Ch. 164 Knew It Would Happen (1)
Ophelia greeted Elena with a gracious expression when she entered the room.
“You have arrived.”
When Elena bowed to her, she recalled the conflict between Carlisle and Ophelia. Beneath the facade of virtue, there was poison in the Empress’ smile.
But Elena was also formidable. She answered with a broad smile on her face.
“Thank you again for accepting my invitation.”
“You’re welcome. All the ambassadors from all over the world are here, and one should support the crown princess, don’t you think?”
“Yes, Your Majesty.”
In truth, Ophelia would not easily tolerate a meeting between the ambassadors and Elena without her there. If Ophelia hadn’t been invited, it was likely she would have prevented the party from happening. She didn’t reveal it outwardly, however, and Elena was grateful that Ophelia did not know her intentions. Smiling and talking with the Empress at a party was something Elena would have never considered in her past life. She had been reluctant to engage in these artificial pleasantries before, and so she found her current position ironic.
Elena suddenly wondered if the smile on her face was as natural as Empress Ophelia’s. Even if she didn’t have the Empress’ skill, perhaps in time she would learn to wear a poisoned smile to trick her opponent. It didn’t really match her personality, however…
Still, she would try to do it better than anyone else, if it meant protecting her family and Carlisle.
With her own smile that she practiced in the mirror dozens of times, Elena approached a group of ambassadors, holding her head tall.
“Thank you all for coming to my party. Please enjoy yourself before you return home.”
The ambassadors eagerly replied at the same time.
“Thank you for your invitation!”
“I’ll eat and drink as much as I can today. Ha ha ha.”
The sound of laughing and talking filled the room. Elena looked at them with a satisfied expression, then clapped lightly as a signal.
Dancers emerged in synchronization to the center of the stage, all dressed in airy, chiffon costumes to perform traditional dances of the Ruford Empire.
“A group of famous dancers from the Ruford Empire will perform for us today. I hope you will enjoy their performances.”
It was more common to have dancers at a large imperial ball rather than a small party like this. The Ruford Empire’s dances were famous for its splendor and beauty, but it was rumored they were rarely performed.
Delegates from each country watched in fascination as the dancers move in ways they had never seen before. Their rich costumes fluttered in the air, giving the appearance of goddesses descending from heaven.
A sound of admiration came from the ambassadors. Ophelia looked on with an interested expression, as if she hadn’t expected the dancers.
“You are quite meticulous. It hadn’t been that long since you’ve sent out the invitations, and yet you’ve already prepared a variety of things to see in such a short time.”
“I thought of how I could promote the status of the Ruford Empire to the ambassadors. I’m very happy to hear that you have a good impression, Your Majesty.”
Ophelia’s eyes flashed in response to Elena’s answer, but Elena did not notice. Ophelia naturally continued.
“Still, a beautiful dance does not symbolize the empire. It may have been around for generations, but what truly represents the empire is—”
Elena answered before she could finish.
Elena’s and Ophelia’s gaze collided in midair. A smile spread innocently on Elena’s face.
“I’ve prepared other things to match the status of the Ruford Empire.”
Because Ophelia could ask what it was, the dancers disappeared behind the stage, just as beautiful men and women in white uniforms took their place. Their austere atmosphere was very different from the graceful dancers just before, and the audience looked on in anticipation.
It was then.
There was a spirited shout, and a sword dance began. Such a demonstration would convey the military might of the Ruford Empire to the ambassadors.
“This is the Ruford Empire, too.”
“The sword dance is flawless without any superfluous moves.”
Their compliments carried as far back towards where Ophelia and Elena were sitting. Ophelia had an unpleasant look in her eyes, but her mouth still held a benevolent smile.
“Yes, the Crown Princess has prepared it well.”
“Not at all. I still have a lot to learn from you, Your Majesty.”
Elena watched the stage as she feigned humility. It was finally time for the main event. Some of the sword dancers temporarily held aside their blades for a moment, while the others pulled out pink flowers from their arms.
They tossed the pink flowers into the air, and the waiting sword dancers cut the petals into dozens of pieces.
Swig, swig, swig.
The petals fell in the air like rain, and the ambassadors burst into applause at the sight.
“The Ruford Empire is impressive.”
The sweet fragrance of the pink flowers sweetened the senses everyone at the party, and Elena’s red eyes glistened as she watched the pink petals drift slowly to the floor. These very flowers were the ones that grew on the Manera plant, and the performances were simply a means to draw attention to them.
Sensing that it was the right time, Elena stepped forward, clapping her hands just like the beginning. Then she opened her mouth to speak to all those present.
“Wonderful. Please, let’s show our appreciation for the performers.”
At Elena’s encouragement, the applause from all sides rang louder. At that time, one of the ambassadors deliberately planted in advance spoke up.
“Excuse me, may I ask you what these petals are? It smells so sweet. Is it a flower that only grows in the Ruford Empire?”