At Mrs. Fizz’s rare gentleness, doubts rose in Eloise’s heart that she could not even spit out.
The crown prince’s play maid that every noble family wants to put their child in…
How did such a position come to her?
As Mrs. Fizz said, it was not possible for anyone to play with the royal family, especially the crown prince who will be the next emperor. At least, they would have been drawn from noble families of pure, noble blood.
Since it would be a promising opportunity to build relationships with the crown prince at an early age, who will eventually inherit the empire’s power someday. Noble families were desperate to put their children together with the royal family.
Yes, and that position went to her.
Still, what was the reason for her to be here? A place that all aristocrats, who are called the inner circle of the empire, yearn to be in. Even with a high price.
Eloise didn’t have to ask that. From the day she started living here ‘til now, she had always been keeping a careful eye on people.
There’s no guarantee if the orphanage would stay standing if the proposal was rejected. At some point, Eloise sensed that she would never feel comfortable wherever she goes if that scenario occurs.
Mrs. Fizz, who turned away from Eloise, gave her a polite, friendly smile again.
“I’m sure you’ll like it, too.”
Mrs. Fizz’s voice still seemed to pierce Eloise’s ear.
The information that the man was the empress’s vassal was discovered only when they arrived at the imperial palace. The man was an aide, but the title was the same as the Count and Empress’s right hand.
“If you’re going to use it as a toy, isn’t it better to be pretty? It’ll be nice to play with it if it’s pretty. “
Mrs. Fizz, with a wide smile on her face, spoke softly to the count. Eloise’s little shoulder flinched at those words. Only then did she clearly realize her situation.
She was chosen as the ‘toy’ of the Crown Prince.
The expressionless count nodded his head while handing a bag full of gold coins in Mrs. Fizz’s hands.
“It is blasphemy to speak freely about His Majesty, Mrs. Fizz.”
“…Oh, I made a mistake. I’m sorry. “
Mrs. Fizz apologized gently. No, she almost fell forward but smoothly tried to regain her composure.
“From now on, this child belongs to the imperial family, so if words spread outside….”
“That’s impossible. That kid hasn’t been out since she got here. “
As Eloise continues to listen, the tiny warmth in her eyes begun to fade.
“Even if she disappears one day, there will be no problem.”
Mrs. Fizz’s words lingered in her mind for a long time.
Even if one day she disappears…
Mrs. Fizz’s stared directly at her with a look that says it was purely up to her to do it.
It felt like her whole body was coiling with tension. What’s going to happen now? What will she do?
Eloise, who was brought to the unfamiliar imperial palace overnight, was thoroughly washed from head to toe, then wore a delicate dress and was adorned with a large silk ribbon in her hair. She also ate her meals on a table full of delicacies.
It was a luxury she had never enjoyed in the orphanage, but Eloise was only trembling the whole time. Because she could never take this situation as an opportunity. Everything changed suddenly, too quickly for her to grasp.
“There’s nothing to be afraid of, sweetheart.”
At the sudden change of voice, Eloise shifted her eyes in discomfort.
“You’re not my daughter, but I decided to take and raise you. It would be nice to be friends with my son. Just like a little sister….”
Everything the empress said was a lie. She was brought to the Imperial Palace as a toy for the Crown Prince in the first place, and her words were only meant to wrap it up nicely in the eyes of others.
“You can have everything you want. What to eat and what to wear…anything you didn’t have while you’re living in the orphanage.”
Eloise replied hesitatingly—not knowing what to say. Nevertheless, she was genuinely grateful.
The greatest hope of the children in the orphanage was to be adopted by a family with immense wealth and high status.
If they were adopted by a noble family, they wouldn’t have to sleep close to others in a small, tight room, and also, they wouldn’t experience arguing over a piece of snacks again.
But that luck didn’t come to anyone. Eloise knew it was impossible for it to come true, even though it was something she had dreamt of sometimes. Yet unexpectedly, she was chosen and was brought into the Imperial Palace.
All that was left was to look as good as possible to the person who brought her. As Mrs. Fizz has emphasized several times.
“Rishid is very sick.”
Rishid. Eloise’s body trembled at the familiar yet unfamiliar name.
The only son of the Emperor and the Empress, the Crown Prince of this Empire—Rishid, has long been away from outside eyes.
There were only rumors that he was ill, and the exact name of the disease was not known. Everyone whispered, “It is a predicament for the Empire if even the Crown Prince is sick at a time when the emperor is unable to perform his political duties.”
“We’ve searched for the medicine and treatments, but couldn’t find anything. It’s no use even if all the court doctors stick together.”
The expression of the empress was full of grief.
“There’s nothing I can do but wait for my son to get better.”
Eloise was silently listening to the empress’s words.
“They say that the best cure for a child is to play. It’s okay for a maid or attendant to take that role, however….”
The empress’s gaze once again reached Eloise.
“It’s better if he plays with a friend.”
“I’d like to ask you for that role.”
When the empress, who was looking at her carefully, made eye contact, Eloise lowered her eyes in surprise. The loud pounding of her heart reached her ears.
“I heard that while you were in the orphanage, you took excellent care of the children. It’s not difficult. Just do what you’ve done so far. ”
“I couldn’t bear it any longer. That’s why I need your help.”
A white, slender finger grabbed Eloise’s hand.
Eloise almost slapped the hands away but managed to put up with it. The touch of her hand was soft and delicate but was as cold as the skin of a snake.
“Do me a favor, Eloise.”
The empress gazed at Eloise with earnest eyes. The appearance of the empress, the regent of this country and the mother of the next emperor, holding her and begging her desperately, made Eloise extremely perplexed.
It was hard to look at the appearance of a mother—begging for her child that was suddenly sick, even more so when she could feel its eyes secretly watching her every reaction.
“….Yes, I will do my best, Your Majesty.”
Eloise tried not to tremble. She tightened her body to speak as clearly as possible. It was the empress who brought her here, and she should never go against her temper.
“For a child, you’re pretty smart.”
A satisfied smile spread across the empress’s lips.
“Take this child.”
She buried herself in the luxurious sofa and said:
“Please, I hope you like it.”
What happens if she doesn’t like it? Eloise couldn’t bear to ask.
The empress had brought her because she was purely useful. But what if she can’t do her job properly? Just imagining it gave her goose bumps.
The count’s hand pushed Eloise’s body once more, and she followed it out of the empress’s room.
The man just kept walking without saying a word. The place they were heading to was a secluded building and was quite far from the Empress’s Palace.
And as soon as they entered, the fresh air surrounded them. Eloise wonders if there was really a prince in a place like this. She was curious but refrained herself from asking.
After passing through countless stairs and corridors, the count came to a halt. On each side of the door stood stone-like guards devoid of any expression.
When her eyes met on one of them, the swirling fear inside her doubled. If she could, she wanted to hold onto her skirt and run away.
“Go in and see His Highness the Crown Prince.”
A low, commanding voice was heard.
“His Highness often hides, so you’ll have to look carefully and find him.”
The answer barely came out.
“It’s up to you from now on.”
The count sounded similar to Mrs. Fizz. She doesn’t have any clear idea of what she was supposed to do, since the count did not explain it to her elaborately.
However, as soon as the door opened, the feeling of something terrifying lurking within those shadows scared Eloise. She was truly frightened that she couldn’t even cry and stop in her tracks.
The dreary sound echoed when the hinges of the door move. Even though it was daytime, the entire room was already covered in darkness—giving her a hard time to watch over her steps.
While standing alone in the dark, a strange fear started to envelop Eloise, as if countless eyes were watching over her.