Lennox, however, seemed undeterred by Lionel’s intimidating presence.
He stood up straight, puffing out his chest and making a sour face.
Diane frowned, aware of the danger of engaging in a confrontation with Lionel Valdre in such a setting.
She tried to stop her brother, but Lennox’s mouth was faster than his brain and he seemed determined to stand his ground.
The Duke of Despone, meanwhile, turned his head with a small, dry cough, clearly uncomfortable with the tension between Lennox and Lionel.

“Did I say something I wasn’t supposed to say?” he scoffed.

“Perhaps you have forgotten why this banquet was held,” Lionel replied.

Lennox’s eyes bore into Lionel’s back as he strode past, his mind reeling with anger.
Diane’s attempts to calm him went unnoticed as he inhaled deeply, preparing to confront Lionel.
The crowded banquet hall was charged with tension as Lennox and Lionel squared off, the guests glancing nervously between the two men.
Diane, her nerves frayed, cast her gaze towards the entrance, where another commotion had suddenly begun.

As their attention shifted back to the entrance, a palpable wave of surprise and shock swept through the banquet hall, engulfing all those present.
Diane felt a chill run down her spine and cold sweat bead on her forehead as she tried to comprehend what was happening.
Even Lennox, whose anger had been building, was taken aback as he caught sight of the empress at the entrance.

Suddenly, a servant shouted out in excitement, “Her Majesty, she has arrived!” All eyes turned towards the entrance, where the empress stood, her commanding presence immediately drawing the attention of everyone in the hall.
The guests stood up to bow and curtsy as she entered, and the banquet hall was filled with a new energy as everyone eagerly awaited her arrival.

The empress made a grand entrance, appearing in a stunning wedding gown that left all present in awe.
The gold crown on her head glistened in the crystal light, adding to the ethereal beauty of the empress.
Her golden eyes shone brightly, matching the color of the crown and giving her an otherworldly appearance.
Unlike her previous appearance at the banquet, her long black hair was now cascading down her shoulders in soft waves, giving her a softer, more approachable appearance.

The empress was petite and slender, but her presence commanded the attention of the room.
The nobles who saw Adele Ulrich Ehmont were struck by her intensity, her golden eyes sparkling like stars in the night sky, and her pale face glowing like moonlight.
As she made her way towards the head of the banquet table, the guests around the entrance stepped back unconsciously, clearing a path for her.

The musicians lowered their bows in respect, and even Lionel couldn’t take his eyes off her as she passed by.
The banquet hall was eerily quiet, the only sounds being the empress’s footsteps and the rustling of her gown.
Adele cast a forlorn gaze at the empty throne, wishing that there was no emperor.

She stood on the podium, which no one dared to climb, and then ascended to the throne.
Turning to face the crowd, she shifted her gaze slowly and calmly from left to right, as if determined to scrutinize everyone gathered there.
It made no difference that the queen was dressed in a wedding gown – her commanding aura captivated even the most powerful nobles.
Who had come up with the nickname “witch” for her? As the sound of someone gulping echoed through the hall, the queen’s red lips slowly turned up in a smile, and her golden eyes folded and bent like the moon.
Everyone held their breath as Adele, holding everyone’s hearts in her hand, softly smiled and spoke.

“I apologize for running a little late.”

Diane took a deep breath  as the Empress ascended the emperor’s stairs, a forbidden path for anyone else, with a regal grace that seemed almost effortless.
The nobles around her held their breath, their eyes fixed on the empress as she made her way to the throne.
Diane felt a pang of frustration as she realized that the empress was not at all bothered by the fact that she was wearing a wedding gown, unlike what she had expected.

As the empress scanned the crowd with her piercing golden eyes, her every move calculated and deliberate, the banquet hall was filled with a sense of unease.
The guests seemed to shrink under her gaze, their words caught in their throats as they struggled to maintain their composure.
The empress’s power and authority were undeniable as she surveyed her subjects like a queen surveying her kingdom.

“How are you, Lord Despone? Are you enjoying your meal?” The empress’s voice cut through the tension as she turned her gaze to Lord Despone, who sat next to Diane Poitier.

“Your Majesty, what brings you here? Nonetheless, I was expecting you.” Lord Despone replied, trying to hide his unease.

“Did you?” The empress’s tone was cold and her gaze intense.

The empress gracefully took her seat, her back straight and her head held high.
The orchestra began to play a grand and solemn song as she settled in, and the crowd of nobles fell silent.
Adele scanned the room, taking in the attitudes of those around her.
Some were paying close attention, while others seemed wary and on edge.
She could read people like a book, and she knew that some of the nobles were already trying to read the political winds and gauge her position.

As the crowd began to stir, a familiar face emerged from the throng.
Lionel, a vassal noble of the Baldr family, stepped forward to greet the empress.
He looked up at her, his eyes scanning her form as she exchanged greetings with the other nobles.
Adele, with her ease on horseback and her ability to dominate the crowd, seemed to fit the role of empress perfectly.
As she turned her head leisurely, she caught Lionel’s eye once more.
In the dim light of the banquet hall, his eyes appeared thick and dark.

“Lionel Baldr,” Adele muttered his name to herself.

Diane watched with a blank stare as the nobles scrambled to greet the empress, a competition quickly ensuing.
People who had been chatting and seeking friendship quickly changed to people who wanted to greet the empress, creating a rare scene.
But Adele’s gaze passed over Diane, as if she was unremarkable, just like the attendants and maids who passed by.
Diane felt a sense of contempt rise within her, as if the empress had no interest in her.

Clenching her fists, Diane ignored the long line of nobles and went straight to the podium.
She didn’t care about protocol or protocol, she just wanted the empress to notice her.

If you don’t want to see me properly, I’ll make you,” she muttered under her breath.

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