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Emperor's Heir - Chapter 8

by shieldmaiden


Chapter 8

The chancellor was waiting outside to take me to the Hall to see the Emperor. When I approached, he said not a word but bowed silently before walking on ahead. Not wishing to lose my way in the vast maze of paths and passages in the palace, I stuck close to the chancellor. I kept so close to him that I tripped a couple times on the hem of his garment that trailed on the ground behind like the feathers of a peacock.

Sorry,” I whispered apologetically for the third time.

Hmph,” grumped back the man, his nose stuck in the air and pulled his green cloak slightly nearer to his side and away from my clumsy feet.

And so, we continued walking, turning left and right, then right and left, around so many corners that I had no idea where I was. I hoped that someone would be showing me the way back. Otherwise I would take me all night trying to find my quarters. With that frightening thought, I took greater care not to trod again on the chancellor’s hem.

At last, the great Hall came into full view. It stood tall, blocking the setting sun, surrounded by pillars and mounted up high with steps ascending towards its entrance. As we approached nearer and began to climb the stairs, I craned my neck to gaze at the golden, enflamed flags that fluttered and waved in the brisk breeze from their posts on top of the turrets. The sun glinted brightly off of the bright red-copper roof, and I was examining how blue it made the sky look, when I heard a soft padding coming towards us.

I tore my gaze from the Hall and saw that a tall figure had crawled out of its shadow and was descending the stairs toward us. He was wearing the colors of Yosae and looked strangely familiar.

As we passed, the man began to give us a simple, courteous nod of his head. But as our eyes locked, a flash of recognition passed over his face and he stopped in his tracks.

Kkachi?”

I frowned, confused that the stranger knew my name. Then I saw the gold medal hanging from his belt. Quickly, I bowed before the prince.

Your Highness,” I murmured, gritting my teeth in embarrassment.

What are you doing here?” he asked, his brow arched in curiosity.

This here is the Princess Forsythia, Your Highness,” the chancellor announced, his feathers ruffled at having to witness a conversation take place between two royals with no proper introduction. “The Prince Iyagi from Yosae stands before you, Princess,” the chancellor continued, turning to me with a slight huff.

So, you are the ‘Lost Princess’?” the prince asked incredulously.

Wanting to object, but too confused to do so, I turned my flushed face once more to the ground.

Your Highness?” the prince prodded, his voice light and teasing.

I kept my gaze fixed on the marble stair, refusing to look up. Then a foot stepped into view. The prince’s face suddenly popped directly in front of my own. Startled, I gasped in surprise and took a step back. Missing the stair beneath me, I started to stumble backward. Unable to catch myself in time to keep from falling, I closed my eyes and flinched, bracing myself for the hard landing.

But instead of hitting marble, I felt strong arms wrap around my waist and catching me. Opening my eyes, I was met with the twinkling ones of the prince.

Forgive me, Your Highness,” he whispered into my ear, sending shivers up and down my spine, “I know that ladies are often prone to swooning in my presence. But I can’t bear to see you take such a tumble.” Mirth laced his voice thick like syrup.

Hastily, I pushed him away and the prince had to grab my arms to save me from falling again. Once I was finally steady on my feet, the prince let me go with a laugh. Ignoring the rising heat in my cheeks, I brushed the skirts of my gown and gave him one of my fiercest glares.

So, Your Highness,” I said, raising my chin, “we meet again. I do hope that you had no trouble in your attempt to find the Palace, and that you didn’t get lost … again.”

There were no more errors, thanks to your excellent instructions,” he replied courteously with a little bow, “If I had known at the time that I was speaking with the Emperor’s own daughter, I would have been more cautious in my behavior.” He shook his head with regret.

You would?” I asked, frowning skeptically.

The prince nodded seriously. “I would have been far more forthcoming of my admiration,” he replied, a smirk tugging at the corners of his mouth, “if I had known that I was speaking with such a noble lady.”

Now he was mocking me. I scoffed. “Are all princes this . . . this …” At a loss for words I simply gestured my hand up and down towards him.

Handsome? Winning? Charming?” the prince supplemented helpfully.

Preposterous,” I corrected.

Oh yes,” he agreed cheerfully, “comes with the title and trade. A great skill that all princes and kings must acquire. A requirement – truly.” He finished off with another elegant bow.

My lady.”

I turned towards the chancellor. He was getting impatient and I remembered why I was there in the first place.

Forgive me Your Highness, but I must go.” I gave the prince a final curtsy, cutting off our exchange.

Just as I began to turn away, the prince latched onto my hand and brought it up to his lips. “I look forward to our next meeting,” he murmured, his breath tingling over the tips of my fingers. And with that, the Prince Iyagi turned on his heel and walked down the remainder of stairs, leaving me shocked and as still as a statue.

Your Highness!” the chancellor called urgently.

Shaking myself out of the stupor, I turned and followed the irritated man up the rest of the steps. Bringing me to stand before two thick, carved oaken doors, the chancellor then approached the standing guard and gave him my name to announce. While waiting for the men as they conversed, I clutched at my gown in an attempt to still my shaking hands.

The Princess Forsythia,” the guard finally cried out in a booming voice.

There was a loud creak and a heavy moan as the doors slowly swung open, revealing a large, dark room.

Your Highness?” the chancellor drew my attention away from the open mouth of the Hall, then continued with a bow, “I’ll be waiting here when you are finished with your audience with His Majesty.

I gave him a nod and turned once more to face the dark room. Drawing a deep breath, I stepped through. The doors immediately slammed behind, locking me in. I flinched as the sound echoed like a drum throughout the hall.

The lighting was so poor, that I was unable to get a good look around. I assumed that it was all very grand, but all I really could tell was that it was big. And cold. Goosebumps had formed on my arms from the drafts that coursed through the entire room.

As my eyes adjusted to the darkness, I could make out a high ceiling supported by large, white columns. As I started to walk down the center of the hollow floor, I saw that in between each pillar sat an empty chair. For some reason, those vacant seats sent chills up my spine, making me more uncomfortable than if they had been filled with haughty men and women. It was too easy for my overactive imagination to feel invisible eyes watching my every move as I passed by.

At the opposite end of the Hall, was the royal throne mounted on a small set of steps. There sat the Emperor waiting patiently for me to reach him. The only lit candles were those on the table beside the Emperor. I walked a little faster, partly to get out of the dark. Each step resonated soft tapping which then echoed in drumbeats as if a dozen soldiers were following.

Then, out of the corner of my eye I caught a glimpse of something lurking in an abandoned corner. I looked over my shoulder, then froze in horror.

There, gathering in the darkness right behind me were forming oily, blobby shapes. Their murky bodies had long tendril, snakelike arms and faceless heads. They dropped to the floor and began slithering over to me, their hands scraping – clawing at the ground. One reached my foot and sunk through the sole of my shoe. I felt its icy fingertips stroke across my skin as it began to dig, searching for my very essence.

Frightened, I kicked the thing, which immediately dissolved into a puddle of gloop, and spun towards the Emperor. Quickly, I ran till I reached the foot of the stairs. Breathing heavily, I looked back and could still make out the black, globs waving eerily in the darkness. But they wouldn’t come into the candlelight.

Feeling safe, I bowed deeply before His Majesty. He smiled and motioned for me to come up and join him. Eagerly, I leapt up across the steps till I stood directly before him.

Why do you look frightened, my child?” the Emperor asked.

Did you not see them?” I asked, pointing behind me.

See what?”

I looked over my shoulder. From up here with all the candles, I could no longer see those creepy beings.

Nothing, Your Majesty,” I murmured, sure that my mind had been playing tricks on me. Heaving a sigh of relief, I knelt at the Emperor’s feet. For a few moments, neither of us spoke a word. His Majesty looked thoughtful as he watched me.

After a while of twitching beneath his gaze and wondering what he was thinking, I finally asked, “Is something troubling you, Your Majesty?”

No, nothing is bothering me,” he replied tenderly, “I was only thinking how very like you resemble your mother.”

Oh. About that.” I rubbed my forehead, unsure how to begin. “Please, Your Majesty, I believe that there’s been some mistake,” I pleaded, before biting my tongue.

Go on,” He encouraged.

Perhaps I only look like your lost daughter,” I suggested, “I wish I could make you happy by being her, but I’m sure that I’m not.”

And why’s that?”

Well, I can’t be!” I tossed my hands up desperately. “I know who I am and who my parents are – were. They both died from a plague when I was very young and since then my grandparents have raised me. They are my family. If I was the lost princess . . .”

Everything would change,” the Emperor softly interjected, finishing my thought, “Everything you thought that was, would either be a lie or a falsehood. Your entire life would feel fake. Is that right?”

I nodded, surprised that he could know my fears so well. Tears choked at my throat as the terrible, threatening thought of my grandparents not being my family pulled at the back of my brain. Quickly, I pushed it away, but my heart still remained feeling hollow and empty.

The Emperor sensed my turmoil. “You have doubts,” he said gently, “I understand that. But allow me to tell you why I’m so sure that you belong to me – that you are my daughter.”

I nodded shakily, staring down at his hem.

First of all, you look the very image of your mother. You have her soft, chocolate eyes, her dark, brunet hair and her perpetually brown complexion.” He lifted my chin. “Though you have my stub of a nose,” the Emperor continued, “I can see her fierce spirit in your face.”

Self-consciously I rubbed the end of the spoken feature.

But that isn’t all. What’s your name?”

I frowned, confused. “Kkachi, Your Majesty,” I replied cautiously.

Yes,” he agreed wholeheartedly, “yes, it is. When I gave you to my trusted guard, I told him to call you Kkachi. That was my pet name for you. It means magpie.”

Magpie?”

Yes,” the Emperor bent down and touched my cheek, “The magpie is a symbol of good luck. You were my pride and joy – my good luck. That name would stand as a code of truth when I came back for you.”

Who was the guard?” I asked curiously.

Bong-Chol,” he replied, startling me with my grandfather’s name, “he was my best Imperial guard and my most-trusted friend. It was he and your old nursemaid who I chose to raise you as their own grandchild. It was most important that you were to be kept hidden.”

But why?” I asked, my head swarming.

The Emperor’s face grew dark. “Because you were not safe,” was all I received in reply.

Oh.”

Suddenly I realized something. Grandpa hadn’t been at the market-place with me. And the Emperor had not known my name when he recognized me. So, why did His Majesty pick me?

Your Majesty?” I stopped, hesitating.

Yes?”

You recognized me before I told you my name. How?”

He smiled.

You say that I look a lot like the Queen,” I continued, “but back in the square, I was such a mess not even Grandpa would have recognized me, had he been there. How could you have known that I was your daughter?”

The Emperor smiled sadly, then reached out and gently touched my scar. “Because of this.”

Then he opened up his arms. No longer hesitating, I walked into them and he held me close. My doubts disappeared as I laid my head softly against his chest. I felt warm and safe.

The Emperor was my father.


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Sun Jun 30, 2019 3:22 am
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ShadowVyper wrote a review...



Hey again shieldmaiden,

I noticed you had more chapters of this novel sitting in the Green Room, so I figured I'd drop by with another review, since I'm already one chapter into this story! Let's get started...

The chancellor was waiting outside to take me to the Hall to see the Emperor.


So, obviously this is your novel, but you might want to think about the implications of sending the chancellor to fetch her? He is, ostensibly, a high-ranking official. And yes, she's the long lost princess so it's not like he's being sent after a servant girl -- buuuuut it probably is insulting to his high rank to have to go escort her. That seems more like the role of a guard or a servant, rather than a high-ranking official.

“I know that ladies are often prone to swooning in my presence.


Oh gosh xD He's a pill, isn't he? So arrogant. I love it.

Now he was mocking me.


He's been mocking you xD

“First of all, you look the very image of your mother. You have her soft, chocolate eyes, her dark, brunet hair and her perpetually brown complexion.”


Be really, really careful about using "chocolate" or any food items to describe POCs in your novel. I know it probably doesn't offend everyone, but food-comparisons really upset a lot of POCs, and I assume you definitely aren't intending on being intentionally offensive. This is an excellent blog that talks about writing characters of color, specifically dealing with the food-comparison thing I mentioned above. I learned a lot from perusing those backlogs.

Then he opened up his arms. No longer hesitating, I walked into them and he held me close. My doubts disappeared as I laid my head softly against his chest. I felt warm and safe.


So, obviously this is your novel, but when you come back to revise you might want to think about the characterization here. I mean, I don't know how old your protagonist is, but I'm guessing somewhere about 14-15 based on interactions so far. And I don't know about you, but personally, if I met some strange man that claimed to be my long lost father, even IF he managed to convince me that he was actually my father, that still doesn't mean that I would instantly have fatherly feelings towards him.

She didn't know the emperor at all. Like, does she know ANYTHING about him aside from him being the emperor? Does she know his favorite food? His favorite hobby? How he interacts with his friends?

Just because he's her father doesn't mean that he's a good guy, and it doesn't mean that she instantly has to trust him or have warm feelings towards him. It just feels rushed and a bit unrealistic that she'd go from "you're not actually my father" to "omg daddy give me a hug" over the course of a single chapter.

~ ~ ~

Overall, another good chapter! I love how bratty the prince is -- I'm always a sucker for the jerky-but-endearing sarcastic boys in novels, and while that is also kind of trope-y with a poor girl turned princess randomly knowing a prince, it's a good friendship? being set up and I'm a fan.

I am confused about what happened when she first came into the hall. Is it foreshadowing for a future event? Seems strange that it was just suddenly forgotten. She came in all apprehensive and terrified, and now is acting like nothing is wrong in the world and the emperor is her dad and everything is just fine and dandy. Seems like if those creatures were some dark foreshadowing you should still be trying to give us an ominous feeling about the whole situation -- and if they're not foreshadowing to anything, are they actually serving a point in the novel? Not entirely sure what's going on there right now, if I'm being honest.

I do think I like the emperor, though. Obviously there is a LOT that needs to be explained as to why he sent away his daughter with his guard and nursemaid when she was tiny, how the guard and nursemaid were able to pretend to be her grandparents -- why they even posed to be her grandparents rather than her parents in the first place. Lots of questions that need to be explained eventually. But for now her dad seems decent and that gives me hope that he's not going to be abusive -- but you never know! This could take a twist I'm not currently expecting!

Hope this helps! Keep writing!

~Shady 8)




shieldmaiden says...


Thanks again Shady! U are giving me lots of ideas on how to make my novel even better :)



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Fri Apr 12, 2019 9:08 am
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FlamingPhoenix wrote a review...



Hello my friend, FlamingPhoenix here yet again with anther review for your work like always. And as always to help get it out the green room.

So I am really happy to say that I didn't see anything wrong with this chapter, it was written really well, everything was just perfect.
There was lots of questions I had in the last chapter that I was dying to find out more about, and lucky me I got the answers I needed, along with a few extra things, I'll tell you those in a second.
I'm really glad that Kkachi and her father have now talked about what needed to be talked about, so no their on the same page, it makes for a really cool next chapter. So I'm guessing Kkachi will now call her father, father.
I also think the Emperors nick make for Kkachi is really cute, I think magpie fits her rather well. Another thing about this chapter I like is that I managed to get a better look at the palace. I'm slowly getting a really good image in my head.
Now the thing that got me really excited was that we got to meat the prince again, and its quit clear he liked Kkachi, because he really can flirt. And that just made me laugh my head off, but it wasn't as funny as Kkachi's reactions, I'm not to sure if she likes him back, because she can be quit a hard head, but that's what makes her a lovable character.

Okay now onto the things that I really want answers for later on. XD

I really want to know more about Grandpa and Grandma, which I'm sure I will that's not really the biggest thing I'm wondering about right now.

Now onto the think I know I will see more of later on because you can't just have strange things attack Kkachi out of know were and then they are gone, and I'm sure she didn't just imagine it. I do wish I had gotten a better description, but I think that would have told the reader a bit to much.

As you can tell I just love your writing and I love reading and reviewing your things, because I will always get to find out new things. Never stop writing and have a great day/night.
And good luck with the next chapter, you are doing a great job so far.

Your friend and faithful reader
FlamingPhoenix.
Reviewing with a fiery passion.




shieldmaiden says...


Thanks so much Flamingphoenix. You are so fast at reviewing and they are so helpful - as always. ;) I'm glad that you enjoyed meeting the prince again. I enjoy writing him 'cause he's such a flirt. He cracks me up and is so much fun to write. Heads up about the grandparents: you aren't going to be able to see them for a while. A lot will be happening to Kkachi. However, I want to know your input later on and if you think they should appear sooner. Thanks so much my friend!





I'm glad my reviews help, and I review your stuff so fast because I'm so eager to find out what will happen next. Your a very good writer, and you have me hooked to this book.
I don't mind what you do with the grandparents, because I'm sure what ever you chose to do is for the best. There is nothing I can do to change it anyway. ;) I look forward to see what will happen to Kkachi next, she is a very brave and smart girl, so I look forward to what she will do next, and what will happen.



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Fri Apr 12, 2019 2:14 am
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Honora says...



It's really coming along! Keep up the good work Cecy! :)




shieldmaiden says...


Thanks Honora. Can't wait to review your work. I started to but the internet has been giving me trouble.



Honora says...


Np!
Sucky internet is the WORST! Weirdly, mine is actually working really well. Great...now I jinxed myself




cron
I am big enough to admit I am often inspired by myself.
— Leslie Knope