Numerous women who have come of age this year entered the ballroom one after another.
According to the laws of the Empire, all women who had not yet had a coming-of-age ceremony were invited to the Imperial Palace to check whether they had the qualities of a butterfly.
For commoners, it was the only day in their lifetime that they could enter the Imperial Palace, regardless of their status.
However, the atmosphere in the ballroom was somewhat chaotic.
The women were chatting among themselves when they saw someone standing in the middle.
It was standard to wear colorful clothes reminiscent of flowers for the Flower Banquet.
However, Asha was wearing a turquoise dress that became darker as it went down, and her long blonde hair was half-braided and reached her waist.
Not knowing that she’s a butterfly, some of the nobles laughed at her for not knowing the basic court manners.
But whatever they did, Asha simply stared at the throne.
Karaf was there, dressed more splendidly than ever.
Maybe it was because it was an important event that only happens once a year.
He was wearing a fancy uniform instead of his usual loose clothes.
The black uniform, symbolizing the black rose, was decorated with many dazzling gold trim on the collar and sleeves, and the dark red cloak around his shoulder was also embroidered with golden roses.
He paid more attention to his appearance for today’s event.
His hair was neatly slicked back and he even put on makeup.
In Etzheim, the kingdom of flowers, both men and women used makeup extracted from flowers for important occasions.
With his already gorgeous appearance and makeup, he was dazzlingly bright, and at the same time gave off an overbearing aura like a rose with thorns.
Many women were mesmerized and stared at him.
But then, for a brief moment, his red eyes were fixed on her.
His eyes widened slightly, then an eyebrow furrowed.
She expected that kind of reaction from him.
He paid so much attention to his appearance because of the butterfly, but he didn’t expect the butterfly to be dressed like this.
His slightly disappointed face looked as if he regretted not choosing her dress himself.
But he didn’t know either.
The secret behind this dress…….
Soon the music began to play and the ‘butterfly dance‘ began.
The flower banquet was the first to mark the beginning with the dance of the butterfly candidates.
They all began to perform the traditional dance of the Empire, which they practiced a lot for this day.
But, the women who overtly ignored Asha soon realized that they were completely wrong about her.
As soon as the dance started, everyone’s eyes focused on Asha, who was standing in the center.
A barefoot Asha performed a passionate dance without hesitation.
Amid all of the bright and glamorous dresses, her dark figure stood out the most.
Asha danced seductively, gently lowering her eyelids with indifferent eyes.
Her delicate arms curved gracefully in the air, her snow-white skin, red lips, and the elegance in her cold expression, it was like seeing a single camellia blooming in winter.
All the nobles were enchanted by her.
Asha dances, looking only at the Emperor.
She deliberately placed herself in the middle of the ballroom to stand out to him.
As expected, Karaf watches her attentively.
His eyes widened and his lips parted slightly as if he was genuinely surprised.
It seemed as if the petals were fluttering around her every time she turned around.
Her bare feet moved so lightly that they barely touched the floor, as if she were alone in a field of flowers, gliding freely over the flowers, like a boundless butterfly.
However, the tempo of the music was getting faster and the dance was heading toward the end.
Everyone who looked at Asha’s eyes widened at the same time.
Suddenly, a whirlwind blew around her dress, and a layer of the dress slipped off her shoulder, revealing a new red top.
The upper part of the dress was divided into 5 as if they were petals giving a new shape to the skirt of the dress.
Like a flower that opens in an instant, the dress turned green and red as she twirled.
It looks so natural as if it had been a dress that looked like this from the beginning.
It was a kind of ‘symbol‘, a kind of magic that only butterflies can do, keeping the spirit of the wind in its heart.
As the butterfly dances, the flower blooms.
Her red dress meant a rose, but also a camellia flower.
It meant that the Emperor would blossom as well as she herself would bloom anew.
A true ‘butterfly dance‘, like a butterfly hatching splendidly from its pupa.
Asha wanted to show this narrative to everyone through her dance.
Shortly after the music ended, Asha struck a seductive ending position with one hand up and the other down.
With an elegant figure that seemed to fly away at any moment, thunderous shouts and applause resounded in the banquet hall.
Asha took a slow deep breath.
She had a slight sweat on her forehead, but the lively atmosphere brought a faint smile to her lips.
Ella was standing by a pillar with a shocked expression on her face.
Then Karaf got up from his seat and said.
“I would like to express my gratitude to the butterfly candidates who lit up this banquet today.
You are all precious guests who have been formally invited to the Imperial Palace, so put all your worries and concerns aside and enjoy the banquet to your heart’s content.”
When he finished speaking, he glanced at Asha.
But Asha didn’t meet his eyes on purpose.
She looked away with an indifferent expression.
The corners of his sharp eyes turned up slightly, and then one corner of his mouth lifted slightly.
“A real butterfly flew into this banquet today.”
At those words, everyone’s gazes turned to Asha at the same time again.
Although he didn’t specifically refer to her, everyone knew that it was her, so the protagonist at today’s ball was Asha.
“…… Yes, Your Majesty.”
Asha bowed and greeted him politely, lifting the hem of her dress.
“Come to my side.”
Everyone in the banquet hall was shocked by the Emperor’s words.
During several flowering ceremonies, he had never called a woman to come to his side.
But Asha, with no shame, grabbed the hem of her dress and walked over to Karaf.
Karaf’s smile grew stronger at her boldness.
The mere movement of her footsteps was enchanting as if a scent emanated from her.
Many noblemen had already fallen in love with her.
As Asha drew closer to him, Karaf tapped the empty seat next to him.
As she sat down, the Imperial Musicians began to play bright music suitable for social events.
Karaf says as his deep gaze looks at her.
“You look very beautiful today.”
Asha was inwardly shocked at those words.
He had never openly told her before that she was very beautiful.
She has received a hell of compliments from him like ‘all you have is that good looks’….
Seeing Asha’s reluctant expression, Karaf smiled slightly, and then asked, pulling his face closer to the side.
“So, have you given my proposal a good consideration in the meantime?”
Asha didn’t look at him, but looked ahead and answered calmly.
“…… Butterflies only use their bodies to choose flowers.”
The corners of his lips turned up.
“I like it.”
He hid his expression, but his voice was full of excitement.
“There is still time until the official announcement of the butterfly.
On the last day of the festival, you will be introduced to the people of the Empire as Vanessa and my Empress.
Until then, relax and enjoy the festival.”
“…… Yes, Your Majesty.”
Asha looked around the hall, ignoring his eager eyes that seemed to want to hold her hand.
A wonderful mural was painted on the ceiling.
It was a sacred picture of Etzheim holding and smelling a rose on which a butterfly had landed.
It was a flower garden in full bloom.
In the mural, the god Etzheim was wearing a white robe as if he was embracing everything, his eyes were closed, and a benevolent smile.
Etzheim, the kingdom of flowers, was named after a god worshiped by distant ancestors, meaning ‘tree of life‘, and he was the god who reigns over all plants.
Although butterflies were known to have close communion with God as they were chosen beings, Asha had never had communion with God even though she has resented God.
Asha looked at the mural, then turned her gaze back to the people.
As the banquet began, the women invited to the Imperial Palace began to socialize enthusiastically.
Although they were not chosen by the Emperor, they wanted to fully enjoy their once-in-a-lifetime banquet.
They laughed and babbled as if butterflies were flying through the flower garden in search of their favorite flower.
Asha had never experienced this before, so this scene was a bit refreshing, but she was soon focused on finding someone.
Now the time for the assassin to appear was imminent.
There was only one chance.
While keeping Karaf from danger, she was also vigilant so as not to lose her life.
After her last words, Asha didn’t say a word at Karaf’s side.
Karaf leaned to the side, looking intently at her contemplative face.
She danced recklessly earlier, and from the moment she sat down next to him, she became very quiet.
However, her upright posture and calm gaze seemed worthy of an Empress.
And her slightly loose hair, delicate neckline, collarbone, and long eyelashes looked so elegant from the side.
He felt it when he first saw her, but when he took a closer look, she was more beautiful and mysterious.
He couldn’t understand why he was mean to such a beautiful woman.
Suddenly, a desire to capture her arises in Karaf’s heart.
It was like the hunting instinct of an animal, but in this case, a flower attracts a butterfly with its scent.
It was to let the other party know that they had sweet honey.
Soon, a dizzying and strong scent of roses emanated from his body.
It was a strong pheromone that would bewitch any normal woman.
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