“……Construction of the Star Palace is proceeding apace. It will be completed in time for Her Majesty’s birthday celebration.”
Rishid was listening to the report of his senior aide, Valek. Remaining motionless throughout the report, hands crossed over the office desk.
“As previously instructed, we have changed the blueprint for the unfinished western section of the Star Palace. It is a structure suitable for blocking the sea breeze. The Duke of Penshire took charge of the construction, so it will almost certainly be perfect.”
Count Kint had brought a section of the Star Palace to be built on the beach, and Rishid, who was carefully inspecting it, asked.
“What about interior decoration?”
“The interiors are based on Her Majesty’s favorites. The work is progressing smoothly.”
“Make sure to put fresh lilies on the balcony every day. It’s her favorite flower, after all. It would be nice to decorate the doorknobs and window frames with lilies as well.”
“But the lily….”
When Valek hesitated, Rishid looked at him as if he was wondering why.
“Why, are there still people who think that lilies belong to foreign royal families?”
Even after marrying into the Empire, Empress Kali retained her birth kingdom’s lily crest as her signature.
All of the facilities and palaces she sponsored were explicitly carved with lily patterns, and the number continued to grow.
A representation of a benign, wise, and beautiful empress. Some people say so about the white lily, while others gossip that the foreign empress arbitrarily defiles the imperial family’s symbol.
“How dare you hate the symbol of my mother. That was the last thing I expected my aide to think.”
A moment of confusion dawned on Valek’s face. He softly coughed and continued speaking as if he had reached a conclusion.
“It is undesirable to display the rival countries’ emblem openly, not out of dislike for the Empress.”
Rishid only smiled at Valek’s remarks. There was truth to his words.
For generations, the Ibelik Empire has used roses as their emblem, not lilies. The rose in harmony with the griffin, the exclusive seal of the imperial family, was the traditional symbol of the the empirial family.
Nevertheless, some people asserted that the use of lilies, a symbol of her birth empire, is impure. The empress, on the other hand, claimed that it was merely a symbol of her favorite flower and thus dispelled their suspicions.
The lily crest was not the only thing that grew. During the seven years of the Empress’s reign as a regent, the imperial family employed an increasing number of bureaucrats who were either from the Vische Kingdom or had a friendly relationship with or were married to them.
The majority of the senior officials, including Count Tess, the aide she had brought upon her first arrival, were nobles who were directly and indirectly associated with the Empress.
“I’ll give you instructions…”
Valek wrote down Rishid’s instructions in his notebook.
“I hope she like it.”
“We’ve taken care of everything, so there won’t be any shortages.”
“It should be. After all, it was a special gift from my father.”
“It would have been finished sooner if His Majesty had not suddenly collapsed.”
“It’s because my mother was adamant against it.”
Rishid raised his interlaced hand and lightly tapped the desk a couple of times. Although the purpose was merely to build a separate palace, the meaning was quite different.
The beach at the southwestern end of the Ibelik Empire was a private property of the Imperial Family and was renowned for its scenic beauty.
The Emperor built the Star Palace as a wedding anniversary gift to his second wife, Empress Kali. It was a magnificent palace designed by the best architects and interior decorators.
The Star Palace was built after the style of Empress Kali’s home, the Vische Kingdom, rather than the Empire’s. It was a gift intended to console his wife, who yearned for her homeland after getting married.
But the Empress suspended all of the construction. From the time Josef, the former Crown Prince, died unexpectedly due to an illness.
As soon as the funeral was over, the emperor collapsed in grief over the death of his beloved son. And ever since, he had been lying in his bedroom, almost half-dead for years.
Unless he was constantly fed and cared for by someone, he would not live long enough to see the end of his days, with his eyes hardly moving.
Even under such circumstances, the Empress eventually ceded the Star Palace, saying that she could not bear seeing the palace built as the Emperor’s wedding anniversary gift.
Knowing this, the people of the Empire sympathized with the empress, who lost both her husband and son overnight.
In addition, her popularity skyrocketed when all of the emperor’s private funds, which were intended for the construction, were instead donated to help the poor and support orphanages.
This is why a foreign-born empress was able to assume the regent’s authority on behalf of a virtually vacant throne.
More than that, public sympathy for her quickly ignited when the news that her biological son, Prince Rishid, was shocked by a series of sad news by his father and half-brother, had regressed in his mental age and lost his ability to communicate.
She was in a position loved by the people of the Empire, which is rare for a foreign empress.
The unfinished palace remained in ruins for a long time after the sudden cease. It was not until Rishid regained his ability to act like his age and spoke again that the abandoned palace was revitalized and reopened for reconstruction.
Rishid, who officially entered politics, was endowed with various powers befitting a Crown Prince. The ascendency, which had been vested entirely in the regent Empress, was also gradually transferred to Rishid.
As he began his duties as the crown prince in earnest, he ordered the construction of the Star Palace, which had been suspended.
Despite the empress’s disapproval, the construction proceeded by Rishid, who instructed that the separate palace owned by the empress should not be left in such a hideous state forever.
It didn’t take long to complete because the construction was already almost in shape. The design drawings for the less-built areas have been changed and supplemented, bringing them closer to a much more complete look than before.
The Star Palace, which had lain somewhat dejectedly on the beach, began to take on a glamorous look and was soon to be dedicated to its owner, the Empress.
“This is the Empress’s first birthday after retiring from the position of regency, so we are preparing for it.”
“Who said that my mother would relinquish her regency?”
For a brief moment, a cold laugh pierced through the air of the office.
Valek was choosing what to say with a somewhat troubled face. Rishid was smiling, but he knew from years of experience as an aide that the prince was currently in his worst mood.
Since Rishid was very young, he has taken care of Rishid himself under the emperor’s order. It was from the time of Crown Prince Josef’s death, so it could be said that he had spent quite a long time together.
Because he was an aide directly appointed by the emperor, he retained his position even as the space around Rishid was progressively filled with the empress’s people.
“Everyone knows that now’s the right time.”
Valek had a serious expression on his face as he looked at Rishid.
“Mother never expressed her willingness in conceding her regent position. I can’t even tell her to descend first.”
“But your highness is already an adult. The throne should have already been abdicated by this time, and his highness should’ve been crowned. Rather…”
Valek, who had hesitated, stalled but quickly spit out his words again.
“…. Does that mean that I have to kill my mother to take my spot?”
“That’s not it.”
“We should foresee our chances before your mother-son relationship deteriorated into…”
Valek then ceased speaking.
“…a political rivalry.”
“It’s quite tragic.”
Rishid said with a smile. His face was filled with mirth, as if he were listening to someone’s story.
“My mother is truly a pitiful person.”
“One day her husband collapsed, the Crown Prince died… and all that’s left was a crazy young son.”
“Your Highness was ill for a while. Anyone who has experienced a mental shock knows how difficult it is to endure. Apart from that, weren’t you only fourteen years old? When you lost your father, who lavished you with love and a kind brother.”
Valek said with a solemn face.
“So you don’t have to worry about it. Your Highness is the only heir to the throne of Ibelik.”
“Josef will seethe on his grave.”
Valek called him with an anxious look.
“Is the report over?”
Rishid shifted his gaze. Valek hesitated for a moment, then spoke up.
“I have a few more things to report.”
Rishid clenched his jaw and nodded.
“Her Majesty wants to increase the budget for the orphanage she sponsors.”
“Do what she wants. It’s for the benefit of others after all.”
“That will lead to a shortage in other budgets.”
“We will reduce the number of foundation events.”
“There could be a backlash.”
“What options do I have? The orphanage business has been protected by my mother since she came to the empire.”
Since her marriage to the Emperor, the Empress has devoted herself to the orphanage business. To establish a public reputation, the Empress has always smiled and volunteered in various places.
The empress, who had married in a foreign country, had a weak political base and had to deal with nobles who threatened to keep her crown and present their daughter after she was deposed.
She needed power. To do that, she chose to win the support of the people by utilizing her beauty in any way she could.
Her dazzling beauty, which shone even when dressed simply, drew comparisons to a noble goddess, and everyone admired her.
Seven years ago, when the emperor collapsed, unable to speak or move, and could barely survive in bed, she began to demonstrate her political qualities.
Rather than caring for her son, who has lost his capacity to converse, she focuses on the empire’s needs. While never forgetting to demonstrate her grace by visiting her numerous orphanages.
“Ignore it. The orphanage resembles a trophy, and I despise touching it—”
In the middle of talking, Rishid paused. The first change in his face, which had been expressionless the entire time, was the tightly clenched jaw. He loosens his interlocked fingers and then roughly sweeps his platinum hair.
When Rishid’s words were cut off, Valek looked at him puzzledly.
Saying that Rishid’s brow furrowed slightly. His lips, on the other hand, were tinged with a faint smile. He tapped the desk a couple of times, his face filled with mixed emotions.
“Get out of here.”
Valek stopped, not leaving when he found the baskets and crushed roses beneath Rishid’s desk. It was irritating when I came in earlier, but it was strange that no one came to clear it.
“I’ll call a maid.”
He waved his hand to deter him.
“Yes, then. I’ll see you in the conference room in two hours.”
Rishid answered him with a nod, with this Valek bowed and left.
Rishid tapped the desk a few times when the door closed and then heard something thumping and shallow banging under the desk.
“I told you to reflect.”
Rishid pushed his chair back and said, his gaze falling beneath the desk.
“You do naughty things.”