I hurriedly rubbed my cheeks.
“Now, come here and greet each other.
It’s my nephew, Russphe.
This is Aika, the niece of Marquis Leguier.
Since you’re both 7 years old, I think you can be good friends.”
I stretched out my hand without hesitation.
“Hello, nice to meet you! I’m Aika.”
Then the boy hurriedly hid behind the Emperor and hesitated.
I held out my hand and waited quietly.
The boy squirmed and after a long time, he grabbed my hand.
Russphe’s ears turned bright red as I squeezed his hand with joy at the thought of having a friend.
“Who did you come with? I came with my uncle.
It’s very spacious here.”
“I-I came alone.
Ah, with the attendant.”
I heard that Russphe was the same age as me, yet he came often enough to go to the Imperial Palace alone.
“You‘re so cool.”
Somehow, this time Russphe’s face seemed to be all red.
He’s a very shy kid.
I should treat him a little more kindly.
I smiled with the brightest expression I could make.
“I was worried because Russphe was very shy, but Aika greeted him first, how grateful I am.”
“She’s the kind of brat who greets even passing butterflies.”
Next to me, Uncle helped me with his arms crossed.
I glared at Uncle.
What’s wrong with saying hello to the butterflies!
“Your Imperial Majesty.
Now you really have to go see the government affairs.”
At the words of the attendant, the Emperor let out a low sigh.
I’ll get up soon.”
Blinking my eyes, I looked up at the Emperor with a dark expression.
“Your Majesty, do you not want to work?”
A warm light penetrated the face of the Emperor again.
“Well, sometimes I don’t.
It’s all the more so because Aika came to see me today too.”
“Can I help you?”
As before, I raised my hands and gestured to him to lend his ears.
The Emperor smiled again and leaned over to me.
I whispered a little.
“You can pretend to have a stomach ache when you don’t want to.
They’ll tell you to go to bed and lie down.”
The question came back with a small laugh.
I whispered in a quieter voice.
“Yes, you shouldn’t do it every day, but if you don’t want to work, you can do it.
It’s a secret.”
“That sounds like a really good way.
I’ll try to use it when I really don’t want to work.”
The Emperor’s voice diminished as well.
I nodded and even put on a small tip.
“But you have to say that it hurts just a little bit.
If you say you’re in a lot of pain, they will tell you to take medicine.”
“Haha! I’ll make sure to remember that.
Just a little bit, right?”
This is also a secret.”
“Alright, this is a secret.
We already have a second secret.”
“What are you two whispering about?”
Hearing Uncle’s voice, I stepped back and pretended not to know.
“I didn’t say anything!”
When he glanced at the Emperor, the Emperor winked with one eye.
I wanted to follow along, but my eyes were closed so I couldn’t see anything in front of me.
“The garden connected to this place is safe, so play as much as you like.
Kassel, I’m sorry, but I need you to take care of the children.
See you at our next regular meeting.”
The Emperor was really getting up and preparing to leave.
Yet instead of leaving right away, he bent down on one knee and took my hands, just like when he first entered.
Holding his hands, I stared blankly at the Emperor.
“Yes, Your Imperial Majesty.”
“Don’t get sick, don’t get hurt, and if you have any concerns, you can visit me anytime.
I nodded vigorously.
“I hope you always smile like that.
See you next time, Aika.”
“Yes, Your Imperial Majesty the Emperor, do your best! See you next time!”
Before long, the Emperor left with his subordinates, leaving me, Uncle, and Russphe.
“Two Peanuts, I’ll be watching you here, so don’t make any accidents nearby and go play.”
Uncle sat cross-legged and went to the garden and flicked his fingers in amazement.
There was a lot of annoying scolding.
“Is Uncle not going? I’m not familiar with this place.”
“You just have to play in front of me.”
“I want to do a lot of sightseeing…”
I want to see here and theeeeere too.
Even when I sent a pitiful look at him, Uncle was unmoved.
He was really bad.
However, someone gently grabbed my hand from the side and pulled me.
I turned my head and saw Russphe’s hand.
His face turned red again.
“I-I will tell you.”
“Yeah, I come here often.”
I smiled wide with joy.
“Wow, thanks! Russphe is really kind.
Then let’s go over there and play, and take a look!”
Instead of answering, he nodded quietly.
I secretly stuck out my tongue at Uncle and followed Russphe in a hurry.
As soon as he opened the large transparent glass door leading to the garden, the smell of flowers was enough to tickle my nose.
Russphe and I wandered non stop along the wide garden path.
There were also many adults in the garden in dresses or robes.
There are no tall flowers or trees in the garden here, that’s why you can see far away even if you step out a little.
It’s my favorite yellow flower.
Come over here, Russphe!”
I squatted down in front of the yellow flowers that bloomed, stretching their necks to get the sunlight.
And without taking my eyes off of them, I called Russphe with my hand.
“Russphe, do you like flowers?”
“…I never thought I liked it, but today… place… to see.”
Russphe, who was crouching next to me, murmured softly.
“Hm? You don’t like it?”
I like flowers too.”
“Really? Then we like the same thing, don’t we!”
Russphe nodded eagerly.
“Huh? Look at this!”
I found small purple flowers hiding in the corner of a pile of bright yellow flowers.
Mom said I shouldn’t pick flowers, but I wanted to let Russphe know.
I picked one of the three little purple flowers and showed it to Ruspe.
“Look at this, it’s the same color as your eyes.”
Even though it also has the same color as His Imperial Majesty’s eyes.
Shall I show you something more amazing?”
Then Russphe gave me a small nod with a curious face.
I made a small hole with my fingernail in the stem just behind the flower.
Then I rolled the stem into a circle and carefully inserted the tip into it.
I handed out the finished purple ring to Russphe.
“Now, it’s a present!”
Receiving it with both hands, Russphe placed the flower in his palm, at a loss for what to do.
I picked up the flower ring again and put it on Russphe’s second finger.
“This is how you do it.
Isn’t it pretty?”
Russphe stared at the flower ring on his finger for a long time.
I was about to touch the yellow petals again, but I felt a sudden sting.
Although I was startled and looked around, there was nothing.
I got up abruptly and called for Russphe, who was still unable to take his eyes off the flower ring.
“Let’s go somewhere else.”
But for some reason, the more I walked around the garden, the more I suddenly felt a strange feeling.
It was like a cold chill, and it felt like it had seeped in when I was suddenly trying to see the future.
Is it just me?
Russphe seemed unconcerned.
“Are you okay?”
I asked him just in case.
I guess I’m the only one who feels that way.
As I took a step further, the strange chill gradually turned into a feeling of fear.
Involuntarily, I felt as if my feet were being pushed forward step by step.
A chill like frost, and even a sting in my buzzing ears made me tremble without realizing it.
Even then, it didn’t go away, so I stopped walking and hugged my body with both arms.
What’s wrong with me?
I was overcome with a strange feeling that if I let go of my focus, I would be unknowingly possessed and go somewhere.
“Aika, what’s wrong?”
Russphe looked at me and asked.
I turned hastily in contemplation.
I have to go home.
All I could think about was that I had to go to Uncle as soon as possible.
“Russphe, I’m sorry! I have to go to Uncle!”
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