Outfits for this chapter:
Naomi could feel the sweat running down the back of her neck as she tried to catch her breath and figure out where she was. As she finally calmed down, it was then that she noticed that she was no longer in the ballroom, but instead, Naomi was in a luxurious room that was unlike the old room at her mother's home. Before she could investigate any further, the room started flooding with people that Naomi has never seen before.
'What is happening?' she thought, but it was not long before someone finally took notice of the little girl.
"Greetings, may the gods bless our eternal moon. I am the head maid of Lună Strălucitoare palace. You may call me Lily." Naomi nodded but did not respond to 'Lily.' Naomi watched at the head maid, and others scrambled to bring clothes along with other accessories. Naomi has never seen such beautiful dresses before. Maybe they were for the Empress? 'No,' she thought, 'the dresses are too small. Then who are the clothes for?'.
"Miss Lily, who's dresses are those?" Naomi asked. Lily laughed along with the other maids. Was it something Naomi said?
"My lady, these dresses are for you. The Empress requested that we bring you dresses and get rid of the rags you arrived in." Lily smiled as she spoke. Naomi blushed at the thought of the Empress picking clothes for her; not even her own mother did that. Naomi only received hand me down clothes from merchants at the traders guild and never did the clothes really fit.
"My lady, please choose an outfit. The imperial family is waiting."
Naomi nodded and started looking at the various outfits that the maids had set out. Naomi finally decided on a floor-length blue and white dress with a flower at the neckline, 'Who knew the empress had good taste in dresses.' she thought. After choosing the dress, the maids went to work on making the girl presentable for meeting the imperial family, but it was proven to be complicated.
"Head maid Lily, she won't stay still! She won't be ready in time."
One maid cried. Naomi huffed from under the bed as the maids complained to Lily. The girl would not accept that woman's punishment, and Lily was worse than Naomi's mother in the child's mind.
"My lady, please come out. There is no need to be afraid; we only want to be taken care of." Lily pleaded to the girl. 'This isn't punishment? They actually care?' Naomi thought. Slowly she crawled from under the bed and let the maids take care of her, but Naomi did not like it one bit. It was not long before they have finished dressing Naomi and rushing her to where ever in the palace.
"My lady, you must bow to the imperial family. Bowing is a sign of loyalty and respect, along with blessing them. You are the Emperor's subject. He has given this continent every divine Blessing of the gods of night." Lily lectured as they walked to their destination.
"How do I bless them, Miss Lily?" Naomi whispered. She had never heard of blessing the imperial family. She only heard of her mother shaming the Emperor, his 'whore', and his 'whore's children.'
Lily smiled and spoke, "You must say 'blessing to our enteral moon.' as you bow." and Naomi soaked in the words of the head maid.
After what felt like forever, they arrived at a large white door. Naomi could feel the anxiety rising up in her chest as Lily opened the door. The door had revealed a grand dining hall that smelled like heaven, but what caught Naomi's attention was the people in the dining hall. She could feel power and beauty raiding off of them, meaning that they must be the imperial family.
Quickly Naomi bowed," Blessing to our enteral moon." and kept her eyes on the floor. The anxiety in Naomi's chest rose as the silence surrounded the room.
"My, you have good manners. Please sit down, you look so thin, and I worry that you might stunt your growth with a poor diet." a beautiful woman ran to Naomi with worry written over her face. Naomi couldn't help but blush at the attention; instead of cruel words or even silence, Naomi had someone caring about her.
"I am the Empress, but since we are family, you may call me Irene." the Empress quickly stood up and brought Naomi in a warm hug.
Once again, Naomi blushed at the attention she was receiving and returned the hug.
"Now, let's take a seat and discuss why you are here. Please, choose any seat." Irene quickly let go and guided Naomi to the dining room table. Naomi stared in amazement at the variety of foods that she never had at her old home with her mother and stepfather.
"Naomi, you are probably wondering why we have brought you here." Irene quickly got to the point while Naomi plated her food. The mood change shifted as Irene spoke to the girl, but Naomi could barely pay attention when the tension was thick and suffocating.
"Irene, it is better that I explain. I know talking about it makes you upset because I committed a sin against our marriage." all attention was to the blonde man with striking blue eyes that had a powerful aura. Irene paled, and tears gathered in her eyes at the man's statement and smiled at Naomi.
"I am Aidric, the Emperor of this continent. Until recently, I have only had children with my wife, the Empress, but someone has brought my attention to an illegitimate child." the Emperor spoke with a cold tone.
"I thought it would be impossible since I am loyal to my wife and children. Yet memories are resurfacing of a woman and I engaging into each other, and that created you." the Emperor's voice dripped in venom and disgust as he looked at Naomi. The girl did not understand what he was trying to imply and how this involved her.
"I don't understand. Why does that involve me?" Naomi asked.
"You are the first princess, but I will not accept you as my daughter."
"Aidric! Do not say that to her. That woman was hateful, and no one to love her. Naomi needs us, and you will treat her with respect."
Naomi couldn't focus. Naomi had a father? But he did not accept her, and Marie did not take her. Was it something she did? Why was she not loved?