Chapter 26: The Empress’s Shame
Sophie looked around in shock as she found herself back in the strange realm hidden inside her necklace. The last memory she could recall was feeling sleepy after downing all those nutrient vials, so she just rested her head lightly on the dining table.
Could it be I fell asleep?
During the day, Sophie had discovered that she was unable to properly circulate the qi gathering method without a feeling of nausea welling up in her chest.
She had also taken a short nap on the spaceship travelling to the mansion but did not enter this mysterious realm during that time.
Maybe it was only accessible at nighttime….
The space had remained the same with vast emptiness below her feet and the only item that she could see was the stone monument with the ancient texts. Sophie began to slowly walk towards it as she wanted to read the words more carefully.
A loud tapping noise came from her right side as Sophie turned around to see a blurry figure also walking towards the slab.
“Um…Hello?” she called out cautiously.
The figure had been single-mindedly approaching the monument but turned around in apparent shock. Sophie could now vaguely make out the image of a young girl with six spider legs attached to her back but her facial features and body were shrouded in a dark fog.
The girl ran towards her and Sophie froze in panic, but the blurry figure just held her hands tightly and one of her spider legs gently touched the sides of her face.
“Oww dvv qdc? L xygjokx Z opa wlv gctb sew dn wlv jdgdp wsbqoc nzd wzrvv p awei sbcoik,” a strange language came out of the spider girl’s mouth.
What was that language? The sounds of the words reminded her of the ancient text on the monument, but she was unable to decipher it.
“Do you speak the universal tongue?” the girl tried a second time once she realised that Sophie could not understand her.
Sophie quickly scanned her memories and found the language that this mystery girl was referring to. It was the universal language used for trade between merchants of different empires and planets.
She nodded in excitement and tried to give a reply, but a powerful suction force from behind the monument dragged her away from the girl’s hands and she crashed straight into the slab with a yelp.
Sophie woke up to a pounding headache and a strange sense of bewilderment. Why did she feel a strong connection to that person… it almost felt as though she was meeting family.
(Hidden Planet X-746 -> Insectoid Empire)
“Mom!” a loud call was heard, and a young girl scrambled towards the empress who was quietly sitting down while watching the sun rise.
She was delicate as a flower and had a mischievous air surrounding her.
“How many times must I tell you to conduct yourself with the grace befitting royalty! “a stern warning came from the middle-aged woman.
Princess Rai’lle quickly smile charmingly at her mother and waved around her spider legs in surrender. She was only twenty-five and the youngest member of the younger generation of the royal family.
But rumors had been spreading that some of the older princesses were pregnant which made her position a bit unstable.
She twisted and turned trying to suppress her excitement and the empress gave a small sigh before allowing her to speak.
The empress could not help but indulge her youngest offspring after her favourite daughter had been banished to an unknown exoplanet for the crimes of diluting the royal blood.
Fortunately, the hybrid child had not survived, or she would have been executed as soon as she returned to their home planet. A sorrowful look of pain crossed her face as she recalled weeping for days after the decision had been made by her husband.
The princess noticed her mother’s bad mood and tried to calm herself down.
“Esteemed empress mother, I was practicing the Spider Whisper Art in the holy space when I think I saw someone there with me… I tried to talk to her using the ancient tongue, but she replied in universal trade speech,” the princess said softly.
“Impossible!” the empress roared.
A storm raged in her heart at the very notion of such an improbable occurrence. The Spider Whisper Art was one of the many powerful qi gathering methods of the Arcahnais tribe, but it had strict requirements which made it very unpopular to cultivate.
The strength of this art was not apparent till the higher stages and the only significant boost to the cultivator would be enhanced speed and mana reserves.
Firstly, the art could only be practised if the user wore a Star of Ethnaise attached to their neck at all times. Secondly the art would activate automatically, and the qi would circulate continuously but only in the presence of darkness.
The last and most import criteria was that the individual had to be female and of the royal blood.
“I know what I saw in the space… and also the girl only had four spider legs!” the princess said with a small pout.
“Nonsense…. all Arcahnais are born with six legs. The only exception would be a birth defect or some sort of hybrid,” the empress calmly replied.
(Wait a minute… a hybrid)
(No. Surely not. The baby and the man were never found)
An unpleasant feeling of apprehension crept up on the empress as she remembered that the child was declared dead as no trace of the human male could be located after months of searching the surround galaxies.
The empress widened her eyes in shock, it had been a whirlwind of events when her daughter had been exiled and she did not notice it at the time but the Star of Ethnaise around her neck was missing!
Why would it be missing?
“Rai’lle… promise me that you will never talk of this matter to a single person after this meeting,” she urgently spoke in a grave tone.
The princess was confused but her mother had rarely talked to her in that manner before, so she quickly gave her word and left the room with a respectful bow.
The empress sank back in her chair and kept getting flashbacks of her beloved daughter boarding the transport ship with a look of defiance etched across her face. No matter the abuse and mockery thrown her way by the spectating crowd….
She remained upright as though the words had no effect on her.
Shame and guilt were buried deep within the empress as she watched silently as her daughter left…never to return. It was at that moment that a deep sense of hatred was felt towards her husband for the terrible decision he made.
She could not care less if her granddaughter was not a full Arcahnais.
The relationship between the empress and emperor had never been the same since and her husband now sought companionship from his many concubines to fill his desires. Whispers grew that the empress had fallen out of favour but none would be bold enough to speak of them in her presence.
There were several necklaces of Ethnaise present in the royal treasury but only her youngest daughter was currently cultivating this art. It would be a simple matter to withdraw the remaining necklaces secretly and hide them as they could easily be concealed.
“I failed you once my child,” the empress muttered
“But I promise that I will keep your daughter safe as long as I can.”