Chapter 8

Chapter 8


"Are you nervous?" Asked the grand duchess when I can't seem to stay put. I turned to her and gave her a little nod.

"Don't be. Your first impression was perfect! You really give them hell when you introduce yourself as a commoner. I really love the looks they gave me." The grand duchess laughed while on her phone.

For her it's fine but for me, I feel I just dug my own grave. She told me to be who I am. Who in the right mind would even consider me as a real competitor when I told them I used to work at Le Stella as a maid and live at the poorest part of the city?!

"As I said, just be true to yourself and that should give us an edge. I can't wait to see Alvia's reaction when he saw you tonight at dinner." Wait! We'll be meeting the emperor tonight?!

"Whoa! What? I'm not ready to meet him. Not after what happened. Those ladies will kill me in front of him!" The grand duchess looks up from her phone and faces me.

"So? As I said, don't worry about that. They will say whatever but they won't do anything since you're under my family's protection. Even if they do try, I'll make sure to make them suffer for what they've done." She assured me yet again.

"There is no harm in making friends with princess Madeline and my brother's choice of lady. They're good people coming from a good family. It doesn't surprise me if they make the cut for the former empress's test." That's what I'm afraid of.

They do seem friendly but even the kindness person has their own demon to battle.

"But of course don't be careless. Even if they treat you fine, you shouldn't put a huge target on your back. I've seen court ladies acting like lunatics before. Just because they have the power and money, that doesn't mean they can do anything." The grand duchess patted an empty space beside her on the couch.

Reluctantly I went to sit next to her and looking down on the floor.

"The emperor has his own taste when it comes to finding the next empress of this empire. But first, they need to pass a test that the former empress had prepare for them. Every year is different and I have no idea what kind of test she's going to do this year. They say it's a test but for me it's a competition." She explained. Something made me curious.

"What was the 'competition' last year?" The duchess thinks for a moment.

"Hosting hi-tea for her and her friends. Keep in mind, her friends are all important figures. From famous singers, actresses, even the minister's wives and politician. They play a huge part in the competition as well. You're not just entertaining the former empress. You have to make sure her friends having fun as well." Hosting hi-tea?! What the hell is that even?

"From your confusing expression, I guess you never cater hi-tea at Le Stella yet?" I shake my head no. I did just graduated. It's not even in the academy's subject since I will never attend that kind of event.

"We have a lot to learn then. Since you already know the basic from the academy, it's fine. Anyway, where was I? Oh yes! The competition. If you passed the competition, you have to go through several others but this time the emperor himself will host them." The duchess smiled.

"But, I think you can handle it. I just know you can. Having such a tough upbringing, nothing will faze you anymore, correct?" She is right. I was born without a silver spoon shoved into my throat like the others.

Life's hardship is what I have to face every single day.

"I do have a few concerns about the way you bring yourself in front of these esteemed ladies." I face the duchess who looks at me from top to bottom. What's wrong with my look? She's the one who asked the maid to dress me like this.

"Smile subtly when you walk past anyone in the palace. Make a good impression even if they're a servants. Do not show too much of your cleavage. You're fighting to be the next empress, not to be the queen of a brothel." She smiled when she pointed out what I did wrong.

"Even if you're hungry, do remind yourself that you're a court lady. Always act poise and choose your food wisely. Take smaller bite and do not talk while you're chewing just like you did earlier." I blushed in a deep shade of red. I haven't been eating right and seeing all those food just made me realised how hungry I was.

"When you're drinking tea, please use your pinky as a cushion when you put down your cup. By doing that, you'll not attracted too much attention to yourself." Oh, yea. I totally forgot about that. I did learn that from the academy.

"Put your legs together when you seated. Do not open your legs like you're doing right now. Even though you're wearing a business suit, that doesn't mean you can simply spread your legs like that. You just have to wait until you're married to the emperor to do such a thing. Of course in private not in public." I immediately put my legs together.

"Or you can cross your legs, elegantly. For example ..." I watched as she crosses her legs elegantly. How can someone be so poise like that? Can't blame her. She was born into a nobility family. They have to learn all of this since the day they could walk and talk.

"Last but not least, my cousin like a bold and brave woman. There is no harm in fighting back when you're being belittled by those stuck up snobs. But of course, you should never cause a scene. Do it ... elegantly." The duchess winked at me.

Elegantly? Is that even possible?


"Remember what I just told you. Curtsy, introduce yourself and smile when you're in the presence of the royal family." I nod my head as I followed the duchess from behind towards the dining hall.

It feels weird following her around because every time we walk past the servants of the palace, they bow down. It makes me feels awkward since I was supposed to do that back in Le Stella.

"Welcome, Grand Duchess Annabelle. Lovely candidate this year. What are you trying to accomplish?" hey! It's Sir Frederick! Wow. He looks dashing in that suit. What does he mean by that though?

"Thank you, Frederick. Where's the emperor?" The duchess literally brushes him off.

"He'll be down soon enough. It's best if everyone takes you seat before the emperor comes," sir Frederick said out loud when the other ladies seem to be in their own world.

I can't help but notice the others seems to be talking behind my back. I heard the common words like commoner and maid together in every sentence. I turned to the duchess who gave me a small smile as we took our seat.

"Is it wise for us to be this close to the emperor?" I whispered.

"Why not? I don't see anyone's name anywhere. Besides I'm his cousin." The duchess winks at me. She really took every chance she gets to make sure the emperor sees me.

I wonder how will she react when I told her that the emperor and I ever had a moment together. I'm sure she'll use that to gain favours from the emperor.

"Announcing the arrival of Emperor Alvia. Please rise," Sir Frederick announced. We all stood up from our seat and waited for the emperor. Somehow I'm curious how the emperor will react when he sees me here.

Wait, he did tell me to pronounce him as a woman. I should remember that when we had our time alone. What am I thinking? As if I can get some alone time with her.

"Please, have a seat," I finally look up to the emperor and she was as surprised as I am. For a moment there, our eyes did meet each other but it comes as fast as it goes.

"My emperor, are you ready to have your dinner now?" Sir Frederick asked but the emperor doesn't respond to him.

"My emperor?" She finally gets a hold of reality and nods her head. Once again she turns to me looking satisfied. She gave me a subtle smile before turning to the others.

"Good job. Your presence gave him an edge. Keep that up and the throne is yours." The duchess whispered at me. I noticed that the others keeping an eye for the emperor. Well, he does look dashing in his official attire. Even I falls for her at first sight.

But, how will they react when they see her behind closed door? How did I even accept her real self though? That I wonder myself. Instead of feeling disgusted, I feel pity. She feels her feminine side but ... she doesn't have any choice but to be a man in her current position.

I should be enjoying my meal instead of feel sorry for her. Hmm ... this smell delicious and it's perfect for the hunger I've been feeling. Now, how should I start? I remember something the duchess said to start from the outside. I grabbed the fork and spoon and started to eat.

The duchess nods as she watched me from the side. That means I did something right.

"Can you passed the salt?" Asked the person beside me. With a smile, I passed her the salt that's in front of me. She thanks me before she took the salt.

"What's your name? I know we did introduce ourself before but I was just too tired from the long flight," asked the person in front of me.

"Kathryn Park," she smiled.

"From the House of Park? I never heard of nobility from that house before. Are you a foreigner?" I shake my head no.

"I'm no nobility nor foreigner. I am just Kathryn. My father is Korean and my mother is a Gralian. Hence, my surname, Park. I am half Asian," everyone looks up from their food and stare at me.

"You're not from nobility? So you're the famous commoner? Grand duchess Annabelle, what are you doing?" Asked the person who sits beside the girl who asked me earlier. She's probably the noble that woman presenting.

"I'm not doing anything illegal. There's no rule stating that the girl who should be the emperor's wife can't be a mere commoner. What's your point in asking me that?" Once again the Duchess is being oblivious.

"Princess Madeline, is this even allowed?" We all heard a soft clap coming from the emperor.

"Ladies ... and gentlemen. Please, do not fight in front of the food that was prepared by the highness herself. My mother wouldn't be happy if she knows that our esteemed guest is fighting among ourself. And to answer your question, Duchess Luna, Grand Duchess Annabelle is right. There is no rule regarding who the Houses choose to be my bride." The emperor speaks up!

It amazed me how she manages to control such a crowd.

"The emperor is right, ladies and gentlemen." A woman suddenly appeared behind the emperor and placed her hand on her shoulder.

"Your highness?!" Everyone abruptly stood up and gave her a curtsy. I was about to do the same but the grand duchess holds my hands and pulls me back to my sit.

"Such insolent! Bow to the former empress!" Said the woman beside me while glaring. Trust me, I would if I can, you bitch!

"Shut up, Stephanie. She is presenting Grand Duchess Annabelle's house. Know your history," this woman is being yelled at by her lady. Should I be bold and act as if nothing happen or should I feel sorry?

"Look up with head held up high as if you own this mother fucking palace. Trust me, if you play your cards right, you'll be sitting beside the emperor as his wife and command these ladies to do your bidding." Somehow I think the duchess watched too many villain movies.

She's becoming one now herself.

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