The concern was apparent on Lavis’ face as he kept his gaze locked on mine.
He then brought his hand to the sofa and tapped the pillow in contemplation.
“If he was indeed poisoned, then there’s no use worrying about it.
He’s not the type who would be easily struck down.”
I guess futile attempts like that of a poison wouldn’t succeed against the emperor.
Lavis stood up from his kneeling position and called for Lina.
He no longer bore the sweet, gentle face he usually has whenever we’re together.
It is now replaced with something much more serious.
“Please bring Iona to the next room through the connecting door over there.
People will come flocking this place soon.”
“Yes, High Priest.” Lina nodded and led me through the door.
I tilted my head and saw Lavis watching me as I disappeared into the room.
I heard him announce that he would go see the emperor and left the bedroom afterwards.
The room I was brought into was the original room intended for the emperor, the one where he had thrown a fit and left a chaotic mess.
While the destroyed items were not in sight anymore, some traces of his destruction still remained; the broken windows and the apparent lack of furniture.
I stood in the middle of the room and voices began to steadily fill up in the adjoining room.
People must have flocked there shortly after I left.
Confused, panicked voices drifted through the thin walls and I heard Lavis’ voice joining the ruckus, and I picked up on Dylan’s voice, too, the knight who led me to the bathrooms before.
“I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again.
Nothing else happened! The emperor stumbled after the ritual and when he came down the altar, he threw up blood and lost consciousness.”
A hushed silence fell in the room and I couldn’t hear anyone talking.
After a brief pause, Dylan shouted and the room turned into frenzy once again.
I wasn’t able to hear the context that led them to this point, but whatever conversation they had must have riled Dylan up.
“Why are you blocking me”
“His Majesty abhors being healed by holy power.
The imperial doctor will be arriving soon, so please head back.” Lavis responded calmly.
“Brother Lavis! Do you even know how serious this situation is The emperor of Ivant collapsed immediately after the ritual held at the Central Temple!” Dylan said with a raised voice.
“Yes and I understand that.
But if there’s anyone here who knows His Majesty well, it’s me.
So please leave this to me and I am kindly asking everyone to leave the room right this instant.”
Silence enveloped the room once again.
It was so intense that I felt like a commotion was about to break out any second now.
Thankfully, people followed Lavis’ wishes and filed out of the room in obedience.
After a short while, Lina confirmed that everyone had left, prompting me to quietly open the door connecting the two bedrooms and swiftly made my way inside.
Only Lavis remained, his eyes visibly tired as he watched the emperor lying unconscious on the bed.
He looked more exhausted than he’s ever been.
Lavis turned his head in my direction and warned, “It’s dangerous to stay here, Iona.
The imperial doctor will be arriving soon.”
“I just want to see him, then I’ll leave right away.”
He was hesitant at first but he beckoned me in when he realized he couldn’t talk me out of it.
I walked towards the bed.
The emperor’s face was pale, a face I haven’t seen for days ever since I passed out.
As the emperor slept, the usual arrogance in his features was now gone, replaced by a much calmer one in its place.
I really thought I never wanted to see him again.
I brushed the hair covering his eyes with my trembling hand.
Looking at him closely, a slight redness was still painted on his lips.
It must be the blood he threw up moments ago.
A small sigh escaped Lavis’ lips, “I know I changed it.” He said in a small voice, “I think all the water near the Central Temple turned into holy water upon the coming of Theres.”
“Is it because he drank holy water”
Isn’t holy water the most potent kind of treatment there is I heard it was so powerful that drinking it could easily bring those who are on the brink of death back to full health.
Citizens of the empire would welcome such a miracle with their arms wide open, and it might even be regarded as a miracle unlike any other in the history of mankind.
I looked at Lavis expectantly and he said with a tight-lipped smile, “His Majesty went through a lot of terrible things during his childhood.
I’m guessing this is one of its repercussions.”
He went through so much that it’s hard to pinpoint what exactly made him be this way.
Drinking holy water and collapsing right after meant the problem was within himself.
Human beings were God’s creatures, and ingesting holy water, which was one of the symbols of God’s blessings, should only result in a positive outcome, not like this.
I tried to recall the things he went through as a child and there’s something I found suspicious of ever since I read the original story.
When Ridrian was prisoned inside the Discrete Palace because of the prince’s doing, he managed to escape the place despite the raging flames burning it to the ground.
How he had survived was not written in the original story.
Could something else have happened during that time