The Palace of Repentance was quiet, and seldom used. The Emperor had never been one to send the girls to the palace, it had been left untended and uninhabited for nearly eight long years. As Adela walked up the path to the palace, she sighed realizing that the years had not been gentle to the structure of wood and stone.
From the outside it was still fairly pretty, the structure was sturdy and kept well enough, but the plants on the sides of the walkway had grown wildly. Leaves and fallen cherry blossoms gathered on the cobbled path seeming to make it almost a sad landscape painting. The cold energy surrounding the place was befitting its name.
Adie couldn't believe the Emperor had sent the Empress here. Empress Evelyn had always been so loyal… and now cast aside as though it meant nothing. Sorrow built in her heart, she opened the door expecting to find the Empress on the bed in despair. What met her eyes was a shock.
At first she didn't spot the Empress and was a bit alarmed. The silhouette of a woman with her hair tied back in a cloth and a simple dress was in the process of wiping down the counters. For a moment Adie was enthralled by her. She spun and sang softly as she cleaned the room. Tossing one now blackened towel into a pile and grabbing the next clean one from the band of the dress to continue her mission. It took several minutes listening to her sing and watching her move before her eyes widened in shock.
"Empress?" Adie asked tentatively calling out for her lady without her eyes ever leaving the fair skinned woman. The woman turned and smiled brightly at her. Confirming Addie's suspicions.
The Empress's kind eyes looked back at her, stray strands of black hair wispily hung into her face. She looked years younger, as though many burdens had been lifted from her shoulders. Even dressed as a maid and cleaning the neglected palace she seemed happier than Adie had seen her.
"Adie, darling girl it isn't nice to stare." The Empress corrected with her gentle, motherly tone. Gone was the pretenses of Empress and standing before Adie was a loving mother, and gentle Grandmother Evelyn had never had the privilege to be.
Her words snapped Adie back to reality with a smile on her face. "This is a pleasant surprise, Miss." Adie greeted, setting a tray on the counter. Upon turning back around, she allowed herself to take in the inside of the palace.
It was small, smaller than any of the other palaces on the Imperial lands. However, inside it seemed huge. It was a open floor plan with a plain, stretched leather partition between the bed and the rest of the room. A single desk against one wall, and a table at the front of the room with two chairs at it. A cupboard being the only other item in the room. None of the items remotely matched in wood or style. They seemed to be cast off pieces that had been discarded by queens over the years. The floor was coated in dirt.
She could see every movement her Lady had made since she entered the room. There were also 2 piles of rags, one on top of the table, clean and ready to go and the other mounded on the floor waiting to be washed. Actually, she realized with a start, there were three. A more precise pile of prettier rags formed a pile near the bed, and on it lay the great cat known as Tears.
"I was as well. A little dirty, but with a bit of work this place will be more of a home than my own palace ever was." The Empress replied with a hint of excitement in her voice. "I mean the garden will need a lot of work, but it'd mostly just taming it. Tears had already gotten rid of most the pests that made this place so difficult to live in. Didn't you my little beauty?" her voice was filled with affection for her new found companion. The beast raised her head and chuffed softly in acknowledgement.
Sorry about last night. Here is the second Chapter that should have come out on July 4th. I got a little stressed with the fire works.
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