compensated for all her heartache of the past year.
Now really… … There were no regrets left. If such a thing remained in the current situation, would there be another selfish mind like before?
“I will never forget it.”
The memories he made for her today, she wanted to hold onto and cherish them.
To live her life like that, hiding his last gift in the corner of her heart as if she knew everything but never opened it.
‘I love you, Wilhelm.’
I loved you.
‘Now… … goodbye.’
A tear streamed down Anastasia’s cheek, holding the necklace that Wilhelm had given her in her hand.
After a safe night, Anastasia and Wilhelm returned to the Imperial Palace.
With less than a week left until Avelin’s appearance, Wilhelm had been frantically busy with diplomatic issues that arose after the founding of the nation had ended.
It was fortunate. That day, it was impossible to spend such a pleasant time and stay away from him again. Of course, as she said. She couldn’t get any closer.
“I think the necklace you received as a gift from His Majesty is very pretty.”
Then one day, after changing her clothes, Selene said that as Anastasia lifted her necklace from her neck and looked at her.
“Why are you wearing a necklace inside?”
Anastasia never hung the necklace she had received from Wilhelm out of her dress.
She wore a dress that covered her neck these days, and she wore the necklace under it.
Anastasia answered simply.
“I don’t want to show it to anyone.”
“Yes? However… … Knowing that it was a gift from His Majesty the Emperor, everyone would see Your Majesty with envy.”
“What’s the point of that?”
Anyway, she would be deposed soon. Anastasia smiled and changed the topic.
“Come to think of it, Selene. You know how to read the new language, right?”
“Yes? Ah yes!”
“The text on this necklace looks like a new word, can you read it?”
Selene, who took the necklace from Anastasia, squinted and stared at the stone.
And after a while, a bright smile came to her mouth.
“Wow, that’s right! It’s written so romanticly”
“Really? What does it say?”
“I will always protect you.”
“That’s what it says.”
Anastasia smiled faintly and murmured.
“As you say, it’s very romantic.”
As Selene said, the necklace will probably protect her from missing Wilhelm for the rest of her life. Always with her.
“You’d better go to bed early today. Tomorrow is the debut ball, so don’t let your skin become dry.”
Anastasia smiled bitterly and nodded.
It was a day before the real thing finally appeared.