The last day of the hunting competition was dawning.
“Oh, is this my armour?”
Emperor Yovanes asked, lifting up a sparkling golden breastplate.
“Yes, Your Majesty. I have specifically prepared for you a colour that stands out.”
“Yes, yes. With this sort of colour, you’ll be able to see me, even in the middle of Madman’s Forest!”
Yovanes burst into laughter while patting me on the shoulder.
Ah, ever since then, seriously.
I slipped back while saying, “Your Majesty’s safety is our first priority.”
It will be troublesome if Yovanes gets hurt in a hunting competition that was hosted by me.
“Hahaha! You speak extremely well!”
The emperor burst into laughter once again.
“I felt like I had a thorn in my heart since I hadn’t been able to come to the hunting grounds for a long time. Now, it seems as if it’s also thanks to you that I’m able to laugh out loud!”
He then beckons to his servant to assist him with putting on the armour on his body.
As expected, the breastplate I prepared earlier fits perfectly with Emperor Yovanes’ body.
“Yes, it seems to fit extremely well. Have all the knights finished preparing?”
Emperor Yovanes asked the Commander of the Imperial Knights.
“Yes, Your Majesty. A total of ten knights, including myself, will be accompanying you, Your Majesty. “
The imperial knight, who looked fierce at first glance, approached us.
It was an appearance that reminded me of the Sushou Patriarch.
I took a quick look at that appearance, then snuck in behind and asked Yovanes.
“Your Majesty, if you don’t mind, may I join you in going to the forest as well?”
“Hmm? You, Florentia?”
The emperor widened his eyes and asked again, with an expression of surprise.
“Yes, it’s the last day of the competition, and I wanted to go into the woods at least once, but I haven’t had the chance to yet.”
“But it’s quite dangerous for a young lady to enter.”
The emperor said with troubled expression.
I knew he would say that, loading the words I had prepared earlier.
I gave a smile to Emperor Yovanes and said.
“With the strong Emperor and the capable imperial knights beside him, what safer place is there in the Empire?”
The corners of the emperor’s mouth curved up and his smile became indescribably sunnier.
The expression of the stiff and stony faced imperial knights commander also twitched slightly.
“Ohoho, that’s right! Alright then, let’s head into the forest together!”
“Wow! Thank you for allowing me to do so, Your Majesty!”
I bowed my head to Emperor Yovanes and gave a small nod to the Commander of the Imperial Knights.
“…I’ll protect your safety, Lady Lombardy.”
The Commander of the Knights said in a low voice.
[ / / / ]
I knew this was going to happen.
Around an hour had passed since we had entered into Madman’s Forest.
The emperor’s party and I had met a man.
That man was Perez, who had a bow in one hand.
Although it seemed as if our paths crossing had been nothing but a coincidence.
I wasn’t sure. Was it really just a coincidence?
I had known that something like this would have happened, so I made an excuse to follow the emperor.
I had a strong feeling that whatever Perez had prepared would occur today, at the end of the hunting competition.
“Your Majesty, this place here is…”
Perez, who was about to say something to Emperor Yovanes, suddenly found me in the cluster of people and stopped talking abruptly.
He had an expression that seemed to ask me, ‘What are you doing here?’.
I smiled gave him a look that conveyed that I was just here to watch.
I just came here to sightsee.
But Perez, whose face was stiff, couldn’t take his eyes off me.
“Ah, so the Second Prince was also hunting around here.”
Eventually, Yovanes ended up being the one to bring up the coincidence first.
“…Yes, Your Majesty, since this is a place where dangerous monsters tend to come out. Why don’t I bring you to a different area?”
Perez said, turning to glance back at the Emperor and the Commander of the Knights.
“Hmm, is that so? But I thought were were still quite close to the entrance.”
“Yes, I’ll take you someplace safer.”
At Perez’s words, the emperor turned to glance back at the commander of the imperial knights.
“I’d rather do that. His Highness would know more about what happens inside the forest compared to us.”
In the end, the Emperor and I moved in succession to follow after Perez with the ten imperial knights trailing behind.
It seemed as if we were going somewhere safer near the entrance to the forest, but Perez was leading us back.
Hmm, could it possibly be this?
Then, all of a sudden, it happened.
A monster with sharp claws suddenly appeared whilst letting out a strange scream.
And the one it happened to jump towards also unexpectedly happened to be the emperor.
The imperial knights quickly rushed forward in an attempt to protect the emperor.
However, Perez’s arrow reached him first.
The arrow flew to its mark on the monster’s side, falling down in that instance.
But the monster didn’t come alone.
The next monster immediately appeared after the first had fallen.
However, the direction it came from this time was not ideal.
It was approaching from the blind spot of the imperial knights.
Emperor Yovanes quickly stepped back in surprise, but it seemed as if the monster had succeeded in striking him.
Then, right in front of him, the monster’s horrible shriek suddenly sounded.
Then, when the monster’s long claws finally reached the emperor’s breastplate.
A blue light suddenly flashed, splitting the monster in half and falling to the floor.
Emperor Yovanes blinked, letting out a steady breath of relief, as if he was deflating.
Then, the emperor used both hands to fumble for his armour, tracing them.
There were long claw marks embedded in the gold armour.
“Your Majesty! Are you all right?!”
In an instant, the knights made a camp to guard the surroundings and shouted.
“I-It’s only a graze on my armour. It’s not a big deal, don’t fuss!”
Even at this moment, the emperor pretended to be strong.
Even though I could still see all his fingers trembling.
“Please wear this instead.”
Perez, who sheathed his sword and came to his side, took off what he was wearing, saying to the emperor.
“A heavily scratched armour won’t be able to hold up if it’s attacked again.”
Emperor Yovanes’ gaze at that moment immediately turned to Perez’s body, which didn’t have any armour on at all.
“Alright, I should do that.”
In the end, the red armour Perez was wearing was instead, wrapped around the emperor’s body.
At that moment, my eyes met Perez’s.
Perez’s red pupils seemed to pierce deeply into my own.
Perez said to me.
Without replying, I stared intently at Perez’s face.
It was him who had asked me to make sure that the armour I had prepared for the emperor would be gold.
“Let’s quickly head back.”
Emperor Yovanes said, much to no one’s surprise.
“It’s that way.”
Perez moved to the front and took the lead again as he said so.
And not long after, I came to realise what Perez’s plan had been all along.
Astana appeared in front of us, who were constantly moving.
He held a sword in one hand, limping and covered in monster’s blood from head to toe.
Astana was smiling.
And then, he suddenly started running towards us.
To be exact, to the emperor who was right next to me.
The commander shouted.
The knights quickly ran to defend the emperor while others ran out to stop Astana.
But Astana was too fast.
As if he was possessed by something, Astana ran out, slipping away from the knights.
It was a monstrous force.
“I’ll kill you!”
Astana, who let out a horrible shriek, closed the distance.
The commander who was at the side of the emperor, guarding him, eventually pulled out his sword.
For an imperial knight, pointing a sword at the crown prince was like their last resort.
The commander of the imperial knights clenched his teeth before clashing with Astana’s sword.
As the sword was flung far away, Astana hand’s became empty.
“Your Highness, please calm down!”
Bellesac, who had abandoned his sword in front of the imperial knights and run after Astana hurriedly, shouted as he gasped for breath.
And it was at that moment.
Astana screamed desperately, swinging something.
A scratchy noise rang clearly in my ears.
But it wasn’t the emperor’s scream that followed.
It was Astana who was rolling frantically on the ground as if he had lost his mind, letting out a painful cry.
“My hand! Ack, it hurts! My hand!”
Astana’s right hand was gone.
Other than the red blood that gushed out endlessly, there was nothing else that was there.
The hand that had been cut off was at the feet of a frozen stiff Bellesac.
Which was still tightly holding onto a sharp dagger.
Whilst everyone was still frozen.
“Commander, protect His Majesty.”
Perez ordered in a low voice, looking down coldly at Astana who was still rolling on the floor.
The stiff-faced commander replied, picking up the dagger that had fallen on the floor.
Together with Astana’s hand.
Handing it over to a deputy, he said.
“Keep it safe. It’s evidence left of the emperor’s alleged assassination.”
It was the moment Astana became a sinner.
Then Perez approached me.
He reached out a hand to my face.
“Blood splattered out.”
Whilst standing next to the emperor, it seems that Astana’s blood had also splattered onto me.
Perez’s hand touched my cheek.
And began carefully wiping off the dried blood on my face.
When he had cut off Astana’s hand, the unconcerned Perez had knit his eyebrows into a scowl.
“I’m sorry, Tia.”
Perez said in a low voice.
Astana’s scream, which was still ringing, and the voice of the commander was also heard, saying, “We have to find out what his motive was or if there was someone else behind him pulling the strings, so we have to keep him alive. “
It was the voice of Emperor Yovanes, who had been forgotten for a moment.
The emperor had a wry smile on his face and was stroking the armour’s red breastplate.
It was the part that had a shallow sword mark that had been made by Astana.
“In the end, like this…….”
The emperor looked at Astana, muttering words of unknown significance.
Perez also looked at Astana and spat out.
“It could be because of the magic.”
“In the blood of the monsters living in Madman’s Forest flows a dark spell. It’s said that it can trigger the emergence of a man’s deepest desires. Maybe that’s why he lost his rationality and suddenly changed.”
“Desire. Desire you say.”
The eyes of the mumbling Yovanes gradually cooled down.
Yovanes called to Perez.
And called out an imperial order.
“Escort the First Prince back to the palace.”
[ / / / ]
The emperor’s procession was returning from the hunting competition.
Empress Lavini, who had come out to the front of the palace in order to be the first to greet the emperor, was there.
Emperor Yovanes got off from the first and most luxurious carriage.
Then Perez got off the next carriage that had followed behind him.
But it was strange.
No one had gotten off Astana’s carriage.
“Your Majesty, where is the First Prince…….”
It happened just as Empress Lavini had started to ask her question.
Someone at the back of the procession had suddenly burst into tears.
Empress Lavini who had just casually looked in that direction, unintentionally let out an expression of shock and horror.
“P-Prince! Prince, how come……!”
Astana, whose whole body was covered with dried and hardened blood, cried mournfully as soon as he saw the empress.
“Mother! Hnng, mother!”
Then Lavini, who finally noticed Astana’s bandaged right hand, let out a silent scream.
“Your Majesty, what’s going on? How can this be…!”
But Emperor Yovanes gave no reply.
He only spoke with the tone of the empress.
“The First Prince, drag him away.”
Empress Lavini shouted, standing in front of Astana and blocking him.
“Just what king of sin did the prince commit for you to do this? Furthermore, to even injure the prince…”
“The charge is the attempted assassination of the emperor and treason.”
The Empress’ eyes widened in shock.
Emperor Yovanes answered coldly and went up the stairs.
Leaving the frozen empress all alone.
“Let me go, mother! Mother!”
Astana was dragged away, still calling for the empress.
But this time, Empress Lavini couldn’t stop them either.
“No way…there’s no way…”
Perez passed by in front of the empress who was in a state of shock, still murmuring her disbelief.
At that moment, Lavini’s blue eyes met Perez’s red ones.
Passing by the empress who had begun to grasp the situation, Perez gave an order to the commander.
“Keep the sinner in prison. I’m going to interrogate him myself.”
Following behind Emperor Yovanes’ footsteps and going up the stairs, the corner of Perez’s mouth quietly twisted up into a smirk.
n e ways,,,enjoy chapter 204 bc i had a shit time with kakaopage
LSDKFJSD PEREZ DEADASS A BORN MANIPULATOR HALSDKFJDFSJ yawl see his subtle manipulation with the magic and the it revealing your deepest desires hALSKDFJDSF HE KNEW WHAT HE WAS DOING DEADASS
psa to myself: don’t try to rip raws at work when the manager is in 😦
i got in trouble for yawl hAHAHAHA also sorry for not updating my life been sort of hectic recently hAHAHAHA