How to Protect the Emperor’s Child – Chapter 1

It had been a decade since the time Astelle was willing to sacrifice her life for someone else. Astelle von Reston had been groomed meticulously to become the crown princess of the empire. Her education spanned various disciplines, including politics, history, military studies, arts, literature, and the intricate court etiquettes. Unlike other children, she had no time for play or rest—her life was solely dedicated to studying. Despite the hardships, Astelle persevered, driven by her love for a young boy she met on her 10th birthday.

That boy was Kaizen, the Prince of the Lastiel Empire, characterized by his dark hair and red eyes. On that momentous day, Kaizen presented Astelle with the “Blue Moonlight,” a precious heirloom of the Lastiel Empire’s imperial family—a symbol of their engagement. From that instant, Astelle’s purpose in life was solidified.

Ten more years passed by, with Astelle diligently preparing to become the empress. She spent her spare time at the imperial palace, studying and fulfilling her responsibilities. She even assisted Emperor Kaizen, visiting him often to lend a helping hand. Everything appeared to be going well until the tides turned.

Rumors began to circulate, hinting that the Crown Prince intended to break off his engagement with Astelle. In response, Astelle’s father, Duke Reston, hastened their wedding to dispel these rumors. As per the Duke’s request, the ceremony proceeded, making Astelle and Kaizen an official married couple.

On the night of their wedding, Kaizen expressed his desire to delay having children, assuring Astelle that they had plenty of time. Grateful for his consideration, Astelle agreed and decided to take birth control pills to avoid any misunderstandings. Kaizen, however, insisted on not burdening her and took the pill himself. Throughout the night, he treated Astelle with care and affection, making her feel content. She believed that despite their political marriage, they would respect and support each other for a lifetime.

But dreams are often fleeting. The following morning, Astelle’s world shattered with the news of Emperor Kaizen’s sudden demise. On that very afternoon, the newly crowned Emperor Kaizen informed Astelle, now the empress, that he wished to divorce her. He made it abundantly clear that their marriage had been his late father’s wish and that he had never truly loved her. Astelle’s heart broke as she watched the man she had dedicated her life to discard her like a mere inconvenience.

Gazing at the necklace that symbolized their engagement, Astelle realized that she had been the only one clinging to the memories and significance of their relationship. Kaizen had been planning to abandon her from the start. Crushed by the revelation, Astelle made the decision to tell the lie he wanted to hear. She denied her love for him—the man who had been her reason for living, but now only a husband for a single day. In an instant, Astelle became the shortest-serving empress in history.

Astelle’s divorce sparked a great commotion throughout the empire. Divorces within the royal family were typically a complicated affair, often resulting in lengthy legal battles. However, due to Astelle’s agreement to the divorce, the process was swift and uncomplicated. Despite the shock it caused her father and other noblemen, Astelle willingly gave up her title as empress without a fight. Consequently, she was disowned and left with no financial support.

With only the money she had managed to save and her cherished jewelry, Astelle bought a small house near a forest. The plan was to lead a quiet life, sustaining herself by selling embroideries and paintings. Her days passed peacefully until a shocking revelation reached her ears—a nearby pharmacist claimed that she might be pregnant.

Terrified, Astelle hurriedly retreated to the second floor of a small bakery, taking refuge in a cramped room. For a week, she had been working downstairs and sleeping with her child in the small room at night. Though difficult, it was a relatively safe place compared to others. Astelle’s child, Theor, a reflection of his father with his dark hair and red eyes, was nonetheless an adorable and clever boy. Together, they practiced wordplay, bringing some solace to their challenging circumstances.

On this particular day, as the sound of approaching footsteps reverberated through the air, Astelle scrambled to hide a small bottle of medicine. It had been two months since they went into hiding. As knights burst through the door, Astelle held Theor close, uncertain of what awaited them.

The leader of the knights, addressing her as Lady Astelle, informed her that Emperor Kaizen was in search of her presence.