“Oh… Joshua Sanders…” The girl behind the wall, Sersiarin, seemed equal parts amused and bemused. The way he’d introduced himself made it clear he wasn’t an aristocrat. No doubt she was confused to find a commoner wandering through the Imperial Palace.
“You have a beautiful name—”
“I’ve heard it in a book. Sanders, a flower that only blossoms in the Tripia region in the extreme east of the Empire; it’s said to be more beautiful than a rose in full bloom, but its meaning in the language of flowers couldn’t be more tragic—”
“You need to stop.” Joshua frowned.
“What are you saying…?” Sersiarin was perplexed. “Did I say something wrong? If that’s the case, you have my sincere apologies. Please forgive my rudeness.”
“You did nothing wrong.” He shook his head firmly. “...By the way,” he asked after a moment of silence, “is it uncomfortable going out of the palace without an escort? Are you alright going out alone?”
“How did you—”
Joshua smiled sourly. “I’ve also heard the story of the beautiful yet tragic Princess of the Hwahwa Palace.”
“Ah…” Sersiarin gasped. “Could you tell me more about the rumors you heard about me?”
“Hmm… Hwahwa Palace is secluded from the world; there lives a beautiful princess whose looks are unmatched in all of history…” Joshua trailed off into a sigh. “...but it is said that she is blind.”
“Ah, I… I never expected— I see.”
This is why I didn’t want to see you right now. Joshua shook his head. Sersiarin sounded so lonely.
Joshua was well aware of the Imperial Family’s hidden troubles; the reality was, the Princess behind the wall suffered the most.
The most likely reason the Emperor imprisons his own daughter is because she’s disabled.
“The eyes that see the truth… that’s the most important thing,” Joshua mumbled, too quiet for anyone else to hear.
“I hope you don’t feel sorry for me.” Sersiarin’s voice was laced with bitterness.
Joshua cursed himself. I know my mistakes—
“I think I understand Young Master Joshua’s reaction a little. The rumors… After all, my father has a reputation for being overprotective, right? But… that’s not true. I can’t go out because I’m weak; I don’t know when I could fall unconscious…”
Joshua bit his lips until they bled.
Master or not, Sersiarin saw right through the Emperor. She almost certainly knew the Emperor’s true motivation for imprisoning her from the very beginning—and the awful truth of the great tragedy that even some of the Imperial Family were unaware of.
If it were me, would I have acted like her when I found out the truth? Joshua shook his head. The reality was, it wasn’t the kind of thing you could deal with in a rational manner.
“Why am I crying…” Sersiarin could be heard sniffling behind the wall. “I’m fine, but why does it feel like you lost something—”
“Aren’t you sad?”
“You…” Joshua fumbled for words for a moment before resolving himself.
He had to make sure. Had she really known, all this time?
As for helping her, he’d decide afterwards.
“Don’t you know why you were born with a disability…?”
“The tragedy of your birth.”
She didn’t answer, but that told Joshua everything. She knew, even before they’d met in his past life.
This wasn’t the usual place for the Emperor to receive guests; it was a private annex in the back corner of the Palace.
“I greet His Majesty Marcus von Britten, and sun of the Empire and the great Master of Avalon.”
“Are you the messenger’s daughter?”
“Yes, Your Majesty.” She bowed. “My name is Anna belle Grace.”
Emperor Marcus smiled warmly at the young lady. “Did you enjoy my present?”
“I am very grateful to His Majesty for his gift.”
“Good!” Marcus clapped his hands and laughed.
“By the way,” he whispered furtively. “I’ve heard things are a bit complicated…”
Anna’s expression tightened.
“Has he finally shown himself, after all these years?”
“It was just a normal rumor—Avalon has Duke Aden von Agnus, and Swallow has Archduke Lucifer.”
“Is there any way out of this?” Emperor Marcus leaned back with a tranquil smile on his face. “No matter how good of a messenger your father is, it’s not going to be easy on him.”
“To tell you the truth, I’m not sure.”
“Huh?” Emperor Marcus was surprised. It seemed the girl had the same sentiments as her father. No doubt it had to do with the peculiar spiritual bond between them.
I’ve never seen them say anything so weakly in all the years we’ve known each other.
He didn’t call someone a “messenger” on a whim. Her father was an undefeated general—simply unbeatable.
Draxia belle Grace.
And now, I just want it more… Marcus’s grin stretched wider.
He was of the same mind. Ulabis’s appearance was an entirely unexpected variable—everything went wrong as soon as he appeared. Even the Emperor didn’t expect the Swallow Empire’s latest defeat.
“After this, how dare you say you’re not confident.”
Anna struggled to breath, shivering uncontrollably.
“You were one hundred percent confident in victory. That was why I showed you mercy.”
“Your Majesty the Emperor—” Anna clutched her neck desperately. With a low level of mana resistance, she was gasping for air.
The Emperor reigned in his mana, allowing the blue-faced girl to fall to the ground.
“Ugh! She coughed violently. “Haack! Thank you for your eternal kindness—”
The Emperor laughed at her pain.
“Do not interfere,” he said. “I will reward you with the Duke’s seat.”
“Your Majesty,” Anna’s eyes were wide with astonishment. “What do you mean—”
“Your father would understand.”
Anna bit her lip as comprehension dawned.
Eliminating the border guards was unnecessary. That is to say…
Even this is a game to Emperor Marcus. He’s insane, a madman obsessed with murder and war.
Anna quickly pivoted.
“But this is too much, Your Majesty. I don’t know if we’re able to accept.”
Marcus’s lips curled upwards. “Jaken.”
“Yes, Your Majesty.”
Anna broke into a cold sweat when a black figure appeared out of nowhere.
“Would you mind answering for me? Who dares to stand in the way of what I want to do in this Empire?”
“Everything is done according to His Majesty’s wishes,” the spy replied without hesitation.
“Tell your father not to be concerned,” the Emperor said with a smile. “We will proceed as planned.”
“No stopping. Not until it’s over.”
The Emperor turned to Jaken.
“Jaken. Prepare in secret; make sure nobody notices.”
“I heed and obey.”
“I am not a patient person,” Marcus said to Anna. “I will not be kept waiting for long.”
“We will return as soon as possible.”
Emperor Marcus stood up and walked away, amusement dancing on his lips.
Anna, too frightened to even raise her head, was left to shiver in fear.
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