When the Mad Emperor Suddenly Becomes Sweet - Chapter 45
Freya had arrived back at the tent and was cleaning a bloody arrow tip when a maid appeared behind her. The maid announced, “His Majesty’s bath water is ready.” Upon hearing this, Lucius put down his glass and stood up slowly. He had already taken his armor off and Freya put down the arrow tip and was about to start cleaning the bloody dagger. She wondered what he had done in the forest to have gotten this much blood on his equipment. Of course, there were always rumors, but when she looked at Lucius something didn’t quite seem to add up. As she was rubbing hard at the bloodstains, Lucius asked her, “Freya, what are you doing?” She was confused as surely it was perfectly obvious what she was doing? She looked up at him, and he said, “Follow and attend me.” She was shocked at his words, as she had always thought that Lucius never had anyone attend him in the bath. There were rumors of how he didn’t like to be touched, and yet now he was asking her to attend him. Freya just couldn’t figure out what was a rumor and what was true in these times.
They arrived in the bathing tent, and Freya immediately noticed that it was hot and damp from the steam of the water. Lucius was directed in by the maids, and then he dismissed everyone. Freya thought that was also her cue to leave, so she started to follow the maids out. However Lucius’ voice stopped her in her tracks and he said, “Freya, you stay there.” She felt embarrassed but she knew that she had to obey.
Lucius’ shirt was wet with sweat, and she could see the outline of his muscles through the shirt. She followed the line of his shirt down toward his long legs, and she wondered what he’d eaten to become so tall. His blonde hair always reminded her of a small face from her past, but the small soft face of baby Ruth was now fading in her memory. There was something familiar in His Majesty’s light green eyes, and she wondered what it was. However she was quickly brought back to the task at hand by Lucius asking, “Freya, why aren’t you taking off my clothes?” Freya murmured in acknowledgment and moved to begin the task at hand. The job of a servant certainly seemed more difficult than she had first imagined, and she had not expected it to include bathing duties. However the thought of five gold coins stayed strong in her mind, and she knew that whatever she had to do would ultimately be worth it. Lucius was not kind or comfortable in the way that Archer was, so she knew she couldn’t talk back to him. Gritting her teeth and resolving to do her best, she untied his shirt so that he was completely naked from the waist up. The pants remained, but Freya was not sure that she could continue. Lucius pointed over to a chemise and said, “Bring that to me.” Freya quickly obeyed and put it on Lucius, making sure that it came right down to cover his knees. Lucius then removed his pants by himself and slowly got into the hot tub.
Freya felt relieved that he had taken the last step by himself, but she wished he had explained this before. She knew of his unusual personality, but this was her first time doing a bath attendant and she was trying her best. She gently said, “Your Majesty, I do apologize but this is my first time on bathing duties. It would be much easier for me to do it well if you could tell me the order.” Lucius didn’t bother to reply and simply pointed at his hair as an instruction for her to wash it. Freya opened the hair cleaner bottle and, after smelling it, poured some into her hand and began to wet his hair. It was so soft to her fingers, and she imagined that she was touching flowers in a garden. She began to rub the cleaner into his scalp, and he lay back with his arms on the side of the tub and his eyes closed. Freya wished that he would tell her what to do next, as she felt unsure of what she was supposed to be doing. She finished on his head and moved her hands down to rub his naked shoulders and collarbone, hoping that this was the right thing to do.
The room was getting warmer, and Freya felt that she might fall asleep if the temperature maintained itself for much longer. As she looked at Lucius in the hot water, she was reminded of her own bath before and she felt like her nerves were slowly melting. She resolved to move around actively, so she went over to gather the rest of the flowers and put them in the tub. She was thinking about Ruth and wondered if she was growing up well. It had been around three years since they had last met which, by Freya’s calculations, made Ruth almost ten years old now. Her mouth felt tingly as she thought of Ruth, so she looked at Lucius again and saw that his eyes were closed and he looked almost as if he were dreaming. She couldn’t help thinking that he looked pretty with his eyes closed, and she smiled as she added more flowers to the water. Lucius’ eyes suddenly snapped open and focused on her, and she saw him through the falling flowers that she was dropping into the water. He spoke sternly to her, “Your blatant gaze is rather uncomfortable to me.” Freya looked shocked and replied, “Pardon?” Lucius continued, “Didn’t you just lick your lips like I was a piece of meat that you wanted to devour?” It felt as though he were mocking her, and she wanted to explain that it was all a misunderstanding. She hadn’t licked her lips at all, rather she had just smiled a little. As a matter of fact, even her smile hadn’t been for him but had come from her thoughts about Ruth. However, she knew that she was not able to say this to him, so she replied, “It seems like I was hungry.” She knew how pathetic this sounded and felt ashamed and embarrassed.
The bath was over and Lucius now sat on a chair in his tent drinking tea. Freya was beside him, wondering why he hadn’t dismissed her yet. It was long after the time that she was supposed to finish, and she kept glancing outside of the tent in the hope that he would realize and send her away. But Lucius looked at her and announced, “I’m reminded of something every time I look at you.” Lucius drank his tea and thought of a beast he had seen in a field, far away in a ruined land. He wasn’t sure of the name of this particular beast, but Freya with her neck stuck out reminded him a lot of it. She answered quickly after just dismissing whatever he said.