Chapter 1. Prologue
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At the same time they felt the need to be a little more polite. In any case, the Imperial Princess was the twin of the Emperor.
“We must keep it here until the corpses rot and die.”
The wording immediately became polite.
“….. Why?” (Shed)
The knight continued to speak after a moment of hesitation.
“It’s the Emperor’s order.”
‘Emperor’s order, why?’ (Shed)
The question came up to Shed’s throat.
“The engraving is so powerful that the slaves don’t decompose immediately after death. They rot really slowly.” (Knight)
“Oh, …… and let me tell you, as soon as they start to decompose, we bury them right away. Don’t worry, it won’t smell like a corpse at all. This is because the engraving binding is wrong and it will soon decompose, but if you tell me tomorrow, I will immediately take it away.” (Knight)
Actually, the knight didn’t think Shed was going to be alive until then.
Leaving Shed staring at the corpses, the knights hurried out of the inner palace with a clump of cloth that had been used to wipe the blood.
While they were leaving, another knight finally spoke to his colleagues after exiting the huge palace of the Princess.
“Why did you talk so much to him (Shed)? You should just greet him and leave.”
“What could happen even if he knows? He’ll die in less than a week anyway?”
Another knight made a spiteful sound one tempo later.
“I forgot you’re a man of great faith. Well…it’s pitiful.”
Sighing, his fellow knight tapped him on the shoulder.
“But let’s be careful. Keep your mouth shut if you want to live.”
Because it was clear that the further they stay away, the better.
* * *
When Raha returned to the palace, the waiting maidens lined up and bowed their heads. She did not even look at them and walked straight into the inner palace. It was something she was used to.
However, she didn’t feel like a dog just being taken to the slaughterhouse like she used to. Because, there was one person alive in her palace….
After walking quietly through the large courtyard, she entered the inner palace and was greeted by a bright light. The inner palace was always perfectly maintained, even when Raha was not here. That didn’t need to be said now.
The east corridor was used by Raha, and the door to her bedroom was properly closed, so she didn’t feel a single shadow.
Suddenly Raha became anxious.
‘He (Shed) didn’t die suddenly, did he?’
Her footsteps gradually became faster. Finally, at the speed of a light run, she opened the bedroom door and walked in.
When she walked into the lavishly decorated red bedroom, she called out.
She was walking slowly, getting near the bed. As if Shed already noticed her presence, he was looking at Raha.
Raha wondered why a smile was naturally drawn on her lips when she saw a living, moving Shed. And she couldn’t easily explain it. She dropped her lightly ruffled breath and walked toward Shed.
“What have you been doing?”
Then she laughed, “Oh. Waiting for me, I suppose. There’s nothing else to do here anyway.”
Shed had never reacted much, even when Raha was being deliberately mean. She was just expecting a little furrowed brow or something…….
Raha took off her shawl and turned around. Shed’s expression wasn’t any different. As if the strange feeling she felt at the moment was just because she was sensitive.
She walked over to the table and poured herself a glass of water.
Then she took one of the medicines the doctor gave her and drank it along with the water. It was very bitter, but she could handle it. She wondered if she should give this medicine to Shed as well, but she quickly dismissed the thought. By all accounts, that slave looked very robust.
“Shed. I think I played with you too hard.”
“What do you mean, suddenly?”
“The palace doctor gave me this medicine today, telling me to refrain from having physical activities.”
“He’s worried about mourning, I think.”
Raha felt better when she saw that Shed was speechless. She moved her hands, thinking about what to talk about more mischievously. Before he knew it, Shed was standing behind her as he started to take off a large sapphire earring that was dangling from Raha’s ear.
Shed frowned weakly as he looked at Raha’s hair, which was obviously more intricately braided than yesterday. Now even if Raha didn’t say anything, Shed would undo the intricate necklace on her neck….
Whatever happened in just one day, Shed was acting more obedient than this morning.
Raha asked as she turned around.
“Did you like sleeping with me?”
“Or why are you so obedient?”
The strangeness became clearer when she saw Shed handing her a teacup. Of course, Raha’s dress was always thin, and her whole body temperature dropped fast when she walked through the courtyard in winter. Her body was cold yesterday too. But he didn’t give her tea yesterday.
It wasn’t like he was simply feeling good. It was something Raha could point out more accurately than the others.
Strangely, this slave was trying to care more about her.
Why would a man who didn’t even follow her to the banquet do this?
“What happened?” (Raha)
The reply did not come back immediately. Raha slowly tilted the teacup, thinking that the tea Shed made was surprisingly suited to her taste.
“The knights went here a few hours ago.” (Shed)
“Imperial guards?” (Raha)
Raha’s smile hardened as she asked back.
Raha slowly put away the teacup. It was a hand gesture that showed the elegance of an impeccable imperial Princess, but it was subtly different from the usual.
A moment of silence passed. Raha’s lips parted.
“I told you not to open the door to the west wing….”
As she said this, she realized. Shed, who had acted more obedient today, was not the type to disobey her orders.
“The guards opened it.”
It was an unperturbed voice.
“Why did they open it?”
“Blood leaked through the bedroom door.”
“They opened it to clean it.”
Raha didn’t care how trembling the Kingsguard must have been as they opened the door, or what pale faces they must have hurried to collect themselves and leave.
“Did you see it?” (Raha)
Did he see the corpses lying in the west building?
There was a silence that lasted a little longer than all the previous silences combined.
Raha, who groaned, murmured slowly.
“You saw it.”
A sharp silence, like cracked glass, filled the bedroom. No one opened their mouths first.
How long had she been breathing like such a stuffed doll?
Raha, who was looking at the tightly closed door of the west corridor, slowly opened her mouth.
“No wonder you suddenly became sweet.”
“Is it because you feel sorry for me?”
There was no reply from Shed.
Raha didn’t bother to ask. She burst into a low laugh. She cupped half her face in one hand and let out a laugh.
“I guess I look pitiful in your eyes.” (Raha)
The right hand that covered her face smelled of dried flowers.
She had the scent of the bouquet of flowers on her hand, which she held so tightly that it turned white as she walked away from the banquet.
Today, of all days, was that day.
The day Countess Borbon died.
She wanted to forget and live, but because of that d*mn Duchess who wouldn’t let her forget. Raha pressed her eyes with her fingers.
It hadn’t stopped for a long time. Somehow, her left hand felt too heavy. Raha walked slowly and placed the bouquet of flowers on the table that she was still holding in her left hand. Perhaps because it was dry flowers, even with a little force, the petals were broken and scattered like dust.
“My poor Princess.”
She heard the voice of the late Countess Borbon in her ears as if it were a hallucination.
There were no adults who felt sorry for her.
The fact that there were no vulgar swear words that she knew of seemed to be a blessing.
Because she would have spatted them out just now.
Bones slowly protruded from the back of Raha’s hand on the table. In the silence, the only sound was the regular ticking of the second hand from the clock in the bedroom.
Her heart beat erratically.
Raha stepped out of the bedroom. Across the large bedroom, she opened the door that was always tightly closed and connected to the west wing.
The overwhelming size of the hallway weighed down Raha’s gaze.
A long red carpet, with disgusting looking bodies lying on both sides. Slaves dressed in thin clothes, no different from what Shed was wearing when they first transported to this inner palace.
The ceiling was magnificent, as if it had been moved from the hall of one of the grandest banquets in the Imperial Palace. The light scattered delicately like shards of glass, illuminating everything unrealistically and dreamily.
The gorgeous chair was placed at an exquisite angle between the door leading to the bedroom and the place where the bodies lied.
The gorgeously decorated chair, finished in red velvet, was something only an Imperial Princess could sit on. It belonged to Raha and was a gift from Karzen.
“Raha Del Harsa.”
This was the day the bodies of the slaves were first handed over to Raha.
That day she could not go in and close the door of the West Wing. She could only stare blankly at the dead or dying slaves.
It was the same after they were all dead.
The day when Raha was seen crouching down in this hallway for days and days while looking at the bodies of the slaves.
Karzen burst out laughing.
“How come my twin looks so pitiful?”
How could she describe the emotion she felt at that moment? She felt a terrible sense of humiliation that broke years of patience and almost strangled Karzen.