After the emperor left, I sat in silence, petrified to the bed.
When he had posed the question to me, I thought answering would have been the best thing to do.
That appeared to be a mistake.
I was wondering what had actually upset the emperor, when the door opened and two familiar maids came in.
I wonder where Lina is I thought as the maids giggled to each other.
I had a bad feeling about them.
These maids showed their dislike for me from the first day I arrived at the court.
They liked to threaten me when we were alone in the emperor’s bedroom, often pinching me or pulling my hair.
I had become used to them, but the bullying was the most unpleasant aspect of being a doll.
What are you going to do today I wondered.
I was worried about Lina.
Normally it was her who came to clean the emperor’s rooms when he left for the day.
But today I was stuck with these two conspirators.
Hopefully, nothing bad had befallen Lina.
After the attack in the palace, yesterday, everyone was on edge.
Including the emperor.
I slowly rose from the bed, wary of the two brown-haired maids approaching me, their chins lifted in a condescending way.
Will we get lucky today, too” They asked, laughing.
I turned my eyes away in shame.
I didn’t feel like confronting them.
They were simply trying to provoke me.
They were never nice to me, but today I felt particularly uncomfortable.
The grins on their faces were masking something devious.
I paid no attention to them and tried to leave the room.
“How dare you ignore us!” the one maid said, getting angry.
“Look how fat she’s become,” the other maid chided.
“Such a great position she’s in.
Maybe I should be kind to the emperor and become a concubine as well.”
I laughed internally. Why don’t you do this doll job instead of me I guess it’s a nice job if you don’t care about your mental health. Sighing, I knew this wish would never come true.
I was the only one who could deal with the emperor’s mood swings.
“Is she sighing again” The brown-haired maid was agitated and I thought she was about to slap me, but the red-haired maid dissuaded her.
Turning to me, the red-haired maid commanded me with an irritating voice.
“The head maid wants you to come down to the audience chamber immediately.”
Now I knew something was off.
What was so urgent that the maids needed me to go downstairs first thing in the morning.
The emperor had only left a few minutes ago.
But he did look angry.
Was he annoyed that his property was defective It was an aspect of high society that I could never understand.
Perhaps the knowledge of my lack of voice caused issues amongst the court.
I nodded and the red-haired maid handed me a plain, white dress.
It looked rather shoddy for going to the audience chamber but now wasn’t the time to argue.
I took off my pajamas and slipped on the white gown.
“This way.” The maids motioned for me to lead and they followed closely after.
The hall leading to the audience chamber ended at a staircase heading down to the first floor.
It wasn’t fancy, like the grand staircase in the central hall, but a small servant stairway, lined with carpet so they servants could move about the castle without being heard.
I was anxious.
I needed to calm the emperor down as soon as possible.
He was frightening when he was angry, and I couldn’t let him stay in this condition.
Wondering how to proceed, I began to descend the stairs.
There was a moment of realization that the maids had led me into a trap.
My body was shoved from behind and I tumbled down the staircase, bouncing off each tier as I rolled to the bottom.
I felt like I was being beaten head to toe with a club, as floor and ceiling became indiscernible.
Realizing one wrong twist could mean my life, I tried to brace myself with my left hand to stop the fall, but my momentum was too great.
I rolled over my hand, feeling one of my fingers snapping in the process.
Even with the excruciating pain, I couldn’t scream.
Jarring to a halt, I came to stop at the bottom.
My vision was tuning red, from the blood of my split skull.
The faces of the two maids appeared before me, smiling, as my sight faded into darkness.
The palace was still quiet.
Emperor Ridrian was in a foul mood.
He clicked his tongue, looking at the Count of Choro before him lying on his stomach and quaking in fear.
The count flinched and the emperor knew there was no way such a weak man would have sent the assassins. I should have kept at least one assassin alive, he thought. It’s going to take some time to figure out who was behind this and we’re out of clues.
Why did they try to kill my doll