Chapter Twenty-Three: The Man in the Hood

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Her emerald eyes were fixated upon Duke Zenos, ignoring my presence as she always had. Her condescending gaze brimming with contempt made me quiver.

Duke Zenos put his hand around my shoulder, "Are you okay? You look pale."

I bit my lips to snap back, "I am fine."

"Your Majesty the Emperor, I hope you can kindly excuse us. Eli is feeling rather under the weather today," Duke Zenos requested.

The Emperor glanced at me with worry, "It is a pity but Eli's health comes first."

The Emperor is also calling me Eli?!

The Emperor added, "Ah, I hope you don't mind me calling you Eli after all we will soon be family."

Like father like son indeed...

A smile had found its way upon my face, "It is an honour, Your Majesty."

The Emperor smiled back and nodded.

Duke Zenos and I said in unison, "May the Spirits bless you."

As I turned away, my eyes sneaked one last peek at the Empress. What awaited me was much more frightening than I had imagined. Her eyes were finally on me, her gaze much stronger and petrifying than before.

I don't remember ever socialising with her whether it be in my past life or this one so why does it look like she despises me to her core? I already knew I would receive some hate from her for being the fiancé of Duke Zenos who is second in line to the throne. He is a thorn in the path of her son who is third in line to the crown. However, that still does not explain the scornful look I am victim of.

Before I could delve deeper into my thoughts, another person had appeared, "Oh brother, you are here!"

I looked up to face the man before us and knew his identity instantly.

"I greet the Star of the Empire, Your Highness the Crown Prince," Duke Zenos voiced.

The Crown Prince was the spitting image of the Emperor with his golden hair and ocean blue eyes. He shone brightly like he was emitting rays of the sun. He resembled an angel who had just descended from heaven.

The Crown Prince shrugged, "Not even you. Call me Zeke instead of Crown Prince."

Although it was small, I could see the corners of Duke Zenos's lips raise, "I can't dare do that, 'My dear Crown Prince'."

Through the exchange of these few lines, I could easily determine they had a strong bond.

As the Crown Prince was about to retaliate, his eyes fell on me, "And...who is this beautiful lady?"

Duke Zenos inched closer to me, his hand wrapped around my waist, "Eyes off. She is with me."

The Crown Prince held a genuinely shocked expression on his face, "Did you say she was with you, Zen? A girl with you? Such a beautiful one at that?"

"I greet the Star of the Empire, Your Highness the Crown Prince," I stated with a deep bow.

The Crown Prince took ahold of my hand and lightly kissed it, "Even your voice is beautiful. I wonder what your name and your reason for being with my dear brother Zen is."

As Duke Zenos separated the Crown Prince's hand from mine, I replied, "Forgive my lateness. I am Eliza Arielle Rosario and also Zen's fiancé."

"Rosario...Eliza...Eliz...Eli...That's right! You are the infamous Eli! I finally get to meet you. All Marquess Brandon does is brag about you whenever he comes to the Royal Palace," the Crown Prince said with a bright demeanor.

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