A few days later, five women who would be Wilhelm’s maids entered the palace.
They were all daughters of prominent families, united with the ambition to become Dowager Empress through Wilhelm’s mistress.
Mrs. Rochester told her of the seriousness of the situation, but Anastasia still seemed undeterred.
Mrs. Rochester was frustrated by Anastasia’s easygoingness, but on the other hand, she was relieved by what she heard from Duke Barantes a few days ago.
“Her Majesty seems to believe in something. She was very confident that his successor would not be born from a paramour.”
He never told her what it was.
‘Yeah, I’m sure you have an idea.’
She had already surprised her many times. She had no choice but to trust her this time.
“Don’t forget to send flowers to the ladies who entered the palace today.”
As expected, this was so frustrating.
Mrs. Rochester nodded her disapproval.
It had long been a tradition in the imperial family to send welcome flowers to those who became the emperor’s lady-in-waiting.
Mrs. Rochester, who came out of Anastasia’s room, called Selene, who was just passing by, grumbling that she didn’t know who made the crap custom.
“Miss Selene, will you give flowers to the ladies who entered the palace today?”
“Yes, if you haven’t learned the geography of the palace yet…”
“Oh, no, Mrs. Rochester. I’ll be back.”
“Take care, then.”
Mrs. Rochester passed by, and Selene looked a little worried.
‘I mean, we have to go to Miss Lutent, too…’
Their last meeting wasn’t good, so it would be uncomfortable.
But Selene decided not to think deeply and moved on.
Colton had a hectic time from that morning arranging and guiding the new ladies.
In fact, the work itself wasn’t that difficult.
If the targets were not ambitious young women who came to take the throne.
“Why is my room farther from His Majesty’s bedroom than Aurantine’s? That is not fair!”
It was only one step further.
In the first place, due to the structure of the central palace, it was impossible to equally distribute all five bedrooms at the same distance to Wilhelm’s.
That didn’t mean there was a big difference in distance, but the new lady-in-waiting made a fuss as if it were an incredibly important issue.
“I can’t use this room. Please move me to a room closer to the Emperor.”
“I’m sorry, but that’s difficult, Miss Hilaim.”
“Ha, then give me a chance to serve him more often than the rest of the maids. That’s fair!”
The impartiality made Colton nervous.
“It would have been better if you had a paramour.’
The thought of suffering in the future had already left him at a loss.
Colton managed to escape from the four young women who wanted the emperor’s eye and finally went to Melina’s room.
“Thank you for your kind guidance, Lord Colton.”
Melina Lutent was completely different from what he knew about her.
Melina was cheerful enough to look frivolous in Colton’s memory, but now she was so calm that he couldn’t see her past appearance.
The figure was reminiscent of a beast who carefully sought opportunities while hiding his claws.
“Power is scary.”
She was easier to take care of than the previous four, but Colton didn’t feel Melina was much better than them.
‘I heard you were a childhood friend of Her Majesty’s… I’m sure Her Majesty is in for a great deal of shock.’
“May I know His Majesty’s schedule for today?” Melina asked brightly, not knowing what Colton was thinking.
“The Emperor said he would call you if there was anything in particular that needed assistance.”
Melina’s expression, slightly hardened by the euphemistic refusal.
But soon she spoke casually.
“I think it is the duty of the lady-in-waiting to know His Majesty’s schedule in advance and assist him behind the scenes.”
“I’ll let you know when that happens.”
Melina’s face was completely hardened by the series of rejections, and Colton felt an unprovoked pleasure when he saw it.
In fact, it wasn’t that difficult to reveal the schedule, but he didn’t want to reveal it strangely. Especially to Melina.
With a brief greeting, Colton disappeared, and Melina glared at the spot where he left and turned around.
And it was the moment when she was going to tell the assigned maids that she should take a bath first.
She heard a knock.
Was it Colton again? Or was it Wilhelm?
Anyone was good. Melina smiled and opened her mouth.
“Come on in!”
But it wasn’t Colton or Wilhelm who opened the door and came in. Melina’s expression quickly hardened.
“Hello, Miss Lutent.”
It was Selene. The servants who followed held bouquets of bright red roses in their hands.
“The empress has sent the flowers to celebrate the entrance of the miss.”
She didn’t like the way she looked straight into her eyes and spoke clearly.
The title empress, which came out of that mouth, was all the more offensive to Melina.
All of this reminded her of her last encounter with Anastasia. The shame she felt then.
Melina stared at Selene in silence, and Selene casually took the bouquet from the maid and handed it to her.
But Melina just stared at it instead of accepting it.
As the time went on, Selene’s arm with the heavy bouquet of flowers began to feel numb.
“… Miss Lutent?”
Selene asked cautiously, but Melina still stood still like a broken woman.
At this point, she knew Melina was doing it on purpose. It was the moment she put the bouquet down on the table and was about to leave.
Someone grabbed her hard and turned around and soon heard a sharp rupture.
At the same time, anger and tingling hit the left cheek.
Selene looked blankly at Melina, who had touched her.
“… Miss Lutent, what are you doing?”
“I think I should ask that.”
Melina looked at Selene, the corners of her mouth curled up.
“I haven’t accepted Her Majesty’s gift yet, but what’s this leaving it on the table? Are you ignoring me? How dare you?”
“You must have ignored me. I gave you a bunch of flowers, but you stayed still for a long time.”
“It’s because I was thinking of a thank-you message to Her Majesty. How dare you misunderstand me?”
“Look at you standing up to me with your eyes open. You still haven’t figured out what’s going on.”
Melina approached Selene with a look full of malice.
“No matter how much you say you are the lady of the empress, I am the Marquis’ daughter and you are a commoner. How dare a commoner be so fearless to a nobleman?”
“To insult me is to insult the empress. Watch what you say.”
“What if I’m not careful? What are you going to do?”
Melina laughed at Selene and poked her forehead with her finger.
“Are you going to slap the Marquis’ young lady on the cheek or what?”
“I haven’t liked you since I first saw you. You don’t know the basics. I’m going to make you regret it.…!”
At that moment the door suddenly opened.
Melina and Selene stared blankly at the open door in surprise at the unexpected situation.
Anastasia was walking into the room with an expressionless face.
Melina hurriedly removed her hand from Selene and she quickly bowed her head. Selene also hurriedly bowed her back and prepared herself.
Anastasia just looked around quietly, and Melina hurriedly opened her mouth.
“I see the empress, the sun of the empire.”
However, Anastasia did not reply to the greeting.
All she could do was stare at Melina with wry eyes.
As the situation continued, an indescribable amount of tension weighed on everyone in the room.
Melina felt it especially so, but she didn’t show it and just bowed her head gently.
“My thoughts were narrow minded, Selene.”
Selene raised her head with a puzzled look at the sudden remark. As a result, the scratches on her cheek caught Anastasia’s eye.
Anastasia’s eyebrows narrowed, and Selene then hurriedly lowered her head again, but it was meaningless.
“I should have set an example to you that day.”
Anastasia murmured in a dry voice.
“Then you would have followed me at will.”
“Her Majesty, what do you…”
As Selene moved her lips with her puzzled voice, Anastasia suddenly grabbed Melina’s chin and lifted it up.
This forced Melina to look directly at Anastasia, and while Melina panicked, Anastasia slapped her on the cheek.
The unexpected slap was painful. To be exact, it was more so because she had never experienced anything like it.
Melina screamed and covered her cheek.
“Your Majesty, what are you…!”
However, her defense did not end.
The moment Melina moved her lips, Anastasia once again raised her hand and slapped her on the cheek. It happened in an instant.
Melina screamed at her once more.
Her lips burst with a series of wounds, and blood flowed, but unlike the people around her, Anastasia looked at Selene without blinking.
Anastasia said to Selene, who was stunned and unable to move.
“If someone insults you in the future, even if you can’t talk back, slap their cheek twice. The first time is the price of insulting you.”
Anastasia turned her head again and stared at Melina, who looked like she was about to faint at any moment.
And she once again raised her hand and slapped it on her cheek.
Melina collapsed on the spot in shock, and Anastasia patted her red palm casually and concluded.
“The other time because they insulted me.”