48 Your Kingdom Now Pt.2

    With graceful steps, Princess Chayoung made her way to her younger brother's quarters, where he was still being groomed for his coronation.

    "Your Majesty?" she spoke, her voice soft and modulated. Chayoung waited outside the emperor's quarters for an answer.

    "Come in" he heard his voice say.

    Chayoung entered his chambers and her eyes were immediately greeted by an attractive, young man with an ethereal appearance. He was wearing red imperial robes that were embroidered with golden phoenixes: a symbol of his royal status as the next heavenly sovereign of Saim.

    He smiled at her fondly, making his eyes form thin crescent moons before signalling for the royal maids to grant them privacy. The anxiousness that Chayoung was feeling before entering his room melted away almost instantly as she returned his kind smile. She was grateful that, even though they had been separated since infancy, he treated her with brotherly kindness as if they had never parted at all. Was what the elders told her about him a lie? Her brother seemed perfectly fine when he was with her.

    "Sister, how dashing you look" he complimented as his eyes took in her appearance. Chayoung shuffled on her feet shyly. "You will be the main highlight of the day."

    "You jest, Your Majesty" she replied softly. "We both know that today you are the main highlight. While it is my wedding day, it is also your coronation."

    The young emperor-to-be looked at her apologetically. "Forgive me, sister. If only father had not passed away so soon..."

    "Please, Your Majesty" Chayoung urged. "There is no need for you to seek my forgiveness. It is only right that you are coronated today. How can I wed without the emperor's blessing?"

    The young man peered at her uncertainly before shifting his gaze back to the full-length mirror in front of him. He inspected his reflection closely, his crescent eyes searching the man in the looking-glass, who stared back at him with anxiety and doubt. Am I really ready for this? He thought to himself. While his sister and the rest of the kingdom saw a young emperor-to-be, all he saw was a young man, barely in his twenties, inheriting a kingdom he knew nothing about.

    Clothed in royal garments, he was able to hide away his insecurities that threatened to expose his true thoughts. It was as if each unfamiliar layer hid a part of himself-parts which were vulnerable and had no place in his life now. To be a good emperor, he must conceal his flaws so that his enemies cannot use it against him. He must be perfect. But with every layer of imperial clothing he put on, his shoulders felt heavy and burdened by the weight: a load symbolic of the expectations and hopes of his people that now rested on his shoulders.

    Sensing his nervousness, Chayoung stood behind him so that her reflection was gazing back at her too. "Are you okay, Your Majesty-?" she reached her hand out to touch his shoulder but in one frantic motion, the young emperor suddenly flinched and swatted her hand away.

    Chayoung was momentarily stunned by his abrupt reaction. She bowed her head immediately. "I-I beg your forgiveness, Your Majesty" she fumbled, "I did not- I did not mean to offend you."

    Shaken up, the young emperor slinked further away from her. "No," he murmured while trying to control the tremor in his hands, "I apologise." He peered at his sister with a mournful expression, one that Chayoung thought exhibited a hint of shame. "Forgive me... I am just nervous about the coronation and the responsibility that comes with it."

    "I understand" Chayoung replied sympathetically with her gaze still averted. She could only imagine the pressure her poor brother must be feeling.

    "It is all just..." he paused as he searched for the right word, "overwhelming. I fear I will not live up to father's expectations."

    At this, Chayoung raised her head. "You will, Your Majesty" she replied determinedly. "You carry his legacy and I have no doubt that you will do him proud by taking care of our great kingdom." Chayoung dared to look at the young emperor in the eye as she uttered, "It is your kingdom now."

    He smiled weakly. "Thank you, sister."

    Chayoung was relieved to see the crease on her brother's forehead relax. Since he had arrived two weeks ago, she had scarcely seen him smile genuinely. In an attempt to divert his attention from the pending formalities, she asked carefully, "How do you find the capital so far?"

    Chayoung watched as his face lit up at the question to reveal a child-like wonder in his eyes. "Fascinating!" he replied. "There are so many things Benkei has that the temple does not. For instance, the scenery is most diverse and the architecture is most exquisite."

    The princess listened attentively as the young emperor described his journey and all that he had observed up until that moment. She enjoyed seeing him in awe of his surroundings and the customs of which he was now part of. The manner he told his tales had a child-like innocence to it that it made her feel like she was seeing Saim through his eyes. For Chayoung, it was refreshing.

    "But I did encounter something distasteful" she heard him say.

    Chayoung peered at him curiously. "Oh?"

    "On my way to the palace, I witnessed a case of thievery." The emperor eyed his sister solemnly as he revealed his account of what happened two weeks prior...
Previous Index Next