Book 7, Chapter 48

The Empress Takes Charge

The first thing Apeiron did after returning to Faust was to throw Julian right into the palace’s cold storage room which had several hundred tonnes of dragon meat. He awakened from his sleep the moment he smelled the flesh, grabbing a large foreleg the size of a table and chewing into it ravenously.

“Your Majesty, should I get a chef to cook this?” an aide asked timidly.

“No need,” Apeiron shook her head, “He’s fine as long as he has any meat at all. Let him eat as much as he wants; he’ll come out on his own.”

“Of course, Your Majesty!” the aide bowed.

Apeiron then headed towards her bedroom with the man in tow, “Did you prepare my chambers?”

“Everything was prepared as per your instructions. The list of every member of the family is complete as well.”

Apeiron slowed down for a moment, her voice turning cold, “There aren’t any fakes or omissions?”

The man immediately started sweating, “This servant has gone to great lengths to ensure that there aren’t any mistakes.”

“Great lengths, huh…”

In only a few moments, the man seemed to get drenched. However, he still answered resolutely, “Yes, Your Majesty.”

The Empress let out a soft breath, “You’ve done well. Prepare another list later, containing everyone who gave you difficulties.”

“Your Majesty…” the man immediately turned pale, “If… If this servant were to do that, I’m afraid my family would be ruined!”

Apeiron sneered, “What, you’re afraid I won’t be on my throne much longer?”

“Of course not!” he cried out.

“Don’t worry,” her voice grew sinister once more, “When I eventually leave the throne, I’ll make sure to kill everyone who’s pissed me off before I leave.”

Hearing this, even the sweat was frightened out of the aide. He barely held himself together and shouted, “This servant understands, you will have the list before dinner! It will certainly be objective and without—”

“Good!” Apeiron immediately headed towards her chambers, two tall warriors going down on one knee as they opened the exquisite doors. The rooms themselves were part of an independent space that was linked to from many of the hallways that were still around, portraits of the previous emperors hung everywhere alongside other important figures of the royal family. Art was everywhere but was overshadowed by specimens of strange beasts as well as equipment. As an empire that was built around the military might of one leader, the Sacred Alliance revered power more than anything else. There were even many legendary items that could be picked up immediately en route to an urgent battle.

With this being the same aide that had once served Philip, still not returned to his new fief, he had made sure to follow Apeiron’s orders and remove everything that could even remotely link to Philip’s former existence. The Empress didn’t really care for luxury, but the one thing she couldn’t stand was any reminder of the past.

She already carried around enough anyway.

As Apeiron smiled and nodded at the new decor, the aide waved a servant girl over who appeared in a flash. A short while later, hurried footsteps echoed in the chambers as a peculiar group of people entered the lobby. Tall, short, fat, skinny… the only commonality was that none of them were of average build and they were all covered in extremely fancy clothes and so much make-up that it threatened to drip down their bodies. A mixture of black, purple, green, and red, their faces would likely scare a timid person to death at night.

“These are?” she knitted her brows. She had immediately noticed that none of them were particularly skilled with martial arts, or she would have killed a few of them for fun.

“They are the royal tailors, Your Majesty,” the aide replied at once, “They are here to prepare the clothes for your ascension ceremony.”

“Send them away!” Apeiron barked, but just as quickly as she’d said that she suddenly stopped and gave it some thought, “Hmm… Actually, show me their designs.”

“Y-Yes, Your Majesty!” a fat and weak old man said as he was pushed out by the rest, trying his hardest to maintain his calm while he handed over a book of designs with trembling hands.

There were a number of designs within that the tailors had come up with in the past few days. The first few pages were more traditional designs that Apeiron didn’t like in the slightest, but she quickly came upon those that were tailored more towards her character. Amongst these were more androgynous and even masculine robes, alongside some dated and even simple sketches. These pleased her a little more, and finding one that particularly drew her attention she threw the book back, “That one.”

“O-Of course, Your Majesty!” The tailors almost ran as they fled the room, as though they had just been pardoned for a crime. The Empress waved the aide and servant girl away before walking into her bedroom, standing in front of a full-sized mirror and slowly taking off her clothes.

Every article of clothing removed only revealed more of her sculpted figure, skin glimmering in the dim magical light illuminating the room. There were few traces of her brute strength showing from behind her soft skin, but her body still seemed to be radiating sheer power that few could match.

It was only when she lifted her left arm that the first blemish showed itself: a cut about ten centimetres right under her left armpit. The wound was so deep that one could see the rib below it, but it had already dried up completely; this wasn’t recent. Apeiron touched it gently, her brow furrowing; this wasn’t just a scar on her body, but also a deep wound in her heart.

This injury came from thirty years ago and was a major reason behind her loss to Philip. It had never completely healed in all this time, but only because she didn’t even try. This was a memento, a reminder of Faust; having been exiled into the Outlands for an unknown period of time, she had been afraid that losing it would destroy her last connection to her past. It was a painful reminder, but a reminder nevertheless.

……

Time slowly ticked away as dawn turned to dusk and then to the dark of night. When a good half of Faust had entered their dreams, a gentle knock resounded in Apeiron’s bedroom.

“Come in,” the Empress said softly from near her window, “You’ve recovered?”

“Yes, Your Majesty,” Julian said as he opened the door, now dressed in a fresh set of robes with a strange lively charm about him, “The injuries were never threatening, I only needed three tonnes of meat.”

“Good!” she nodded, “Now think of something to cheer me up.”

Julian was taken aback, but he bowed, “As you wish.”

The Empress then tapped on the window and asked, “Is there anything I’ve forgotten to do?”

“The late Emperor’s concubines and children are all gathered on the island,” Julian said immediately, “They have been waiting for you to meet them for a few days.”

“Ugh… Tch, let’s go then. Is there anything else I should be doing?”

“Three matters require your personal attention. The first is Emperor Philip’s funeral, the second is your ascension ceremony, and the third is making arrangements for the Land of Dusk.”

Apeiron’s eyebrows locked together, “Why do I have to handle so many things? Philip’s already lost in the currents of time, I’m not setting up a funeral for him! The ascension ceremony too, just make it a simple announcement. It should wrap up in half an hour. The Land of Dusk is the only thing that actually matters… Tch, if only we could use offerings.”

“Your Majesty, Emperor Philip’s funeral is extremely important. It’s an opportunity for the nobles to pledge their allegiance to the royal family once more…” Julian spent a long time persuading Apeiron before she begrudgingly agreed. She would much rather go kill a few Daxdians and was already starting to miss the constant excitement of the Outlands, but she would suppress herself for a little while longer.

A depressingly low bell resounded through the royal palace at three in the morning, sending every single occupant into a frenzy. However, even the most menial of servants here was trained extremely well; after only a few moments, the chaos subsided and everyone assumed their positions. This specific bell was an alarm, and alarms in the palace meant the situation was beyond saving. They would have to give it their all.

However, the entire thing was rather strange as groups of guards walked through the confusion to head to some of the other sections of the palace and pull some noblewomen out. They were all quickly gathered and brought to a single hall, wherein they found another dozen princes and princesses having been assembled as well.

At the end of the hall was a tall platform with a high-backed steel throne upon it, occupied by Apeiron. Just as the group started panicking for fear of their lives, the Empress spoke up, “You’re all Philip’s wives and children, but he’s already dead. Outside of the Empress Consort, every one of his wives should leave this island at once. Go back to wherever you came from!”

Julian bent down from her side, “Your Majesty, the Emperor had no consort.”

“No consort?” Apeiron’s face lit up as she fell into thought, recovering only a few moments later, “Then all of you should scram! You better be out of here before noon!”

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OMA's Thoughts

Translated By: Styles

Edited By: Theo

TLC'ed By: OMA