The preparations were wrapped up in no time all because of the emperor’s influence.
I grabbed the mask I would be wearing for tonight and placed it over my face.
The emperor and I’s masks were matching; mine was a white one with gold vines, while the black mask with small brilliant gems was his.
Both had fancy-looking feathers on the sides which caught everyone’s attention.
And it really was a nice touch since people would be drawn to that feather instead of the people behind the masks.
The emperor didn’t share the same sentiment, however, as he let out a groan and voiced his complaints,
“It’s frustrating how I couldn’t see your eyes properly.
I should just host a normal gala next time.” He leaned his face closer to mine to see my eyes more clearly.
I flinched on my spot when his golden eyes stared intently at mine, so close it’s making me uncomfortable.
He blinked slowly, rubbing his chin in contemplation, “Hm.
So the eyes aren’t entirely hidden.
I should also be careful.”
So that’s what he’s worried about.
If that’s the case then he should’ve just asked me instead of making my heart flutter like that! I am now sure that the emperor was indeed bad for my health.
*** There were a few minor hiccups but otherwise everything was fine.
The sun had finally set, signaling that it’s time to head to the ballroom.
The air felt cool on our skins, and no longer do I feel the heat from the summer afternoon earlier.
Although I feel a little bit stuffy because of the mask, it was nothing too unbearable and I could still go on just fine.
I was adjusting my mask when the emperor extended his white-gloved hand, all gentlemanly and courteous, “Shall we”
My heart began to pound steadily at his words.
I thought I had already kept my nerves at bay but now that it’s finally time to stand in front of those people, my stomach was churning in anxiety and I felt like I wanted to throw up the biscuits the emperor had given me earlier.
I also felt like this the time when I was dragged towards the choir at the temple when I was to sing in front of the crowd, and I was almost close to fainting back then.
Thankfully, my identity would be hidden this time around but still, I don’t feel at ease at all.
In a few moments I would be walking among the aristocrats by the emperor’s sides.
I really do hope everything will go smoothly.
In the background the head maid reminded her final warnings as I nodded in determination.
I was equally excited and nervous, that I wouldn’t be surprised if my heart lurched out of my throat.
To be honest, the only banquet I knew of was a secret banquet during my days as a canary inside a birdcage.
I was way too young when I was still part of an aristocratic family, and when I was made a slave, I was not allowed to serve at banquets.
The sudden surge of memories from my past life gave me a brief idea about what an aristocratic banquet would be like, added with the scenes from the many movies and television series I had attentively watched before.
“Are you okay You’re squeezing my head a little too tightly.”
I must have been so caught up with my anxiety that I didn’t realize I was holding the emperor’s hand with a vice-like grip.
I relaxed the hold I had on his hand and when I turned to look at him, I saw the emperor was sporting an awkward expression on his face.
“Let me know if you’re uncomfortable or anything.”
I nodded and took a deep shaky breath.
I’ve only seen how aristocrats acted in movies, and I wonder how they would be in person.
As we walked along the corridors of the Imperial Palace, the atmosphere around us gradually shifted and the more steps we took, the more lively the sound and the clamor got.
From where we stood I could already see bunches of people wearing extravagant costumes waiting by the hall’s entrance.
Since this was a masquerade, the event manager at the entrance was only checking the invitations and not the guests’ identities.
The emperor took out two invitations from his inner pocket and presented it as well.
The invitations were impressive; sealed with red wax stamped with the palace’s emblem.
When the invitations were regarded, the manager courteously beckoned us inside and offered his greetings,
“Welcome to Etherium, the heart of the great Ivant Empire.”
As we made our way under the watchful eyes of the knights, I was instantly in awe of the venue’s magnificence.
The first thing that caught my eye were the ten massive chandeliers, each comprising many transparent crystals.
The chandeliers were brilliantly emitting a pale golden color, not from a mere candle but from the finest of mana stones.
The seemingly endless banquet hall was decorated with equally splendid ornaments and statues of prominent figures could be seen everywhere.
Freshly plucked flowers collected from the imperial garden adorned the place, and the natural marble floors presenting a variety of patterns and hues were polished to perfection.
It was undoubtedly the pinnacle of luxury, displaying the wealth and status of the Ivant Empire quite well.
It’s tremendous. Being here felt like I was in the ‘Hall of Mirrors’ from the Palace of Versailles I’d seen in movies, appearing like this was the venerated palace’s extension that was a lot bigger and wider.
This hall alone could make Louis the Sun King of France bow down in wonder.
The hall was already brimming with people who arrived early.
They wore masks of different shapes and sizes, and the aristocrats stood out in contrast with their lavish attires and suits, eye-catching in their own right as compared to the people who opted to use much simpler and toned-down outfits, but splendid just the same.