The Tyrant's Beloved Doll - Chapter 23
Chapter 23: Yulia, Lise, And Yerena
The fiasco in the West Library surprisingly passed without further incident. No one had made a fuss about it.
Sezh had been absolutely certain that retribution was headed her way. She told herself she wouldn’t be surprised if Bern, Lilian, and their minions told their mothers that they had been beaten by Raytan and that Sezh had joined in on the fight.
But there had been no retaliation from Bern and Lili’s faction, and the Imperial Palace was peaceful even at night. Luna heard Sezh’s account of the situation before the fight and said, “Well, the princes and princess were the ones who started the fight, anyway.”
She meant to imply that the princes and princesses likely did not want to admit responsibility for causing trouble in the West Library, but Sezh believed that they had a different motivation for keeping quiet. In her opinion, Bern was trying to keep the incident in the dark because he was afraid that others would come to know how Raytan had handily trounced him.
Bern was a prideful man. The same could have been said about Lili, who was as arrogant as her brother.
Out of all the numerous children amongst the emperor’s concubines, Bern and Lilian were the only true brother and sister pair of siblings. Their biological mother was a woman named Yulia, and she had been the emperor’s favorite companion before Lise arrived.
She commanded the most respect out of all the concubines. Her influence and status were the only reasons why Bern and Lilian were allowed to run amok without anyone to check their movements or hold them back. Though Yulia was not the empress, that did not stop her from acting as if she herself wore the crown.
With a haughty gaze, she often looked down on and ignored anyone she deemed unworthy of her time. She was well aware of the fact that she held the greatest power amongst the concubines and often used it to her advantage. Because of this, Yerena, who was ambitious herself, hated Yulia as well. In fact, she used to despise her with every fiber of her being.
But then, one day, Lise was brought into the Imperial Palace as the emperor’s newest concubine. There was an often repeated saying which said, “The enemy of my enemy is my friend.” Now that they had a common adversary between them, Yulia and Yerena agreed to a truce and maintained a seemingly good relationship on the outside as if nothing had ever happened between them.
Of course, that was not true at all.
After Lise made her appearance, not only Yerena but Yulia also turned into cold rice in the emperor’s eyes.
Yulia’s situation, however, was far better than Yerena’s since she had Bern, a son. And, as things were currently, Bern was the most powerful and likely candidate to claim the throne and become the next emperor.
Like mother, like son. Bern, who had grown up his entire life without ever knowing want or regret, also hated Raytan and Lise. But since Lise was still loved by the emperor, Bern was unable to harass her directly. Raytan, on the other hand, was an exception.
Even though they shared the same father, Bern and Raytan were like heaven and earth to one another. Their situations were so remarkably different in so many ways, including how much protection they received. As a result, Raytan not only suffered from his status as a cursed child but also received the ire of those who hated Lise. By default, he became the one to take the anger and the blame for any transgressions the concubines alleged against Lise.
While Bern preferred to harass Raytan, Lilian mostly opted to pick on Sezh. Each of Yulia’s children had their own, favorite toys.
Raytan was often beaten, cursed, and treated similarly to how he had been during the events leading up to the fight in the West Library. Meanwhile, Sezh’s situation did not differ greatly from his. Lilian often yanked Sezh’s hair and struck her across the face just for daring to meet her eyes.
In fact, Lilian’s abuse was the predominant reason why young Sezh had previously suffered from severe depression and aphasia1 for many years until she reached the age of ten.
In spite of all this, the one good constant in Sezh’s life was Luna. She alone was the only one who always stood by her side and knew her best. Whenever Sezh was ill or injured, Luna was there to tend to the little princess without fail, while Yerena could not care less if her daughter died or not.
It was thanks to Luna that Sezh’s conditions were able to improve significantly compared to before. She was always so kind to her and even sometimes went so far as to bear Yerena’s anger in place of Sezh.
So, it was completely reasonable for Luna to be stunned by the sudden news that Sezh, her normally meek and timid princess, was going to receive Kazaki lessons from Raytan.
Naturally, Luna was totally against the idea.
Her opposition stemmed from her perfectly valid fear that if Yerena were to ever find out about Sezh’s continued interactions with Raytan, she would beat her until she broke her arm or legs—or worse. Sezh also thought so, too.
But she couldn’t help it. She had to take the risk because in five years time, her life would be at Raytan’s mercy and not Yerena’s. Yerena was going to beat her no matter what, but there was still a chance she could sway Raytan’s heart. So, for the sake of her future, she needed to persuade Luna to allow her to go.
In addition, learning Kazaki was already something that Sezh really wanted to accomplish, and since Raytan was fluent in the language, it made him the best choice in the palace. Sezh also told Luna that she had received permission to do so from Lise. At the mention of Lise’s name, Luna became even more flustered.
Sezh, who saw this, took the opportunity to address Luna’s apprehensions and continued.
“I won’t let my mother find out.”
The fight in the library passed quietly, anyway, and no one else will know that I’m taking private lessons from big brother Raytan.
But Luna seemed unrelieved.
“What if the princes and the princesses come to the library again?”
Sezh took a moment to ponder her words.
Even though big brother Raytan thoroughly pummeled Bern last time, Bern is still a tenacious man. He has a firm mind that is dead set on torturing and harassing Raytan for as long as he is alive. He’s certainly going to lead the pack again and find us in the West Library.
“Then I’ll talk to Lady Lise,” Sezh suggested after a while. “So, could you find me another place in the meantime?”
Luna sighed in defeat when it became apparent that Sezh would not relent.
“I understand. I’ll let you go, but please promise me a few things.”
Sezh nodded as Luna proceeded to list off her conditions.
“First, I need to accompany you when you go or come back from meeting with Prince Raytan. Second, if another fight happens, Your Highness must put an end to the tutoring. And last but not least, don’t get close to Prince Raytan.”
I can understand and accept your first and second conditions, but I can’t promise to do the third. I’m learning Kazaki because I need to win his favor, so I need to get close to him!
Sezh looked hesitant, so Luna continued to elaborate.
“I can’t help it if you want to continue tutoring this strongly, but I can’t relax at all in this type of situation. So please, promise me you won’t get any closer than you need to. I’m sorry to say this about Sir Raytan, but I don’t want the princess to get hurt because of him.”
Eventually, Sezh had no choice but to agree to her demands.
The only purpose in me receiving private lessons from him is to get close to him. If I say this out loud, Luna will really scold me for sure, and she won’t let me go to bed until she hears me tell her the answer she wants to hear.